#25: Theon Greyjoy
Theon’s anger flared. He’d led men in war, hunted with a king, won honor in tourney melees, ridden with Brynden Blackfish and Greatjon Umber, fought in the Whispering Wood, bedded more girls than he could name, and yet this uncle was treating him as though he were still a child of ten. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Theon I, p95-6)
Theon, let's face it, is a pretty despicable character. He reminds me of Final Fantasy XIII; I spent the entire first disc wanting to like it. I really did. I got to the second disc and started to actively dislike it. By the third disc I just didn't care.
That said, Theon kind of gets totally fascinating by the fifth book. My fiancee - who had finished the series months before I did - kept telling me "Oh ho ho; Theon gets what's coming to him." I was all like, "Well good! I hope he got his head chopped off!"
Long story short - Theon takes over Winterfell; he fakes killing Bran and Tommen; Winterfell gets taken over by Stark Bannermen; Theon gets taken in by Ramsay Snow, a sick, sick bastard. I was all, "Man, screw Theon. That dude's the pits."
But no. Ohhhhhh no no no no. Theon gets completely. Broken. Down. To the point where he doesn't even remember who he used to be. He forces himself to un-remember his days as heir to the Seastone Chair. He comes up with clever (and ingenious, as far as the writing goes) ways to remind himself of the name that Ramsay gives him - "Reek". He's a shell of a man, completely removed from reality and only concerned with what his master requests or expects of him.
I love the dichotomy of the original Theon - an heir to a throne, cocky, expectant, entitled, used to luxury - to the "Reek" Theon - missing digits, pale, submissive, and used to living in dungeons. Theon is a really fascinating character who, even at the end of ADwD, is still kind of morally ambiguous. Sure, he's done some horrible things, but you're still not sure if you should root for him, pity him, or want him to die.
#24: Melisandre of Asshai
Soon comes the cold, and the night that never ends.
Melisandre was kind of a "meh" character to me for the longest time. "Oh cool, a woman with those powders that change the color of fire from Are You Afraid of the Dark" I'd say. I thought she was just some charlatan playing Stannis for a fool, trying to get between him and Queen Selyse in the hopes that when he takes the Iron Throne she can become queen.
But then she makes his sword glow brighter than the Sun after burning Rattleshirt, and she, like, birthed an assassin shadow, and she likes killing kings because their blood is way powerful and that's when I started to think that maybe I was wrong about Melisandre. Maybe she really does have sick house magic powers.
I really like her chapter in ADwD, too. It kind of humanized her a little bit, and added to her mystique. She only sleeps one hour a night, if that? She kept Devan back because she didn't want Davos to lose all of his sons? She endures intense pain every time she tries to predict the future but hides it effortlessly because she's a supreme badass? Yeah, these are awesome things.
I'd probably have ranked her a little higher if she'd had more than just the one chapter. I'd really like to know more about her and how she got to become the way she is today.
#23: Daenerys Targaryen
The moon? -Daenerys Targaryen
Ya know, I'm just not that huge of a fan of Daenerys. Sure, she has her awesome points - I mean part of her title is "Mother of Dragons" for R'Hllor's sake* - and her awesome points are arguably awesomer than any other character's awesome points but...
She sits around. A lot. And she thinks about what to do. A lot. But she doesn't actually do very much. I love that she freed the Unsullied, and I love that she tamed and rode Drogon, and I love that she, like, kind of tamed Khal Drogo (because that dude's a boss), and I love her supporting cast (Strong Belwas, Barristan the Badass, and Mormont are all awesome), but aside from that and a few other p. cool things she's done, she just isn't very interesting. Hell, in ADwD she has three fully-grown dragons at her command and she still somehow manages to have some of the most boring chapters in the book.
While she's most definitely a pretty boring character, I do really like the compassion she has for her people and her need to be a kind and just leader. In a land filled with Lannisters, the Ghiscari, and Ramsay Bolton, Daenerys as a Queen is refreshing in that she actually cares about the individuals that she rules over. This is most readily evidenced when she frees the slaves in Slaver's Bay, but is also apparent when the flux is happening outside of Mereen and she takes a cadre to see how bad it is for herself. I may think she's boring but I can't dislike her. She's one of the best people in the series.
