House Stark: Winter is Coming

Fan art of the Starks; Eddard, Catelyn, Sansa, Jon, Bran, Arya, Rickon and Robb.

Stark fan art

Stark fan art

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Character Summary – Eddard Stark

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Our final character summary is on Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell.

Eddard “Ned” Stark is head of House Stark and Lord paramount of the North. Eddard and his wife Catelyn have five children, and Eddard has one bastard son, whom he took back home with him after Robert’s rebellion. He and King Robert Baratheon started as childhood friends when they were both fostered by Lord Jon Arryn, Robert Baratheon’s Hand at the start of the series.

In the beginning of Game of Thrones, Eddard has to deal with a deserter of the Night’s Watch by executing the young man, and brings his sons Robb, Jon, and 10-year-old Bran to accompany him and learn. He executes the man himself, and in teaching Bran about being dutiful, explains that the one who orders the execution should be the one to carry it out and take responsibility for his actions. Right away you can tell this man has earned his respect honestly and honorably.

After Jon Arryn’s death, King Baratheon goes to Winterfell, along with his court, to persuade Eddard to take on the position of Hand of the King. During the time of King Baratheon’s visit, it is revealed that Jon Arryn may have been assassinated so he reluctantly accepts the position of hand so he can investigate Jon Arryn’s death. Unfortunately, that means he has to leave Winterfell and his wife behind as she stays to keep watch over the now comatose Bran Stark, after he fell from one of the abandoned towers, supposedly by accident. Before he leaves, he sends his bastard son, Jon Snow, off to be part of the Night’s Watch, and reminds Jon that he is a Stark even though the Stark name was not given to him, and he also promises to tell Jon of his mother when they meet again.

He brings with him his two daughters, Sansa and Arya, to King’s Landing to have them introduced to the court, as Sansa is betrothed to Joffrey Baratheon, the King’s son and heir to the throne. Being sympathetic to Arya’s frustrations of being forced to act as a lady, he hires a swordmaster for Arya to learn proper swordfighting techniques.

Two things that Eddard finds upon arriving at King’s Landing is that the crown is majorly in debt, mostly to Lord Tywin Lannister, and that Jon Arryn had been inquiring around the city searching and finding King Baratheon’s bastard children. He is also forced to kill Lady, Sansa’s direwolf, after Joffrey accuses Arya and her own direwolf, Nymeria, of inflicting injury on him. Because Arya ran her direwolf off, Lady is killed in Nymeria’s place.

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Later, during a council meeting, King Baratheon wants to execute and order to have Daenerys Targaryen killed when he finds out that she is pregnant. Although Eddard has no love for the Targaryen’s, being that one Targaryen in particular was responsible for the capture, imprisonment, and death of his sister, Lyanna Stark, he refuses to agree to killing Daenerys and her unborn child, and steps down as Hand. As he is about to leave for Winterfell, he is stopped by Jaime Lannister, who is angered that Catelyn Stark has taken Jaime’s brother, Tyrion, prisoner for the attempted murder of Bran Stark. Their dispute turns deadly as Jaime’s men kill all of Eddard’s men and Eddard is injured. It is during this time of recovery that King Baratheon visits him and practically forces him to retake the position of Hand of the King, which Eddard does.

As he resumes his duties as Hand, he researches and discovers, after an offhand comment by Sansa, that Robert Baratheon’s children are not really his. Robert’s supposed children are actually the result of Robert’s wife Cersei and her incestuous affair with her twin brother Jaime Lannister. This is what Lord Jon Arryn had apparently discovered that got him assassinated. When Eddard confronts Cersei about this matter, he tells her that he will inform Robert of this, but gives Cersei a chance to flee with the children before he does. Unfortunately, Cersei plots to have Robert killed before he ever finds out. Also unfortunate is that her plan works.

Robert Baratheon comes back from his hunting party, severely wounded and has Eddard write down his will and put Joffrey’s name as heir to the throne, also naming Eddard as Protector of the Realm until Joffrey is of age to take the throne. Eddard writes down “rightful heir” instead of putting Joffrey’s name on the will. He also doesn’t have to the heart to inform Robert of Cersei’s children not being his.

When Robert dies, Joffrey takes the throne with his mother as part of the counsel. Eddard tries to overtake the throne and have both Cersei and Joffrey arrested, but Cersei rips up the will in front of all who are there and Eddard finds that he is betrayed. Eddard is taken prisoner for treason, while Sansa is held captive by the Lannisters and Arya escapes into the city.

