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scurvy

[Book Spoilers] Melisandre's seduction of King Stannis

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I was surprised at the brashness of it as well but I had always figured Stannis was sleeping with Melisandre with his wife's permission. Obviously, that would be the only way Stannis would do it and would probably see it more as duty than joy.

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I figured the son she promised was the shadowbaby Mel (and Stannis) use to kill Renly.

Yes, that was probably what she had in mind, but I doubt Stannis knows. I'm among those that don't believe Stannis was aware that his sleeping with her would lead to Renly's death.

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I think the problem with Melisandre starts earlier than the seduction scene. We go to Dragonstone and see a bunch of people on the beach. They are burning wooden statues. It appears that essentially everyone, including Stannis, has become a follower of the red god. Why? There is one person, Cressen, who objects. None of the men even respond to him. They are moving themselves away from the gods of their fathers, and the gods still accepted by most of the people in the Seven Kingdoms. Embracing a foreign religion cannot possibly help Stannis Baratheon and his friends gain alliances in Westeros. Why, then, would they accept such a religion? Is its theology that compelling? We are given no reason to believe this. Later, Davos's son talks about holy books and the power of prayer. This, again, is just one person, and I'm sure followers of The Seven could match stories about how their prayers were answered.

Stannis is obviously interested in power. What power has Melisandre shown to this point? This is the main problem with the lack of a backstory, not the issue of whether Stannis has a daughter or not. Melisandre has no army, no navy, no military experience. As far as we can tell from the TV show, she hasn't performed any magic yet. Later, Cressen tries to poison her. He dies quickly, and she remains healthy and strong. This would impress a man interested in power. Thus, the "true king" might well move toward the worship of The Lord of Light--after the poisoning attempt, not before. Did Melisandre simply bewitch everyone? It's not clear.

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The "problem" everyone has with this scene has a name - Subtlety.

In the book the Stannis - Mel relationship is implied, always very subtle, but it is there for all to see.

On screen the medium prevents the subtlety, unless you want a 2 hour episode every week, (I do!), you get straight in your face booty.

To all who think Stannis is some kind of righteous, virgin but for the one time he had Shireen, against sex and masturbation need only to look at some "Abstnence Only" kind of reverends and preachers that make the news on the US every now and then and their sexual exploits.

If they are loud about being against sex, its usually because they like it too much.

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I don't like Stannis. I always accuse him of only believing in duty and honor when it benefits him. He punishes Davos even as he rewards him, but he lets Renly's men off scot-free because he needs them. He talks about he's rightful king, but he helped overthrow Aerys. Etc Etc.

That said, I've taken two implications from the books about Stannis-Mel

1> he's slept with her

2> he doesn't seem to know what's going with the shadow babies.

Which in my mind always meant she was beguiling him..and with more than just her feminine charms.

The scene played so awkwardly on TV, I might still believe that. At least until Stannis directly speaks about their relations or accepts responsibility for shadow babies.

Of course, I also believe the fight scene between Ned and Jaime in S1 clearly showed Jaime toying with Ned and Ned fighting for his life and then Jaime suddenly realizing he'll have to at least try... but a lot of viewers (and D&D themselves) seem to think that it showed an even match.

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He could, but then he should've banged another woman years ago if he was so desperate for a son.

But no other woman could absolve him of his adultery in the way a Red Pope could.

The only way Stannis can win is if Melis. has miraculous powers. But there's also the fact that for most lords - who likely don't care about religion save as a means of advancement - even if Stannis is defeated they can switch sides.

It is a Game for the nobility, so unless you have a sincere faith in the Seven burning their idols doesn't matter. And there isn't any overly good reason to believe in the Seven, since unlike the weirdwood or R'hollor they have no magic/miracles.

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My issue with Stannis (in the series) is that he appears to be far less self-assured than the Stannis of the books. This could be for several reasons, but one that must be relevant is that series-Stannis has only been around for 3-4 scenes while books Stannis has had a much longer time to grow.

In the books, Stannis is portrayed as a righteous power-house. Not just Davos but Tywin, Varys, Cersei and Tyrion all recognize that Stannis is far, far more dangerous than Robb, Renly or Greyjoy. Stannis is a proven battle commander who is hard, tough and supremely serious. Varys goes so far to say that there is nothing more fearsome than a righteous man with a rightful cuase. Davos obviously has deep resepct for Stannis and for very good reasons. As time goes on, those who are introduced to Stannis are impressed with his seriousness, his honor, his desire to do his duty and his leadership. This is no small list, either: people as diverse as Asha Greyjoy to Jon Snow are not awed of Stannis but give him his due respect at almost every turn.

Series-Stannis seems a far cry (so far) from that Stannis. Series Stannis seems far more skittish; he lacks the Baratheon Confidence that he embraced so much in Clash of Kings. Series-Stannis is mopey; he seems to talk far more about his slights and insults than he does recapturing the throne. Again, that's a distinct difference from the book. In the books Stannis does gripe, but his gripes seem very reasonable: he's pissed that Renly is trying to up-jump him; he cannot abide by Renly's lack of loyalty while Stannis was very loyal to Robert (even though he did not love Robert... even though Stannis eventually DOES admit that he did love Robert [scene outside of Storm's End]). And really, who could blame Stannis for this?

Series Stannis almost appears petty; just another vain lord who wants the crown for himself. But in the book, Stannis is described by many as duty-bound. Melisandre says that Stannis- just like Jon Snow- puts duty above all else. Stannis believes in his mission and in his roll moreso than in a glory. Stannis after all, went to the Wall because the Wall asked and he believed them. No other King- not even Robb -did anything like that. Stannis states at one point that its not that he "wants" the Iron Throne; that "want" plays no part in the decision. Instead, Stannis IS the King, regardless of choice. Series-Stannis seems void of this duty-quotient.

Which brings us to the sex. At first I was put off by Stannis sex-scene with Mel. However, I was reminded that in the books its revealed that Mel and he are in fact having sex (and the lack of recollection on my part says a great deal more about me than it does Martin or the show's writers). I think Stannis has desires just like other men but having them revealed so blatantly is off-putting. Mel tells Stannis stuff he wants to hear so its not really surprising that Stannis gives into a reasonable temptation.

But by doing so the show portrays Stannis, again, as weak insofar as Stannis appears like he's being tricked; that he is the pawn in Mel's game as opposed to being a mover in it. THis is in contrast to Robert who fucked what he wants and does not think twice about it, or even Renly who, while hiding his homosexuality, has sex that he wants with peers. Stannis appears to be having sex with somebody who is using him; hardly a peer.

And this is almost 100% of what we know about Series-Stannis. Unlike book-Stannis who was involvbed with Jon Arryn's discovery and held Storm's End from the Tyrell's and Redwynes and who crushed the Greyjoy Fleet, series-Stannis looks like the indicisive, unsure, vacilating lord who just wants to be King and has some hot woman tricking him into having sex with her.

Now, with all that said, I am not sure its a bad interpretation of Stannis. Book Stannis does resent Robert and clearly thought ill of Renly. Asha Greyjoy sees his resentment of Robert and even Davos sees Stannis' ire towards Renly. Stannis does harp on petty slights (and sometimes with good reason).

However, i think whenever we talk about Stannis we have to see his whole image and so far the book is harping only on those aspects of Stannis that can appear weak or indicisive. I think in time the series has to color in the parts of Stannis that are hard, honorable and tough.

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Implied or not, I never questioned that Mel and Stannis had sex in the books (not even in ACOK). If nothing else, Davos's observation at the end of the shadowbaby chapter gave it away - "He knew that shadow. As he knew the man who'd cast it."

That said, the seduction scene itself felt a bit clumsy and rushed. I would have preferred Stannis resist Melisandre's seduction until episode 3 or 4. The fact that he gave in to her relatively easily undercuts that iron will that Stannis is so well-known for. I had no particular problem with Mel playing the son card as (I believe) the subject of Stannis's dissatisfaction with not having a son and heir is broached on at least a few occasions in the books.

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That scene did not sit well with me either. It is probably the first time I was disappointed with their adaptation of the books. Also, I do not care for all the extra sex scenes they keep adding that were not even in the book. I am not sure if they are trying to cater to a certain audience but I think they are a little over the top at times. I love the books but this is definitely my least favorite aspect about the show. Guess that is what happens when it is on HBO.

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HBO Stannis =/= book Stannis, and its very easy for non-reader viewers to grasp onto the idea that King's need heirs. Plus HBO loves showing nudity and it was probably an easy excuse.

I was very displeased with this scene, as I am a firm believer that Stannis has not slept with Mel in the novels...I don't think that his honor would allow it.

I completely agree. Stannis is so iron-bound by duty and rules that I cannot conceive of him knowingly sleeping with Melisandre. That said, I can very easily see Melisandre glamouring herself to look like Selyse, and through this deception tricking Stannis into having sex with her.

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Beggars can't be choosers we have seen Stannis drop his honor bs when the reality of the situation needed him to. Riding in battle with Pirates and Smugglers, using sorcery etc. The reality of the situation is that he does not have enough men and must do the not so honourable thing like kill his brother with magic and not in the field. So he also needs an heir as his wife cannot produce a son. Which all Kings/lords know is needed to ensure your security in you position. So Stannis bent the rules again, when the reality of the situation called for it.

