Thursday, January 29, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 63

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 63 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Jeff, otherwise known as BryndenBFish. He is the creator of a dedicated A Song of Ice and Fire Blog known as Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire. His personal interests in the series are strongly tied into the political machinations of the characters as well as the military strategy and tactics used by the major and minor players of the game of thrones.

What do you think of the theory that Arya will be Jon's Nissa Nissa? If this is true do you think Jon will sacrifice her?

Main Opinion: Stefan
While it’s true that this would be a heart-wrenching, incredibly emotional choice, I think the Nissa-Nissa-legend won’t repeat itself quite that obviously. I think that at one point, Azor Ahai has to give up something he really loves dear, perhaps even romantically, but somehow I don’t see Arya serving this role. Her whole character arc doesn’t very well fit a “dies to save the world”-approach. I want to float two possible options here: one being Dany as Nissa Nissa, provided that Jon falls in love with her and has the opportunity to “sacrifice” her, and the other is that it will play out in a more subtle way, as in a tough moral decision to do something dear to you or to keep the bigger picture in view. I prefer the last approach because it is more in line with the revisionist take on the whole fantasy genre, but there is of course the possibility that it will become more fantasy-ish towards the end. As to the question of whether or not Jon will make the sacrifice at all - hard to say, because we don’t know who Jon will be after his inevitable resurrection.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I think that Dany (or Jon himself) is more likely to fit the Nissa-Nissa role than Arya. In addition, Jon has already chosen Arya over duty in some ways, with his interfering in Northern politics during A Dance with Dragons. The sacrifice may not play out in the same form this time, as Justice Stefan aptly pointed out.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Jeff
While I agree to a large extent with Stefan that this is a potential scenario for how the Nissa-Nissa legend will replay in future books, I think that Martin is much more subtle than simply giving us a direct answer on Nissa-Nissa. Stefan, your essay on prophecy (Under the Bleeding Star) is prescient here. Who is Azor Ahai Reborn in the series? For the in-universe characters, they believe that it's Stannis or Daenerys. Fans think that it could be Jon Snow or if you're into the tinfoil: Victarion Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, Davos Seaworth, Rhaegar Targaryen or even Samwell Tarly. Given the ambiguity that Martin weaves into the narrative, I think that it will be possible that in-universe characters & fans will come to differing conclusions on who Azor Ahai Reborn & Nissa Nissa Reborn are. It could be Jon Snow & Arya. It could also be Daenerys & Jon Snow. But what I imagine will transpire in the future is that Martin will plant evidence that suggests not one candidate but many. That ambiguity is what makes Martin's writing so good and the source for all the fan discussion & debate. So, why would we expect a finite resolution of Arya or Dany as Nissa-Nissa?

Final Verdict: Arya is not Jon's Nissa Nissa.

How relevant is Jenny’s song, and may it fact be the Song of Ice and Fire? Does it explain the Prince Who Was Promised, or the tragedy of Summerhall, or both?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Jenny’s song is at least important for the lore, especially surrounding the events of the Tragedy of Summerhall. The problem is that we don’t know much of the content nor the context. Jenny of Oldstones was the wife of Duncan, the Prince of Dragonflies, who dies with his father, Aegon V, and his namesake, Duncan the Tall, at Summerhall in 259 AL. We know that it is haunting and evocative, because Martin said so, and in the one known line of it, ghosts in ruins are mentioned, which could refer to a lot of things. Since it’s very possible that Rhaegar is the author of that song, it is also possible that he hid information in it that becomes apparent only to the very knowledgable listener. But somehow, I’m not giving the song that much importance. I guess if it really was important, we would have more of the actual text, and Martin wouldn’t have excused its non-availability simply with the fact that he’s not good at writing lyrics. Usually, when he doesn’t want to answer a question for fear of spoilers, he simply says so. Therefore, I’d caution against over-interpreting the song.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Too early to tell, but I don’t think it is the Song of Ice and Fire itself. I do like the idea that Rhaegar may have composed the song. It may very well reveal details about Summerhall, but we’ll have to wait for more verses to be released to get that, or none at all, to subsequently dismiss its importance.

Concurring Opinion: Jeff
The song as ASOIAF lore is a good theory and one I agree with. Just to build on Stefan's point about it as lore: Martin has seemingly scattered references and clues to the song throughout the 5 books. There's been some solid detective work done by fans such as Cantuse which points out the different, sometimes-obscure references to the song in the series, e.g. Mance Rayder singing it at Winterfell during events from A Dance with Dragons. One of the more interesting theories is that "Jenny's Song" is the song of ice and fire that Rhaegar references in Dany's House of the Undying scene, but I would need a lot more evidence to back that theory. What seems more plausible to me is that the lyrics of the song relate the Tragedy of Summerhall. While Martin may be a poor lyricist, I also think there's a component that GRRM was still figuring out events from the Tragedy of Summerhall in some of those old So Spake Martins & other interviews where Martin is asked about the topic. And given the "Rains of Castamere," he's criminally underselling his own lyrical prowess. 

Final Verdict: Currently it's very hard to tell because we don't really have the text of the song. 

