Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 7

Thursday is court day! Only this week, Sunday. Because, christmas.
Welcome to the Supreme Court of Westeros! Every week, three pressing questions from the community will be answered by the esteemed judges Stefan (from your very own Nerdstream Era) and Amin (from the Podcast of Ice and Fire). The rules are simple: we take three questions, and one of us writes a measured analysis. The other one writes a shorter opinion, either concurring or dissenting. The catch is that every week a third judge from the fandom will join us and also write a dissenting or concurring opinion. So if you think you're up to the task - write us an email to, leave a comment in the post, ask in the APOIAF-forum or contact Amin at his tumblr. Discussion is by no means limited to the court itself, though - feel free to discuss our rulings in the commentary section and ask your own questions through the channels above. 
One word on spoilers: we assume that you read all the books, including the Hedge Knight short stories, and watched the current TV episodes. We don't include the spoiler chapters from various sources in the discussion, with the notable exception of Theon I, which was supposed to be in "A Dance with Dragons" anyway.
And now, up to ruling 7 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is FTWard, a sellsword, black of hair and heart. He's a member of the APoIaF community who carries the banner of Team Stannis.

How will the Bolton inheritance play out? Will Roose dump Ramsay?

Main opinion: Stefan
The problem for Roose is that he can’t. As he states himself, “boy lords are the bane of any house”. He has no other heir. His motivations are a bit of a mystery for me, I have to admit. He doesn’t really seem in the legacy-building-business like Tywin. His political goals seem to be more centered in the present, where he conspired to become Warden of the North. I think he perfectly recognizes the threat that Ramsay poses for the Bolton rule. It boils down to one simple problem for us, though: we don’t know whether there are some minor Boltons. To be clear: we have no idea who the heir will be after Ramsay’s death. Is there some uncle or cousin? To understand Bolton’s approach to the problem we have to know that. If there is any competent male with ties to Bolton left standing (like Harry the Heir in its Dreadfort version), then the whole Ramsay-thing might have a serious background: Ramsay appalls the North and centers all attention, and when everyone wants nothing so much than to get rid of Ramsay, Roose obliges and produces some either unknown or loved offspring to reconcile everyone with his rule. Looky here, the new lord isn’t as bad as the old lord, and far better than the previous next-in-line! A version of good-lord-bad-lord if there ever was one, and Roose is devoid of emotions, so villainizing himself to engage in a particularily crude piece of legacy-building might just be his thing.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Amin
I agree that having an heir is important to Roose, so whether there is another potential heir, as Justice Stefan points out, is important for Roose’s calculations. I think that Roose is using Ramsay for all he can get out of him just the way Tywin was trying to “mine every nugget” out of the Mountain. Similarly, Tywin did the ‘ugly and perfect’ switch himself by sending Tyrion to be Hand and then becoming Hand again himself. In the end, if it looks like Roose will be having new heirs from Fat Walda, he will protect them and get rid of Ramsay at some point, if Ramsay is not dead by that point already. It is important to note that Roose was talking to Theon about Ramsay’s threat to Fat Walda’s future children with the knowledge that everything he said could be relayed back to Ramsay: he was not going to be showing his resolve to prefer Fat Walda’s children over Ramsay in Theon’s presence.

Dissenting opinion: Thomas Milligan (FTWard, attribute as such)
Facts: The known heirs are the legitimized Ramsay and The Flayed Baby in Fat Walda’s Belly.
Issues: 1) Will Roose dump Ramsay? 2) Will Ramsay survive? 3) Will TFBiFWB (hereinafter referred to as Pink Walder) survive? 4) Will there be anything left to inherit?
Held: 1) No. 2) Unlikely. 3) Likely. 4) Mayhaps.
1) Roose does make an effort in the “A peaceful land, a quiet people.” scene to school Ramsay on stewardship but Roose is aware as to how fully unsuited Ramsay is to the task of being a Lord. The death of Domeric though has left him without good options as Stefan points out when he bemoans “boy lords”.
2) I can’t see any circumstance where Ramsay (at least as Ramsay Bolton) lives. Even if he is able to survive the Battle of Ice, he is reviled by the Northern Lords. Even the Dustins and Ryswells hold a special enmity towards him.
3) We spend a peculiar amount of time in the books discussing Roose and Walda’s sex life. I don’t think “words are wind”. I think GRRM has a reason for every word he selects. Finally we get: “Roose Bolton entered, pale-eyed and yawning, accompanied by his plump and pregnant wife, Fat Walda.” I think Pink Walder is exactly the bane that Roose fears and sometimes people get exactly what they deserve, even in ASoIaF. Pink Walder's survival seems guaranteed.
4) At some point, we will get the Return of The Rickon. Bolton complicity in the Sack of Winterfell and the Murder of the (not) Princes will be revealed for all the North and Realm to see. It seems possible that all the Bolton lands and holdings will go to newly minted Lords on the winning side.
Pink Walder will inherit the Bolton holdings, if any.

Final Verdict: Ramsay will not hold Winterfell, at least not for long.

How will Aegon vs. Dany turn out?

