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An interesting topic I found on Reddit about the villains of ASOIAF

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I found a really interesting topic on Reddit about who the true villains on ASOIAF are. There are a lot of things I disagree with but it is clear that the writer has put a lot of though into it. You could read it and express your opinions in the comments.

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(SPOILERS MAIN) Deep analysis of the Villains in aSoIaF

Who are the villains of aSoIaF?

At first glance it's obvious. Joffery and the Boltons. Maybe the Lannisters? Specifically Tywin and Cersei? No.

I for one believe aSoIaF holds the roster for some of the greatest villains in all of literature. Average villains are villainous with no understandable motives. Good villains are at least sympathetic. Great villains have motives that are both morally understandable and logical. The greatest villains however are so understandable and sympathetic that they don't seem like villains when their story is told from their POV.

"Villains are heroes from the other side" - George RR Martin.

Most take this to mean Dany, which it does. But it also applies to many other "heroes" of aSoIaF. So let me begin by convincing you that the villains of this story are in fact most of the heroes. aSoIaF is an anti-war story. One that continues to show its reader how violent war is and how unjustifiable it is. Any character that chooses war over peace, regardless of the justification, is a villain in the eyes of George. Ned, Robb and Dany are all the villains of this story. I'll even talk about Jon as a pseudo-candidate. Don't get me wrong, Joffery and Ramsay Bolton are both villainous, but there main function as a character (besides just being fun to hate) is to hide the real villains. Lets start with Ned in book 1.

**NED**

Book 1 is largely there to trick the first-time reader. They start the story thinking "this is traditional fantasy". Then the end of the book happens and they question everything. But they really dont. The damage is done. They see the Starks/Ned as the good guys and the Lannisters as the bad guys (because they definitely killed Jon Arryn, right?). They formed these opinions before finishing the book and realizing they shouldn't have trusted anything they read. Only on a reread do we realize that Ned was wrong. The Lannisters, despite being morally grey, were innocent in the murder of Jon. So lets reevaluate who we think the good guys and bad guys are.

Ned has the choice of saving millions by simply bowing to Joffery. But he doesn't. He chooses to kill millions by starting a war by not bowing. He justifies this through his honor. Makes sense right? No, it doesnt. You see his honor is fucked and far from consistent. He is willing to bend his honor anytime its convenient. Jon Snow? Bowing to Robert? If he cared about bloodline he should have supported Dany, not Robert. He supported Robert because they were friends and justified it through a small Targ bloodline, but refuses to acknowledge the Mad Kings legit heirs. Robert was a terrible king and that didn't stop Ned from supporting him, so it shouldnt stop him from supporting Joffery. Ned could have supported Joffery and limited his damage to the realm the same way the council created a golden age of Westeros during the rule of Robert, a terrible king. He didn't care about bloodlines, he didnt care about who the "best king" would be. He refused Joffery's crown because of an extremely inconsistent honor code that is morally questionable. He starts a war for this honor code. Only after due we see the code questioned by George through characters like Jamie.

Ned was a villain. He supported a war and had a poor justification for it. But he is such a compelling and understandable villain that when we see the world/story from his POV, we read him like a hero. The hero. But he isn't. He is the villain and thats why George kills him.

"Villains are heroes from the other side" - George RR Martin.

**Robb**

Robb is the new hero after Ned, right? Nope. Robb goes south to save Ned but when Ned is killed off he continues south. Why? Cant save Ned anymore. Maybe to save his sisters? Nope. Best way to do that is bow to the Lannisters and publicly state that he doesn't support Ned's treason. Easiest way to save Sansa and Arya. But he doesn't do that either. He continues south to kill the Lannisters and gain independence. He risks the lives of millions due to his own personal goals. A vendetta and independence. Two justifications that don't do anything when weighted against the lives of millions. Robb isn't the good guy. And that's why George kills him. But when told from his point of view, his story seems heroic and understandable.