Thus starts the coming of a war as news of Eddard’s capture reaches Winterfell. Eddard at first refuses to admit to treason and does not want to swear fealty to King Joffrey, even if it means his death. However, because Sansa is still being kept by them, he realizes that may be the only way to save her. So, he reluctantly agrees, with the reassurance that his daughters will be released. This also ensures that he will not be executed, but exiled to the Wall instead, serving the Night’s Watch as punishment.

Unfortunately, as honorable and dutiful and even sympathetic as he has been to those around him, he is not treated with the same courtesies. After Eddard admits to treason and swears fealty to King Joffrey, Joffrey has him executed right then and there anyway, in public and with Sansa watching. Arya also watches from a distance, but Eddard can see that Yoren, an actual trustworthy man, will take care of Arya as he hides Arya from his beheading.

His death becomes the ultimate catalyst for the War of the Four Kings.

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Eddard is definitely one of the most honorable men in this series and the basic “good guy” as far as good guys go in Westeros. He is not without fault, though, seeming too trustworthy of people and even giving mercy to those who probably don’t deserve it. It is these faults that ultimately become part of his downfall.

Eddard Stark was played by Sean Bean. He is a well respected actor and best known in recent years as Boromir from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a part in which is character dies most dramatically as well. The guy knows how to die honorably, I gotta say. He also played the King in the Snow White comedy movie, Mirror, Mirror, which just came out the Friday before the start of the second season of Game of Thrones on HBO. And he played the Greek God Zeus in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. No word on if he’s going to reprise his role for the upcoming Sea of Monsters, though. I love this actor and I so wish his character hadn’t died just so I can see more of him in the series, but alas, the Game of Thrones isn’t about keeping all the good characters alive. Sean Bean will be missed!

Character Summary – Robb Stark

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We are down to our final summaries, one of them being on Robb Stark, The Young Wolf.

Robb is the eldest child and son of Eddard and Catelyn Stark and is heir to Winterfell and the North.  He gets along well with all of his siblings, including his bastard half-brother, Jon Snow.

Robb also had a friendly relationship with his father’s ward, Theon Greyjoy, who considered him as somewhat of a younger brother.

When Jon convinces Eddard to keep a pack of direwolf pups for each of the Stark children, Robb names his Grey Wind.

Robb’s relations with the Lannisters already starts off bad when he spars with Joffrey Baratheon using wooden swords, and Joffrey then insults him when he challenges him to spar with live steel.

Once Eddard accepts the role of Hand of the King, Robb takes his father’s stead as Lord of Winterfell. When Catelyn suspects that the Lannisters are somehow responsible for Bran’s accident, she confides in him along with others that she trusts and leaves Winterfell to leave Robb solely in charge while she goes to tell Eddard of her suspicions.

When Bran wakes, Robb is the one to confirm to Bran that his injury is permanent.

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Tyrion provides blueprints for a special saddle for Bran to ride horses, Robb and Theon accompany him in the forest for his first ride.  Although Theon is able to kill most of the wildlings that attack Bran while he is riding in an attempt to steal the horse and his possessions, Robb is angered by Theon’s actions endanger Bran.

Theon did try to convince Robb before Bran’s attack that he should forge an army against the Lannisters for their suspected involvement in Bran’s accident.  Only when Eddard is captured for treason, and receives a letter from his sister Sansa, who he suspects was manipulated by Cersei, does he finally start gathering men for war.

He and his army meet up with his mother on their way south, and they form a strategy.  The strategy involves them going through a river that a Lord Walder Frey is in charge of, so Catelyn bargains with him by having Robb and Arya be betrothed to two of Frey’s children.  Robb agrees, knowing that Frey’s children may not be quite the woman he would have any attraction towards, especially since Frey is not the best looking person and he has never seen his children.

The strategy comes as a success as Robb divides his army, leaving 2000 of them as a distraction against Tywin Lannister’s army, with the rest of his army attacking and winning against Jaime Lannister’s army, holding Jaime prisoner.

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After Eddard’s execution, Robb grieves briefly for him before his mother begins counsel on his, reminding him that he needs to rescue his sisters from the Lannisters, believing they are both held capture by them.  They consider which Baratheon to support over claim of the Iron Throne, Renly or Stannis, Lord Greatjon Umber convinces them to fight for Northern Independence and Robb’s army agrees, including Theon, proclaiming Robb as “King of the North.”

