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 email@example.com, leave a comment in the post, ask in the POIAF-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 10 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Matt Hezel, a proud member of House Manwoody and since discovering A Song of Ice and Fire in 2010 finding great pleasure in baking and eating pies. He contributes on the APoIaF forums and VoK podcasts as Eiffel.
What if Catelyn never takes Tyrion hostage?
Main opinion: Amin
Taking Tyrion accelerated the upcoming conflict between House Lannister and House Stark, forcing Ned’s hand in his confrontation with Jaime, leading to Ned’s injury and the death of Jory and some of his men. It also forced Tywin’s hand in some ways, as he moved to make the Riverlands pay for the seizure while also accelerating his own moves. Initially, things may have worked out better for House Stark and Tully. However, Littlefinger was the architect of the Tyrion setup, even if he was extremely fortunate to have them cross paths like that. Even if Catelyn had not taken Tyrion, conflict and perhaps war was inevitable. Littlefinger is quite adept at manipulating many other players and would have adapted to the situation. In short, Catelyn does not deserve the hate she gets from many for this action. Note that we are not debating whether Catelyn should have taken Tyrion in this particular ruling, but what would have happened afterwards. There are many characters who felt this ripple of effect and other judges may want to focus on a particular character of interest to them. Tyrion is one character who was significantly affected by this chain of events. The taking lead to his meeting with Bronn and connections made with the mountain clans of the Vale. Without the particular sequence of events leading to war, Tyrion might not have been made acting Hand of the King and had the chance to develop and exhibit his ruling interest and skills through the time period covered by A Clash of Kings.
Dissenting Opinion Stefan:
I wouldn’t direct any hate at Catelyn anway. That being said, Catelyn not seizing Tyrion changes much. Jaime wouldn’t attack Eddard, which in turn will allow Eddard to bring around Robert before he gets murdered, possibly avoiding the coup and spilling the beans over the incest. This of course forces Tywin’s hand to give up Gregor Clegane as a rebel to escape his own inevitable demise and to accept that house Lannister loses its two heirs, because Jaime never flees the capital. Tywin wouldn’t have started the war by then which was hastened by Tyrion’s capture. Hadn’t Catelyn taken Tyrion hostage, house Lannister would have been done for. But that’s not her fault - she couldn’t know anything of this. This argument is made by Steven Attewell too, by the way.
Concurring Opinion Matt Hezel
Catelyn taking Tyrion hostage is a lynchpin of Game of Thrones and the entire series. Tyrion would never have met Bronn and Shagga which as Amin points out is very important in Tyrion’s story. Jaime would never have confronted and injured Ned which may have prevented him from making some really poor decisions in Kings Landing. Since Ned was not arrested, Robb would never have called the North’s banners and started south. He still would have done so after the inevitable execution of his father but having an army already on the march was crucial to the beginning of the War of Five Kings. Robb may still have been named King of the North but it may not have happened if a Lannister force was already stationed in the Riverland. This brings me to an important consequence of the hostage taking. Tywin’s response to Tyrion’s capture was setting Gregor Clegane lose upon the Riverlands in hope of drawing out and capturing Ned. Eddard followed Tywin's plan to the script but his injuries prevented him from leaving Kings Landing and instead sent out Beric Dondarrion and Thoros, amongst others, who eventually became the Brotherhood without Borders. The BwB affected both the Northern and Lannister forces during the War of Five Kings and still have a role to play. Unfortunately, the BwB are also responsible for the creation of Lady Stoneheart, a strange one-dimensional character and meandering plot device.
Final Verdict: Tyrion's abduction is a vital and pivotal plot point, but it's hard to predict what would have happened.
With a Tyrell majority in the Small Councill, do you think that Mace will annulate Margery's trial and reinstall his daughter as the rightful queen?
Main opinion: Amin
I feel like we answered a question similar to this, but that was from the perspective of the Faith, rather than the Tyrells. My answer will be similar in that both the Faith (or at least High Septon) and the Tyrells know that Margaergy must be found innocent, if there is a trial. Given that, if the Tyrells play it right, they’ll have their trial and have that innocennce ruling clearly Margaery’s name fully, while the Faith doesn’t have to lose face by simply having the trial annulled. Mace himself may not know this, but he should be convinced by his trusty advisors who have brought him this far. The High Septon knows this reality and the distinct fact that Margaery has thousands of Tyrell sworn swords in the city. Only Cersei and her devoted undead guard might even try to sully this unspoken but known agreement.
