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The Reign of King Renly


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I often wonder if these discussions would be so heated and so regular had the show not made Stannis a frontline terminator and Renly (the guy that casually recovers from being yeeted off his horse by the Hound) afraid of a drop of blood but really that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what they did to his character. You'll notice in most of these discussions not necessarily this one since I haven't read it all that someone will inevitably bring up him telling Ned he should be king as he did in the show. 

Beyond that what's there to say really that's not been repeated ad nauseam. He's charming, politically astute, takes his pleasures in moderation and is willing to get his hands dirty. He's manufactured a personal power base in the reach by befriending some of its most powerful nobles, he's willing to sacrifice some face so long as Robb submits to him in a practical sense etc etc. He's vain and thinks a lot of himself, listens to his advisers but does not heed all their advice and the big ultimate personal flaw, he doesn't support Stannis! He abandons the brother that had abandoned him and Robert, how very evil. 

People make mountains out of Renly's molehills. His reign would have been fine since he's good at winning people over and willing to compromise  similar to Robert, perhaps his children would have problems with rebellion justified by him being a usurper but no more than Robert's children and grandchildren would have. Even without the twincest every other lord with a grievance against the king could have played the usurper card against Robert's kids just as they can with Renly. 
 

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@Trigger Warning 

Well said. I recall commenting in some past discussion that notions that the Tyrells were the ones manipulating Renly were things that were never once espoused on the forum until after Game of Thrones came out with its very particular rendition of Renly. A lot of notions about Renly depend on the show. Ditto with notions about Stannis.

I think the only real danger with Renly is growing dissolute in old age, of generally weakening the idea of inherited rather than contested monarchy, and that he would not take the Others seriously or would be over-confident in how to deal with them if he did take them seriously. 

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@Ran

Oh I agree, I can't see him taking the Others seriously at first but on the other hand it's such a monumental thing out of left field and we see Renly so little that I really couldn't say how he'd go either way once the ram has touched the wall and they're an obvious threat. 

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1 minute ago, Trigger Warning said:

@Ran

Oh I agree, I can't see him taking the Others seriously at first but on the other hand it's such a monumental thing out of left field and we see Renly so little that I really couldn't say how he'd go either way once the ram has touched the wall and they're an obvious threat. 

Yeah. It's more of a known unknown.

In any case, yeah, I've long been Team Renly. The Others are the only thing that really give me pause, but against that it seems like he'd be the one guy who could most quickly get a unified realm together, which surely must matter. Stannis might notionally be the far superior war-time king, but he might have a completely fractured and divided realm on his hands which would reduce his manpower.

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4 hours ago, frenin said:

I hate scrolling down through long threads and i'm to blame on many of them.:D 

You keep the double-spaces ;)

 

4 hours ago, frenin said:

Bloodraven may have had magic when he rule or he may not but he definitely did not rule through  magic, he ruled through a massive net of spies and the fear that brought. There's nothing magical about the way he dealt with the Blackfyres

Idk about that. I mean he didn't rule through magic, agreed. But taking out Blackfyres? It's all shrouded in mystery, but DunknEgg have Targaryen magic in their books still

4 hours ago, frenin said:

The Greyjoys controlled four castles... But you and i had a loong discussion about this, so unless you're ready to revive that thread, let's agree to disagree then.

Probably like, what do you think more or less then 10 times? Lmao

4 hours ago, frenin said:

They are the best the Realm has to offer. 

If you wanna live under an Aerys like govt. 

I'm done with KL 

4 hours ago, frenin said:

Asha makes it clear, they were waiting for their jailors to die.

Balon made it clear that Starks attention was divided

4 hours ago, frenin said:

And Lannister v Stark is a chance of weakness, Lannister v Stark, Tully, Baratheon, and Tyrell (possibly Arryns) it's not weakness

Better odds then last rebellion.

4 hours ago, frenin said:

Euron was smart to know when he had lost and sail the high seas after they were defeated.

Um, he's the type of guy to invade Highgarden

4 hours ago, frenin said:

Little did i know that Doran rebelled against Robert after he tppk the throne like Oberyn demanded or that Doran did jack shit during Balon's rebellion.

Doran may plan whatever he wants, he's not someone who rushes into anything and he's not helping either Robert or Tywin anyway.

Clocks still ticking though. Martells still looks for vengeance and will be trying to sabotage any usurpers govt

5 hours ago, frenin said:

No, the war of the five kings were different factions fighting and betraying and allying each other. This is Balon's rebellion 2.0, most of the realm against a single target

Stark + Storm. That's 2-3. No Greyjoy no Tyrell no Martell. In fact they may be hostile.

5 hours ago, frenin said:

Dragons had been dead for almost a hundred years when Maekar became king.

