Thursday, January 9, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 9

Thursday is court day! 
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 stefan_sasse@gmx.de, 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 9 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Nick Guidry from south Louisiana, married, father of a daugter and open to taking questions on the ASOIAF book series, the Dunk an Egg novellas, a few of GRRM's short stories, also the GOT HBO series, as well as some other fantasy series such as The Black Company. He’s also big into gaming on all platforms, both modern and retro. He can be reached on tumblr @irsteppricon, the APOIAF forums as SteppriconTheBold, and through email at steppricon@gmail.com.

Does anybody know what the Spring Sickness was all about? We know it killed a ton of people during Dunk's time but we don't know what kind of disease it was, it even killed the King and several Targaryens. On a side note, it has been told that the Targs magic blood keep them from getting diseases, but we know that the spring sickness killed some Targs...so whats up with that?

Main Opinion Stefan:
The Spring Sickness was a devestating plague, but none that occured regularly or with known symptoms, and it hasn’t returned ever since. It seems like the Black Death of Westeros, basically, and it levelled the playing field for quite many people, including beloved Dunk and Egg. The death toll was horrific. The Targaryens don’t seem inflicted by most diseases, yes, but either that’s true only for some Targaryens, or the Spring Sickness was especially savage. I think I go with the former: some Targaryens are immune to sickness, as seems the case with Dany, but not all of them. Perhaps it’s even only Dany, because the fact that they are seems to me to earn more prominence in public relations than it has in Westeros. But no one ever speaks of that. If it was a widely known fact, Jon Connington wouldn’t fear to infect Aegon (in whose legitimacy he believes), but he does.

Concurring Opinion Amin:
It is possible that not all Targaryens are immune to disease and/or that Targaryens are not immune to every disease. They are not gods after all, it would make sense that they only have some greater resistances than normal. As Justice Stefan notes, the Spring Sickness was a particular virulent disease. If Targaryen resistance has anything to do with the ‘purity’ of Targaryen blood, one could note that the Targaryens at the time had intermarried with the Martells and other non-Targs, which may have lowered their immunity. By Dany’s time, there had been some more incest in her immediate predecessors, which may have ‘thickened’ the Targ blood and corresponding immunity. “Martin Genetics” is a tricky thing to work with.

Dissenting Opinion Nick Guidry
I can't help but think that there is at least a hint of supernatural aspects to the great spring sickness. The royal blood of the Targs should have shielded them from the lethality of the illness, but even they were not spared. Perhaps it was something conjured up by The Others or supporters of that cause to soften up Westeros for their imminent invasion, or maybe even a sort biological warfare agent used by the maesters of the citadel to wage their own form of war against the royal family, and things got out of hand for them. However, there just isn't enough evidence in the text to form a "sound" theory. In my opinion, everything concerning the great spring sickness is speculation, which the most enjoyable part for us readers.

Final Verdict: The Targaryens aren't immune to all disease, and for the rest we simply don't know enough.

Is it possible that the whole prophecy of the “living child” that Mirri Maz Duur made to Dany has to with Drogon and the Dothraki “Womb of the World”?

Main Opinion Stefan:
I’m generally become pretty sceptical about the prophecies. I’m sure they will resolve some way, but I don’t have any clue whatsoever what way that will be. Drogon screaming on the Womb of the World, while Dany’s new Khalasaar marches by is an intriguing image, however. Let’s look at how this would work it out if it holds any water: Drogon is, of course, Dany’s living child (and at the same time Drogo returning, although in different form). So the prophecy was actually already partially fulfilled at the end of “A Game of Thrones”. The thing about the “Womb of the World” business comes from the hinted arrow from the “Lands of Ice and Fire” collection, if I understood that part right, indicating a return of Dany to Vaes Dothrak. I don’t know how that chimes in the prophecy, though, except for the great picture it creates. I return to my starting point: these prophecies are a tricky business. In some cases, though, twisting the words until something matches is a bit of a stretch. In this case, though, I’m an agnostic.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part Amin:
I have to admit, I haven’t seen the Lands of Ice and Fire yet (still waiting on my review copy) , so I cannot comment on the “Womb of the World” idea. In relation to Mirri Maz Duur’s comments, it is interesting that some of the things she mentioned may have occurred already, like the sun setting in the east as pointed out by Justice Nick, etc. Beyond all the mental matching games like this we can do, we don’t even know if Mirri Maz Duur was giving a true prophecy or was just ranting in anger. If the things she said come true, it may be an example of irony, not intentioanl prophecy.

Dissenting Opinion Nick Guidry
Like many prophecies is ASOIAF, and fantasy literature in general, prophecy is open to many different interpretations. Mirri's statement could be just that, a statement, meant to throw the reader a plot curveball. However, if Drogon was meant to be this "living child," the evidence is there for it. My personal opinion is that the Martell family is the sun rising in the west, with their revealed plans from Doran, and Quentyn's death is the sun setting in the east. perhaps mountains blowing in the wind is a allusion to Ser Robert Strong's possible defeat. Dany is "the mother of dragons," and its possible that Khal Drogo is returning her in the form of his former blood riders, whom she happens upon at the end of ADWD. The Dothraki follow strength, and should Dany take down Khal Jhaqo with her newest mount, Jhaqo's army will no doubt see the light. All of this is speculation, but GRRM has an affinity for getting the gears in our brains turning, though some of it is red herrings and conjecture, but with Dany receiving prophecy in every book, it's hard to ignore one of the first prophecies she hears, so an actual human child isnt totally beyond the realm of possibility, after all, stranger things have happened in the world of Ice and Fire.

