On A Song of Ice and Fire

Petyr Baelish and the Mask of Sanity

By Matt Staggs

The world of a Song of Ice and Fire is an unbelievably cruel place: Heroes fall to the blade with no regard for the nobility of their character or the righteousness of their cause. Villains live on with seemingly little comeuppance for their wickedness. Life is hard, and the gods, old or new, are deaf to the cries of nobles and smallfolk alike. In such a world only those who can harden themselves to the suffering of those around them stand a chance of winning the game of thrones.

The bonds of family, faith, and fealty can prevent most people from ever achieving the state of callousness needed to claim victory, but Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish isn’t a normal person: he is a psychopath, and this makes him an unsettlingly skilled player in the game. Littlefinger has no emotional chinks in his armor, mostly because he doesn’t have any real emotions–at least in the way that normal people understand them. Without any of the emotional vulnerabilities of a relatively healthy human being, Littlefinger is insulated against the pitfalls that await others who fight for power in Westeros. All of those who seek to best him share one fatal mistake: they assume that Littlefinger operates by the same rules that they do. They soon learn otherwise. Could he win the game of thrones? Quite possibly, and if so, his cruelty could rival that of Aerys II.

Most people are familiar with the word “psychopath.” Popular entertainment and news reporters alike love to describe murderers  …

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