Table of contents

Game Of Thrones I.4.2

The art of war

The teaching about leadership is the other half of the story. In the wild, the bastard must learn to put weak & strong together & unite the army which defends men from beasts. The laws must appear as strong as the encroaching wilderness. But the boy first tries to persuade his peers about his rule – & only later does he crush dissent, reminding the defiant of his dire wolf in the dead of night. The prudent man first crushes dissent, & then persuades the reasonable.

In the capital, the father must learn deceit, injustice, & illegitimacy. His wife’s first, spurned suitor, who still loves her, teaches Stark to distrust all men. Were a man to teach you your interest, you should ask why it is his interest that you know yours. A man telling you not to trust him tells you to think for yourself.

Godless, boy & father will learn that victory requires knowledge of both life & death. ‘The game the high lords play’ consists merely in dark designs. These engulf their minions, eventually, corrupting their kingdoms. Each living king the first of his line causes men to forget their places. Opportunity seems to lurk behind many doors; & also at windows. The quick & the daring compete with the old & the secure. Partisans are wont to forget, desiring to win it, the common ground over which they fight, which is essentially contestable, therefore in need of a defense. Without gods, what is justice? Habits of obedience to laws & oaths turn victory in a civil war into enduring laws & a city. But when new princes come, they decide what is justice, being dreaded & admired, & in some cases causing wonderment.

In the wild, the old captain of the guard, who saw everything by its kind die that lived in the North asks the bastard what his leadership would be worth against the cold & the creatures unafraid of the cold. To be his father’s son is to answer this question: It is to know why winter is coming. Necessity ignores questions of legitimacy & the gods’ power would then seem to accompany him.

Stark is visited by the queen, who threatens murder. He refuses to attend the tournament given in his honor by the king. At the tournament, his daughter learns how men butcher. Stark’s predecessor as king’s hand, also his teacher as knight, had been murdered; thereafter, his squire was knighted. Stark thought it useful to question him, but in the first round of the joust, a most ferocious man thrust the lance through his neck. It seems he was promoted not as reward for his complicity, as it seemed, but as punishment.