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Brandon Stark, the douchebag?


LordBloodraven

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Since ADWD, Brandon Stark takes a lot of flak from readers and mostly on unproved assumptions. Barbrey Ryswell states that Brandon took his maidenhead and would have married her if not for Lord Rickard's "southron ambitions" and in the same book Barristan Selmy reminisces how Ashara Dayne was "dishonoured" during the Harrenhal tourney and that she turned to "Stark" for comfort. Then there's the quote: "A bloody sword is a thing of beauty" and Brandon going to King's Landing after he heard of the "abduction" of Lyanna by Rhaegar and howling in the throne room for "Rhaegar to come out and die". He's considered the main suspect of Ashara's dishonour and irresponsible for taking the maidenhead of Barbrey Ryswell. I think this is uncalled for since there's no mention of coercion between Brandon and Ashara/Barbrey. According to Barbrey Ryswell, he regretted not being able to marry her and for Ashara we have only Barristan's bitter thoughts and her suicide later. And there's this theory going around which basically states that Brandon knew that Ned was in love with Ashara but bedded her all the same. All of this relies on a thin thread if we look at it. Brandon slept with two ladies which is hardly a douchebaggish thing.

For his trek at King's Landing, whether Rhaegar eloped or abducted Lyanna (Dany believes that Rhaegar took his norther lady at swordpoint, which likely comes from Viserys, who even as a boy at the time, was likely conscious of what was happening), they should have expected people to look for him. Rhaegar was irresponsible for burying himself in the dornish desert while Aerys was blowing the horn of Joramun for fun. If Brandon literally said that Rhaegar should "come out and die", it is a douchy thing but still Rhaegar was more of a douche for running around with a 15 yo maiden while letting his sickly wife and kids at home. The "come out and die" seems like more of a emotional, unwise outburst than a truly thought challenge.

So yeah, we can pin on him his untimely outburst but what about Rhaegar who was so emo that destroying his dynasty was worth his "love" for a betrothed maiden. Why didn't he elope with Falyse Stockworth or Goodwife Amabel to save Westeros from the others? Brandon takes a lot of flak for things that weren't under his control and for sleeping around. So what's your assessment of the character

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Bit of a mystery. He sounds kind of like Robert, and it's implied that he may have a few bastards around. On the other hand when challenged to duel by Littlefinger (for Cat) he gives Littlefinger numerous opportunities to yield. That seems rather fair minded and sporting if you ask me. Short of whoever told the story about Brandon calling for Rhaegar's blood, he doesn't seem to be remembered negatively by characters, that I can recall.

It's interesting that Cat has so little to say of Brandon. Apparently Brandon was on his way(Or coming back. I can't remember) to Riverrun when he heard about Lyanna. So it seems like Brandon and Catelyn were familiar with each other enough for visits.

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Yes. Hes more like Theon before Winterfell than most of the current Starks. You do not go to Court and threaten the King, or threaten his son in his presence. Under English Law of the time, it was a treasonable (ie execution) for even "imagining to kill the King" and I think Tywins reaction to Tyrions harsh words on Joffrey is very indicative. It is treason to threaten to kill the Royal family. By the letter of the Law, the Mad King had every right to kill the man. Being an idiot meathead is no excuse.

Plus, by the sound of it. Brandon Stark was a hypocrite; plain and simple. He dishonoured several noble women and yet blew his top off when it happened to be his sister; who may even have came willingly. His reaction is more about his patriarchal sense of family honour being insulted by Rhaegar stealing a female member of his house intended to strengthen its political positon. The fact that he doesn't see this in his own actions entails a massive amount of entitlement. He thinks its his right as the head of a great house to have his way with the women of lesser houses. Which is exactly how Rhaegar might have viewed abducting Lyanna if thats how it went down. Hence defending his, not his sisters honour, is only a kind of selfish ego, he wants to put himself across as an honorable heir when he is nothing of the sort.

I think thats about as harsh as I can get. ;)

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I actually dont know. I actually think that Ashara Dayne business was Ned but thats just me. lawl. It did sound like Brandon Stark was a bit of a putz because he was sleeping around a bit and being all gung-ho about the Rhaegar/Lyanna thing without a lot of proof about what really happened there. Am i surprised he went to King's Landing and was all "OI!"? Nah. Not the smartest of moves but didnt some characters point out that Brandon was rather rash anyway?

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I'd say he sounds like Robert, but slightly better. Ned Stark said Lyanna had "a little of the wolf's blood" in her and Brandon had "more than a little," if I remember correctly. I tend to think of him as a wild, immensely charismatic extrovert.

