Friday, December 12, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 57

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.
Casting Call: We're searching for guest judges again! If you like to participate, even if you have been part of previous rulings, send us an email.
And now, up to ruling 57 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Marcus Roberts, head of research for a British think tank and spends almost as much time strategising his Game of Thrones board game moves as he does planning election campaigns.

What will be the geographical and environmental consequences of the break of the Wall?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Wow, that’s what I call an unusal question. Environmental...well, the pieces of the Wall will melt, which means a pretty wet region at the former Wall, and since the Wall itself must have radiated cold for a pretty big radius, the vegetation should have an easier time reclaiming the location for good. We’re talking about a decade-long process here, of course. The Haunted Forest will expand south. Geographical, there’s not much, except of course you can now wander from Sunspear to the Heart of Winter if you so like. Heart of Winter Tours awaits you at your local traveling office.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I don’t think there will be too many long term environmental consequences from the fall of the Wall, at least any that we will see or be told about. There will be consequences from the battles that will be made possible by the fall of the Wall (one way or another, the issue with the Others will be resolved). I wonder if the entire Wall will fall down, or if a portion of it collapsing falling is enough to break the chain of magic woven in it and allow the Others and Wights to get through.

Dissenting Opinion: Marcus Roberts
Flooding: Crude sums say The Wall is 1.57 billion cubic metres of water or 1.57 gigatons (assuming 300 miles by 700 ft and an arbitrary assumption of 50 ft average thickness) - that's the equivalent to around 2% of estimated Antarctic annual ice loss of 83 gigatons so assuming a similar planetary size and total planetary water volume to earth I'd say the effect is considerably less than earth's anthropogenic climate change. If the land in the north is higher (a reasonable assumption) than more would flow south - although Eastwatch's section would be mainly absorbed by the sea. Thus there would be significant flooding to the New Gift but probably not catastrophic by the time it reaches The Last Hearth. Earthquakes: Here the thickness of the wall is paramount: if it is 50ft across than its likely weight is 'only' 1.57 gigatons and any seismic effects are likely to be minor. But you could greatly scale up these numbers by assuming it's thicker. Given it's thick enough for 12 knights to ride abreast at the top and thicker at the bottom you could happily treble it and go for a round 5 gigatons (assuming approximately 150ft average thickness). In such a scenario a low level Richter scale effect would be likely. Longterm: Dependent on the speed of The Wall's fall this creates interesting geographical and environmental consequences. If the Wall melted slowly (say as a result of a marked change in Northern temperatures) you'd probably see large glacial rivers bringing fresh nutrients to fields in the North (as per glacial rivers elsewhere) giving bountiful harvests and a much improved agricultural settlement. (This court is indebted to the expert testimony of Maesters Crawford and Green, two members of the Community of impeccable geek credentials, who proffered the above calculations)

Final Verdict: Likely, not too much would happen.

Any thoughts on what's up with the Holy Hundred?

Main Opinion: Stefan
I guess this band is in for a very bad fate. For one, they’re crazed zealots in a time of religious strife, and two, they hold Harrenhal. And that damned castle is killing everyone who holds it. If they ever resurface as a plot-relevant entity, I guess we find them wherever the High Septon starts his Crystalade (is that the correct word, crusades aren’t a thing after all), and since that’s not a good place to be when the dragons come, they’ll be dead. Since I believe that fAegon will throw in with the Faith and start a new Dance of the Dragons without dragons of his own, and since Dany is pretty much guaranteed to wipe him, it doesn’t look good for Bonnyfer.

Dissenting Opinion: Amin
I think the Holy Hundred may actually have a chance to survive and even break the Curse of Harrenhall. I don’t think they are ‘crazed zealots’, just conservative, at least from what we’ve seen so far. They aren’t the greatest of fighters, but they are decent enough to hold their ground, while potentially healing the wounds left in the area. Jaime did not only criticize them, he summarized their good points as well: “[T]he carrot-haired justiciar was just the sort of simpleminded fool to assume that someone called “the Good” was the very potion the riverlands required to heal the wounds left by Roose Bolton, Vargo Hoat, and Gregor Clegane. But he might not be wrong. Hasty hailed from the stormlands, so had neither friends nor foes along the Trident; no blood feuds, no debts to pay, no cronies to reward. He was sober, just, and dutiful, and his Holy Eighty-Six were as well disciplined as any soldiers in the Seven Kingdoms, and made a lovely sight as they wheeled and pranced their tall grey geldings.”

Concurring Opinion: Marcus Roberts
I strongly concur with the thoughts of Justice Sasse. Even setting aside the real or authorial 'Curse of Harrenhal' there are a number of factors that bode ill for the so-called Holy Hundred. Firstly, their military strength is diminished: they number 86 not 100 and represent a force that though well equipped and trained in parade ground maneuver lacks significant combat experience (see the eyewitness account of Ser Jaime Lannister, A Feast for Crows, c.27). Their fanaticism may be of some use to a commander eager to use de facto suicide troops but that again is bad news for Bonnyfer et al. Lastly, I would hazard the guess that where GRRM is concerned, what is past is most certainly prologue: thus the purpose of exploring the Faith Militant's conflict with the Iron Throne in AWoIaF was to foreshadow fresh temporal versus spiritual conflict in TWoW and/or ADoS - the Holy Hundred will be in the frontline of any such conflict and may well suffer a fate similar to the Faith at Rhaenys's Hill or Stonebridge/Bitternbridge.