**Dany**

For Dany, I need to borrow her conclusion from the show. I believe her story will end the same way. Killing millions and then being killed off by resurrected Jon. Will it play out the exact same? Absolutely not and I'll talk about that later, but it will end similarly. Dany follows the "hero from the other side" quote the best. She is literally the hero of the opposite side. She supports freedom and fights for the weak. She has many traits common with heroes. And traits common with villains. Dany has been consumed with her brothers desire for the throne. A throne that she has never seen, on a continent she has (likely) never stepped on. Despite this, she believes herself to be the heir due to her bloodline (even though her bloodline stems from the Mad King). Renly said it best when he explained how power works. The rightful heir is whoever takes the throne. This is what Robert did and this is what Dany plans to do. Conquer. She won't be viewed as a hero when she lands in Westeros, she will be viewed as the villain.

This is what George told D&D, but they interpreted it wrong. They, like casual readers, viewed Dany as the good guy. So if she dies the villain, she needs to "turn bad". This is why the shows conclusion was shit. Dany isn't going to randomly swap from good to bad due to some bells. DANY IS ALREADY BAD! The swap happened back in book 1-2. Ever since she desired the throne. She will take the throne by force because it wont be given to her. And that will mean killing millions. Her "switch" in the books will be that of the readers perspective, not of Dany's character. Readers view her as the hero until she steps on Westeros. Then we see her as she is - a villain. And it will be up to Jon to stop her. This is why George will kill Dany off.

**Jon**

Speaking of Jon: Jon is an interesting character because he dies at the end of book 5. All of George's "surprise" killings are only surprising because the reader doesn't understand the books. They see Ned, Robb and Dany as heroes so it seems surprising that they die. But on rereads, while knowing the point of the books, it becomes obvious they will all die. They are villains and George kills them off. But what about Jon? Is he a villain?

Honestly probably not. But he is killed due to a villainous choice. You see, in the show he is killed because of bigoted watchmen, while in the books he is killed for far more honest reasons. In the show he dies the good guy, in the books he dies the bad guy. A subtle but important difference. He lets the wildlings through the wall at the beginning of book 5, but dies by the end. What changed? Of course the bigotry didn't help Jon's case, but it wasnt the last straw. The Watchmen were honorable and understood it was within Jon's right.

The last straw was fArya. Jon plans to mass the wildlings and watchmen to save his sister. This is against the oaths he swore. Oaths which he expects his men to uphold. Oaths which were a large character arc back in book 1 when he chose the watch/oaths over saving Ned. But he chooses to go against these oaths and thats why the Watch is justified in executing him. Jon dies the bad guy. His mistake was super understandable because we know how much he cares for Arya. I would have done the same. But the best villains are those that do bad for understandable reasons. Like Jon.

**Jon PART II**

Now of course this all changes when he is resurrected. He will be resurrected by Mel through weird Direwolf shapeshifting and he will be a totally new person. (*cough HBO*). Death has consequence in the books. When a character comes back (Berric, Cat), they are totally new people. Just with a shadow of their old self. The old Jon will be dead forever. He made a huge mistake and has died because of it. Just like his father and brother. But resurrected Jon will be a totally new person and will work differently. He wont be the villain of his former self and will have a chance to redeem himself when Dany and the WW arrive. Westeros will need a hero. A true hero.

THE END! THANKS FOR READING!

tl;dr: The real villains of aSoIaF are characters like Ned, Robb and Dany (and sort of Jon). Thats why they die. But they are such compelling villains that most readers view them as heroes.

"Villains are heroes from the other side" - George RR Martin.

What do you think?

Edited by boltons are sick

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Like it a lot. Not sure if its correct but its a fun theory.

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Posted (edited)

I will say this, after reading GRRM's Tuff Voyaging.  I came away with the thought that Varys might be one of GRRM's stealth protaganists.  While decidely non-heroic on the outside, and willing to commit unconsciounable actions, his ultimate goal is to fundamentally change a flawed, unjust, and opressive society.  

Edited by Frey family reunion

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5 minutes ago, Sigella said:

Like it a lot. Not sure if its correct but its a fun theory.

