Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 8

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, 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 8 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Leigh Andrews, commonly known as LordManderBlee, best known for his occasional ASoIaF meta on tumblr, for hosting some episodes of both BoK and VoK, and for his somewhat ubiquitous presence on the forums of APoIaF.

What's up with Tyrek?

Main opinion: Amin
If Tyrek is alive, he is most likely under the control of Varys. The general theory is that Varys either staged the riot or expected the riot and took advantage of it, securing a Lannister heir to Casterly Rock. Tyrek is low in the order of inheritance, but as the Lannister ranks start thinning he may become a valuable prize. Even with Tyrion’s possible involvements from A Dance with Dragons and onwards, Tyrek would be a useful Lannister for Varys and Illyrio’s endgame. On the other hand, Justice Stefan notes the danger of falling into the trap of thinking that Varys (and Littlefinger) are behind all the major events and plots in King’s Landing. Tyrek has been mentioned so many times that I think that he will be appearing again, alive. Martin could be intentionally playing him as an example to break the ‘returns X books later’ expectations, but I personally don’t think so. If Martin still has the same plans as he did in this interview (1999), then we will find out what happened to Tyrek, at least whether he is dead or alive:
RMBoye Simple question, really — will we ever find out what happened to the "Wetnurse", Tyriek [sic]?
George_RR_Martin Yes, you will. I try not to leave too many loose ends. But sometimes you need to wait.
Dissenting Opinion Stefan:
A red herring if there ever was one. Tyrek is dead, and he won’t ever be found, without playing any significance to the story. I know I’m leaning out of the window heavily here, but come on, not every mystery in this series can be resolved and tracked down to Varys and Littlefinger. Caveat: I didn’t know about this interview Amin linked to, but I still feel that we at least SHOULD not learn about Tyrek’s fate.

Concurring Opinion: Leigh Andrews
Tyrek is either someone's prisoner/future pawn, or he died in a fashion so brutal his body was never found. No other option makes any sense when we consider the resources that were dedicated to the search. Now up until I read that quote, I firmly believed that he was gone, yet another of GRRM's subversions of traditional fantasy tropes, this one being the vanished 'heir'. Having read it, however, I now think that he is alive and being held by Varys or LF. Varys had a better opportunity and ability to plan the kidnapping, but the MO of stealing useful children to be used in the future is very Littlefinger and it would make sense if his operatives had some of his ability to react quickly to chaos.

Final Verdict: Tyrek is alive, most like under control of Varys. 

Why were they showing Dany all the visions and prophesized all the stuff if they were about to attack and consume her?

Main opinion: Amin
I do not know why they gave the visions, beyond the building hallucinatory effect that may have kept Dany from resisting them. Perhaps it has something more to do with the location of the House of the Undying itself rather than intentional visions sent to her by the Undying. One thing is for sure: the Undying not expect Dany to leave that place alive. I feel that the scene was an example of Dany cheating death, with the classic meme of a person being granted visions of the future, but death being the price for those visions, before they can benefit from that knowledge. In this case, Dany got the visions, but escaped the price expected for them.

Dissenting Opinion Stefan:
Good question. I have no clue. Classic evil henchmen behavior, telling your plans because you are so certain to win? Perhaps they are simply unable to create unreal illusions? I don’t know. I go for pure narrative necessity here, since Dany needs these visions.

Dissenting Opinion: Leigh Andrews
The hallucinations are a side effect of the trap like qualities of the House of the Undying. They are part of the magical dulling and distracting of the warlocks' target, designed to ease the taking of their pray (Many poisons used by animals in the wild cause hallucinations as they act on the mind). It's luck (and Drogon) that she saw the visions and survived, not part of some plan by the warlocks to show her her own future.

Final Verdict: No one really knows. 

Concerning the Direwolves. Jon said that the Stark children were "meant to have them". Does that mean that the old Gods exist? (And have special plans for the Starks?)

