'Game of Thrones' character spotlight: Stannis Baratheon

The implacable justice of Westeros

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Among the many fascinating characters that inhabit the "Game of Thrones" world, none is more enigmatic than Stannis Baratheon. The younger brother of Robert has, in the second season, shown us just what he is capable of doing and how far he is willing to go to attain the throne that he believes is rightfully his.

Certainly, Stannis's most prominent and sometimes disturbing quality is his absolute adherence to what he sees as his code of honor and truth. Unlike both of his brothers, Robert and Renly, Stannis holds himself up to the same lofty standards as he assumes for everyone else, punishing himself as much as he does others. Furthermore, and just as importantly, we must also remember that Stannis's belief in justice is also implacable. Thus, even though Davos was responsible for saving Stannis and his besieged men, he still took of part of Davos's fingers for smuggling. Clearly, this is a man who believes that justice, no matter how ruthless, is the quality that matters most in a king.

He definitely takes this belief in the implacability of justice to extremes when he starts angling for the throne that he believes is his, even going so far as to partake in Melisandre's plan to murder his younger brother, Renly. Unfortunately for Stannis, the fact that he so willingly took part in the death of his own kin may have consequences far exceeding what he has experienced so far, and his participation in such a heinous act has certainly left a mark on his soul, though we have yet to see the full impact of it.

Clearly, however, we can also see that Stannis has become at least somewhat enslaved to the will of Melisandre. Though he makes some gestures toward gaining independence from her, he also realizes just how much he needs her and how much power she ultimately wields. The fact that she continues to feed his ego and attempt to convince him of his destiny as kind of Westeros merely further binds him to her will. Whether he will ever be able to detach himself from her completely is something that remains unclear, though it looks as if it is not very likely.

Though he is far from the most sympathetic of "Game of Thrones" characters, Stannis Baratheon is nevertheless a fascinating figure in his own right. As the series advances, we will get to see him in even greater depth, as he struggles to recoup his losses after the titanic Battle of the Blackwater.

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