Off with his head! The noble death, though many might dispute it these days. A quick snip, if you're strong, or have a good blade, or a guillotine, and then no more light in those pretty blue eyes. *Snick* and the crowd goes wild. A morbid thought, to be sure, but with Sean Bean's record as an actor, is anyone really surprised? Was anyone looking at Boromir...I mean poor dear Ned Stark thinking to themselves, "Now here's a character that I want to see around for a long time"? Or for those who devoutly read the book, was anyone reading about the antics of this truly noble, and for lack of a better word, idiotic man, expecting him to have a long shelf-life?
Like I said in the title, this piece of writing is heavy handed with spoilers, so if you have not read the book, I would say go out and buy it now. It took me a little over two months to finish Game of Thrones, not because it was bad. Unclean Spirits was bad, and I got through that just fine. It's not even that it's distasteful, Prince of Thorns was that, and it didn't take me that long to finish that, though I would suggest to readers out there that you include it in your list of books you should read, if only so that you can read its much better successor, King of Thorns. No, if anything, it can be said that between rules changing at work and school starting up, Game of Thrones has one sin, and that is that it can't decide if it wants to be interesting or dull. I like my cat analogy I originally intended to put in this reviews ill-fated predecessor. A good cat, you can leave the door open for and it will come and go as it will. You leave food for it, and water every so often, and it will share with you affections. You don't have to keep up after a cat, because they are self sufficient. Game of Thrones is a feral cat that got into your home when you weren't looking and refuses to leave without biting you. It's fine as long as you leave it alone: you give it space and let it do what it wants. But, every so often while you are minding your own business, it will leap off a bookshelf at you and try to claw your eyes out. Take of that what you will.
Now if you haven't seen the show either, which is remarkably similar in many ways to the original source material, then get off the internet and go get it. Philistines...
So who killed dear old Ned Stark? It seems a pretty standard question for anyone who has read the book or watched the show. Cersei gave the order for his arrest, Petyr betrayed him, (duh,) Joffery gave the order for his execution, and Illyn cut off his head. *Snick*, no more Ned and let the War of Kings begin. There has been no real debate about any of the intricacies about the manner of his death, at least none that I have seen so far. But, it is a simple thing to look at, and since I live off controversy like many people live off bread and air, I think I'll spin it a little bit so that I can get a rise out of you, or at least get you to think...just maybe I'm right.
Cersei Lannister: Oh, how everyone loves to cast an eye on Cersei Lannister. The eldest daughter of Tywin Lannister, she was, in a sense, sold off to Robert Baratheon, to become queen, and elevate the Lannister family, as Tywin loves to do. She is neglected as Robert's wife because he never truly loves her, and raises her children to be strong, independent youths, which she later comes to regret. When Ned Stark comes to her, telling her that she knows that her children are bastards, and that she and her children should flee before Robert gets back, what exactly did he expect her to do? It's really no surprise that she takes measures to protect herself, and for good reason or not, I don't really fault her for her cunning and ingenuity, only on the murder of her husband, which nobody in the book seems to pay any mind to. When Cersei sets up the death of her husband and succession of Joffery, she has no idea what's going to happen any more than anyone else does. She thinks she has things under control: Joffery becomes king, she becomes regent, and she's one step closer to more power than anyone in her sex has any chance of having. Little does she know that she becomes as much a pawn to Joffery as she was to her husband, if not more so because Joffery has no respect for her, or her position. I would not fault Cersei Lannister for Ned Starks death. The one death I would lay at her feet would be Robert's, and only done in self-defence, no matter how distastful it is. On a side note, anyone ever notice that you can't think of her as Cersei Baratheon...go ahead, it's pretty funny actually.
Petyr Baelish: What can be said of Petyr without ruining the plot of the other books. Master of Coin for Kings Landing, he's pretty much the most manipulative man in the kingdom, though not to the outward glance. He fawns over everyone, making nice with Ned Stark at one moment and insulting him in the same breath, but the thing you have to remember about Petyr Baelish is, he tells Ned not to trust him. Early on in fact, and if memory serves me, several times. if you look to one person and that person tell you, "Hey, don't depend on me, for anything," and you do anyway, what does that say about you? Do you mistrust a snake because it bites, or a cat for it's claws? If you poke at a sleeping bear and it mauls you, do you moan over what cruel fate it was for it to happen? Let's keep in mind that Petyr loved Catelin Stark so much that he proposed to duel Ned's brother for her hand in marriage even though he was of low birth. And, low and behold, after Ned's brothers death, rather than getting another chance, she's married off to Ned instead. How on earth did Ned think that this was going to be a trustworthy man, just because he was the Hand of the King, or even just because Petyr Baelish loved his wife? Petyr is a ladder climber, at his very nature, always looking to get a little bit higher. His "betrayal" to Ned was just another step in that direction.
