Tag Archives: Stannis Baratheon

Iron Bends: The Surprising Flexibility of Stannis Baratheon

The following essay is used with permission from the Tower of the Hand e-book “A Hymn for Spring” featuring essays by fellow Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire writer SomethingLikeALawyer, Steven Attewell from Race for the Iron Throne, Stefan Sasse from the Boiled Leather Audio Hour, Aziz and Ashaya from the History of Westeros podcast, Amin Javadi  from A Podcast of Ice and Fire,  John Jasmine, Marc Kleinhenz and Alexander Smith from Tower of the Hand.

It’s a real good book if I do say so myself!

Introduction

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Artwork by HBO

A large part of the success of A Song of Ice and Fire comes through George R.R. Martin’s ability to write compelling characters with complex motives. In the books themselves, the thoughts, words, and actions of the POV characters are windows into the plot, setting, and, most of all, the personality and values of other characters in the series – and easily one of the more controversial of these characters is Stannis Baratheon. He inspires love by some, hatred by others, and fear by most of the other characters in A Song of Ice and Fire.

But if there were a point of agreement between Stannis’s supporters and detractors alike, it would be that he is inflexible. Throughout the narrative, the stern Lord of Dragonstone is spoken of as being an excellent commander but also of being brittle and inflexible.

“Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he’s copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at, but not worth all that much at the end of the day.” – Donal Noye (ACOK, Jon I)

Noye’s sentiment is shared by others.

“The man [Stannis] is iron, hard and unyielding.” – Petyr Baelish (AGOT, Eddard XIII)

“They are quite a pair, Stannis and Renly. The iron gauntlet and the silk glove.” – Varys (AGOT, Eddard XV)

This one will never bend, she thought. – Catelyn Stark (ACOK, Catelyn III)

His eyes were sunk in deep pits, his close-cropped beard no more than a shadow across his hollow cheeks and bony jawbone. Yet there was power in his stare, an iron ferocity that told Asha this man would never, ever turn back from his course. – Asha Greyjoy (ADWD, The King’s Prize)

Even Davos Seaworth, the one character who unconditionally loves Stannis, considered his king and friend to be inflexible.

Davos held up his gloved hand. “My fingers will grow back before that man bends to sense.” (ACOK, Prologue)

Within the Song of Ice and Fire fan community, Noye’s analogy of Stannis Baratheon as iron has gained a lot of traction – even Stannis’s fair share of fan-admirers mainly hold to Noye’s perspective. Readers admire his tactical and strategic acumen and view his actions in saving the Night’s Watch from wildling invasion favorably. But many also hold to the belief that the would-be king is inflexible and stubborn to his cause’s detriment.

Even those who think that Stannis is more flexible don’t see this transformation taking place until sometime in A Storm of Swords. The running theory of this group seems to be that once Davos convinced Stannis to put the horse in front of the cart and rescue the realm from wildling invasion, the would-be king became more willing to bend to make alliances in the north.

But I think that Donal Noye, Catelyn Stark, and the fans who view Stannis as unyielding iron have an incomplete view of the man. While I think that Stannis is, indeed, hard and strong, the brittle and breaking aspect of the metaphor is lacking. I think that he is much more flexible than the characters in – and fans of – Ice and Fire give him credit for. And I hold that this flexibility goes farther back in the timeline than previously thought.

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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 Ravenry: Week of 2/22/2016

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Happy Leap Day, 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.

A very busy week at Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire Headquarters. I can’t say enough times how legitimately amazing at military discussions the Hand is, and it’s proven true this week, with considerations on Dornish spear and curved sword usage. He also did a wonderful job talking about Robert’s Rebellion, and why it really benefited no noble house to support Aerys II in Robert’s Rebellion. Also very excitingly, the Hand published his first essay of 2016 – a military analysis of Euron Greyjoy! I also published an essay this week – the next piece in Heirs in the Shadows, The Plowman at the Gates, and talked a little about possible words for House Ryswell and Maekar’s comparatively large family against his dynastic unimportance.

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the Week of February 22:

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The Ravenry: Week of 1/11/16

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Hello, you awesome people!

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.

With yours truly on vacay, it was a quieter week at Wars and Politics Headquarters. The Hand, as usual, did a fantastic job, keeping up a very steady pace of great answers all by himself; his thoughts on the various fighting styles favored by each region is particularly smart and very well-informed worldbuilding. I was more focused on the Dance this week, with not only an essay (the first of the year, hooray!) on the murder mysteries of the Year of the Red Spring but a Tumblr piece on the real winners of the Dance (that is to say, no one).

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of January 11:

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The Ravenry: Week of 12/7/2015

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Welcome back one again!

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, NFriel and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.

So every Monday we present to you The Ravenry.  We collect the questions we’ve answered during the previous week over on the Tumblr in post form, with a brief description of each, and publish it here, and link that post on Twitter and Facebook as well. Lot of at-length questions and responses, with some lengthy meta on Barristan Selmy, Euron Greyjoy, Dragonstone as a holding, three certain pies, a new theory on why Jaehaerys bypassed Rhaenys the Queen-Who-Never-Was, and a 1,500 word piece on why Robert’s Rebellion and Renly’s Rebellion were different beasts.

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of December 7:

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The Ravenry: Week of 10/26/2015

Hello seekers,

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, NFriel and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.

So every Monday we present to you The Ravenry.  We collect the questions we’ve answered during the previous week over on the Tumblr in post form, with a brief description of each, and publish it here, and link that post on Twitter and Facebook as well. The Queen Regent wrote a very good post on the gulf between the legal technicalities and political realities of women and marriage and goes into some leadership and commandership questions of some of Westeros’s most notable figures.

So, without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of October 26:

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The Ravenry: Week of 10/5/2015

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Good morning (or afternoon, or evening, or whenever you are in the time-space continuum), lovelies!

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.

So every Monday we present to you The Ravenry.  We collect the questions we’ve answered during the previous week over on the Tumblr in post form, with a brief description of each, and publish it here, and link that post on Twitter and Facebook as well. This week was a busy time for the Ravenry (especially for the Lord Hand), with 48 questions answered (the most we’ve ever done here). We traveled all around Westeros and Essos, forward and back in wibbly wobbly spacetime, from individual characters to meta-thematic questions.

A note about question answering. We here at the Ravenry do our best to answer every question we get, but it’s a, well, Sisyphean task. We do, however, reserve the right not to answer rude comments. Demanding to have a question answered will not get the questioned answered more quickly. This is not usually a problem, of course; the vast majority of the questions we get are well-meaning and respectful.

Without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of October 5:

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