Oh. Idk about him

5 hours ago, frenin said:

Renly said this of himself and admitted he was an arrogant fella but for the little we do see of him, he does displays every single of those qualities, including arrogance, there's certainly some vapid sense on him that turned off seniors but i hadn't seen a single better candidate yet.

I have it in me to be a great king,

:D

strong

We watch him lose the tourney

yet generous,

Arrested Catelyn under a banner of truce

clever,

Convinced his sister in law could marry the king, because she looks like Lyanna?

just,

Wanted to imprison and keep as a hostage a mother and her three children

diligent,

He's been getting drunk at a tourney for the past month

loyal to my friends

Ran when Ned needed him most

and terrible to my enemies,

Hasn't made one move against Lannister

yet capable of forgiveness,

15 years after the last dragons father was murdered Renly endorses a plan to kill her, pregnant and all

patient—"

:D

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1 hour ago, Hugorfonics said:

 

:D

strong

We watch him lose the tourney

yet generous,

Arrested Catelyn under a banner of truce

clever,

Convinced his sister in law could marry the king, because she looks like Lyanna?

just,

Wanted to imprison and keep as a hostage a mother and her three children

diligent,

He's been getting drunk at a tourney for the past month

loyal to my friends

Ran when Ned needed him most

and terrible to my enemies,

Hasn't made one move against Lannister

yet capable of forgiveness,

15 years after the last dragons father was murdered Renly endorses a plan to kill her, pregnant and all

patient—"

:D

Might as well be in Higharden with this reaching. 

  • Lost a tourney to the Hound, took the hit and got back up like it was no biggie.
  • Wanted to make a point to Catelyn, not exactly honourable but I don't really see what is has to do with being generous. 
  • Knows that Robert's a slave to his desires and might set Cersei aside for a younger woman from a powerful family that might remind him of his lost love instead of his wife that he hates. 
  • Well yeah, you don't get to be the mother of the king and a vicious political player and hide behind being a mother. 
  • He's getting slightly drunk as Cat notes, flaunting his power and keeping his men in high spirits while his enemies bleed and King's Landing is on the verge of open revolt. 
  • He gave Ned a practical option and Ned declined, what's he supposed to do just die? Ned was Robert's friend not his in any case. 
  • He's raised an army in rebellion and Joffrey near dies in the street because he'd cut off the food from Highgarden. The blow was already struck. 
  • Well yeah she's pregnant with a child that represents a significant threat to the dynasty. 
  • Amean you just gave the guy shit for being patient with his army. 


These really aren't the gotchas you think they are. He's obviously talking about these virtues in the context of still having to do medieval political stuff not that most of your points even fit them that well anyway. 

 

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7 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

I often wonder if these discussions would be so heated and so regular had the show not made Stannis a frontline terminator and Renly (the guy that casually recovers from being yeeted off his horse by the Hound) afraid of a drop of blood but really that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what they did to his character. You'll notice in most of these discussions not necessarily this one since I haven't read it all that someone will inevitably bring up him telling Ned he should be king as he did in the show. 

Beyond that what's there to say really that's not been repeated ad nauseam. He's charming, politically astute, takes his pleasures in moderation and is willing to get his hands dirty. He's manufactured a personal power base in the reach by befriending some of its most powerful nobles, he's willing to sacrifice some face so long as Robb submits to him in a practical sense etc etc. He's vain and thinks a lot of himself, listens to his advisers but does not heed all their advice and the big ultimate personal flaw, he doesn't support Stannis! He abandons the brother that had abandoned him and Robert, how very evil. 

People make mountains out of Renly's molehills. His reign would have been fine since he's good at winning people over and willing to compromise  similar to Robert, perhaps his children would have problems with rebellion justified by him being a usurper but no more than Robert's children and grandchildren would have. Even without the twincest every other lord with a grievance against the king could have played the usurper card against Robert's kids just as they can with Renly. 
 

 These Renly debates always feel like you’re fighting against the tide of the tv version, and especially in non-literal/hard to argue ways. Like the books, when you read them Renly is very much the one in charge, absolutely at home with himself and the Tyrells are very clearly the front line of his support group. Cat thinks a lot of things during her time with Renly, but not once does she see him as some kind of puppet; quite the reverse, she is very much describing Renly as the sun and his court the sunflowers. She does notice that he’s more intimate with Loras than Margery or anyone else, but Renly is talking with everyone, making them laugh or getting their opinion, while it’s Loras whose eyes never leave Renly.

If you had to reduce Renly’s ethos down to one concept, it would be ‘Enjoy life’. Somewhat hedonistic, somewhat roguish, but also I think a 3 dimensional concept he applies to others too, and if his kingship would have any kind of ethos beyond ruling/not dying it would be to facilitate the capacity to enjoy life for as many of his subjects as he can, understanding that making that happen won’t be all sunshine and lollipops. It’s the point of the peach that I think confounds Stannis so much. I think he knows Renly’s always willing to have a laugh, but he also knows he’s intelligent and better with people, so I think he can’t just write it off as a joke. Part of him might understand that was Renly reaching out to him with the essence of what he believes in. But he’ll probably never quite get it and if he did he wouldn’t agree.

