Thursday, December 18, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 58

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.
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 58 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Todd, who started reading the books upon a recommendation from a friend and with the goal of staying ahead of the show, which he is in the process of convincing his wife to watch.  He is currently on his third re-read, learning more each time through.  He's mostly a lurking member of the community, but took part in the TOTH re-read series. His Beat Train pseudonym comes from his time as a runner at the University of Notre Dame.

Is the "Ice Dragon" set in the same world as A Song of Ice and Fire?

Main Opinon: Amin
The Ice Dragon is not set in the same world as A Song of Ice and Fire. It was a short story written by George over the winter of 1978-1979, long before he conceived of Westeros. It has interesting connections to ASOIAF, along with his other works and past characters, as they are, in his own words, “the heirs to turtle castle, the ancestors of Ice and Fire”. ASOIAF is his magnum opus, and George will draw upon ideas, themes, even character names he used in his past works. There are interesting ideas like ‘a Kingsroad’, dragonriders, seasonal variation, even stories of ice dragons used in Ice Dragon, but he recycles them in ASOIAF, rather than Ice Dragon being set in the same world. Saying it is in the same world (or even the same universe, which it could be but doesn’t really mean anything, a universe has billions of planets) is merely a marketing ploy. George could “retcon” it by forcing the Ice Dragon story somewhere into ASOIAF history, but hopefully he won’t, because there are many differences that distinguish it from ASOIAF, as we recently covered on the Podcast of Ice and Fire.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I never read the Ice Dragon. But it doesn’t matter. All that happened here is that the publisher is taking a shot at profiting from Martin’s newfound fame. You can see the same mechanism at work with all his other older works, invoking the “Ice&Fire”-feel. By the way, I don’t think that there is much of that in his other stories. I refer especially to the “Fevre Dream” novel and comic adaption, which has a little bit of dubious characters and political intrigue, but in the end, it’s a distinct work on its own. The success of “A Song of Ice and Fire” is just overshadowing everything.

Concurring Opinion: Todd
What Justice Amin said. Now, regarding the existence of ice dragons, I lean no, but to second-guess myself, you really shouldn't bet against Old Nan. And Old Nan spoke of ice dragons in her fairy tales. So like grumpkins and snarks, they may just exist.

Final Verdict: There is no connection, only a marketing ploy. 

Do you believe in the Lem Lemoncloak is Rhaegar’s squire theory?

Main Opinion: Amin
The main theory is best read at the source, but I I like with it, though I expected criticisms from my esteemed colleague’s inevitable “big But”. I think the theory does a good job of answering two questions I hadn’t really considered: What’s Lem’s backstory and what happened to Rhaegar’s squire? Not everyone needs a revealed backstory, but keep in mind Martin even had backstories prepared for character like Rorge and Biter. I didn’t think we needed to think much about Rhaegar’s squire, but Lady Gwynhyfvar does a good job of collecting quotes that appear to link the same characters, enough to meet my satisfaction on the balance of probabilities. Why do we need an answer to the second question? Because Rhaegar’s squire would know what Rhaegar was up to, and may provide additional information on Jon’s background, either just to the reader or perhaps to Jon’s benefit. The latter is a bit weak given that nobody might believe Lem, but he also stands as an example of what can happen to a broken man, particularly one who has gone through several stages of his life. Overall, an interesting theory that has moved beyond the realm of crackpot.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
I have to admit, there is a case to be made here. However, I regard the evidence that we get as way too flimsical to allow an affirmative judgement. There is too much dependent on meta and metaphors (especially in the kisses). I don’t want this opinion understood as a total rejection of the idea. I just don’t see it yet. However, given the adherence of Martin to the principle of Chekov’s gun, having Ser Richard Lonmouth being mentioned as often as he is without a confirmation of death seems suspicious. To say the least, we’ll hear from him again.

Dissenting Opinion: Todd
Lady Gwynhyfvar did a great job finding textual support, and more importantly, trying to tie in a narrative purpose, which takes this beyond crackpot, as Justice Amin adroitly points out. BUT, the theory doesn't quite hold when you consider the implications. Let's break it down: Lem's loyal to Robert, meaning if he was Rhaegar's squire, he would had to have chosen his liege over his close friend. The narrative purpose that makes this theory possible is that Lem/Richard could speak to Rhaegar's true intentions. If we assume Rhaegar's intentions were noble and served such a high purpose, as most do, then why would Lem/Richard betray Rhaegar? So the implication of Lem/Richard choosing Robert over Rhaegar is that Rhaegar actually abducted Lyanna. Otherwise, Lem/Richard was either confused over Rhaegar's intentions or did not know them, in which case the reveal would have little, if any, narrative purpose, making the theory just a set of tenuous connections. As for more speculative anti-support: Ned Dayne believes Wylla to be Jon's mother and has some background about the Tourney at Harrenhal regarding Ned Stark and Ashara Dayne. If Lem/Richard knew otherwise, I would expect this to have come up, especially since Harwin told Arya that Ned Dayne had discussed it with him. I consider this more speculative though, since if Lem = Richard, it doesn't necessarily mean he knows R + L = J. In general though, once Harwin reveals who Arya is, I would expect a more overt clue connecting Lem/Richard's supposed knowledge of Lyanna. When Brienne is being hanged, she promises that her Lord father would ransom Pod, talking about how she's from the Sapphire Isle. If Lem = Richard, who's a Stormlander, he would know that the Lord of Tarth is not nearly as rich as Brienne is implying. Lem has rotten teeth, implying he's a commoner, not someone that would have been close friends and squire to the heir to the Iron Throne.

