Tag Archives: Lannister

The Lion’s Shadow: Why Kevan Lannister Doesn’t Deserve His Good Rep

Intro

Ser Kevan seldom “had a thought” that Lord Tywin had not had first. (AGOT, Tyrion VIII)

Ser Kevan Lannister is one of the characters for whom many ASOIAF fans have a special fondness. Whether it’s his cool epilogue chapter from A Dance with Dragons or his tart retorts against Cersei Lannister in A Feast for Crows, Kevan is viewed with some affection by fans. We also briefly glimpse his time in power and see that he works to undo many of the follies that Cersei Lannister enacted during her time in power in A Feast for Crows. Characters from Jaime Lannister to Varys to even Sansa have a relatively positive impression of Kevan Lannister. However, is this good reputation earned or not?

If you’ve read my title, you know my answer on it. Ser Kevan Lannister is a well-developed character who in true A Song of Ice and Fire fashion is not drawn as white or black. Instead, Kevan resides in the grey territory that all characters in A Song of Ice and Fire occupy. The rub comes in when we start to talk shades of grey. Many would argue that Kevan Lannister occupies a lighter of shade of grey, but I think he’s a darker shade of grey than most fans would think. This darker shade of grey manifests itself in Kevan Lannister in a form that haunts all currently-living Lannisters: the less-than-dearly departed Tywin Lannister. In the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire, Tywin Lannister might occupy the darkest spot on GRRM’s gray spectrum. And it’s only in relation to Tywin Lannister that Ser Kevan Lannister can be evaluated.

For Kevan Lannister is nothing if not Tywin’s shadow.

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The Agents of Chaos: Spies, Spymasters and Their Tradecraft in Westeros Part 2: The Power of Suggestion

Spoiler Warning & Forward: This essay contains minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter. I invite you to follow us on wordpress,  facebook & twitter

Introduction

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In terms of mysteries in A Song of Ice and Fire, there are major ones that exist (e.g. Jon’s parentage, the true identity of Aegon VI, who wrote the Pink Letter etc), middling mysteries (e.g. Who is the Hooded Man in Winterfell?) and minor ones (What happened to Weasel?) However, there are a handful of mysteries that belie categorization. One of the more interesting ones is how Stannis Baratheon discovered the parentage of Cersei’s children. It seems like a question with a relatively straightforward answer. He figured it out on his own.

But did he actually figure this out on his own? Or did he come across this information in a different way? In part 1 of the Agents of Chaos series, we puzzled out the identity of Taena Merryweather as an agent of Varys’. In part 2, we shift our focus from Varys to Littlefinger, but our focus will be on his methods of spreading chaos, and I’ll make a plausible case that Littlefinger was responsible for Stannis discovering the parentage of Cersei’s children with a bonus section of who Littlefinger’s unwitting agents might possibly be.

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The Lion’s Fury: The Deeply Personal Actions of Tywin Lannister

Introduction

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Tywin Lannister’s name and reputation in A Song of Ice and Fire is associated with the consequentialist political mantra of “the ends justify the means.” But how true is that sentiment when examined against the text? And if true, does the series’ gray morality give Tywin a wider moral berth for his conduct?

Tywin Lannister is a fascinating character in that his actions result in such differing fan-opinions of the character. For his supporters, he’s viewed as someone willing to do evil to achieve a greater good best seen in his defense of his conduct during the Sack of King’s Landing.

“As stupid as he was, even he knew that Rhaegar’s children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Yet he saw himself as a hero, and heroes do not kill children.” (ASOS, Tyrion VI)

Tywin’s detractors see his actions as dark, evil acts perpetrated by an evil man for politically nefarious reasons. Eddard Stark was firmly in this camp.

I would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin. (AGOT, Eddard II)

But both perspectives miss something fundamental about Tywin’s conduct. He may have shrouded his actions in political terms, but subtext and context shows that Tywin actually couched all of his major evil actions from a deeply personal perspective.