But I also think the part of Stannis that does know it wasn’t just a jape wants nothing to do with the idea that the last time he saw Renly before killing him, Renly was legitimately trying to make his older brother more open to happiness. 

But getting back to book Renly clearly leading the Tyrells, with the show we suddenly see an entirely different dynamic, and a totally different Renly. Gone is young Robert with brains and self-control, suddenly we kinda see a weaker man, a kindof combination of book and show Littlefinger in terms of demeanour, even possibly a physical coward and a lot of other ~ 80’s gay character tropes.He’s being led by his dick* and the Tyrells are the ones pulling all the strings.  

Now on the other hand they make Renly maybe the only person in the show with a truly modern moral compass, they give you a sense that as king he had specific liberalizing agendas he was intent on enacting, and in this respect show Renly is much more of an idealist than book Renly, he stands for something whereas book Renly mostly stands against the Lannisters and for self-preservation and actually mentions the people’s welfare but is no kind of moral crusader. He has a more modern political outlook in the books, not so much social or idealogical, basically realpolitik. I think he and Tywin would understand each other’s view of power and leadership, if not agree on  much else. 

And I will say too that they showed the Renly/Loras relationship to be one of the most sincerely loving relationships in the show, if touched with that sense of manipulation. Show Renly might actually be the better person insofar as he expresses real concern for the plights of the underclasses and thinks killing animals for fun is wrong, making yourself at home with peasant girls is exploitative, etc. It’s admirable stuff but nothing to do with book Renly. I think what they did was see his kinda realpolitik ~ anachronistic view and decided to modernize him in general, even at the cost of losing important aspects of the actual character. In any event, he might be a better person but a much worse leader/king, and the one calling the shots. 

But fighting against that tv version is hard and double edged. First was the kinda sub textual/impressionistic issues like who is in charge, who feels lucky to be attached to whom, why they are doing what they’re doing, etc. that’s harder to demonstrate in debate. And in the books a lot if this is subtle enough that if you read the books after the show has already defined Renly for you, you might sincerely miss them. 
 

The second complication with the Renly/Stannis debate and this may have changed since I engaged in these debates, but back in those days the Renly/Stannis debate was often charged with the same philosophical/idealogical divides as pro and anti-Trump debates went, and the people who supported Stannis often expressed the same kinds of appreciation for ‘non-PC/not afraid to be rude/skeptical of more progressive types of political leadership/willing to find terrible flaws charming quirks or irrelevances in Trump (as they saw him). And so in that respect TV Renly was someone they’d really despise, and so you had people triggered by aspects of TV Renly’s ‘wokeness’ that were transferred to book a Renly who isn’t especially woke. To be fair Robert was probably THE hero of the board Trumpist vibe, with Stannis often only the able and more serious replacement. 

Anyways, just some thoughts on how I feel about how these debates are fun but complicated and hard to middle ground. 


 

 

Edited by James Arryn
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7 hours ago, Ran said:

As already noted with the lines I quoted earlier, he means to settle the score once he has his throne with those who contributed to making the realm bleed. He's pragmatic out of necessity in the moment. He's not intending to stay that way should he come into power.

Whether Davos can dissuade him of that when they come to cross the bridge, no one knows. But this vision of Stannis having permanently forgiven those who he sees as traitors and betrayers is just wrong. The good (finally choosing his side) does not wash out the bad (not having chosen his side to begin with).

I think the whole thing about the best fan-made timelines indicating it took Stannis five months (!!!) after Robert's death to declare his intentions reveal a lot about the guy.

Stannis is pretty smart. He can read people, he can correctly guess what a lot of people want and he understands how they operate ... but he doesn't really care. He was not stupid enough to actually expect that (m)any lords would declare for him. Even in the Prologue of ACoK he dismisses the prospect that Lord Alester Florent would declare for him as absurd (that is after Renly crowned himself, of course, but it is still very telling).

He knows people do not like him, and he must know that he could better his general situation by telling them what's going on. But he doesn't. As he does so often, he acts like a sulking child and demands that the lords and people come to him because they should come to him, making no attempt at all to convince them or help them to come to the right conclusion.

His obsession with Storm's End is pretty much the same thing. He has no right to the castle. It was Robert's, and Robert had every right to give it to whoever he chose. But he feels it should have been his and he cannot let that go.

It is that weird sense of entitlement that destroys the guy. The reason why he ends making his pact with Melisandre is because that means he doesn't have to compromise. He thinks she can help him to get what he wants without capering to the whims of this or that lord ... that is why he decides to listen to Selyse in the Prologue.

