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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 8! Our guest judge this week is Anton Jumelet, a philosophy student from the Netherlands, who previously judged on ruling 65 of this court. He's usually not an active member of the fandom, but does ferociously follow everything ASOIAF-related. He's ashamed to admit that he once believed in something quite like the Bolt-On Theory, with Roose being an outpost for the Others. If it turns out to be true, he'll say he thought so all along.
So Varys, during his description of his castration, mentions hearing a voice while his manhood burned. And when Grey Worm talks to Dany about the goddess of the Unsullied, he mentions that their religion is restricted to those who offer their manhood on their goddess' brazier and hear her voice. Am I just reaching, or are these two instances related?
Main Opinion: Stefan
To me, the text indicates that the Unsullied are offering their genitalia themselves. This means two things: one, the masters are on board with this, because why else would they allow them to do this? And second, they don’t gain magic powers or contact to the Underworld because that would just be plain stupid. Grey Worm also fails to manage the singing part Varys talked about, which seems a prerequisite since one needs to ask if one wants a demon to answer. The more likely explanation is that the “religion” was meant as an added insult to the Unsullied, forcing them to give up their own genitalia to a goddess only they worshipped, because it’s a goddess for eunuch warriors. This degrades them and further detaches them from the rest of society, both of which are perfectly in line with the rest of their treatment.
Concurring in Part, dissenting in Part: Amin
I think Justice Stefan’s explanation is the more likely one: a practical means to exert control the Unsullied. It is possible that reproduction organs have some sacrificial power in general, given the price that magic often demandsin Martin’s world. Perhaps the Unsullied tap into this power without fully realizing or managing the potential.
Concurring Opinion: Anton
This is stretching it. Consider Grey Worm's actual words: 'The goddess is called by many names. She is the Lady of Spears, the Bride of Battle, the Mother of Hosts, but her true name belongs only to these poor ones who have burned their manhoods upon her altar. We may not speak of her to others' (ADWD, Daenerys VI). He doesn't say their sacrifice leads to a response from some scary-sounding demon, as happened in Varys' tale. He doesn't even confirm that anything magical is going on. Here, genital mutilation and being let into some secret are part of something less otherworldly we're all familiar with: an ordinary initiation rite into some group or sect. And I agree with Justice Stefan that it's more likely that this sect is simply another tool the Astapori use to further instill obedience and discipline in the Unsullied.
Final Verdict: No connection there.
Do you think Rhaegal and Viserion will find their riders during the battle of Meereen?
Main Opinion: Stefan
No, I think they will wreak blood and havoc. If one of them finds a rider, it will be shortlived. If all three dragons ever arrive in Westeros, which is far from certain, they will need to get to Jon somehow - at least one of them. Tyrion is already where he needs to be. But generally speaking, it’s hard to draw too much dragony conclusions yet because the information basis we have is so small. Since the Battle of Meereen will be at the beginning of “The Winds of Winter”, though, you can confidently say that the other dragons won’t find their permanent riders. For now, Dany is the only one.
Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree that it is too early for the other two dragons to find their riders. There may be an attempt at it during the battle. However, it is more likely that it may be a while before someone other than Dany tries to ride a dragon, given that the result of Quentyn’s attempt is still freshly burned into memory.
Concurring Opinion: Anton
The bloody chaos of a massive battle isn't the best environment for learning to ride a dragon. Dany did it in the tumult of Daznak's Pit, though, so it's not impossible. Still, the number of potential dragonriders dwindles once you realize a rider must be of Valyrian descent (assuming that Victarion's hellhorn can't make a dragonrider out of anyone). That requirement leaves us with Tyrion, Brown Ben Plumm, and the Tattered Prince. Of them, only Tyrion seems sufficiently audacious and knowledgeable to pull it off. But — in the unlikely event that the opportunity does present itself — he may not even attempt it (let alone succeed) if he doesn't already believe he has Targaryen blood.
Final Verdict: They won't find their riders in the battle.
Do you think Mace Tryell will force Cersei to return to Casterly Rock now Kevan is dead? I think it is a ruse that she will sit as Regent again because the people and Faith will not allow it.
Main Opinion: Stefan
If you want to see the people Mace Tyrell can force to do anything, just close your eyes. I mean, really, how would he do that? He lacks any political authority, his daughter still sits in jail, his army (and he) are en route to King’s Landing but not yet there and Cersei controls the Goldcloaks. It’s much more likely that we will see another instance of Cersei’s rule, cranked up to eleven and flaming out like a shooting star before the younger, more beautiful queen takes over and the volonqar wraps his hands around her neck.
Dissenting Opinion: Amin
I think Mace does have the power to send Cersei away if he really wants to, given the number of Tyrell troops in the area (which were enough to get the Faith to agree to release Margaery into Tyrell custody (Randyll Tarly’s custody anyway) until trial, which we have ruled on before. I don’t know if Mace will actually try to do that, because it may not come to mind or be necessary if she is not trying to be Regent. I do think Cersei will acquire some level of power again and stick around King’s Landing, but I’m not sure if it will be the Regency.
Partly Concurring, Partly Dissenting: Anton
The first question is whether the Faith will allow Cersei to be Queen Regent again. That all depends on the trial. If it goes bad and she's sentenced, she'll be dead (or on the run). If the trial goes well and she's acquitted in the sight of gods and men, I don't think Cersei can be denied the regency. This brings us to the second question: if Cersei is acquitted, will Mace force her to return to Casterly Rock? Now that they are fully aware of Cersei's animosity toward them, it does seem in the interest of House Tyrell to remove her. Moreover, contrary to Justice Stefan's assessment, Mace does have the upper hand: he is the Hand of the King; he and Randyll Tarly have brought armies to King's Landing while the Lannister standing army is in the Riverlands; he is adding Highgarden men to the City Watch (ADWD, Epilogue). And while Mace himself may not be savvy enough to sideline Cersei, other members of his house surely are. However, I think they would view moving her to Casterly Rock only a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Why not pick someone with resentment toward Cersei as a scapegoat (Tyrion, a Kettleblack, someone from the people of King's Landing) and deal with her the way they dealt with Joffrey?
Final Verdict: Maybe he could, but Cersei will stay in King's Landing at least for some time.