Thursday, July 2, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 84

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 84! Our guest judge this week is Daniel Sattelberger, a student of actuarial science and a non-native Texan. A recent addition to the fandom, he is known as Qoburn on Reddit and Tower of the Hand.

Are Maggie the Frog and the Ghost of High Heart the same person?

Main Opinion: Amin
At first glance, I would say no. Maggie the Frog is a human from Essos, while the Ghost of High Heart is described as a dwarf, or potentially one of the children of the forest. The list of the similar words and references used by both characters is enough to raise eyebrows [], but I don’t think it is enough to bridge the gap. While Cersei describes Maggy as being short, she would have noticed the difference between short and being a dwarf. They both have established backstories that don’t overlap well. They are not the same person.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
They are not the same person. The Ghost of High Heart is the “woods witch” that Jenny of Oldstones brought to court when she was engaged to the Prince of Dragonflies, with a vita reaching back to the days of Aegon V. Maggy the Frogg, on the other hand, is an insignificant fair attraction. Both are old, both of which aren’t nobility, which sufficiently explains their speech patterns. But whereas Maggy seems trained in the art of the maegi, which depend on bloog magic (and demands blood from Cersei), the Ghost of High Heart dreams and doesn’t need any token from anyone - and doesn’t offer personalized prophecies, but only her dreams. That makes her a user of greenseer magic, which, given that she most likely is a Child of the Forest, only makes sense.

Concurring opinion: Daniel Sattelberger
Fully agree with Justice Amin. The descriptions of each woman are actually not very similar. Furthermore, they have very different (and believable) backstories. Maggy is originally Essosi, a fact which is apparently common knowledge around Lannisport. This is supported by her reaction to Cersei throwing a potion in her eyes: “the crone had screamed at them in some queer foreign tongue”; she appears to speak an unknown Essosi language natively. The Ghost of High Heart, meanwhile, was very likely the alleged child of the forest who was a companion of Jenny of Oldstones. Both are dwarfish albinos who can pass for (or are) children of the forest, have or claim prophetic abilities, live in the riverlands, and have a connection to Summerhall (the Ghost of High Heart says she “gorged on grief at Summerhall”, while Jenny’s woods witch may have been there (Barristan thinks she died there) and in any case Jenny’s husband Prince Duncan the Small, and possibly Jenny herself, died there). Different descriptions, different backstories, different people. 

Final Verdict: Not the same person.

How would a peace deal in Robert’s Rebellion prior to Rhaegar’s death have looked like?

Main Opinion: Amin
The peace deal would be dependent on who was still alive. Let’s say Rhaegar actually kills Robert but the battle of the Trident is inconclusive. If Rhaegar doesn’t lose (or outright wins), then Tywin will not take the final step to betray the Targaryens. Rhaegar would probably be willing to negotiate a deal with Ned and the rest as they were basically forced into Rebellion by his crazy father. If Lyanna survives childbirth she can help patch up things, but if she dies, it may be harder to bridge the gap.