And in this state of mind he later pardons Renly's old buddies. They come aboard because he needs men to defeat the Lannisters and win the Iron Throne. But once he had it, once he sat secure on his throne and had established himself properly ... he would no longer need those men. And then they would have to pay.

Not as high prices as the men who actually fought against him ... but as Cat realizes, Stannis did not intend to spare Robb simply for the crime of crowning himself, so one really wonders how big of difference there is in Stannis' mind between the behavior of Tywin Lannister, Mace Tyrell, and Alester Florent.

They should be all traitors in his eyes.

I guess Stannis might not attaint his wife's uncle and her cousins ... but he wouldn't really reward them, either, and even if he didn't punish (m)any of the Stormlords who originally followed Stannis he would never allow them to forget that they first sided with Renly. He wouldn't show them any specific favors, he wouldn't advance their children, etc.

In the North Stannis shows decent pragmatism ... but that's because he desperately needs those people and because they have common enemies in the Boltons and the Others. Due to the fact that Robb and Stannis never clashed and Robb's cause ended at the Red Wedding he may be pragmatic enough to not have trials and executions of Northmen and Rivermen rebelling against the Iron Throne if he ever won the war. But he wouldn't forget that slight, either.

Although I think that whoever stands with Stannis now should be able to gain more than they would lose if they were to actually win the Iron Throne. Because Stannis would then be massively indebted to him.

For instance, if the Manderlys came round to publicly declare for Stannis I could see him promising them the Reach as a reward for their support.

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3 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

 

I have it in me to be a great king,

:D

1) strong

We watch him lose the tourney

2) yet generous,

Arrested Catelyn under a banner of truce

3) clever,

Convinced his sister in law could marry the king, because she looks like Lyanna?

4);just,

Wanted to imprison and keep as a hostage a mother and her three children

5) diligent,

He's been getting drunk at a tourney for the past month

6) loyal to my friends

Ran when Ned needed him most

and terrible to my enemies,

7) Hasn't made one move against Lannister

yet capable of forgiveness,

15 years after the last dragons father was murdered Renly endorses a plan to kill her, pregnant and all

patient—"

:D

1) Book Renly is indisputably described as huge and strong. I won’t bother to quote it, it’s basically endemic in every physical description of him, often being called the very image of Robert, sometimes specifically stated to be only ‘a shade’ or ‘slightly’ less physically imposing than young Robert himself. This is not really a matter of opinion. 
 

2) Geneorisity is related…how?

3) I don’t see anything in either Robert or his relationship with Cersei that makes this seem impossible to me, especially as GRRM was giving Robert a lot of Henry VIII vibes, but I think you are putting more stock in it than he did. It was worth a shot, was I think his view. But it also again illustrates for the reader the clear antagonism between Renly and team Lannister. Either way I don’t see how this, or anything really, calls his intelligence into dispute.

Again, but for Stannis/magic he’s the King and the Lannisters power is broken. But for Ned’s intransigence and almost all of the fates of the popular antagonists are happier and the popular villains aren’t. ‘The good end happily, the bad unhappily. That is fiction.’ was I suspect GRRM’s general point with Renly’s campaign, possibly slightly foreshadowing fAegon’s. 
 

4) Because he’s clever. 
 

5) Cat specifies he’s slightly affected. It’s contrasted with examples of Robert and most of his courtiers. He’s very much in command of himself. But how do you know what he’s been like for a month? What we do know was in the past while he made himself the runaway favourite to win the Game of Thrones and is conducting a campaign the brightest people who comment on it in text admire. 

6) Ned’s Renly’s friend? He likes him more than the rest of the SC, but mostly because he reminds him of Robert. We have no idea how Renly thinks of Ned beyond the same kind of transferred benefit of the doubt and he sees him as his most likely ally against the Lannisters. To wit he gives Ned undeniably perceptive and prescient advice, which if Ned had agreed to, well, good for 7K, bad for books. But Ned chooses to keep swimming in currents he isn’t even fully aware of, hitches his wagon to more years of bloody war and Renly saves himself Ned’s fate.

Even if they had been friends, not sure how going down with your friend’s obstinance is the litmus test for loyalty, but considering they weren’t I don’t see the point you’re trying to make here. Did Ned choosing to endanger his ‘friend’ Renly’s life (without even telling him the reasons why, btw) for his own reasons mean he wasn’t loyal to his friends. If you want to think of them as friends, who was the better friend? In their hour of crisis Renly gave Ned great advice and a clear warning. Ned gave Renly….?

7) Well, no, Ned said no to his original (still best) plan and since made himself the books Red Keep’s greatest threat, all the time letting them bleed themselves out in the war they were already caught up in and setting himself up as KL’s saviour. 

8) That might speak to his honour, but had nothing to do with an inability to forgive. He says nothing remotely to that effect. All he says is in effect ‘“If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘there well it were done quickly’ retrospectively (and LF who knows nothing of Targaryens) echoes the same thinking.’ 
 

