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@Granten No, the cultural expectations didn't change the fact that the slavers where not prepared. I think it explains it.
I think you have a point regarding the break up of the Baratheon Dynasty (not expecting Stannis to survive) but Rob sent his mother to Renly in order to negotiate an agreement. I do believe that some of the agreement was some level of fealty of the North to Kings Landing if Renly took it. I do recall that Rob hoped to join forces against the Lannisters. This would have also brought them together with Highgarden.
Only Rob was of age to be sent to another court. I don't remember if Eddard's brother Bran was sent to grow up with the Baratheons at the Eyrie, as Eddard and Robert had been. The fact that a Northern Lord and a Southern one, both sent their sons to another lord to be raised indicates a fairly secure sense of unity. There had been the engagement between Sansa and Joffrey. Is this not the equivalent of sending your son to another house for seasoning? I think there were plenty of unifying features to Westeros. I wonder if the upcoming events show that the separate elements have more in common then that which briefly split it.
1 year, 1 month ago on Ideas, Identity, and Game of Thrones | Daniel W. Drezner
@Granten That's a nice point regarding the White Walkers and their potential for bringing all the waring human factions together. I would think that major social transitions are marked by just such events. Be it the Black Plague which reshuffled European social structures or their discovery of the New World coupled with the capacity to capitalize on it- a society has to have some proto-version of the new society present, but a big push is almost always required. The White Walkers seem an appropriately horrific push.
Cultural expectations maintained the slaving culture and lowered the slavers' guard. Notice, it required a person who desires to end slavery to overthrow the slavers. They had been safe, never imagining a strong enough force desiring an overthrow of a fundamental institution of their society. To their mind, someone will always want the next batch of Unsullied. The golden goose remains safe, although ambitious brigands may try to take it from whomever controls her. Nobody imagined a powerful force would outlaw gold.
I find myself thinking of alternative histories in Westeros while considering our own real world examples. I'm first struck by the absurdity of Renly's death. Smoke Monster rises up from the the island in LOST and shoves a sword in his guts. Then I think of the various leaders of the old days who died of dysentery, or a random bolt, or were killed by treatments for otherwise survivable diseases. Okay, so Renly's death is not so absurd but I think he would have been leader who was in position to win and to perhaps gain Rob's fealty. Remember, it wasn't that the Northerners rallied for independence only because of Eddard's execution. The boy that had killed him was a product of incest, not truly in line of succession to the Baratheon dynasty. I'm still not convinced that the rift between the North and South was as pronounced as you suggest. Oaths taken in the name of god, both old and new. The Baratheon/Stark alliance was a strong one and the Baratheons are a very Southern House. Obviously there are dividing lines but that can be said of any nation. Three generations of bad leadership are at fault.
Last point... Tradition maintains power structures as much as anything. The dragons were bound to die. They had been extinct for hundreds of years. Still the Targaryens ruled well. Their insane king may have gotten away with being insane had he any dragons, but I think this inevitable decline is more a function of the insanity then of the lack of dragons.
@Granten Regarding the Small Council... It acts much more as cabinet then a Parliament. At this point, the Small Council serves the king and fights for control over aspects of the king's expression of power. Were the various elits who are fighting the civil war to band together against the king, and his forces, to then gain enough power that it would appoint the small council, then this would be the Parliament. The Small Council would still squabble. These squabbles would be fought along the divisions of power within the Parliament.
I doubt this arrangement is what the Restored Targaryens would have in mind. Besides, I also doubt any parlament will have the power to appoint favorites of the 3 dragons.
Somewhere in the book it is said that others have bought many more Unsullied then the Mother of Dragons did. I believe there are mechanisms in the culture of Essos that maintain the slaving system and protect the slavers. Only Westeros punishes slavers. The rest of the world we meet is reliant on the slave trade. I believe others did not turn on the Masters because the forces of Essos would take revenge en mass.
Finally, the opening season's story is that of a brand new dynasty in transition from it's founder to his heir. These are always precarious processes. The Targaryens had successfully held their kingdom together for many centuries. They had maintained their power, even when they no longer held dragons as mandate. What finally fractured their kingdom were the incredible acts of wonton cruelty by one Targaryen king against important members of his elite. Many of the people fighting with the King of the North were those who had rebelled against this cruelty and were not likely to band around a brand new dynasty that was fighting itself. The attempt at Northern independence was not so much a fault in the Targaryen ability to make Westeros feel as a single unit, as it was the difficulty the Baratheons found in producing a clear and reasonably competent successor to the founder.
I'm not bothered one bit by the slowish episodes. The flaws inherent in episodic TV- the fact that we become used to characters and expect them to be the same person, season after season, no matter the experiences the sequence of dramatic events we have observed a character experience- these flaws are reduced by the storytelling of this particular show. Even the most popular and interesting character can be suddenly taken from us. Nobody in this story remains unchanged, not in their behavior, nor in our perception of them as people. I like the opportunity to see these characters change and express these changes in quieter moments. Then again, I enjoy books 4 and and 5 very much, so my taste may be particular.
Not much of a spoiler as books 6 and 7 should be addressing these, but the introduction of Dorne and House Martell is one of my favorite elements to the story. The fall of House Stark provides the context for the hollowing out of Arya and leads to what she is becoming. So too with Bran. Keep in mind that the failing of many stories is that once a superhero goes through the process of becoming that hero, their adventures as a hero become formulaic and boring. In this case we are watching the Stark/Snow children become superheros over the course of 7 or 8 seasons, and we don't know if they will actualize their potential. There are going to be wrinkles to the Targaryen rebirth that are far more complicated then the typical hero story. This makes this series much more interesting then any blockbuster superhero flick or the other idealized visions of the West Wing that are out there. I think these aspects that are today viewed as flaws will come together to form a greater story and can't be done in a manner more consistent with the television format as we know it. All that said, I have my doubts that the Theon story is there just to be consistent with the books' narrative. Plenty has been changed or left out. Theon is being transformed for a purpose.
One thought- Having Shaq on his team from his rookie campaign up the midway point of his career may have added miles to his legs. Not to say that Kobe every really played with a "pick his spots" sort of style, but Shaq warped the court in his teammates' favor. Couple this with Kobe's work ethic being in line with Jordan's and Malone's, the improvements in therapy and fitness training (even since guys like Pippin and Miller were reaching their zenith) we might be lucky enough to see Kobe come to the end of this contract with a spit or two of gas left in the tank.
2 years, 7 months ago on Just How Far Can Kobe Bryant Push It?