Thursday, July 16, 2020

Love, lust, and Lyanna Stark

Maester Aemon one of the wisest, gentlest, and most beloved characters in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series – once said to Jon Snow: "love is the bane of honor, the death of duty."

Prince Rhaegar Targaryen
Lyanna Stark
Not so wise after all, I guess, as any moral and sane person would passionately state otherwise. Yet GRRM twists those words into a kind of sick truth in A Song of Ice and Fire, as exemplified in the character of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Dead during the events of the series, his history casts a long shadow throughout – making him a very present man for all that he lives only in the memories of other key characters. (Worry not, for what follows is essentially background knowledge, not spoilers.) Often described as a man of honor, a noble Prince who did his duty and had skills with both blades and books, his death and that of his House was brought about by a very singular event. Ser Barristan Selmy once noted that "Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it." Well, one of those thousands was Lyanna Stark herself and two others were her father and eldest brother. To cut a long take short, the already married Rhaegar showed an interest of Lyanna (who was betrothed to Lord Robert Baratheon) over his own wife and then, later, kidnapped her. A noble, married, Prince kidnaps a sixteen year old girl who is later found, after the war's end and Rhaegar's death. Found by her brother Ned in the tower where Rhaegar had taken her. Found dying in a "bed of blood". I admit that the exact nature of her death is still a subject of speculation with the fandom of the series, but Lyanna's husband-to-now-never-be told Ned his opinion in no uncertain terms: "And Rhaegar ... how many times do you think he raped your sister? How many hundreds of times?"
Lyanna died in a room
that smelled of "blood and roses"
An opinion which, given GRRM's penchant for rampant needless porn and rape, is quite believable. Hence one can see how GRRM makes a sick truth out of the words "love is the bane of honor, the death of duty" in his world for, by that twisted logic, if Rhaegar had not loved Lyanna he would not have strayed from his duty and lost his honor. Well, my answer is that any fool knows that no honorable person would EVER behave as Rhaegar did. Would ever commit such heinous crimes. Which adds yet another crime to GRRM's name: mistaking lust for love in his series. Mistaking and deceiving the readers into thinking so, for other more truly honorable characters, even Ser Barristan, speak fondly of him; speak of the good in Prince Rhaegar. Good in a kidnapper and likely rapist as well as unfaithful father and husband whose deeds led to the deaths of thousands? Not in any sane and moral person's book. Indeed, I have read in many other Fantasies the same definition of love: that to love is care about another above yourself and your needs so much that everything you do is designed to keep that person happy and safe. By that truth that everyone in their heart knows do I declare that Rhaegar did not love Lyanna as the beginning of their 'relationship' was him favoring her over his own wife, the middle being him abducting her, and the end was her dying in a pool of her own blood on the bed into the tower he had taken her to. A damsel-in-distress locked in the tower, as it were, only this time the handsome prince was the villain in every sense of the word; an appropriate twisting of that archetype, for in its traditional fairy-tale use the noble prince truly does love and care for the trapped lady in question. Yet GRRM, again, calls Rhaegar's feelings love and has more praise of the prince than otherwise throughout his work and to the extent that reader even feels sympathetic towards him. I know, for even I felt so back when I was one of the series' strongest fans. A feeling I spit upon now, for it is never hinted in even the vaguest terms that before his death Rhaegar regretted what he did to Lyanna. Never hinted that he felt remorse. Indeed, the Targaryen Prince even named Lyanna Stark's lofty prison the Tower of Joy.

No comments:

Post a Comment