In happier news: Davos Seaworth

🎨by Chris Dien
Every year or so, I stagger out of bed, cut my way through the haze of drugs and villainy to my computer, and insist that Davos' "I'm just an ordinary guy" schtick is a defense mechanism, his way of avoiding the socioeconomic equivalent of the bends from how high he's risen.
In reality, Davos is among the least ordinary men imaginable. In terms of both his resume and worldview, he is an extraordinary man. His rise to nobility is not what makes him special. It reflects what makes him special. He's the only person at the top who got there via merit.
That merit isn't merely dutiful service. It's putting his life on the line to do the right thing. Davos *thinks* that should be ordinary, but it's not. It makes him remarkable. It makes him Stannis' strongest asset. It makes him an enemy of those born to their privileges.
Davos' very presence threatens them, and it only gets worse when Stannis promotes Davos ahead of them and declares that if they don't like it, he'll have Davos appoint a bunch more Davoses in their place. It's arguably Stannis' finest moment, in which he really challenges power.
And what does Davos do with this power, the Hand pin on his chest? Like Ned Stark before him, he throws it back in his king's face on behalf of saving children. This power, this ascension, this newfound status: it means nothing to Davos compared to doing the right thing.
But unlike Ned (and Qarlton Chelsted, the Mad King's last sane Hand), Davos also came prepared with a platform to redirect Stannis in a better direction. He pushed his king toward the right thing, rather than just preventing him from doing the wrong thing.
Davos therefore manages to not only save Edric Storm's life, but his own, as well as motivating Stannis to save the Night's Watch and consider a more reciprocal form of duty. These are complex politics, and he navigates them expertly, winning over everyone he needs.
Davos comes from a humble background, but to characterize him as a simple angel among more complex, shadowy figures does him a disservice, reducing him to a caricature of a noble peasant. In truth, he is a hero in every sense of the word: a historically remarkable moral compass.
"Listen to the poor, because they are Good" is a well-intentioned framework, but it maintains the detachment and dehumanization of portraying them as ignorant ungrateful simpletons. It's just the flipside of the same coin.
Far better to write a character like Davos. His suffering has not transformed him into a beatific microphone for the author's politics. Rather, his poverty has informed his own unique politics, which dovetail with but are not identical to Stannis politics' (same w/the Manderlys).
By making him a recognizable human being with strengths and weaknesses, a distinct backstory informing distinct decisions, GRRM underlines the absurdity of the lords thinking of themselves as a different category of being from the likes of Davos of Flea Bottom. They're all human.
And because they're all human, these vast power gaps seem all the more ridiculous and unfounded, especially with the winds of winter bearing down on them. Remove the boot from the neck not because the neck is angelic, but precisely because it isn't.
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