Yes, it is a fun theory. There are things I don`t agree with but there are also a lot of things I agree with. I do believe think that most readers (at least from what I have read in the forums) tend to simplify the story because they think that the Starks are the "good guys" and the Lannisters are "bad guys". The reason for this is because in most fictional stories usually there are two sides - the "bad" side which wants to oppress people, commit genocide or something like that (the Empire in Star Wars, the Orcs in LOTR, the Death Eaters in Harry Potter etc.) and there is a "good" side that seeks to stop them. However, here in Asoiaf the Starks and the Lannisters are just two factions which fight for their own interests. The Lannisters are not some evil organisation who seeks to oppress people or to extinguish all life, they are just a bunch of disfunctional assholes who are protecting their interests. Similarly, the Starks are not helping the greater good by fighting the Lannisters, they are protecting their own interests. In fact, they are ruinig a lot of lives by waging war agains the Lannisters. Most people see the Starks as the "good guys" because they are not as disfunctional as the Lannisters and because most of the story is presented from their POV. It doesn`t help that in the first book GRRM deliberately plays with this trope because he knows that it is very common in fantasy. However, he later subverts it by showing the POVs of both Jaime and Cersei. However, the damage has already been done and both characters are very misunderstood in different ways, in my opinion. Most people think that before Jaime lost his hand he was "bad" but after losing his hand he is now "good" but he is more complex than that. Similarly, most people seem to think that Cersei is ust some scheming bitch and she is one of the most hated characters in literature even though she is a very tragic character, has redeeming qualities and the reason why she killed her husband in the first place was because otherwise he would have executed her and her kids (and because he raped her). These books are a lot more complex than "Starks are good, Lannisters are bad".

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15 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

I will say this, after reading GRRM's Tuff Voyaging.  I came away with the thought that Varys might be one of GRRM's stealth protaganists.  While decidely non-heroic on the outside, and willing to commit unconsciounable actions, his ultimate goal is to fundamentally change a flawed, unjust, and opressive society.  

Yea, I have thought about this myself.

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Posted (edited)

"Villains are Heroes from the other side" is much misunderstood.  We were villains in WWII from the point of view of the Axis.  But, I don't think Martin would argue that the Western Allies actually were the bad guys in that war, or that there was nothing to choose between the two sides. Martin has said he would have fought in that war.  I don't think Martin would argue that the UK should have chosen peace in July 1940, very much the reverse.

He's not arguing for complete moral relativism.  He's not advocating peace at any price.  He's asking us to understand the motivations of the other side, to understood that there may be decent people on the other side, and that even some of the not so decent people may have some decent qualities  - not that all sides in a war are morally equivalent, or that all forms of behaviour are equal.  Martin has repeatedly stated that he is not a pacifist, yet some critics seem determined to claim that he is a one.

Some deeds, some systems, and some people, are unequivocally evil in this series.  The system of chattel slavery in Slavers Bay is evil.  So is the Red Wedding.  So are the actions of Ramsay Bolton.  So are the deeds of the Bloody Mummers and Ser Gregor Clegane.  There is nothing wrong in using violence to oppose these deeds, systems, and people, even if one can criticise the tactics of those who do so.  

The more or less decent people, Jon, Ned, Catelyn, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa etc. are flawed.  That doesn't make any of them rotten to the core.  People like Tywin, Kraznys, Ser Gregor, Littlefinger, Ramsay are actually rotten to the core.

The problem with the quoted O/P is that he implicitly argues that the only ethically correct choice in the face of evil is inaction, and hoping that the bad thing goes away - whether that applies to Dany in Slavers Bay, Ned, faced with Joffrey, or Jon, confronted with the enormities of the Boltons.  In the eyes of the O/P a hero is a doormat.

John Stuart Mill had the answer to that:-

 "Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he does no harm if he takes no part and forms no opinion,  Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

Edited by SeanF

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Posted (edited)
On 7/20/2020 at 1:36 PM, SeanF said:

"Villains are Heroes from the other side" is much misunderstood.  We were villains in WWII from the point of view of the Axis.  But, I don't think Martin would argue that the Western Allies actually were the bad guys in that war, or that there was nothing to choose between the two sides. Martin has said he would have fought in that war.  I don't think Martin would argue that the UK should have chosen peace in July 1940, very much the reverse.

He's not arguing for complete moral relativism.  He's not advocating peace at any price.  He's asking us to understand the motivations of the other side, to understood that there may be decent people on the other side, and that even some of the not so decent people may have some decent qualities  - not that all sides in a war are morally equivalent, or that all forms of behaviour are equal.  Martin has repeatedly stated that he is not a pacifist, yet some critics seem determined to claim that he is a one.

