Hands down, this is my favourite book series that I am currently reading. Alongside Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Song of Ice and Fire is by far the best written series of recent years – not just in Fantasy, but in ANY genre. I love the expansive history, the multiple plot lines that don’t always seem significant but always impact on the story in some way. I love the medieval setting, the battles, the political deception and, most of all, the characters.
I honestly think that the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are some of the most complex in any Fantasy I’ve read. They show that Fantasy characters don’t have to always be typical archetypes and that they can stand out and be multi-layered as much as any other character in fiction. They are amazingly complex – even the secondary and background characters seem to have a personality to make them believable. Now THAT is a skill. There are no real heroes or villains, just people with their own motivations. Of course there are characters that you love and characters that you just love to hate! And that’s why I think this series is so great.
So today, in the first of a two part Top Five, I’m looking at the top five characters that I HATE or just DESPISE. These are five characters that have something about them I just can’t stand, but I still appreciate them as characters. So let’s dive in.
SPOILER WARNING: This Top Five is VERY spoiler heavy – if you haven’t read any of the A Song of Ice and Fire series or seen the Game of Thrones TV series, you might want to check that out first before reading.
1. Theon Greyjoy
Talk about being a “Judas” of the series. Theon was Robb’s most trusted friend during the War of the Five Kings – and he stabbed his friend in the back by attacking his home of Winterfell.
In many ways, you can kinda see why Theon would want to betray them – he was taken as a child by Eddard Stark during the Greyjoy Rebellion and raised by the Stark family as a ward. Although he never really fit in with them. During the way, he went back to the Iron Islands to try and broker a deal with the Greyjoys, which they refused. Seeing how much his sister has gained a reputation as a strong soldier (and desperate to prove to his father that he is still a Greyjoy at heart), he takes Winterfell with but a few men, hoping to show his father that he is still strong. This, however, proves to be his undoing.
Theon is a character that just wants to be accepted, but he found none at either the Stark family or his own people. He is desperate to prove himself as a strong warrior and try and win his father’s affection. But this causes him to make rash decisions. What I hate most about Theon is that he is such a whinny little b**** that stamps his foot like a petulant child if he doesn’t get his way. Not only that, but when Bran and Rickon escape Winterfell, he kills two other children and burns them alive when he fails to capture them. That I think makes him pretty hateable.
Now a prisoner of the Bolton’s, it looks like Theon is reaping what he sowed. And given that the Greyjoy’s motto is We do not sow, the irony is not lost on him!
2. Viserys Targaryen
Even though he only lasted one book, that was still long enough to know how much I despised him as a character. This guy was a petty, spiteful man that would abuse his sister and even tried to sell her off in his quest to become king – you gotta admit that makes him a d***!
One of the last descendants to the Targaryen bloodline (the true kings of Westeros), along with his sister Daenerys, Viserys is determined to win back his claim to the Iron Throne. To this end he arranges a marriage of his sister (against her will) to Khal Drogo, leader of the Dothraki, who promises him 10,000 soldiers to help him take back the Iron Throne – this earns him the title of Beggar King. Even though Daenerys is not comfortable with this, he forces her to do it, completely blind to her own suffering.
Amazingly, his actions seem to have the opposite effect. Daenerys becomes accepted within the Dothraki and Khal Drogo is a gentle and loving husband to her. Over time, Viserys is practically forgotten about – and Daenarys even gains the courage to stand up to her brother. After suffering numerous humiliations, Viserys threatens to kill Dany if the Dothraki don’t honour their bargain. Khal Drogo lives up to his end of the bargain by giving him a crown – of boiling hot gold! This ends up killing him, meaning that Daenerys is now free of his tyranny – and the sole heir to the Iron Throne.
Surprisingly enough, even though Viserys was a real monster, Daenerys does attempt to reclaim her birthright as revenge for her family. So in some ways, Viserys was a kind of inspiration for Daenerys, however cruel he was. Since then, Daenerys has been gathering support in the Free Cities, freeing slaves and raising an army – along with her three dragons.
3. Vargo Hoat
Leader of the Brave Companions, who are described on Wikipedia as “a particularly unsavoury sellsword company”. Personally, I think a better way to describe them would be the “scum of the planet”. All members of the Brave Companions are sick, twisted criminals who delight in torturing people – and Vargo Hoat is no exception.
I actually laughed at first at this character, because he talks in a lisp due to a swollen tongue – but he is no joke. He will kill or even maim you just because he feels like it, even if you did nothing wrong. He also has no sense of loyalty as when Tywin Lannister pays him to burn and pillage to draw out Robb Stark, he quickly turns coat when the Bolton’s get involve and he helps them take Harrenhal.
Perhaps his most hideous act is to cut off Jamie Lannister’s hand when he is their captor. I was shocked when this scene happened. Ok, so Jamie Lannister was a completely arrogant git, but even what he went through was too much to bear. This one act alone stays with Jamie for the rest of his life and diminishes his skill with a sword somewhat. Even though Vargo does eventually meet his end at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane (in a manner most suited to him), Jamie is forever haunted by the crippling injury that Vargo Hoat gave him. Something he can never forget.