Main opinion: Amin
Jon was trying to ensure the survival of the direwolf pups, as noted by Jon. It is interesting that he went with the Old Gods story to try and convince Eddard, as Catelyn notes in the next chapter that Eddard “put no faith in signs.” Still, it must have caught everyone’s notice when Ghost showed up at the end of Bran’s chapter, as he made the count perfect, even including the bastard. As for how the direwolves got there, it is quite likely that Bloodraven sent them. Bloodraven is associated with the Weirwood “tree-net” and is part of a complex system that has over the centuries become associated with the Old Gods of the North. Perhaps the Old Gods are nothing more than the sum of this tree-net.

Concurring Opinion Stefan:
No, that doesn’t mean that. Jon says it in that situation because he wants to convince Eddard to let the beasts live, and for no other reason. Basically, he’s making up billshit as he goes. Of course, they were meant to have them, but not by the Old Gods, but by Bloodraven. But Jon has no way of knowing that.

Concurring Opinion: Leigh Andrews
The Old Gods do not exist, they are simply the name given by the laymen to the weirwood network and the greenseers who operate it. Bloodraven almost certainly sent the direwolves down south as a means of awakening the potential of the Stark children. Jon's statement the children were meant to have them is simply an attempt to persuade Eddard it's a good idea through openly embracing his bastard status, though suspecting as we do that Jon is truly Lyanna's child I wonder what Eddard actually felt as Jon said this. Still, it's clear, the children were meant to have them certainly, but the force that brought them there was Bloodraven.

Final Verdict: No, the Old Gods aren't proven by the direwolves.


  1. Observations:
    1. Tyrek - I think Martin will tie up most of his unfinished threads and the fates of smaller interesting characters by the end of the series. Tyrek, Old Nan, etc should be among those. Others will be left open ended. - I put Gerion Lannister in that category.
    2. Dany's visions - I am confused by the more obtuse writing of the Essos chapters. Were the persons who sent Dany the visions the same ones that were trying to kill her?
    3. If Bloodraven sent the pregnant Direwofl mom, south of the wall how did he manage it so that the stag and the wolf kill each other? Still it is possible.

    This is a very fine blog . Please keep up the excellent work and intriguing speculations.

  2. re: Tyrek: I admit I had to look Tyrek up at TOTH, I had totally forgotten all about him and so should we all. What I like from the beginning in ASOIAF is the relativly high realism; in this case the possibillity of a person vanishing during a riot and never to appear again. If Tyrek shows up again out of Varys' sleeves it will have some bad taste for me. Also I think we should not expect GRRM to answer all our questions.

  3. I would honestly enjoy an entire BLAH on the House of the Undying chapter's literary style and influences. It's distinct from the rest of the series I think it could give you and Sean a lot to talk about.

  4. If Bloodraven did awaken the warg ability in the Starks that means it was already there, do you think the Starks carry that ability, but it has to be awoken or is there something special about Ned's kids that they all have it? Also, I tend to associate greenseeing and the tree-net with the children of the forest, the First Men and the North so how did Bloodraven get involved? We know that some Targaryens have prophetic abilities but this seems like a much greater skill.

    1. The Starks have a long history of being paired with direwolves. It seems very likely that this was once literal and not just sigil related.

      As for Bloodraven he's half Blackwood, one of the few families south of the neck to keep the old gods.I'd imagine proximity to weirwoods growing up and being born can increase the likelihood of being a skinchanger.

  5. What makes you so sure that Boodraven sent the direwolves? I guess it's possible, but I always saw it as a symbolic coincidence with big consequences, nothing more

  6. Great writing and observations
    Ive got a question that you may already have answered; what is the nature of the relationship between thee others and the children of the forest? Such a question may involve more speculation than evidence but I would be very interested to hear your view as well as Amins. For myself, the possibility that the others and the children of the forest are linked together... maybe a shared origin perhaps, followed by a falling out ala the vorlons n the shadows. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts gentlemen. Thanks again