That said, if it weren't for her being able to ride dragons she probably wouldn't even be on my top 25. But she can. And that's awesome.
*Best Arya quote: "Who's Rulore?"
#22: Mance Rayder
I am my own champion, my own fool, and my own harpist. -Mance Rayder
Immediately after I watched the prologue scene that started off the Game of Thrones series I wanted to know as much about the northern side of the wall as possible. Is it always winter there? Does anybody live there? How far north does it go? What the hell are those blue-eyed skeletons?
And then I started to read the books and before long the Night's Watch is ****ing camping out on hills miles north of the wall and Jon Snow and a guy with one-and-a-half hands are trying to meet up with the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. "Finally I'll get some answers!" I said out loud.
And Mance kind of delivered. I like his character for a few reasons, the main one being that he's just an all-around likeable guy. He's charming, kind, just, and an amazing bard. He's equally comfortable hanging out with giants as he is hanging out in Rattleshirt's glamor body.
The other main reason I like Mance so much isn't so much anything that he does or says, but that Martin made him into a kind of expository character, having him explain a bunch of stuff about the north to us, the reader. I appreciate that, George, but I'm glad that there are still a bunch of things we don't know about it, as well.
In summary, Mance Rayder is a man I aspire to be like. Only, like, wearing less human skin for warmth. That part kind of sucks.
#21: Dolorous Edd
Dolorous Edd: I never win anything. The gods always smiled on Watt, though. When the wildlings knocked him off the Bridge of Skulls, somehow he landed in a nice deep pool of water. How lucky was that, missing all those rocks? Grenn: Was it a long fall? Did landing in the pool of water save his life? Edd: No. He was dead already, from that axe in his head. Still, it was pretty lucky, missing the rocks.
Dolorous Edd is, bar none, the funniest character in the entire series. There were any number of quotes I could have used for his, but in the end I decided to do the old Blind Man Throws A Dart and I threw a dart at a wall of Dolorous Edd quotes I had taped up on the wall.
Because I ****ing love Dolorous Edd.
I mean sure, the dude doesn't really add anything to the series. He gives good advice now and again? He's mostly just the comic relief of the series, which is great because Jon is a really serious, boring tub of ****. I like Jon, to be sure, but man. What a dour dude.
At least Edd has a ****ing sense of humor about it. I envy the guy who gets cast as him. Oh, it's this guy?
... I can totally see that working.
The Dolorous Edd.
#20: Jorah Mormont
My Khaleesi. -Jorah Mormont
Jorah is a man to be envied. He descends from ****ing Bear Island - I wish I were from a place called "Bear Island" - a lord there, no less, and a knight besides, and he traded some slaves and then flees the ****ing continent and becomes, like, best friends with the hottest Targaryen around.
Because trading slaves is bad, folks. There is literally no time when it's good for you to trade a slave. Unless you were, like, really poor because your wife was so gorgeous and you loved her so much that you felt like you needed to do absolutely anything to make her happy, so you'd sell poachers to pay for jewelry to please her.
And that, bienvenidos, is Jorah Mormont's story. He grew up on Bear ****ing Island, fell in love with a smokin' hot hottie, brought her home and then spent every last penny he had making her happy, to the point where he got exiled from an entire continent.
And when he does get exiled he's a total boss there, too! He LOVES Daenerys. He thinks she's just the best around. Nothing's ever gonna bring him down from that, either. He gets sent away from her service and he still goes back. He steals a ****ing Lannister, folks. The easiest one to steal, sure, but still.
Sure Jorah reported all of Daenerys' actions to Varys, but I still feel like he's one of the most moral characters in the series. Check this - he fought in a tournament to win a woman's love (more than you've ever done for a woman); he won her love and brought her back home and, when she was displeased, did everything in his power to buy the things she loved (more than you've ever done for a woman); he even sold slaves for her (please tell me you haven't sold slaves, guys); he went across the sea in an attempt to join the strongest contender to usurp the King of the Seven Kingdoms and found it (more than you've ever done for a woman); and then he falls in love with Daenerys.
