"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stannis Baratheon

("They'll bend the knee or be destroyed.")

(Stannis is coming to Winter.)

From the series.

Stannis was born the second son to Steffon Baratheon and Cassana Estermont, the younger brother of Robert Baratheon and the older brother of Renly Baratheon. His parents died when he was thirteen. He lost his faith in the Seven on that day, vowing that gods who were cruel enough to take his father and mother in sight of their children would never have his worship.[8] Even in his youth he was said to be a serious, dour and humorless boy.
Stannis's stubbornness and determination are legendary and served him well during Robert's Rebellion. He successfully held the Baratheon castle of Storm's End against Mace Tyrell's siege,[9] which lasted the majority of the war, unintentionally ensuring one of the largest loyalist forces did not take the field against the rebels. His garrison held under desperate conditions, only avoiding starvation by the timely intervention of a smuggler, Davos. His cargo of onions allowed them to hold the fortress. After the siege was lifted by Lord Eddard Stark, Stannis took Davos into his service, dubbing him "The Onion Knight" and allowing him to choose the name Seaworth for his new house. True to Stannis' inflexible sense of justice, he also punished Davos for his crimes as a smuggler by removing the first joint from each finger of Davos's left hand, as payment for his past crimes. Davos accepted the punishment provided Stannis carry it out himself.
Following the Sack of King's Landing and the surrender of the Tyrells at Storm's End, the new king, Robert Baratheon, charged his brother Stannis with building a new fleet to seize Dragonstone, which was still loyal to the TargaryensViserys and Daenerys Targaryen were smuggled from the island before Stannis could capture Dragonstone, which upset Robert. The king blamed Stannis for letting the Targaryen heirs escape,[10] although the two children had been spirited to safety by Targaryen loyalists shortly before Stannis set sail.[11] After commanding the successful assault on Dragonstone, Stannis was displeased to discover that King Robert had named him Lord of Dragonstone, instead of the wealthier Storm's End, which was given to their younger brother Renly, who had not done anything of true note during the war. Stannis resented this as an intentional slight,[6] which Cersei Lannister agrees with.[10] However, Robert needed a strong ruler to control what had been a holdout of the Mad King's loyalists, and Stannis was much more suited for this role than Renly was.[12] The island castle was the traditional seat of the heir of the Iron Throne, the Prince of Dragonstone, so the then-childless Robert was granting it to his heir at that time, Stannis.[13] It had the added advantage of taking prickly Stannis away from the mainland of Westeros. True to his nature, Stannis became an effective and efficient administrator as head of House Baratheon of Dragonstone.
During his wedding to Lady Selyse Florent, King Robert deflowered Delena Florent on Stannis's wedding bed. This coupling led to the birth of Edric Storm, the only acknowledged bastard of the king. Stannis insisted that he was a blight upon the honor of his wife's house and promptly shipped him off to his other uncle, Lord Renly, at Storm's End.[15]Stannis was appointed to the small council as well, as the master of ships.[9] During Greyjoy's Rebellion, Stannis commanded the royal fleet and trapped and destroyed much of the Iron Fleetat Fair Isle. Afterwards, he subdued Great Wyk in his brother's name.[14] While he was at court in King's Landing, Stannis left Ser Axell Florent as castellan of Dragonstone.
Despite his loyalty and service to his brother Robert, Stannis feels Robert has given him little in return. Instead of thanking him for holding Storm's End against the Tyrells he thanked Eddard Stark for lifting the siege instead. Instead of thanking Stannis for capturing Dragonstone for him, Robert blamed Stannis for the escape of the Targaryen children.[6] Stannis helped Jon Arryn, Robert's Hand of the King, in ruling the kingdoms but received little or no acknowledgement or thanks from his elder brother, who spent his time, hunting, drinking and whoring. Stannis never complained publicly since service without expectation of reward was required of him in his positions, although he often did so privately to Robert and Cersei.[10]
Just prior to the events of A Game of Thrones, Stannis suspected that the children of Queen Cersei Lannister were not actually Robert's. He confided his suspicions to Lord Arryn, and they investigated the matter together. Stannis did not bring his suspicions to Robert, as he knew Robert would not believe the charges coming from him. Since Robert had no love for his brother Stannis, the younger Baratheon would be seen as making himself heir. However, Stannis felt Robert would listen if the charges came from Jon Arryn, whom Robert loved. They visited several of Robert's baseborn children in the city and Stannis pointed out that all had black hair and they looked like Robert. Jon consulted the book The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms of past marriages of noble houses and discovered the same was true: whenever a Baratheon wed, their sons and daughters would have black hair, even if the other parent was a golden-haired Lannister.
After determining that Cersei's children were in fact not Robert's, Jon meant to act and planned for his son Robert Arryn to be fostered with Stannis on Dragonstone. However, Lord Arryn died before he could bring the evidence before Robert.