Some deeds, some systems, and some people, are unequivocally evil in this series.  The system of chattel slavery in Slavers Bay is evil.  So is the Red Wedding.  So are the actions of Ramsay Bolton.  So are the deeds of the Bloody Mummers and Ser Gregor Clegane.  There is nothing wrong in using violence to oppose these deeds, systems, and people, even if one can criticise the tactics of those who do so.  

The more or less decent people, Jon, Ned, Catelyn, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa etc. are flawed.  That doesn't make any of them rotten to the core.  People like Tywin, Kraznys, Ser Gregor, Littlefinger, Ramsay are actually rotten to the core.

I get your point. However, one of the main themes of this series IS moral relativism. For example, you mentioned that Walder Frey and the Red Wedding are evil. However, if you look at it from his perspective, he felt really offended and betrayed by Robb. This is not an excuse but you have to keep in mind that Walder lost 4 of his grandsons in this war and he blames Robb for their deaths. There is also the fact that at that point the Lannisters and the Tyrells were winning the war and were punishing the losing side. He had to somehow prove that he no longer had any loyalty to the Stark cause in order to protect his family and his lands. There is also the fact that he was mocked for most of his life by the Tullies and he felt unappreciated and disrespected. I actually don`t think that the Red Wedding is among the biggest atrocities in the series. It is bad but it is not as bad as some people claim. It just happens to fan favorite characters.

 As for Kraznys, he was just raised in a society where these actions are considered perfectly normal. As a slavemaster from the Free Cities he is actually expected to act like that.  In a way he is like Victarion Greyjoy who also does very brutal things because he was raised like that.

 Tywin also does some really bad things. However, he also brought stability and peace to the Westlands. His motivation behind his acts is becaue he wants to rule well and he doesn`t want to be like his father. In fact, there are a lot of people who worship him throughout the realm. If you haven`t read The World of Ice and Fire, you should definitely read it. It makes Tywin a more relatable and understandable character.

 Ramsay and Gregor seem to suffer from psychological issues.

Robb Stark and Daenerys also commited war crimes and nobody thinks they are evil.

 As for the WW2 the Nazi do commit a lot of horible crimes but so do the English, the Russians and the Americans. In fact the Americans commit the biggest crime in the war by bombing two big Japanese cities with nuclear bombs (this is worse than anything Hitler has done). And as a native Bulgarian I can tell you that during the war the English bombed our capital and killed thousands of innocent people. They even went so far as to throw toys on the streets tha were charged with explosives and many Bulgarian kids were torn to shreds by the explosives in question thrown by Churchill`s men. The only reason why the Americans and the English are considered "good" and the Germans are considered "bad" is because the Western Allies won the war and write the history and the Nazi lost the war. In fact, if you read Mein Kampf (the book written by Hitler) you would see that he genuinely believes in his ideas and there are a lot of truths he says. The reason why he started the war in the first place was because England and France treated Germany unfairly after te end of WW1. I don`t condone his attempted genocide on the Jews but that doesn`t mean that there aren`t truths in his ideology.

 This is why I don`t think that people should be divided in "good" and "bad" categories because it is simplistic. That doesn`t mean I agree with the said actions, I just think that we should judge an event by looking at all the angles and not just claiming that the Starks are "good" and the Lannisters are "evil".

Edited by boltons are sick

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, boltons are sick said:

Tywin also does some really bad things. However, he also brought stability and peace to the Westlands. His motivation behind his acts is becaue he wants to rule well and he doesn`t want to be like his father. In fact, there are a lot of people who worship him throughout the realm. If you haven`t read The World of Ice and Fire, you should definitely read it. It makes Tywin a more relatable and understandable character.

Except that much of Maester Yandel's stuff on Tywin comes from Grand Maester Pycelle, who is known for being a Lannister toady, it's no surprise that he would talk about Tywin in such a glowing manner. He also insinuates that Elia offed her own kids when everyone who's read the books (out of universe) and knows how Tywin operates (in universe) knows that it was The Mountain and Amory Lorch. So he's a liar.

Plus subjecting your son's wife to gang-rape is evil, no matter which way you slice it.