Joffery: The boy king, the bastard child, the usurper's usurper. There is very little given to Joffery's motivation for having Ned Stark killed on the steps of Baelor rather than sending him off to the wall. Joffery, only being 12 or 13 years old and a prince, he's plucked from a simple life of pleasure from the two most powerful families in the realm to be a king with power to do whatever he wants. In a sense, hes not much different than Robert Arryn, who when given the slightest semblance of power, has a desire to throw dwarfs from mountain-tops for fun. I have a theory of my own about why Joffery had Ned Stark killed, and it's one that I know garners scrutiny, but I don't care, because it's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. The reason I believe that Joffery had Ned killed is that the two of them are so similar. Both are high born men in a lower position within the family, Joffery being a Lannister, directly below Robert in line of succession, and Ned being the second son of the Stark lineage, not thought to do anything besides be married to some high-born lady to become his brothers bannerman one day. In a sense, both men were fostered with Jon Arryn and Robert Baratheon, this being more clear with Ned, but when you think about it, since Joffery is a bastard child born of incest, Robert isn't really his father, and the hand of the King being the voice of the king, it's hard to believe that he didn't have a hand in raising Joffery, (especially since Robert doesn't seem to have spent much time raising the boy himself, being more of a big child, himself.) Both men are lead by their better natures, honor in Ned's case, and Joffery's sadism. Those same natures are the things that lead to their deaths, (yes I know this goes a little further in the books, but I needed to make a point.) I think that Joffery saw the similarities there, and a bit of, "neither may live while the other survives," went on in the background. Even with a confession of his traitorous actions, Joffery probably knew he would never stop until the rightful king was on the throne. But while I can understand reasoning for why Joffery might have decided to play Queen of Hearts with Ned's head, I don't actually believe that he's responsible for Ned's death.
Sansa Stark: This is where we begin to get a little further into conjecture, so you'll have to bear with me for a bit, I promise it makes sense in my head. While Robert is off on his ill-fated boar hunt, Ned goes to his daughters and tells them that he is shipping them back to Winterfell for safe keeping and breaking off Sansa's engagement. Both children act to their nature, which I like about GRRM's work. Arya is worried about her sword instructions and asks if her water dancer can go with them, which is all fine and good. But, Sansa...oh Sansa. I like to think of Sansa like a mix between a magic eight ball and a bobble head. I just imagine shaking her back and forth while her head bobbles back and forth while she says things like, "But I love him!" and, "Oh it's just like in the stories!" She cries because she wants to stay with a man she's known less than a year and was responsible for the death of her pet. Now, I get it, when a boy is mean that means he likes you and all that garbage, but Sansa Stark is so starry eyed and bobble headed that she goes a step farther. She tells Cersei Lannister about the plan to move, almost right after Ned Stark told her that he knew about her incest with Jamie. This causes Cersei to step up her plans to have Robert Baratheon killed, which leads to the capture and death of Ned Stark. One could say that she's just a child, that she doesn't know any better, but that's really no excuse for patricide. I like to think that more than anyone else, Sansa Stark is responsible for Ned being killed, but not the one that is responsible for killing him, which is the main point of this article. So who killed Ned?
Eddard Stark: Ned is responsible for his own death, but possibly not for the reason that you would think so. A lot of people complain that Eddard Stark is stupid: he tells Cersei about his suspicions about her children without talking to Robert Baratheon first. I mean seriously, he had the book, he had the bastard children, and he had a strong case. Robert was his best friend and loyal confidant, you can't say that he wouldn't have given it some thought. Ned couldn't have taken a horse to find the king on his hunt? He trusts a man who wants his wife, and has forever, and tells him not to trust him. He ignores the council of the one man in the kingdom, Varys, who is being up front with him, and ignores the council of Renly Baratheon, however rash it might have been. It's no surprise that everyone thinks that he's a fool, but I say thee, nay! These things don't make a person stupid. Not going how to play slap-jack doesn't make you stupid. Moving a piece poorly in a game of chess doesn't mean you deserve to be killed. Ned Stark doesn't know how to play the game because he was never raised to be the smart game-playing lord that his brother and father were. He was just supposed to get married off to some minor lords daughter and give kids. He was raised up to that without any prompting, and in my opinion, is the same to Joffery in the fact that he has no idea what he's really doing. He's going by instinct, and just because they are wrong, doesn't mean they are stupid. What he does that is stupid, is tell his children that he's moving them prior to actually doing it. He knew that he was going into a vipers nest when he went to Kings Landing, but he still took his children with him when he went. When he feels threatened, he does the only thing he can think to do, and that's to move his daughters out of the dangerous situation he's brought them into. That is the fatherly thing to do. But here's the kicker: he tells them what he plans on doing in advance. And not a few hours before hand, but days and days ahead of what he has planned to do. Ned Stark might not have been practiced in the ways of the "Game of Thrones", but he had fifteen years to raise his children and become a good father, and he fails in the one thing that actually matters, and that is knowing his own children. Sansa is a bobble-headed, starry-eyed, Joffery groupie, and yet he tells her that he's breaking up their engagement days in advance rather than just shipping them off with his best soldiers to keep them safe. What did he think she was going to do? Did he not know her at all? Was he not listening the entire time she was going, "Oh, I love Joffery, he's so strong, and brave and handsome-" *gag*. Ned killed himself the day that he decided his honor and best judgment was better than common sense of knowing his own children. Everything else falls into place after that, because that simple fact that he said something to the one person on earth that he should have: bobble-headed Sansa Stark, Kinslayer