Thursday, October 2, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 47

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, 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 47 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Alix C, a show-watcher turned book-reader, forum member of Podcast of Ice and Fire and occasional speaker on Vassals of Kingsgrave. You can find her on tumblr at

Is it realistic that a song written during the current generation like The Rains of Castamere could be so widely adopted by singers and performed so widely?

Main Opinion: Stefan
You need to keep in mind that singers aren't exactly traveling far and wide. For example, no singer comes to Winterfell in ages, and they don't know the latest songs for sure. The little villages also see no singers, and I'd wager that no one sang the damn song in Dorne. My estimate is that it's sung where Lannister influence prevails; which means in the Westerlands and in King's Landing. As Lannister influence spreads, every singer worth his salt will learn the song. Since it is so political, informed people will also know it. The event is pretty unusual and ominous.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I believe that singers and songs communicate further distances than what Justice Stefan is prepared to accept. However, we are in agreement in that The Rains of Castamere is matching the spread of Lannister power and influence. Tywin even had it played on purpose to House Farman of Faircastle; I wouldn’t be surprised if he promoted its spread in other instances as well.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Alix
Judging by the singers we meet in ASoIaF, it seems that a singer’s primary job is to win over the favor of whichever lord or king they are singing for, if they don’t want to end up tortured or cooked into soup. Since house Lannister is one of the most powerful families in Westeros at the moment, it does make sense that the song would be performed frequently not only at court, but also in the Riverlands with Tywin’s troops and in the North with the Freys and Boltons. Even Tom of Sevenstreams, a known rebel, plays it at Jaime’s request! However like Stefan said the song might not be very well known in more isolated places like Dorne or pre-AGOT Winterfell.

Final Verdict: The song is especially popular due to the rise of Lannister power.

Doesn’t Lord Reyne sound like a real badass in the song?
Liste to a version with expanded lyrics here.

Main Opinion: Stefan
Oh yes, he does. And the consequence of such badassery is the destruction of his house: "And so he spoke, and so he spoke" is the line directly referring to the badassery, and the style mirrors the morale of talk fables. This is enforced by the attribution "THAT lord of Castamere", degrading him ("that one", nor even giving the name of the poor fool) further. The morale that has such been begun is now finished: "And now the rains weep over his hall, without a soul to hear". No one remembers Mr. Badass anymore, so don't be one. I'd argue that anyone who thinks lord Reyne is the secret hero of the song hasn't been paying attention.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
The crux of our disagreement is the legal interpretation of the word “badass”. In my books, Lord Reyne could be a badass who still lost his rebellion. A badass doesn’t have to be a hero and doesn’t need to be the focus of a song. However, all we know from the current lyrics is that Lord Reyne was a big talker, which is not sufficient to be a badass.

Concurring Opinion: Alix
Lord Reyne does sound like a badass, with these “long and sharp” claws of his, but the song shows that when dealing with Tywin Lannister, “badass” is also synonymous with “insolent fool” and the consequences of being a badass are devastatingly tragic. The fact that lord Reyne is never named in the song shows how insignificant he really was, and how easy it was for Tywin to exterminate his House and dismantle his seat. He may have been a badass, but he was not a very smart one.

Final Verdict: Yes, he does. And now he's dead and forgotten. What does that tell you?

Since Littlefinger is pretty much the cause of the War with the Five Kings (though one of many causes, obviously) does he see himself as in any way responsible for starting the chaos that not only elevated him but led to Catelyn's death?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Of course he is. He's viewing it as his masterpiece. I don't think he really expected to get Catelyn back and instead settled for Sansa. Never forget, Littlefinger is a psychopath. The suffering and death of others doesn’t matter much to him. What he wants is chaos and destruction as the means of his own advancement and, of course, to take revenge on all those he feels have wronged him. This was summed up very well by the show in a dialogue between Varys and Littlefinger, in which Varys asked him whether he sees himself on the throne with everyone bowing their heads, and Littlefinger replied sardonically that they won’t do much bowing with their heads cut off. That’s what Littlefinger wants: to be the last man standing, to show them all.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Littlefinger knows he is at least partly responsible for the War; he even claims responsibility for things that had nothing to do with his planning or were the result of sheer luck. I don’t think he intended for Catelyn to die, but he hasn’t lost much sleep over it.

Concurring Opinion: Alix
Although it wasn’t Littlefinger’s ultimate goal to have her killed, Catelyn was part of the collateral damage of his engineered chaos, and he definitely knows he is responsible for her death. After she left for Winterfell and married Ned, whatever affection he had for her was gradually replaced with the lust for power and for chaos that he developed at court. By the time she came to King’s Landing in AGOT, he no longer cared for her and simply viewed her as another pawn in his game. By lying to her about the dagger, he used her to start the war, and even though this wasn’t his final objective, he basically wrote her death sentence at that point.

Final Verdict: Littlefinger is proud of it. As for Catelyn, he simply doesn't care.


  1. Is it realistic that a song written during the current generation like The Rains of Castamere could be so widely adopted by singers and performed so widely?

    I would have said: yes, definitely, because singers travel. All the time. And, presumably, they exchange songs. Westeros isn't that huge - if the song was written, say, five years ago, and it's a good song, that's easily long enough for it to spread the length of the continent. Look at how quickly rumours and news spread across the country in the course of the novels.

  2. Also, the Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion happened some 40 years ago with the song presumably written shortly thereafter. I'd say that's more than enough time.

  3. Justice's Amin and Stefan,
    I would like to hear your opinions regarding the Dorans master plan.

    Hope im not crossing a line by asking this but I have followed your work on A Song of Ice and Fire for years now. The theories author presents a very interesting reinterpretation of the motives and intentions of the Martels which throws some conventions the community have taken for granted for years. Granted some of the ideas presented are clearly reaching too far, but the notion that Doran Martel had 15 years er so to plan and extract his vengeance from the Lannisters and we are too except that the entireity of this plan revolves around two marriages? Visarys to Arienne or Quentin to Dani? It does seem way too simple for Doran and certainly wouldn't take 15 years to carry out.

    I would love to hear your take on this issue Justices.
    Again I hope I am not offending by asking you about another persons theory....

    Also, I am curious if either of you have played mass effect and have an opinion regarding "Indoctrination Theory." It may well be a closed issue since its years old at this point, but it is an interesting theory.
    My apologies if this is the wrong forum for this question.

  4. Not too surprising to me that the Rains of Castamere would be widely known. What's more surprising, at least in the TV show, is that no one in Westeros seems to know more than two songs--the Bear and the Maiden Fair and the Rains of Castamere. It makes the world of the TV show feel really small to me.

    1. The show could definitely use some more songs from the text. But I think it was necessary to use The Rains as much as they did, along with all of the clunky exposition about its significance. That's what made it work for the Unsullied when they heard it played at the RW. My wife, who had not read the books (but has since remedied that oversight), caught it right away. She even characterized it as a shoddy version of the song.