So he's just kind of mostly moral. He's also kind of ****ty.
Jorah is kind of scummy but mostly awesome, just like you and I.
#19: Khal Drogo
I totally ripped that dudes' tongue out while he was still alive. Did you see that, guys? Did you see that? Oh, you missed it? Oh man. I totally just did that." -Khal Drogo
Yeah, my quote is kind of misleading but man, Khal Drogo is, in literally every sense of the word, a boss. He A) rules over his Khalasar, which is like 20,000+ dudes on horses willing to do anything that he says. He B) has never lost a fight in his entire life, and as a result has a wicked long braid with, like, bells on it. C) Bells are manly. D) He got gifted the ****ing heir to the Targaryen throne. E) He, like, dumped melted gold on a dude's head.
Alright, Khal Drogo's a boss, and I don't think there's any denying that. If this was a list of "fetus lists the top 25 badass ASoIaF characters" Drogo would probably be in the top, like... 2? 3? 2.
The top 2.
I honestly don't know how much more there is to say for this guy - for his time in the series he owned face and rocked house. Khal Drogo for life.
Also - have any of you guys seen the panel interviews with the actor who played Khal Drogo? He's, like, a chillout surfer **** just riding on his success as Drogo. He's hilarious and it makes me love Drogo even more.
#18: Jaqen H'ghar
Valar morghulis. -Jaqen H'ghar
Jaqen is what is known as a Faceless Man, called such because his true, natural face is unknown because he can change his appearance to literally anything he wants at any time.
Jaqen is pretty cool for a few other reasons too, though. When you first hear about him you're told that he was one of three prisoners in the Black Cells - the cells reserved for only the worst of the worst dudes, and that Rorge and Biter, two absolutely terrible/terrifying guys in and of themselves, were scared of Jaqen. "Well what could he have done that would have put those two on edge?" I asked myself upon finding out this tidbit of info. "I guess I'll just have to keep reading and find out." After a horrible horse cart accident where Rorge, Biter, and Jaqen are trapped inside, nearly burning to death, Arya totes saves those guys and Jaqen, before turning to run into the forest, winks at her. "Yo ho ho! A sign of things to come?" I wondered.
Eventually he meets back up with Arya at Harrenhal and says to her, "I will murder any three people you want me to because you saved three lives. It has to balance out, life and death." And then he kills two folks. And then Arya is all, like, "Dude, kill yrself" and he's all "What no" and then Arya gets all "Free my dead dad's sworn men" and Jaqen totally does. Immediately after he does that he gives Arya a crummy old coin and says to go to any Braavosi sailor and say "Valar morghulis", which in Braavosi means "And if my day keeps goin' this way I just might break your ****ing face tonight."
And then he switches faces right in front of Arya, which A) blew Arya's mind and B) was the first time in the series where I was really surprised and impressed by something. That was the moment that I knew that I would absolutely have to keep reading the books to find out what happened next. Up to that point I was just going to read A Clash of Kings so I would be prepared for the second season of Game of Thrones (oh man that trailer that got released the other day has me amped), but as soon as his face changed into another dude's face, I was hooked.
"I wonder who else's face he'll change his face to," I thought.
- Apparently the guy at the Citadel in the Prologue of A Feast for Crows is thought to be Jaqen? I didn't pick up on it at all, but then again I've only read the books once each.
- There's another rumor that Syrio Forel is actually Jaqen, and that's why he helps out Arya. I'm not sure I buy that, though - I mean, when Yoren is taking everybody up to the Wall he says that Jaqen had been in the Black Cells, but earlier that day Syrio is fending off Lannisters in front of Arya and is presumably slain. Even if he did fight off those Lannisters why would he have thought to make his way down to the Black Cells, change his face, and get onto a caravan going to the Wall? What for? Did he know Arya would be going with Yoren? As cool as it would be for Syrio to be Jaqen I just don't buy it.