Selmy said Brandon had "dishonored" Ashara by sleeping with her and impregnating her, but it sounds like she cared for him enough to grieve for him. Selmy implies that too. The worst thing about this is that I think Brandon was already betrothed to Catelyn at this time. And Selmy's biased against Brandon 'cause he loved Ashara. Daenerys pursued an affair with Daario despite being engaged to Hizdahr, but Selmy was careful to describe their romance in a way that wouldn't besmirch her honor. But it was the same sort of thing. One of his KG brothers had a paramour, but Selmy didn't seem pariticularly bothered by that either, though that knight was breaking his vows by having one. He's prejudiced against Brandon's relationship with Ashara because it indirectly caused her death.

Lady Dustin too is biased. She said "Brandon didn't want her [Catelyn]." But was this before or after he met Catelyn? It's possible Catelyn was more excited about Brandon than Brandon was about Catelyn, but it sounds like Brandon was charming and funny in Catelyn's presence too. He respected her enough to not kill Petyr because she asked. I don't think Lady Dustin's lying about what Brandon said about the betrothal, but Brandon may have been, or he may have changed his mind later. Also, Lady Dustin loved Brandon - their little fling sounded entirely consensual, and I don't particularly have a problem with it.

The thing that doesn't make Brandon sound good is the whole "he liked the look of blood on his sword" thing. Both meanings are a bit...icky. But still...so what? Ned said Brandon was even wilder than Lyanna, but it sounds to me like he (judging by his actions) was still a better person overall than say, Robert or Oberyn Martell.

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Bit of a mystery. He sounds kind of like Robert, and it's implied that he may have a few bastards around. On the other hand when challenged to duel by Littlefinger (for Cat) he gives Littlefinger numerous opportunities to yield. That seems rather fair minded and sporting if you ask me. Short of whoever told the story about Brandon calling for Rhaegar's blood, he doesn't seem to be remembered negatively by characters, that I can recall.

It's interesting that Cat has so little to say of Brandon. Apparently Brandon was on his way(Or coming back. I can't remember) to Riverrun when he heard about Lyanna. So it seems like Brandon and Catelyn were familiar with each other enough for visits.

I don't see him like Robert. More like Edmure but with "wolfblood". Robert didn't care about the women after he slept with them and somehow I don't see Brandon that way.

I agree, it's weird that Cat doesn't think or talk much about Brandond given that they knew each other through his visits at Riverrun. It may be due to Ned who's quite complexed toward his elder brother so I don't know. And there was a timeline where they were all in the vicinity of Riverrun before Brandon and his comrades rode off to KL.

Yes. Hes more like Theon before Winterfell than most of the current Starks. You do not go to Court and threaten the King, or threaten his son in his presence. Under English Law of the time, it was a treasonable (ie execution) for even "imagining to kill the King" and I think Tywins reaction to Tyrions harsh words on Joffrey is very indicative. It is treason to threaten to kill the Royal family. By the letter of the Law, the Mad King had every right to kill the man. Being an idiot meathead is no excuse.

Plus, by the sound of it. Brandon Stark was a hypocrite; plain and simple. He dishonoured several noble women and yet blew his top off when it happened to be his sister; who may even have came willingly. His reaction is more about his patriarchal sense of family honour being insulted by Rhaegar stealing a female member of his house intended to strengthen its political positon. The fact that he doesn't see this in his own actions entails a massive amount of entitlement. He thinks its his right as the head of a great house to have his way with the women of lesser houses. Which is exactly how Rhaegar might have viewed abducting Lyanna if thats how it went down. Hence defending his, not his sisters honour, is only a kind of selfish ego, he wants to put himself across as an honorable heir when he is nothing of the sort.

I think thats about as harsh as I can get. ;)

Sure, it's stupid to threaten the crown prince in the Throne Room. But these were special circumstances, don't you agree?

I don't see why you say that he dishonoured women. So he slept with Lady Dustin who was willing and some other girls without any trace of coercion and you say that he dishonoured them and is a hypocrite. Sleeping around is different from running off with a betrothed maiden while married; there's no commitment in sleeping around while there's more in what Rhaegar did. He was definitely hotheaded but it takes more than that to do what Rhaegar did.

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Given that he paraded in front of the King and yelled in his face rather than trying to find his sister. I can only assume that it wasn't in the forefront of his mind. He was after vengence and felt it was more important to have a big man moment in front of the King; rather than find his sister. That is selfish and disgusting. He travelled hundreds of miles and the best thing he thought he could do with his time was to hurl spit at the King?

