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Why does Ned Stark tolerate out of shape guards


Mrstrategy
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Why does Ned Stark tolerates out of shape guards like fat tom or Alebelly in his personal guard since they are responsible for his family protection as well as the defense of winterfell not to mention make house stark look bad since the Stark guard needs to be the best of the warriors of the North?

Edited by Mrstrategy
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26 minutes ago, Mrstrategy said:

Why does Ned Stark tolerates out of shape guards like fat tom or Alebelly in his personal guard since they are responsible for his family protection as well as the defense of winterfell not to mention make house stark look bad since the Stark guard needs to be the best of the warriors of the North?

I think fat Tom was supposed to be one of the oldest guards, so I suppose his loyalty and general likability led to him being kept. I also assume when he was younger they just called him tom, and he put in the weight as he aged. Ned left ale belly behind so he could have though much of him. Ned probaly thought winterfell safe enough, and a beer belly might be a beer belly, but he was an able bodied man who probably had a father who served in the guard. And weight can go a long way in a fight and be useful in the cold.

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Ned enjoys body shaming? Keeps only fuglys in his squad so he looks better by comparison? Maybe that’s the true reason he hates Jamie so much! :) 

All kidding aside, it’s a very good question. Winterfell is in need of many a repair and appears to be understaffed. You’d think Ned would have had many a Northern lads ingratiating themselves especially with the opportunity to go south with the king himself. 

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On 8/26/2021 at 11:41 PM, Mrstrategy said:

Why does Ned Stark tolerates out of shape guards like fat tom or Alebelly in his personal guard since they are responsible for his family protection as well as the defense of winterfell not to mention make house stark look bad since the Stark guard needs to be the best of the warriors of the North?

Tommard is part of the household. The idea of firing employees does not apply here. Ned has a duty to provide for Tommard as he does for Hodor and Nan.  

Edited by Widowmaker 811
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Ned probably values things like experience, loyalty, local knowledge, and such, over physical fitness.  I also expect in a setting like this, you take what you get in terms of physical fitness and health.

Besides, it's not as if Winterfell is really at risk.  He has no real major enemies, and lots of friends.  Even during Robert's Rebellion and the Greyjoy Rebellion, the North wasn't really threatened, much less Winterfell. 

By the way, I don't think we have any real idea of the fitness of anybody else's garrison, so there is nothing to really compare it to.

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Yeah, it's not as if in the modern world one ever sees an overweight policeman or security guard. Unthinkable.

Seriously, if you think that being heavyset means someone can't swing a sword or hold the line in a shield wall, I have some experience that would suggest differently. And Ned's guard, as at the start of AGOT, are not an active military force out there fighting enemies every day.

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Proven loyalty, maybe.  Fat old man who fights by your side worth more than skinny young man who runs away and leaves you to die.  And I'm sure Ned Stark has plenty of skinny young men when he needs them as well.  And skinny young men who see courage and loyalty rewarded are maybe a bit more likely to be brave and loyal.

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Fat people are usually strong, and stronger than average man. It's why we have weight categories. Being fat doesn't make someone unable to swing a blade or fight. And loyalty matters more in guards than biceps

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Consider those two are low level security guards.  They watch and guard.  They function like house servants.  Their skills are on the low side of barely passing.  The Starks have had nothing to fear in the North and they do not expect trouble.  Their household income is not such that they can hire and keep skilled men-at-arms at all times.  Resources are not as plentiful in their neck of the woods.  What help they have had to come cheap. 

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2 hours ago, Lord Lannister said:

There's a lot you can criticize Ned over.... but this is just reaching.

He may be on to something. I’ve always overlooked those two. I’m wondering if they would be considered barrel shaped.

