Tonight I was thinking about writing something about what has happened so far in Season Five of Game of Thrones, but then Kelly and I had a conversation about Stannis that made me think I should do a post about him.
Frankly, I think that Stannis is unjustly unappreciated by both the masses of Westeros and the masses of ASOIAF/GoT fans. Allow me to explain.
First off, Stannis is the king chosen by two of the most worthy characters in the series: Lord Eddard Stark and Ser Davos Seaworth. I think it is highly significant that these two men, two of the best characters from the books and the TV show, put their faith, and more importantly, their loyalty, with Stannis.
Second, the Iron Bank of Braavos has now come in on the side of Stannis, and I think they made a very wise decision. Stannis sees it as a point of honor that the debts to the Iron Bank be repaid, something which we saw emphasized by Ser Davos in Season 4. I believe he will do everything he can do to see that they get their money back. Can you say that about anyone else? Certainly not anyone worth talking about left in King’s Landing. Without Lord Tywin to moderate her, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister will undoubtedly make all sorts of bad decisions, and I just don’t see her caring much about paying any money back.
Third, Stannis was the only person who actually helped the Nights Watch when they sent ravens all over the Seven Kingdoms looking for any and all assistance. He went there with everything he had left, and swept the Wildlings before him. I was so excited to see that scene in Episode 10 in Season 4, because it is among my favorite scenes from the books.
Fourth, and this is (so far) only in the books, Stannis helps the North retake their lands from both the Ironborn (Deepwood Motte!) and the Boltons, who are now truly cemented as the villains in the North. I mean Roose is creepy, but Ramsay is downright horrific. I look forward to seeing the Boltons wiped out by somebody, whether it’s Stannis or the White Walkers themselves. That whole line needs to end, apparently. No redeeming qualities. Roose is neutral evil at best, and Ramsay is definitely chaotic evil. Anyway, in book Five, we see Lord Davos essentially win over many of the Northern lords, especially the Manderlys of White Harbor, by agreeing to go rescue Rickon Stark. As I have mentioned countless times before, I love that scene and pray that some version of it survives in the TV show. Stannis tries very hard to win the loyalty of the northern hill clans, and they respond by adding thousands more men to his army. With this help, his retaking of Deepwood Motte in the books gains him the loyalty of House Glover (who get their castle back) and (eventually) House Mormont. He also has the support of parts of House Umber and House Karstark.
So what will happen to Stannis, long-term? I am not sure, but I do know that he is NOT what Melisandre believes him to be, i.e. Azor Ahai. Ironically, he is still a savior in many ways, especially to the North and the Night’s Watch. But I have my doubts that he will survive the series. Being the sort of man that he is, I think he will still do his duty, perhaps leading some sort of rearguard action against the Others as they advance south. But I refuse to believe he would be defeated by Ramsay Freaking Bolton/Snow, because Stannis is a professional soldier, or as close as one gets in Westeros, and Ramsay McFreakshow is no soldier and only seems to win battles when he can pull a fast one and deceive the other side. I don’t know how he is going to deceive Stannis, especially now that (in the books) Stannis is on to him and knows how some of the Karstarks plan to turn on him. In a straight-up battle, I see Stannis wiping the floor with Ramsay McCreeper and giving Roose a pretty tough time too.
Anyway, even if he is ultimately doomed, I think Stannis is going to do some more kicking of ye olde buttocks before he’s through. It’s certainly what I am hoping to see in Book Six, whenever it finally comes out (sometime in the next year, I imagine).