Robb Stark is played by Richard Madden.  Before Game of Thrones, he appeared in several UK shows, but this series has made him known internationally.  At first I wasn’t sure what to think of him or his character, but he started growing on me halfway through the season.  Of course, that’s probably because he doesn’t figure too prominently until later in the series anyway.  I have no complaints of his portrayal of Robb Stark, and I hope that he continues to make a mark for himself in the upcoming season.

Character Summary – Tyrion Lannister

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We are going to try to do double duty and send you one of two character summaries, first one up is on Tyrion Lannister, aka  The Imp.

Tyrion is the youngest child of Tywin and Joanna Lannister, and brother to twins Cersei and Jaime.

Because Tyrion is a dwarf, he has also been nicknamed the Imp or the Halfman.  However.  Because of his deformity, he is not really respected or loved by his father, or his sister.  Also, it didn’t help that his mother died giving birth to him, as they put the blame on him for her death.  However, due to their rejection of him and his size, Jaime seems much more willing to accept him and even sincerely cares for his little brother.

Jaime even arranged a “chance meeting” with an attempted rape victim, whom Tyrion fell in love with and married, only to find out by his father that she was hired by Jaime because he wanted Tyrion to be happy.  Tywin paid the prostitute a silver coin for every guard she had sex with and and made Tyrion watch.  For this reason, he vows to never marry or have a lover, and thus only beds with prostitutes.

Tyrion is perceptive, shrewd, and definitely has a soft spot for those who are mistreated, misunderstood, and outcast.  Even though his size causes problems and persecution for him at times, it is mitigated by his family-wealth, social standing, and his intellect, which he has much of.

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In the beginning of the series, we see him befriend Jon Snow, Eddard Stark’s bastard son, because he feels he has a kinship with him.  He states to Jon that “All dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes”.  This friendship continues as he joins the Night’s Watch recruits as they travel to The Wall, and even promises Jon that he will help Bran, who is paralyzed from the waist down, as he did Jon by helping him find his identity.  When Tyrion arrives in Winterfell, he offers Bran the blueprints for a saddle that will allow him to ride a horse.

His compassion isn’t met with caring eyes when goes on his way back to King’s Landing.  He comes across Catelyn Stark on his way to King’s Landing, and finds himself in a pickle when she accuses him of attempting to kill Bran.  When they travel to Catelyn’s sister’s land, they are assaulted, and Tyrion actually ends up saving Catelyn’s life, however, they still take him to Eyrie for trial.  Catelyn’s sister also accuses him of killing her husband, Lord Jon Arryn.  Luckily, his life is saved when someone literally fights in his place and wins.

He realizes that maybe his siblings had something to do with both Jon Arryn’s death and Bran’s fall.

When Tyrion finally reaches his father, who has invaded the Riverlands due to Tyrion’s capture.  Tywin takes this as an opportunity to claim the Iron Throne now, and has Tyrion and his troops battle against some Stark forces in the Battle of Green Fork.  They win, but that battle was actually only a diversion to another battle that was lost to them, in which Jaime Lannister is now held captive.

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Tywin retreats and has Tyrion go back to King’s Landing as Hand of the King for Joffrey Baratheon, Tyrion’s nephew, basically to prevent the boy from making things worse after Joffrey had Eddard Stark beheaded.  Interesting and entertaining little tidbit is that Tyrion may seem to be the one to have a major affect on Joffrey, since he has no fear of slapping the boy, as he did thrice when Joffrey vocally refused to his uncle that doesn’t care to pay his respects to the Stark family after Bran’s fall.

Yeah, I like this character a lot.

Tyrion is played by Peter Dinklage, one we should all admire.  He has a fine list of movie and television credits to his name, including The Station Agent, Elf, Nip/Tuck, Death at a Funeral (brilliant in both versions!), and Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.  He won the Satellite, Golden Globe, and Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Tyrion Lannister, which was well deserved.  This guy is an amazing actor and it seems that the role of Tyrion was just meant for him to play.

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Character Summary – Jon Snow

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Today we give you Jon Snow, the Bastard of Winterfell.

“A diamond in the rough is worth just as much as a diamond in the clear.” Maxwell Ingram said that.

