The ice and fire book series (you might know it as the tv show Game of Thrones on HBO) is famous or I should say, infamous for it’s graphic violence, explicit nudity and more than mature themes. But under this clutter of melodrama, fanservice and what George R.R. Martin tries to pass of as “realism” lies a complex and engaging story that is deeply concerned with the practices of humanity and the influence of power. Those of you reading this are probably familiar with either the show or the books thus I will not spend much time talking about the plot.
The characters are what makes the Ice and Fire series so special to it’s readers. Almost everyone reading or watching the shows have favorites, Arya the troubled Stark chick, Tyrion the clever Lannister or Jon Snow and his somber look on screen. One character that does get ignored is Stannis Baratheon, the rightful King of the seven kingdoms.Ok I will explain.
|Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones played by Actor Stephen Dillane|
The show does a horrid job of characterizing Stannis, infact there were episodes where I thought the writers were deliberately trying to make Stannis appear wicked. The Stannis Baratheon in the books however is a much more significant character. He is a man of unyielding determination, carrying out what he believes to be his duty to his house and to the realm. He is not stone hearted and cruel as he appears in the show, nor is he unjustly harsh towards Davos, his hand. Stannis sees in Davos an emotional anchor and a true friend. In fact, it is Stannis who frees Davos from the dungeons and to the chagrin of Melisandra and Lord Florent, makes him the hand of the King. It is Stannis that urges Davos to learn how to read and it is Stannis that listens to words and forgives him when Davos smuggles away Edric Storm from the clutches of the red women (Gendry in the show).
I also argue Stannis is not power crazed, rather he is duty crazed. He sees his fight as the right fight and a necessary fight. A great is example is Stannis taking precautions before the siege of Winterfell. He advises his Knights to continue the fight under the name of Shereen, his daughter if he should fall in battle. When it comes to sincere men in a world lacking of such, Stannis comes out on top. Even those that do not agree with his cause (such as myself) still admire his iron will and buttressed determination.
Take for example the march on Winterfell in the 5th book. Snow floods the ground and the sky and the world is turned white in the greatest blizzard that had felled the north in over a decade. Horses and men die left and right and some of Stannis’s host is left to eat each other for food. The King, weary and gaunt with deep sunken eyes chooses to march on (and also burn the cannibals at the stake while he’s at it). Some would call this stupidity. I call it stupidity and a great deal of willpower and determination.
Stannis Baratheon however is a man tormented by his duty. He is like a heroin addict who cannot fight the impulse to take heroin and thus face gradually depleting health. Stannis kills his brother (implicitly) and he is a man devoid of compassion. He is not capable of inspiring motivation in his men yet he is a model leader. Throughout the course of the war, Stannis becomes a skeleton of his former self, literally. He endures with his men but does not utter an iota of complaint. He is like a mountain, standing still amidst earthquakes, stubborn and persistent and never, ever crying out for help.
Would Stannis make a good King? No. Would he make a better King than the one in power now? Yes. And for that I am rooting for Stannis because by all the laws of the Seven Kingdoms, he, Stannis Baratheon the second of his name is the rightful King of Westeros and Defender of the Realm.