Thursday, March 27, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 20

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 A 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 20 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Manu Mishra, a member of the community.

My question to the judges would be will there be any consequence to the cannibalism that we’ve seen through the book so far? Obviously we’ve seen the Frey pie, we’ve seen Stannis’ soldiers (consequence obvious), I believe that Cold Hands slaughtered the black brothers who he called enemies and then comes back with ‘pork’ for everyone to eat, also whatever might be happening in the house of black and white (Arya’s suspicion of the bodies). The Dothraki say that man should not eat man, it is known, but what are the consequences?

Main Opinion: Amin
Cannibalism, when discovered, will be punished for, like other crimes. I think the narrative has shown so far that cannibalism, while a disgusting crime, isn’t particularly worse ‘in the eyes of the Gods’ than most other crimes. The story of the Rat Cook shows that the crime of breaking the guest-right is the true cardinal sin of Westeros and the one that invites both material and otherworldly punishment. So no, I don’t think there will be any particularly special consequence for the cannibalism, no Mad Frey Disease from eating too many Frey pies. Incest has actually had more consequences, due to Martin genetics leading to many messed up children (an adults).

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
The consequences are simply that you ate man-flesh. It’s gross, and most likely you will not be the same person as before, but there is no cosmic punishment for it. The narrative function of the cannibalism seems to be to show how far people sunk. Cannibalism is a taboo in practically every society, for obvious reasons - no one wants to live in a society where I must fear my neighbour eating me. Therefore, only people in real dire situations (Bran and the Stannis soldiers) or in strange places (Wyman Manderly) resort to cannibalism.

Concurring Opinion: Manu Mishra
I do have to admit this is something I haven't given much thought on (other than the natural, visceral reaction the reader has when reading about man-on-man gastronomy). But I agree with Amin; I don't think there's one big cannibal comeuppance on the horizon. I also think these situations are not that similar. Frey pies are a method of making a narrative connection with the Rat King/guest right/Red Wedding and a form of vengeance for Manderly, whereas in the other two cases (Bran and Stannis's men), it was a means for survival (we've all seen "Alive!" right? who knows what's necessary in life/death situations). If it does become a bigger issue, I feel it may have to do with the Skaagosi and Rickon, if/when they enter the picture in the North.

Final Verdict: Cannibalism doesn't have any meaning beyond being a pretty messed-up thing to do.

Who would take (the trappings of) power in King's Landing now that Kevan is dead? My best guess for Regent would have to be Mace Tyrell. Do you see any other option? There are simply no able or experienced relatives of Tommen's on hand to be Regent. Cersei might be exonerated in a trial by combat, some Lannister (Genna?) might travel to King's Landing to serve, or someone as left-field as Lancel might be pushed forward by the faith, but until then, who's ruling?

Main Opinion: Amin
Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly (essentially the Tyrells and their power base) will take over the rule. Cersei will continue to rock the boat during the upcoming trial and potentially destabilize things, though the Tyrells and the Faith should have enough sense to work together. The Lannisters are a spent force both politically and militarily; Kevan will be sorely missed, as Genna and others like Daven will not bail them out at King’s Landing, but will do what they can to stablize the West. Without Ser Robert Stone, I would have said Cersei has no hope. It remains to be seen how one single (undead) knight and one dangerous but apparently loyal ex-maester may impact the future of King’s Landing.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
The Tyrells will take over for the moment. However, there are still some Lannister loyalists in KL, and Varys has an interest in no family taking over completely. I guess he will help things along as well, feeding vital information back to the Lannisters to keep them in a position of power. Genna is no alternative at all, by the way - she’s a woman, and married to a Frey. The same is true for Lancel. They could install him in some position, but it would be purely nominal. I’d expect an official of the Faith taking a seat in the Council, or some other unknown Lannister. No one knew Devan before he became Warden of the West, and with the main line of house Lannister all but extinguished in Westeros, it makes sense to resort to other branches. It’s a large family, after all.

Concurring Opinion: Manu Mishra
I have to agree with Amin, the Tyrells (and Randyll Tarly, the true dangerous one, according to Kevan) look to have a hold on power for the foreseen future. I'll bring up one power dynamic he didn't mention: Dorne's seat on the small council. We know Nymeria Sand will be taking that chair, while Tyene Sand acts as her septa and takes measure of the High Septon. We know little and less of Doran's plan, but depending how well the two Sand Snakes in King's Landing can keep in touch with Sunspear and Arianne, they could start making some serious power plays, especially if they end up joining Team Aegon. Having both a hand on the Small Council and the Faith while secretly backing Aegon's insurrection may have Dorne truly holding the power, if in practice and not name.

Final Verdict: The Tyrells will take over, simple as that.

Is Benjen Stark still live and has taken on the identity of Daario Naharis?

Main Opinion: Amin
No. Just to summarize in case someone hasn’t read the extensive theory, it basically suggests that Benjen went over to Essos, took under the guise of Daario, and seduced Dany as part of a plan to bring her over with her dragons to help save the Wall and Westeros in general from thee Others. As much as I enjoy this theory, having referenced it a few times on A Podcast of Ice and Ice, it is a true example of a truly crackpot theory. One of those theories that was never meant to be true, but just meant to be a funny example of what happens when there is a large break between publication of the books in the series. We may see Benjen again, but he is not in disguise taking Dany ‘in every way there was’ simply to save the North. Even if he were, you would think he would be a little bit more efficient about getting Dany over to Westeros and to the Wall in particular.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan, he isn’t. This is just another example where I don’t even need to hear the “evidence” that might or might not allow for this to happen (seriously, with all we know about Benjen Stark, he could be anything). The thing is that it would make a total haywire out of the saga as a whole. Just imagine this being one of the major twists. Everyone will be just “Wait, what?” and throw the books away in disgust, because it’s just so utterly stupid.

Concurring opinion: Manu  Mishra
No. Just, no.

Final Verdict: No.


  1. Isn't it reasonable to assume that Jorah Mormont would be familiar with Benjen Stark and be able to recognize him? That would seem to shut this theory down completely.

    1. Not if Ser Jorah's distracted by the dyed beard! Theory: confirmed.

  2. You forgot Garland, According to GRRM he told HBO to beef up Garland presents in Season 5 which I take to mean that Garland is not introduced at HBO PW, but has a big role in WOW.

    1. But... Tywin's conversation with Olenna in the show only makes sense if Loras is the only available male heir to House Tyrell.

    2. In the show, he is. If they introduce Garlan, I guess he'll be another guy.