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Game Of Thrones, The House Of Stark

By Edited Apr 29, 2016 1 2

The Stark Family Plus Close Associates
Credit: http://www.screened.com/news/game-of-thrones-the-old-gods-and-the-new/3765/

George R.R. Martin And J.R.R. Tolkien

I'm three years late, but now I'm caught up with at least the HBO presentation of the terrific George R.R. Martin creation now known most often as "Game Of Thrones."  I watched the entire three seasons, roughly 60 hours of video, in about six days.  Now I'm watching it all again simply because it all makes more sense the second go round.  You miss a lot of important details when you watch things on video the first go round and you've not read the books the films are based upon.

I'm going to read the books by Mr. Martin, it is important to note here the books are not called "Game Of Thrones" at all.  The books by epic fantasy author George Martin are properly titled "A Song Of Ice And Fire."  HBO titled their films the way they did because their title fits maybe better than the author's, and the phrase was lifted from a conversation between key characters Cercei Lannister and Lord Eddard Stark.

George Martin added the "R.R." in his name to give readers a clue what sort of fiction his work would be.  Plainly enough, he wanted folks to know he was a fan of and influenced by the great J.R.R. Tolkien.  Martin's work, like Tolkien's, is fantasy, and it could either be described as "epic fantasy," or medieval fantasy.  I don't truly think Martin and Tolkien are similar much at all, and I totally reject any sort of notion that Martin's work is lifted from Tolkien in any way.  I do think, however, that if you enjoy Tolkien, the chances you'll like these HBO films based closely upon the work of George R.R. Martin are very very high.

The world created by George Martin is a world not unlike our own politically.  There are powerful families controlling different areas and aspects of commerce in his created world, and there is never ending conflict between various and sundry families and their allies for power and control.  When the viewer or reader enters the world Martin built, they first come into contact with the House of Stark; and the members of the Stark family who aren't killed remain strong in the story as far as it is published to date.  Martin's Game Of Thrones is NOT finished; but George Martin is alive, well, and working on it.

This article is my bit of character sketching for the Family of Lord Stark.  It goes without saying here there are going to be some very huge spoilers in this article for any reader who's not seen the films or read the books already.  What I had been told time and time again before venturing down the road of the tales of ice and fire was that every character with integrity winds up dead.  This isn't entirely true, but it is largely true.

Winterfell, Home Of The House Of Stark

Winterfell
Credit: http://www.cultureaddicthistorynerd.com/2011/06/locations-of-thrones-northern-ireland/

Winterfell, Home Of House Stark

The House of Stark is a house of nobles living in the North of Westeros.  Winterfell is their home walled fortress city, and the Stark's are forever hardened warriors.  The North of Westeros is a hard land, and the hardest warriors live in the North, there are none more honorable or fierce than the Stark family, who are always major players in the goings on in the lands of the seven kingdom's of Westeros.

If one were to venture North of Winterfell, eventually one gets to The Great Wall[1], which is constructed of ice, and is seven hundred feet high and three hundred miles long.  The wall protects all the kingdoms South of it from many things, some human, some not. At the time of the tale and events presented in Game Of Thrones, the wall is barely equipped with men to defend it Winterfell and the wall both share an eight thousand year history[2]. Winterfell is an imposing and large castle-like structure which also features a town outside the walls known as "Winter Town."  Winterfell is built on top of natural hot springs, and the water is circulated through the walls to assist with keeping the entire complex warm, and this helps make Winterfell one of the most comfortable places in all of Westeros.  Winterfell is also built around one of the ancient "godswood" trees giving Winterfell a natural place of worship within its walls.

Lord Eddard Stark

Lord Eddard Stark, Or simply, "Ned Stark."
Credit: http://www.npr.org/2011/04/14/135385959/hbo-lures-fantasy-fans-with-game-of-thrones

Lord Stark, Stark Family Patriarch

There can be no doubt the true star of HBO's first Game Of Thrones season is Lord Eddard Stark, who is played wonderfully by actor Sean Bean.  If someone were to want to tie Martin to Tolkien, then the real link is Sean Bean's appearance in the HBO films and in Peter Jackson's LOTR films.  Comparing the characters of Ned Stark and Boromir is easy, and natural; they're both noble warriors who die long before the tale is finished.  I suppose the major difference is that Bean's Boromir dies knowing full well he'd done wrong by betraying his comrades, but Bean's Eddard Stark dies having never really done much wrong, he dies for attempting to forever do what he thought to be truly the right thing to do.  

