Writ Small: Character Evolution in The Winds of Winter Part 1: The Good and the Neutral

A Song of Ice and Fire is nothing if not a character study painted against the canvass of politics, war and culture. George RR Martin is fond of paraphrasing Faulkner’s “The human heart in conflict is the only thing worth writing about.” As such, we expect that GRRM will continue to develop characters in The Winds of Winter. But interesting for our purposes, George RR Martin seems to enjoy contrasting and comparing character growth to historical and currently-living characters in the series. Characters often wonder about whether they’re the Smiling Knight, Tywin Lannister or Doran Martell.

But in contrast to the sometimes-popular view that all the characters are moving into dark moral and plot paths in The Winds of Winter, Nfriel, SomethingLikeaLawyer, Militant Penguin and I believe that there are some who are moving towards more positive or neutral directions. As such, part 1 focuses on the good. Thus was born a podcast idea and topic.
So, today, we analyze the following POV characters:
  • Tyrion & how he’s moving from Mushroom to Lann the Clever
  • Jaime & how he’s evolving from the Smiling Knight to Ser Arthur Dayne
  • Bran’s wolf-knight to knight of the mind development
  • Theon’s surprising redemption & movement from Reek to Torgon the Latecomer
  • Asha’s pine-cone evolution & her desire not to be a boneheaded Iron Kraken.
  • Arianne’s movement from Cersei to Doran Martell

If wordpress isn’t your primary spot to listen to podcasts, come listen to us over at:

And if you’d like to listen along with your notes, go ahead and head on over to this link to read our manic google documenting. 

Thanks for listening!


Filed under ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF History, ASOIAF Podcast, ASOIAF Speculation

8 responses to “Writ Small: Character Evolution in The Winds of Winter Part 1: The Good and the Neutral

  1. Tim

    I just wanted to point out another example of dwarves infiltrating a castle through the drains: the dwarf mummers snuck into the bedchamber to steal the dragon egg in the Mystery Knight.

  2. pluttor

    Hey guys, great podcast! You guys always have terrific analysis.
    Do you have an ETA on when part two comes out?

    PS. is SomethingLikeALawyer’s name a reference to the fact that his voice sounds like Saul Goodman?

  3. alex1

    so much hate towards Lannisters…
    Jaime,the man who saved whole population of KL as kid,”can be honorable only trough relation with Starks/Tullys” ?
    “Jaime must go away from Lannisters who are pure evil” ??????
    “His POV give us info that his is more complex” than “simply evil” as opposite to all those STARK POVs in first3 books????

    thanks god for TV SHOW that proved many of yours delusions (Stannis anyone?) are just that….

    • delinear

      Killing a madman to save the lives of many doesn’t prove he’s not “evil” – Jaime’s own life was one of the many he saved after all, so at a very basic level it’s simple self defence. It’s what many people, good or bad, would have done when faced with the same decision.

      Do you think Ramsay or Euron would have let the mad king live, knowing he was about to unleash a hellfire that would kill everyone? And does performing one good deed then allow you to do bad deeds up to the value of the good deed without tipping the scales back towards evil?

      Ultimately his story is about conflicting oaths rather than good vs evil in any event, but this one good deed proves nothing about his moral compass.

  4. delinear

    I’ve recently been re-reading Theon’s earlier chapters and it’s interesting to me that he actually displays a lot of laudable characteristics that seem to get washed away (or at least did in my initial reading) by his actions in taking Winterfell.

    Sure, he’s brash and has the arrogance of youth, but he’s also brave and seemingly a passing reasonable warrior (he acquits himself well both in Robb’s service and in his first reaving). Even Dagmer Cleftjaw, the most feared man in the Iron Isles (apparently more so than even Euron or Victarion) sees merit in the young Theon and praises him.

    Although Robb admonishes him at the time, his quick actions in the Wolfswood save Bran and Robb (there was no negotiating their way out, his actions were risky but really the only option, he assessed the situation in an instant and did what was necessary to bring the event to a successful conclusion).

    He is actually fiercely loyal to Robb up to the point his idiot father makes him choose between his own people and the Starks. He then feels the only way he can truly win back his father’s respect is by betraying the Starks, he likely doesn’t think through the consequences, he’d have been far better off telling Balon to stick it and returning to Robb (although… yeah, for certain values of “better off”, considering the Red Wedding).

    It’s unclear how much input he had into the deal he proposed from Robb to Balon, he claims it was his idea, it may have been an idle boast of course, but actually the deal was quite astute and if he had any input it shows some political savvy (I mean it’s pretty much the deal Asha proposes at the Kingsmoot, so she must eventually come to see the merit in it). Likewise his plan to take Winterfell is smart even if, again, he didn’t think through the end result.

    It’s easy to forget that early Theon was at times brave, decisive, loyal and smart as all of this was hidden under the veneer of arrogance and was later washed away by his actions at Winterfell. His arc definitely has aspects of trying to please the father who had written him off and failed to see the good in him, only to later realise the family he betrayed in doing so was his own family and it was they who saw his worth, and hopefully some of those aspects will return. He seems to believe himself alone and unloved in the world when actually many of the Iron Born seem well dispossessed toward him. Ultimately I’d like to see him sit the Seastone Chair, I think he’d make a just and reasonable lord, but they don’t seem to get very far in Westeros…

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