Actually, in a patriarchy pre-marital sex for women is forbidden and part of being a father was that you made sure your daughter wasn't screwed by a single man. This was very much a matter of family and masculine honour. Brandon was directly insulting other lords with his casual affairs, by the standards of his own society, and only got away with this because he was the heir to Winterfell. He then bitches when Rhaegar does this and goes to avenge his honour. Mans a hypocrite; pure and simple.

He dishonoured Ashara. I assume that implies rape in medieval jargan.

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I think Brandon is very tough to judge. On the one hand, he never does anything immoral, but he was plainly not fit to be lord of Winterfell. Many readers could judge him more harshly because they feel the need to justify the fact that they are perversely glad that he died (i include myself here). He is a sacrificed in order for Ned, the competent brother, to rule the North. I do tend to demonize characters that must be killed in favour of my favourite characters, because otherwise I feel guilty.

with regards to Catelyn's feelings, and her lack of dwelling on Brandon and his death, I would say she is similarly motivated. It's an awful thing to be happy in your marriage that only came about because your previous fiancee died. Brandon had to die for Cat to marry Ned. to think about the subject to long would lead to very uncomfortable reflections. Would I go back and alter things, even if it meant marrying the wrong brother? Am I glad things turned out this way? Am I a terrible person for feeling this way? There must be a certain amount of guilt involved. I would personally avoid thinking about it at all costs

Also, I take what Lady Barbrey says with a pinch of salt. We don't know whether Brandon wanted to marry her at all.

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Given that he paraded in front of the King and yelled in his face rather than trying to find his sister. I can only assume that it wasn't in the forefront of his mind. He was after vengence and felt it was more important to have a big man moment in front of the King; rather than find his sister. That is selfish and disgusting. He travelled hundreds of miles and the best thing he thought he could do with his time was to hurl spit at the King?

You're filling in the blanks with out any evidence. According to one POV loyal to the crown, Brandon called for Rhaegar to 'come out and die'. That's all we know, and its not from a neutral source. It could have been a legitimate call for a duel, or simply a call for satisfaction. There's no evidence that Brandon saw the king, or spit at him(if you mean this literally).

He dishonoured Ashara. I assume that implies rape in medieval jargan.

No evidence of this. She was 'dishonored', and Selmy wonders if things had gone differently would she have 'looked to me instead of Stark'. That doesn't necessarily imply Brandon. On the other hand Ned Dayne believes that Ned Stark was the one who slept with her.

EDIT: Fixing quotes.

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No evidence of this. She was 'dishonored' by a Stark according to Selmy. That doesn't necessarily imply Brandon. On the other hand Ned Dayne believes that Ned Stark was the one who slept with her.

hmm.. Are you arguing that there is no evidence that rape meant dishonour, or evidence that Brandon dishonoured Ashara? There is a lot of textual evidence for both Brandon and Ned. Personally, I think the evidence is stronger in Brandon's case

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hmm.. Are you arguing that there is no evidence that rape meant dishonour, or evidence that Brandon dishonoured Ashara? There is a lot of textual evidence for both Brandon and Ned. Personally, I think the evidence is stronger in Brandon's case

I can't recall any evidence that Brandon had anything to do with her short of asking her to dance with Ned.

Although as Knight of Stormlands it's likely that Ser Barristan would have a different view of premarital sex than a dornish woman. So no I don't think 'dishonored' implies rape either.

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You're filling in the blanks with out any evidence. According to one POV loyal to the crown, Brandon called for Rhaegar to 'come out and die'. That's all we know, and its not from a neutral source. It could have been a legitimate call for a duel, or simply a call for satisfaction. There's no evidence that Brandon saw the king, or spit at him(if you mean this literally).

I imagine him shouting and spittle leaving his mouth as he does so. Not actually choke up the effort to spit at the King.

Plus, a duel? Not "give back my sister". Shouldn't that be his main concern? Not getting his sword bloody and getting off on his own anger?

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No evidence of this. She was 'dishonored', and 'turned to' a Stark according to Selmy. That doesn't necessarily imply Brandon. On the other hand Ned Dayne believes that Ned Stark was the one who slept with her.

Ned Dayne says that Eddard Stark loved Ashara, not that he slept with her. It's perfectly possible that Ashara didn't feel impressed by young, shy Eddard, and felt attracted to older, bold Brandon. Brandon could have sleeped with the girl Eddard liked, which would make him an even greater douchebag.

