Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eddard Stark is not a hero

** Caution: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead **

We've started watching the first season of Game of Thrones. I'll be honest, I never got through the first book - just too slow-moving for me - but the show's quite good. I don't much care for the main plot, really, which is pretty much bog-standard backstabbing medieval skullduggery*, but the side scenes are fantastic. The youngest daughter with her "dance" instructor. The Mountain and the Hound. That stuff, I love.

Anyhow, in several conversations I've had about the show, people have said that I need to prepare to be shocked by it because, "They kill off Eddard Stark, the guy you think should be the hero."

First of all, thanks to both of you for, like, totally spoiling the first season for me. That was swell. Second, Eddard Stark is not a hero

Mr. Stark (can I call him that?) finds out that his long-time friend and now-king is plotting to kill a young woman and her unborn child to prevent her and a horde of ignoble horseman from crossing a sea and attacking their realm.** His reaction? He walks away from the king, the throne, the responsibility of being the king's second in command.

He just walks away.

See, a hero would do something. I mean, to be truly heroic, to truly stand up for what he believes to be right, he would go save the girl and her unborn child. Sure, it might be dumb, but if he's willing to break friendship and break his oath to the king***, he should be willing to not only do what's right, but should also be willing to do what's right. There's no such thing as heroic words, really, only heroic actions.

Shortly after deciding to hightail it back to his home in Winterfell, his life and the life of his family is threatened so, really, even if he does do something about this potential assassination, its coloured by the certain fact that his action might be simply self-serving.

Some people might argue with this and say that he's acting on his code of honour. And it's true, he is. So what. It's a stupid code of honour, and one not worth following, if it places a higher premium on fealty over the life and well-being of others. A hero would get that. Heck, my kid would get that.

Eddard Stark is not a hero.

* Yes, there are "twists you'll never see coming." That actually really unimpressive because, honestly, anyone can write that kind of plot. Far more impressive would be twists you should have seen coming, but didn't.

** The reasons why the birth of a child would cause an invasion are complicated. Not especially interesting, but complicated.

*** Yes, I was paying attention to the first 10 minutes of the first episode - I see where this is going.

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