Thursday, October 30, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 51

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 51 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is James Ranson, an itinerant wordsmith on an indefinite road trip and the founding editor and chief word coach at He is also a TEDx speaker coach, all-purpose tenor, professional writer/speaker/provider of feedback, and giver of amazing hugs. James discovered A Song of Ice and Fire in 1998, served two years as a moderator in the online community Westeros Sorting, was a founding attendee at Ice & Fire Con, and proudly serves House Lannister in all his endeavors. Connect with him on and @HeldForRanson. 

Did Lysa Arryn want Ser Vardis Egan to die in Tyrion's trial by combat? She forced him to fight, made him use Jon Arryn's sword rather than his own and pressured him to chase Bronn during the fight itself. This surly gave him a disadvantage and her actions are not really explained.

Main Opinion: Stefan
Of course her actions are explained. She’s mad as a hatter. Seriously, the whole Catelyn and Tyrion chapters in the Eyrie very elaborately point to Lysa not having her act together. She’s totally oblivious to the appearance she gives, to the utter destruction of her son, to the strategy of her decisions and of course the treachery of Littlefinger. Instead, she’s motivated by an obsession about her status and her family, riding on the wave of born privilege. She chooses Vardis Egen because he’s the highest ranking of her own people, she gives him the sword because she thinks it’s a splendid, almost poetic notion, and she pressures him to chase Bronn because she’s not seeing how the fight goes, blinded by all the aforementioned vices. The only conceivable course of events that’ll lead to this being on purpose is that Littlefinger somehow learned of Catelyn’s ploy to bring Tyrion to the Vale ahead of time, somehow knowing that Tyrion would demand a trial by combat, and manufacture an ill-fitting sword. But that all makes no sense, and this is a prime example of Lysa acting on the height of her abilities. She botches it completely because, well, she botches stuff.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Lysa Arryn wanted Ser Vardis to win that fight. She thought it would be an easy win for him and did not appreciate Bronnn’s dangerousness. Littlefinger wanted Tyrion out of the way, his death at the Eyrie would have done enough to start the strife between Lannister and Stark than he needed (in fact it had all happened by that point, what happened to him afterwards was immaterial).

Concurring opinion: James Ranson
The overwhelming sense of Tully honor and propriety, which in Catelyn is merely stubborn, in Lysa goes beyond justice to extreme self-interest and jealousy. I wouldn't be surprised if she wanted to make sure that a Vale knight killed Bronn just to get one up on Catelyn and the Blackfish and show them that she held the power in the Eyrie. She'd already taken control of the whole situation from her sister anyway, so why not twist the knife some? So she chose Ser Vardis, the Vale's guard captain (over the Blackfish, who I think technically outranked Egan and was probably a better fighter), armed him with the Vale's weaponry, and turned him loose to unleash the Vale's justice. It's interesting and possibly ironic that this insane devotion to Honor over Family (Tully family words reversed) got her the reverse of the outcome Lysa wanted.

Final Verdict: Lysa didn't fail on purpose, she just ordinarily failed. 

Where do you think Craster's younger daughters are?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Showing their nice blue eyes to anyone stupid enough to wait for them to put their cold, black hands around their neck. Given the chaos of the Night’s Watch civil war at Craster’s Keep, some of them will have fled, some of them will have been killed outright and the rest either “raped till they were dead” or still there when the Others came. All possible options except hanging on Mance Rayder’s trail, which is unlikely because he surely would have thrown the information around some time or another, end with their death and likely resurrection as whights. No happy end for Craster’s women.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I think this question was in relation to the TV show, as I see a submission that Craster claimed to have fathered “99 sons”. Even if that quote is in the TV show, it is not that relevant, as the TV show is full of errors and unintended consequences (why doesn’t have roughly 99 daughters then?). Regardless, Craster’s Keep isn’t exactly the picture of a healthy and safety environment anyway. He may have lost some daughters to illness and childbirth. As for the daughters now, they better find their way joining the wildlings being admitted south of the Wall, because there is little hope for them in the long run at Craster’s Keep.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: James Ranson
I'd like to think that the poor girls joined the wildlings passing through the wall, and that might make for an interesting TV show trope of having Gilly and her sisters reunited briefly before she leaves (assuming the show writers butcher the timeline to make it happen, which wouldn't surprise me overmuch). But I think it more likely that they are dead, or joined another wildling group somewhere, perhaps at Hardhome. (Where, if Melisandre is correct, they would probably be dead anyway, or captured and enslaved in the Free Cities as Arya heard about.) So ultimately they're probably casualties of the series like so many others both named and unnamed.

Final Verdict: They are either dead or joined with some wildlings beyond the Wall, which amounts to the same thing. 

Who was the mystery knight in Meera’s story?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Lyanna, of course. The little crannogmen is obviously Howland Reed, being mocked by the three squires and assaulted until he’s rescued by Lyanna, the She-Wolf, who then brings him to her three brothers, the wild wolf Brandon, the quit wolf Eddard and the young pub, Benjen. While they were treating Howland Reed kindly enough and protect him, thereby fulfilling their overlord’s duty, there are only three people conceivable who could have been enraged enough to start a tour of revenge. Brandon, the rash and emotional guy, is the first choice, but he was to busy to bone Ashara Dayne despite his brother’s expressed interest in her and therefore can’t be the one. Plus, being a mystery knight doesn’t seem the style of a guy who calls for the crown prince to come out and die before the Red Keep. Second, Howland Reed himself, who’s the wronged party after all and who would dispense some poetic justice, which in a world where “life is not a song” points strongly to this possiblity being a red herring. Besides, Reed has no experience with horses, having obviously never owned nor ridden one (he carried a boat through the whole of the riverlands, for god’s sakes). This leaves Lyanna, who has the ability (being an even better rider than Brandon) as well as the motive (avenging the guy she already rescued) and the character (rash and emotional) for it. It also explains the mysterious vanishing of the mystery knight in the woods and gives us the needed explanation for Rhaegar’s crowing her. We know that Rhaegar led one of the search parties for the mystery knight, and he might just have found her and fell in love then and there, leading him to his doom. Poetic, isn’t it?

Concurring Opinion: Amin
It is fairly obvious that the Mystery Knight was Lyanna Stark, as Justice Stefan has described. I would not have thought that this particular question and answer was new and warranted reviewing, but here is our conclusive support for Lyanna. The fact that Lyanna was good riding horses is brought up a few times in the series, which would have helped her in the tournament. Even Arya is good at riding horses, and Ned noted that Arya reminded him of her.

Concurring opinion: James Ranson
It's Lyanna. I'm really surprised this is even a question at this point. Hell, the mystery knight narrative seems like the only part of Lyanna's story (aside from its end) that we DO know for sure. Between that story and her last moments of life is where the REAL questions lie.

Final Verdict: Lyanna.


  1. I still find it hard to believe that a 14-year old girl was good enough with a lance to unhorse a few guys, though

  2. Stefan, what do you think of the theory that Jenny`s song is in fact the Song of Ice and Fire? Sound quite plausible to me.

  3. Still wondering how in the blue hell Ned knew to go to the Tower of Joy....

    And I think Howland Reed did ride a horse on the way to ToJ and back....didn't he?