Thursday, March 5, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 68

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.
And now, up to ruling 68 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Fredrik Fischer, a globetrotting polyglot with a yen for all things food-, communications-, human- literature-, or Ice and Fire-related (among a lot of other stuff), in no particular order of importance.

Why was Bran chosen by Bloodraven? Was it because of his accident? Do the direwolves have something to do with it?

Main Opinion: Amin
Bloodraven determined Bran’s great warging and skinchanging potential and made use of it. I would think he was aware of Bran’s potential even before the accident, but the accident certainly helped mold Bran into a useful mental position where he could be manipulated into coming out to see Bloodraven and start down the weirdwood tree road. The direwolves may have been sent by Bloodraven himself, we have debated this issue before, but he was certainly aware of them anyway. Some may argue that Bloodraven even set up Bran’s accident, though I do not see the link directly at this point. But I do think he would be willing to do something like that, if it the means fit his end goals.

Dissenting opinion: Stefan
I’d argue that Bloodraven was aware of Bran’s existence and warging abitilies before Bran was conceived, having had Green Dreams about many events between the Blackfyre Rebellion and the novels that allowed him to monitor the Starks, wait for the opportune moment and then set up the events as they needed to be in order for Bran to awake his full potential - in this case, warging into a direwolf, leading it south of the Wall and then entering Bran’s dreams.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Frederic Fischer
At this point in the story, we don’t have enough information pertaining to what Bloodraven can and cannot do to determine whether he actually was behind Bran’s accident in any measure. Bran’s out-of-body experiences were crucial to him starting the journey to Bloodraven, but personally, I have always had the feeling that the choosing might have gone the other way, that Bran might have been the active part in chosing his path, thus subverting the trope of the Chosen One. But as I said, we just can’t know for sure at this point. As everyone else, I expect TWOW will at least partly reveal more about this question. However, I don’t think the direwolves had any direct or significant involvement. Perhaps the Starks have a propensity for warging into direwolves, but as we’ve seen with Arya and the cat, they aren’t exclusive in any way. I believe, however, that the direwolves are there as a literary motif and symbol, however powerful those may be, and nothing more (or less).

Final Verdict: Surprisingly, the court isn't able to concur on anything. We have to wait for "The Winds of Winter" which will almost certainly shed light on the matter. 

Would Barristan have beaten Sansa on Joffrey's orders if he had not been dismissed?

Main Opinion: Amin
Excellent question, and a difficult one. I think that he would be shocked by such an order, not so much refuse it off the bat, but be left in initial shock and not comply that way. If given repeated orders, I would like to think that he wouldn’t do it, but I do accept that there are differing views of Ser Barristan in the fandom. I wonder if it would ever happen, only that Joffrey, as stupid as he was, may have known that not all of his Kingsguard were the same. He never asked the Hound to do it, and he may have realized that it is better to ask toadie Kingsguard or newbie Kingsguard than to try that with the Hound or Ser Barristan.

Concuring opinion: Stefan
I think Joffrey wasn’t stupid enough for that. Besides, Barristan had enough stature and personal reputation to take the easy way out, one that was offered by Jaime in “A Feast for Crows”: he would have simply refused the stupid child, went to the Queen Regent, asked her if she wished Sansa to be beaten and hoped that Cersei wasn’t entirely left of her senses. I can’t imagine him failing his vows that obviously. However, he wouldn’t have prevented the beatings - this he trained in Aerys’ time.

Concurring opinion: Frederic Fischer
I believe Ser Barristan would have questioned Joffrey’s motives internally if he (Barristan) would have gone through with beating Sansa, but I don’t see Joffrey using such a symbolically powerful knight as Ser Barristan for such a menial task other than, perhaps, if Barristan himself had, in Joffrey’s mind, through prior obstinacy or other offense, given him cause to humiliate one of the most respected knights of Westeros. In the latter case, the beating would have taken place in the most public, most shameful situation possible for both Barristan and Sansa.