I  gotta do some looking into. 
 

p.s. Neds a saint! How dare you sir! He is above reproach! :) 

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Well, he has a few reservations on that score

Quote

With Jory dead and Alyn gone, Fat Tom had command of his household guard. The thought filled Ned with vague disquiet. Tomard was a solid man; affable, loyal, tireless, capable in a limited way, but he was near fifty, and even in his youth he had never been energetic.

but do note that Tommard has served as a guard in Winterfell since his youth, some 35 years ago. He is fourteen years older than Ned, and it is Ned's children that call him "fat Tom", rather than Ned himself. The dad bod might have happened only in the last decade, as Tommard hit middle age with the pressures of family life and the long time between battles. Like King Robert's weight, it may have been something Ned observed with dismay but felt was not his to control.

Tommard was a faithful man who did all that was asked of him.  His end was determined by the treachery of Lord Baelish and the corruption of Janos Slynt, not his weight.

However, he was not Ned's first choice of commander, nor his second. Ned does see him as more sensible and reliable than Desmond, when it comes to protecting his daughters. Still, that might not be the only reason he had put Fat Tom in charge of taking them back to Winterfell and delivering the rule of Westeros to Stannis at Dragonstone enroute.

As far as I can see, Tomard does everything required of him with adequate competence. While he doesn't exactly question his orders, what Ned regards as a "slightly apprehensive" look does seem to me to be caused by Tom's doubts about the orders Ned gives him. But whatever those doubts are, Tom serves his master as much as he irritates him.

Of Ned's children, it is Arya, the fiercest, the most war-like of his brood, that has the most open contempt for Tom. He named her "Arya underfoot", but she despises him for being "easy to fool" (which might actually be more like "inclined to cut kids some slack", when we look at the instances where he was 'fooled'). She also knows he is too slow to stop her.

Jon also regards Tom as 'the slowest of his father's guards', recalling a time at least half a dozen years earlier, when Lord Commander Qorgyle came to Winterfell, and he and Robb had been chased around the yard after dumping their hoard of snow on him.

Bran has no prejudices of this kind. He remembers Tommard and Desmond were the guards that dragged Gared to the stump he was executed on. 

Theon likewise is haunted by Tom after he takes command of Winterfell, but doesn't seem to despise Tom. He notes Tom is dead, and seems to feel guilt about it, though Tom's death was naught to do with him.

As for Alebelly, Ned did not regard him as worthy of joining his guard in King's Landing. Nor did Robb choose to have Alebelly accompany him when he marched south. Nor Ser Rodrick when he left Winterfell to kill the Bastard of Bolton, and oust Dagmar from Torhen's sqare.  Beer guts are closely related to middle-aged spread, although the latter sounds less perjorative - one can't really help growing older, but how much ale one quaffs is a natter of choice.

Alebelly seves with Poxy Tim and Hayhead, who also have perjorative nicknames that explain to us, the readers, that all the real guards have left Winterfell in their disolute and indolent hands. 

Of course, a big guy who pants when he climbs steps can still be strong. We know Osha is stronger than Alebelly, although Alebelly carries Bran upstairs perfectly well. Fat Tom might also have made up in strength what he lacked in aerobic endurance. We know King Robert did.

Arya sees a man urinating at the Red Wedding, and thinks of Alebelly. That would imply that he is a heavy drinker, and maybe her father's notions about who to take with him and who to leave behind him were influenced by his fondness for drink.

Although, like Tom, he seems to have been killed in the line of duty, while performing his job soberly, ambushed by skilled enemies. Nothing to do with eating or drinking too much, and there is no reason for us to suppose that either of them failed to train in arms, or were less than fit for duty when they were fatally wounded.

I am guessing that both Tommard and Alebelly joined the guards at Winterfell in Lord Rickard's time. Neither was quite bad enough at his job to justify Ned sacking them. neither of them was ever sufficiently fit and fast enough for Ned to really respect or trust them. While they did all he bid of them, he couldn't really cut them out of their employment. And out of the hundred or so guards he had, one had to be the slowest, and one the most partial to drink. They could not be trained like enslaved Unsullied, after all (and even Unsullied can run to fat as household guards.)

Both of them are as dead as Ned now, anyway, so I am not sure it really matters.

Edited by Walda
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