The Stark Cabinet

Spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones.

While Bran is a terrible choice for the king of Westeros, his small council--the people who will do the day to day work of running the Seven Six Kingdoms--is actually pretty good.

Davos was probably always better off as Master of Ships, Samwell Tarly would make an excellent Grand Maester once you overlook that whole "breaking his vows and dropping out of school" thing, and Ser Brienne of Tarth was born to command the Kingsguard. (The scene where she completes Jaime's chronicle and begins her own was one of the few that rang true.)

Bronn is highly dangerous, but as long as he's installed at Highgarden the kingdoms will have to deal with him. And we're supposed to view Tyrion as the clever man who'd make an excellent Hand, although he seems a lot less clever when you realize he's committed Westeros to a weak monarch, a fractured kingdom, and an unworkable form of government.

But what if Sansa were the queen? What if she'd taken the job she was best suited for, instead of breaking Westeros to pieces? Who would serve on her small council?

For one thing, Tyrion becomes a much more plausible candidate for Hand (assuming that in this reality he didn't have the dumb idea of putting Bran on the throne). He was, after all, the guy who brokered the peace. The rest of the small council works pretty well, and Sansa could ask for no better Commander of the Queensguard than Brienne, though they'll need to keep an eye on Bronn. But what about the vacancies?

Master of War.

This office was created by Cersei, and might not be necessary once the peace is restored; Westeros would then need a Master of Laws instead. Either way, the only choice is Bronze Yohn Royce. He's Sansa's staunch supporter from the Vale and the seasoned battlefield commander who saved Jon's bacon at the Battle of the Bastards, so we know he can handle any unrest. He also had the good sense never to believe any of Littlefinger's bullshit, so we know he's a good judge of character. In fact, I'm pretty sure Bran's small council would have figured out he's the best man for the job anyway. He also gives the Vale representation on the council. Why hasn't this happened already?

Master of Whisperers.

The obvious choice here is Arya Stark, and she might be inclined to serve if it means protecting her sister. But if anybody has earned a chance to step back and reinvent themselves, it's her. In that case, the title of royal spymaster should go to Bran, the guy who can see anything and wants nothing. Either way, this is one post Sansa is going to want to keep in the family.

Lord of Winterfell.

The toughest vacancy to fill isn't in Kings Landing at all. If Sansa took the throne, who would run Winterfell? Arya doesn't seem like she'd want the job, and Bran would make a terrible lord for all the same reasons he'd make a terrible king. But somebody has to be Warden of the North, and the best bet is Jon Snow. (Well, the best bet died killing an undead ice giant; RIP Lyanna Mormont.) Jon has already won the support of the lords of the North, he can treat with the wildlings better than anybody, and his utter lack of interest in the Iron Throne means he poses no threat to Sansa. Make Jon the next Lord of Winterfell. The Unsullied wouldn't be happy, but honestly, who cares what they think? They're leaving anyway.

Finally, there's the question of the Prince Consort. Westeros will have more stability as a hereditary monarchy than an elective one, so Sansa will need to produce an heir. While she might be counseled to form an alliance with one of the great houses of the south, she'd probably be reluctant to enter into any marriage where the husband could make a plausible claim to the title of king. Better to marry someone who can't undercut her authority.

Gendry is an interesting possibility--he's Lord of the Stormlands and a proven Stark ally, but he's also baseborn and doesn't have enough of a following to challenge Sansa. A marriage to him might be a little weird if Arya is still hanging around Kings Landing--and, more importantly, his Baratheon lineage could be as much of a danger to House Stark's claim as a benefit.

There is one other choice: a minor noble, from the Westerlands and once pledged to the Lannisters so a good unity candidate, but also a Stark ally, skilled warrior, and all-around good egg with absolutely no power base of his own. I bet Brienne would even vouch for him. Go for it, Ser Podrick.

Marc Singer teaches English at Howard University in Washington, DC. He is the author of Breaking the Frames: Populism and Prestige in Comics Studies and Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics.
The Stark Cabinet The Stark Cabinet Reviewed by Marc Singer on Thursday, May 23, 2019 Rating: 5
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