In this analysis, I’ll hope to show Tywin’s deeply personal reasons for his brutalities through 3 seminal events, all of which took place prior to events of the main book series:

  • The Reyne/Tarbeck Rebellion
  • The Defiance of Duskendale
  • The Sack of King’s Landing at the end of Robert’s Rebellion

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A Dragon Dawn: A Complete Analysis of the Upcoming Battle of Fire, Part 5: The Burning Pyramid

Fair warning: This part and part 6 contain significant Winds of Winter Spoilers. If you’re attempting to read TWOW unspoiled, check back here in a year (hopefully!), and laugh about how wrong I am.

Introduction

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“Dawn will be on us soon.”

“A red dawn,” said Jokin of the Stormcrows.

A dragon dawn, thought Ser Barristan. (TWOW, Barristan I)

Artwork by  Mike Capprotti

At the end of A Dance with Dragons, the cords of the Meereenese Knot were chaotically coming together in Meereen. Plague-ridden corpses were flying into Meereen, sellswords were plotting betrayal, Victarion and the Iron Fleet were sailing into battle and two dragons were loose in Meereen. To put it mildly, the situation in and around Meereen was fluid. To add further chaos to the scenario, battle was finally at hand. And it would be a battle that will likely leave tens of thousands dead — and not all of them from sword, spear, arrow or lance.

In this section, I’ll break down the factions on the eve of battle, estimate army sizes and dispersions and then talk about the loyalty of all the factions involved. And then, I’ll go into the battle plans, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the battle plans and then leave this part off moments prior to the start of Barristan’s attack on Yunkai’s lines. In part 6, we’ll jump right into the battle itself, talk about all we know from the sample chapters, speculate on the outcomes and who will lie dead on the battlefield and then finally do a broad “What does the future hold for Meereen and the characters in and around Meereen.”

Spoiler Warning: Previous sections contained spoilers from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, but just to re-iterate, this section will consist almost entirely of material taken from the sample chapters from The Winds of Winter.


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The Spider’s Greatest Intelligence Failures or Something Else?

Introduction

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“I served Lord Arryn and Lord Stark as best I could. I was saddened and horrified by their most untimely deaths.” (ACOK, Tyrion II)

Lord Varys was feared throughout the Seven Kingdoms on account of his inexplicable ability to gather any and all information. The whispers, as he called it, were the lifeblood of his work and kept nobleman and commoner alike in fear of what Varys could report to the king and his small council. And the man was effective. High and low treason was discovered and punished. The activities of ships captains, high-born ladies, great lords and mountain clansmen were all monitored by Varys through his vast intelligence network.

But despite Varys vast network of little birds, there were major intelligence failures — two of which will be the focus of this analysis.

1. Did Varys know of Jon Arryn’s poisoning, and if he did, why did he stand aside and allow it to occur?

2. More importantly for the main story, how did Varys not hear whispers of Eddard Stark’s execution?

Both of these questions have perplexed me in my current re-read. The easy answer is that Varys and his intelligence network were fallible, but in light of information from all 5 books, I think the answer is much more muddled than a simple lapse in intelligence.

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Littlefinger: The Gambling Man and the Master Player Part 2: The Maniac

Introduction

“Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you.” (ASOS, Sansa V)

Part 1

When I was younger, I had delusions of playing poker professionally. After losing money early on, I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. So, I read books to improve my game. While I was never able to really turn a profit in playing, I did learn about the various styles of play which made the actual pros tick. One of those styles of play is known as loose-aggressive. Loose-Aggressive players (sometimes pejoratively known as maniacs) play a lot of the hands dealt to them no matter the strength of the cards in hand. In this way, they consistently keep other players guessing what the true strength of their hand is.

If Littlefinger were a poker player, he would be a maniac. Like me, his early forays into the game resulted in losses for him — a scar and a broken heart being the most prominent. Unlike me, his later maniac style of play netted huge personal profits. But how did Littlefinger achieve this feat? We’ll pick up the story chronologically from part 1. I’ll talk about the knife and Littlefinger’s early intrigues of the court with Ned as Hand.