There are two potential paths to peace, negotiated peace between relatively equal forces or an enforced peace after one side decides wins. Even if Rhaegar decisively beats the Rebellion, I feel like he would be willing to pardon those willing to surrender given the circumstances he is partly responsible for. Concurring Opinion: Stefan
The Great Council that Rhaegar mentioned to Jaime was presumed on a Targaryen victory over the rebels, and it doesn’t sound like Rhaegar wanted to exterminate some of the houses before calling the council. “There will be changes”, he said, which most likely meant that he wanted to dipose his mad father. With that goal achieved, he could atone for his sins by pardoning everyone, and then there could be a new settlement. Rhaegar the first of his name could then go on alienating everyone by publicly marrying Lyanna as well as Elia and parading their three children as the only thing standing between the realm and the apocalypse, gaining the monicker Rhaegar the Delusional and perhaps sparking the next rebellion.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Daniel Sattelberger
The opening of peace negotiations very much depends on who dies and who survives. If Rhaegar lives and Robert dies, I could see Rhaegar reaching out to Ned and Jon Arryn - after all, they have similar interests in getting rid of Aerys. The trouble is that Ned and Jon have little reason to trust Rhaegar, since so far as they know, he kidnapped and raped Lyanna. Thus Rhaegar’s opening bid would have to included returning Lyanna, and her insistence she went with him willingly (this assumes, of course, that she did. If Rhaegar really did kidnap and rape her, I don’t think peace is possible). One component that would have to be included in any successful peace deal is the removal of King Aerys. After all, it was his lawless executions of Brandon, Rickard, Elbert Arryn, and many others, and his demand for Ned and Robert’s heads, that started the rebellion in the first place. No one in the rebel coalition could feel safe in a peace deal with Aerys still in charge, and the deaths of Brandon, Rickard, Elbert, and co. are something that has to be answered. So Aerys is forced to abdicate, and presumably sent to the Night’s Watch, with the big question being how much damage he does in the interim. Given that he indirectly started the whole damn war over his prophetic obsession with having a kid with Lyanna, Rhaegar insists he be allowed to keep Jon as his son (which raises its own issues with the Martells - hello Blackfyre situation - and, no, I don’t believe Elia was in any way okay with Rhaegar running off with Lyanna, but that’s a different issue). Everyone involved in the rebellion is pardoned. Betrothals help bring the rebel houses back into the national fold. I think at least the Baratheons and the Starks, as the most injured parties, get the betrothals. Rhaenys and Aegon are probably married off - Rhaenys to either Stannis or Robb, Aegon to a future daughter of the other house. With the big things out of the way, the deal turns to gold, land, and patronage. This probably depends on the exact military position of the rebels post-Trident. If it’s close to a draw, Rhaegar has a weaker negotiating position, and may have to grant some sort of tax relief, maybe a bit of land, or perhaps even a council seat or two (since those will be available following the removal of Aerys loyalists). If it’s a bigger defeat, the rebels probably won’t get much. Then, of course, there are the other houses. the Martells are going to want something in return for fighting for the Targaryens and putting up with Jon. Maybe Viserys-Arriane, maybe Doran as Hand or a council seat for Oberyn. The Tyrells are going to want something too, perhaps Willas-Daenerys (fits very well with their crown envy). And the Lannisters have to be brought back into the fold somehow. Maybe Tywin as Hand again if no one else wants the job. After a bloody civil war and the various atrocities of the later part of Aerys’ reign, getting everyone back together behind the Iron Throne will probably require a lot of diplomatic skill, patronage, and Aegon V-style marriage arrangements.

Final Verdict: Involving a lot of pardons and awkward family talk. 

In which way is winter going to affect the Iron Islands? Are the Others going to march over the iced sea (if this is possible)? Or is the cold doing the job?

Main Opinion: Amin
The Iron Islands have bad weather even in the best of times. Winter is not going to help for the people livng there, though being on an island might slow things down in terms of the Others, if the Others even make it down that far south. Although if you end up with an endless night, it is not unimaginable that a lot of the water in the area might freeze, even salt water. For the Others to be a true threat, they would not be stopped by water in the long run.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
The Iron Islands will not be threatened by an invasion of the Others anytime soon, but the falling temperatures and the ceasing of trade will pose enough existential threats to them without.

Concurring opinion: Daniel Sattelberger
Largely agree with Justice Amin. The Iron Islands have the ability to feed themselves in winter through fishing (mentioned specifically in the World of Ice and Fire), though they’ll hardly be living the high life, and some starvation is possible. Their being islands likewise means the Others will probably take quite a bit longer to get there, but given the extreme cold that accompanies the Others, they could presumably freeze themselves an ice bridge, as it were, to the islands if they put their minds to it.

Final Verdict: This is not a short-term problem of the Ironborn. 


  1. There are dead things in the water. I can see an army of bloated weights walking the sea bottom and the others riding ice rafts across the surface. Euron may think he's bad, but things can always get worse.

  2. If a winter is especially cold and long, the seas could retract and freeze creating many land bridges. People could flee to islands, thinking they are safe, only to be visited by ice bergs full of wrights.