Lord Stark is the head of House Stark, he is the great friend of the King of the seven kingdoms of Westeros, Robert Baratheon; and his only trusted advisor. What Lord Stark fails to do is play by the rules of the Game of Thrones, which is essentially nothing more than a treacherous game where everyone is on the take, and in the "game" for no reason save their own interests.  Ned Stark has no interest at all in being king, and he has loyalty to his friend King Robert, and following that, tradition, and things going how they are supposed to go according to the rules of the land.  Nobody cares about the rules, really, except Lord Stark, and his family members. Despite Lord Stark being given all the information he needed to have to prevent his own demise, he just barreled along seeking to do what he was sure to be the right thing to do, and so season one passes, as does the life of its most noble and strong character, Lord Eddard Stark.

Lady Catelyn Stark

Catelyn Stark
Credit: http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/timein/features/11976/michelle-fairley-game-of-thrones

Fallen Heroine, Lady Cat Stark

When it comes to George R.R. Martin's Game Of Thrones tales, and any comparisons to those of J.R.R. Tolkien, we have to talk about how Martin truly includes women and even young girls in all manner of heroics.  While it can't be said Tolkien didn't include some strong female characters, it can be said he provided very few of them.  Not so with George R.R. Martin, as Martin is an equal opportunist for fantasy fiction heroics[3].

The wife of Lord Eddard Stark is Catelyn Stark, and she is portrayed by Northern Irish actress Michelle Fairley; and this is rather proper, as quite a lot of the HBO Game Of Thrones filming is done in Northern Ireland[4]. The character of Cat Stark is an exceedingly strong character, oh she's character flaws by the bucket full, but her virtues too are very notable.  What strengthens a plot more than regicide revenge anyway?  

Catelyn Stark is a strong nobel woman born from a nobel family.  She'd have been someone even had she not been the wife of Lord Eddard Stark, and the mother of his five children to her.  Her biggest character flaw is her impulsiveness, and her inability to love her husband's bastard son.  Lady Stark knows full well what her flaws are, and she admits to them.

One thing concerning women in general in the work of George Martin.  Martin's women surely enrage the modern feminist nazi for forever loving their children.  The female characters in Game Of Thrones who can be considered more good than evil, or more insane than sane; they love their children regardless of it all.  The idea of a woman not loving a child is something preposterous, and absolutely impossible insofar as the first three seasons of Game of Thrones goes.  

Like husband Ned Stark, Lady Stark has rich and powerful friends all over the seven kingdoms of Westeros,.  Like Ned Stark, Lady Stark commands respect everywhere she goes, and from everyone.  Like Ned Stark, Lady Stark wants things done a certain way, following a certain protocol, and she is (like her husband) far far too trusting of other persons on face value - she think other people are going to behave in the way she would behave, but she's very wrong.  She does make it three seasons though.

Robb Stark, "The King In The North"

Robb Stark
Credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/robb-stark/images/34106840/title/robb-stark-photo

The Sad Tale Of Robb Stark, "King In The North"

While it can be said rather plainly that Lord Eddard Stark dies maintaining his honor, it is easily seen that his son Robb Stark dies both following his heart, and seeking vengeance for his father.  Both Ned and Robb completely fail to understand the sort of world they live in, a world much like the real one; a world where most people live for their wealth and their pleasures, and the persons who live for their love and what they know to be right, are trampled upon.

Robb Stark has committed what is a terrible sin in the world created by George R.R. Martin, he betrays a vow he's made, and all the while his rebellion against the cabal that had his father murdered is based upon persons who are maintaining their vows in supporting him.  Oh sure, there is more to it than that, the people of the North surely want to be their own nation, and they have chosen Robb Stark, played expertly by Richard Madden, to be their king.  Robb didn't choose himself to be any sort of king, his kingship was by election, and he'd not even asked to be any part of it - but he broke a sacred vow he'd made with a powerful man to marry one of his daughters, and this is the undoing of not just Robb Stark, but also his mother, and his army.