#17: Sandor Glegane, AKA "The Hound"
"A knight's a sword with a horse. The rest, the vows and the sacred oils and the lady's favors, they're silk ribbons tied round the sword. Maybe the sword's prettier with the ribbons hanging off it, but it will kill you just as dead. Well, bugger your ribbons, and shove your swords up your arses. I'm the same as you. The only difference is, I don't lie about what I am." - Sandor Clegane
Sandor Clegane, known colloquially as "The Hound", is a horrible, horrible man who has done unspeakable things to nearly everybody he's ever met. I'm not going to recount what he's done in the books (he's had a ton of story arcs with a bunch of different characters and if you're reading this then you've probably already read his adventures, already), but I will point out why I like him.
He hates everybody and everything so much that he just wants to escape. He hates the whole "system" of lords and knights and King's Hands and so on and so forth. He hates his entire family. He hates the Lannisters and the Starks and probably Daenerys and probably even ****ing Rickon. He is a man with a cold heart, a heart that couldn't even be warmed by the super bright sword that Beric "****ing" Dondarrion fought him with.
That scene was awesome, by the by.
So yeah, he's a jaded *******, burnt out on the world around him, wandering from place to place trying to prove his worth. That's cool. But what makes him all the cooler is the fact that half of his face is melted. See, his older brother, Gregor (it took me a while to get used to using their actual names - I got that The Mountain was The Hound's older brother, but I kept getting Sandor and Gregor confused) shoved his face into a pile of coals because he, like, talked **** or something. And then Gregor killed his dad and inherited their estate. That part's not really important for the face-melting, but I felt like I should throw it in there, regardless.
Another thing I like about The Hound is that he's a totally imposing presence. Jaime is a great swordsman, but Brienne could hold her own against him. Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy are both also total BAMFs, but they'd most likely get their heads crushed in by either of the Cleganes.
I want Fat Belwas to fight The Hound.
#16: Samwell Tarly
"Didn't know where to put it?" -Samwell Tarly
LIKE A BOSS. Poking fun at the future Lord Commander, and bastard son of the Warden of the North. Sam has nothing if not balls.
... but only sometimes. Sam's a coward, a craven, an obese ****er, and any number of things that suck. "Have you heard the one about Samwell Tarly's giant dongzor?", Dolorous Edd once asked over dinner. "No," said another guy. "Neither has any woman in Westeros."
Then they gave each other high fives for, like, a day straight.
So yeah, Sam's kind of a total wimp, but then he up and ****ing kills an Other. Like, the first dude to do that in about 8,000 years. He just does it, no big deal, just helping out, saw there was an Other there so he killed it. Shrug it off and keep on walking toward the Wall. And then he's awesome enough to take in a woman and her baby and protect them through absolutely ridiculous circumstances. Taking them across the Narrow Sea? I wouldn't take my best friend across the Narrow Sea, much less some crazy depressed wildling woman and her squalling baby. But that's what separates Samwell Tarly from a craven such as myself.
That and he's just plain funny sometimes. His cowardice and reserve are really entertaining to read in contrast to Jon Snow's (and nearly everybody else in the books) super cereal demeanor.
Is anybody else curious about that whole, like, eternal candle ****? I want to know what's up with that.
#15: Sansa Stark
"You're awful." -Sansa Stark
So I watch the first season of GoT and I love it. It is just the best show. So good. And as a result I start reading these books, and when I do and I get to a Sansa chapter I dread it. The feeling in my guts at this point isn't that dissimilar from the feeling when you're at the top of one of those rides at an amusement park where you strap in and it raises you up this pole and then holds you there for a minute or so before it drops you. The feeling of, "Augh, what have I gotten myself into? Is this going to be worth it?"
And for a while, at least, the Sansa chapters aren't. Well, at least not the first time I read them. At first I would think that Sansa's a stupid prissy little girl who's super-emotional and has no idea what the hell's going on around her. But then I started to like her chapters because they were the only view we had into the events unfolding inside of King's Landing. But then I started to like her chapters because they were her chapters. Because Sansa is awesome.
