Key players: Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre
Stannis Baratheon is the younger brother of late King Robert Baratheon and the older brother of late Renly Baratheon. He was born as the second son of Steffon Baratheon and Cassana Estermont. His parents died when he was thirteen, which caused him to lose his faith in The Seven.
Before the War of the Five Kings
He is known to be extremely stubborn as well as determined, which served him well during Robert’s Rebellion, when he successfully held the castle of Storm’s End against Mace Tyrell’s siege. His garrison held the castle under desperate conditions, and the only reason they avoided starvation was due the timely intervention of a smuggler, Davos Seaworth. His cargo of onions allowed them to hold the fortress. After the siege was lifted by Lord Eddard Stark, Stannis took Davos Seaworth into his service, dubbing him “The Onion Knight.” True to Stannis’ inflexible sense of justice, he also punished Seaworth for his crimes as a smuggler by removing the first joint from each finger of Seaworth’s left hand, as payment for his past crimes. Seaworth accepted the punishment provided Stannis carry it out himself.
Upon the completion of war Stannis was gravely displeased with the discovery that his brother King Robert had named him Lord of Dragonstone, instead the wealthier Storm’s end that was given to their younger brother Renly who did little during the war. However, Robert needed a strong rule over the last holdout of the Mad King’s supporters, a task Renly was not up to. Stannis was also a part of Robert’s Small Council as the Master of Ships. Despite Stannis’s loyalty and service to his brother Robert, Robert gave Stannis little in return: instead of thanking him for holding Storm’s End against the Tyrells he thanked Eddard Stark for lifting the siege instead; instead of thanking Stannis for capturing Dragonstone for him, Robert blamed Stannis for the escape of Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, even though they fled long before Stannis’s newly built fleet had even arrived. Stannis helped Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, in ruling the kingdom but got little or no acknowledgement or thanks from his elder brother who spent all his time, hunting, drinking and whoring. And he never complained about it.
Just prior to the events of A Game of Thrones, Stannis suspected that the children of Queen Cersei Lannister were not actually Robert’s. He confided his suspicions to Lord Arryn, and they investigated the matter together. Stannis did not bring his suspicions to Robert, as he knew Robert would not believe the charges coming from him but would listen if the charges came from Jon Arryn whom Robert loved. They visited several of Robert’s baseborn children in the city and Stannis pointed out that all had black hair and they looked like Robert. After consulting the book The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms they discovered that whenever a Baratheon wed, their sons and daughters would have black hair, even if the other parent was a golden-haired Lannister. After determining that the children were in fact not Robert’s, Lord Jon meant to act however, he was poisoned before he could bring the evidence before the King. After the death of Jon Arryn, Stannis left the King’s Landing for Dragonstone.
During the investigation of Jon Arryn’s death Eddard discovered that Stannis and Jon had spent a great deal of time together. Soon after, he learned the truth. Before his death and after confronting Cersei Lannister, he wrote a latter to Stannis Baratheon (in the series) stating that the children were in fact Jaime Lannister’s and that Stannis is, now when Robert is dead, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
The War of Five Kings
On Dragonstone, Stannis gathered what strength he could from the lords of the Narrow Sea, but his forces were too few to challenge the Lannisters or Renly. During this time, Queen Selyse fell under the influence of the priestess of the Lord of Light, named Melisandre. Soon after, Stannis renounced the Faith of the Seven and embraced the Lord of Light faith, seeking only the power that Melisandre promised would follow. Melisandre proclaimed Stannis to be Azor Ahai reborn, a messianic figure in the R’hllor faith. Upon Robert’s death, Stannis claimed the Iron Throne as Robert’s heir; however most of the Baratheon bannermen followed his more charismatic brother when Renly also claimed the throne. As a first step he had hundreds of letters sent to lords throughout Westeros proclaiming himself king and claiming (correctly) that Cersei’s children were not Robert’s children.
Rather than a direct assault on King’s Landing, Stannis first led his forces to besiege Storm’s End, hoping to convince his younger brother to join forces with him. He offered Renly to be his Heir and a place at the King’s council. Renly made light of it and the brothers had an inconclusive parley that failed to reconcile them. They agreed that their forces would meet at dawn. That night, Melisandre used her magic to birth an animated shadow, which assassinated Renly in his tent at first light. The majority of Renly’s followers immediate swore allegiance to Stannis.
One of Renly’s sworn swords who refused to follow Stannis was Ser Cortnay Penrose, castellan of Storm’s End. Ser Cortnay refused to surrender the castle, fearing what Stannis would do to the bastard Edric Storm within. He challenged Stannis to a duel, which the king refused. Ser Davos rowed Melisandre beneath the fortress, and the priestess assassinated Penrose as she did Renly. With Storm’s End under his control, Stannis launched an amphibious assault on King’s Landing. Braving wildfire, a river-spanning chain, and other defenses, Stannis’ forces were defeated at the cusp of victory when Lannister and Tyrell reinforcements unexpectedly arrived, seemingly led by Renly’s ghost (it was in fact Garlan Tyrell wearing the deceased Renly’s armour).
