Friday, May 8, 2015

When Women Play the Game: Mya Stone



Mya Stone by Bodach
Mya Stone is like the mules she rides so adeptly: stubborn, calm, and great on the rocky terrain of the Vale. The first words she says are: “The mules know the way, Ser Brynden.” She sounds like she knows the path to the Eyrie in the dark just as well as the mules, especially since she’s made it a hundred times. She verifies that it’s less about the mules and more about her when she adds, that “Mychel says my father must have been a goat.”1 Ser Lothor, who seems to crush on Stone, later tells Sansa that Stone would not wait long for Lord Robert Arryn to descend the mountain with her, for she was as stubborn as her mules. “She’s half mule herself, that one. I think she’d leave us all to starve before she’d put those animals at risk,” he says.5


Catelyn was amused that she sounded cocky, despite Stone proving her skills later. Stone adds later that Mychel Redfort tells her she’s got owl eyes when she tells Cat that torches would only blind them on a clear night like that. Stone proves skillful and clever guiding the group up to the Eyrie, clearing the stones off the path so the mules don’t break their legs and knowing when it was best to dismount due to wind. Stone even knew the mules by name, yet impressing Catelyn. Yet despite her young demeanor, she was polite and caring, patient with Catelyn as she climbed in fear, leading her by hand at the worst part. She’s not only impatient; she’s encouraging.
“Keep your eyes closed if you like. Let go of the rope now, Whitey will take care of himself. Very good, my lady. I’ll lead you over, it’s easy, you’ll see. Give me a step now. That’s it, move your foot, just slide it forward. See. Now another. Easy. You could run across. Another one, go on. Yes.” And so, foot by foot, step by step, the bastard girl led Catelyn across, blind and trembling, while the white mule followed placidly behind them.1
Like her mother, Sansa also fret on the mountainous ride, noting that, “Mya could tell of great lords and bold knights who had gone pale and wet their smallclothes on the mountain. And none of them had the shaking sickness either.”5 Sansa later recognizes Mya’s importance when she tries to persuade Lord Robert Arryn to descend the mountain. It’s as if Catelyn was being channeled, though she would not have had the tolerance for Robert as Sansa does. Not only is Stone crucial in guiding a party up and down the Vale’s steep rocky path to the and from the Eyrie, she is relied upon to relay foodstuffs to the court from the lower valley. So much important is dependent on a bastard daughter, but she is yet given no respect in title.4

Stone upholds an image of a warrior woman in training: clever; fearless; cocky; wiry; short, dark hair and straight around her head; riding leathers; and a chainmail shirt. She is no doubt always prepared for a trek on the donkeys up the mountain. However, she bows more elegantly than even those in prominent positions, like Lord Nestor. Though she isn’t noble (but a bastard as Catelyn figures (I.34) and is separately verified by Ned2 and Cersei3 that she is Robert Baratheon’s eldest bastard from a trip to the Vale), she can assert the ladylike demeanor just as deftly as Dacey Mormont switches between realms of gender norm.1  Sansa notes the same looks that her mother did, but also notices her striking blue eyes, which she considered her best feature and wondered what she’d look like in a more feminine garb.

Mya’s eyes were her best feature, big and blue. She could be pretty, if she would dress up like a girl. Alayne found herself wondering whether Ser Lothor liked her best in her iron and leather, or dreamed of her gowned in lace and silk.5

Also, like Dacey, she is in love with a man who cannot marry her, despite their feelings toward each other. Catelyn knows that Mya, a bastard, will not be permitted to marry a squire and soon-to-be knight. It’s just not how marriages work in Westeros. We can take this as a foreshadowing of events to come when Robb falls in love with someone and marries her, despite being engaged to wed someone else. Would Mya’s marriage turn out so poorly? Probably not, but it would be hard for Mychel Redfort, an established and respected name in the Vale, to gain land and respect by marrying a bastard-born girl. To be bastard is to be stigmatized and ostracized. It shows, on Mya’s part, her immaturity and ignorance of royal customs, just as Robb had.1 Indeed Mychel did not marry Mya and married another, hurting Mya beyond her belief. It would not be the first time that she had been disappointed by a man in her life. “It might be different if her father had acknowledged her, but he never did,” says Sansa, reminiscent of her mother’s teachings. (At least one of her children listened to their mother.) Despite her bastard blood, she seems to be well-liked among the people of the Vale, the guards knowing her by name. She was especially loved by her father, and it seems like a lot of people know of her paternity, evidenced by the amount of people in Westeros that know. She recalls her father fondly, playing and laughing with her.5 And her father must have loved her dearly, for Robert wanted her in King’s Landing once Joffrey was born. It’s vague, but Cersei hinted that she would have Mya killed, saying that a city is a dangerous place to raise a girl. This must have been when Robert cut off ties with Mya, when Robert realized that everyone knew she was his. And that was dangerous.3

