A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) A Game of Thrones question


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Ned Stark - a fool or too honorable for his own sake?
Susana Susana Sep 18, 2012 05:53AM
One of the most interesting characters in this book is Ned Stark, but one of the most reckless too. What do you think about the fact he told Cersei what he planned to do? Or the fact he did not accept Renly's help?



I think he was just true to himself. He never varied from what he thought was right. He "walked the walk," so to speak.

One of his earliest behaviors is very telling. He tells his sons that if you sentence a man to death, you must be prepared to be the one to execute them.

His mistake was assuming everyone else behaved the same way.

I love Ned Stark.


Ned was a big fish in a small pond in Winterfell, as lord there he dealt with simple matters and ruled over a land where his word was final. He then goes to King's Landing and sees how no one held honor as a priority. Vary's and Littlefinger's spies, Cercei's manipulative games, Pycelle sending information to Cercei. Ned was simply in over his head, I have no doubt, though, that when he went to the Queen his intentions were best for the children. Unfortunately, he played the Game of Thrones with seasoned veterans and his honor lost it for him.


Both. He was an honorable fool and die because of it, doing the second worst tactical decision in the series (telling the true to Cercei) in the process, only behind Robb's infamously decision of marrying Jeyne Westerling.

Starks: quick tempers, slow minds.


Fool! If you're in a war, you have to fight. He did his entire family a deservice by not opening his eyes to what's really going on.


yeah he was a fool, if he'd had any sense he'd have realised that his first duty was protecting his family not some psycho bitch.


Ned Stark was a fool. My philosophy is 'love your neighbor, but lock your doors at night.'


A man to make Kant proud if ever there was one.

A pity his story appears gives credence to the view that it is worthless to be virtuous in a corrupt society.

To be honourable *is* to be foolish.


Ned Stark's story is seen throughout all of history. One man trusted by authority, in this case King Robert, considering honour of the utmost importance in any man's life but not realising that only a handful of people see the world the same way. He was too honourable for his time, not for his own sake. He was also a fool for trusting the people that he should have seen were clearly not one's to be trusted. When I read the book I thought simply that he needed to ask the right questions of the spider and he would have had the answers to all his queries and would have worked out a way to keep his honour and his life but still revealing what he wished to.


Ned Stark is a Stark. A Stark who puts honor ahead anything. Despite he made some terrible decisions he had the chance of taking control over everything by agreeing with Renly/ in the books he did not mention himself getting crowned, he only suggested to get rid of cersei and her children/ but what did he do? 'Chill out Renly, Stannis The Mannis is yo bro and no matter how good you are at ruling and charming other people you're not gonna sit on that uncomfy chair LOL'
Ned was a true Stark. And starks are terrible at playing the game of thrones. They belong in the north, where people hunt and make babies and live in the cold.


"Too honourable for his time" is in reference to the previous king's spoken of in the sequels.

(Won't say anymore so as not to spoil)


I think that honor has nothing to do with Ned's death. His problem, as I see it, was that he was playing a different game with a different end in mind. That doesn't even mention the game of catch-up that Arryn left him.

While reading his part I kept thinking of how I play any game against my brother. I have a simple rule, I don't care who wins as long as HE looses. This changes the game for my super competitive brother who's end goal is victory where mine is for almost anything else.

Ned's goal and game was kingdom stability and unity, (Where his honor lead him I admit) because that is what his friend the King asked of him.

On the other hand Cersei's goal is to become king (I have not read past this book yet) her guise is to protect her children. In this case any result in which she rules, and she is already in charge (Winning!), is ok as long as she stays on top.

There is no possible combination of minor or major victories that Ned can have that will allow him to "win" his game other then the death of Cersei, who has "done" nothing to deserve it. While on the other hand Cersei can have any number of defeats and still win as long as she stays in control.

I see Ned showing Cersei his cards as his final ploy. He has accepted defeat and death by this point and it is his all or nothing gambit to switch to Cersei's game. It failed, Renly offered another option as did Littlefinger, but by that point neither option was actually available. They were both false attempts to play a card that didn't apply to "football".


