This post is the second article in a series talking about season 5 of Game of Thrones, and how it has a mirror-like quality to season 2. Should that summary not adequately describe what I’m doing, feel free to check out the kick-off post.
Even though Stannis and Dany’s stories in either season don’t intersect (at all) I felt it relevant to feature them in the same article since they have some similarities.
- Both have strong claims to the Iron Throne but lack support.
- Both had brother-issues.
- Both have red priestesses declaring them Azor Ahai (Stannis had Melisandre‘s backing, and Dany unknowingly has been getting sermons preached about her in Volantis.)
Let’s examine their individual stories in regards to seasons 2 and 5.
The Mother of Dragons’ fifth season adventures were almost exactly the same as her adventures in season two. Just in reverse.
- Daenerys started out in the middle of nowhere with her khalasar and dragons. And no food. The future looked grim and uncertain.
- Things improved when she was admitted into the city of Qarth, a locale not known for accepting foreigners to enter. (Her dragons were partly the reason for her ticket past the walls.)
- In Qarth, Dany received a marriage proposal from nobleman Xaro Xoan Daxos. (He had the advantage of not being a creepy warlock, or wearing a bizarre wooden mask.)
- Ser Jorah was a wet blanket about the marriage, and counseled her to head to the Seven Kingdoms where the common people would support her.
- Eventually she was betrayed, Xaro sprung a coup with an endless number of warlocks, her dragons were chained up, and so was she! But warlock magic was no match for dragonfire, she broke her illusory shackles, looted Qarth, and moved on.
- Daenerys started the season ruling the city of Meereen, but her dragons were either chained up or on the loose.
- There was a coup a-brewing with a seemingly endless number of masked insurgents, the Sons of the Harpy. (The harpies weren’t warlocks, but they certainly had the magical ability to smuggle weaponry and masks into arenas.)
- There was another marriage proposal in play, but it was Dany compelling one of the Meereenese nobles, Hizdahr zo Loraq, to tie the knot for political reasons.
- Speaking of politics, she still had her eye on ruling the Seven Kingdoms, but her new advisor Tyrion Lannister was a bit of a wet blanket on that, and asked her to consider staying in Meereen. (I mean, he had just arrived.)
- Staying in Meereen became an issue when the Sons of the Harpy, not known for accepting foreign rulers (even one snagging Meereen’s version of The Bachelor) made a full on assault during the opening day at Daznak Stadium. Dany’s dragon Drogon was her ticket out of there.
- Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a sleeping dragon and no food, Dany wandered off foraging and encountered the local Dothraki chivalry. Her future was uncertain.
TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ: Dany goes from one wasteland into one grand city (with troubles and tribulations a-plenty with the chaining of her dragons) and from another grand city (even more troublesome and again with chained dragons) into another wasteland. With Dothraki bookends.
Speaking of troubles, I feel sorry for the husbands, suitors, and betrotheds of Daenerys Targaryen.
- Khal Drogo: dead.
- Xaro Xoan Daxos: dead.
- Hizdahr zo Loraq: dead.
- Ser Jorah: greyscale!
Daario is CRAZY to suggest Daenerys marry him. He’s asking for death, the reckless fool.
Brienne of Tarth
Brienne is somewhat a bridge-character, someone who had moved among both the Starks and the Lannisters. (Since the story is based on the War of the Roses, I assume that Brienne represents a Tudor who has come back in time to get the Yorks and Lancasters to chill out.)
But Tarth is in the Stormlands (the traditional kingdom of the Baratheon lords) and she had originally swore her allegiance to the youngest Baratheon brother, so I’m putting her story in with Stannis. Feel free to complain.
- Proving her worth by defeating the famous Ser Loras Tyrell in combat, Brienne of Tarth earned her place in Renly Baratheon‘s kingsguard.
- While Renly prepared for battle with Stannis, a shadowy assassin swooped in on the young king and killed him in front of his protector Brienne. Kingsguard failure.
- Catelyn convinced Brienne to flee from this difficult-to-explain situation. Brienne traveled with Catelyn from the Stormlands to the Riverlands, and swore fealty to Lady Stark.
- Brienne was tasked by Catelyn to secure Sansa and Arya’s release from the capital by exchanging the captive Jaime Lannister. Along the way, Brienne had the opportunity to kill some northern goons.