Main opinion: Stefan
Aegon will gather some serious support in Westeros because he arrives first. He will gain the support of Dorne for sure, parts of the Stormlands out of opportunism at least, likely the support of the Faith. Perhaps the Tyrells even offer Margaery as bride, depending on the outcome of the double-trial. But at one point, Danaerys will arrive, and she will expose Aegon for the fraud that he is. She is the “slayer of lies” after all, and she has to beware the “mummer’s dragon”. Most likely Aegon will either have already given away his hand in marriage, or he turns against his “aunt” for some other reason (a misunderstanding involving a host and dragonfire might suffice). At one point or another, Dany will make her claim - sooner than later, if her personality really changes to the “conquerer”-variety. She hasn’t incorparated the armed-messiah-type for several novels now just to give in to her “nephew”. This will have some serious consequences, especially for Dorne. Depending on what Doran heard, he might believe Dany responsible for Quentyn’s death and commit to Aegon for good. Many others will desert him, if they can (a married Margaery has few chances, but other opportunity joiners may). All of this will help to stall the organization of a coordinated defense against the Greyscale and the Others.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree with Justice Stefan and Justice FTWard that from prophecy and what we’ve seen of both their characters so far, conflict between Aegon and Dany is quite likely. I wonder how exactly she will expose him, but perhaps his failure to impress a dragon (even as a potential Blackfyre with some Targaryen blood) might be the way that happens. I also agree with Justice Stefan that Dorne will likely end up supporting Aegon, due to the twisted stories told by Gerald Drinkwater in particular, if he survives to return to Dorne, or by anyone else who brings the tale of Quentyn’s death to Dorne.

Concurring opinion: Thomas Milligan (FTWard, attribute as such)
Facts: Aegon is in Westeros. Dany may get there.
Issues: 1) Will Aegon and Dany ever meet? 2) What will be the nature of their relationship? 3) Who will prevail?
Held: 1) Yes. 2) Confrontational. 3) Daenerys, for the short term at least.
1) I think the “A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd.” from the “slayer of lies” vision and Moqorro’s "Dragons old and young, true and false, bright and dark.” prophecies both strongly argue for an eventual meeting between Aegon and Dany.
2) Those prophecies also seem to set up (as Stefan lays out) that Aegon will have gathered strong support before Daenerys’ arrival. Support that Dany must needs take from him.
3) The narrative and the prophecies also seem to dictate that Aegon is false (dark dragon,Blackfyre, to Dany’s bright dragon, Targaryen) and a lie that Dany must slay before achieving her prophesized destiny. Daenerys must conquer Aegon.

Final Verdict: Daenerys will fight and defeat Aegon.

Why did Aemon dub Tyrion as "a giant among us"? Is this a hint as to secret powers or heritage?

Main opinion: Stefan
No, it’s metaphor. Tyrion is a dwarf, and his abilities and his character are larger than what meets the eye. Hence, he’s a “giant” among us. Please also note the “giant” shadow he casts in “A Game of Thrones”, Jon I. The same metaphor here. Shae also uses it, but somehow, it loses taste at a certain point. I guess Tyrion will react allergic to any such metaphor in the future, but Aemon was simply kind and showing off his education. Lyrical, man!

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree with Justice Stefan that is a metaphor when Aemon is using it, showing Aemon’s respect for Tyrion’s ability. Tyrion in general has certainly had a large impact on Westeros (and Essos) and his story is not over yet. Justice FTWard’s review of the other quotes in combination does imply a possible secret heritage (Tyrion is a Targ theory), but Aemon’s quote alone does not suggest that. Unless Aemon himself could tell that Tyrion is a Targaryen, but I don’t think he had some sort of Targ-detector.

Dissenting opinion: Thomas Milligan (FTWard, attribute as such)
Facts: There are three quotes that draw contrast between Tyrion’s physical size and his import that could be interpreted as hinting at a special destiny for Tyrion. “Oh, I think that Lord Tyrion is quite a large man,” Maester Aemon said from the far end of the table. He spoke softly, yet the high officers of the Night’s Watch all fell quiet, the better to hear what the ancient had to say. “I think he is a giant come among us, here at the end of the world.” AGoT Tyrion III
When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king. AGoT Jon I
“Dragons old and young, true and false, bright and dark. And you. A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of all.” ADwD Tyrion VIII
Issues: 1) Is the speaker of each quote in a position to recognize Tyrion as a person with a special destiny? 2) Does Tyrion have secret powers? 3) Does Tyrion have a secret heritage?
Held: 1) Yes. 2) No. 3) Likely, yes.
1) “No man was wiser, or gentler, or kinder. At the Wall, a dozen lords commander came and went during his years of service, but he was always there to counsel them. He counseled kings as well.” Aemon has the prophetic blood of the dragon and has led a full rich life that uniquely qualifies him to judge a person.
The second quote seems to be told from an outside third person narrator and not directly from Jon’s PoV. The final quote is from a Moqorro fire vision, one of the most accurate prophetic sources in the series. 2) Not unless his mind, blood, tongue or a bit of tumbling counts.
3) We are reminded in the text that prophecy is treacherous. To quote Maester Simon “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”. There have been clues (best left for another judgment) in the books leading up to Dance that Tyrion may be the son of Aerys II. After Dance that case looks even stronger. At the peril of having my prick bit off, I believe that Tyrion has a secret heritage.
Tyrion of House Targaryen, First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.

Final Verdict: Only a metaphor, dude. Chill. :)


  1. GRRM said that will be a "bittersweet ending" ; so, for some beloved characters, will follow death or something like that ; some bets ?

    1. I don't know if they count as "beloved", but I think there's no way the dragons survive.

  2. Do you think that in TPATQ are some hints for TWOW that could tell us something important ?

  3. Why do you think that is mumbo-jumbo like the business with the leeches that helps Mel to retain her position as Stannis's most trusted advisor ? in fact, she was right, all the other kings died ...

  4. heartsbane of hornhillDecember 31, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Where do you suppose Tyrion will fall in, with Danny or Aegon?
    Presuming of course that they all wind up "meeting" in Westeros.