What he did cost him dearly. Every member of his family suffered/ and still is suffering for his decision. Does that make him a bad person?
No, just a a short sighted one.
He could not see that not everyone thought or would act the way that he would. That is the way of the world.
Such a high price to pay.


This was exactly what I kept thinking through GoT, Ned was almost naive with how trusting he was of everyone and it put his family and comrades in peril. That's not to say I didn't respect him, it is impossible to not, but I did feel he dug his own grave at points.

I know a lot of people blame Sansa but she is an 11 year old girl and her father tells her nothing, on top of that Cersie has been appearing kind and motherly to her, it isn't a surprise that she went to her.

Cersie gave him a choice of swearing loyalty to Joeffery and leaving or seeing her act in retaliation - I know she was most definitely lying but playing the part could have saved his life, got his daughters to safety and eventually given him time to act.

Also with Renly, I figure he didn't accept the help because he knew Renly would then ask him for help in claiming the throne and Ned believes Stannis is the rightful heir.
He really didn't know how to play the game.


One thing I like about Game of Thrones is that various characters make monumental mistakes, and there are consequences arising from those actions.


Mitali (last edited Sep 19, 2012 02:26PM ) Sep 19, 2012 02:26PM   0 votes
I think Ned Stark is a great example of how being good or moral is the wrong thing to be when the world around you isn't good or moral. He was a genuinely good man but he made the mistake of thinking that other people shared his system of honour - and paid for that mistake with his life. He believed that the murder of innocent children was wrong, and so he warned Cersei to get her children away before he told Robert about her infidelity (as Robert would almost certainly kill them all), but he never stopped to think that in the process, he was showing all his cards to his arch-enemy. He believed that he ought to support the 'true' heir to the throne, even though it meant turning away support (Renly) that might have meant the difference between life and death for him. He put his trust in one person (Littlefinger) who had no loyalty to him, and plenty of reasons to hate him.

Ultimately, Ned dug his own grave, by getting so carried away by his own sense of honour that he was blind to the consequences of his actions, and to the fact that he was surrounded by enemies who did not share his morals.


I love Ned so very much, but boy oh boy is he dumb. He's not a player. I kind of give him slack on trying to be honorable in telling Cersei and not siding with Renly (although I still think it's SO POINTLESS to support a throne that has only been around for less than 20 years, Robert stole it anyway), but the fact that he didn't tell Sansa and Arya that something really intense was going on and instead was like "pat on the head, my girls will listen without explination" was just plain idiotic and really lead to all the stuff going down in the end.

Doesn't make it any less sad though, sigh. Gotta respect him for sticking to his guns at least.


Michelle (last edited Mar 12, 2015 12:28PM ) Mar 12, 2015 12:23PM   0 votes
30% stubbornly honorable and 70% foolishly naïve, with a side of ego.

He put a little bit too much weight in the idea that his new title gave him power and security in an old-fashioned kind of way. Not that he knew any better or was going to be able to see through the mist of his ego in time to save his family, despite the number of overlooked hints Littlefinger wildly threw at him.


Allwin (last edited Aug 08, 2013 09:11PM ) Aug 08, 2013 09:10PM   0 votes
He was just not ready for the level of politics which happens at Kings Landing. If lady Catelyn was with him, he would have survived a bit longer. He blindly trusted King Robert and he even bought his children along..
He should have been a tad smarter and should have only bought them to Kings Landing once he was comfortable there. It was naive of Ned Stark to expect the same level of honor from everyone.

*SPOILER* from future books. Do not read beyond this point.

Robb Stark also did the same mistake. He shouldn't have trusted House Frey. Lady Catelyn insisted on having bread and salt so that they earn the status of Guests. But guess that was not enough.


Ned is one of the few who does whatever it's right and not whatever he wishes. I won't say that he is foolish, because he was well aware of what's really happening around him and he knew how to play "the game of thrones", he just refused to play it. His ulterior honor and truth was his undoing.