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Noble as a King: An Examination of Hoster Tully Part 2: Thank the Gods for Old Lord Hoster

Introduction

In part 1, we examined Hoster Tully’s actions before the A Song of Ice and Fire series began. 3 years before the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Hoster Tully became bedridden with a serious illness to the stomach. Despite this infirmity, Hoster was sitting comfortably, having married his two daughters to the Starks and the Arryns. Even more than this, he had the gratitude of the sitting king, Robert Baratheon. But like the wasting disease threatening his life, trouble on the horizon threatened to erode the successes that Hoster had worked so hard to achieve.

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by | January 14, 2014 · 2:56 pm

Littlefinger: The Gambling Man and the Master Player Part 1

This is just a series I’m working on in /r/asoiaf. You can find the original post and discussion here!

Introduction

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Littlefinger . . . the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing. (AGOT, Arya III)

Petyr Baelish: master player in the game of thrones or reckless opportunist motivated by personal reasons? The question is one that divides the fan-community, but I’d say that a majority favors the view that Littlefinger is a master strategist and player in the Game of Thrones. But is that sentiment true? Or is Littlefinger a reckless opportunist?

To spoil my main point, Littlefinger is both. Both sides of Littlefinger come through in A Song of Ice and Fire, often working in tangent with one another. But to come down squarely on one side of the debate does a disservice to the complexity of Petry “Littlefinger” Baelish. He is both a master player in the Game of Thrones and a reckless gambler motivated by personal grievance.

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Wins and Losses: A Command Analysis of Tywin Lannister Conclusion: Feeding Crows

Every crow in the Seven Kingdoms should pay homage to you, Father. From Castamere to the Blackwater, you fed them well. (AFFC, Jaime I)

Administrative Note: I’ve recently purchased some audio recording equipment and have been experimenting with podcasting. If you all are interested, I’d be happy to record the entirety of this Tywin series and post it on my blog. I know many people would prefer not to read a giant block of text. Would anyone prefer to listen to me and my definitely-not-made-for-radio voice read the Tywin series? If so, let me know in the comments below or on Reddit. Thanks for reading!

The Family Dynamic

Before we go on with the story and analysis, I’m going to need to take a step back to look at Tywin’s relationship to his children so that we can better understand what happens next in the story. I also realize that this is not a command analysis, but the family dynamic is important to understand Tywin Lannister and what he was fighting for.

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Wins and Losses: A Command Analysis of Tywin Lannister Part 4: Quills and Ravens

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“Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.” (ASOS, Tyrion I)

Artwork by  Pojypojy

Editorial Note: While this is primarily a command analysis of Tywin Lannister, there is a significant section dedicated to Roose Bolton towards the end. While that section in and of itself is worthy of its own post, I thought it important to place it in an analysis of Tywin as it is related to Tywin’s skill as a strategist.

Cementing the Tyrell Alliance

Tywin’s decisive victory over Stannis Baratheon did more than simply lift the siege of King’s Landing; it upended the strategic picture in Westeros. As we discussed in part 3, Tywin’s alliance with Mace Tyrell added the necessary manpower for victory over Stannis at King’s Landing, but there were more ramifications of this alliance than simple victory in the field.

First, the influx of Tyrell soldiers ensured that Tywin had a larger army than all of his enemies combined. If we start with the assumption that Tywin had around 20,000 soldiers at Harrenhal and Mace Tyrell had about 80,000 at Bitterbridge, the combined army now totalled 100,000 soldiers. More than bringing more men under his command, Tywin also inherited good commanders through his alliance. While Mace Tyrell, Lord of Highgarden, was not a good commander, some of his subordinate commanders were. Mace Tyrell’s son, Garlan Tyrell, had led the vanguard of the assault on King’s Landing. In the course of the battle, he personally killed Ser Guyard Morrigen, the commander of Stannis’s vanguard. But however good a knight Garlan was, Tywin’s greatest command inheritance from the Tyrell alliance was Randyll Tarly. Lord Tarly was a skilled warrior with several wars under his belt. During Robert’s Rebellion some 15 years previously, he was the only commander to defeat Robert Baratheon in battle at Ashford. During the Siege of King’s Landing, Randyll Tarly was given command of the center. Having both commanders was a significant windfall for Tywin Lannister.

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