Tywin was an absolute monster, the most horrifying character in the series so far. I don’t get how you can think his rule did any good for Westeros at all unless you conceive of Westeros as consisting solely of the Lannisters. He’s entirely motivated by profit, power and pride. Tywin had half of Westeros raped, murdered and burned for no reason other than to insure the continuing power of his own house. That’s not a leader; that’s a liability (the word is not nearly strong enough) to the realm.
He had entire harvests burned in Autumn leaving the people, at least the ones he left alive, to starve without stores for a long Winter. Good for Westeros? He unleashed rapers, torturers and murderers, knowing full well what they were, on the people of the Kingdom he was supposed to lead and protect. He conspired with the Freys and the Boltons, who are shits. He is bar none the worst father in the series, having raised incestuous twins, and having turned Tyrion, who was predisposed to be a nice guy, into someone bitter and hateful enough for kinslaying (a damn satisfying scene, and necessary!). He remained blind to his children’s obvious flaws (and strengths in the case of Tyrion) and refused to see Joffrey’s blatant psychopathy even when Tyrion pointed it out. He had an innocent girl gang raped because she damaged his prestige. And Kevan is a slavering little dog who went along with all this; someone’s already quoted his high opinion of Gregor and his boys and what they did in the Riverlands. And this is all off the top of my head. The current zeitgeist seems to hold a lot of unwarranted respect for “tough” leaders who are willing to do the “hard thing.” It also seems to be oblivious to the fact that the “hard thing” is always bad for the people and always for personal profit and power. Tywin’s a perfect fictional example."
Just about the worst lesson we could draw from the way Ned’s decency made him a failure in King’s Landing is to equate indecency with success. But that’s precisely the lesson lots of readers have drawn: Tywin’s a great leader, Victarion could be Azor Ahai reborn, Dany needs to let Meereen fall to the slavers because what she really should be doing is slaughtering her way westward.
The nice thing about being a reader of these books rather than a character in them is that there’s no consequence for holding the people we’re reading about to a higher (or really, to ANY) moral standard. So why don’t we do that?
ASoIaF has always had to walk a tightrope in its subversion of the high-fantasy genre in that it portrays people and events closer to the way they really work in real life, but in doing so risks coming across as an endorsement of the way things really work in real life.
Martin has always been clear, for example, that good men (eg. Ned) don’t always make good rulers. But to me the second part of that statement has always been an implicit but clear “and that really sucks.”
I’m not sure everyone sees it that way, though. Time and time again, we see fan backlash against some of the main characters when their attempts to behave decently backfire or fail in some way — Ned giving Cersei the chance to flee rather than die; Dany using her dragons and burgeoning following to liberate slaves and attempt to create a just peace in Meereen rather than leveling everything between her and King’s Landing; Jon’s increasingly status-quo-threatening attempts to get the wildlings south of the Wall and on the side of the rest of the realm. You end up with arguments that life would be better under a despot like Tywin Lannister than under a liberator like Daenerys.
In other words, many readers seem to take Martin’s realpolitik approach to how the world works in his writing as a reprimand against those with a more idealistic outlook. I don’t think that’s the case at all, in large part because of the issues of war and peace that provoked this thread.
Martin has unfailingly portrayed war as a grotesque folly, a crime against our common humanity. He does this by setting up a supernatural antagonist of whom most of the warring parties are unaware but who we know (to the extent that we can know anything of GRRM’s longterm plans with this series) is the enemy of all humanity, such that every time people raise their swords against one another, or burn each other’s towns and crops, or sack each other’s strongholds and rape and torture and murder their families, they are doing the enemy’s work.
Obviously, war against the Others and their wights will be necessary — but it’s striking that the only necessary war Martin allows for is one that can’t possibly have a counterpart in real life. We have no white walkers to worry about. We only have each other."
The above quote is my contribution to a provocative thread on how Martin’s characters “wage peace,” started by Westeros.org’s Elio García in response to the Curt Purcell post I talked about earlier.
I would also add that part and parcel of how Martin has humanized epic fantasy by fleshing out heroes and villains into characters less easy to identify as either is similarly fleshing out the humanity of the people who die in the wars waged between the two. That’s why it’s so weird to me to see people endorsing Tywin Lannister or, god help me, Roose Bolton as a superior ruler to Daenerys Targaryen or Eddard Stark — or to see people arguing that Victarion Greyjoy — wifebeater, gaybasher, rapist, war criminal, mass murderer — is the Prince Who Was Promised or Azor Ahai reborn. These men dehumanize others, and humanizing others is the project of the entire series.
Peggy Carter married Gabe Jones but they didn’t have any kids.
They adopted British war orphans instead, and raised to be people that Captain America would be proud of.
I LOVE YOU FOR FIGURING OUT HOW TO MAKE THIS WORK I FOR REAL DID NOT THINK OF THIS.
THE ONLY ONE THEY NEVER QUITE UNDERSTAND IS SUSAN PEVENSIE
SO PEGGY TEACHES HER HOW TO WEAR LIPSTICK AND NYLONS
AND BREAK A MAN’S ARM
She’s oddly good at it for a person who has no record of previous training. She’s very good with a bow and asks to learn to use a gun as soon as she can. Peggy teaches her and they spend Saturday afternoons shredding the center of paper targets.
Susan becomes SHIELD’s range instructor shortly after she gets her driving license. Agents only complain until they see her shoot.
Susan is already an old lady by the time Clint joins SHIELD, but she still likes to meet him on the range and shoot arrows together. She says he reminds her of her brother, but refuses to say anything else when pressed.
OH HOW DARE. HOW VERY DARE
Irving insisting that he’s /not waking up till eight, this is his day off.
He pretends it’s because he’s still half asleep