After the death of Jon Arryn, Stannis flees to Dragonstone to gather his strength and plan his next move.[16] Lord Eddard Stark wonders why Stannis left, believing it was due to the discovery of whatever secret Jon Arryn was allegedly murdered for, although not realizing that Stannis was also slighted by Robert's selection of Eddard as his new Hand of the King. Ned, via Grand Maester Pycelle, sends a raven with a polite letter requesting Lord Stannis to return to his seat on the small council.[17] During Eddard's investigation of Jon's death, he discovers that Stannis and Jon had spent a great deal of time together. When he is told Stannis and Jon visited a brothel, when Stannis is normally so righteous to the point of prudish, he gets closer to the truth.[9] Robert dies after a boar hunt and is succeeded by his son, Joffrey Baratheon.[18] Eddard tries to rule as regent, but is outmaneuvered by Robert's widow, Cersei Lannister. The boy king Joffrey subsequently has Eddard executed.[19]
On Dragonstone, Stannis declares he is the true heir of Robert Baratheon to the Iron Throne, as Joffrey has no true claim to the throne. Since the king's death Stannis has been gathering what strength he can from the lords of the narrow sea and from Myrish and Lyseni sellswords, but his forces are too few to challenge the Lannisters in King's Landing. Additionally, his younger brother, Renly, has also declared himself king with the support of House Tyrell; most of the Baratheon bannermen in the Stormlands are following Renly. Stannis's maesterCressen, suggests he should treat with Robb Stark, who has been declared King in the North, or Lysa Arryn, but his wife, Selyse, says Stannis should not treat for what is his by right.
Selyse has fallen under the influence of Melisandre, a priestess of the Lord of Light. She declares the Red Comet is a sign that Stannis must sail and the banners of the Reach and the Stormlands will flock to him, but Stannis is not convinced. Selyse then tells him to embrace the Lord of Light. She says Melisandre has looked into the flames and seen Renly dead.[6] Stannis renounces the Faith of the Seven and embraces the Lord of Light, seeking only the power that Melisandre promises will follow. The statues of the Seven at Dragonstone are burned in sacrifice. Melisandre proclaims Stannis to be Azor Ahai reborn, a messianic figure in the R'hllor faith. His switch to the faith of R'hllor divides Stannis's own men into two factions: King's Men who still follow the Faith of the Seven and Queen's Men who worship R'hllor.[8]
As a first step toward claiming the Iron Throne, Stannis has hundreds of letters sent to lords throughout Westeros proclaiming himself king and claiming, correctly, that Ser Jaime Lannister, not Robert Baratheon, is the father of Cersei's children.[8] Rather than a direct assault on King's Landing, Stannis leads his forces to besiege Storm's End, hoping to convince his younger brother to join forces with him. He offers Renly to be his heir and a place at the king's small council. Renly makes light of the offer and the brothers have an inconclusive parley that fails to reconcile them. They agree that their forces will meet at dawn. That night, Melisandre uses her magic to birth an animated shadow, which assassinates Renly in his tent at first light. The majority of Renly's followers subsequently swear allegiance to Stannis.
One of Renly's sworn swords who refuses to follow Stannis is Ser Cortnay Penrose, castellan of Storm's End. Cortnay refuses to surrender the castle, fearing what Stannis would do to the bastard within, Edric Storm. He challenges Stannis to a duel, which the king refuses. Ser Davos Seaworth rows Melisandre beneath the fortress, and the priestess assassinates Penrose as she did Renly.
With Storm's End under his control, Stannis launches an amphibious assault on King's Landing. Braving wildfire, a river-spanning chain, and other defenses, Stannis's forces are defeated at the cusp of victory when Lannister and Tyrell reinforcements unexpectedly arrive, seemingly led by Renly's ghost; it is in fact Garlan Tyrell wearing the deceased Renly's armour.
Stannis returns to Dragonstone, his host broken by the Battle of the Blackwater.[20] He has his Hand of the King, Lord Alester Florent, imprisoned when the man attempts to make peace with the Lannisters by offering them Stannis's daughter, Shireen Baratheon, as a hostage.[21]
When Ser Davos Seaworth returns to Dragonstone, Stannis has him brought before him to hear Axell Florent's plan to assault Claw Isle and put the island to the sword in retaliation for Lord Ardrian Celtigar's submission to King Joffrey. Davos calls the plan evil, stating that the smallfolk of Claw Isle are not traitors. Stannis agrees and names Davos Seaworth his new Hand of the King, since Davos is one of the few men who have the courage to tell his king the truth, even when he knows the truth will not be well-received.[22]
Melisandre urges Stannis to sacrifice Robert's bastard Edric Storm to complete a spell she claims will raise dragons from stone and grant him more power. Stannis, though initially reluctant,[22] is about to follow through with the ritual when Davos smuggles the boy away and urges Stannis to take his remaining forces north to defend the Wall.[23]