Final Verdict: They probably won't survive the series.

So what if Jon is no longer member of the Night's Watch, would Jon Lazarus be eligible for kingship, assuming northern nutjobs would have such a freak for a king (I guess this one would depend on the way he's restored to life)?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Your guess is absolutely right. That’s very much what it depends on. So let’s think about this for a minute. He most likely won’t come to live again as an Other, because that would end his story. So, a Beric-Dondarrion-style resurrection that costs him some part of his identity (only death can pay for life, and Beric lost the same). That means he is resurrected by a miracle of R’hollor, if you’re a believer, or he’s an Other, if you’re not. The reaction of people to his resurrection will be something between utter horror and religious awe, I guess, or they’ll conclude that his wounds just weren’t that bad, which is the most sane reaction anyone could have, and most likely that of a majority. But that means that he didn’t die in their eyes, so he’s Night’s Watch still. If they react with utter horror, they will want to destroy him as an unholy creation. If they react with religious awe, then they are most likely believers in R’hollor. Now, the North doesn’t bow to R’hollor, as has been established. They follow no ghosts or nothing. The North follows personality (or, in Bolton’s case, the guy with the army). No one will be interested in the question whether or not demigod/abomination-Jon is nopo w technically not bound to his oath anymore because it states “until I die”. It’s like when Obama’s assassinated, returns from the dead and people ask whether his marriage vows to Michelle are now still valid. Who gives a shit? Either he is a monster that needs to be put down (no adaption needed for Republicans here) or he’s a demigod that can do wonders (time travel to 2008 for Democrats).

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
It is important to note that we don’t know what exactly will happen to Jon, whether he will truly die and come back like Beric does, or some other magical combination that saves him before dying. Assuming he does the former route, I think that a lot of people at the Wall will accept it as a religious miracle done by R’hollor: specifically, the people who have converted already, and some that will concert afterwards because of it. Some others will just think he was healed normally, like how Lem Lemoncloak closed his eyes with what happened to Beric. Finally, some will oppose him because of it, but Jon’s power base will be too strong. He might not be particularly forgiving either, if part of his original personality is replaced by a more hardass personality that is more in align with the Old Kings of the North during his ‘reboot’.

Concurring Opinion: Marcus Roberts
Again I concur with Justice Sasse. Jon Lazarus's return will most likely be a Rorschach Test for believers Vs non-believers (miracle Vs medical) but this is likely a sideshow from the main matter. Because for the majority, it will depend both on his force of personality and his ability to wield strength. Northerners may reluctantly if obediently follow a Roose who has the latter but will follow an Eddard who has both to hell and back (or... not back if you think about Jory and co.'s experience of King's Landing). If Jon Lazarus returns with strength of personality and gains strength of arms then the North would happily bend the knee although I continue to believe that he will not accept any such Kingship.

Final Verdict: The reaction would much depend on partisan bias.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Justice Amin - did you mean Thoros instead of Lem Lemoncloak in your answer to the last question?

    And speaking of Lem Lemoncloak, I would like to petition the court. Who is Lem Lemoncloak? If my memory serves, he gets too much attention in the books to be some random man-at-arms who joined the Brotherhood without Banners. So who is he, what is his story?

    1. No, I meant Lem. He is the one who is in denial and pretends that Beric was just healed, Thoros figures out what has happened.

      The Court is already seized with the matter of Lem Lemoncloak, a ruling on him will be out sometime this month or next.

    2. Got it - misunderstood the first time, thanks for the follow up.

      I will be eagerly awaiting the Lem ruling.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. God Dammit I love these things.

  4. I think how people reacted to Lord Beric is the best measure of how people would react to Jon's comeback. With Beric for most people it was a fog of war thing. They'd hear he was killed in this place or that and this would be contradicted by people in the know, though no one was ever explicitly saying what was actually going on. Then there were the people like Lem in the Brotherhood who were on hand for it and still had their willful blinders on as Amin pointed out.

    With danger approaching the wall (and conflict between the Wildlings and the Watch or between factions of the Watch in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Jon), it also might be that there will be few people to disseminate the tale of Jon's assasination and comeback.

    I think the fog of war effect we saw with Beric will definitely be present with Jon also. It would be enough to keep him mysterious and legendary in the eyes of some, but the story involving magic would not be so clearly established as to discomfort the many people out there like Lem.

  5. But Jon is a bastard Stark and has a direwolf bonded to him. Some of the Westerosi Northerners and some of the Wildlings may see this as some sort of an intervention/miracle from The Old Gods in these trying times.

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  7. Worrying about Jon's oath is moot if the NW is annihilated by the collapse of the wall and/or the Other's offensive. Jon might organize a new NW which is now energized by purpose to resist the Other onslaught.

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