Jon Snow is known to the people as the bastard son of Eddard Stark.  He was raised by his father alongside his true-born half-siblings.  Identity of his real mother has not yet been revealed.  I love this character, his loyalty, love and respect for the Starks despite the alienation he faces now and then from Catelyn Stark, Ed’s wife.  Though she’s just being a human (who sees Jon’s presence as constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity, making him feel unwelcome) in not being able to connect with the ‘Bastard’ son, I still feel bad for Jon.  On their way back home after the execution of a deserter of Night’s Watch, they encounter direwolf pups, and Snow takes the albino one as he identifies it with himself as an outcast from its litter.  Amidst all of the issues involving his bastardy he got on well with his half-siblings particularly Robb and Arya (both of whom I adore!)

Jon’s position both inside and outside the family subtly chafe him over the years until, when he nears adulthood, he joins the Night’s Watch, after his uncle Benjen suggested that the Watch could use a man like him.

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On his journey to the Wall, Tyrion Lannister accompanies him, and their friendship is fostered by their shared position as noble outsiders.  Jon also protects the shy and soft-hearted Samwell Tarly from bullying by some other recruits.  Gradually he also becomes a natural leader to his fellow trainees.

His new friends save him from the ultimate fate of death as he is torn between his family and the vows to the Watch.  He wants to join his brother Robb in the fight against the Lannisters but deserting the Night’s Watch has the penalty of death.  Finally his friends – Sam and others – persuade him to leave the thought.

Jon finally decides to honor his bonds and fully commit to the Watch, he accepts his place as Mormont squire and prepares for the journey north, on the large Ranging into the Far north that Mormont leads.

He was raised as Stark and Northman and, in many ways, took to their values of honor, and later on, even when forced with horrendous decisions he stays morally correct and upright.

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Jon also has a strong warg connection with his direwolf, Ghost, also a likeable character.

Jon Snow is played by Kit Harington.  Kit has no known credits prior to Game of Thrones, but is excellently cast as the easily likable Snow.  Kit plays him with subtle brilliance and hopefully this will lead him to further great roles.  As it is, he is already slated to be in a fantasy/adventure film with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore called The Seventh Son, which is set to come out early 2013.

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Character Summary – Cersei Lannister

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Today we will go into the life of Cersei Lannister, Queen Dowager of the Seven Kingdoms.

She is the elder of the twins Lannister, her twin being Jaime Lannister, of whom she is very close to – I mean, really close.  Basically too close.  However, she resents her youngest brother, Tyrion Lannister, and blames him for their mother’s death since she died giving birth to Tyrion.  She is the mother of three blond-haired children, all from her incestuous affair with her brother Jaime, but having claimed that Robert Baratheon, her husband and King of the Seven Kingdoms, is their father.

Cersei is quite the manipulator, and tries to influence her husband often.  After her son Joffrey got into a slight melee with Arya, Arya’s direwolf Nymeria attacked him, injuring his hand.  Because of that, Cersei  insisted on having Arya Stark’s hand cut off because of Joffrey’s injury.  Luckily for Arya, the King refused.  Cersei then requested that the direwolf be killed, but since Arya had driven Nymeria away after the attack, the King allowed Sansa’s direwolf, Lady, to be killed in her place.

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She, along with her brother Jaime, were also responsible for Bran’s fall from the tower that caused Bran to become paralyzed from the waist down, because he had caught them having sex in an abandoned tower during one of his climbs on the wall. She became fearful that they would be revealed once Bran were to awaken from his coma, and when she went to speak with Catelyn about it, she pretended to have sympathy for Catelyn, all the while hoping that he would die.

Being that she’s very smart, she tries to teach her son Joffrey on the strategies of ruling a kingdom harshly but successfully.  Joffrey listens at first, but later on, we see she doesn’t have as much influence on him once he takes over the Throne.

When Eddard discovers her and Jaime’s secret affair and their children, she actually tries to defend her actions and her love for her brother as being acceptable, similar to that of the Targaryens, whose customs were to marry brother and sister together.  He insists upon her and her children leaving the capital, stating that he will not tell King Baratheon as long as she goes.  But she retorts, saying, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”

And she eventually arranged for her husband, Robert Baratheon, to be killed during a hunting party, before Eddard Stark could tell him about Cersei and Jaime’s affair.  Fortunately for Cersei, her ploy was successful.