Stannis sails his forces north to the Wall, leaves Selyse and Shireen at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, and marches west along the Wall. His forces arrive just in time to crush Mance Rayder's wildling army at the Battle of Castle Black.[24] He stays at the King's Tower of Castle Black to negotiate a settlement with the wildlings and offers to legitimize Jon Snow as Lord of Winterfell if he supports Stannis's rule.[25] The offer falls through when Jon is selected as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.[26] Stannis continues to seek support in the North for another attempt at the throne.
Stannis sends flocks of ravens from the Wall to all northern houses asking them to declare for him. He receives silence or refusals from the lords, with only the Karstarks, led by the castellan of KarholdArnolf Karstark, declaring for him.[27][28]
According to the current High Septon, Stannis has turned from the truth of the Faith of the Seven to worship a red demon, and his false faith has no place in the Seven Kingdoms.
Stannis sends Davos Seaworth to White Harbor to treat with Lord Wyman Manderly on his behalf.[29] Stannis receives many rejections from his demands of fealty from the northern lords, although he does win the support of a portion of House Umber led by Mors Umber. Stannis has the King-Beyond-the-WallMance Rayder burned for the crime of being a deserter of the Watch.[30] He then offers the remaining Free Folk a choice - bend the knee or go back to the wild. Given the severe threat posed by the Others in the wild, nine of every ten wildlings bend the knee.[30] Unbeknownst to Stannis, however, the burned Mance was actually a glamoured Rattleshirt.[31]
Stannis is counseled by Arnolf Karstark via raven messages to join his strength to his and attack the Dreadfort, seat of the new Warden of the North, Lord Roose Bolton. Stannis agrees and plans to make his assault when Ramsay Bolton marches south to take Moat Cailin from the ironborn. Stannis does not know that Arnolf Karstark is secretly working for House Bolton and is trying to lure Stannis into a trap. Upon hearing the plan, however, Lord Commander Jon Snow persuades Stannis not to go down this course, as Jon knows how strong the Dreadfort is even with a small garrison.[32]
Instead, Stannis travels west to take Deepwood Motte from the ironborn that hold it. Jon Snow advises him to go through the mountains north of Winterfell and win the support of the mountain clans, including the FlintsWullsNorreys and Liddles. The mountain clans are deeply loyal to the memory of Eddard Stark and would take pride in receiving a king. Stannis wins over several of their chiefs, such as Old Torghen Flint and Hugo "Big Bucket" Wull. With an additional three thousand men in his army, Stannis then retakes Deepwood Motte.[14] Stannis takes several ironborn captive, including Asha Greyjoy, and returns Deepwood Motte to House Glover, an act that gains him popular support in the North and earns him the support of the Glovers and House Mormont. Stannis's men are also reinforced by survivors of the battle at Winterfell who have been hiding in the wolfswood.[33] His army marches on Winterfell and is eventually joined by the forces of Arnolf Karstark and Mors Umber. However, they are slowed by relentless snowstorms.[34][35] Learning of Arnolf Karstark's planned treachery from Arnolf's niece, Alys, Jon Snow sends a message to Stannis trying to warn him.
According to a taunting letter written by Ramsay Bolton to Jon Snow, Stannis was killed along with most of his army in the siege of Winterfell.[36] Stannis's last known location was a snowed-in crofters' village three days west of Winterfell.[35][37][38] It is unknown, however, if Stannis is really dead, or if it is just a lie written by Ramsay.
Though reportedly isolated and secluded, Stannis is actively and efficiently preparing for the looming battle against the Boltons. At the crofters' village, Stannis receives the Braavosi banker Tycho Nestoris and the two sign a contract. Stannis plans to send the banker back to the Wall so he does not get caught up in the fighting.
Stannis is made aware of Arnolf Karstark's planned treachery due to the message Jon Snow gave the banker. Stannis has Arnolf, his son Arthor and three grandsons arrested and plans to execute them, though whether their death will be quick beheadings or by fire depends on their willingness to confess. Stannis prepares his position to battle the coming vanguard of Lord Roose Bolton's army led by Ser Hosteen Frey. Stannis sends Ser Justin Massey to escort "Arya Stark" back to the Wall to reunite the girl with her half-brother, Jon Snow, in gratitude for Jon warning him to amass the northern mountain clans rather than march straight into the Karstarks' plans.
Stannis orders Justin Massey to go with Tycho Nestoris to Braavos, where Justin will use the money given to him by the Iron Bank of Braavos to hire sellsword companies till he has a force no less than twenty thousand strong and then sail back to Westeros. Stannis also gives orders that if he is slain in the coming battle, Justin is still to do as instructed, with the intention of using the army to place his daughter, Shireen Baratheon, on the Iron Throne.
Stannis plans to have Theon Greyjoy executed, hoping to gain favor with his northern allies by exacting justice for the murders of Bran and Rickon Stark.[39]
[to be continued]