I mean check this: Sansa is a prissy little girl. She's the daughter of a Lord, but not just any Lord, Ned ****ing Stark, the Warden of the North and the best friend of the King. So she's used to living with certain amenities. She probably had, like, silk everything. And so her dad gets killed and she might get tried for treason and her entire family is who the **** knows where, but what does she do? She keeps her cool and learns to pay attention to what's going on around her. She desperately wants out because **** the Lannisters, they killed her ****ing dad, but she's not stupid about it. She realizes that she's a prissy little girl and she uses that to her advantage. She doesn't make a dash for it; she comes up with a plan and sticks to it and does a damn good job.
So yadda yadda her plan wasn't actually entirely hers (right?) and she eventually gets taken in by Littlefinger (this was another HOLY **** AWESOME moment for me) and now they're hanging out with that awful little creature Robert Arryn, owning The Vale and generally plotting a bunch of **** because **** the Lannisters, they killed her ****ing dad.
tl;dr: Sansa gets a lot of crap for being a wimpy lady but she's actually full of guts and balls and intelligence and I love her for it.
#14: Tyrion Lannister
“Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” -Tyrion Lannister
Yeah... Tyrion. Number 14.
Tyrion. Tyrion, Tyrion, Tyrion.
Now, I just want to say this: Tyrion is my 14th favorite character in a saga which has dozens of major players and hundreds of minor players. Him being 14th isn't a slam on the little dude by any means. But...
Alright, here's the true facts. Tyrion was completely awesome in the first two books. He was clever, he was charming, he was devious... he was all the normal Tyrion crap. Then the Battle on the Blackwater came. And don't get me wrong, I completely love the Battle on the Blackwater. It's probably my favorite part of the entire series up to this point. Like, 7 or 8 chapters devoted to this dope-ass battle with ships and pyromancers and trebuchets? Holy **** yes, count me in. And when Tyrion rode into battle (LIKE A BOSS) I was totally cheering for him. The chapter where he was slicing dudes down is one of my favorites in the entire series so far. But then...
Tyrion turns dark. And that's to be expected, to a certain extent. If you or I were a dwarf and had slowly learned to come to terms with our permanent disfigurement, we probably wouldn't welcome yet another, yet alone one so obvious.
So Tyrion loses his nose and some of the rest of his face and comes into sort of a malaise, which is cool. Don't get me wrong, I'd be in the same exact malaise. I like my face. It does me good. But losing a nose? **** that ****.
Yadda yadda yadda, Tyrion kills his dad, runs off to another continent, becomes a slave, meets another dwarf, hangs out with Jorah Mormont, almost gets killed in a gladiator's pit, etc.. But none of that stuff really matters when it comes to how much I like Tyrion.
I like Tyrion because he's one of the most dynamic and interesting characters I've ever read in fiction. He's clearly well-adapted to high society, but in A Dance With Dragons he's also equally well-adapted to living as a slave. He's very, very, smart, and he knows when to hold his cards. He knows that the deck is stacked against him and so he has to be smart about his plays. And he nearly always is.
The Tyrion Lannister.
#13: Barristan the Badass
A hall to die in, and men to bury me. I am a knight! I shall die a knight! Even now, I could cut through the five of you like carving a cake! Here, boy! Melt it down and add it to the others! -Barristan Selmy, being very bold.
Selmy is all about honor and duty. He's two-thirds of a Tully if you go by their motto. He's a knight, he wants to die a knight, and he can't imagine a better day than a full 24 hour period in which he's smiting his sworn leader's foes, one after the other, blood spattering his entire body, a rain of plasma blocking out the Sun, with him, Ser Barristan, laughing the entire time. "YES. BRING IT I SAY. HOW DARE YOU DEFY YOUR KING OR QUEEN?" he screams so loud the dying wails of the men around him become inaudible; his voice's timbre so low and permeating that had he been standing within 100 leagues of The Wall it would come tumbling down, killing thousands and drowning the kingdom in undead ice wights, plunging Westeros into an eternal slumber so deep that it is very unlikely to ever wake from it.
So that's what he'd like to be doing all day. And every so often he does chop dude's heads off. He killed Khrazz, after all, and Khrazz was, like, awesome.
I dunno, not much more to say about Barristan. I can't wait for the next book to see how much Yunkai ass he chops up.
The Barristan Selmy.
Sorry there is nothing more. I suck and don't finish my list.