Thursday, April 10, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 22

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 stefan_sasse@gmx.de, 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 22 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Katie, a member of the community.

George is apparently worried about certain characters, like Garlan and Willas, not appearing on the show, since they have roles to play. But wouldn't it be George's responsibility to tell D&D which characters to keep? George also trusts the readers to be patient in waiting for the next book, but doesn’t the trust have to be mutual, as in we’re trusting him to deliver within a reasonable amount of time?

Main Opinion: Amin
While George has told D&D a lot about the future of the major characters, he hasn’t discussed everything. Or he may not have discussed Garlan and Willas before that change was made. In any case, the writers are quite capable of writing around potential problems with minor characters, and this potential change could be satisfactorily written around, if necessary, by making them cousins or other relatives. While George has enormous input on the TV show, he will not and should not micromanage every character change or deviation. As for the suggested trust to deliver the books within a reasonable time: no, the trust is not mutual. George has no more of a requirement to get the books out within a certain time period than he does to accept fan input in deciding the fate of characters or the story arcs.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
While Garlan and Willas may have a role to play, they can’t be important enough not to be able to be written around. Benioff and Weiss have proven to be very good at changing that stuff without changing the essence, and I have full trust in them. On the other question, George doesn’t “trust” us with anything. We simply have to wait until he finished. We have no entitlement to a book per two or three years. This is unfortunate, yes, and I also would like to read the damn thing already, but it can’t be helped.

Concurring Opinion: Katie
J.K. Rowling famously shared plot sensitive details about the end of Harry Potter with Alan Rickman, and successfully pushed for the inclusion of a character cut from the films. Authors do have some clout within adaptations of their work, but each production is different, and the inner workings of studios and networks are more complicated than what appears on a credit roll. George may have sway as a co-producer and creative consultant for Game of Thrones, but what gets translated from page to screen is on the heads of the show runners. Game of Thrones is an adaption first, and plot details will be cut to accommodate time and budget. There is no role too major that cannot (sometimes ham-handedly) be reassigned. As for George’s obligation to fans: there is no sacred trust between writers and readers. A book is not a service. We may feel devotion to A Song of Ice and Fire deserves repayment in the form of content, but such entitlement is an invention of the fandom and nothing more.

Final Verdict: Filmmaking works in mysterious ways, and not everything can always be discussed. There is also no obligation of Martin whatsoever about delivering the books. 

Can you explain the logic of Jorah capturing Tyrion? It just doesn't make sense to me. What does Jorah think Dany will want with the dwarf youngest exiled son of a dead Tywin Lannister?

Main Opinion: Amin
Jorah may think that Dany would want to punish Tyrion for the crimes of his father. Just like Westeros doesn’t get the full updates on what’s going on in Dany’s area of the world, she may not get or trust the reports she hears from Westeros. She has little reason to trust whatever Tyrion says. At the least, he could be a useful hostage or pawn. Perhaps it would have been more useful for Jorah to take Tyrion to Cersei, if he simply wanted to return home safely. But he cannot get Dany out of his head and he will try and desperate gamble to get back to her.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Exactly. Jorah wants to get back into Dany’s favor, and he has to do something drastic to make up for selling her out to Varys. Delivering the heir to Casterly Rock is such a thing. What Dany will do with him is not that important, though Jorah probably expects her to kill Tyrion. Tyrion is simply a very precious price, and getting him to Dany means doing something for her cause.

Concurring Opinion: Katie
Finding Tyrion Lannister in a random brothel on the Rhoyne must have seemed an incredible stroke of luck! What are the odds? In Jorah’s mind, Dany might be touched enough by the offer of Tyrion’s head (and whatever information he has on current Westerosi politics) to give Jorah a second chance. To admit Tyrion has no real value to Dany would endanger his fantasy of winning back his place at her side, and explains why he assaults Tyrion for exposing his flawed plan on The Perfumed Seneschal. After all, this isn’t the first time Jorah has made a hopeless bid for his queen’s affections.

Final Verdict: Jorah just desperately wants get back to Dany.

What if Theon was killed by Jaime Lannister instead of Daryn Hornwood?

