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.