With Robert out of the way, Joffrey took over the throne, but not without Eddard speaking aloud that the will Robert had left said that the throne would go to the “rightful heir,” something that Eddard wrote instead of writing Joffrey’s name.  Cersei took the will and tore it up in front of him and court and ordered the Barristan to seize Eddard instead of the other way around.  Littlefinger sided with the Lannisters and betrayed the Starks at this point, having Eddard thrown in prison for treason.  He no longer had the advantage over Cersei.

Cersei again uses her manipulative ways to convince Sansa Stark to call her brother, Robb, to King’s Landing and swear fealty to King Joffrey in order to save their father’s life.  She does so, but Robb refuses, knowing that she’s being coerced by Cersei.

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Cersei did, by all accounts, did mean for Eddard Stark to be spared execution and have him serve the rest of his life at the Night’s Watch after he swore fealty.  Unfortunately, even her influence couldn’t persuade King Joffrey to think as wisely as her, and Eddard was executed after all.

It is also revealed that with Jaime Lannister taken prisoner by the Starks, she takes on an affair with another relative: her cousin Lancel Lannister.

Cersei is played by Lena Headey.  Her credits are extensive, with a couple of her most popular roles in recent times being Sarah Connor in the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and as another queen in the graphic movie 300, opposite Gerard Butler.  She’ll also be appearing in the upcoming 2012 film, Dredd.  Some have found Lena’s performance of Cersei as somewhat underperformed and not as vindictive.  But in regards to everyone else on the show, I believe her portrayal is perfectly fine, walking the thin line between evil and not-so-evil, being that her character apparently has a care for her children, but still wants to have control in a way that most women cannot.

 

 

Character Summary – Robert Baratheon

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Day 11 brings us the King, Robert Baratheon.

Robert was orphaned when his parents died in a shipwreck.  He thus was raised by Lord Jon Arryn, along with Eddard Stark.  They became fast friends. He was betrothed to Lyanna Stark, Eddard’s sister.  Unfortunately, the marriage did not come about because Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped Lyanna.  When they went to war against the Targaryen’s, Rhaegar was killed, however, so was Lyanna.

When Robert took the Iron Throne, he married Cersei Lannister to bring stability to the kingdom.  Robert accidentally called Cersei by Lyanna’s name, and thus began Cersei’s disgust and hatred towards Robert.

Robert wisely appointed Jon Arryn as Hand of the King.  Jon and Robert’s brother, Stannis, helped keep the Seven Kingdoms together, while Robert pretty much drank, ate, hunted, and whored during his time as King.  Because of this, he became a very overweight man.

Unfortunately, his reign suffered financially, leaving the crown in debt of millions.  He also had many bastard children due to his frequent whoring.

When Jon Arryn died, Robert requested Eddard to take over as Hand of the King, which Eddard accepted hesitantly.

When Robert found out that Daenerys Targaryen was pregnant, his grudge against the Targaryens had not been sated in the least, and he demanded that Eddard agree with him to have Daenerys killed.  When Eddard refused and resigned his post as Hand, it was only when Eddard was injured that Robert went back to him and made him take his post again, threatening to appoint Jaime Lannister the position if Eddard did not take it back.

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During one of Robert’s hunts, he had been given a very strong wine by his squire, something that was planned by Cersei.  He had gotten so inebriated from the wine, that he missed his mark on a boar, and the boar charged him, gravely injuring him.

The party brought Robert back, still alive, but just only long enough for him to have Eddard Stark write up a will putting “Joffrey” on the throne. However, Eddard put “trueborn heir” instead.

Robert died soon after and Joffrey was put on the throne, with the will, torn up by Cersei Lannister.

Robert Baratheon, although a good friend of Eddard, was a pig.  The fact that he was king only serves as a reminder that kings can be the most flawed people, despite being taken under the care of a caring foster father, Jon Arryn, and an honorable friend, Eddard Stark.  His drinking, whoring, spending and eating brought about his downfall.  Even he knew he wasn’t fit to rule, but he did.  At least he knew that his death or resignment would allow Joffrey to be king, and he didn’t want that.  Only when he was dying did he feel he had no choice.

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Mark Addy played the role of Robert Baratheon.  What’s interesting is that when I saw the King for the first time, I thought I recognized who it was, but it wasn’t until I looked him up did I remember him from another, not-quite-dark-somewhat-musical movie called A Knight’s Tale.  I was surprised, but in a good way.  He’s been in some other semi-memorable movies:  The Full Monty, The Time Machine, and Robin Hood to name some recognizable ones.  He seems to usually play the kind-hearted big guy, so it was really cool to see him play such a louse in this series.

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