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Where Martin got it wrong


Tyrosh Lannister
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"Ruling is hard" This was maybe my answer to Martin, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Game of Thrones had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it's not that simple. Martin can say Bran became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Martin doesn't ask the question: What was Bran's Tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood or famine? And what about all these Dothraki? By the end of the war, Dany is gone but all the Dothraki aren't gone - they're in King's Landing. Did Bran pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby Dothraki, in their little Dothraki cradles?

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2 hours ago, Tyrosh Lannister said:

"Ruling is hard" This was maybe my answer to Martin, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Game of Thrones had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it's not that simple.

I'm going to ignore the part of this that talks about show spoilers and focus on the rest. I disagree on the "fisher king" hypothesis, i.e. moral king = good realm, immoral king = bad realm. Rather, I think the books and histories do a reasonable job of illustrating that the skills needed to be an effective ruler are not the same as those needed to be a good man, and most pertinently are not those needed to be a good war-leader. The tax policy question is posed in answer to the Lord of the Rings, which takes a fairly simplistic approach to this issue (in common with the generally polarised morality of Third Age characters).

Who are our Aragorn analogues in ASoIaF? Robert Baratheon, who won his throne through successful warfare against an evil tyrant, won everyone round by being a good old boy, and who then allowed the realm to slip into corruption and instability through lack of aptitude for or interest in ruling. Robb Stark, a warrior hero who rebels against an evil tyrant, but fails to manage the competing demands of his diplomatic relations and is betrayed and murdered.

Looking back through history, we see a variety of different characters, in various combinations of morality, strength and effectiveness. Aenys, who appears to have been good but hopelessly weak, saw his realm destroyed by civil war. Baelor, a man so good he was holy, failed in most of his actual duties as king, almost inevitably cueing up the disastrous reign of Aegon IV. Maegor and Daeron I were great warrior-kings, but both ultimately failed because being good at warfare isn't enough. Viserys I was a good man and for the most part a good king, but who was nevertheless unable or unwilling to address the biggest issue of his reign, which ended up nearly destroying the kingdom as soon as he was gone.

The most successful kings - and those most favourably regarded by posterity - combine  strength at arms, political skill, diplomatic aptitude and occasional ruthlessness: Aegon I, Jaehaerys I, Daeron II. Ideally they have a moral compass too, but it's not essential (it's not clear, for instance, that Aegon was a particularly moral man).

Indeed, probably the most effective ruler we see in action in ASoIaF and certainly the one most generally admired by contemporaries for his rulership is also by most conventional measures one of the worst people in the series: Tywin Lannister.

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5 minutes ago, Adelstein said:

I'm going to ignore the part of this that talks about show spoilers and focus on the rest. I disagree on the "fisher king" hypothesis, i.e. moral king = good realm, immoral king = bad realm. Rather, I think the books and histories do a reasonable job of illustrating that the skills needed to be an effective ruler are not the same as those needed to be a good man, and most pertinently are not those needed to be a good war-leader. The tax policy question is posed in answer to the Lord of the Rings, which takes a fairly simplistic approach to this issue (in common with the generally polarised morality of Third Age characters).

Who are our Aragorn analogues in ASoIaF? Robert Baratheon, who won his throne through successful warfare against an evil tyrant, won everyone round by being a good old boy, and who then allowed the realm to slip into corruption and instability through lack of aptitude for or interest in ruling. Robb Stark, a warrior hero who rebels against an evil tyrant, but fails to manage the competing demands of his diplomatic relations and is betrayed and murdered.

Looking back through history, we see a variety of different characters, in various combinations of morality, strength and effectiveness. Aenys, who appears to have been good but hopelessly weak, saw his realm destroyed by civil war. Baelor, a man so good he was holy, failed in most of his actual duties as king, almost inevitably cueing up the disastrous reign of Aegon IV. Maegor and Daeron I were great warrior-kings, but both ultimately failed because being good at warfare isn't enough. Viserys I was a good man and for the most part a good king, but who was nevertheless unable or unwilling to address the biggest issue of his reign, which ended up nearly destroying the kingdom as soon as he was gone.

The most successful kings - and those most favourably regarded by posterity - combine  strength at arms, political skill, diplomatic aptitude and occasional ruthlessness: Aegon I, Jaehaerys I, Daeron II. Ideally they have a moral compass too, but it's not essential (it's not clear, for instance, that Aegon was a particularly moral man).

Indeed, probably the most effective ruler we see in action in ASoIaF and certainly the one most generally admired by contemporaries for his rulership is also by most conventional measures one of the worst people in the series: Tywin Lannister.

And that's how Martin subverts expectations.

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2 hours ago, Tyrosh Lannister said:

"Ruling is hard" This was maybe my answer to Martin, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Game of Thrones had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it's not that simple. Martin can say Bran became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Martin doesn't ask the question: What was Bran's Tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood or famine? And what about all these Dothraki? By the end of the war, Dany is gone but all the Dothraki aren't gone - they're in King's Landing. Did Bran pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby Dothraki, in their little Dothraki cradles?

Bran will rule for 3.000 years as a worm, I mean weirwood. He will be known as god emperor, but to his enemies like the maesters, he will be known as the tyrant of the known universe planetos. He will then die to fulfill the golden Valyrian steel path, and the scattering will happen, then after some thousands of years the others who were defeated in the Butlerian Jihad War for the Dawn will come chasing after Honored Matres, a sect of Bene Gesserit a sect of Maesters who went out of Westeros territory. Oh and there will be Syrio Forel gholas and such and it will be a Syrio Forel ghola who will be the ultimate hero that will defeat the thinking machines the Others. All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again. Now just where did I read this story before, hmm...

 

Edited by Corvo the Crow
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On 11/3/2022 at 11:44 AM, Adelstein said:

Indeed, probably the most effective ruler we see in action in ASoIaF and certainly the one most generally admired by contemporaries for his rulership is also by most conventional measures one of the worst people in the series: Tywin Lannister.

So did GRRM want to subvert expectations by having the most effective ruler be a generally terrible person?

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