Category Archives: ASOIAF Analysis

Skin and Snow: A Character Analysis of Ramsay Bolton

Introduction

Artwork by Tribemun

Hello readers.

This is a piece I’ve had in the back of my mind for sometime now, like at least a year and a bit, and I’ve finally found the time to get around to actually doing it.

I’ve heard a lot of comments about how the character of Ramsay Snow comes across as being a one dimensional horror movie villain. In this piece I want to counter this position and really dig into the character of Ramsay Bolton. I will argue that Ramsay is more than a one note B villain. Instead, Ramsay is  a well developed and multifaceted character in his own right.

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Rags to Riches; How to Make it Big In Westeros

Introduction

N93EaCJImage taken from Game of Thrones

Greetings readers, I know that it has been a while since I’ve published on the blog but hopefully this essay, and the ones to follow, are the end of my writer’s block. This essay is the first in a brand new series that I’ve been working on for a little while and is something that I’m very excited to share with you all. It’s not as dense, extensive, or as layered as our Three Heads of the Dragon series but I hope it will be a fun read regardless.

The series, titled “Rags to Riches; How to Make it Big In Westeros”, will examine characters who have proven to be especially socially mobile in the rather rigid feudal system of Westeros. The series will explore the dynamics of social mobility within Westeros, the themes of Lord Varys’ famous riddle, and how the traditional power structures of Westeros are being unravelled in the face of rising socioeconomic changes.

My first entry in this series will cover fan favourite, Bronn.

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The Ravenry: Week of 3/28/2016

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Hello, everyone!

As you may or may not know, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire has its own Tumblr page (as well as its own Twitter and Facebook pages).  Even more excitingly,  we here at the blog have partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire.  We – that is, SomethingLikeaLawyer and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful, text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.

What can I say this week. There was stuff. There’s always stuff. Edmure stuff, acclaim stuff, Robert’s Rebellion stuff, really good stuff by the Hand (is there ever anything else from him?) and decent stuff from me. House Words Wednesdays continues – House Florent. Read it. Or not, it’s all good.

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of March 28: Continue reading

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The Ravenry: Week of 3/21/16

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Greetings, everyone!

As you may or may not know, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire has its own Tumblr page (as well as its own Twitter and Facebook pages).  Even more excitingly,  we here at the blog have partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire.  We – that is, SomethingLikeaLawyer and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful, text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.

Lots of answers this week, and – dare I say? – a lot of, well, random questions this week. I don’t know, every week is sort of like that, I guess, but I felt like I was answering stuff all over the place. But, hell, I got to use a Dune reference and talk abour possible Arya engagements, so it’s all good. The Hand continues to remain the smartest person on the goddamn planet, with some really excellent metas about Robert’s Rebellion and very nice takes on the Martell-Stark relationship and the Eddard-Jaime one as well.

If I can prolong this intro for half a second more: I’m starting a new feature on the Tumblr, called House Words Wednesdays. Every week I take a House with unknown words and I give it a motto, explaining my choice. I started this past week with the junior branch of House Royce, and the reaction was extremely positive – so much so that I actually have requests through October! Super cool. You can take a look at this doc to see what’s been suggested, and if you don’t see a House you want words for, tweet me or message me or the blog and I’ll schedule it. It’s a super fun project and I’m excited to continue.

So, without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of March 21:

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The Bloodroyal: A Historical Overview of House Yronwood

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House Yronwood of Yronwood (Image credit to Scafloc29)

Introduction

The heirs of House Martell may be styled Princes (and Princesses) of Dorne, but theirs has not always been the uncontested rule of that most southern state. Unlike the Starks and Lannisters, supreme kings in their realms for thousands of years – unlike even the Arryns, conquerors who have become well-respected over several millennia – the Martells have faced heated opposition to their “mere” thousand-year rule of Dorne. The most fearsome of those foes, and the most overmighty of those vassals after Nymeria’s conquest, has traditionally been House Yronwood of Yronwood.

Once High Kings of Dorne, the Yronwoods waxed more powerful than any of their Dornish neighbors until the arrival of Nymeria and her Rhoynish countrymen. Yet the Yronwoods have never let their formerly lowly rivals forget their own impressively royal pedigree or dynastic might. Diplomatic tensions and outright war between Houses Martell and Yronwood have marked Dornish history; the Yronwoods have never succeeded in casting off the Martell yoke (despite strong efforts to do so), but still the masters of Sunspear ignore the masters of the Boneway at their own peril. Studying the history of House Yronwood allows these tense and antagonistic relations to shed further light on where House Yronwood stands in the current day – and where the former High Kings may go in the future, to regain the realm that was once theirs.

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The Ravenry: Week of 3/7/2016

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Hello, everyone!

As you may or may not know, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire has its own Tumblr page (as well as its own Twitter and Facebook pages).  Even more excitingly,  we here at the blog have partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire.  We – that is, SomethingLikeaLawyer and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful, text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.

Another productive week for us in the Tumblr-verse. The Hand always has the best answers to meta questions because he is all kinds of brilliant, and his answer to favorite aspects of ASOIAF warfare is no exception.  Just as well, the Hand tackled the false assertion that the Freys were justified in enacting the Red Wedding, and dreamed up some excellent alternate histories about Aegon IV dying before the follies of his reign and Jaime Lannister protecting Elia Martell. As for me, I wrote another essay – The Windblown Grass, all about terrible strategist Doran Martell – thought up some Blackfyre words, and added a defining character moment for Theon to Tumblr friend Poor Quentyn’s excellent post to the same.