Edited by Angel Eyes

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8 minutes ago, boltons are sick said:

I get your point. However, one of the main themes of this series IS moral relativism. For example, you mentioned that Walder Frey and the Red Wedding are evil. However, if you look at it from his perspective, he felt really offended and betrayed by Robb. This is not an excuse but you have to keep in mind that Walder lost 4 of his grandsons in this war and he blames Robb for their deaths. There is also the fact that at that point the Lannisters and the Tyrells were winning the war and were punishing the losing side. He had to somehow prove that he no longer had any loyalty to the Stark cause in order to protect his family and his lands. There is also the fact that he was mocked for most of his life by the Tullies and he felt unappreciated and disrespected. I actually don`t think that the Red Wedding is among the biggest atrocities in the series. It is bad but it is not as bad as some people claim. It just happens to fan favorite characters.

 As for Kraznys, he was just raised in a society where these actions are considered perfectly normal. As a slavemaster from the Free Cities he is actually expected to act like that.  In a way he is like Victarion Greyjoy who also does very brutal things because he was raised like that.

 Tywin also does some really bad things. However, he also brought stability and peace to the Westlands. His motivation behind his acts is becaue he wants to rule well and he doesn`t want to be like his father. In fact, there are a lot of people who worship him throughout the realm. If you haven`t read The World of Ice and Fire, you should definitely read it. It makes Tywin a more relatable and understandable character.

 Ramsay and Gregor seem to suffer from psychological issues.

Robb Stark and Daenerys also commited war crimes and nobody thinks they are evil.

 As for the WW2 the Nazi do commit a lot of horible crimes but so do the English, the Russians and the Americans. In fact the Americans commit the biggest crime in the war by bombing two big Japanese cities with nuclear bombs (this is worse than anything Hitler has done). And as a native Bulgarian I can tell you that during the war the English bombed our capital and killed tousands of innocent people. They even went so far as to throw toys on the streets tha were charged with explosives and many Bulgarian kids were torn to shreds by the explosives in question thrown by Churchill`s men. The only reason why the Americans and the English are considered "good" and the Germans are considered "bad" is because the Western Allies won the war and write the history and the Nazi lost the war. In fact, if you read Mein Kampf (the book written by Hitler) you would see that he genuinely believes in his ideas and there are a lot of truths he says. The reason why he started the war in the first place was because England and France treated Germany unfairly after te end of WW1. I don`t condone his attempted genocide on the Jews but that doesn`t mean that there aren`t truths in his ideology.

 This is why I don`t think that people should be divided in "good" and "bad" categories because it is simplistic. That doesn`t mean I agree with the said actions, I just think that we should judge an event by looking at all the angles and not just claiming that the Starks are "good" and the Lannisters are "evil".

Feel free to disagree, but I think that Generalplan Ost, the Holocaust, and The "Three Alls" were unequivocally evil, and that the people who planned and directed them were unequivocally evil, and no, they don't really have their equivalents on the Allied side. 

If the point of this tale is that actually the Red Wedding, Tywin's atrocities, Essossi slavery, Ramsay's behaviour etc. are to be judged no worse than the actions of more sympathetic characters then Martin is saying nothing profound, and has been spending 24 years trolling his readership.

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1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

I will say this, after reading GRRM's Tuff Voyaging.  I came away with the thought that Varys might be one of GRRM's stealth protaganists.  While decidely non-heroic on the outside, and willing to commit unconsciounable actions, his ultimate goal is to fundamentally change a flawed, unjust, and opressive society.  

Not even Varys believes that, he wants to put in power his own puppet for god knows why reason.

He enabled Aerys, to the point of vital to the continuity of his rule, when a seemingly great option was at hand in the form of his own heir.

He started plotting the fall of the Baratheons before everything bad happened and he held his tongue about the incest.

After stability is finally at hand with Kevan in charge, he throws peace out of the window again.

 

1 hour ago, boltons are sick said:

Similarly, most people seem to think that Cersei is ust some scheming bitch and she is one of the most hated characters in literature even though she is a very tragic character, has redeeming qualities and the reason why she killed her husband in the first place was because otherwise he would have executed her and her kids (and because he raped her).

What redeeming qualities does Cersei have?? Having suffering is not by itself redeeming and Cersei is just nasty, some would say that her children are but her love is way too fucked up for that to be taken seriously.

