Thursday, January 8, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 60

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 60 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Alex, a member of the community.

Is “A Song of Ice and Fire” ultimately an analogy to climate change?

Main Opinion: Amin
I do not think ASOIAF is ultimately an analogy to climate change. If the story is about a single theme, I’m closer to the idea that Justice Stefan and his colleague from Boiled Leather often talk about: an anti-war work. However, I don’t think the story is about one theme, it contains many potential themes and analogies, and often considers both sides of an issue, including the effects of war. Now, is climate change one of the many minor analogies? I don’t see the connection. There is some sort of climate change related to the Others, either that lead in their evolution/creation, or they have some control over it now. But I don’t think it has anything really to do with the humans of ASOIAF, unless the idea is that they are wasting their time on other pursuits rather than working together to deal with a real global threat, the Others, just like climate change is potentially a global threat in our own world. I think that is a weak analogy and I don’t see it being Martin’s intention.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I don’t even see where the analogy would be. That the seasons take long and hit people hard? Plus, I have never heard Martin talk about climate change, but I have heard him talking a lot about, on the one hand, war and what it means to people, and, on the other hand, the kind of personal choices that each and everyone is involved and that decide whether or not we’re good persons. That’s what the story is about, theme-wise, at least in regard to major themes (of course they’re not the only ones). But climate change? Rewatch “An Inconvenient Truth” for this.

Concurring Opinion: Alex
I think this is a case of stuffing contemporary issues into fiction. In my opinion A Song of Ice and Fire is the ultimate deconstruction of the Fantasy genre and all the tropes it has collected over the years. Further, I don't think Martin's work includes any analogies. Like The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire contains numerous themes; Martin's romantic yet disgusted view of war being a prime example, but climate change doesn't even begin to enter the story.

Final Verdict: No, it's not.

Robert had like 16 bastards right? So where are the other bastards? Have we met them already or do you think we will? Do you think Satin and the twins Arron and Emrick or anyone from the Watch can be one of Robert's bastards?

Main Opinion: Amin
We have met some of them and have yet to meet some that are of little importance, succession wise anyway. I guess some other characters we have seen might be Robert’s bastards without us knowing, but I don’t think it will be relevant in the long run. Anyone who we have not seen or had identified yet will probably not be of importance. Our Court clerk, Khal Wadege, provided the following listing for our use: “Varys knows about 8 of them, so far we have Mya, Edric, Gendry, Barra, Gendry's prostitute sister in Stoney Sept, and a possible pair of twins in Lannisport that Cersei killed”. Of those, Mya, Edric and Gendry are of the greatest importance, Edric in particular being a “Great Bastard”; I believe we’ve talked about his future in a previous ruling.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Yes, we did. I don’t really think that they will have an impact on the story that much, they’re more tidbits thrown in, mosaics in the much larger picture of the world. To answer the initial question: yes, Satin could be a bastard of Robert’s, possibly giving him a rationale for being on the Wall and filling Varys’ eight.

Concurring Opinion: Alex
We have met all of the bastards of Robert we're likely to meet, remember Cersei had many babes killed in A Clash of Kings. It's probably likely Satin is the bastard son of Robert, as he certainly fits the Baratheon description: comely with black hair and eyes.

Final Verdict: We might meet others, and Satin is a candidate.

What is the significance of Valyrian steel blades in ASOIAF? They are scattered around the seven kingdoms but seem to most characters to be a status symbol for a house with a tradition of handing them down to one's heirs. Will any of these blades besides maybe Longclaw actually be used when the Others eventually invade Westeros? Also, as these are ancient blades and very important to the houses that possess them why is there no mention of a Valyrian steel sword as a part of the iron throne since the throne is made up of the swords of Aegon's conquered enemies?

Main Opinion: Amin
Valyrian steel will play an important role in the continuing story, if only as an important weapon of war in the current conflicts, let alone the potential for use against the Others, if it works against them. Dragonglass seems to have far greater potential use for mass use against the Others, given the scarcity of Valyrian weapons. In regards to the Iron Throne, I would think the families with Valyrian weapons that survived would carefully hide or remove theirs from the swords submitted (the Starks did not give up Ice after all). Aegon himself probably would not put good Valyrian steel to waste like that, they are irreplaceable, like the Dragons, and he was very careful with the three dragons he brought to Westeros with him. It is interesting to note the effect of having Valyrian steel in the Iron throne if it did happen, but I will leave to an upcoming ruling this month focussing on the Iron Throne.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Valyrian steel will most likely be able to kill Others, but given the small number of blades in Westeros and the even smaller number available, I don’t think they’ll play a large role in this. The problem I see with the Valyrian blades being an important tool against the Others is that it would create a strange picture in any final battle: all the lords would be Aragorn, while their smallfolk would supply the Keystone army to let them look cool while they slaughtered ice zombies with their magical swords. Not exactly fitting the story.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Alex
Given the relatively small number of Valyrian steel blades I find it doubtful they will play a particularly important role in stopping the Others, beyond the aforementioned Longclaw. All the Houses we know of that have (or had) Valyrian steel blades managed to keep their swords. Houses Stark and Mormont (Ice and Longclaw) are from the North, and the text clearly states Aegon I agreed to not melt any Northern sword for the Iron Throne. However, other Houses are known to have resisted the Conquest but kept their blades. Houses Tarly (Heartsbane), Corbray (Lady Forlorn), Harlaw (Nightfall), Drumm (Red Rain), Roxton (Orphan-Maker), Hightower (Vigilance) and Royce (Lamentation) all kept their blades following the Conquest. Based on the information we have I believe we can safely conclude Aegon I allowed everyone to keep their Valyrian steel blades, regardless of their belligerence during the Conquest. I think the most likely explanation for this is nobody in Westeros knew how to rework Valyrian steel, so the blades would not fit Aegon's purposes anyway.

Final Verdict: The Valyrian blades can hurt the Others, and Aegon most likely let the lords keep them.

8 comments:

  1. "unless the idea is that they are wasting their time on other pursuits rather than working together to deal with a real global threat"

    A bit weird to me that only one judge considered this, and dismissed it at that. I mean, the Others are an existential threat to humanity that also just happen to herald/bring climate change, and that virtually no one believes in enough to do something about? Is it really so incredible to think there's an analogy there?

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    Replies
    1. if you think about the time the great foundations of the first book have been laid done, global warming was not that big a theme in the public as in our days; so if it was something the author really cared about it surely would be more obvious

      just my thoughts on it

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    2. Sure, the forced links are there, but this is such a silly question that I wish the court would filter it out rather than respond. This is even more true for the tenuous crackpot theories of the day that so often get brought up (Daario = Benjen, etc). Has it been too long since ADWD that we can't think of better questions? Either way, some filter would be good. It's not like the real Supreme Court hears every case.

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    3. I do filter out some stuff. Generally, some stuff (Benjen = Daario) are crackpot, yes, but obviously stuff like that has some traction in fanhood. Therefore, disprooving them seems in order. Plus, oftentimes the stupid stuff gives us the opportunity to talk about other important issues.

      Delete
    4. Does Musa Okwonga read your blog...?

      http://www.okwonga.com/why-game-of-thrones-reminds-me-of-climate-change/

      Delete
  2. russel merryweather could be one of Robert´s bastards.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The first book was written in 1979 (or at least it seems that long) and global warming was not on the minds of anyone when he first started writing these

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