Main Opinion: Amin
Things would have worked out much better for Robb and his cause. First, you remove Theon, who had an enormously negative impact on the North. The Ironborn would still have attacked, but Wintefell would not have fallen, Bran and Rickon wouldn’t be presumed dead, the Hornwoods would be better off, and the Northern forces would be in a far more organized, stronger position. Then you have the butterfly effects of Bran and Rickon surviving openly, like whether Catelyn wouldn’t have freed Jaime, whether Robb would have slept with Jeyne Westerling, and so forth. Suddenly things look quite different, if only Theon had truly crossed swords with Jaime rather than getting close to it, like he boasted about.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I totally agree with Amin. Theon’s death changes much for the better. Especially important is that Ramsay will simply be executed at some point; Roose doesn’t even know he’s still alive, after all. Since it was the fall of Winterfell that prompted Roose to finally switch sides, Jaime Lannister couldn’t have done the North a greater favor had he killed Theon. Alas, the heir to the Iron Islands wore plot armor in that battle, so...

Concurring Opinion: Katie
Robb would likely have followed Catelyn’s advice and sent one of his bannermen to treat with Balon Greyjoy: Jason Mallister, Tytos Blackwood, etc. The messenger would either have been killed, or taken hostage at Pike and ransomed. The ripple effect of losing a major lord to the ironborn is too hypothetical to guess, but it may have created discontent within the ranks similar to the loss of Karstark's sons. As for the Hornwoods, the succession crisis would never have occurred. Ramsay would have steered clear of Hornwood lands and preyed upon more vulnerable holdfasts, or stayed at home to torture smallfolk. Winterfell would remain safe, and Robb left undistracted by the loss of his castle. And the Greyjoys….Theon had been dead to them for years. No tears shed for the poor third son.

Final Verdict: Winterfell wouldn't have fallen for sure. 

29 comments:

  1. I'm tired of all that whining about George not finishing the book in a decent time. If he had decided not to continue the series after ASOS we couldn't have done a thing.
    After all it's George's book and he can do with it as he likes wether we like it or not. He owes us nothing.

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  2. I have complicated feelings on the subject of GRRM's timeliness, especially because I came to the series in 2011 and feel I don't have a right to complain about anything.

    Of course an author has the right to deal with their work as they like, and I would rather that GRRM takes the time he needs rather than rush out two unfinished books to beat the show's deadline. But I also think it is reasonable for fans to expect the books to be finished in reasonable time, especially when the series is enormously popular and GRRM gives the impression of needlessly working on other things, like the World of Ice and Fire book and show material.

    I hate to say it, but this is also made more urgent by his age. Adding an eighth book to the series or taking half a decade to finish Book Seven might not be possible, and it's not unreasonable for fans to be worried about that.

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  3. I wonder if Jaime had killed Theon, that might have forced Balon to ally himself with Robb. At that point Theon had done nothing specific to displease Balon, and even though he might not want to avenge his son, he might feel obligated to do so. Even the king of the Ironborn must maintain appearences. Of course, avenging his son doesn't necessarily mean that he'll ally with Robb.

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    1. Nah. For him, the Starks would have murdered Theon (sending him in battle when he was a ward), and then continued.

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  4. You guys are being ridiculous about GRRM having no obligation. Yes, he has received excessive criticism from a sector of the fandom about the delays and therefore rightfully bitches about it. But that doesn't mean we all have to completely shy away from the position that a fanbase who has made someone one of the most famous authors in the world and rich beyond imagining cannot reasonably think that the author has an obligation to finish the story within a reasonable time. You're a liar if you are saying that you would not feel betrayed or cheated if tomorrow GRRM said he was tired of writing these stories and was permanently moving on from them. That feeling of betrayal/being cheated would be the product of your belief that GRRM owed it to his fans to finish the story. We are, of course, not talking about a legal obligation. Just an implied agreement between writer and readers. Grow a set.

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    1. I'd be disappointed if George moved on from the series. That's all. Disappointment is not the same as feeling cheated, and I'm not self-centered enough to imagine a perfect stranger can betray me by scrapping a book. If I was a chauvinist I might suggest *you* grow a set, but I'm not, so instead ponder why you value fiction over a writer's personal life choices.

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    2. I'm going to have to agree with HR on this one. Publishing is a business. When you tell your fans (paying customers) that they are going to get a full story, you owe it to them to deliver. If he would have said from the get go, I will start this magnificent story then leave everyone hanging, would you have even bothered to read it? Probably not. Fans are customers. To continue doing business, you have to keep your customers happy.

