Game of Thrones – Stannis Baratheon

I’m being a bad, bad reader, all for Stannis. Borrowed A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords from my brother, and did that horrible, horrible thing only slightly better than peeking at the ending of a book – I’m reading the chapters related to Stannis only. After this week’s episode, I couldn’t contain my curiosity, but don’t have time to delve through thousands of pages right now.   

My brother: They’re mostly from Davos’ POV … 
Me: Yay! Awesome!!
My brother: … except a few from Jon’s POV.
Me: Ughhhh. Can you mark which chapters, pleaseeeee, so I don’t have to read a bunch of unrelated Jon’s chapters?
My brother: You’re going to skip Jon’s chapters, aren’t you, even when you get around to reading the whole thing?
Me: Errmm, no comment.

No, no, of course I will read the whole thing without skipping anything when I got around the reading it, it would feel like cheating otherwise. And hey, maybe book!Jon is not as tedious as show!Jon. A girl can dream …

I’m not that far along A Clash of Kings yet, but there are already a lot of differences from the show.

This section contains spoilers from A Clash of Kings:

Okay, how was I so stupid to not realize that Dragonstone used to belong to the Targaryens? I don’t think the show made it clear, but come on, the name should have been a big, honking clue, heh. In the book, Robert’s decision to give Storm’s End to Renly instead of the brother who fought to defend it is made more reasonable – he needed someone strong to rule over a former Targaryen’s stronghold, so he made Stannis Lord of Dragonstone instead. Except … apparently Stannis was also a member of the King’s council, and he spent the last fifteen years at King’s Landing, not at Dragonstone, so the logic is not very convincing to me. But maybe Maester Cressen was just saying that to comfort Stannis, to make him feel that Robert had faith in his ability, when really, Robert just prefers Renly over Stannis.  

This from Maester Cressen breaks my heart:

 Stannis, my lord, my sad, sullen boy, son I never had, you must not do this, don’t you know how I have cared for you, lived for you, loved you despite it all? Yes, loved you, better than Robert even, or Renly, for you were the one unloved, the one who needed me most.  

Stannis’ wife is introduced in Book Two, and apparently he has a daughter (not mentioned in the show, as far as I remember). His wife is different than the way Melisandre described her on the show, though, she doesn’t seem sickly or weak. In fact, it seems like she’s the true believer in Melisandre and Lord of Light, not Stannis.

How much are we supposed to trust the individual POV’s anyway? I wouldn’t go so far to say that Davos and Maester Cressen are unreliable narrators, but there’s a strong hint of “these women (Melisandre and Selyse) are leading him astray, he wouldn’t be like this it it weren’t for them!” in their thought process. Stannis is a grown man, with agency, capable of making his own decisions, and I feel like Davos tends to make excuses for him by putting a lot of the blame on Melisandre. Not surprising, perhaps, considering everything Stannis has done for him and his family, but I’m reading the chapters feeling very skeptical sometimes – really, Davos?? Or is this just something you want to believe? 

I guess that’s the point, that’s the reason Martin chose different POV’s rather than using an omniscient narrator, we’re supposed to doubt and question and be skeptical of somebody’s version of events. And the reliability of someone’s version of events is not necessarily correlated with his/her reliability as a person; the most honorable and reliable of men could be the most unrealiable narrator when it comes to someone that matters to him a great deal, blinded by loyalty, or trust, or affection. Even someone who can always tell the hard truths to the king he serves may not always have the ability to tell the hard truths about that king to himself.

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5 thoughts on “Game of Thrones – Stannis Baratheon

  1. Just a note on your apparent aversion to Jon, book Jon is engaging interesting and has a depth of character that the HBO production has completely disregarded. They are worth reading even if a couple of chapters (across all the books published so far) are a little tedious to get through. 🙂

    • Actually I’m reading the Jon’s POV chapters in A Storm of Swords now (well, the latter ones after Stannis arrived at the wall) and I really like him. He’s challenging Stannis, standing his ground, being a bad-ass, really. Plus, for some reason Stannis is all chatty Kathy with Jon, much more so than he ever was with Davos or Melisandre, and I love their interaction with each other. Maybe it’s the actor playing Jon, he seems to have a very limited range, Jon just came across as sulky most of the time on the show.

      • I know!! Although I don’t mind Kit Harrington I don’t believe he was the right casting choice for Jon Snow. He just seems, as you say, sulky and awkward all the time. 🙂

        • I really hope he improves soon, I want to see Jon going toe-to-toe with Stannis. As it stands right now, I’m afraid Stephen Dillane will just eat Kit Harrington for breakfast. The show is usually so spot on with casting, I wonder why they chose Kit, knowing that Jon Snow will be an important character for many, many seasons to come (I’m spoiled on some stuff by my brother :))

          • There must have been some reasoning behind the cating choice…maybe… And I agree that Dillane as Stannis would, at this point, see Kit as a tasty snack (a peach perhaps :)) ratehr than even a decent breakfast! Perhpas though Kit is being directed to portray Snow as he is currently in order for the character to go through some kind of ratings boosting transformation rather than the steady coming of age and realisation of potential which is shown in the books.

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