After the Battle of Blackwater, Stannis returned to the Dragonstone to lick his wounds. In the mean time, Ser Davos, who ended up stranded on the Spears of the Merling King for many days, was found by Salladhor Saan who brough him back to Dargonstone. Blaming Melisandre for the disaster, he plans to kill her. However, her magic gives her warning, and Davos is arrested by Ser Axell Florent. Davos is released from the dungeon, whereupon he denounces Ser Axell’s plan to slaughter the smallfolk of Claw Isle in retribution for old Lord Celtigar bending the knee; for his honest counsel Stannis names him Lord of the Rainwood, Admiral of the Narrow Sea, and Hand of the King, in replacement of Lord Alester Florent, who had been burned alive for treason. Despite such favor, Davos continues to fight Melisandre’s influence over Stannis by smuggling King Robert’s bastard, Edric Storm, out of Dragonstone to spare him from being sacrificed to R’hllor. He also suggests that Stannis go to the aid of the Night’s Watch, which is under attack by wildlings.
As per usual, things go a bit different in the series. It was not Edric Storm Melisandre was planning to sacrifice but Gendry, the other bastard son of King Robert Baratheon. Stannis, unable to sacrifice an innocent boy and being the man of honor, releases Davos from the cell just in case. However, the boy was only used for the king’s blood that runs through his veins and is not sacrificed. At least not yet.
Current Location: Dragonstone
Melisandre is a priestess of R’hllor and a Shadowbinder, born in the eastern city of Asshai. She has joined the entourage of Stannis Baratheon, believing him to be Azor Ahai reborn, a hero destined to defeat the Great Other. At an early age she was sold, as a slave, to the Red Temple.
Melisandre came to Dragonstone because she believed Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai reborn and destined to defeat the Great Other the antithesis of her god. She turns Stannis’ wife, Lady Selyse Florent, and several other members of Stannis’s court from the Faith of the Seven to her red god. Fearing Melisandre’s influence and her unnatural power, Stannis’ maester, Cressen, tried to poison her but failed. After seeing her ability to resist the poison, Stannis is convinced by Melisandre to embrace her god and burn all the statues of the Seven on Dragonstone, although he remains a less committed follower than his wife and some others in his court. Melisandre proclaims Stannis Azor Ahai reborn and has him pull a burning sword from the idols, declaring it to be the legendary Lightbringer.
Drawing on the strength of Stannis, Melisandre conjures a shadow assassin, which she uses to murder Renly after he refuses to bend the knee to his older brother. The murder was witnessed by Lady Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth, one of Renly’s Kingsguard. Almost instantly they flee the camp believing (correctly) that all the blame will fall on Brienne Of Tarth. Melisandre is then sent back to Dragonstone and is not present during the Battle of the Blackwater. This is done so no one could say Stannis won his throne via sorcery, however, she had a hard time making peace with this decision.
Later on she seeks for Robert’s bastard sons, as she believes there is power in king’s blood that can be sacrificed in order to “wake the stone dragon.” Stannis refuses to sacrifice Gendry (Eric in the books) however she is able to leech some of Gendry’s blood. Stannis casts the leeches into the flames while stating the names of the “three false kings:” Balon Greyjoy, Robb Stark, and Joffrey Baratheon.
Current location: Dragonstone
R’hllor is a prominent god in Essos also known as the Lord of Light. The religion of his followers, is based on a dualistic, Manichean view of the world, R’hllor, the god of light, heat, and life; and its antithesis the God whose name should not be spoken, but what a hell, The Great Other, the god of ice and death. They are locked in an eternal struggle over the fate of the world, a struggle that according the ancient prophecy from the books of Asshai, will only end when Azor Ahai, the messianic figure returns wielding a flaming sword called Lightbringer, which should influence the raising of the dragons of stone.
Azor Ahai was a legendary hero who lived approximately eight thousand years before Aegon’s Landing. It is said that during the midst of The Long Night, Azor Ahai rose up and defeated the Others, wielding a sword of fire, called Lightbringer. Some readers believe that Azor Ahai is the same hero as the prince that was promised, while others believe that they come from two distinct prophecies. Azor Ahai and the prince that was promised have this far never been mentioned in the same sentence. According to prophecy, in ancient books of Asshai from over five thousand years ago, Azor Ahai is to be reborn again to challenge the Others. This will occur after a long summer when an evil, cold darkness descends upon the world (meaning the present time of the Game of Thrones). It is said that wielding Lightbringer once again, Azor Ahai will stand against the Others and if he fails, the world will fall with him. Melisandre at the moment believes Stannis is the reborn Azor Ahai, however, later on she changes her mind when she meets XX for the first time.
Lightbringer is the sword of Azor Ahai made out of living fire. To fight the darkness of the Long Night, Azor Ahai needed to forge a hero’s sword. He labored for thirty days and thirty nights until it was done. However, when he went to temper it in water, the sword broke. He was not one to give up easily, so he started over. The second time he took fifty days and fifty nights to make the sword, even better than the first. To temper it this time, he captured a lion and drove the sword into its heart, but once more the steel shattered. The third time, with a heavy heart, for he knew before hand what he must do to finish the blade, he worked for a hundred days and nights until it was finished. This time, he called for his wife, Nissa Nissa, and asked her to bare her breast. He then drove his sword into her breast. Her soul combined with the steel of the sword created the Lightbringer. According to Maester Aemon, the real Lightbringer should shine and radiate heat, which is not the case with Stannis’s magical sword.
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