Final Verdict: Barristan most likely wouldn't have beaten Sansa, but he also wouldn't have prevented it.

Has the royal family to choose a member of the Kingsguard in a trial by combat? Or only if it's the accused? Cersei uses Gregor (not a member of the KG) in ASOS, but in AFFC she is told that she had to choose a KG to defend herself after she was captured by the Faith.

Main Opinion: Amin
Tyrion himself did not use a Kingsguard member either, though he was not married to royalty, just in the extended family that did marry into it. The only two examples I can think of where it seems to be a necessity is the current situation with Cersei and Margaery, and Cersei’s reference to Queen Naerys’ trial. It may be more than when a female royal family member’s (sexual) honour is accused, then it must be a Kingsguard member to defend it. Which seems hardly fair, but then again, Westeros’ patriarchal society is very far from fair. On the other hand, there may be other situations where the accused royal family member, whether male or female, must defend themselves or make use of the Kingsguard. It may be that the women are automatically assumed to have to use the Kingsuard proxy, whereas a male might choose to fight and defend an accusation by himself.

Dissenting opinion: Stefan
There is no rule for that, only strong precedent. The reason why Cersei has to choose a kingsguard is another, hilariously ironic one: she set up the rule only minutes prior to her own imprisonment as a means of trapping Margaery. In the audience with the High Sparrow, she insisted that a queen must be defended by a kingsguard by necessity and tradition, and the High Sparrow agreed. Before she herself bascially made it law together with the highest religious authority of the land, you could choose whomever you wanted.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Frederic Fischer
I agree with Amin’s assessment, although I think that the current Westerosi system of justice is in such flux that it may be hard to draw on prior events to make any conclusions about the future. Besides, a far more relevant question is whether UnGregor’s “oath of silence” and the other thinly disguised attempts to hide his lack of head and life will ultimately disqualify him as a champion or whether they will be exposed during or after the trial of combat, thus further destabilizing order.

Final Verdict: It seems only to apply when the queen is the accused.

9 comments:

  1. Bloodraven knew Bran had special powers well before Jaime threw Bran off the ledge. When they meet, Bloodraven says “I saw your first step, heard your first word, was part of your first dream. I was watching when you fell. And now you are come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late”

    Excerpt From: George R. R. Martin. “A Dance with Dragons.” Bantam Books, 2013-10

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If BR can effectively time travel though, he can see Bran's first step AFTER Bran demonstrated his special powers... Time travel mucks everything up so I'll be curious how GRRM establishes the rules.

      Delete
  2. I've got a question for the court: do you see any thematic meaning behind the homonym of Faceless Men= Faithless Men?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've got another question: Do you think that there will be a "NIght of the long knives" in Meereen during or after the battle as Bryndenbfish sugests in "A Dragon's mercy"?

    And perhaps as a follow up: What do you think about writing about the events in TWOW in such great detail as Brynden did in this essay series? Is it just fan fiction or is there more merit in this?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ungregor has a head , the head sent south was from a big headed dwarf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everyone who saw the head sent south talks about how enormous it is, the biggest they've ever seen. Is it really possible that a dwarf could have such a large head?

      Also having no head fits a lot better with Bran's dream in AGoT of a giant knight in stone armor who opens his visor to show "nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood."

      Delete
  5. a humble question to the court:
    is it possible to warg into a dragon and might that be a way for jon to be 're-born'?

    cheers
    tronik

    ReplyDelete
  6. Stefan, I really want to support you on your answer of a queen being forced to choose someone of the Kingsguard as champion - every previous instance of a Kingsguard championing in a trial by combat can be explained by them being the best, most loyal to the King, knights in the kingdom.

    I also have a question: Do you think that Bloodraven is responsible for Quentyn Ball "Fireball"'s death? It seems awfully convenient that a single, unnamed archer would, by chance, strike such a strategic blow to the Blackfyres on the day before the battle.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete