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Mad King Aerys (Complete Guide to Westeros)

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"Mad King Aerys" is a set of three featurettes in "History & Lore" section of the Complete Guide to Westeros, one of the special features present in the Blu-ray of Season 1 of Game of Thrones. They are narrated, respectively, by Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, Donald Sumpter as Maester Luwin, and Charles Dance as Lord Tywin Lannister.

Robert Baratheon's perspective

King Robert opens his narration explaining that Aerys II Targaryen was the last of his name to sit on the Iron Throne. Known far and wide as "the Mad King", Robert considers that his was a reign of instability and terror and that the Seven Kingdoms are well rid of him and his kind. He adds that Aerys may have appeared to be a capable ruler at first, but that was due in no small part to his councilors led by the Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister. While there may have been years of peace and prosperity during Aerys' reign, but it was Tywin who was really running the realm, as Aerys spiraled further and further into insanity.

Robert reminds how the "dragon spawn" were famous for losing their minds; it was the price they paid for centuries of keeping the bloodlines pure. He then sarcastically adds that Aerys was more than happy of keeping the "noble sister-fucking tradition of his forefathers. As the years passed, Aerys' behavior became increasingly erratic. He cut himself so often on his Iron Throne, that many referred to him as "King Scab", though never to his face. It was also rumored he had developed an obsession with wildfire, and was known to inflict horrific punishments on those he considered enemies, including burning them alive.

As Aerys' paranoia and bloodlust grew, he had a bitter falling-out with Lord Tywin, who had served the Crown faithfully for twenty years. Robert jokes that at least Tywin was able to leave the job with his life and fortunes intact because subsequent Hands of the King to Aerys weren't so fortunate.

Then the Targaryens went too far, in Robert's opinion. The Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen abducted Lyanna Stark, daughter of Rickard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell. Lyanna was Robert's betrothed and beloved, a beautiful and spirited woman whom Robert loved more than life itself. Rhaegar went south with Lyanna, hiding her away in Dorne. Robert muses that only the gods know what harm Rhaegar inflicted on the poor girl.

Brandon Stark, Lyanna's eldest brother, was outraged. He rode to King's Landing to confront the King and demand his sister's safe return. Instead, Aerys had him executed. His father, Lord Rickard, was executed as well. There wasn't much to discuss after that, as Aerys feared their loved ones would seek revenge for what he did. Robert concludes he was right to be afraid. Aerys wasted no time in calling for the heads of Brandon's younger brother, Robert's friend Eddard Stark, and for the head of Robert, too. Robert jokes that he's "sorry" Aerys didn't come looking for it himself.

Alongside Jon Arryn of the Vale, who had fostered Eddard and Robert as children, Baratheons, Starks, and Tullys all called their banners. Once their rebellion began, the Mad King's days were numbered.

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Luwin's perspective

Luwin opens reminding that as word of King Aerys' erratic and troubling behavior spread throughout the Seven Kingdoms, Lord Rickard Stark continued to serve his King faithfully as Warden of the North. The proud father of four children, his daughter Lyanna was engaged to Robert Baratheon, the young Lord of Storm's End.

Centuries of peace between the North and the Iron Throne, however, ended the day Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone, abducted Lyanna. Enraged, Brandon Stark rode to King's Landing demanding the release of his sister and the death of Rhaegar. Aerys arrested him for treason and called his father to come to the capital to ransom him. When Lord Rickard complied, Aerys, now utterly mad, arrested him for treason as well.

Lord Rickard demanded a trial by combat. Aerys declared fire the champion of House Targaryen and had Lord Rickard suspended from the rafters of the throne room while pyromancers lit a blaze beneath him. As he burned, Brandon was brought into the throne room, a leather cord attached to a strangulation device was wrapped around his neck. Aerys told Brandon his father was a dead man but there was a chance to save him. A longsword was placed on the floor just out of Brandon's reach. And the more he struggled to reach it, the more the cord tightened around his throat. Brandon Stark strangled himself trying to free his father, who was roasted alive in his own armor. The entire court stood and watched this atrocity take place, Ser Jaime Lannister and the Kingsguard among them. The Mad King was reported to have laughed hysterically as these "two noble men", as Luwin calls them, were tortured and brutally killed before him.

Seeking to rid the world of all his supposed enemies, Aerys called for the head of Rickard's younger son, Eddard Stark, as well as that of Robert Baratheon. He sent word to Lord Jon Arryn, who had fostered both young men at the Eyrie, to apprehend them. Instead, Lord Arryn joined Houses Stark and Baratheon in rebellion. Robert vowed to kill Rhaegar Targaryen and get his beloved Lyanna back.

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Tywin Lannister's perspective

Tywin begins his account informing that as Aerys Targaryen's behavior grew more and more erratic, the task of ruling the Seven Kingdoms fell to him. He had served Aerys for nearly twenty years and a result the realm had prospered. The royal coffers were full, the land was at peace.

Aerys' however, grew increasingly hostile, jealous of the success many credited to him. Tywin considers his power and influence unnerved the King. The captain of Tywin's personal guard, Ser Ilyn Payne, was once overheard making offhand comments regarding who was the true ruler of Westeros. When the king was given this information, he had Ilyn Payne's tongue ripped out with hot pincers.

It was Tywin's desire to unite the Houses of Lannister and Targaryen through marriage. His daughter, Cersei, would marry Aerys' eldest son, Prince Rhaegar. In Tywin's eyes, such a union made perfect sense for all parties. However, Aerys' senses had begun to leave him quite some time earlier. Thus, instead of uniting the royal family with its most loyal and powerful ally, Aerys' chose to insult the Lannisters, indicating that such a match was beneath Rhaegar, and married Rhaegar to Elia Martell of Dorne.

Then, as if to rub salt in Tywin's wounds, Aerys appointed Jaime, Tywin's son, to the Kingsguard. Tywin considers the Kingsguard may be an honor to lesser families, but it is a lifetime appointment that forces one to renounce all family holdings. This also creates a difficulty in naming an heir to Casterly Rock. But Aerys knew all that. Tywin had grown tired of the King's constant provocation. Thus he resigned his post as Aerys' Hand and returned to Casterly Rock with his considerable forces.

When Robert Baratheon rebelled against the Throne, Aerys grew fearful that Tywin would join with Robert's forces and rise against him. He thought himself clever, and kept Jaime very close, as if warning Tywin. He sunk deeper and deeper into delusion, paranoia, and violence. Tywin heard it said he became obsessed with wildfire - a substance which, once lit, cannot be extinguished. Convinced he had enemies all around him, he wouldn't allow blades in his presence, save for those of his Kingsguard. Tywin finishes that, alas, that proved to be his undoing.

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