Game of Thrones RQ
Edd ard Stark
The Dire Wolf
If ever there was a single man who embodied both the strengths and weaknesses of House Stark, it is Lord Eddard. “Ned,” as his friends and loved ones call him, is a ruler who is both stern and compassionate, who follows his duty wherever it leads him, and whose oath is all but unbreakable. Eddard’s first loyalty is to his family, but loyalty to the crown comes a close second, and it often places him in untenable positions. If Eddard Stark has a fatal flaw it is that he will always follow the path of honor, even if it leads him over a precipice.
Ned Stark presents his stern side to the world, but he offers a softer and more caring one to his family and friends. His hair is long and dark brown and his eyes grey, and his white-shot beard makes him look older than his thirty-five years. He customarily dresses austerely, in the dark colors of his house, and he rarely shows emotion to strangers.
Those who do not know Eddard Stark consider him a cold-hearted man, as stony as the Frostfangs. This face is one Ned chooses to show the world, and his tragic history more than gives him cause. Like his predecessors, Ned places a high value on honor and duty, and he forsakes his oaths only in the most extreme of circumstances. Only a threat to his family or the need for justice can convince him to turn from the path of duty, as he did when he raised the banners of the North against Mad King Aerys.
In the company of loved ones, Ned’s grim demeanor softens somewhat, and the real man behind the grim façade is revealed. Like a warm summer sun that melts the ice of winter, Eddard plays with his children, happily feasts with his bannermen, regales all with songs and stories, and shows a deep and abiding love for his lady wife Catelyn. Those who love Ned Stark love him well and know he is a good man.
It is only in the matter of Lord Eddard’s bastard son Jon Snow that there is tension between him and his wife. Here again is a conflict between family and honor—in fathering Jon, Ned broke faith with his wife, but at the same time, the boy is of his blood, and Ned cannot bring himself to ignore or abandon him. Such conduct is typical of lesser men, such as the bloated oaf King Robert has become, but Ned is a Stark, and he will not turn his back on his own. Accordingly, Jon Snow has been brought to Winterfell and raised as a member of the family, much to Lady Catelyn’s displeasure. To her, the boy’s presence is like an open wound that cannot heal, a constant reminder of Ned’s act of faithlessness, but it is the one matter he refuses to discuss with her. Once more, Ned’s sense of honor has cost him dearly, as it is sure to cost him in the future.
If it were left to Eddard Stark, he would have lived out his days in the North, comfortable as a son of a great house and doing his part to see to the welfare of his family and smallfolk. Unfortunately for Eddard, he was born in a tumultuous era, and House Stark was to play a critical role in the final fall of the Targaryen dynasty.
The second son of Lord Rickard Stark and brother to heir Brandon, Eddard spent his youth as ward to Jon Arryn, living in the Eyrie with his foster-brother Robert Baratheon. Brandon was pledged in marriage to Catelyn Tully, daughter of Lord Hoster, while Brandon and Eddard’s sister, Lyanna, was betrothed to young Robert Baratheon—matches that would strengthen the ties of friendship and alliance between three of Westeros’ great households. Eddard was content to be the loyal younger sibling and looked forward to a pleasant life in his beloved northern lands.
All of that was ended by the rash act of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Infatuated with Eddard’s sister Lyanna, he kidnapped her and set in motion a series of events that would end a mighty dynasty and bring woe to a continent. After the death of both his father and brother, Eddard found himself heir to House Stark, riding to war alongside Robert Baratheon, Hoster Tully, and Jon Arryn.
Custom demanded Eddard wed Catelyn, his late brother’s intended, which he did, and then he left with his armies. Eddard proved Robert Baratheon’s most loyal and effective ally. While Tywin Lannister and his forces sacked King’s Landing and slaughtered the last of the Targaryens, Eddard helped lift the siege of Storm’s End before swinging south toward the Tower of Joy in the Red Mountains of Dorne, where his sister was being held by three members of Aerys’s Kingsguard. Eddard and his companions, including Howland Reed, Lord of Greywater Watch, assaulted the Tower of Joy, facing the legendary knights Ser Oswell Whent, Ser Arthur Dayne, and Ser Gerold Hightower, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. The fight was bloody and, in the end, futile, for Lyanna Stark perished, dying after extracting a promise from her brother, a promise whose precise nature remains a secret, known only to Eddard and Howland Reed, the sole survivors of the battle.
After the Tower of Joy, Eddard journeyed to Starfall Keep, where he delivered Arthur Dayne’s sword “Dawn” to his sister, Lady Ashara Dayne. Some claim it was during this visit Eddard’s bastard son Jon Snow was conceived, but Lady Ashara cannot confirm or deny this story, for she threw herself from Starfall’s battlements and into the sea soon after.
Eddard bears the scars of Robert’s War in his heart and soul. He hoped to return to the simple life of the North and live out his days as Lord of Winterfell. So far, he seems to have gotten his wish, for Catelyn has proved a loyal and loving wife, giving him two strong daughters and three sons. Only the presence of Jon Snow at Winterfell disturbs the quiet life there, but Lord Eddard’s sense of honor compels him to keep the boy close, treating him as a member of the family despite Catelyn’s protestations.