Monday, 13 April 2015

Game of Thrones: Stan's my man

chewbaccaXIII/Reddit
So the season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones aired yesterday and if I'm being brutally honest, it wasn't the most exciting opening episode there's ever been. The problem is the books: everyone knows Book 4 is one of the dullest and Book 5 is a pretty mixed bag. Cersei is just getting drunker by the second, Dany is still being a fucking idiot, and, with the exclusion of Lady Stoneheart, Brienne is left to wander the lands longing for Jaime Lannister. Although there are some glimmers of hope to come: once the Sand Snakes appear, the new High Septon arrives, and Arya gets to Braavos things will get a hell of a lot more interesting. Until then, we'll have to make do with my choice for ruler of the Seven Kingdoms: Stannis of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.

It's hard for me to understand why more people don't like Stannis and I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to argue my reasons for championing him. Reading the books and watching the show have left me with absolutely no doubt that the only person I'd trust to sit on the Iron Throne is the middle Baratheon... or Tyrion.

Now, I'm not naïve enough to say that there is no reason to dislike Stannis: he's a massive dick and he has done some terrible things thanks to his stubborn need to uphold the fact that, by law, he is Robert's true heir. It's certainly true that he seems like the lesser of the Baratheon brothers: Renly got the love of the people and Robert got the bravery and strength. Stannis is all business and may not be the people's choice for King. Thankfully, though, Westeros isn't a democracy so the idiots of Westeros don't get a say. As I see it, there are plenty of reasons that Stannis is the stand-out in the battle to take the Iron Throne:

He's funny
I realise this doesn't really have any meaning when it comes to the ideal King but, in the books at least, Stannis has some great one-liners. He has a very straight-laced and dry sense of humour but he has some truly memorable quotes. Look at this gem:
Her own father got this child on her? We are well rid of her, then. I will not suffer such abominations here. This is not King's Landing.

If Stannis was King of the Seven Kingdoms his speeches would forever be littered with this kind of great banter. It'd be well worth his otherwise dire mood.

Proven military record
The books constantly tell you that he isn't well-liked but he is respected. Stannis isn't the kind of King you could imagine being mates with but he's the kind of King you'd want during an emergency. He is a proven leader and was an important player in Robert's Rebellion. He has a great analytical mind and is able to pull-off clever campaigns. Just look at what he achieved at Storm's End and during the Greyjoy Rebellion. Stannis is a man who can and will get shit done. You give him a task and he'll carry it out: even if he has to eat rats whilst doing so.

He has the strongest claim
For all of Dany's prattling on about the Targaryen name, Stannis is actually the person with the strongest claim to the throne. Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella are Jaime's children so have no claim and, in this instance, the right passes to the elder sibling: Stannis.

Unlike Dany, who really doesn't understand how this whole “right to rule” thing works. Her father was removed from power by Robert who was accepted by the people. Just because her family were once in power doesn't not automatically give Dany the right to take the throne. She's a whiny little brat who wants the same toy that another child had first. Once Robert took the throne, the Targaryen name became meaningless. Anyway, the Targaryens didn't inherit the throne in the first place. They were merely the first people to take charge. Dany's family name doesn't mean shit.

He saved the realm
While the other claimants to the throne are off doing whatever pointless and unhelpful thing they're doing now, Stannis was the only one to realise that the realm needed help. When the Night's Watch called for assistance and told the people of the imminent threat of White Walker's the Crown did nothing. Everyone cried “bullshit” and left the crows to their own devices. All except Stannis, of course. Stannis alone realised that the only way that he would ever take the throne was to make sure there was a throne for him to take. He crushed the Wildling attack and even put them to work fortifying the Wall's defences.

Stannis' eye is never off the prize but he's not one to sit back and let everything fall to pieces in front of his eyes. He's the character with the strongest sense of duty, beating even “everyman” Eddard Stark. I mean, even when his brother Robert treated him like shit, Stannis still followed him faithfully. That's fucking dedication.

Davos Seaworth
There's no doubt about it, I'd trust Davos Seaworth with my life. He is an honest, humble and brave man. My respect for this character has obviously had a major impact on the way I view Stannis. If nothing else, Stannis doesn't get his own POV chapters so we are, for the most part, literally seeing Stannis through Davos' eyes. Davos has unlimited respect and loyalty towards Stannis despite the fact that he cut off his fucking fingers. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about a man then I don't know what more I can say.

Stannis' treatment of Davos shows his never-ending need to do what is right: Davos saved the people of Storm's End by smuggling in food and was both rewarded and punished for his actions. Stannis is a tough but fair King and it has earned him the loyalty of one of the few good men left in the Seven Kingdoms. Plus, Stannis had the good sense to make Davos his Hand which has already caused one of his greatest achievements so far.
Lord Seaworth is a man of humble birth, but he reminded me of my duty, when all I could think of was my rights. I had the cart before the horse, Davos said. I was trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when I should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne.

The pair make a great team and would rule Westeros beautifully together.

The Red Woman
Now, I realise that Melisandre is fucking suss: I don't completely trust her or the power she holds over Stannis. She's also the one that has pushed him into making the most questionable decisions so far. It is down to her that Renly was killed and that Stannis almost used his brother's illegitimate son as a blood sacrifice. However, the more we learn about R'hllor, the Red God, the more I come to like him... once you get passed the burnings, that is. Just look at the goodness that came out of his religion: Berric Dondarrion and Catelyn Stark were both brought back to life because of him. Plus, if this really is A Song of Ice and Fire, maybe R'hllor is the key to stopping the Other's from destroying the Seven Kingdoms?

Conclusion

I'm not stupid: I realise that I all likelihood Stannis won't end up as the overall ruler of Westeros. I can be hopeful that he gets a few moments in the big chair but I doubt George RR is leading us down this long path only for Stannis to take over. It's a shame though. Dany, Tyrion and Jon may be the more appealing candidates on paper but, if we were talking about the real world, Stannis would be the perfect candidate. So, when you're watching the next episode of Game of Thrones try and give a bit more respect to the unsung hero of the whole thing: Stannis motherfucking Baratheon. 

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