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    3. I have difficulty relating to the fan entitlement position. The only business transaction that takes place is buying the book once it's published. George has no contract with readers or obligation to service their desires, that is not what we pay for. We don't have a subscription for continued service. If he doesn't provide you with what you're looking for then you part ways and look for something else. George is a artist, not a contractor or a vendor. The fact that his past work's popularity has garnered him affluence and fame, doesn't change anything and it shouldn't chain him to his desk so that he'll meet our desired deadlines in a timely manner.

      Of course it's a bummer that it takes him so long to write. However, I cannot muster the self importance to feel indignation that a storyteller owes me a prompt portion of prose at timely intervals. I don't see writing as that sort of interaction. He started unraveling this yarn long before I was aware of it and it's entirely up to him how and when he'll conclude it. If you feel cheated and betrayed, then the problem lies in your mindset and the perceived relationship between an author and a reader. If we never reach the end of the story, then I won't be furious at unfulfilled promises, but rather I'll be grateful for all the years of joy I've already gotten from the work and wistful for these heady interim days of untold possibility and eager anticipation.

      Fans are not customers. Fans are fans, enthusiastic fanatics who love the art. Readers are not clients. Readers are an engaged audience listening to an author as he shares his story. He offers to tell a tale and you agree to listen.

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    4. Nope, no obligation there. And I think that partly because I think it's true and partly because I'd rather have nothing than shitty, obligation books. If he's not inspired to write the way he wrote the first five, then, oh well, what can you? People think the most absurd things, like "Grow a set."

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  5. When will Dany start to use the Targaryen sigil? Why hasn't she used it yet? Will the unsullied soldiers don the 3 headed dragon on their shields, breastplates, and banners at some point? Will she wait until she arrives in Westeros, where sigils actually mean something? Will she even use the sigil at all, or are 3 real live dragons enough?

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  6. These are always fun to read, but limited fun because Amin & Stefan agree so much it's like having a court of only the conservative judges... Where is the other side? Call me crazy but this court needs a "Is Winter Coming?" judge or at least someone who isn't a "Feast for Crows/Dance With Dragons" apologist.

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    1. Hard to find them, actually. We also thrive to balance between community celebs and "normal people", and we constantly try to get more female judges in. Unfortunately, finding people is hard enough, and it is practically impossible to find anyone to comit to do these every week like clockwork. We had three permanent judges in early planning stages, but unfortunately, they couldn't make it work. So we went on to the community based model (which is better anyway). Long story short: find me the guys, and I make it happen.

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    2. I'd rather hear Stefan and Amin.

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    3. We'll certainly invite him to a future spot.
      But aside from questions about Martin's writing pace, his opinion won't be that different, I guess.

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    4. I always thought that when two judges agree but for completely different reasons, those cases were the most interesting.

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  7. There are far too many 'what if' questions. GRRM leaves so many doors and red herrings that there is more to discuss. We all would have loved the war to have gone differently and Ned to be alive, but that has not happened.

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    1. Sure. But I take the questions as they come.

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  8. I would happily wait forever (well, a good long time) for GRRM to complete the series. After all, I too have a life which is not centered around a work of fiction and I do know that GRRM is not my bitch. BUT... When GRRM allowed ASOIAF to be produced on television, I think he did assume an obligation to finish the books before the tv series spoils the ending for his loyal fans. It will be almost impossible to avoid contamination if the series finishes first. In short, I think GRRM has played a dirty trick on his fans. He could have at least waited until TWOW was finished before authorizing the series. That would have given him an incentive to finish TWOW in a timely manner and at least six year to finish ADOS. Shame on your greed, George.

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    1. Well, HBO isn't Martin's bitch. He can't just say "Yeah, I'll do it, but please only in a few years. Can't tell you when."

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    2. I don't think the show matters. Even if I hear wikipedia summary like details of the show's ending, it won't really ruin the experience of reading it for me, because the books are more than the plot details. I was happy to read the Princess and the Queen, but it was in no way as satisfying as even the least part of A Song of Ice and Fire, because it was mostly just this happened, this happened, this happened.

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    3. Show watchers are pretty damn adept at ensuring every last detail of what they know is spoiled for people, I'd still enjoy the books, but they wouldn't be as good if the show finishes first.

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  9. There's absolutely no way Martin finishes before the tv show. Impossible. He's wasted so much time between books 4 and 5 and now between 5 and 6 it's physically impossible. Hope I'm wrong but doubt it. Put that on your list.

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    1. He did it before - AGOT 1996, ACOK 1998, ASOS 2000. Can be done.

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