Friday, April 25, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 24

Thursday is court day! Unfortunately, this week it's Friday.
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 24 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Vikram (aka Fortytwo), who is a Curator and contributor to Vassals of Kingsgrave. They are a Varity pop culture podcast, that discusses everything from books, movies, video games and TV Shows. They are made up of people from the A Podcast of Ice and Fire Community.

Did Aegon misread some prophecy that the dragons will be the weapon against the Others, thus escaping the Doom of Valyria but squandering them in the conquest of Westeros?

Main Opinion: Amin
We do not have enough information about Aegon and his potential interest in prophecies to come to this conclusion. We know that the Targaryens did go to Dragonstone over a hundred years before Aegon’s rule because of a vision, escaping the Doom of Valyria in the process. We also know that various Targaryens and even a Blackfyre have had ‘dragon dreams’ with premonition and semi-prophetic attributes. But we do not know enough about Aegon and his motivations for conquering and uniting Westeros. They may very well have been purely political, though it is interesting to note from material mentioned outside of the books (World of Ice and Fire, So Spake Martin) that Aegon intefered in Essos but was invited to become more even involved there, before he decided to go for Westeros instead. Why he used his dragons to forge a new kingdom in the West rather than try to rekindle a Valyrian emprie in the East is something we may find out in the future.

Concurring Opinion: Vikram
Amin is right, The Targaryens house sold all their holdings in Valyria and moved to Dragonstone a decade before the Doom of Valyria, because of a vision one of them dreamt. 100 years later Aegon conquered Westeros. Until the “World of Ice and Fire” comes out, we can only speculate why Aegon conquered Westeros. It always struck me odd, that the Targaryens worshiped the Seven Faced Gods too, an Andal religion not a Valyrian religion. I like to suggest, over the 100 years, the Targaryens because of their proximity to Westeros were influenced by them, slowly adopting their customs, language and religions. The Targaryens started to identify themselves as Westerosi rather than from Essos. So Naturally Aegon conquered Westeros. While all other kingdoms resisted the Targaryen invasion, the Starks bend their Knee without a battle. The Starks who always worry about the “Long Winter” maybe saw in the Targaryens a great ally against the Others.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
From what we know, Aegon was involved in Westerosi politics as well, trying to secure some influence in the Stormlands and the eastern Riverlands. This seems like a rather reduced objective compared to total control. I do not think that “cultural assimilation” plays any big part, as judge Vikram does, because if memory serves the Targaryens adopted the Seven only after the Conquest as part of making peace with the Faith, going as far as dating back the coronation to the High Septon’s blessing in Oldtown after the Field of Fire. They didn’t name their dragons after Valyrian gods for naught. Else, Meraxes and Vhagar might have been called Smith and Maiden or something like that. However, there’s a certain poetic drive to the idea that would also be mirrored in Dany, who currently still plans on squandering her dragons in a conquest of Westeros. Besides, the Starks aren't worrying about the "Long Winter", and had they seen the Targaryens as allies, they might have, you know, allied themselves with them.

Final Verdict:  We can't really tell because there are no sources.

Given everything we learned about Greenseers in ADWD, could there be any chance that 'future Greenseer Bran' could have time-traveled back and warged into Mormonts raven, to ensure that Jon was chosen as Lord Commander?

Main Opinion: Amin
If there is an ability to time-travel via the tree-net, then it would be within Bran’s character to use it in this manner. However, there are simpler answers available, mainly that it was Bloodraven himself in present time that was skinchanging into the crows to try and manipulate Jon’s destiny. I have also read an interesting theory that Mormont himself was a skingchanger and living a second life in his raven. I think either of these options, particularly the Bloodraven answer, are more likely to explain the actions of Mormont’s raven (and other ravens up to A Dance with Dragons) than Bran communicating backwards via ‘time-warging’, simply because we do not yet know if that is possible yet, even for someone of Bran’s natural abilities.

