ASoIaF

ASoIaF - WordPress

Comic Book Girl is awesome for ASoIaF stuff.

For this page, I thought I’d do a rundown of any particular thoughts I have about ASoIaF, which considering the vastness of the universe is saying a lot.

Favourites

Characters

Best

1. Tyrion
Intelligent, compassionate and resilient, Tyrion is a thoroughly great human being.

2. Jaime
He’s the boy who wanted to be a great knight when he grew up but life and love got in the way, he’s wonderfully complex and damaged.

3. Arya
I’m a feminist, sue me. It’s nice to have a female whose life isn’t dominated by sexuality, marriage or children. Although her story is a tad farfetched.

4. Oberyn
His devotion to his sister is touching. He’s also skilled, intelligent and sexually liberal

Worst

1. Ramsay
Yuck. Need a say more?

2. Joffrey
Similar to Ramsay, although at least with Joffrey you can blame his age and the fact his mother practically groomed him to be a tyrant.

3. Melisandre
Religious zealots creep me out.

Places

Best

1. Qarth
The three walls of Qarth and its grand architecture would be awe-inspiring to look at. It also has a intricate and fascinating culture.

2. The Water Gardens
Just imagine wandering through the desert and then stumbling across a place like that. Other places may be more grand or imposing but nowhere would be quite as wonderful to see.

3. The Eyrie
A massive castle in the mist of mountains and clouds would be a feat of engineering and vision.

4. The Swamp of the Neck
Would I want live there? No. But the mystery and biodiversity make interesting. Plus, Greywater Watch, the seat of House Reed, floats around on a moving island. How cool is that?

Worst

1. The Iron Islands
Wet, cold, stormy, barren and full of pricks. Words cannot describe how sorry I am for people that live there.

2. Beyond the Wall
One of the least hospitable places in ASOIAF with wildlings, megafauna and the Others to boot.

3. The Red Wastes
The idea that you could wander for months and the only humans you’d be likely to see are Dothraki.

Houses

Best

1. Mormont

Whose the father of Madge Mormont’s children? A bear that’s who.

2. Stark

Normally, I’m Machiavellian and the sheer lack of forward thinking displayed the Starks infuriates me (see King in the North rant below). However, I do have to admire the resoluteness displayed by the Starks

3. Targaryen

There is a certain mysticism to the Targaryens, from their appearance to the way people seem to dance around their will. Its part of the reason I’d be a Targaryen loyalist in-universe.

4. Tyrell

What I like about the Tyrells in the way they can be conniving and self-serving without being needlessly cruel. A Lannister pillages and burns whereas a Tyrell manipulates, a Lannister acts haughty and prideful whereas a Tyrell butters you up.

Worst

Frey
Bolton
Lannister

House Words

Best

  1. ‘Winter is Coming’, House Stark

Worst

  1. Frey
  2. Bolton
  3. Lannister

An Inheritance Problem – Names Older Than Time

The houses in ASoIaF are mind-bogglingly, and bizarrely, old. Here’s a summary.

  • Stark – Over 8,000 yrs
  • Greyjoy – Over 8,000 yrs
  • Arryn – ∼6000 yrs
  • Tully – ∼6000 yrs
  • Martell – ∼6000 yrs
  • And many lesser houses as well

To put that in perspective, in the real world House Stark would’ve been founded in the Stone Age. Hell, in ASoIaF, very few houses are younger than 500 years old.