 

 

50 minutes ago, SeanF said:

He's not arguing for complete moral relativism.  He's not advocating peace at any price.  He's asking us to understand the motivations of the other side, to understood that there may be decent people on the other side, and that even some of the not so decent people may have some decent qualities  - not that all sides in a war are morally equivalent, or that all forms of behaviour are equal.  Martin has repeatedly stated that he is not a pacifist, yet some critics seem determined to claim that he is a one

The problem with the quoted O/P is that he implicitly argues that the only ethically correct choice in the face of evil is inaction, and hoping that the bad thing goes away - whether that applies to Dany in Slavers Bay, Ned, faced with Joffrey, or Jon, confronted with the enormities of the Boltons.  In the eyes of the O/P a hero is a doormat.

John Stuart Mill had the answer to that:-

 "Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he does no harm if he takes no part and forms no opinion,  Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

:agree:

 

15 minutes ago, boltons are sick said:

This is not an excuse but you have to keep in mind that Walder lost 4 of his grandsons in this war and he blames Robb for their deaths. There is also the fact that at that point the Lannisters and the Tyrells were winning the war and were punishing the losing side. He had to somehow prove that he no longer had any loyalty to the Stark cause in order to protect his family and his lands. There is also the fact that he was mocked for most of his life by the Tullies and he felt unappreciated and disrespected. I actually don`t think that the Red Wedding is among the biggest atrocities in the series. It is bad but it is not as bad as some people claim. It just happens to fan favorite characters.

There were a lot of ways of doing that without betraying the right of hospitality which is why angers people, in or out universe.

It's like killing a red cross voluntaries because it's strategically beneficial.

 

I think that the only one for whom this applies is Robb, because he's the only one that kept warmongering out of stubborness.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, boltons are sick said:

I found a really interesting topic on Reddit about who the true villains on ASOIAF are. There are a lot of things I disagree with but it is clear that the writer has put a lot of though into it. You could read it and express your opinions in the comments.

What do you think?

I disagree with much of it.  Jon is indeed a bad guy.  Yes, it was unintentional, but he is nevertheless a harmful element to the survival of mankind.  He knew his actions would hurt the watch but he still chose to take his sister, the girl who he thought was Arya, away from the Boltons.  If we take the survival of mankind to be what is good, then it is very clear that Jon Snow decreased those chances when he engaged in the attempts to take his sister away from the Boltons.  He also chose to ignore justice and gave in to his feelings with regards to the judgment of two sworn brothers of the watch who committed crimes.  I am referring to Mance Rayder and Janos Slynt.  So yes, the author of this "article" does not really have inside knowledge.  He is just another commentator with an opinion.  An opinion which I, for the most part, disagree with.  It is very clear to me that Jon Snow is a "villain."  The George Martin villain is not the cartoon bad guy who plots evil because he just loves to do evil things for giggles.  The Martin villain is a compromised person who knowingly does what he knows to cause harm, but does it anyway because his heart has other priorities than what is the greater good.  Selfishness is one motivation.  But love is another strong emotion which can lead people to do destructive things.  Jon's love for Arya led him to betray the watch and his choices will lead to the collapse of the mankind's best defense against the Others, the Night's Watch.  

George is a hypocrite if he chooses to condemn a character for using force to fight slavery.  He has gone on record as saying he would have fought the Nazis in World War II.  Anybody who says war and violence are never justified, not for any reason, is a crackpot.  I do not believe George is a crackpot.  Daenerys Targaryen chose to fight slavery and that is a very noble goal.  It should be the duty of anybody who has the means to do so to fight slavery.  So far, Daenerys has been the heroine of A Song of Ice and Fire.  