While it can be said by some the character of Robb Stark did no wrong, it can easily be said by others he plainly did do something very wrong.  In the world created by George R.R. Martin, there is little a man can offer anyone outside of gold, except for his solemn oath to do a thing, and when he doesn't, well, it is a pretty big deal.  It doesn't really matter that love is involved in the oath breaking, a broken oath is a deadly serious thing.  When moralizing about Robb Stark's virtues as "King In The North," be certain you take into account the two thousand men who's lives he sacrificed in a battlefield feint so as to capture Jaime Lannister.

Robb Stark is a tragic character for sure.  He is a character which is almost entirely pure, nobel, honest, upright, honorable, and strong; but he does one thing which he surely knows is wrong, and huge numbers of his people die for it.  Such is the lot of a leader, and it is the same in the real world.  Some idiot puts a fleet of naval vessels in the Mediterranean Sea with both Chinese and Russian naval vessels, and an amateurish fool of a leader could get us all killed.

Sansa Stark, The Would Be Queen Of Westeros

Arya Stark
Credit: http://www.memeslanding.com/Game+Of+Thrones+Fan+Art/Really-Cool-Picture-Of-Maisie-Williams-A/371

Sansa Stark - A Very Conflicted Young Woman

Sansa Stark, the oldest of the two female Stark children, has the dubious role to play as being the least likable Stark.  Now take into mind how absolutely beautiful Sophie Turner, the actress playing Sansa is; and you can see her character has some serious flaws.  She's really being done wrong here, the entire show she's being done wrong.  Her father only pre-arranged a marriage between her and a psychotic bastard born of incest; and then up and got himself executed, leaving Sansa all alone in a large and foreign city.

 Luckily for Sansa Stark, her beauty and her family name are still worth a lot to people very wealthy and influential.  They keep her alive and unharmed merely for a bargaining chip.  Oh no, psychotic twit King Jeoffry will leave her hung out to dry, he doesn't care about Sansa in the least; and so "The Hound" will come to her rescue, showing himself, finally, as not quite the burn victim giant with a sword and no conscious we'd all thought him to be.

Oh Sansa is prissy and way too proper.  Sansa is exceedingly innocent, but not so sweet.  She also shows increasing levels of bravery, coming within a hair and a Hound of pushing the psychotic husband to be off a high walkway, and leading a group of women in song as King's Landing is under siege.

Season 3 ended with Sansa finding out she had no chance of becoming the Queen and being a major power player behind the scenes that way.  Her father was dead, and now so are her older brother, and her mother.  Her two younger brothers are thought to be dead, though it isn't clear she knows that.  She's married off in a political wedding to Tyrion Lannister, the least desirable person out there for her to be married to, but also the only person who's truly interested in keeping her protected and safe.  I'm expecting Sansa to do daring things in season 4.  I expect her to kill King Jeoffry; possibly, but if not her, then surely her little sister, who's whereabouts aren't known to Sansa, will.

Sansa Stark, The Would Be Queen Of Westeros

Arya Stark
Credit: http://www.memeslanding.com/Game+Of+Thrones+Fan+Art/Really-Cool-Picture-Of-Maisie-Williams-A/371

Sansa Stark - A Very Conflicted Young Woman

Sansa Stark, the oldest of the two female Stark children, has the dubious role to play as being the least likable Stark.  Now take into mind how absolutely beautiful Sophie Turner, the actress playing Sansa is; and you can see her character has some serious flaws.  She's really being done wrong here, the entire show she's being done wrong.  Her father only pre-arranged a marriage between her and a psychotic bastard born of incest; and then up and got himself executed, leaving Sansa all alone in a large and foreign city.

 Luckily for Sansa Stark, her beauty and her family name are still worth a lot to people very wealthy and influential.  They keep her alive and unharmed merely for a bargaining chip.  Oh no, psychotic twit King Jeoffry will leave her hung out to dry, he doesn't care about Sansa in the least; and so "The Hound" will come to her rescue, showing himself, finally, as not quite the burn victim giant with a sword and no conscious we'd all thought him to be.

Oh Sansa is prissy and way too proper.  Sansa is exceedingly innocent, but not so sweet.  She also shows increasing levels of bravery, coming within a hair and a Hound of pushing the psychotic husband to be off a high walkway, and leading a group of women in song as King's Landing is under siege.