This is just not realistic, for the following reasons;

  • The idea that the cultural construct of ‘Houses’ would exist for that long seems farfetched, at least to me.
  • There would be a war. One of Machiavelli’s top tips for being a conqueror is to kill the  entirety of the previous rulers family. This wisdom would not be lost on the Westerosi. Wars in Westeros are common, we know that for a fact. So it is inconceivable to me that noble families over 1000 years old would be common, eventually a House would’ve lost a war and been killed for it.
  • At multiple points, the reigning lord would only have daughters.
    • This creates a problem which different inheritance laws (although the laws are more like ‘guidelines’) would handle in different ways.
      • Dorne – Absolute primogeniture, eldest child inherits; male or female
      • Andals/First Men – Roughly follow the system used in the UK, which was codified in 1701, minus the Catholic part. Basically, sons inherit before daughters
      • Targaryen – Modified agnatic primogeniture, similar to Medeival Salic Law, the Targaryen barred females from inheriting ever. The crown would do to a nephew over a daughter etc. The only exception was if no male claimants existed.
      • Ironborn – Free for all, there doesn’t seem to be a very clear system but at one point it’s said by Aeron that Asha can’t succeed because she’s female…
    • In any case, over 1000s of years, you’d have multiple female heirs, although it would be rare and disputed in the case of Targaryens. This creates a problem, how would the house name survive? What would have happen is that the female reigning lady would have to give her heir her name, not that of her husband. This may be tricky, what if the husband is an heir in his own right? What if the husband is of higher rank? Eventually you’d have a problem.

An Inheritance Problem – Freaky Genetics

Genetically, any child is a 50/50 mix of both parents with a few mutations thrown in except, it seems, in the world of Westeros.

In Westeros, Noble Families often have trade-mark physical characteristics that date back to their founding. Unless a family practises incest or chooses marriage partners specifically for their appearance, this is highly unlikely especially over the timescales these families have existed for.

The Lannisters are the best example of this. Lann the Clever founded House Lannister during the Age of Heroes* and the Lannisters blondness is widely attributed to him. This means, implicitly,  that Lannisters have been blonde for at least 6,000 years. Now assuming a Lannister heir marries a non-blonde then their descendants have a 50% chance, or less considering blondness in generally recessive, of being blonde themselves. Have I made it clear how ridiculously unlikely this is yet?

*Interestingly, Lann the Clever was one of the First Men.

Who caused Robert’s Rebellion?

Mad King Aerys

Not Rhaegar.

As with most real life wars, the causes of Robert’s Rebellion are many and no single person is to blame. However, the single most blame indisputably lies with Aerys, not Rhaegar as many people think.

Yes, Rhaegar kidnapped, a probably willing, Lyanna. However, this is nowhere near as big a deal as many people think. Nobody would have possibly predicted, at that point, that war would ensue.

What caused the war was Aerys burning Rickard Stark alive, while forcing Brandon to strangle himself to death while trying to save his father. On top of that, Aerys demanded the heads of both Robert and Ned, which was insane considering they were the sons of two lords paramount.

  • Rhaegar = Ran-off with an engaged woman
  • Aerys = Killed, tried to kill or severely pissed off almost every Lord Paramount and/or their heirs.

Rhaegar may have been the spark but Aerys poured on the oil, stoked the fire and then refused to put it out. And people have the balls to blame Rhaegar?

The Incest of Jaime and Cersei – Why I Don’t Care.

To clarify, I’m not that big a fan of either Jaime or Cersei. So I’ve tried to be objective

  • Incest is nowhere near as unhealthy as people think it is.

The genetic impact of incest is HUGELY overblown in the public consciousness. In reality, it has to be over many generations to make genetic problems much more likely, even then you might well be fine.

Also, GRRM seems to believe the genetic problems = insane cruelty. I’m not actually a geneticist, but it seems odd that none of the Targaryens were physically deformed or have learning difficulties but so many of them are mentally unstable.

  • The taboo just doesn’t phase me

To consenting adults can fuck if they want to, I really don’t care.

  • They love each other, or at least think they do

Love is love. Considering the above reasons, I can’t bring myself to be opposed.

  • Robert was a dick

If Robert can cheat, so can Cersei. Especially if Cersei is cheating with a man she loves. Robert’s whore-mongering, as the death of their baby, hurt Cersei deeply, so I can understand why she would try to spite him.

  • Jaime being a Kingsguard

Fair point. Kingsguard are sworn not to father children and Jaime wilfully did just that.