Concurring Opinion Vikram:
I am very skeptical that Lord Mormont’s Raven helped Jon Snow win the election. While it was a neat trick, Janos Slynt dismissed it as a trick Sam taught the Raven. It was Sam’s behind the scenes maneuvering that helped Jon Snow win. He convinced Cotter Pyke, Denys Mallister to support Jon Snow, things snow balled from there (no pun intended). In the end even Bowen Marsh withdrew and threw in his support behind Jon. Given this, I doubt Brans help was needed to help Jon Snow Win. I concur with Amin, it was probably Blood Raven who was warging into Lord Mormont’s Raven.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I was always under the impression that this was Mormont’s rest-conscience speaking, so I have nothing much to add. 

Final Verdict: Either it was Mormont's second life or Bloodraven warging, but no time travel. 

When Cersie sees Qyburn for the first time she thinks that his face is vaguely familiar but cannot recall where she has seen it. Is Qyburn related to Cersie's past somehow?

Main Opinion: Amin
I don’t think we have enough evidence to postulate any past connection between Cersei and Qyburn. I don’t’ remember that particular passage, but it may be that Qyburn simply has that type of face that people find familiar or similar to others. Cersei himself says that he has a kindly face, like that of a gentle grandfather, though as the readers we know what he is truly capable of. Qyburn has had quite a busy past and we’ve gained glimpses of his backstory, but nothing to tie him to Cersei or the Lannisters before the events of the series.

Dissenting Opinion Vikram:
Very plausible. Qyburn was with the Brave Companions who were once employed by Lord Tywin Lannister. Cercei could have seen them, if she visited Casterly Rock. Even if she didn’t visit the Rock, we know King Robert liked to hold Tourneys. The Brave Companions could have attended and participated in them, when they did they would have brought Qyburn to treat any injuries. On second thought scratch that, none of the Brave Companions were Knights, so they couldn’t participate.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
This just reinforces the idea that Qyburn has a totally unremarkable, everyman’s face. This is important for the idea of the “banality of evil”, to speak with Hannah Arendt. When she observed the Eichmann-trial in Jerusalem in the 1960s, she referred to Eichmann not looking evil at all, and coined it “the banality of evil”. It’s the same with Qyburn - he doesn’t look like an evil nazi doctor, but he is. Appearances deceive you, and that’s just a running theme with ASOIAF. Besides, there’s just no way that the Brave Companions are coming anywhere near Casterly Rock or respectable tourneys.

Final Verdict: Cersei didn't know Qyburn before, he just has that kind of face. 

6 comments:

  1. Didn't Mormont have a crow, not a raven? I know they're pretty similar, but ravens are larger and are the birds used for communication over long distances, whereas a crow is more likely just a pet. And I very much doubt that Mormont has any sort of skin-changing ability... in the North the Starks are somewhat unusual, I don't think we've heard of any other families having those sorts of mystical abilities (south of the Wall, anyway). I think their mystical abilities are probably tied to their having the blood of the First Men, while Mormont's son is frequently referred to as 'Jorah the Andal' - we don't have a complete lineage for Jeor and Jorah but I doubt they have much Northern blood.

    As for the crow's part in Jon's ascension to the position of Lord Commander, I doubt that Bran or Bloodraven had anything to do with it. That was just Sam's cunning. I don't think Bloodraven has any interest in Jon Snow at all (but we'll see).

    What really interests me is, if the Old Gods are actually the Children and later Bloodraven influencing events through the Weirwoods, how do we explain the seemingly providential 'gifting' of the Direwolves to the Stark children? That seems like the most 'divine' action the Old Gods have taken - I find it hard to believe that it's just coincidence that there just happened to be six pups where the Starks would find them, south of the Wall.

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  2. He had a raven :)

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  3. Does Varys know that Sansa is in the Vale? He keep a close eye on Littlefinger and knew of his desire for Sansa

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  4. Is anyone else annoyed at the deviation from the book with regards to Locke taking the Black and Bran meeting the mutineers?

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    1. Check out my review for the answer to that.

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