Final Verdict: No, Lem Lemoncloak isn't Richard Lonmouth.

What’s the fate of Ser Jorah?

Main Opinion: Amin
Ser Jorah could have gone west with Tyrion and tried that route, but apparently he is sticking with his obsession with Dany. I think that Dany will probably forgive Ser Jorah in some fashion, or at least will not execute him on the spot. He’ll probably survive to make it over to Westeros, perhaps long enough to be annoyed with Jon for ‘usurping’ his place as a son figure to Jeor and taking the family sword. I don’t think Ser Jorah survives to rule Bear’s Island (got enough strong female Mormonts over there to handle that anyway) or play a role in a future Westerosi administration. He dies, perhaps in defence of Dany, or meets some other fate.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I can see no happy ending for Ser Jorah. His honor was soiled twice now, and I guess he will want to redeem it, if only by dying for someone he swore to protect. His disfigurement especially seems an indicator of this for me.

Concurring Opinion: Todd
I agree with many of Justice Amin's stances including that Jorah won't rule Bear Island, and that he dies. However, we have little textual support to suss out Jorah's fate. The best we have is Jeor's dying wish to Sam that Jorah take the black. We also can reasonably assume that Dany will hear about the Others through the wildlings that were enslaved at Hardhome and that Jorah and Dany will reconnect after the Battle of Fire. Putting all that together, Jorah will be involved in the Battle for the Dawn Part II and die defending the Realm, earning back some honor for his family name, serving the purpose of the Night's Watch, if not being an actual member.

Final Verdict: Ser Jorah won't survive the series. 

14 comments:

  1. Thanks for considering the Lem theory, esteemed judges! I feel it's important to add a couple of hints from TWoIaF that I haven't had time to edit into the essay but that we'll be discussing in an upcoming episode of Radio Westeros later this month. These may go some way towards addressing the principal objection of Justice Todd. Richard Lonmouth is noted to have been one of Rhaegar's main supporters at court in the implied matter of regime change. There is also what I believe is a strong hint that he accompanied Rhaegar into the Riverlands on that fateful mission that resulted in the disappearance of Lyanna Stark. Given the outcome of that situation, with Aerys executing Rickard and Brandon Stark and calling for the heads of two of his Lords Paramount, we propose that Richard Lonmouth chose Robert in the Rebellion in order to effect that regime change. Remember that quite early on Rhaegar was well out of things and the Rebellion was technically against Aerys, aimed at removing an increasingly mad tyrant from power. Rhaegar's eventual involvement-- no doubt out of a sense of duty to his House and perhaps even an effort to safeguard his children in King's Landing-- would play right into the themes of choice and the broken man that were identified in the original essay. For the record I don't think we'll have to wait too long for this one to be proved or disproved. Last we saw of the Riverlands in ADwD, one person who likely knew Richard Lonmouth was on a collision course with Lem Lemoncloak and is my strong candidate for a reveal. When Jaime Lannister resurfaces, I have every hope he'll be putting this theory to the test. In any case, like Justice Stefan, I remain certain that we haven't heard the last of Richard Lonmouth.

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    1. Great job on developing your theory it is really well researched,

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  2. Final Verdict: No, Lem Lemoncloak isn't Richard Lonmouth? Really?
    I think that if this was a jury trial that the verdict may have gone the other way. I am of the belief that Lonmouth was trying to win favor with Aerys initially and then was sort of at the point of no return once he found out that he would have to choose between Rhaegar and Aerys/Robert. That decision, or "Choice", part of the Lonmouth motto "The Choice Is Yours", went on to shape the rest of his life. Leading to the death of his wife and child and ultimately leading him to the TBWB.

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  3. She should demand a trial by combat! I will be your champion!

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  4. What will ultimately become of Gendry?

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  5. Thanks for all agreeing on the Ice Dragon not being set in the same world (as Amin said "universe" is pointless, just more of a gimmick). I was quite annoyed when I saw that slug on the dust jacket and people just eating it up. I know GRRM is busy with everything and has little say on the copy that goes onto a jacket, but I really wish he somehow put his foot down and didn't allow this. This opens the door to his publishers doing the same with his other books.

    The fact that most of his earlier novels/story collections have been re-issued in trade paperbacks with cover formats similar to the ASOIAF books doesn't bother me as much because that is something that most publishers do when they have a book or series that is a runaway success (Gone Girl, Jo Nesbo detective thrillers, etc).

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  6. Your rulings enrich the re-read experience and are much appreciated.

    First question I've ever posed to the Jury so please pay heed:

    What are your thoughts on the theory that Stannis was in on Mel's plan to free "Arya" all along and meant for her to be delivered to him so that Bolton may be forced to attack him?

    https://cantuse.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/operating-in-the-dark/

    This is just a small part of a much larger mannifesto the guy has written more on Stannis' Northern Campaign than GRRM and lately I've been sliding over to his side of the camp.

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    Replies
    1. Put it in court. I have read the mediations with keen interest, although I don't believe half of it :)

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  7. What was the reason that Stannis became suspicious of Cersei's children???

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  8. I do not mind that GRRM or his Publishers try to trick the unschooled into buying a book with a misleading tag because GRRM does such a great job with his money and social responsibility. Like the Lem/Richards debate but no squire of Rhaegar could have been clocked by Arya.

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