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Avrora Dimitrova Couldn't agree more with David. Doing right does not always mean doing whats best for you, thinking only about yourself. It means putting your princip ...more
Jun 01, 2016 02:47AM · flag

I say he was too noble for his own good, which made him a fool. He stuck by what he believed in which made him a likable, respectable character, but being so lead to his own demise. He should have learned to play the game better and not trust people at face value. He should have never revealed to Ceresi what he intended to do, he was spelling his own doom. With that said, I miss him, he was a great character.


@Jennifer, yeah, I forgot about that.. But does question or even ruin his image as honorable.. I'm thinking, hoping he had a good reason .. But I don't what that could be


Ned was both of those things. To be so honorable in a world full of men without honor is foolish yet commendable.


A fool, but an honest fool, you remain, Ned Stark. And you would've gotten away with it if only king Robert had postponed his last hunt for just a few days.


I think he let his notions of honour get in the way of practicality.


Ah poor Ned, he was stupid really, why give a woman who like Cersei a chance at all, got himself killed


Kat (last edited Sep 18, 2012 06:05AM ) Sep 18, 2012 06:04AM   0 votes
Jeni I think that is a great answer!
I also believe Ned's isolation from the South did not help him, he was thrown into political treachery and he had never experienced it before. I think when he talked to Cersei he was thinking as a father, I don't really think he cared to much about Cersei but the consequence of what would happen to her children - thus why he urged them to flee. Ultimately though, yes, he was very foolish, anyone else would not have given such a powerful and dangerous figure warning.
As for Renly, I think he made the right choice not alliancing with him, at the time it was unclear to what Renly's strength would be, he might have joined him and no one else would give the two support, and I doubt Ned thought much to what would happen after he outed Cersei


Ned Stark is a honorable man that stuck to his beliefs of right and wrong much to is detriment of his family and allies. Could he have explained to Sansa and Ari about what is really going on in the castle? No as a parent, he felt it best to keep them in the dark about what was really going on in the castle for their safety. But even he couldn't have forseen his own daughter Sansa betraying her father's plans to Ceresi and company. Ned Stark was honorable even unto his death. Sansa Stark was/is the fool of the family.


I'd say a victim. He was just okay living his honourable life in Winterfell, until he was dragged right to the epicentre of the explosive and deadly game of thrones. Therefore, a victim. But besides that, I think that he just couldn't addapt. He was a bit of a fool for that, because he understood that, to survive, he'd probably have to change his former 'good guy' position and live like the bad guys do. But he preffered not to, so he kinda ended up in the grave. But it's okay, because he died as a good guy!


Ned Stark was a good man in a bad world. He was willing to die doing the right thing whereas everyone around him were just taking care of themselves. He is definitely NOT a fool.


I agree that Ned was too honourable for his own good - but at the same time I think you can also call him a fool. When reading GoT the whole time I was mostly thinking "Ned why are you doing that/trusting them!!" - to me it was obvious something bad was going to happen. It is odd to say that being too trusting/honourable is a fault but Ned proves that it can be one!


Ned Stark went into his role as the Hand blind, clueless to the game that was going on. By the time he figured it out, his fate was already sealed. Love the honorable man but with so many cutthroats conniving and scheming, he didn't stand a chance.


I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with out honorable Lord Stark. Especially after he left Robert's chambers and Lord Renly warned of him the imoending doom. He's so wrapped up in his code of honor and innocence thatbhe can't see straight. It, unfortunately led to his downfall.


I admire men who are true to themselves and honorable men are the best of the lot. However a man who lets honor blind himself to the realities of the world can only be considered a fool.


I don't think he was foolish in upholding his principles, though perhaps he may have been so with regards to how much honesty or treachery he expected from other people.

But let's not forget that it was not him telling Cersei about what he intended, though that by itself may not be smart, but Sansa's foolishness in revealing her father's plans which gave his enemies enough to prepare.

