Thursday, April 2, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 72

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.
And now, up to ruling 72 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Bobby Westfall, a library sciences master’s student in Baltimore, Maryland. He writes about A Song of Ice and Fire and other similar stuff at his blog
What do you think that happened with the swords of the old kings of Winterfell that were lost? Could it be useful in the future?

Main Opinion: Amin
Not sure if I fully understand the question, but I believe it relates to the swords of the Old Kings that were taken by Bran and company. I don’t think they serve any particular function, just as old and somewhat inefficient weapons for the party. There may be one sword that is missing, one more than expected from the listed number taken. However, the sword itself doesn’t mean much, because whoever is using it could have used another sword itself. Unless you believe that the spirits of the Old Kings are on the loose now due to the removal of their swords, to the point of killing Frey men, but I think there are more reasonable explanations for the murders at Winterfell.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
I agree with Justice Amin on the insignificance of the swords for the general storyline. They’re not Valyrian or anything, and that very fact is something that should keep you alert about this: the lords of Westeros have carried Ice for millenia, so the swords their statues get on their laps are simply forged for that reason (if I remember right, this is even stated somewhere in “A Clash of Kings”). Therefore, beside the purely asthetic aspect of it, the swords bar no significance whatsoever.

Concurring opinion: Robert Westfall
This is a little hard to answer definitively without a specific use in question, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently special about the swords. They were useful as the only weapons available to Bran and his crew, but that’s probably the end of it. I doubt that there’s actually anything magical about them, and I don’t think they would look distinct enough to identify as having come from Winterfell if they were found elsewhere.

Final Verdict: They are of purely asthetic significance. 

Will Davos find Rickon in Skagos? And what will happen next? Is going to be the heir of Winterfell? Or will he have any importance in the future of the story?

Main Opinion: Amin
It has all but been established that Rickon is in Skagos. The story is now lining up for Davos to encounter him there. Whether he actaully gets him off the island is another question, that would be the natural next step, but his guardians there may have something to say about that. I think Rickon will survive the end of the series and help repopulate the Starks, though whether he becomes the direct heir to Winterfell remains to be seen. If it is Bran, he might need Rickon as an heir, but one of the Stark girls might still forge a claim, even if Rickon has a stronger claim by legal tradition.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
Davos will find Rickon for sure, but I doubt that the resolution of the plot will be as “easy” as a simple adventure story of Davos getting him off the Island of the Cannibals(™). After all, he is currently the natural heir to Winterfell. Manderly will most likely die in the Battle of the Ice, but Davos can’t know this when he returns to White Harbor. You don’t need Chekov’s Heir, though, if his claim isn’t to clash with someone, and following the tradition of the “human heart at conflict with itself”, it has to be someone who cares about Rickon and would be emotionally affected by going against him. This applies to only two people: Jon Snow and Sansa Stark. If Bran shows up, the claim is basically undisputed, so no real conflict here. However, if Jon decides that the major lesson he’ll draw from his death is that his mistake was not to double down on this whole “war on Bolton and liberating Winterfell” thing and succumbs to the tempation of being a Stark and the ruler of the North, which is not unlikely given how Dany’s story arc is beginning to play out, he’d have to compete with Rickon. If Sansa is claiming Winterfell as part of her emancipation as a player in the Game of Thrones, with or without Littlefinger, conflict is to be had. Therefore, yes, Rickon will definitely arrive in the North and stirr shit up.

Concurring opinion: Robert Westfall
Yes Davos will find Rickon. One way or another he’ll bring him back to Lord Manderly, although the population of Skagos and Rickon himself might make that easier said than done. I think once Davos gets him off Skagos is where things will really become complicated. Manderly surviving to meet Rickon is not a given. If he does, I think Manderly will hold him up as the heir to Winterfell, probably creating a conflict with Sansa (and Littlefinger if he’s still alive at that point). If Stannis kills Manderly before learning the truth about Davos, I could see Davos bringing Rickon back to Stannis. Stannis could cut out the middle man and gain support from Northern houses by vowing to reinstate the Starks as the Lords of Winterfell. Once he gets back to the mainland anything can happen, but yes Rickon will be important in the Winds of Winter and probably A Dream of Spring as well. If he weren’t going to matter, I don’t think he would have survived A Clash of Kings.

Final Verdict: Rickon will play some part in the future because of his claim. 

In an interview with GRRM, he smiled when he was asked about the sudden death of Robb. Will he come back in the future? Could he revive in a secret way à la Cat?

Main Opinion: Amin
Sometimes a smile is just a smile. Robb is dead and done for, his lasting death was as important as Ned’s, the second half of a one-two punch to try and make it seem like every character is vulnerable. Both deaths were planned for from an early point, and are going to stay permanent.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
The idea that either Robb or Eddard could still be alive is preposterous. I’d smile too at the question if it was presented to me. Narratively, letting either of those deaths not to be permanent would be literary suicide.

Concurring Opinion: Robert Westfall
No. Dude is dead. That smile was just George revealing his delight in crushing his readers’ hopes and dreams. But seriously, Robb’s body has actually been paraded around without a head, and although I guess it could have been someone else’s body in Robb’s clothes with Grey Wind’s head sewed on, that is way too complicated. And who would have revived him? There wasn’t anyone there who could have done it at the Red Wedding, and if Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood somehow take the Twins in an upcoming book, Robb’s body, if it’s even still there, would be in no shape to start walking around again even with the R’hllor’s breath of life in him. From an out-of-universe perspective, it makes no narrative sense to take away all the impact of the Red Wedding by having both Cat and Robb return, even if undead. The Starks are my absolute favorite characters in the books, and it’s fun to do what-ifs, especially with as crushing an event as the Red Wedding, but Robb will stay dead. 

Final Verdict: No, Robb is dead. Really, really dead. 


  1. I'd love to see Rickon leading a host of Skagossi to arrive in time to join the battle in the ice

  2. I feel ol' George is setting Rickon to be a future villain in ADOS or beyond ASOIAF. The events shaping his life are definitely not conducive for creating a compassionate Eddardesque Stark. Perhaps, he will be more like an old-school hardcore Stark of old.

    It would be like GRRM to create a situation where the Starks are the "bad guys" and the Lannisters are the "good guys." Be prepared Rick the Dick.

    1. Rick is too young for this, I fear.

  3. In regards to the first question there is a bit of tinfoil theory about it. There is apparently some significance that the swords are iron and not steel. Here is a bit from the theory
    "•Bared swords are a formal sign of denial of guest right. The gesture effectively means "you are not welcome here"
    •Iron is said to be anathema to the Others somehow. They 'hate it', whatever that means:
    "They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins.

    What hated means here is unclear. It could be anything from they don't particularly like it, to an actual vulnerability to iron (but not, apparently, steel, which is an iron alloy)

    Point is, the Kings of Winter are telling the Others to stay the hell out. Iron swords on their laps. It's important that the swords are iron. The First Men primarily worked Bronze. There's also mention of an older iron sword named 'Ice' that was the ancestral blade of the Starks until it was replaced with a Valyrian steel sword dating back to the old Freehold."

    The full theory is here

    1. This is great, actually. Good point, totally missed this.