9) Earlier you seemed to criticize Renly for his patience, now it seems a matter of laughter. I’m not seeing w/e you’re seeing. I hope to god it isn’t the old ‘Renly rushed too soon to battle Stannis/Agincourt Redux’ abomination which always forgets that he died because of a shadowbaby assassin that literally nothing in his world could have warned him against. 

Edited by James Arryn
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16 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

perhaps his children would have problems with rebellion justified by him being a usurper but no more than Robert's children and grandchildren would have. Even without the twincest every other lord with a grievance against the king could have played the usurper card against Robert's kids just as they can with Renly.

Robert overturned the principle of peaceful succession (he had justifications), but tried to get it back for himself and House Baratheon, which he seemed to have achieved. But after two rebel kings on the row? The principle of heredity is smashed to pieces. Renly's legacy (which he states plainly) is the idea that throne belongs to the guy with the biggest army.

Also, however many sons are sired by Renly, people will suspect someone else did, just as they suspect that Renly never slept with Margaery.

11 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

 Well yeah she's pregnant with a child that represents a significant threat to the dynasty.

True. Try and say this in defence of Robert and you'll be ripped to shreds. Renly has loyal fans.

10 hours ago, James Arryn said:

Now on the other hand they make Renly maybe the only person in the show with a truly modern moral compass, they give you a sense that as king he had specific liberalizing agendas he was intent on enacting, <snip>

Show Renly might actually be the better person insofar as he expresses real concern for the plights of the underclasses and thinks killing animals for fun is wrong, making yourself at home with peasant girls is exploitative, etc. It’s admirable stuff but nothing to do with book Renly. <snip>

But fighting against that tv version is hard and double edged. <snip>

Wow. Honestly I had no idea, I didn't see the show.

For anyone still fighting the show's allure, I've thought of a few things:

Book Renly is pro hunting (hunts with Robert, owns hunting hawks, loves Tyrells (even more hawks and hounds), and the sporting aspect would appeal to his pleasure-seeking nature). To a degree, he is pro war as well (his war is unnecessary, and under his leadership, the knights of summer treat war as a dreamy game of honour (Brienne: "Winter will never come for the likes of us. Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it's always summer in the songs.") He's careless of the smallfolk in war too (Jorah: "It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace." He gave a shrug. "They never are.") He is anti democratic (Catelyn: "Let the assembled lords of the Seven Kingdoms choose who shall rule them." Renly: "Tell me, my lady, do direwolves vote on who should lead the pack?"). And he is unashamedly luxurious in an age of mass poverty.

So, completely normal for the times, and better than most.

10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I think the whole thing about the best fan-made timelines indicating it took Stannis five months (!!!) after Robert's death to declare his intentions reveal a lot about the guy.

You make it sound like a presidential election. So do many other posters, and I find this completely mystifying.

A man like Stannis would never, never consider the kingship open to competition. He is Robert's legitmate heir, therefore he becomes king when Robert dies. He makes his declaration, five months later or whatever, because people need reminding.

10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

And in this state of mind he later pardons Renly's old buddies. They come aboard because he needs men to defeat the Lannisters and win the Iron Throne. But once he had it, once he sat secure on his throne and had established himself properly ... he would no longer need those men. And then they would have to pay.

Not as high prices as the men who actually fought against him ... but as Cat realizes, Stannis did not intend to spare Robb simply for the crime of crowning himself, so one really wonders how big of difference there is in Stannis' mind between the behavior of Tywin Lannister, Mace Tyrell, and Alester Florent.

They should be all traitors in his eyes.

I guess Stannis might not attaint his wife's uncle and her cousins ... but he wouldn't really reward them, either, and even if he didn't punish (m)any of the Stormlords who originally followed Stannis he would never allow them to forget that they first sided with Renly. He wouldn't show them any specific favors, he wouldn't advance their children, etc.

That sounds right. He's officially pardoned them for treachery, but they are still rotten human beings in his eyes, and that will cost them.

It will bug him that they escaped his justice, but there will never be a moment when King Stannis could safely order mass executions, or overthrow the old lords and make new ones. The country can rise up against oppressive kings, as he knows from the example of Aerys.

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20 hours ago, Ran said:

As already noted with the lines I quoted earlier, once he has the throne he means to settle the score with those who contributed to making the realm bleed . He's pragmatic out of necessity in the moment. He's not intending to stay that way should he come into power.

Whether Davos can dissuade him of that when they come to cross the bridge, no one knows. But this vision of Stannis having permanently forgiven those who he sees as traitors and betrayers is just wrong. The good (finally choosing his side) does not wash out the bad (not having chosen his side to begin with).

No doubt he wants to settle the score, and always will. Death and justice are very close in asoiaf, and I'm pretty sure Stannis instinctively wants heads on spikes. But. I find it interesting that these Baratheon kings choose Hands who want to rein them in. Robert does it twice, with Jon Arryn and Ned. And now Stannis does it with Davos. I assume at some level they know they have - let's say anger management issues - storm lord syndrome - and need a bit of help.

He sincerely treasures Davos, who is obviously going to act independently forever, especially on crucial issues, such as the safety of Edric Storm, or the murder of Melisandre. For these transgressions, Davos has been given all the status and power Stannis has to give. Presumably, so that Davos can be even more independent and effective.

Edited by Springwatch
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49 minutes ago, Springwatch said:

A man like Stannis would never, never consider the kingship open to competition. He is Robert's legitmate heir, therefore he becomes king when Robert dies. He makes his declaration, five months later or whatever, because people need reminding.

But until Stannis makes his declaration, nobody knows he's the heir. (Well, a handful of people do but they're not about to admit it.) You can't remind people of something they couldn't have known.

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13 minutes ago, Springwatch said:

You make it sound like a presidential election. So do many other posters, and I find this completely mystifying.

A man like Stannis would never, never consider the kingship open to competition. He is Robert's legitmate heir, therefore he becomes king when Robert dies. He makes his declaration, five months later or whatever, because people need reminding.

Stannis acts as if everybody knew about the twincest, that everybody knew that Robert's eldest son and anointed heir wasn't his son at all, and that his younger siblings were also not sired by Robert. That is a completely ridiculous assumption on his part.

In fact, as long as we don't know that Stannis ever overheard a conversation in a Bran-like fashion he cannot even be sure that his belief about the true parentage of Cersei's children is correct. He pretty much acts like the evil monstrous uncle in any case since we don't yet know that he had any good reason to believe what he did.

But even if he had a good reason to believe what he did ... time was of the essence in this case. If his many letters had reached the lords of Westeros before Joff's and, especially, Renly's coronation then they may have made a considerable difference. The Lannisters were never popular, so the letters could have motivated a considerable number of lords to either declare for Stannis because they were convinced he was the rightful king or to stay neutral at least.

In relation to Renly's bid for the throne the letters arriving in the Stormlands before Renly proclaimed himself could have dissuaded a considerable number of lords from declaring for Renly. Renly may have been their liege lord, but they may have been motivated by general Lannister hatred, so if Stannis had been the first to approach the Stormlords they may have been more willing to follow him.

13 minutes ago, Springwatch said:

That sounds right. He's officially pardoned them for treachery, but they are still rotten human beings in his eyes, and that will cost them.

It will bug him that they escaped his justice, but there will never be a moment when King Stannis could safely order mass executions, or overthrow the old lords and make new ones. The country can rise up against oppressive kings, as he knows from the example of Aerys.

But he clearly wants to do this, he told Davos himself. And you don't need mass executions to unmake lords, you can just attaint and exile them.

Stannis still believes he can be king, still wants to be king, despite being a joke politically since the Blackwater. If he cannot give up his pointless cause, he could just as well pursue other ridiculously unrealistic goals during his own reign.

And Stannis is not as stupid or mad as Aerys II. As I mentioned already, he knows how to sideline or isolate advisers and companions whose advice and arguments he no longer wants to hear. Not to mention how good he is at having the more sinister, more ugly elements of his court do his dirty work for him, pretending he didn't know, washing his hands of what happened. He has Melisandre and Selyse and Axell for that kind of thing.

Stannis betting everything on his red falcon also means he intends to win the throne with a minimum of conventional help. If he had succeeded at that - or if he were to succeed in the future securing the throne mainly with the help of Melisandre's magic and Braavosi loans - then he wouldn't be under a lot of pressure to reward or spare the lords who didn't stand with their rightful king.

17 minutes ago, Springwatch said:

No doubt he wants to settle the score, and always will. Death and justice are very close in asoiaf, and I'm pretty sure Stannis instinctively wants heads on spikes. But. I find it interesting that these Baratheon kings choose Hands who want to rein them in. Robert does it twice, with Jon Arryn and Ned. And now Stannis does it with Davos. I assume at some level they know they have - let's say anger management issues - storm lord syndrome - and need a bit of help.

Robert chose two Hands who childhood friends and mentors of his - men he thought he could trust because of how close they had been in the past. Neither of them could nor were to supposed to 'rein him in'. Nobody could rein in Robert as Ned himself acknowledged - Jon let Robert waste his money and beggar the Crown, while Ned couldn't even convince Robert to take an active hand in his own government or influence his foreign policies regarding the Targaryens.

All Robert wanted was a guy who gave him what he wanted while not bothering him with the details or second-guessing his own desires.

17 minutes ago, Springwatch said:

He sincerely treasures Davos, who is obviously going to act independently forever, especially on crucial issues, such as the safety of Edric Storm, or the murder of Melisandre. For these transgressions, Davos has been given all the status and power Stannis has to give. Presumably, so that Davos can be even more independent and effective.

Davos can only influence Stannis by making pleas to his self-image. Stannis knows that Davos believes he is a just king, and that's why he can influence how he wants to express that. In a sense, Davos is the mirror in which Stannis can view himself as a just king. But Davos can only help Stannis follow his not-so-bad impulses, he cannot change him in a fundamental way. Robert, for instance, had the grace to spare Daenerys on his deathbed ... Stannis would never do something like that.

And Davos is pretty much a joke as Hand, as every Hand under Stannis would be. Stannis will decide everything himself, his Hand will just be a glorified errand boy, not somebody who can really say 'I speak with the King's Voice'. Basically, every Hand of Stannis should fall sick whenever the king is incapacitated himself, or else they will suffer the fate of Alester Florent if they actually do something they have not first run by Stannis.

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1 hour ago, Springwatch said:

Robert overturned the principle of peaceful succession (he had justifications), but tried to get it back for himself and House Baratheon, which he seemed to have achieved. But after two rebel kings on the row? The principle of heredity is smashed to pieces. Renly's legacy (which he states plainly) is the idea that throne belongs to the guy with the biggest army.

That is the biggest problem in Renly's bid for the throne. Robert's success was also a big problem, inviting other great houses to secede (first the Greyjoys and then later the Starks and the Tullys), but Renly's idea of kingship dealt the hereditary monarchy based on primogeniture another big blow.

If he had ruled as long as Jaehaerys I or Aegon I he could have healed those wounds to a point, but his eventual success is based on the question how he deals with the other Baratheon pretenders. Stannis he had no problem killing in battle. If that had happened, it wouldn't have been that big a stain on his honor. Still nothing to be proud of. Shireen and Selyse he should have treated kindly, possibly making Shireen either the hereditary Lady of Dragonstone or granting her Storm's End. Shireen's health and looks and sex would make it very unlikely she would ever be turned into a successful pretender puppet against Renly.

But if he were to kill or otherwise mistreat Selyse and Shireen this would be a problem for his reputation.

The bigger issue is how to deal with Cersei and her children. Even with the twincest story out in the open, folks might still not believe in it or refuse to believe, so the children have either to be gone or controlled. Killing them would blacken his reputation, keeping them alive while the Lannisters of Casterly Rock still exists means they are a potential danger to his kingship.

Renly could easily enough have become a king whose reign was not only challenged by two Targaryen pretenders in exile but also by a couple of Baratheon pretenders in exile (Joff, Tommen, Myrcella or even Shireen). Depending how successful his overall reign was this could further complicate things for him.

Like Robert, Renly's reign would also be very much dependent on the Tyrells and other close allies, especially while other pretenders were still out there. If he could really kill or control all his potential rivals, there might be peace ... but it could be the peace of the graveyard.

1 hour ago, Springwatch said:

Also, however many sons are sired by Renly, people will suspect someone else did, just as they suspect that Renly never slept with Margaery.

That is the other issue. If Renly were to never father any children or the children he had would all look like Margaery and Loras, folks could come to similar conclusions as Stannis did regarding Cersei's children.

Depending on the number of Renly's sons a younger son could have similar ideas as Renly himself, deciding to follow his father's example upon Renly's death.

And, of course, many a lord or great lord not being okay with Renly's government could decide that secession was the thing to do, since this Renly guy was also just a usurper. While Renly certainly had the best chance to force a reunification of the Realm after he had won the Iron Throne, it is not exactly certain that he would have succeeded there. Especially if Tywin or his successors had decided that Casterly Rock and Lannisport were to secede in the wake of the overthrowal of Joffrey/Tommen.

I'm not sure the Westerlands can be forced to be part of a larger Realm against their will. And without dragons it would be all but impossible to conquer that place.

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42 minutes ago, mormont said:

But until Stannis makes his declaration, nobody knows he's the heir. (Well, a handful of people do but they're not about to admit it.) You can't remind people of something they couldn't have known.

I could have put that better. Initially, Stannis expected his only opposition to be the Lannisters. Over time he learns that his expected allies are actually turning to Renly. They need reminding.

What people know and when is a bit fuzzy. For some reason Stannis chose to communicate by envoy (maybe even just Davos?). Anyway, that would take time. But each of those lords has ravens and fast messengers of their own, so word must have got out. Theoretically.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Stannis acts as if everybody knew about the twincest, that everybody knew that Robert's eldest son and anointed heir wasn't his son at all, and that his younger siblings were also not sired by Robert. That is a completely ridiculous assumption on his part.

Even so, that doesn't justify Renly's own attempt to take the crown.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Stannis acts as if everybody knew about the twincest, that everybody knew that Robert's eldest son and anointed heir wasn't his son at all, and that his younger siblings were also not sired by Robert. That is a completely ridiculous assumption on his part.