  • Usurping the usurper

Yes, Cersei wilfully usurped the throne by putting Joffrey on it. However, it’s not as if Robert’s claim was very good to begin with, especially with Viserys and Dany still alive.

  • Nobody could have predicted Joffrey

How were Jaime and Cersei supposed to know that their child would be the King of Arseholes

King in the North

Unlike most of the fandom, I absolutely despise the idea of the North as a sovereign state. This is for a variety of reasons, from the practical and tactical implications it has for Westeros and the North, not to mention Robb’s war effort, to ideological reasons influenced by real life.

As a side note I do get that Robb never aimed to be King in the North, but I don’t accept that he couldn’t have gotten out of it somehow. I mean, if Robb had the balls to take on the half the Seven Kingdoms he should have at least been able to tell his own bannermen that the ‘King in the North’ idea was stupid.

From a real world perspective I support self-determination, meaning that the North should decide who the North belongs to, if anyone. However, in the context of a feudalistic society, democratic ideals like self-determination don’t really have a place. Plus, Westeros wouldn’t be half as cool if they held referendums.

On top of this, I’m not a nationalistic person when it comes to sheer ‘who has political sovereignty?’. I couldn’t give a monkeys if the Europe merged to become a super-state with the UK as a district or if the UK become a territory of Canada. This makes it hard to sympathise with the North, I don’t understand people who think that just because their culture is unique, their politics should be completely independent. Those are my real world biases that aren’t really based on logical arguments, I figured it was best to get them out of the way.

The first reason Robb shouldn’t have let himself be crowned King in the North is it’s politically stupid in the short-term. By naming himself King in the North, Robb puts himself in opposition to anyone who claims the Iron Throne. Renly may have, kinda, agreed to the Norths independence at least as far as Robb being ‘King’ but Robb couldn’t have been assured of that at the time.Even if Renly had managed to defeat Stannis, the Lannisters and whoever else, when Danaerys comes swooping into town Robb sticking to his ‘King of the North’ claim would have earned Winterfell a fire bath. Although the last point is a little unfair as you can’t really have expected Robb to take Danaerys into account, especially that early-on. Besides, in the longer-term, the constitutional arrangement Renly suggested just would not have lasted, which brings me to my next point.

Robb was condemning the North to decades or even centuries of war, if everything turned out exactly as the Northerners hoped, with the North becoming fully sovereign. One or Two generations down the line a King on the Iron Throne would want to play conquerer. With the South united behind a King, the North wouldn’t stand a chance and the King on the Iron Throne would know that. Even if the North were able to repel the first conqueror from the South, more would come. Also, inevitable political ties between the North and the South would lead to the countries going to war with each other, over claimants to the throne etc. This is what happened between Scotland and England. War is not good for anyone, it’s morally appalling and a major drain on the economy.

The only feasible way the North could retain independence would be if all of the Seven Kingdoms completely fell apart to something similar to pre-Aegon days. If that happened, the North wouldn’t have a single, strong enemy to contend with and wouldn’t be as much of a target. This is actually a quite plausible scenario in my mind. Each of the Seven Kingdoms is culturally, politically and historically distinct, especially the North, Iron Islands and Dorne. On top of this, the Lords Paramount have a large amount of power relative to the King. This all makes it a wonder that the Seven Kingdoms stayed intact as long as they did, at least during the Wars of the Roses everyone with political power excepted England as a single entity.  The Iron Islands would be another problem if they were independent, nobody benefits apart from the Ironborn if they do around pillaging.

Another argument is that independence would be bad economically for the North. By all accounts, the only this the North has going for it is it’s sheer size. The North doesn’t have the population, resources or exports to hold a candle to the Westerlands or the Reach. Generally speaking, poorer places benefit from being in a economic union with richer places. While this effect would not be as extreme in Westeros as it is in real life, due to low-levels of infrastructural investment and Welfare anyway, the North still probably benefits from not having to pay as much tax on Southron goods as a Braavos does.

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