- Traveling north, hoping to come across the trail of Arya Stark, Brienne encountered Sansa but was unsuccessful in earning her service. Littlefinger deployed his Vale goons against Brienne, which was not good for the goons’ health.
- Brienne pursued Sansa from the Riverlands and into the North, planning on serving Sansa whether she wanted the Maiden of Tarth’s service or not. Brienne was a self-appointed Sansaguard.
- Brienne’s vigilance dropped as word came to her that her nemesis, Stannis, was nearby. Brienne abandoned her post to go execute Stannis, missing a distress signal from Sansa. Sansaguard failure.
- Like a shadowy assassin, Brienne moved unnoticed through the battle’s aftermath, came across Stannis, and earned her admission into the kingslaying society.
TL;DR: Brienne’s journey goes from the guard of a king to the executioner of one. With a lot of attempts of serving the Starks along the way.
Throughout the show, Brienne had been motivated and directed by two vows made: to avenge Renly and to deliver the Stark girls to safety. Like her one-time traveling companion once said: “Vows. They make you swear and swear.”
It’s hard to have so many obligations without one conflicting with another. Kind of like the obligation a father has to his daughter. Which is ridiculous. Fathers honor those obligations, right Stannis?
Stannis, always allegedly on his way to save Sansa. Not that that was ever on his mind.
- Stannis was irritated that his brother Renly’s lessser claim to the throne was getting more support than his own rightful claim. He committed to the Red God’s religion for a boost to his monarchical aspirations.
- Stannis had the better claim, but Renly had the bigger army. Renly got all the breaks.
- With forces insufficient to defeat Renly on the battlefield, Stannis relied on his witchy advisor Melisandre and her miracles to settle the dispute. With Renly dead, killed by a smoky assassin, Stannis doubled his army when Renly’s Stormlander soldiers switched allegiance. (No one was going to support a dead man as king.)
- Stannis and his forces charged up the Blackwater, right into a wildfire trap set by Tyrion Lannister, leaving him with less men. Fewer men. One of those.
- Reinforcements in the form of Lannister and Tyrell combined cavalry crushed Stannis’ hopes to take King’s Landing.
- Stannis retreated to Dragonstone, seemingly the second loser of the War of the Five Kings.
- Fresh from his triumphant victory over the wildlings who had attacked the Wall, Stannis was irritated that despite his victory no one in the North was respecting his claim as king. The defeated Wildling king would not bow to him, the northern lords not aligned with the Boltons were more in support of the idea of a Stark king, and Jon Snow had resisted his offer to be legitimized into a Stark as a Baratheon proxy.
- Not to be dissuaded, Stannis opted to march on Winterfell, the seat of stolen Bolton authority. Stannis had the bigger army, but it turned out that the Boltons had the better everything else.
- Snows came, halting his army’s advance. Ramsay and some unbelievably skilled saboteurs destroyed Stannis’ supplies and military assets. Once again, Stannis desperately turned to religion to solve his problem.
- With the sacrifice of his daughter Shireen to R’hllor, Stannis seemingly received favorable weather to resume the march, but had his army halved by mass desertions. (People had a hard time supporting such a man as king.)
- Shambling stubbornly towards Winterfell, Stannis’ army marched into the superior mounted forces of the Boltons and their allies, and were crushed.
- Wounded and retreating into the woods, Stannis became the second-to-last of the original five kings to die when he came across Brienne of Tarth, Renly’s supporter and kingsguard. No doubt Stannis was irritated when he died that he didn’t have such a fine kingsguard. Renly got all the breaks.
TL;DR: Okay, Stannis. You really needed to have learned a lesson in season 2. No one liked you. You didn’t care and set off to prove your legitimacy. Things got hard. You relied on magic. It seemed to work. You lose anyway. And you’ve lost another family member.
Stannis’ journey was a particularly troubling one, since he started off as someone we weren’t necessarily rooting for, other than with the default “at least he’s not Joffrey.” Although Ser Davos’ loyalty implied there was some worth to the crabby would-be-king.
Stannis’ cause picked up traction in the season largely due to the love given him by his daughter Shireen. Team Stannis! More than just “at least he’s not Ramsay.”
Until he threw it all away by sacrificing her (STANNIS!!!!!) and ended up bleeding in the snow.
I’ll talk more about “bleeding” and “Snow” in a later post. But up next: House Lannister.
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text.
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