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The whole Brandon/Ashara thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't like how it's held up to be basically a fact around here when, IIRC, we don't hear about a Stark dishonoring Ashara, we only hear about a man dishonoring her and then her turning to a Stark for comfort. I don't like how everyone assumes that Catelyn was basically a non-entity in Brandon's eyes, as if there's no possibility that he may have chosen not to sleep around right before his upcoming wedding to a girl he's been engaged to and known for six years (I don't think he was faithful to her for all of those six years, but right before the wedding? Come on! If it's true, Brandon is an exceptional jerk). I don't like how everyone assumes that Brandon would have slept with Ashara just because some men think her gorgeous. To paraphrase the point ARYa_Nym often makes, just because a girl is beautiful doesn't mean every straight hot-blooded male would be attracted to her and jump in bed with her. There's basically nothing about Ashara's possible romantic/sexual engagements with either of the Stark brothers that I like.

Lady Dustin too is biased. She said "Brandon didn't want her [Catelyn]." But was this before or after he met Catelyn? It's possible Catelyn was more excited about Brandon than Brandon was about Catelyn, but it sounds like Brandon was charming and funny in Catelyn's presence too. He respected her enough to not kill Petyr because she asked. I don't think Lady Dustin's lying about what Brandon said about the betrothal, but Brandon may have been, or he may have changed his mind later. Also, Lady Dustin loved Brandon - their little fling sounded entirely consensual, and I don't particularly have a problem with it.

That and he was open enough in her presence for her to know him not only as a charming and funny guy, but to know that "his mirth was as wild as his rages". I think they knew each other better than most people here assume, even if they weren't exceptionally close and honest with each other (there's no indication that Catelyn knew or suspected anything about Brandon's sex life, for example). I think she loved him, even if it was love of different kind than the one between her and Ned.

I agree, it's weird that Cat doesn't think or talk much about Brandond given that they knew each other through his visits at Riverrun. It may be due to Ned who's quite complexed toward his elder brother so I don't know. And there was a timeline where they were all in the vicinity of Riverrun before Brandon and his comrades rode off to KL.

I think it's just time at work. She called the story of his death "an ugly tale, and sixteen years old", but it was still painful for her to think or speak of.

“He was on his way to Riverrun when…” Strange, how telling it still made her throat grow tight, after all these years. “…when he heard about Lyanna, and went to King’s Landing instead.”
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Ned Dayne says that Eddard Stark loved Ashara, not that he slept with her. It's perfectly possible that Ashara didn't feel impressed by young, shy Eddard, and felt attracted to older, bold Brandon. Brandon could have sleeped with the girl Eddard liked, which would make him an even greater douchebag.

Could yes, but people are talking as if there is evidence that he did. I can't recall any.

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I imagine him shouting and spittle leaving his mouth as he does so. Not actually choke up the effort to spit at the King.

Plus, a duel? Not "give back my sister". Shouldn't that be his main concern? Not getting his sword bloody and getting off on his own anger?

My point is you don't know what he sad. Maybe he did ask for his sister. By all means, go to great lengths to come up with things that you imagine that he said with out support from the text.

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Just wondering... is the timeline known around Brandon's death?

Considering

1) Brandon was engaged to Cat

2) Brandon seemingly wasn't the "no premarital sex" kinda guy

3) As soon as he died, Ned was hurriedly married to her

4) While Ned went to war, Cat gave birth to Robb

As a bonus: if it's true that Brandon dishonoured Ashara Dayne while betrothed to Cat, then chose Cat... then Robb's actions with Jeyne would be one of those typical inversions. Of course, same if it's with Ned.

====

And I wouldn't call him a douchebag. Just a brainless twat for his KL stunt.

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I can't recall any evidence that Brandon had anything to do with her short of asking her to dance with Ned.

Although as Knight of Stormlands it's likely that Ser Barristan would have a different view of premarital sex than a dornish woman. So no I don't think 'dishonored' implies rape either.

Ye i never got the impression that Ashara was raped.

I think the way the text is set up favours Brandon as the father. We are told again and again that N+A=J, which we know is untrue. Martin has been telling us a story that doesn't quite fit, Ned would never have dishonoured either woman imo. If Ned slept with Ashara, it was extremely uncharacteristic, whereas Brandon, as we know could well have fathered bastards with highborn ladies without much thought. When presented with the Brandon theory, it made much more sense to me.

When Robb marries Jeyne, he says "it's what father would have done", which I think is another subtle clue by Martin.

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Could yes, but people are talking as if there is evidence that he did. I can't recall any.

There is no evidence at all. It could be Brandon, or it could be Ned. All we know is that 1.-Ned loved Ashara, 2.-Brandon was a lady-killer, and 3.-One of them impregnated Ashara.

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