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Although it would be possible to imagine Mel using glamours to trick him into having sex with her, I don't see him accepting simply in the hopes of having a (bastard) son that he might eventually legitimise. If that motivation were present in him, he would have used it a long time ago to sire bastards, maybe as rationalisation to allow himself to act on his attraction for women he might have met. Or it would be necessary for the two of them to argue that now that he is king, he cannot let his kingdom without an heir, which would excuse his breaking his marriage vows. That I would be more ready to buy, but not in the way it's described in the show.

But no other woman could absolve him of his adultery in the way a Red Pope could.

Stannis is a self-righteous prick who places his own sense of morality and justice above all else and doesn't give a crap about the gods, unless he can use other's belief in them (and even so he is often reluctant). I totally believe that he is ready to do dishonourable things if he sees interest in doing so, but only if he can justify it to himself. Mel absolving him of his sin under the eye of the Red God would do little to him. Rationalising about how it would help him reinforce his power in the long run (including by humouring the very powerful sorceress at her side, even if he clearly does not realise all that it entails), sure.

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I didn't mind this scene, but rather how Stannis is being portrayed. He seems unsure of himself, restless, and brainwashed somewhat. The actor doesn't portray the iron will I'd expect. I just don't see him as the character I know from the books.

In the books there's no indication that he's brainwashed. He doesn't embrace Rhilor but listens to Melisandre because the Seven never helped him and he needs an ace in the hole to overcome his enemies. I bet he had sex with Melisandre in the books but he doesn't show any love for her, but rather need.

And no, the promise of a bastard son wouldn't convince him to do her on the table.

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Mel absolving him of his sin under the eye of the Red God would do little to him. Rationalising about how it would help him reinforce his power in the long run (including by humouring the very powerful sorceress at her side, even if he clearly does not realise all that it entails), sure.

Oh, I agree, I meant that Mel as the Red Pope would absolve Stannis in the eyes of Westeros once her faith replaces the Seven. Plus a son between herself and Stannis would be seen as both a royal and spiritual force.

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I didn't mind this scene, but rather how Stannis is being portrayed. He seems unsure of himself, restless, and brainwashed somewhat. The actor doesn't portray the iron will I'd expect. I just don't see him as the character I know from the books.

In the books there's no indication that he's brainwashed. He doesn't embrace Rhilor but listens to Melisandre because the Seven never helped him and he needs an ace in the hole to overcome his enemies. I bet he had sex with Melisandre in the books but he doesn't show any love for her, but rather need.

And no, the promise of a bastard son wouldn't convince him to do her on the table.

I would not confuse caution with unsure, and no does not seem brainwashed to me, just the opposite.

He knows , and we book readers know, what 'son' means in future events... Stannis has vented his frustration and realizes what has to be done to overcome his disadvantage.

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The "problem" everyone has with this scene has a name - Subtlety.

In the book the Stannis - Mel relationship is implied, always very subtle, but it is there for all to see.

On screen the medium prevents the subtlety, unless you want a 2 hour episode every week, (I do!), you get straight in your face booty.

It has very little to do with subtlety. We simply do not have Stannis & Melisandre POV's from that point in the book. If we had those POV's, it would have been far less subtle. (Because GRRM is not known for subtlety when POVs are in sexual relationships, is he?)

It is more of a difference between mediums, and structure. The show is not following a POV structure. Just because a book POV did not observe is does not mean it could have happened. Remember that.

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Well, I thought he just did the deeds for 'duty' and did not take any enjoyment from it. Melisandre might have had to put him a trance during the process. I remember how he'd always come out of it very ill and weak. I didn't even think he was aware of what was really going on. Brainwashed?

I am aware HBO has to play up all the sex scenes for ratings and what not but come on. Stannis is not sexy.

I enjoyed Renly and Flowers scene better tbh.

Can't wait for the Jon Snow/ Ygritte scene, lol

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For me Stannis bugger*ng Melissandre was totally out of character, and somehow ruined him for me.

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It has very little to do with subtlety. We simply do not have Stannis & Melisandre POV's from that point in the book. If we had those POV's, it would have been far less subtle. (Because GRRM is not known for subtlety when POVs are in sexual relationships, is he?)

It is more of a difference between mediums, and structure. The show is not following a POV structure. Just because a book POV did not observe is does not mean it could have happened. Remember that.

Ambiguity can be achieved intentionally by choosing NOT to have particular characters as POV characters (at particular stages of the series). That can be an active storytelling choice too, not just a a structural one. George is a fan of ambiguity in fiction, as am I.

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For me Stannis bugger*ng Melissandre was totally out of character, and somehow ruined him for me.

Technically speaking Stannis did not "bu**er" Mel, there would be little point in him doing so. But I agree with the overall perception that it happened a bit fast... But then again they only have 10 eps in which to condense hundreds of pages.

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