Concurring Opinion Stefan:
Margaery will most likely be freed anyway. Should she be judged on this flimsy evidence, the Faith is in mortal danger because the people still love Margaery, and the Faith - other than the Iron Throne - is dependend on the goodwill of the masses that support it. The High Septon is shrewd enough to know this, and the evidence really is bad and spotty. Plus, Margaery hasn’t confessed yet, although she was imprisoned longer under the same conditions as Cersei, which must make some impression.
Dissenting Opinion Matt Hezel
I agree that the Tyrells and the Faith should play nice together to avoid a bloodbath between the Sword and Stars and the Reach’s soldiers stationed in Kings Landing. I cannot imagine something as heavy handed as a royal decree of innocence but a backroom agreement could occur. However, I do not have a very high opinion of Mace and could see him naively trying such a royal show of force. Matching the chaos after Jon’s death at the Wall with The Princess and the Queen-style riots in Kings Landing would be an interesting plot device for George to use in The Winds of Winter.
Final Verdict: Margaery will come out of the trial without a show of force.
Old Valyrian, as has been explained, has no grammatical gender, so the "little brother" can also be a little sister. Perhaps Sansa will be Cersei’s demise?
Main opinion: Amin
While I am not an expert in Old Valyrian, I am not quite sure that Valonqar is a genderless term. I am not even sure if Old Valyrian has no grammatical gender, or if only some of the words lack gender; perhaps the other judges can clarify? In any case, even if we assume that it could mean “little sister”, why would it be Sansa? That doesn’t make sense to me. Cersei’s prophecy seems to imply that that the Valonqar is seperate from the Queen that will upstage her, so that rules out Margaery and/or Dany as well. That would leave some unknown bastard of Tywin (which works for either gender), but with simply no buildup or setup up this point, that would not make sense. Jaime works, because he would be a surprise to Cersei, even if it is no longer a surprise to us. The fact that it is a surprise to Cersei is what matters, and we no longer need to come up with complex interpretations to try to surprise ourselves as well on this point.
Concurring Opinion Stefan:
Jaime is the volonqar. It is known. Seriously, if it could mean little sister (of which Cersei has none) we’re in the same territory as with the “anyone’s little brother” - the prophecy becomes so broad it is useless. It has to be Jaime. Only because we have figured that out doesn’t mean that Cersei has.
Concurring Opinion Matt Hezel
Sometimes a valonqar is just a valonqar. Based on the GRRM-approved David J. Peterson’s construction of High Valyrian, male and female grammatical genders do not exist but instead there are four grammatical genders consisting of lunar, solar, celestial, and terrestrial grammatical genders. Due to this, non-gender related grammatical genders words that would describe things with a sex would have to be very specific. Meaning that valonqar specifically translates to “little brother” and does not translate to “little brother/sister.” Other examples include trēsy translating to “son” not “genderless child” and vala meaning “man” not “human person.” Aegon’s “Dragons are neither male nor female” is correct but not how we think of it; the Valyrian word for dragon is zaldrīzes and its gender is neither male nor female but instead solar. I do not know who the “little brother” is but I feel that most of the evidence points to Tyrion which implies that he is a red herring. I agree with Amin that Jaime would be interesting but I still hold out hope for George to channel his great horror writing ability and have wight-Tommen wraps his hands around Cersei’s neck. Sansa could still be the source of Cersei’s demise. Despite Cersei’s belief, with good reason, that Margaery is the young Queen but there are a lot of young Queens and Princesses in play right now. Daenerys, Arianne, Margaery, and Sansa all qualify as “younger and more beautiful” than Cersei and either are or have the potential to be a Queen. My money is on Sansa. Littlefinger’s reveal will go as planned and we could see a War of Queens by the end of the series with Sansa coming out on top.
Final Verdict: The volonqar is a man, and in most likelihood Jaime.