Final Verdict: It's quite possible, yes.

What role will technological advance play in the series, and will Tyrion have a hand in it?

Main Opinion Stefan:
If so, it will only be hinted at. It might be that Martin will end that way, ushering in the end of fantasy not only as a traditional genre, but also in a real sense for the world he created, but that leaves the immediate danger of becoming the defining moment of the series it shouldn’t be, so I’d not expect it. The problem with stuff like this is that people tend to give it much consideration and focus on it. So if the end of the series is the advent of technology, it will seem like the whole point of the series, but in the end, Martin still writes Fantasy and not SciFi. That’s my main caveat for this. I’d expect more of a political reform, ushering in the end of Feudalism. But, if something like the Technoligy influx happens, Tyrion almost certainly won’t be behind it. He’s no engineer, he’s at best an academic, and not even that, really. It would be more fitting if he tried to fight this, because he’s a feudal lord through and through. The same is true, by the way, of a rising “liberal” Westeros.

Concurring Opinion Amin:
I think that political change and reform is more likely than any major technological advances by the end of the series. Westeros seems to have had the same technological levels for a long time now. A major political change (which Tyrion may be involved in) and the final resolution of the “Others Problem” could have technological impacts in the long run, just not in the course of the series. For one thing, more stable weather patterns, if they were to occur, might help with stable population growth and increased urbanization as Westeros eventually gets moving past a feudalist society. But we’ll see nothing but the very roots of it, if that.

Concurring Opinion Nick Guidry
It has been hinted at that Tyrion is quite possibly the brightest mind in Westeros. His ability to manipulate people to weasel his way out of sticky situations is unmatched. That being said, the technological advancements in the known world of Ice and Fire in the timeline given are few and far between. With a mind like Tyrion thrown in to the mix, siege warfare, heavy cavalry, troop movement, and supply logistics will be greatly improved if Tyrion finds himself in a position of power. I just cannot see Tyrion coming up with a world changing invention, his mind is better suited for tactics and manipulation. Whether he becomes an Edison-esque inventor remains to be seen. While I believe he is capable of great intellectual feats amongst his peers, the world he's surrounded by just doesn't promote that type of advancement.

Final Verdict: No technological shift will transpire during the series, and Tyrion won't develop anything of consequence.

16 comments:

  1. Unless it's the dwarf & cripple saddle bussiness...

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  2. Stefan, do you think that Tywin was the hand that built the tunnel to Chataya`s brothel?

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  3. Eartsbane of HornhillJanuary 9, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Come on Nick...the others? Biological warfare? You could've easily chalked the spring sickness up to the grey rats. And for an even more sinister (rediculous) theory, maybe Aemon helped administer it. To improve his family's chances of gaining the crown.

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  4. I think George dances on many facets of prophesy, occasionally for the mystery, occassionally for the red herring, but I think the books spend the most time on how prophesy directly affects our characters mindset and decision making making it more the point than the result.

    We don't POV or spend significant time with our prophesy makers, and its probably for the best.

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  5. Thanks for answering the "spring sickness" question, guys! I was the one that originally posted it (name is meaningless since I'm not active in the forums). I also thought that the Targs with a mixture of blood may have been more likely to lack the Valyrian magic protection, that would explain why the Targs needed to keep the blood pure in order to control dragons and be able to have access to magic.

    I don't think that Westeros will have an industrial revolution in the near future after the main story is finish. I think that by the end there will be a cultural revolution and probably a more progressive mindset since it would make sense that after all the chaos and destruction there is a moral lesson to be learned.

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  6. …Who ever said the Targaryens were immune to diseases?

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  7. Assuming Dany cannot bear children, do you think it is selfish and shortsighted of her to bring fire and blood to Westeros? As far as she knows there is no chance she will have an heir. Do you have any thoughts on this? The only solution I can see is her joining Aegon and him marrying someone else to continue the line and that leaves Dany without the throne anyway.

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  8. Could blood raven be behind the spring sickness? If it was magical enough to kill targs then maybe he was. That could explain his banishment.

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    1. If he had and they knew, they would have hung him by the walls from the Red Keep.

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    2. True but he could have made it look accidental. Do you have any theories on his story between d&e and present?

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    3. Not yet, but I put it in the court for June.

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  9. The spring sickness was spread by the Maesters by accident in their attempt to kill off the dragons. It cannot be a coincidence that the dragons died out at the same time.

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    1. Of course it can. Besides, the Spring Sickness is way after the last dragon died. We're talking about two generations at least!

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  10. I thought it was much closer that two generations and the sickness affecting both Targs and dragons may explain the deaths of both dragons as humans.

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    1. The last dragon died around 140AL, and the Sickness was 209AL. So I'd rule that out.

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