Dear Rickon Stark,
I write this post, out of great hurt and agony, shocked and saddened at your passing away at the Battle of the Bastards.
Passing away, in this context, sounds almost like an euphemism. You were brutally killed, unarmed and defenceless, by an arrow that pierced your heart from behind; even as you were trying to desperately flee your assassin in a mad rush for your life.
If a death like that was not cruel enough, the circumstances made it even more humiliating. Your life was worth only as a bargaining chip between your family and your would-be assassin. Your life was used as a bait to draw out your half-brother from deep within the enemy trenches and lay to waste his carefully laid battle plans. Thus not only did you lose your life on that battlefield, you, through no fault of yours, almost cost your family and your bannermen enormous number of lives and a heady victory.
Of course, given the life that you were made to live, death would have come as a welcome sigh of relief for you. You were just twelve years old when you died, four out of which were spent in wilderness, trying to hide and escape from enemies and in captivity. You were at the tender age of six when a series of accidents befell your family. Your father was summoned to the King’s Landing as the Hand of the King and then publicly executed on charges of treason. Your mother left Winterfell the very same year and was followed by your brother. Both of them were murdered in the most grotesque and dastardly fashion in the middle of a wedding and their bodies were thrown into the river. Your castle was attacked and sacked, your maester was murdered in broad daylight and you along with Brandon, your crippled brother, were forced to escape from Winterfell under the cover of darkness.
And to the world you were dead. Theon Greyjoy, the person who grew up with you and then repaid the faith by attacking Winterfell with his Ironborn army, presented two charred bodies of peasant boys as proof of your and Brandon’s demise. Everyone believed him.
Thus, at the ripe old age of nine, you had lost your parents and your eldest brother, three of your other siblings were missing, your childhood home was ravaged by invaders and you were on the run with your brother who is crippled from waist down. You went to the Umbers, one of the most loyal bannermen that your family had, for refuge. But your luck is so rotten that they beheaded your direwolf and turned you over to the same people you were running to escape from.
In other words, your life has been a short but eventful series of tragedies, lurching from one misfortune to the other.
It is not just your wretched existence and horrifying death that hurts me. It is also the fact despite suffering so much in so little time, despite being an important character in the narrative arc of the story you are part of, despite being the last known living male member of the great family you were born in, you are treated by disdain by almost everyone, including some from your immediate family.
When your father tragically died, it was an epoch making event, firing of the proverbial first shot of the war of the five kings. When your mother and your eldest brother were murdered, it was an equally impactful moment, a moment that ended the resistance of your family in one fell swoop and hastened the end of the war. Years later, these deaths are recalled in hushed tones, across the Seven Kingdoms and re-enacted in plays in the cities beyond. Even your stable boy died a heroic death trying to protect your elder brother and shall be remembered fondly in years to come.
Your death, on the other hand, shall just remain a minor footnote and you shall be nothing but an insignificant collateral damage in the great battle of the bastards. No minstrel would compose soulful ballads in memory of your death. You will not find mention in any of the great books that the grand masters refer to. Your name will soon be forgotten and your memory will be consigned to the dustbins of history. You were just a plot device used to make the battle more interesting and intriguing.
Before the battle even started, your sister was ready to heartlessly write your life off, ready to offer you as a sacrificial lamb for the holy conquest of Winterfell (and I thought the only purpose of attacking Winterfell was to capture you alive). Despite the presence of a sorceress in the camp, who had in the past demonstrated her ability to revive dead men, no one bothered to ask her to bring back to life the heir apparent of Winterfell.
Speaking of memories, you, Rickon Stark, were in fact, barely known and hardly registered. Your presence in the screen was less than some of Ramsay Bolton’s hounds. After the death of your parents, Sansa Stark, your elder sister, married twice, escaped from both the King’s Landing and Winterfell and then assembled a force to recapture Winterfell. Arya Stark, your other sister, escaped to Braavos, learnt how to be a silent assassin and is now coming back to Westeros to plot her revenge. Brandon Stark escaped to the North of the Wall and became a three eyed raven. Jon Snow became the Commander of the Night’s Watch and repealed two attacks, one from the wildlings and one from the White Walkers.
What did you do in the meantime? We don’t know. We don’t know what kind of stories you like. We don’t know what games you preferred to play. We don’t know how you cope with the trauma of losing so many dear ones at such a young one. We don’t know how your captivity at the Umbers’ and then at the Boltons’ went. Were you tortured and maimed? Was your direwolf killed in front of you? Did you plot an escape? We have absolutely no idea.
In fact, you were such an inconspicuous character that when you were reintroduced in Season six, even the most die-hard fanboys of ‘Game of Thrones’; would have struggled to remember who you were.
Such are the inequities of life.
But now that your hopelessly miserable existence has come to an end, we can only wish you the best for your soul.
Rest in peace, Rickon Stark,
The world was unjust and unfair to you. May you find a better abode in heaven. With your parents waiting for you there, may you finally live the innocent days of childhood that you could never do here.