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The Smiling Eye

What Would Have Been Eddard's Best Move?

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When Robert died, he left Eddard as Lord Protector, obviously. Then, a chain of events set into motion. Ned stubbornly chose to vow to put Stannis on the throne and disagree with everyone else in the city of importance, and got himself arrested, and later killed as a result.

His goal is to:

A.) Survive and not get beheaded

B.) Put a righteous, honorable ruler on the throne eventually who will serve justice.

Whether he was honorable, or not, what would his best course of action been?

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Run and fast as both Stannis and later Renly did. Once safely from KL he could have called Great Council or just join forces with Stannis. If he promised to remove Lannisters from power he could have had probably even support from Martells.

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Run and fast as both Stannis and later Renly did. Once safely from KL he could have called Great Council or just join forces with Stannis. If he promised to remove Lannisters from power he could have had probably even support from Martells.

Not a bad idea either, although Ned was probably far too stubborn to go to war over something as 'trivial' as that. If he ran, he probably would have just hung out in Winterfell. Although, I'm sure that him knowing the rightful heir was not seated on the Iron Throne would have been eating away at him and his honor every day.

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That depends. How I would have done it (with hindsight that is difficult to ignore, of course):

Get Sansa and Arya out of the city. Seemingly agree with Littlefinger's plan in order to get the Gold Cloaks on my side. Grab Joff, Tommen and Myrcella as hostages. Send a raven to Stannis. Have Littlefinger arrested after taking Cersei. Put Stan the Man on the throne.

This may still have ended in war, though. The hostages would have likely turned to nothing more than heads on pikes, courtesy of Stannis. I don't know what Renly would have done, but with no King in the North and Joffrey on display, I doubt it would be to declare himself king. Tyrells would fall in behind the Baratheons, as would the North, so if the Lannisters decided to make war it would not be a long one.

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Return north, take no sides. Everything would have played out pretty much as before, but with the Starks in Winterfell and no war with the Greyjoys, Winterfell wouldn't have fallen, and the North would be well-placed to help defend the wall when whatever the Others do happens. The southern lords would have fought in much the same way as before, reaching some sort of stalemate or peace eventually.

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Run and fast as both Stannis and later Renly did. Once safely from KL he could have called Great Council or just join forces with Stannis. If he promised to remove Lannisters from power he could have had probably even support from Martells.

Before he approached the Queen get his kids out of King's Landing . . once his kids were safe then tell the Queen the truth. Send the kids to Stannis at Dragonstone so they will be safe.

Then approach the Queen . . once he told her then get out of dodge along with Renly, convince Renly and the Tyrells to join Stannis . . have Rob and Edumure keep Tywin at Bay but also to keep an eye out for the Iron Born . . King's Landing would fall and folks would toss Joffrey and Cersei out . . Tyrion would die as well :(

But peace would be in the realm . . . until The White Walkers and Dany and her Dragons showed up .. . .

Never a happy ending in Martin's world . .

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Or the path that leads to the least amount of deaths. Hire a Faceless Man and assasainate Cersei, Jaime, Joffrey, and Tywin Lannister via making it look like an accident. Tommen would have been pressured to surrender his crown to Stannis. And all would have been well. Ser Kevan wouldn't defy the realm by himself. He would bow to Stannis.

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Renly would have been the wisest choice. 100,000+ in Renly's Army+Northmen and Men from the Riverlands would only ensure the Lannisters defeat. Siding with Stannis would not be as wise a choice, but Ned would have done it as he was honorable and Stannis was the rightful heir. North+Riverlands+Stannis's forces would have been pretty kickass though.

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Ned's dumbest move, namely telling Cersei, came before Robert even died. But if we're limited to that, I think he should have sent the girls away, along with most of his household, as soon as it looked like Robert was a goner. Even if he only sent them to Dragonstone. I'm not convinced that openly siding with Renly or Stannis or Littlefinger at that point would have been wise. He should have gotten as many people out while Robert was still alive, and then left himself either at the same time or as soon as Robert died. Get everyone above Moat Cailin and go on lockdown. Let Renly, Stannis and Joffrey fight amongst themselves, and focus forces on preventing an invasion of the North and possibly getting the Lannisters' goons out of the Riverlands.