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of March 7:
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The Windblown Grass: Doran Martell

Introduction

Doran Martell has been often hailed as one of the great strategic plotters of A Song of Ice and Fire. His final lines to his daughter at the end of A Feast for Crows – “Justice. Vengeance. Fire and Blood” have been not merely cited as some of the most stirring in the series, but equated with the political brilliance and rhetorical masterstroke of Wyman Manderly’s “The North remembers” declaration. His words seemingly indicate a deep knowledge of how to play the game of thrones – a dedication to a long, carefully planned scheme in which the errors of Robert’s Rebellion are reversed and House Targaryen – with Martell support – once again rules the Seven Kingdoms.

However, is this a fair assessment of the Prince of Dorne? Or is it more the case that Doran has categorically failed to effect his ultimate goal – the restoration of House Targaryen to the Iron Throne – at every stage? Have Doran Martell’s schemes actually resulted in any gains toward that end, or any real change in House Martell’s fortunes? Indeed not, and nor should the Prince of Dorne be considered a strategic genius. Doran is not merely perceived as weak and ineffective, the grass that hides the viper – he is the grass, blown by passionate winds but unable in its own right to do anything but remain firmly planted in the ground. Continue reading

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The Ravenry: Week of 2/29/2016

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Hello, readers!

As you may or may not know, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire has its own Tumblr page (as well as its own Twitter and Facebook pages).  Even more excitingly,  we here at the blog have partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire.  We – that is, SomethingLikeaLawyer and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful, text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.

Busy busy times at Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire (thank goodness we had that extra day in February, right?). I noticed while compiling this week’s Ravenry that we did a bunch of Blackfyre questions. Or maybe it wasn’t a bunch, and it just felt like I typed “Daemon Blackfyre” a bunch of times. Anyway. The Hand wrote an absolutely fantastic piece on why the Blackfyre cause continued even after the first Daemon failed (spoiler: Bloodraven wasn’t totally to blame). He also wrote about kings both legitimate and aspiring – a very good analysis of Maekar I, and a fun “what if” should Stannis have come to the throne at the end of Robert’s Rebellion.

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of February 29:

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Heirs in the Shadows: Righteous in Wrath

Introduction

In the first three pieces in this essay series, we have looked south, to grand seats in the heart of Westeros.  We have considered the seat of pre-Conquest kings, a holding intimately connected with the politics of King’s Landing, and an ancient castle in the heart of the Riverlands. Yet this focus should not presume that above the Neck there are no likewise ambitious young pretenders, and those who would see certain individuals rise to the great holdings of their ancestors. Dustin and Ryswell, Bolton and Manderly, Karstark and Umber, all have demonstrated political ambitions worthy of any southron court, and the Northern pretender in question today is no exception.

The seat discussed in this essay has as much ancient significance to the North as Darry does to the Riverlands, and has been at the center of as much politicking over its next heir as Rosby has been. While not so grand as Casterly Rock, the holding nevertheless remains important to the Starks of Winterfell, its lands prominent – and eagerly eyed – in the North.  Indeed, the struggle for control of this seat provided the young Prince of Winterfell with an early political education; the failure to answer the question may lead to the seat being claimed by the Prince’s favored candidate.

Welcome to the next installment in a new series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, Heirs in the Shadows. In this series, BryndenBFish and I will examine a number of individuals who may press blood claims to different Westerosi seats, and the arguments and tactics various plotters will use to install their chosen pawns in these places. Part 1 of this series focused on Tyrek Lannister, a young lion possibly held by Varys as a future puppet Lord of Casterly Rock under Aegon VI. Part 2 argued for the noted Stark loyalist Olyvar Frey as the future Lord or regent of the Crownlands seat of Rosby. Part 3 identified two different men who could serve as the once-mentioned bastard Darry cousin and possible future Lord of Darry.  Part 4 will examine a Northern seat currently without an heir, and a young man of its blood who could become the next lord of this Stark vassal House.

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Heirs in the Shadows: The Plowman at the Gates

Introduction

Traditional Andal-First Men thinking stresses prejudice against bastards, especially those born of nobles. Pragmatically, the practice ensures that inheritance is based solely on “pure” blood descent. A bastard presents a dangerous alternative line for the succession to a seat and undermines the dowries and alliances that play strong roles in the formation of marriage pacts.  Accordingly, bastards as a class are assigned evil traits:  bastards are “born of lust and weakness”, “thieves or worse”, and “treacherous by nature”, with treason coming as easily to bastards as loyalty does to trueborn men.

Nevertheless, Westerosi history has seen several instances where bastard lines have risen to lordly and even royal status. Benedict Rivers was born the bastard son of a Bracken and a Blackwood, but through his martial prowess rose to become the first of the Justman river kings. Alyn Velaryon, born the bastard son of (legally) Laenor Velaryon, was adopted by Lord Corlys and legitimized during the Dance of the Dragons; the great admiral became the ancestor of the modern House Velaryon. 

With this competing historical precedent – bastards as a reviled class in Andal-First Men tradition, yet able to take when close heirs are lacking – one Westerosi seat may see a bastard-line claimant take it in The Winds of Winter.  It is currently held by Lannister-Baratheon loyalists, yet the current holders might find that the pretender to that seat, a champion of a rival king, has a firm interest in taking back what “by rights” might belong to him. Alternately, it may be that the Lannister queen herself finds a bastard guardian of her city has turned cloak, relying on old family loyalties to support an invading conqueror.

Welcome to the next installment of Heirs in the Shadows. In this series, BryndenBFish and I will examine a number of individuals who may press blood claims to different Westerosi seats, and the arguments and tactics various plotters will use to install their chosen pawns in these places. Part 1 of this series looked at the Young Lion, Tyrek Lannister, as a probable puppet Lord of Casterly Rock under Aegon VI. Part 2 focused on the Stark loyalist Olyvar Frey as a potential Lord or regent of Rosby. Part 3 will examine an ancient Westerosi seat, and candidates for the bastard claimant who might make it his own. Continue reading

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