Stark’s heir, left in his capital, was right to declare war. If the major battle was inevitable, he should have fought in his own land, trapping his enemies everywhere. But he went to war without allies, for nobody trembled in fear of him: No man saw his victory tied to Stark’s victory – or his life.
First, he should have made a pact with the oversea barbarians.
Second, create allies by showing lords what armies do: All they gain by quick steps, requiring no promises, placing few burdens, & everywhere showing resource. He first raised an army & he inspirited his men for revenge & for battle; he should have added love of riches & glory. Therefore, his quickest army should have shown up unexpected, making people confess it is a pleasure to serve.
It is questionable whether he should have engaged Lannister in battle soon… But the boy attacks, sacrificing a small army, butchering a much greater one, capturing its general, the queen’s excellent brother. Now, the boy might win the war. His men declare him king, which is good, for he rules them, but his power cannot match their promises.
He still lacks allies; his army is no nearer victory; his ambitions are unclear. He promises to marry some girl whose father’s land he has to pass – now this man had betrayed lord Stark, if by omission, in his great wars: The boy should have betrayed the trust & butchered this small lord & his family. You never leave enemies behind your lines on a promise.
Stark goes down to the halls of the dead for his honor. His sacrifice forces us to ask whether there is no fate worse than death.
There may a kind of living death that only those men know who have seen cowards abandon their gods & their trust. Such men then recognize it in degenerates & sophisticates. Is that life worth living?
The other poetic device featured prominently is the dragon. One dragon forged the Iron Throne after three invaded & conquered the seven kingdoms, serving some men. Their astounding power was such that the people left alive had been brought to kneel – & yet dragons died soon enough. An extinct race, three new ones are born.
To put the dragons’ power together with the throne is to understand kingly rule. They are immortal & then die; all-powerful, they have to prove themselves. The Iron Throne was made of swords, presumably, the swords of conquered men. This took away their arms & showed them a force higher than arms.
But kings & dragons cannot live together. When the dragon hatchlings come into being, they seem the weakest things, you could crush them underfoot.