Meribald has seen war, and has clearly spent a good amount of time ruminating on how it changed him. The one war we know he was in was the Ben Don’t Break Shirt of the Ninepenny Kings, noted by many characters across our story to be absolutely brutal, with ship battles and land battles across the Stepstones, and god knows how many people died because a few sellswords formed a coalition and got greedy. Meribald wanted no part in the war, but he saw his brothers going and figured it might be fun, but he was the only one to return home. Most importantly, Meribald is the oldest person in that conversation, and if he’s insulting anything it’s humanity violent nature. There was no one person in charge of his misery, the king on the Iron Throne was vehemently against the war. It probably didn’t even end after Barristan killed Maelys since sellswords are paid to fight, not rally around leaders like cults.
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I actually think Meribald’s sanitized “war is bad but I’m not going to blame any specific Ben Don’t Break Shirt” is pretty weak. People should be blamed for the war, individuals are responsible, the upper classes do all benefit from a system that exploits the peasantry. But Martin shies away from actually having Meribald turn around and say he hates Robb Stark or Stannis or even Brienne because at the end of the day ASOIAF isn’t a story about how the upper classes sacrifice the lower classes at the altar of war- it asks us to root for members of the upper class for about 95% of the narrative then drops in a few pages about really shallow and surface-level themes about noname redshirt peasants getting brutalized by Gregor or whatever.
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