Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 35

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 35 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Michael Crowley. He is a member of the Podcast of Ice and Fire community under the nick of LordPrism and has podcasted with the Vassals of Kingsgrave before.
Do you think Viserys gets a bad rap? I have been thinking about his behaviour in relation to his history and the tech level, and am starting to think we judge him very harshly. As far as I can see, his only major (though ultimately mortal) mistake was failure to respect a foreign culture. Prior to this, he managed to keep himself and Dany alive and largely uncompromised for a very long time. And really, isn't it the role of a princess to be sold for the political/financial gain of her family?

Main Opinion: Stefan
What moral system are we applying here? Is he within his rights as a prince of the blood? Certainly. Does this mean he is off the hook? Certainly not. He does keep himself and his sister alive, but at the same time, he mistreats her, abuses her and aspires to take sexual advantage of her. And yes, it is the role of the princess to be "sold", but that doesn't make it right. The role of a slave was to work for free, but that doesn't make it right. Viserys also commits more mistakes than just to disrespect the Dothraki. He disrespects everyone, including those who should be his allies. That makes him on par with Joffrey, and certainly not a good king.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Viserys would not have been a good king. He was a little too close to the dark side of the Targaryen coin, something that was encouraged by the difficult life on the run he had to go through growing up. Targaryens in general do not react well to mockery and Viserys had his full fill of it. Some people might sympathize with him, even Dany does at times. Harry Lloyd’s Game of Thrones portrayal of the character might have also won some more supporters, but I am not one of them.

Concurring opinion: Michael Crowley
I agree with Justice Stefan about the morality of Viserys. I also think that Viserys’ “bad rap” can even transcend a discussion of the era’s morality; in addition to acting immorally, Viserys acted unwisely. I think part of Visery’s bad rap comes from the fandom’s condemnation of his actions as stupid. And I don’t disagree. It is clear that, even taking into account his history and the word’s technological level, Viserys acted stupidly and squandered good opportunities. He made mistakes that the other characters (and, purposively, the readers) perceive clearly. Even so, Viserys’ background is not irrelevant to his “rap.” It is important to remember what Viserys has gone through and to check the natural feelings of schadenfreude that readers might have. As deplorable as Viserys’ actions might be, he is a tragic character.

Final Verdict: Viserys' bad rap is entirely justified. 

Considering that there are actually a lot of Targaryen descendents if you look outside the official sanctified bloodlines ie. the bastards and the girls, do you think there is a possibility of someone coming out of left field to be a dragon rider, like Plumm or Shireen?

Main Opinion: Stefan
That would be possible within the rules established in "The Princess and the Queen", but somehow it doesn't feel right. My money is still on Tyrion, Jon and Dany. Just some guy feels very unsatisfying and works for the history book but not for the novel.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I agree that a completely new character to come out of the shadows post A Dance with Dragons to become a dragonrider would be unlikely. However, it is plasuible that we might get a dragonrider from the existing set of characters that is outside of the “big three” of Tyrion, Jon, and Dany. Shireen, for example, does have the bloodline required, as do several other characters that we’ve already seen in detail.

Dissenting opinion: Michael Crowley
In most other book series, I would be inclined to agree with Stefan, but I don’t think it is out of the question here. George specializes in introducing new characters late and making us love them, Jon Connington is an excellent example. George could easily introduce a new character or develop a current one to the point where it would not feel weird for them to be a dragon rider. Taking Shireen as an example, I think she has sufficient back story that a book spent subtly increasing her role could produce a dragon rider “from left field.”

Final Verdict: No new riders will enter the story, but existing characters might become riders.

What about Howland Reed?

Main Opinion: Stefan
What about him? He's the centerpoint for the whole question of Jon's parentage and the Tower of Joy, crystallizing many hopes and a good deal of really stupid conspiracy theories. I'm pretty sure we will meet him (Checkov's gun and all), but I don't think he is nearly as important to the plot as many think.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I agree that we will meet Howland Reed, it is inevitable given the buildup he has gotten. I do think he will be important to the plot, something more than just revealing Jon’s parentage. As Justice Stefan noted, there are several conspiracy theories related to Howland Reed that we will get to examine in the future, but for now, I am in the camp that thinks that we will get to meet the character.

Dissenting opinion: Michael Crowley
I agree that Howland Reed certainly knows much of the information that the fandom would love to have. I don’t agree though that we will necessarily meet him. I love (and I am inclined to believe George would too) the realism of a person who readers would want to meet, who, literarily, we should meet, but who we never actually meet. 

Final Verdict: We will meet Howland Reed. Everything else will be seen then.

9 comments:

  1. Howland isn't just important for Jon's parentage. Howland is the only character that we know of who has been to the isle of faces. Given his own child's abilities as a greenseer it seems that there's a good chance that Howland could play some role in Bran's story as well. Further, Robb's last will and testament likely resides at Greywater Watch and while the Old Stones chapter makes it seem that he's named Jon his heir I wonder if Cat's influence hit the mark.

    Basically, I don't know that we'll really meet him, but he's more important than just Jon's parentage.

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  2. I always figured we will meet HR eventually but he won't last very long. Maybe he will sacrifice himself to protect Jon/Jon's secret parentage. Or maybe that's too obvious, idk.

    Im convinced he has an important role to play, however short lived that may be.

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  3. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    We love Jon Connington?

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    1. Exactly!

      Aegon is interesting. The new Red Priest that hangs out with Victarion is interesting. Heck, even the Dornish prince is kind of sweet. But Jon? He's necessary, but, IMO, not enough characterization to love yet.

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    2. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 11, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      Its interesting to see his feelings on Rhaegar. Especially since he seems to only see what the rest of Westeros sees. Or, refuses to accept his Lyanna tryst (whatever it may have been) hopefully more on the way.

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  4. I agree with the judgement re: Viserys, but they missed, IMO, the key turning point. Viserys reacts to the Dothraki celebrating Rhaego as the Stallion to be by threatening Dany.

    Most cultures reacted much more strongly towards violence when it is directed at a pregnant woman, and choosing the moment when Dany is, let's face it, the center of everyone's attention and hopes is a seriously messed up mistake.

    Without this, Viserys would still have been looked down on, but this act earns him his Crown.

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  5. Are there any thoughts that the faith will make any more political statements of authority? It seems that before the High Sparrow, the faith was a lap dog to the throne, but now the HS is making moves to establish and legitimize the actions of the faith, regardless of the will of the throne. Is there any possibility that he will seize on the political clout of the Red Wedding? It was noted that the commons are wroth at the slight done to the gods via the breaking of guest rite, which the throne has remained in active in the public sense. The HS could choose to act as the throne is unwilling, and publicly damn and denounce all those involved. And if the title of knighthood is based off of a pledge to the faith of the seven, then could the HS also strip people of knighthoods? Like all those that have the last name Frey, and their banner men and partners in the crime?

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  6. Hi Stefan,

    Did you ever get that email about that Nietzsche/Blood Raven thing I sent you?

    http://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/28lvvp/spoilers_all_a_thousand_eyes_and_one_nietzsche/

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, yes, I did. It's resting in my inbox for the moment I find the time to read it, but sadly, that moment hasn't arrived yet. It's on my to-do-list, though.

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