Game of Thrones

The Horn of Winter by Robert Waldmann

HBO is rerunning Season Four today. In episode 3, "Breaker of Chains," Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark are taken in as guests by a good farmer loyal to the Tullys and his daughter. The farmer is religious and discusses the Red Wedding and how the Freys are cursed by the Gods because they violated Guest Rights.

And then Clegane turns around and violates Guest Rights by stealing the farmer's silver. Arya is upset at him. And - spoiler alert - Clegane doesn't make it through the season, thanks to Brienne of Tarth.

Along with Arya and the poor farmer, another good, kind person is Shireen Baratheon, daughter of Stannis. Shireen doesn't like how her father and Melisandre burned her uncle and others for being infidels and refusing to burn their idols to the Seven Gods. Her kindness and goodness leads her to a friendship with Ser Davos and in a discussion with him, she gives him the notion that the Iron Bank of Bravos isn't big on distinctions, just like Shireen's father, Stannis. Davos understands that the Iron Bank doesn't care who rules Westeros as long as they get paid. Davos will convince them that Stannis will pay them back for their support as the Lannisters have been weakened by Joffrey's death and Lord Tywin won't be around forever.

Jorah Mormont is one of my favorite characters. I always cut him some slack for informing on Daenerys. He didn't know her and wanted to get home. Did he inform for too long though? In episode 5, "First of His Name," though I noticed how we wavered from advising Daeneyrs to take King's Landing after learning that Joffrey Baratheon was dead. Barristan Selmy wanted to. Mormont wavered perhaps because he realized if they went back, Daenerys would learn the truth. I would like to believe he was so honorable and in love with Daenerys that he was giving his best council.

I love Davos, Stannis, Arya, Daario, Tyrion, Daenerys, Brienne and many others, but on the show Sansa really survives so much and remains good and kind. That last scene of her this season as she walks down the stairs in nice black clothes, one imagines you can see her aunt Lyanna in her, the dark beauty of the North who Rhaegar Targaryen started a war for.

Along with the karmic or God's justice the Hound suffers, the evil leader of the renegade Nights Watch at Craster's Keep encounters it as well, or just bad luck. He lectures Jon Snow about fighting with honor, when one of the abused women stabs him the back. Then as he turns, Snow gets him through the head. A man without honor has consequences to suffer as well. Or maybe it's just bad luck and bad things happen to everyone, good and bad, in Westeros.