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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stannis Made the Right Decision:

It was quite clear that if he didn't appeal to the God of Light his whole army would die in a blizzard, including his daughter.  If they couldn't get out of the inclement weather and into a place with food stores laid up, they were all going to starve to death or freeze to death.  Since this is a world of magic where human sacrifice really does work in changing the weather, Stannis' decision was just plain common sense.  It was even more admirable of Stannis to explain his reasoning to his daughter beforehand, and to stoically look on at the price he must pay and the pain he was responsible for, accepting all of that as his duty as the decider, and yet carrying through with the plan nonetheless because he knew it had to be done.

Human sacrifice is wrong, not because it goes against some random moral taboo, but because there is no god and nobody answers your prayers, so it's just a complete waste of time/energy/life/pangs of conscience when you kill random innocent people for no reason.  In a world with a God who has already answered your prayers many times and creates miracles all the time based on how much king's blood you offer to him, the equation turns completely around.  In that case, it would be strange if you didn't rely on human sacrifice all the time to do everything.  Even to heat up your daily coffee, it would make sense to sacrifice to a blood God instead of wasting valuable coal or whatever.  God knows this world has more than enough people crawling all over it.

But for Stannis, the situation is even more dire than that.  Not only is the fate of all of his followers, tens of thousands of people, on the line, where they'll all die an unnecessary death if he doesn't act to protect him, but in fact the fate of all of Westeros is on the line.  He is the prophesied savior of the world.  If he doesn't escape out of this pinch, who will save the world from the army of the dead?  He has to unite the kingdom and then turn all of its forces to the north to aid the wall.  He's the only king who has any intention of fighting the White Walkers.  All the rest think it's some sort of myth and are just playing around, squabbling amongst themselves for their own petty interests.  If he doesn't win this war, mankind is doomed.  He is the savior of the world.  He must pay any price to ascend the iron throne or humanity will simply go extinct.

Many people are ordered to go die for the sake of winning a war.  In this war against the undead and against all of the usurpers who are blissfully ignoring the undead, what's wrong with Shireen being one of those warriors ordered to die?  So long as we accept the moral legitimacy of drafting people into the army and forcing them to face peril against their will, I don't see how human sacrifice which aids in the war effort can be viewed as any worse an act.  Stannis did what he had to do.  It's unfortunate that Shireen wasn't brave enough to accept her fate, but then again she's a child who doesn't understand what all's at stake here so we'll just have to forgive her that failing.

This is just another simple example of the ends justifying the means.  Right and wrong couldn't be more clear cut.  What is one life when weighed against the fate of millions?  Now, it may be that Stannis is deceived and he isn't really the savior of the world, and therefore he doesn't need to become king, and therefore all of his war efforts are just needless violence, including the killing of his own daughter, but he doesn't know that.  He's been told he's the savior by someone who has worked actual miracles in front of him and clearly knows what she is talking about.  He has no reason to doubt her, as he really is the legitimate heir to the throne, so it makes sense that God would choose him to carry out this important role to save the 7 kingdoms.  It may be tragic that Stannis sacrificed his only daughter for no reason, but it isn't wrong.  His intentions are pure and his cause is just.  What more does one need to be exonerated than that?

Now, I might complain here that nowhere in the books does Stannis sacrifice Shireen.  However, it's so in character that I suspect he will do so in the Winds of Winter, and the tv series is just jumping ahead of the narrated events slightly.  I would be surprised if Stannis doesn't sacrifice his daughter to the flames, it's such a great scene in the tv show, and I suspect the tv creators consulted with the author ahead of time and got his okay for this pivotal Stannis moment of characterization.  It just rings too true to be truly false.

For that matter, the army of the dead didn't actually attack at Hardhome, but it was such a good scene that I don't care anyway.  It's great television and it's in keeping with the fact that a winter storm sank the fleet and killed all the escaping wildlings in the books.  Despite all the deviations from the books, I find the 5th season of Game of Thrones to be just as good as ever.  I have no complaints about anything, and expect the 6th season to have an easier job of adapting Winds of Winter, which will already be out by then.  The 7th season will be where things really get dicey, because I doubt Martin is going to suddenly finish his 7th book in a single year, when all these others have been taking five years or more to get out.  That's when the tv producers will really be forced to extrapolate.  Aside from sports, which deliver hundreds of hours of fresh entertainment every year, Game of Thrones is the best television show ever made.  The fifth season hasn't garnished that luster, only burnished it.

Meanwhile, Grisaia no Kajitsu blu-ray has been fansubbed by a variety of different groups.  I would encourage everyone to go out and rewatch it now, but since the visual novel is much longer and more thorough than the anime, people would do better to just read the visual novel instead.  I figure in a case like this, reading the visual novel which prompted the anime is more than enough of a 'rewatch.'  It's investing a hell of a lot more time into Grisaia than a mere rewatch ever could.  Today I finished Makina's route.  The beginning of the route was great, but the second half wasn't.  Hopefully my next target, Sachi, will be more fun.

I also finished the third volume of Index New Testament.  It must have been the worst book in the series, by far.  There were way too many characters in the book and the heroes outnumbered and outpowered the villains 10 to 1.  What's the fun in that?  Plus, like usual, it was almost continuous fighting, which is incredibly boring when the fighting doesn't lead to any sort of characterization at the same time.  Fighting is supposed to bring out character in a person, show you what they're really made of and what they really think and feel.  When the same people are fighting in the same circumstances against the same type of enemies as usual, it doesn't tell us anything new about them, so the fights become supremely boring.  Dragon Ball knew to keep its fights sparing and sparse.  Goku only fights a few people in the course of 50 episodes.  Index should learn to do the same with Touma.  Too much Touma makes for supreme boredom.  Nevertheless, the author has gone ahead and already written a 13th installment of this series.  At this rate I'll end up reading Index slower than he writes it, and my hell will become eternal.  Argh.  Why is this author so freaking prolific?  He could learn a little from George R.R. Martin, who only publishes stories that are actually worth reading instead of just generic meaningless crap sequels that could have easily been left out without anyone noticing the difference.

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