Thursday, July 17, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 36

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 36 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Greg, a member of the Podcast of Ice and Fire forums (claudiusthefool on the forums) and a podcaster with the Vassals of Kingsgrave (VOK Book Club discussion on Neil Gaimain's "Ocean at the End of the Lane" is his next project). He is a bookseller and spends a lot of time at work trying to convince customers who say "I don't like fantasy books" to give ASOIAF a try and they usually thank him for it.

Was Azor Ahai a historical person? Did he do the things the legends tell of?

Main Opinion: Amin
I think that the Azor Ahai legend, while exaggerated like all legends, is actually based somewhat on real events involving a struggle with the Others. There probably was a real figure, or perhaps several figures who over time became amalgamated into the single Azor Ahai personality. A similar parallel could be drawn to the prophecies regarding his alleged rebirth: at the least both Dany and Jon, if not others as well, seem to pliable contenders for the role. If there are multiple people at present that could play the role, perhaps there were multiple people in the past. An interesting side factor is that the story is popular in Essos, but we’ve only seen the Others on the Westerosi continent so far. Could they have invaded both regions, and faced different heroes on each continent?

Dissenting Opinion: Greg
I have always had trouble taking anything that happened during the Age of Heroes seriously as a literal interpretation of what actually occurred. It is more likely that the events have become myth and legend over time to the sort of boiled down versions and cookie-cut stories that we have in the contemporary times. If these events occurred over eight thousand years ago how is it possible that over the subsequent three hundred generations somehow the specific name of this “hero” and his deeds have managed to survive intact. I try to make real-world comparisons to ASOIAF when possible and it just boggles the mind that anything that happened in 6,000 BC is still talked about or taken seriously today as an actual event and present in the popular culture of the current time. How can Sam at Castle Black not even be sure how many Lord Commanders there have been during that same time period (and this in a library with records that have been as well-kept as can be expected in this “historical” time period) and yet we are supposed to believe that Azor Ahai was an actual person who did all that was said of him. In my opinion, it is more likely that over the years the myth arose throughout Westeros (and yes, throughout the East as well) of a hero and how he successfully beat back the Others during the Long Night. This would also explain why different regions have different interpretations of Azor Ahai and the myth that surrounds him (or her).

Dissenting in part, concurring part: Stefan
I think that there has been a unique, deciding force that ended the Long Night, but I highly doubt it was one man against everyone. While of course possible - it is Fantasy, after all - it seems to me that it’s actually more likely that we are talking about a combination of factors and people who were only personified later as to make a good story out of it. The same is true for Lightbringer, by the way - it may be that it will turn out to be the dragons this time around, and it may have been something non-sword-y the last time around. Having said all that, however, it is also possible that he really existed and that the Sword of the Morning is Lightbringer, which will be delivered to Jon by Sam and he will then slay the Night King, who is Brandon Stark. Seems to fit a bit too nicely for my taste, but still, it’s possible. Until we have more clues where this is headed, I advocate a more abstract interpretation, though.

Final Verdict: Most likely, Azor Ahai was no real person.

What about Penny's real father? She mentioned him several times. Does this mean Tysha made a fetish of dwarves after she met Tyrion (if the theory about Tyrion being Penny's father is true)?

Main Opinion: Amin
I think that the mentions of Penny’s father do put a big damper on the otherwise interesting theory that Penny is Tyrion’s child by Tysha (see the theory and the specific comments brought to our attention on Supreme Court Ruling #14 by our readers). The references to Penny’s father make it quite unlikely, because it would be probabilistically unlikely for Tysha to immediately end up in a relationship with another little person. It is possible, but why would George write it that way? It would be easier to just avoid references to Tysha’s father, if he intended to go with the Tyrion is Penny’s father route.

Concurring Opinion: Greg
I agree that it is highly unlikely that Tyrion is Penny’s father. I think that has always been a bit of wishful thinking on the fandom’s part. It would just fit too nicely into the very limited pieces of the puzzle that we have. When it comes to crackpot theories there are much more outlandish ones out there, but this just seems too out there to take seriously. Though fun to ponder, T+T=P is no R+L=J by any means.

Concurring opinion: Stefan
I agree with you. I was a fan of the theory early on, but the arguments of its detractors are much more powerful, so I came to believe that there is no connection between Tysha and Penny.

Final Verdict: Tysha and Penny are not connected.

Who do you think will be Arya's first target? And who would you like to be and why?