 

Edited by Wolf's Bane

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15 minutes ago, Wolf's Bane said:

I disagree with much of it.  Jon is indeed a bad guy.  Yes, it was unintentional, but he is nevertheless a harmful element to the survival of mankind.  He knew his actions would hurt the watch but he still chose to take his sister, the girl who he thought was Arya, away from the Boltons.  If we take the survival of mankind to be what is good, then it is very clear that Jon Snow decreased those chances when he engaged in the attempts to take his sister away from the Boltons.  He also chose to ignore justice and gave in to his feelings with regards to the judgment of two sworn brothers of the watch who committed crimes.  I am referring to Mance Rayder and Janos Slynt.  So yes, the author of this "article" does not really have inside knowledge.  He is just another commentator with an opinion.  An opinion which I, for the most part, disagree with.  It is very clear to me that Jon Snow is a "villain."  The George Martin villain is not the cartoon bad guy who plots evil because he just loves to do evil things for giggles.  The Martin villain is a compromised person who knowingly does what he knows to cause harm, but does it anyway because his heart has other priorities than what is the greater good.  Selfishness is one motivation.  But love is another strong emotion which can lead people to do destructive things.  Jon's love for Arya led him to betray the watch and his choices will lead to the collapse of the mankind's best defense against the Others, the Night's Watch.  

 

 

The Mountain’s a cartoon bad guy, he gets kicks out of raping and murdering people.

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Posted (edited)

There are very evil characters in the story but the focus of the plot are those main characters who do both good and bad.  The grays.  Martin is not going to make it easy for his readers to easily be able to categorize the characters.  The main people are going to be debatable.  I am sure George himself has an opinion but he will let the fans debate which of his characters are the villains and make it so that it will never be easy.

Everywhere on the internet I go, the fans of both Daenerys and Jon are always in disagreement.  It is a tribute to George and his ability to create complicated people.  Those two happen to have the largest and most enthusiastic followers.  Who you think is a villain is largely and for the most part determined by which one you like.  I happen to like Dany a little more than Jon. 

The biggest mistake we can make is to assume the most good and only the good will triumph in the end.  That is not the real world and simply unrealistic.  People who can realize big dreams and overcome their enemies will have dirt on their hands.  It doesn't mean they should be hated.  Because let us face it, you have to get your hands dirty in order to do anything worthwhile.  There will be people to oppose you, whether slavers or wildlings.  It is really impossible for Dany to help the slaves without doing violence.  The slavers made it impossible.  The slave masters have chosen to resist and fight.  The only choice is to let the slavers have their way or fight them.  I think fighting them is the correct choice.  But that choice will mean violence.  And war.  War is not very discriminate in who it hurts.  It is not fair to condemn Dany for doing this while supporting Robert's Rebellion.  Her war against the slavers is the most just war ever carried out.  It is more justified to me if we compare it to Robert's Rebellion, Rob's Rebellion, and Jon's war with Ramsay. 

Desiring the Iron Throne is not a bad thing.  Every lord's family has done the same for thousands of years to win their lands and castles.  The Starks killed thousands on their rise in the north.  Who knows how many they killed to make blood offerings to their weir wood tree.  Thousands probably. 

 

Edited by James West

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49 minutes ago, Wolf's Bane said:

I disagree with much of it.  Jon is indeed a bad guy.  Yes, it was unintentional, but he is nevertheless a harmful element to the survival of mankind.  He knew his actions would hurt the watch but he still chose to take his sister, the girl who he thought was Arya, away from the Boltons.  If we take the survival of mankind to be what is good, then it is very clear that Jon Snow decreased those chances when he engaged in the attempts to take his sister away from the Boltons.  He also chose to ignore justice and gave in to his feelings with regards to the judgment of two sworn brothers of the watch who committed crimes.  I am referring to Mance Rayder and Janos Slynt.  So yes, the author of this "article" does not really have inside knowledge.  He is just another commentator with an opinion.  An opinion which I, for the most part, disagree with.  It is very clear to me that Jon Snow is a "villain."  The George Martin villain is not the cartoon bad guy who plots evil because he just loves to do evil things for giggles.  The Martin villain is a compromised person who knowingly does what he knows to cause harm, but does it anyway because his heart has other priorities than what is the greater good.  Selfishness is one motivation.  But love is another strong emotion which can lead people to do destructive things.  Jon's love for Arya led him to betray the watch and his choices will lead to the collapse of the mankind's best defense against the Others, the Night's Watch.  

George is a hypocrite if he chooses to condemn a character for using force to fight slavery.  He has gone on record as saying he would have fought the Nazis in World War II.  Anybody who says war and violence are never justified, not for any reason, is a crackpot.  I do not believe George is a crackpot.  Daenerys Targaryen chose to fight slavery and that is a very noble goal.  It should be the duty of anybody who has the means to do so to fight slavery.  So far, Daenerys has been the heroine of A Song of Ice and Fire.  