In a revealing moment, Sansa asks Stone is she was scared when she almost fell on the icy narrow path.

“I remember a man throwing me in the air when I was very little. He stands as tall as the sky, and he throws me up so high it feels as though I’m flying. We’re both laughing, laughing so much that I can hardly catch a breath, and finally I laugh so hard I wet myself, but that only makes him laugh the louder. I was never afraid when he was throwing me. I knew that he would always be there to catch me.” She pushed her hair back. “Then one day he wasn’t. Men come and go. They lie, or die, or leave you. A mountain is not a man, though, and a stone is a mountain’s daughter. I trust my father, and I trust my mules. I won’t fall.” She put her hand on a jagged spur of rock, and got to her feet. “Best finish. We have a long way yet to go, and I can smell a storm.”

Mya shows a bit of bitterness in her words but stony in her demeanor, a front she’s hiding behind just like the hair that is hiding half of her face. She is a rock. But then she pulls her hair back so Sansa can see her fully and then understands when she says “Men come and go. They lie, or die, or leave you.” Stone’s father left her; then Mychel left her. She refuses to show emotion, as almost everyone notes, always calm, always stoic. She even places her one on a jagged rock to prop herself up, which seems to give her no noticeable pain. She shows fearlessness in the face of danger and love.5

Mya seems to have been adopting a larger role within the House, being a page to Lord Robert and not just the mule girl.6 What else may arise for Mya is yet to be determined, but she has stubbornly declined Lord Nestor’s proposals for husbands in the past, after Mychel broke her heart.5 Will be ever trust another man enough to marry? Will her heart turn to stone? Will she become Sansa’s sworn sword or follow her to protect her, like Brienne does in the TV series? Will she disappear when she hears of the Red Woman finding royal blood to sacrifice? Has anyone told her of her paternal heritage? Will her bastardy be taken away for legitimacy, so she will be named the next in line for the throne? She would be a Princess. If the law, which Cersei would try to change, governed that the throne be handed to a woman, she could become Queen alone and would have a legitimate claim to the throne. Will she ever become a Lady of the Court for any house? So many questions remain for Mya Stone, and perhaps she is the one I find most fascinating because of it.

Sources

1. Martin, George R. R. “Chapter 34: Catelyn.” A Game of Thrones (Book I of A Song of Ice & Fire). 1996. Voyager Books.

2. Martin, George R. R. “Chapter 35: Eddard.” A Game of Thrones (Book I of A Song of Ice & Fire). 1996. Voyager Books.

3. Martin, George R. R. “Chapter 17: Cersei.” A Feast for Crows (Book IV of A Song of Ice & Fire). 2005. Voyager Books.

4. Martin, George R. R. “Chapter 23: Alayne.” A Feast for Crows (Book IV of A Song of Ice & Fire). 2005. Voyager Books.

5. Martin, George R. R. “Chapter 41: Alayne.” A Feast for Crows (Book IV of A Song of Ice & Fire). 2005. Voyager Books.

6. Martin, George R. R. “Alayne.” The Winds ofWinter (Preview). 02 April 2015.

Previously on When Women Play the Game...
Sansa Stark
Brienne Tarth
Daenerys Targaryen
Catelyn Tully Stark
Arya Stark
Lady Olenna Redwyne Tyrell and Margaery Tyrell
The She-Bears 
Lysa Tully Arryn 
Cersei Lannister 
The Martells, Part 1 (House Martell, Arianne)
The Martells, Part 2 (Sand Snakes)
The Seers (Maggy the Frog, The Lady of the Leaves, Mother Mole, Teora Toland)
Melisandre of Asshai

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