Main Opinion: Amin
Arya already has killed someone as an assignment, specifically an old man in A Dance with Dragons who she kills with a poison coin. I do think that the Guild of the Faceless Men may take advantage of Arya’s Westerosi background and knowledge to send her on an assignment in Westeros once her training is complete. I am not sure who the target may be, but one possibility that I would find interesting is if the Iron Bank, as part of their deal to support Stannis, orders an assassination in King’s Landing. There does seem to be the general rule that Guild members should not kill people ‘who they know’ but I’m not sure how strictly that ruled is generally followed.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Greg
I agree with Amin that Arya’s next assignment will be someone from King’s Landing, but I don’t think it will be in King’s Landing. We know from the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons that one of Kevan Lannister’s last acts before his untimely end was to send the Lord Treasurer Ser Harys Swyft to Braavos to treat with the Iron Bank. I find it more likely that the Faceless Men would have Arya find a way to assassinate Ser Harys while he is in Braavos than them having her travel across the Narrow Sea to King’s Landing to take someone out. If we are under the impression that this is part and parcel to the Iron Bank’s deal with Stannis then that would definitely sow more chaos with the already reeling Lannisters. If she could be even half as clever as she was with the poisoned coin then there is no reason for the Lannisters to blame the Braavosi for Swyft’s death. I do not believe that the Faceless Men would ever assign Arya to kill anyone she knew or even had any remote connection to. We know that the Kindly Man has his doubts about where her true allegiances lie and how much of her old life she has truly shed. Unless they were testing her (and I think she would fail) the Faceless Men would never risk Arya throwing away all of her training and regressing to what she was before she came to The House of Black and White.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
I can’t imagine Arya being sent against Harys Swyft. It doesn’t really make sense to kill someone on Braavosi soil. You don’t shit where you eat, after all. This would be an open declaration of war, and the bank doesn’t do that. I’m also not sure whether Arya’s target will be tied to the bank at all - I think the Faceless Men have their own agenda, most likely involving dragons, and the best target in Westeros I can imagine from a pure story standpoint is in Oldtown. She could even link up with Jaqen H’qar again, being ordered to assist him in the theft of that damn book he seems to be after (which for some reason he might not be able to get at, but she could be). This would provide her with the possibility of meeting Sam again (of whose existence the Kindly Man doesn’t know) and to turn against the Faceless Men, killing her mentor Jaqen in the process. As a dramatic story arc, this makes much more sense than goddamn Harys Swyft, who is an absolute nobody, which is an acknowledged fact by everyone and their mother and the very reason he is in Braavos in the first place. 

Final Verdict: Arya's assignment most likely will be in Westeros. 

10 comments:

  1. Assuming R+L=J, how do you think Catlyn would react if she figured out? You have the Tully words (Family, Duty, Honor) fighting against her own tunnel vision about threats to her /own/ kids? One of Ned's biggest fears about Jon's secret has to be about choosing between two loves and loyalties (ie. quieting down when Robert goes ranting about dragonspawn)?

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  2. Another interesting post, I really enjoyed it. A quick question. Do you think we will ever find out how Robert reacted to Tywin delivering Rhaegar's children? And what do you think it was? Barristan brings it up so I thought I would put it to you.

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    1. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 17, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Wasnt Robert pleased? Isnt that why Ned left Kings Landing in a huff? On his way to Storms End & eventually the TOJ.

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  3. I really like Stefan's theory about Arya in Oldtown :) And when I heard the Tyrion/Penny paternity thing on VoK recently it blew my mind, but of course it's nonsense.As fans, we seem to try and tie everything up neatly, but I really don't think it will be - Martin's too good for that. I guess that's why I also don't believe Azor Ahai ever existed, and that even if he (or she) did, the whole 'AA come again' thing won't pan out like it supposedly did last time. It's far more likely that Martin has set up our expectations of what AA will be and do just to subvert them by having him (or her) be totally evil or corrupted somehow...

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  4. Where do whores go? Wherever they can make a Penny. ;)

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  5. This is an off the wall question and I am not even sure where I am going with it it. But I was wondering what Aerys was up to between the births of Rhaegar and Viserys. Did he have any bastards or did they have miscarriages?

    Rhaegar was born in 259 when Aerys was only 17. He waited 13 years to have VIserys who was born in 275 and then another 9 for Dany.

    If the Tyrion theory were true Tyrion would have been about 3 years older than Viserys. Why the distance between kids?

    Everyone else of "major" importance seemed to have their kids close together...

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  6. What about Azor Ahai and The Prince that was Promised? Do you think these characters are the same? When I first read about Azor Ahai, I thought it was a prophecy like that of the Messiah, the saviour of the world. I thought that was George RR Martin's inspiration.

    I thought Penny and Groat had a father, who taught them the tricks they do now.

    I don't think Arya will be sent to kill Harys Swyft either. She is being trained for loftier goals. I am surprised no one mentioned Dany on this panel.

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