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Robb really can't afford the loss of the Karstarks and their bannermen, especially after losing the Freys. It would have been better to keep him as hostage, or even pardon him. Loss of respect is still better than loss of all those men. However to him, he had no choice. He is Ned Stark's son and King in the North and he dealt justice.
I am thoroughly enjoying the way the perceptions of the characters evolve throughout the series and Jaime's growth this episode was no exception.
I am going to have to go back to reading the books, an episode a week is too little for me and I know I'm missing some of the finer points within the story.
I think Robb did the right thing, if he hadn't executed Karstark then he would have been left with two options, take the man hostage or allow his unruly behaviour continue. The first option had a chance to work, however if Karstark's men had turned on Robb's army then he would have lost more men than had been lost by them leaving. The second? Karstark was a liability and eventually his disregard for Robb's rulings would have led to a far more dire situation.
I think it was the wrong thing to do. As stated already, he had three choices:
1. Execute him to set an example.
2. Let him go.
3. Hold him hostage.
All of these options weaken Robb's position to some degree:
1. Sets an example, enforces the law but also shows a disregard to his own kin. With the Karstarks controlling almost half of his standing forces, losing them means losing the ability to wage war. Not only are you screwed by numbers, the loss of morale on the rest of his army will be devastating.
2. Letting him go makes him look weak in the face of a group that's already having doubts of his leadership.
3. Hold him hostage. Shows at least some adherence to law as well as respect for kin. While there is the potential for the Karstarks turning on Robb to free Rickard, there was arguably just as much a chance of that happening by executing him too. At least this way, he would have the chance to keep them loyal and continue the war.
All 3 options suck. Holding him hostage is the best of the three to me. By losing the Karstarks, he has to resort to attempting to patch things up with the Freys. The Freys have every reason to tell him to piss off since they only threw in their lot with Robb based on a promise to marry. Not only that, a ruler can only keep power with the support of the people. When half of your army deserts you, your image as a ruler is much worse than just looking weak.
Not really, *spoiler alerts
The mad king might have beat him down at one point, but tywin completely screwed him over in the end.
If you've read the books then you know tywin isn't an alpha male for much longer.
EDIT: The mad king told him he was a great servant. But then he told him he doesn't wed his children to his servants.
EDIT2: It really was his kingsguard and his own insanity that screwed him over in the end, not some macho alpha male lannister crap.
Edited by Cabal on 5/1/2013 8:08 PM PDT
I never thought I'd feel sorry for the smug, blond monster who pushed a little boy out of a window.
Yeah, I'm with you on that. I started to twitch when he actually saved Brienne and thought maybe he's not so bad after all.
I should slap myself.
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