In fact, as long as we don't know that Stannis ever overheard a conversation in a Bran-like fashion he cannot even be sure that his belief about the true parentage of Cersei's children is correct. He pretty much acts like the evil monstrous uncle in any case since we don't yet know that he had any good reason to believe what he did.

But even if he had a good reason to believe what he did ... time was of the essence in this case. If his many letters had reached the lords of Westeros before Joff's and, especially, Renly's coronation then they may have made a considerable difference. The Lannisters were never popular, so the letters could have motivated a considerable number of lords to either declare for Stannis because they were convinced he was the rightful king or to stay neutral at least.

In relation to Renly's bid for the throne the letters arriving in the Stormlands before Renly proclaimed himself could have dissuaded a considerable number of lords from declaring for Renly. Renly may have been their liege lord, but they may have been motivated by general Lannister hatred, so if Stannis had been the first to approach the Stormlords they may have been more willing to follow him.

Agree.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

But he clearly wants to do this, he told Davos himself. And you don't need mass executions to unmake lords, you can just attaint and exile them.

Stannis still believes he can be king, still wants to be king, despite being a joke politically since the Blackwater. If he cannot give up his pointless cause, he could just as well pursue other ridiculously unrealistic goals during his own reign.

And Stannis is not as stupid or mad as Aerys II. As I mentioned already, he knows how to sideline or isolate advisers and companions whose advice and arguments he no longer wants to hear. Not to mention how good he is at having the more sinister, more ugly elements of his court do his dirty work for him, pretending he didn't know, washing his hands of what happened. He has Melisandre and Selyse and Axell for that kind of thing.

Stannis betting everything on his red falcon also means he intends to win the throne with a minimum of conventional help. If he had succeeded at that - or if he were to succeed in the future securing the throne mainly with the help of Melisandre's magic and Braavosi loans - then he wouldn't be under a lot of pressure to reward or spare the lords who didn't stand with their rightful king.

Melisandre backing him up with sorcery would take off the restraints to be sure. But I don't think she'd hang around for long. Just not interested - another vain king on another vain throne - would be her attitude.

If Stannis wants to keep the Iron Throne, he'll have to mend his fences and keep his allies like every other king.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Robert chose two Hands who childhood friends and mentors of his - men he thought he could trust because of how close they had been in the past. Neither of them could nor were to supposed to 'rein him in'. Nobody could rein in Robert as Ned himself acknowledged - Jon let Robert waste his money and beggar the Crown, while Ned couldn't even convince Robert to take an active hand in his own government or influence his foreign policies regarding the Targaryens.

All Robert wanted was a guy who gave him what he wanted while not bothering him with the details or second-guessing his own desires.

You're too much the historian, and not enough the novel reader.

Robert loves Ned. Ned loves Robert. Both of them love Jon Arryn (who presumably loved them back.) (Quotes available, but you know them anyway.) So there is a co-dependency that has force between them.

More specifically: He [Ned] was no Jon Arryn, to curb the wildness of his king and teach him wisdom.

This means that in the years they were together, Jon Arryn was trying to curb Robert's behaviour, and with some success (not all the time though!)

Back to Robert's point of view, when he takes Jon Arryn as Hand, and keeps him on - he's chosen someone who opposes his wild behaviour. Successfully or not, it doesn't matter - the interesting thing is the choice of Hand.

And again with Ned. Robert knows Ned's character very well, knows that Ned will oppose his excesses constantly, as he does, over the costs of the tourney, and the threat to Dany. Ned resists him to the point of anger and humiliation, demands to resign - and Robert likes him for it and makes him stay. He actually complains that the rest of his council are flatterers and fools.

[ETA - forgot the rest: Davos loves Stannis. Stannis (as far as we can judge by his actions) loves Davos. It's the same bond.)

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Davos can only influence Stannis by making pleas to his self-image. Stannis knows that Davos believes he is a just king, and that's why he can influence how he wants to express that. In a sense, Davos is the mirror in which Stannis can view himself as a just king.

That's very good. Sound true.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

But Davos can only help Stannis follow his not-so-bad impulses, he cannot change him in a fundamental way. Robert, for instance, had the grace to spare Daenerys on his deathbed ... Stannis would never do something like that.

No, he wouldn't. But Davos did save Edric. Thematically, the king dreams, but the Hand acts, isn't that it?

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

And Davos is pretty much a joke as Hand, as every Hand under Stannis would be. Stannis will decide everything himself, his Hand will just be a glorified errand boy, not somebody who can really say 'I speak with the King's Voice'. Basically, every Hand of Stannis should fall sick whenever the king is incapacitated himself, or else they will suffer the fate of Alester Florent if they actually do something they have not first run by Stannis.

I'm sure Stannis could find a better errand boy than Davos, but, the story went a different way, we'll never know.

Edited by Springwatch
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