(SPOILER ALERT, DO NOT CONTINUE READING AFTER THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE SEQUELS :-) )

Even though he may have still lost his life, consequences that arose from his daughters' captivity and disappearance could've been avoided.

Still, though his honour may have ultimately cost his life, his legacy still has somewhat left consequences for his enemies. Just look at how his followers/bannermen fought hard and made it a nightmare for his foes. Generally, northmen typically ended up as hard enemies for the southron lords.


I think he was too honorable for his own. In winterfell things were a lot simpler and more honorable, so the way he ruled worked perfectly. In the North everyone was much more honorable and there was not nearly as much deceit and scandal as there was in the South. He didn't get that the people in the South didn't care about honor, just power.


It is never foolish to be honorable. But a fool will always slap the face of an honorable man. In the case of this book, the people who betrayed Ned and spit on his honor have made tons of enemies in the process. That's foolish.


Ned Stark was an incredibly honorable man. At no point did he ever do anything that would make him think less of himself, nor did he ever shirk a duty (or perceived duty) that was laid at his feet.

However, he was naive. He did not understand that other people wouldn't have a similar sense of honor. This is, unfortunately, all too common of a trait. Honorable men frequently lack the capacity to understand the darker side of human nature, the side that leads people to be dishonest and dishonorable, most likely because without any exposure to that part of human nature in themselves, they don't understand the depths to which it goes, or the impulse that drives those people.

Only a person with some personal experience of that darker side can really understand humanity. A perfect contrast to Ned Stark is Tyrion Lannister. While I do believe that Tyrion is by and large an honorable man, because he frequently attempts to do the proper thing (and does, except when he's stymied by outside forces), he has personal experience with deceit. He's been the victim of painful dishonesty, but he's also learned to use dishonesty to achieve honorable ends.


Ned Stark stood for what he believes is right and that did him in at the end of the day. He should have never told Ceresi he knew about the affair nor should he have warned her that he planned to tell Robert. He did because he regretted not stepping up in past with the Elia situation. Also he should have gone with his first thought and never trusted Littlefinger


Susana wrote: "One of the most interesting characters in this book is Ned Stark, but one of the most reckless too. What do you think about the fact he told Cersei what he planned to do? Or the fact he did not acc..."

Susana wrote: "One of the most interesting characters in this book is Ned Stark, but one of the most reckless too. What do you think about the fact he told Cersei what he planned to do? Or the fact he did not acc..."

Ned was no fool. He had no choice but to trust Baelish given the circumstances he was in. I don't understand why most of the people here say that he couldn't understand the darker side of human nature, because he clearly could!

He was able to deal with his own banner-men relatively well, which is no easy task when you consider that they ranged from the unpredictable greyjon to the sly roose bolton. Asides from his decision not to inform Robert about Cercei's affair with Jaime, what truly did him in was sansa's foolishness. Had Ned been less honourable, there is no doubt that he would have won the game of thrones. Definitely not a fool!


Eddard Stark's honour was his compass, his true North (pun intended). Anyone can see that in every aspect of his life, family, politics,war, his emotions and feelings.
After the first chapters of GoT, I was sure that he would die soon -I wasn't happy, but I was sure. The Lord of Winterfell should have been a good example for everyone to follow but...he was just to good for Westeros.
For me, after the death of Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark was the last of his kind. I sorely miss both of them.


What I didn't understand was that Stark appeared so honor bound in kings landing yet when they talk about his past he didn't seem so concerned about doing the right thing or honor. I thought his personality was conflicting and changed to suit the needs of the book. How can he be so honor bound yet help take down the rightful king with Robert. If he was as honor bound as he is in Kings landing then he definitely wouldn't have turned rebel against the rightful king. Hopefully that wasn't confusing... half asleep here lol

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Matthew Williams Thank you, Jordan. And he's right, the abduction preceded any of the other events, including the execution of the Starks. Had Aerys II not been batshi ...more
Mar 05, 2015 09:06AM

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