 

Who in this story is good by this definition? It for sure isn’t Bowen who assassinated the LC and will cause further bloodshed between the Wildlings and the Watch. That hurt the watch too. According to your definition, Stannis is evil for his battle north of the wall because he killed Wildlings who could have helped the fight against the Others and aided the survival of mankind. Is it Dany? She hasn’t taken a single action which aided the Watch. I mean Jon was going to march south with the Wildlings he singlehandedly saved, humans he saved, but by taking them south he is hurting humanity enough to be evil? 
It’s fair enough to dislike or disagree with a character but don’t attempt to blame it on his morality when that is clearly not the real reason. 
 

and after the countless ‘Janos Slynt’s execution was bad’ threads I am just not going to address that. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SeanF said:

Martin has repeatedly stated that he is not a pacifist, yet some critics seem determined to claim that he is a one.

Excellent post! I agree with you wholeheartedly. :)

I just wanted to add a clarification regarding the quoted point. I consider myself a pacifist, and the idea that pacifism dictates that war is always unjustifiable and violence is always avoidable is an unfortunately common and completely mistaken belief, often held by those who have heard of pacifism but have not bothered to research it with any depth. Even absolute pacifism, which is the superlative extreme in which no amount of violence can ever be justified for any reason, can often have caveats such as utilitarianist lens; and of course, this extreme should inherently be rejected, because inaction can be very violent and indeed evil, as you point out through quoting Mr. J. S. Mill. Pacifism does not mean allowing injustice to occur through passivity; it means avoiding violence except where strictly necessary, in order to promote unity and justice and to preclude unnecessary war for the sake of true peace. As Mr. Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

It is also worth considering Daenerys's storyline in particular, for it is the best exploration in the series with respect to when violence and even war is justified, and to what degree such measures should be pursued. I know there are many readers who draw certain conclusions from Dany's vision quest, but I believe there is only one that Mr. Martin wanted to make explicit in context. A careful reading of A Dance with Dragons makes it very clear that the peace in Meereen was a false, unjust one, and that Dany's moral concessions to maintain it -- something she herself is aware of and comments on internally -- were the wrong choice; she should have brought war -- Fire and Blood, if you will -- when it was clear that the former slaveowners would not cease their oppression and scheming. Granted, Dany will absolutely get darker and make decreasingly justifiable choices now that she has resolved Fire and Blood can be warranted -- but literally everyone in the The Winds of Winter will make less tenable decisions as their circumstances force them to, as things must necessarily get worse before they get better in our hopes for A Dream of Spring.

Edited by Many-Faced Votary

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Just now, Davjos said:

Who in this story is good by this definition? It for sure isn’t Bowen who assassinated the LC and will cause further bloodshed between the Wildlings and the Watch. That hurt the watch too. According to your definition, Stannis is evil for his battle north of the wall because he killed Wildlings who could have helped the fight against the Others and aided the survival of mankind. Is it Dany? She hasn’t taken a single action which aided the Watch. I mean Jon was going to march south with the Wildlings he singlehandedly saved, humans he saved, but by taking them south he is hurting humanity enough to be evil? 
It’s fair enough to dislike or disagree with a character but don’t attempt to blame it on his morality when that is clearly not the real reason. 
 

and after the countless ‘Janos Slynt’s execution was bad’ threads I am just not going to address that. 

 

Jon is hurting the chances of mankind's survival because he created conflict with the Boltons over his sister.  

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22 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

The Mountain’s a cartoon bad guy, he gets kicks out of raping and murdering people.

But sad fact is that all kind of "empires" or even some governments has demand of people like him. For instance here in Finland one political activist of political opposition had that kind of experience when 2 men broke into his house and smashed his head with hammers. So somehow ser Gregor seems to have colleagues in Finland.

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10 minutes ago, Loose Bolt said:

So somehow ser Gregor seems to have colleagues in Finland.

Here in the US, we generally use guns. But lately, running people over with autos is gaining popularity. Too many Gregor Cleganes in the US these days.

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