Season 3 ended with Sansa finding out she had no chance of becoming the Queen and being a major power player behind the scenes that way.  Her father was dead, and now so are her older brother, and her mother.  Her two younger brothers are thought to be dead, though it isn't clear she knows that.  She's married off in a political wedding to Tyrion Lannister, the least desirable person out there for her to be married to, but also the only person who's truly interested in keeping her protected and safe.  I'm expecting Sansa to do daring things in season 4.  I expect her to kill King Jeoffry; possibly, but if not her, then surely her little sister, who's whereabouts aren't known to Sansa, will.

Arya Stark - She'll Stick You With The Pointy End!

Jon Snow
Credit: http://thecoolkidztable.blogspot.com/2012/05/ben-jordan-watch-game-of-thrones-old.html

Arya Stark - One Of The Most Endearing Female Fantasy Characters Ever

Arya Stark may very well be the single biggest star of the entire Game of Thrones saga; her only real competitors are Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen.  Little Arya is a tomboy of a girl, and damned proud of it.  She's the polar opposite in personality of her older sister Sansa.  Little Arya spends time travelling pretending to be a boy, and somehow or another only a very few people even detect she isn't male at all.  She's got an in your face personality, bold and brave.  She literally sees life as a vehicle for her vengeance towards everyone who's wronged her family.  She learns rather the hard way some people she'd wanted to have killed are actually just very flawed persons who would rather protect her.

Maisie Williams expertly plays the character of Arya Stark.  She is currently 16 years old, which put her at 12 or 13 when HBO's Game Of Thrones began filming, the character of Arya Stark starts the tales at nine years of age.  Ms. Williams is one of the more compelling actresses of the entire three seasons.  You can surely expect this young woman to do other very good portrayals in her future.

In regards to the books which I have not yet read, Arya Stark is the ONLY character to have an entire point of view chapter in each of the first five books[5]. During season one in the city of King's Landing little Arya is told by her beloved father she'd eventually have an arranged wedding like her sister Sansa, to some noble born lord, and become the mother of his children.  Arya essentially says with disgust, "That's not me!"  It isn't her, and it isn't her fate either; at least not thus far in the tale.

Arya is particularly fond of her half brother, Jon Snow, as they both have extreme interest in martial abilities, especially sword fighting.  Arya for all the world likely prefers her half brother Jon to the rest of her full siblings.  Arya's world is ripped to shreds with the death of her father, and her brother Jon is already lost to her far far away at the great wall.  Arya, however, is not a child to despair, she is a child to challenge, and she is not afraid to challenge anyone, no matter how large or powerful.

I don't want to BS around too much here about this, but let's be realistic. George Martin is doing something with Game of Thrones, or " A Song Of Ice And Fire," that we've seldom seen done.  He's doing more for creating strong female characters[6], realistic women who will cut you in half for doing them wrong, than "American feminism" ever could do.  If anything, I'd say American feminist hurt women more than men ever could, but George Martin empowers them in his fiction, and thus, he empowers the female readers of his works.  There is no bigger star to Game Of Thrones than Arya Stark and Daenerys; just let it blow over how Arya has to pretend to be a boy to get away, that's plot, not misogyny.

Jon Snow

Brandon Stark
Credit: http://slynt.blogspot.com/2011/04/re-read-bran-i.html

While the tale of Arya and Sansa Stark are tales of very young women who've lost their families in completely unexpected circumstances, that tale of Jon Snow, their half brother, is a different tale indeed.  Jon Snow never had the love of the mother, he never knew even who his mother was, and the last time he got to see his father, his father told him the next time they spoke they'd finally, for the first time in his life, talk about it.  The time never came, as Jon Snow, a universally reviled for being a bastard son of Lord Stark, would only find out his father had been beheaded.

When King Robert and family visit Winterfell, Jon Snow is left to hide somewhere as to not embarrass the family for being a bastard with a different mother.  When Lord Eddard and his two youngest daughters travel far to the South to live in King's Landing so Ned can serve as a fatal "hand of the king," Jon Snow is sent North to serve at the wall in the Night's Watch.

