Tag Archives: Stannis Baratheon

The Lost Mission of Mance Rayder

NOTE: This will probably be incorporated into the Mannifesto at some point but for now I’m posting as a mostly self-contained piece.

This essay serves one purpose and one only:

To reveal the secret mission that was Mance Rayder’s true goal in the north during the events of A Dance with Dragons.

Explain the relevance of that mission on other aspects of the plot.

Explore significant implications of its discovery.

Let’s get straight to business then.

Continue reading

Let’s Have Some Fun: Another Approach to Stannis

NOTE: I had wanted to finish work on my other non-Stannis essays, but just when I thought I was out, you guys pull me back in.

Today somebody remarked that they didn’t believe that Stannis could ever do something like the Night Lamp. As a rigorous man of science and obviously smart person, my reaction was predictable.
Specifically, I was told:

That is not how Martin writes or thinks. There is no character driven reason why this should happen, or any relevance to his story arc. Stannis solves his problems with intelligence and steadiness. But he is not someone who uses deception, thinks outside the box or “plays the player”. That is rather something I expect from someone like Tyrion.

I don’t take it personal. First of all, I can forgive people not knowing the greatness that is Stannis. I too resisted …until the evidence was insurmountable. Like, to the point where you have to go out of your way to be obstinate if you want to believe that Stannis isn’t a motherflippin’ genius. Seriously folks. Stannis is so smart he probably has two pairs of underwear on at all times.

But I’ve already written the Mannifesto, which worked for some people but obviously not for everyone. I need a new format that will connect with this younger harder-to-reach crowd of avocado-toast eating Millenials. I’d make a Youtube video but that only means I’d be tempted to start scraping other people’s ideas off of Reddit and hoping to become some sort of devil-worshipping ‘influencer’. Plus I’m not ready to have my face on video, I don’t need that kind of fan mail.

The obvious truth is that I can’t beat some of you over the head with Stannis’s brilliance: some readers want foreplay—a little tickling behind the knee, Wallflowers playing the background and a bottle of the cheap wine with the fancy label. Some people don’t care for the plain old-fashioned truth—they want to be seduced. Nobody wants Atticus Finch when Michael Clayton is available. Poor old man never had the courage to tell Scout that’s why he was a single father.

*   *   *

Sometimes greatness lives in dark, overlooked places—like an alleyway in Chinatown or the back seat of a Volkswagen. Or the mind of a king. Its a fungus that grows between your toes and one day takes over your brain, striking out of nowhere like the tequila in a line of Jell-O shots: a hazy dream of peaks and valleys that leaves you wondering what really happened when it departs. That means sometimes you have to approach greatness the way you approach a spider on the toilet seat: sneakily, in a bomb suit.

In light of this noble truth, let us try something different. I will toss out a couple of potent questions to direct today’s flirtation with the one true king, and then we’ll walk through a few chapters in the so-called life of Stannis Baratheon and see what shakes out. In particular, I want to focus on the first four Jon chapters from A Dance with Dragons:

  • ?
  • What is the earliest point in time that Stannis could have known about a plot to marry Arya Stark?
  • ?
  • What is the earliest point in time that Stannis could have known about the plot for the Karstarks to betray him?

You would think that Stannis only learned about the wedding from the letter he read while at Deepwood Motte, and that he only learned about the Karstark betrayal from Jon’s letter that arrived with Tycho Nestoris. After all that’s how it looks in the book.

ಠ_ಠ

But the book is straight-up lying to you. But in order to convince the more ambivalent reader, I feel the need to tackle this in a sort of chronological format—building naturally on smaller, earlier elements until they can be woven into the real answers to these questions. Continue reading

Goodbye Horses: A Dead King’s Masterstroke

“A strong castle weakly held is weak.”
*   *   *

There are some subtle references to significant military strategy in A Dance with Dragons. Coupled with some other sly hints and deductions, these amount to yet another critical advantage for Stannis.

Specifically I want to reveal how I think Stannis planned on reducing the manpower at Winterfell such that he could in fact take it from the Boltons.

Continue reading

A Strategy Emerges: Stannis and the Discourses on Livy

In the previous entries in this series, I’ve disclosed the basis for which Stannis would secretly keep Mance alive, as well as how Stannis benefited from the Karstark betrayal –a betrayal that he likely already knew was coming.

I’ve also pointed out that Stannis is not the type of commander to ‘wing it’ unnecessarily. Yes, medieval battle was rife with risk and uncertainty, but Stannis certainly studies every possible element. No detail is left out of his calculus.

How did Stannis plan to defeat the Boltons and win the north? By remembering his histories. Continue reading

Counterintelligence: Using the Bolton Machine Against Itself

A Riddle from the The Winds of Winter

Sometimes we need to start at the end in order to understand the beginning…

In the Theon’s sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, we are led to believe that Jon’s letter arrived and informed Stannis of Arnolf Karstark’s planned betrayal. The first move we see Stannis take is to confront Karstark’s maester:

“Maester Tybald,” announced the knight of the moths.

The maester sank to his knees. He was red-haired and round-shouldered, with close-set eyes that kept flicking toward Theon hanging on the wall. “Your Grace. How may I be of service?”

Stannis did not reply at once. He studied the man before him, his brow furrowed. “Get up.” The maester rose. “You are maester at the Dreadfort. How is it you are here with us?”
— THEON I, THE WINDS OF WINTER

So I’d like to pose you one riddle before I get on with this essay…

How in seven hells did Stannis know that Tybald was the maester at the Dreadfort?
Continue reading

Stannis: Less Draconian, More Utilitarian.

This is one entry in a forthcoming series describing the campaign for the North.

“I never asked for this, no more than I asked to be king. Yet dare I disregard her?”
He ground his teeth.
“We do not choose our destinies. Yet we must . . . we must do our duty, no?
Great or small, we must do our duty.”
DAVOS V, ASOS

Stannis seems to be driven by a sense of duty, of justice.

Everywhere in the the books we are reminded of Stannis’s unyielding persona, his inflexibility. That he will break before he bends.

But is it true?

Absolutely not.*
* – Certain exceptions apply, see end of essay for details.

Continue reading

Stannis and the Covert King

Is Mance Rayder a component of Stannis’s strategy to defeat the Boltons?

Yes.

As I argue here, there is every reason to see that Stannis would fake Mance’s death to benefit his campaign. Further, there are several elements of Stannis’s larger strategy that seem haphazard and juvenile when taken at face value. These concerns are resolved if you come to the conclusion that Stannis and Mance must have been acting in concert. Continue reading