Thursday, July 24, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 37

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 37 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is David Getty, who runs his own Game of Thrones inspired site A Game of Thrones Guide.  You can also follow him on Twitter.
What’s the purpose of Lady Stoneheart’s narrative arc?


Main Opinion: Stefan
Showing that the will for revenge really leads you nowhere. I made this point at length in my issue for the “A Flight of Sorrows” Collector’s Edition, which we talked about at the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. There is a strong current in the books, especially in “Feastdance”, to show that revenge really isn’t a goal worth pursuing, because it will to travesty, murder and grief, without ever really helping those who persue it. Thoros repeatedly and darkly hints at his opinion that Lady Stoneheart totally perverted the Brotherhood, and that it would have been a kinder fate for her had she never been reawakened. There’s nothing of Catelyn left in her, besides the knowledge of her previous life. Only the determination to take revenge, which has transformed her into a hideous and brutal creature whose sole purpose has become to kill everyone remotely linked to the Red Wedding, and be it around five or six corners. Or people who just by chance stumble around some of these corners, as in the case of Ser Hyle. When Lady Stoneheart commands to hang Podrick Payne, because he was the Imp’s squire, Hyle Hunt because he served Randyll Tarly, whose liege was allied with the Lannisters, who were allied with the Freys, some of whom murdered her, it becomes unhinged.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I do agree that the Brotherhood has taken a turn for the darker, as Martin further complicates what would otherwise be a more black and white organization in another fantasy series. I do think that they were already heading in that direction with disgruntled characters like Lem Lemoncloak, even without Lady Stoneheart. I think she may be fulfilling a greater role related to her supernatural resurrection – what it is I do not know yet, but it may play a larger role than being an example of someone ‘living’ only for revenge.

Concurring Opinion: David Getty
With everything we've seen so far Lady Stoneheart is essentially a rabid dog, killing anyone that has a connection in the slightest way to the Red Wedding or the Lannisters. As Stefan points out, her connections to both the Red Wedding and the Lannisters are becoming so outlandish that anyone who crosses her path is likely to be killed. She finds no remorse for anyone, even trying to put Pod and Ser Hyle to death. As Stefan points out this connection she creates with Ser Hyle, shows us that her accusations are becoming simply ridiculous, and that she has not a shred of pity for anyone. Her mad killing spree of the people she deems guilty is just an endless list. That said, where we left off with Jamie being taken to see her, by Brienne, leaves Lady Stoneheart in possibly a very important position: that of having the fate of Jamie's life in her hands. Although I do not believe Jamie will die in this encounter. But it is still a possibility, that if happens will greatly increase Lady Stoneheart's impact on the story.

Final Verdict: Lady Stoneheart is basically showing that revenge isn't sweet or paying off.

Who was the man Bran recognizes in his weirwood-sap induced vision that leaves him screaming?

Main Opinion: Stefan
I don’t think he recognized the person. Since the scene he sees happened hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago, the only way he would be able to recognize this person would be if it’s a) one of the old kings in the North, whose faces he remembers from their statues, or b) someone who is actually that old, but doesn’t appear like that. And there is zero evidence for the latter option, which leaves only the first one. Given that the killing happens in Winterfell, I think it’s unlikely. Bran screamed because he tried desperately to avoid the ritual death of a human being in the peaceful place of his childhood. This is the Hearttree of Winterfell we’re talking about, the place where he climbed around, laughed and had fun, and where his father introduced him to the mysteries of the Old Gods and stuff. It must be a pretty disturbing experience to know that “Hey, they also totally cut the throats of sacrifice victims there”.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree that the particular vision referenced must have been of an event occurring a long time ago, “through the mist of centuries.” The vision progresses backward through time and that is the last event seen, a particularly brutal reminder of the potential savagery of Northern history.

Concurring Opinion: David Getty
I don't think there is any evidence that Bran recognizes this man. Simply screaming out doesn't mean in any way that he recognizes the man being killed. In the previous vision, it is mentioned that Bran recognizes the faces. But his inability to put a name to any of those faces is very important: "Some wore faces he remembered from the statues in the crypts, but they were gone before he could put a name to them" (A Dance with Dragons, page 460). I think if he recognized this man, or anyone in this vision, we would have at least gotten some sort of indication from George. I believe Bran was screaming out for two reasons: Firstly, similar to Stefan's reasoning, is that this is the place where Bran grew up. Therefore, brutally realizing that blood sacrifices also happened in this location is an almost assault on Bran's childhood memories. And the second reason is the brutality of this sacrificial killing. In A Game of Thrones, Bran witnesses his first beheading. Although he handles it the beheading well, this sacrificial killing is much more brutal in the sense that man is getting his throat cut. The fact that the weapon being used is made of bronze could mean that this vision happened hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago. We know that sacrificial killings happened in the North from a previous Davos chapter in A Dance with Dragons when he is talking to Ser Bartimus: "I Never knew that northmen made blood sacrifice to their heart trees." "There's much and more you southrons do not know about the north," Ser Bartimus replied. (A Dance with Dragons, page 385) So with this knowledge I would say that the killing in the vision was simply just a routine ritual killing done in the North.

Final Verdict: Bran doesn't recognize the person. He's apalled by the scene itself. 

What is Bloodraven's plan to stop the Others?

Main Opinion: Stefan
I really don’t have a clue. We don’t know as of yet just what the magic of the Children of the Forest can do, since Bloodraven is teaching only the basics to Bran at the moment. I would think that he is hoping to somehow use the warging powers to some effect, but I don’t really know what’s that going to be. My best guess is that Bran will warg a dragon at some point, but that couldn’t have been Bloodraven’s plan from the start, so...I’m more or less lost here. The only thing I can think of is using the treenet to get into contact with some people, but if so, he’s doing a really bad job. I guess we’ll have to wait for the Winds of Winter to get a clearer picture of Bloodraven’s powers.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I am not entirely sure that Bloodraven and the Children are in entirety on the side of humanity, but I do believe they are working in opposition to the Others. I agree that skinchanging a dragon may be within Bran’s power - if he can skinchange into Hodor and possible other humans, then a dragon would likely fall within his range of abilities. Whether Bloodraven knows about the dragons and factored them into his plan, as noted, is unknown.

Concurring Opinion: David Getty
Simply enough, I don't think we have nearly enough information to predict Bloodraven's plan to stop the Others, or at least predict it entirely. It's obvious that the plan will include Bran and his greenseeing abilities, but to what extent does he plan to use Bran? Is he planning on having Bran warg a dragon? My guess is that yes, at some point Bran will warg a dragon, but why would Bran need all of this other training if warging the dragon was all there is to it? I'm sure in Winds of Winter we will have a much clearer picture as to the extent of Bran's involvement in Bloodraven's plan. But as for now, we need more information. Whether Bloodraven is on the side of humanity, however, is another matter entirely. George makes it very clear that what side a person is on isn't ever black or white. I don't think Bloodraven is entirely on the side of humanity, but I don't think he is against humanity either. Similarly, we simply need more information on Bloodraven's history to sufficiently answer this question. There is a huge gap between him joining the Nights Watch, becoming Lord Commander, and becoming what he is now. Why did he choose this path that he is currently on? I think we just have to wait for the next book and see how it plays out. 

Final Verdict: No fucking clue. 

15 comments:

  1. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 24, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    The sacrifices before the heart tree, brings up an interesting question. Why doesn't Ned carry out Will(show) or Gared's (book) in front of a heart tree? I dont think it was outlawed was it? Just a taboo I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's because that would be an execution, not a sacrifice. A sacrifice would have to be killed solely for that purpose, right? To piggyback it on an execution would profane the rite.

      Delete
    2. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 24, 2014 at 10:05 PM

      Thats what Stannis is about to do with Theon right?
      I'd think the old God's would take what they can get at this point. Not too many sacrafices going on in Westeros these days.

      Delete
    3. I think its also a matter of judgement. With the individuals that fled the nights watch, its cut and dry that they die if they leave the wall, while if it was someone else who's innocence is unclear, it might involve a heart tree hearing. I'm not sure if I misremember this detail, but didn't Rob execute Rikard Karstark in front of a heart tree before he executed him?

      Delete
    4. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 25, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      He did it in the God's wood @ Riverrun, but I dont believe they have an actual Weirwood.

      Delete
  2. Why would he? Those were sacrifices to the old gods; the execution is carrying out the punishment the king's law imposes for desertion. It's unrelated. No one sacrifices people to the trees any more, Ned almost certainly doesn't believe it would be a good thing... and he likes the godswood. The last thing he wants is to associate it with executions, which aren't something he particularly enjoys doing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I too am curious of what Bloodraven's intent is in terms of his tutelage of Bran, but as with any teacher student relationship, the teacher offers the student knowledge and experience, an aspect taken to unthinkable proportions with the factor of the Weirwood network. I will grant that Bran's learning to skin change everything, all animals that walk, run, and fly, along with people and even plants is a cool trick to learn, but the most important thing is that he's learning to acquire knowledge on the Others, something that no else has a clear understanding of right now. And even further on the periphery is his means of reaching out to others. In the chapters we have seen so far, from CoK, DwD, and even WoW, Bran is communicating and influencing other characters, perhaps even months and years after the events occur to the other characters. He guides Jon directly and indirectly in his dreams, and the Mercy chapter even mentions the presence of the trees watching. Heck, it seems he's communicating with Theon, and thus Stannis's camp. If Bran can master his ability to reach through time and space to communicate and learn information, he is going to be a vital player in events to come, that is as soon as he makes himself known to everyone

    ReplyDelete
  4. "My best guess is that Bran will warg a dragon at some point, but that couldn’t have been Bloodraven’s plan from the start, so...I’m more or less lost here."

    Why couldn't that have been his plan from the beginning? After all, you can see forwards and backwards in time from the tree network, right?

    ReplyDelete
  5. IMO, the plan is to "channel" Asha/Theon´s sacrifice to "pay" for Jon´s life. Bloodraven knows he is the PtwP. Only death can pay for life.

    beto

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wonder if Lady Stoneheart's the greater purpose of her (and Beric Dondarrion's) supernatural resurrection will be to serve as some sort of parallel/juxtaposition to whatever allows the Others (and whoever resurrected Coldhands) to bring the dead back? If there is any explanation offered at all...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What itches me about L.S. is the parallel of Aerys/ Kingslayer to
      Stoneheart /Brienne. I wonder if Brienne will serve the demon Catelyn has become to the bitter end or will she break her vow to serve her like Jamie did with Aerys when he saw the consequences?

      Delete
  7. Hello so I am in New Zealand and was at a bookstore when I realized that A Storm of Swords and a Dance with Dragons are both split into two books. Just thought that was interesting,
    Thanks,
    -Tyler

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the British publisher (?) that split ASOS first, many others followed. More money that way.

      Delete
    2. But it makes the season structure make more sense though

      Delete
  8. When Blooraven told Bran 'you will never walk again but you will fly', surely this means more than just controlling the birds in the forest. It has to be a dragon, the ultimate in flying.

    ReplyDelete