There is one particularly heart wrenching scene in the film titled "Dark Wings."  In the episode/film, Lady Stark tells the illicit wife of Robb Stark how all the ills which have befallen the most nobel house of Stark are due to her own failures to love Jon Snow as a child of her own. Lady Stark's ownership of her flaws do not equate to fate's forgiveness of them, and she knows this, she only does nothing about it.

Jon Snow lives on.  He's only forever got to tolerate being called "the bastard," or, "the traitor's bastard."  Then there is the red head, and her lovely refrain, "you don't know nuthin', Jon Snow."

Brandon Stark - He develops Strange Powers

Rickon Stark
Credit: http://rebloggy.com/post/game-of-thrones-robb-stark-bran-stark-got-asoiaf-jon-snow-rickon-stark-house-sta/22654198776

Brandon Stark, usually just called "Bran," inadvertently played a large part in the destruction of his family.  It simply wasn't his fault.  It's just not normal for brothers and sisters to have sex, and so when young Brandon stark saw the Queen and her brother going at it, he got shoved out of a tower window.  His transition from a normal young boy who was especially fond of climbing things to some sort of psychic who can enter into the minds of animals [7]and even humans too at times is something which will surely develop further.

Bran has impeccable manners and integrity, he's seen too much, and lost too much.  Luckily for Bran, he's got a wildling woman, a semi-retarded semi-giant, his younger brother, and two more friends to see to him.  Why Brandon Stark wants to go North of the great wall I have no clue, but his three eyed ravens and such tell him he must go, and go he surely will. I think everyone would like to see Brandon and Rickon reunited with Jon Snow, and seeing as how Season 3 ends with Brandon and crew meeting Sam "the coward," who is anything BUT a coward; chances are good some of the Stark family will get to see each other again soon.

Brandon Stark is played by Isaac Hempstead-Wright. Young Isaac began his professional acting career at just 11 years of age to play the part.  Expect more and also great acting from him.

Game Of Thrones Season One, Featuring The Entire Stark Family

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Comments

Sep 19, 2013 5:38pm
Sholland10
Hey Wesman!! Fabulous article! I watch GAME OF THRONES, too. I haven't read the books, but my son has. SPOILER ALERT to anyone who hasn't watched through season 3 --- I absolutely lost it when Cat and Robb were, well, you know. My son warned me to prepare myself. I never thought... He said season 3 was a mixture of two of the books. I am not sure if I will read them. My son also told me there are several missing characters missing in the show. Like LORD OF THE RINGS, keeping the characters straight is a challenge. It's a challenge watching them. I have had to watch all of the shows two or three times, and I learn something new each time. GREAT PLOT! Very twisted and unpredictable. You are right about the women - puts Women's Lib to shame. LOL These women are strong, even when they appear weak. Would not cross any of them.
Jan 21, 2014 9:55pm
Wesman_Todd_Shaw
Sholland10, hey thanks very much. I'm not sure what happened to where I never responded to your comment until now. That's really just how I am sometimes....seriously scatterbrained.

I'm reading the first book now. It wasn't just Cat and Robb, it was...I guess, practically their entire army too. Absolutely, Martin is all about strong women. Modern women's lib in America...is sometimes pretty embarrassing...wish they'd take a clue from Martin's women, and just live like that.

He's a sure genius with his plot...and all the characters. What seems all bad really isn't....look at someone like Sandor Clegane (The Hound)...you think he's pure evil, you find out he's NOT. I love that stuff.

Even Robb Stark and his mom...and even honorable Lord Eddard - they seem so good, but they aren't. If you look close, they do some awful things, make terrible mistakes.
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Bibliography

  1. "The Wall." Game of Thrones Wiki. 14/09/2013 <Web >
  2. "Winterfell." A Wiki Of Ice And Fire. 15/09/2013 <Web >
  3. "Michelle Fairley: Game of Thrones." Time Out Sydney. 16/09/2013 <Web >
  4. Sarah Hughes "Game of Thrones: see the Northern Ireland locations where it all happened." The Guardian. 16/09/2013 <Web >
  5. "Arya Stark." A Wiki Of Ice And Fire. 17/09/2013 <Web >
  6. "Why It Shouldn't Be Difficult To Write Believable Female Characters." UpWorthy. 17/09/2013 <Web >
  7. "[Re-read] Bran I, "Wolfdreamer"." Stormsongs (Blogspot). 18/09/2013 <Web >

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