Did Littlefinger know about Lysa’s abortion? Did Jon Arryn know about it, and did he know that Littlefinger was the father?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Interesting question. Somehow I think he doesn’t “know” in a sense that he consciously knows it. It must be nearly impossible for Littlefinger not to learn about the fact at some time, but somehow, I guess he would rationalize this away. Lysa’s pregnancy is basically the proof that he slept with her and not with Catelyn that night, and while he slept with her again later (at least according to his table-confessions), they seem to have taken steps to avoid a pregnancy (or Lysa’s biology simply ran its course). Jon Arryn, on the other hand, almost certainly knew. There’s this line about Lysa of a “girl of known fertility” that he needed for his line, and that knowledge makes the one about her initial pregnancy necessary. Yes, Jon Arryn knew. If he wanted to add 1 and 1, he also knows that Littlefinger is the father, but given his inaffectual relationship with Lysa, it’s likely that he didn’t care that much who impregnated her when they were 15.

Dissenting in Part: Amin
Jon Arryn knew that Lysa had been pregnant and had an abortion, as Justice Stefan pointed out. Not only was that a potential plus in terms of looking for someone with established fertility to carry on his line, it may also have affected his treatment of her. Catelyn speculates that he was not harsh, but perhaps could not provide as much love as she needed due to his Arryn pride. However, there is a potential distinction between knowing about the pregnancy and abortion on one hand, and knowing that Littlefinger was the father on the other hand. If Jon knew, it certainly says something about his character that he was able to overlook something other lords would not be able to forgive and make use of Littlefinger’s abilities. I lean toward the idea that he did not know, simply because, regardless of forgiveness, he had to try and father some heirs, and having Littlefinger around anywhere near his wife would problematic in terms of future questions of paternity by rival claimants or enemies of his House. Littlefinger also knew because Lysa probably told him more than once, including during her rambling confession before Petyr murders her in A Storm of Swords. I don’t think Littlefinger would ignore that particular bit of knowledge; if he actually is in self-denial about a night with Catelyn rather than spinning his usual half-lies, he could probably rationalize that some other way.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part Opinion: Jeff
Jon Arryn certainly knew as Justice Stefan points out. Lysa's fertility was the selling point for a rather cold "Marry Lysa in exchange for an alliance" quid pro quo. But I disagree that it's ambiguous whether Littlefinger knew that he slept with Lysa and that Hoster Tully gave her an abortifacient when Lysa grew pregnant. He's known for a while now. In Sansa's last chapter in A Storm of Swords, Lysa's episode which leads to her fall (heh) has the dialogue between Littlefinger & Lysa about their coupling and her subsequent pregnancy/abortion. Littlefinger calmly responds with "That's past and done, Lysa." The implication here is that Littlefinger is completely aware of everything that happened with Lysa. However, an argument could be made that Littlefinger is jazz soloing here -- that is keeping his composure and making it up on the fly. (All credit for the jazz soloist reference to Steven Attewell!) But given that Lysa and Littlefinger were in secret communication at court (something hinted at when Lysa says: "after all these years of silence and whisperings, I mean to scream when you love me"), it's clear to me that Littlefinger is in the know about events after Hoster gave him the boot. This makes Littlefinger's tale at court that he took Catelyn's virginity all the more villainous in my opinion as he was aware of his duping by Lysa, but lied anyways. Dude's a total narcissist and sociopath. It's almost as if Littlefinger is the true villain of the story, but I'm sure that'll come up as a question for another time.

Final Verdict: Littlefinger most likely knows. 


  1. Great discussion you guys!
    I always thought that people put too much importance on the prophecies and on the legend of Azor Ahai, which might have been exaggerated over the years. If Jon is to have a Nissa Nissa it makes sense that it was probably Ygritte, just as Drogo was for Dany, and maybe Tysha or Shae was for Tyrion.

    Since Valentines Day is coming up, I was wondering if you have any Romantic themed questions for the SCOW, I have some if you want to use them, if not I'm happy to wait in line:

    1) Do you think Dany truly loves Daario or are her feeling for him more likely just lust and attraction to danger (like the Meereenese Blot argues)?
    2) Will any characters find true love and will they be able to live happily ever after (No deaths or one of them marrying someone else for political reasons)?

    I ask the second one because I'm a huge shipper of Arya-Gendry, San-San, Brienne-Jaime, etc. But even if one of the many pairings truly love each other, it seems unlikely that any of them will realistically be able to be together after the story ends.


    1. Actually, we do, but I take them in anyway for some point in May or June (yes, we're mapped with questions at the moment) :)

  2. Here's a question: Is it possible that Jon Snow somehow ends up in Stannis' body when he comes back to life, therefore possibly fulfilling Melisandre's prophesy that Stannis is Azor Ahai reborn?

    I don't have anything to back this up, just a thought.

  3. No, that's not possible. It contradicts the Melisandre chapter (seeing Jon in the flames) and the Varamyr prologue (skinchanging a human is an abomination, Jon/Stannis would be seen accordingly and likely killed). More importantly, it doesn't fit the narrative.

    1. Yeah, that would be totally random. Why would he? Doesn't make any sense. Melisandre just sucks at reading prophecy.

  4. If the we take the book and the show as separate entities. We know the show will be done long before the books are. How different will the show ending be from the book ending?

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