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 82! Our guest judge this week is Nina Friel, writer for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire and moderator of /r/asoiaf. When not obsessing over Westerosi history, she's a law student and sometime writer of her own novel(s). You can find her on Twitter.
Do you think it possible that Arthur Dayne might have been the "Bleeding Star" at Jon's birth, to make him (one of) the prince(s) who was promised?
Main Opinion: Amin
The Dayne sigil does contain a falling star and Arthur Dayne was killed outside the tower where Jon was born. As we’ve covered in the past, prophecies can be broadly interpreted and almost anything can be included to meet the terms. But this is a particularly creative and interesting interpretation and I would not be surprised if it turns out to be true. The only potential quibble I see is that George has said Ned’s memory of the events may not be exactly true, perhaps the fight scene around the tower is a compressed version of the timeline, but nonetheless, it is true that Dayne died sometime around the time Jon was born.
Concurring Opinion: Stefan
It is definitely possible, yes, I agree with Amin’s reasoning. I want to use the opportunity to state, though, that we most likely will never get a conclusive breakdown of the prophecies in the books. The best outcome we can hope for is some in-world theorizing by maesters alike to the “World of Ice and Fire” volume. Therefore, we’ll never know for sure. But the interpretation is a good idea, especially since it links the Daynes, who seem to play a role in the events, to the rest of the story.
Concurring opinion: Nina Friel
Interesting theory. I think it’s entirely possible: the Dayne sigil is a falling star, of course, and with Arthur Dayne likely bleeding by the end of that fight, anyone looking for a fulfillment of the prince that was promised prophecy might find some solid evidence there. This thought reminds me of Ser Patrek’s death at the end of A Dance with Dragons, where the knight of the silver cloak and blue stars is bloodily torn apart by the giant Wun Wun; like Arthur Dayne’s death, that of Ser Patrek provides a neat “bleeding star” to accompany Jon’s “smoking” assassination wounds. (Maester Aemon also noted that Rhaegar was convinced the “bleeding star” had to be a comet, and the falling star of House Dayne certainly bears a strong resemblance to a real-life comet.) My only problem (besides the potential timeline concern, which I think is valid; what Ned remembers (and we see) comes from a fever dream, not from a “home movie” of the event) is that prophecies, and this one in particular, are a devil to interpret. Do the signs have to happen at conception (Rhaegar’s idea, for Aegon), at birth, at “transformation” (like Daenerys at the hatching of the dragons), or all three? Can there be multiple signs for the same fulfillment of prophecy? I don’t think it’s something we’ll ever get a clear answer on, though for now I really enjoy this idea.
Final Verdict: It's possible, yes.
Qorin Halfhand sent Stonesnake away on foot while running from the Wildlings (ACOK). Will we see him again, or is he a wight, or is he Coldhands?
Main Opinion: Amin
Stonesnake is not Coldhands, because Coldhands is “ancient” so at least not someone of the current Watch. I do think it is possible that we see him again, which may be useful for Jon, because so many of the best men of the Watch have already died, so any experienced memeber would be of potential use. So odds are we will see him again, hopefully alive, but potentially a wight.
Dissenting opinion: Stefan
I think Stonesnake is dead. I mean, he climbed them mountains in what was from the start a suicide mission, without sufficient supplies AND monitored by at least one hawk. He’s got a complete wildling army, shadowcats AND the Others to avoid if he wants to get to the Wall, whose patrols are killed by wildlinds and Others alike with alarming regularity. So, I see no reason how he would’ve survived this far.
Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Nina Friel
He’s not Coldhands. Coldhands died “long ago”, according to the exceptionally long-living Children of the Forest, while Stonesnake will have been dead at most a year the next time we see everyone. What’s interesting that in both the Storm of Swords and Dance with Dragons appendices, Stonesnake is listed as “lost”, with no brackets to indicate he’s died offscreen. To me, that just screams that we will see him again, and (here’s where my dissenting portion comes in) that he’ll definitely be conscious (that is, un-wighted) the next time we see him (for at least a little while, though he might turn wight before our eyes). GRRM has said that The Winds of Winter will go farther north than any book yet, and with Stonesnake still “lost” somewhere beyond the Frostfangs, I think we’ll see him again. “How” is a different question; maybe through Bran’s weirwood powers (though he wouldn’t know him by sight, it would be a fun little catch for readers), but it’s too hard to say.
Final Verdict: Stonesnake is not Coldhands, but he might be alive.
When fAegon is really a Blackfyre, why is Varys convinced he isn’t?
Main Opinion: Amin
I wouldn’t say that Varys is convinced that he is not a Blackfyre. The strongest thing we can fully accept from his speech to Kevan is that Varys is convinced he is the right thing for Westeros. If you look at his speech carefully, it doesn’t mean that Aegon is truly is Aegon Targaryen, it can just as easily be that the Aegon present here is the ‘right one for the job’.
Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
The best explanation for this fact that I have heard so far is that Varys indeed smuggled Aegon out, but that Illyrio had him killed and replaced with his own son, essentially betraying Varys. The irony of this - the master schemer outschemed - would fit nicely into the usual themes of the novel and explain for the strange gap. Alternatively, Varys could simply play itself, lying to a dying man. It’s not a POV after all.
Concurring opinion: Nina Friel
What Varys knows and believes about the boy styling himself Aegon VI is almost certainly much more than what we ever hear from him (which is only when he’s speaking to Kevan). So we cannot say for certain just how convinced Varys is or is not about Aegon’s potential lineage (and while I personally believe it so, we should not take as gospel that Aegon is a Blackfyre descendant, any more than we should that he is truly the son of Rhaegar and Elia). Varys’ PR campaign for Aegon (for lack of a better term) is centered on Aegon being the “best” candidate for kingship—not simply because he’s Rhaegar’s son, but because Aegon has lived among the people and learned to be a king. He’s not a king because of his name, he’s a king because of his actions, and that’s what matters to Varys (or seems to, at least). He never brings up that the boy Aegon is a Targaryen pretender (though I think he certainly lets Kevan imagine it), just the hero Westeros needs and the king it deserves.
Final Verdict: Varys isn't at all convinced that he isn't.