Category Archives: Heirs in the Shadows

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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Heirs in the Shadows: The Ward at Rosby

Introduction

The Crownlands seat of Rosby may not appear at first blush dynastically important among the lordships of Westeros.  Called by Brienne “scarce more than a wide place in the road”, Rosby is sworn to the king on the Iron Throne, but its resources and influence are local at best.  Its last lord, Gyles, was notable only for his perennial sickliness, and his death was marked with barely a dismissive wave of the hand by the Queen Regent.

Yet Grand Maester Pycelle voiced concerns twice over the late Lord Gyles’ ward, and his comments should be heeded.  While Cersei might have blithely disregarded Gyles Rosby’s ward as no serious concern to the inheritance of a relatively unimportant Crownlands seat, she may have cause to rue such sentiments in the future.  Indeed, Cersei may find that the ward of Rosby is a more staunch foe of hers than she could have ever realized – one whose political allegiance stands in stark contrast to her own.

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 looked at the Young Lion, Tyrek Lannister, as a probable puppet Lord of Casterly Rock under Aegon VI. Part 2 will explore someone not vanished but hiding in plain sight, waiting for the right moment to assert his political will.

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