All in all, a particularly horrible character and not one I’m likely to miss.
4. Lord Roose Bolton
I gotta be honest, there is just something about this character I find very creepy. Maybe it’s because the sigil of his house is a flayed man (which is pretty sick in and of itself), maybe it’s the fact that he takes regular leechings to improve his health (which has given him the title of Leech Lord), or maybe it’s just the fact that the Bolton’s are sick people that delight in skinning their opponents. Either way, this guy gives me the chills as much as reason to hate him.
Though he is mild mannered and never raises his voice, he is chillingly cold and calculated. Also, he seems to take great pride in his son Ramsey, even though he’s a bastard. Ironically, he is one of the Stark’s bannermen that come to Robb Stark’s aid during the War of the Five Kings. A worthy ally in many ways, after all he does make a strong blow against the Lannisters by taking Harrenhal and his son is able to retake Winterfell (only to later betray the Northmen and take it for himself).
But what makes me hate this character so much is that he is one of the conspirators of the Red Wedding – one of the most horrific events in the book series that results in the death of some of the most loved characters. Orchestrated by Lord Walder Frey as punishment for Robb Stark’s breaking of a marriage pact with them, Lord Bolton is the one to slay Robb Stark in one of the most coldest of executions possible. After this, he is granted Warden of the North by Tywin Lannister, granted a gift by the very person he was fighting against. That makes Lord Bolton one of the biggest monsters in the series – he promised to help Robb Stark and yet stabbed him in the heart afterwards.
I have to be honest though, Lord Bolton is one of the few characters in the Game of Thrones series that I don’t think was cast very well. I’m not saying the actor playing him is bad, I just don’t think he fits the description of the book. He just looks a little to thuggish and not the kind of sickly noble that he’s described in the books. I honestly think that they could have kept to his appearance a little better – but that’s just my opinion.
Certainly one of the most underrated villains in the series, Lord Bolton is a cold hearted and wicked man that is responsible for one of the most horrific events in A Song of Ice and Fire. He’s one of the few villains yet to get his comeuppance – and I really hope that he does soon.
5. King Joffrey Baratheon
I really don’t think I can begin to describe how much I HATE this character. He is possibly not only the most hateable character in A Song of Ice and Fire – but possibly one of these most hated villains in fiction, essentially the Adolf Hitler of the Fantasy world.
Born of a secret incest between his mother Cersei and her brother Jamie Lannister, Joffery has always been mothered a lot as neither his true father or his supposed father (King Robert Baratheon) ever showed him much attention. Determined to prove himself, Joffrey rose to become king after his mother arranged for her husband to be killed on a hunting trip. He quickly gained a reputation as one of the most hated kings of all of Westeros.
Even before coming king, Joffrey was plain annoying. He was just a spoilt little rich kid with a rather nasty streak – even having one of Arya Starks friends killed just because he didn’t like him. Betrothed to Sansa Stark, he did come across as a charming prince at first – but when his true colours showed.
Joffrey has a horrific streak that no other character had in A Song of Ice and Fire and seemed to get off on seeing people hurt. On becoming king, he becomes hard to control and goes wild with power, even ignoring the advice of his mother. His first act as king (in one of the most shocking moments in A Game of Thrones) is to have Eddard Stark executed even after promising Sansa mercy. During his rule, he has Sansa beaten by his Kingsguard, stripped down and even left her to be raped by an angry mob! Seriously, this boy has no morals whatsoever – yet he gets away with it as he’s king. Only Tyrion Lannister has the courage to stand up to him and even tries to save Sansa from his clutches.
Overall, Joffrey is a character that is utterly despicable. He has no redeeming features and I just wished something bad would happen to him. Thankfully, near the end of A Storm of Swords, I got my wish. And let me tell you, Joffrey’s ultimate fate is one of the most satisfying deaths of any villain ever. It’s just a pity his death ends up putting Sansa and Tyrion in trouble.
If there is one good thing I can say about Joffrey is the actor Jack Gleeson, who plays him in Game of Thrones, the TV series. Jack Gleeson is a brilliant actor that plays him with such sneering hatefulness, yet also very petulant and whinny. He got the character down perfectly (and yet ironically, Jack Gleeson is supposed to be one of the nicest people on the planet) and I honestly think that this guy is destined to go onto play some great roles in the future as he is a brilliant actor.
Hands down the most hateable character in all of the series, Joffrey is a king that the people of Westeros would soon forget. Even members of his own family consider him a worst king than the Mad King himself. He’s a great villain, but one of those characters that you just love to hate.
That’s my list. Feel free to let me know your comments as to whom YOU love to hate within the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Next well, I’ll be looking at the Top Five likeable characters within A Song of Ice and Fire.
Until next time!
All above mentioned characters are copyright of George R R Martin. Images drawn by Amoka.
No ownership is claimed for the above.
Oh, and have I mentioned that A Song of Ice and Fire is AWESOME!