Most of this post in was written nearly two years ago – I wrote it shortly after a great actor died and planned to publish it short after. I never came to that, but I nevertheless think the article is valid.
Todays character in focus is, in my view, quite ambiguous although not very much about his real doing is known. I my view he defined the Westeros we know from aSoIaF more than most might know – for me he might be THE defining politician of Robert’s Rebellion and tipped the power balance in Robert’s favour. Today I will speak about Hoster Tully.
Hoster Tully in aSoIaF
We do not know much about Hoster Tully youth but somewhere I read that he might have fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings (which makes sense – his younger brother also fought there) in which he got to know Petyr Baelish’s father. This is remarkable because although being a small lord of a different area (remember: the Baelish-lands are in the Vale) he seemed to have become a friend the mighty Lord of Riverrun. This later led to Hoster’s agreement on taking his (only?) son Petyr as ward. In a typical fantasy setting Lord Baelish might have safed Hoster’s life – but that is pure speculation.
Nothing is known about Hoster’s father or mother, we know he has a brother with whom he quarreled and broke up at a later point of time (my article about Brynden Blackfish can be found at TowerOfTheHand and I already featured Brynden here). What we know is that he was married with Minissa Whent and fathered three children: the two daughters Catelyn and Lysa and a son Edmure, who would be Lord of Riverrun after him. Besides being a fighter he also seemed to be an able politician, brokering valuable marriage links to other important Houses like the arranged marriage between his eldest daughter Catelyn to House Stark (although the groom changed during the arrangement and the marriage) and his attempts to marry Lysa either to House Lannister or Martell. He seemed to have planned also something bigger for his son, because he refused the ambitions of Walder Frey to marry a daughter to his future leach lord. We do not know what exactly this was – some highborn Ladys in Edmure’s age would be available in the Reach and Dorne – but that is again pure speculation on my side.
Even his brother was not safe from Hoster Tullys plans, but resisted and rebelled which led to final breakup. It can be said that Hoster Tully was ruthless in following his plans – not only that he broke with his only brother over this matter – a valuable and respected fighter and general and (until this point) loyal member of his family. He even risked the health of his daughter by forcing her into an abortion that seems to have led to her later difficulties in getting children (and increasing the destabilization of her unstable mind).
Nevertheless – in the end he got what he wanted for his daughters: both are married to high lords, although not the ones he might have expected. When we meet Hoster Tully and see him through Catelyn’s eyes he is already more dead than alive and the cancer (the description indicates that) gives him only little more time. It seems he regrets what he has done to his family – especially to Lysa – and makes peace with his brother.
Most of Hoster’s former plans were fulfilled when he decided that Riverrun would join forces with the Robert’s rebels to support the rise against the Targaryen kings. A pact that was mainly sealed by marrying his daughters married to Stark and Arryn at Riverrun. In my opinion the forging of this alliance (most plausibly brokered by the “elder” ones Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully and not by Ned and Robert) sealed the downfall of the dragon kings which makes Hoster Tully one of the defining politicians in the background-story of “A Game of Thrones”. Before this point it was (on the continent) three main Houses (Stark, Baratheon, Arryn) against three other ones (Targaryen, Martell, Tyrell) with three more being more or less neutral (Tully, Lannister, Greyjoy). Afterwards the Riverlands provided not only fresh troops but also a safe deployment and support zone – dividing the continent into a loyal and a not loyal area. I would say: Tully decided about the downfall of the old kings as much as Robert’s warhammer on the Trident – after this pact the success of the rebellion was much more possible than before and without it its failure would have been only a matter of time.
In fact all that makes Hoster Tully such a uber-figure as leader, father and lord that Edmure Tully never had a chance to fill his father’s shoes – the shadow Hoster Tully casts (even in his lifetime) had to be much too big for almost everybody (even Ned or Robert in Edmure’s situation). A similar situation is the one of the Lannister-children after Tywin’s death. But in comparison to Edmure, Jaime himself is such a “more-than-life”-figure himself and can compensate this a little bit (Cersei not, and Tyrion does not give a f***). Edmure on the other hand is a decent guy, a decent ruler and overall not the worst character out there – but he is constantly held down by his own expectations and his sister Catelyn and his uncle – and later on his king. Something also the TV-show is not changing. But in fact his actions are not as bad as they look like – he tries to be a good lord for his people – it is simply bad luck that:
– his first big action fucks over his uncle’s plan (of which he had no knowledge)
– his second big action is more or less weakening his king’s force as a whole (when he allows his lords to defend their lands)
– his marriage will always and ever be called a “Red” one
– AND his last action as Lord of Riverrun is giving it up (although that saved a lot of lifes). So not only did Edmure have a father that nobody wants to be compared with – but he also constantly either had bad luck or simply made a slightly wrong decision (in other’s eyes). Let’s hope for him his child will be a girl.
My Hoster Tully
So – after a small paragraph about Edmure I will come back to his father. Ever and always after seeing Stardust (a nice fantasy movie made in 2007) the old king in the beginning was my Hoster Tully. In fact I saw the movie before reading aSoIaF so there never was another Hoster Tully for me. If you know the movie you already know which great Irish actor played the mighty King of Stormhold. My Hoster Tully is and will ever be Peter O’Toole. Peter O’Toole in Stardust
This may be my last long article fo a while, but I try to pubish here again more frequently. Tell me what you think about it in the comments (please do not write anything that might be a spoiler).