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Ned's dumbest move, namely telling Cersei, came before Robert even died. But if we're limited to that, I think he should have sent the girls away, along with most of his household, as soon as it looked like Robert was a goner. Even if he only sent them to Dragonstone. I'm not convinced that openly siding with Renly or Stannis or Littlefinger at that point would have been wise. He should have gotten as many people out while Robert was still alive, and then left himself either at the same time or as soon as Robert died. Get everyone above Moat Cailin and go on lockdown. Let Renly, Stannis and Joffrey fight amongst themselves, and focus forces on preventing an invasion of the North and possibly getting the Lannisters' goons out of the Riverlands.

No. His dumbest move was turning down Littlefinger and Renly. While telling Cersei was dumb. Perhaps that could be attributed to ignorance of Cersei's character. One she's told you “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." Its been established, precisely what the stakes are. By the time Robert is dying its clear Cersei hasn't vacated the city. At which point Ned is no longer in a position to dictate terms to Renly or Petyr. Yet, Ned continues to condescend to them.

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Or the path that leads to the least amount of deaths. Hire a Faceless Man and assasainate Cersei, Jaime, Joffrey, and Tywin Lannister via making it look like an accident. Tommen would have been pressured to surrender his crown to Stannis. And all would have been well. Ser Kevan wouldn't defy the realm by himself. He would bow to Stannis.

IIRC (and I think this was in the book, not the HBO series, sometimes I get them tangled), either Varys or Littlefinger said they couldn't afford to hire a Faceless Man.

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Saying Ned should have allied with Renly is silly, because then he wouldn't be Ned. The OP said for the sake of this thread, Ned's goal is to

B.) Put a righteous, honorable ruler on the throne eventually who will serve justice.

Renly doesn't fit the description. If Ned is going to forsake his honor andlet the laws and customs of Westeros be spat upon, he might as well just support Joffrey for king. But Joffrey wasn't Robert's heir, and neither was Renly.

First thing Ned needs to do is get the hell out of King's Landing the moment Robert dies. Goal (A) is easy, once hes back in the north with his bannermen he can defend from practically any invasion. (B ) is harder. If he allies with Stannis and calls the FULL strength of the North, including every last levy and the hill tribes, who respected Ned, that gives Ned and Stannis maybe 35,000 men. Tywin would respect Ned more than Robb, and as a result would probably commit more to fighting the North and Riverlands. Balon would be much less likely to attack Lord Eddard Stark than King Robb, plus Ned would have never let Theon return to the islands. Assuming the Starks still capture Jaime, no Theon taking Winterfell and "killing" the boys means no Cat setting Jaime free, so the Starks keep that valuable bargaining chip. With both Ned and Robb leading the northern armies they could do a lot of damage. That might mean that Tywin doesn't have the option to group up with the Tyrells and go to KL, so when Stannis shadowbabies Renly he could successfully take the capital.

Still, its a tough situation. Taking King's Landing is one thing, Stannis and Ned keeping it is another. But with the North, the Riverlands, Stannis, and the Stormlands on one side, its possible to keep the Lannisters off the throne. And if that coalition could somehow manage to bring the Vale in on their side, the war would be over.

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No. His dumbest move was turning down Littlefinger and Renly. While telling Cersei was dumb. Perhaps that could be attributed to ignorance of Cersei's character. One she's told you “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." Its been established, precisely what the stakes are. By the time Robert is dying its clear Cersei hasn't vacated the city. At which point Ned is no longer in a position to dictate terms to Renly or Petyr. Yet, Ned continues to condescend to them.

Going with Littlefinger or Renly doesn't keep the North out of the conflict, though, and would be a mess in the long run. My aim in describing what he should have done was to get him and the girls out of the city, and keep the North out of the main dynastic conflict. Picking a side at that point would have been futile — Littlefinger would have screwed him over at some point anyway, and if Melisandre had still succeeded in killing Renly, that'd put Ned right back where he started. He should have done what the Vale did — be on alert but otherwise uninvolved — and let them all wreck each other.

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I agree Apple-but the OP asked how Ned would put a ruler who was acceptable to him on the throne, and just defending the North, while probably the smart choice for the Starks, wouldn't do that.

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