Friday, August 21, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 91

Thursday is court day! Late a day, sorry! 
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.
Casting Call: We need more judges! If you are interest in being judge, even if you have been already, please write us. 
And now, up to ruling 91! Our guest judge this week is James Ranson, the founding director of The Master Wordsmith, a literary business group that provides masterpiece services for entrepreneur authors. He is also a Wall Street Journal bestselling editor, ghostwriter and revision coach, and his first book Your Own Best Editor will be available on Amazon later this year. James first discovered A Song of Ice and Fire in 1998, when he found A Game Of Thrones in the late lamented Davis-Kidd Booksellers store in Nashville, TN. He has since been an inaugural attendee of Ice and Fire Con, a moderator of the online community WesterosSorting, and really confused and disappointed with season 5 of the HBO show. After a year-long road trip covering 38 US states, James now lives in St. Louis, MO. Connect with him @themasterwords and on

Is there a favorite book moment in the ASOIAF series for you?

Main Opinion: Stefan
It’s hard to point down one favorite moment. There are many of them, and of course this changes over the rereads. Fist-pumping moments of your first read may make place for quiter moments on the second, and on the third, you consider stuff that upset you like the Red Wedding favorite moments because of their impact. But if I had to single out one moment, I’d pick Septon Meribald’s monologue in “A Feast for Crows” because it captures one of the major themes, and one I care deeply about, in just about one speech. It’s a powerful piece of writing because you just understand what is happening, an understanding that until this moment eluded you.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I agree that thematically Sepon Meribald’s speech stands out in the series. In terms of my favourite moment, I find it difficult to narrow down beyond the last 1/3 of A Storm of Swords, which has climax after climax. Best part of the series so far, though hopefully The Winds of Winter will get close to that level again.

Dissenting Opinion: James Ranson
My favorite moment in the whole book series? That's a tall order. Can I say the entirety of the Dorne and Sansa Stark storylines in their original book-written goodness rather than the crocks of shit the TV show turned them into last season? Because I definitely feel that way...If I had to pick one self-contained moment, though. I would pick Tyrion's flight from King's Landing in A Storm of Swords. Tyrion has made some pretty substantial accomplishments in his life (the entirety of his Clash of Kings storyline is freaking epic), but prior to this sequence he has in many ways lived his life as a victim--of his siblings, of his father, of women, and of himself. With his champion crushed, his sister triumphant and his lover turned against him, Tyrion is at rock bottom here. And in this moment, with nothing left to lose, he decides for a few moments to stop being a victim. The few minutes in which he strangles Shae, shoots Tywin, and tells Jaime the truth about Cersei are some of the first and only moments of self-actualization Tyrion experiences. For the space of this sequence, he is fully and completely his own man. For me, that's pretty awesome.

Final Verdict: Yes, but they vary. A Storm of Swords contains many favorite scenes. 

What will the Iron Bank do when the news of Stannis’ “death” reach them?

Main Opinion: Stefan
That depends heavily on the timeline of events. If the loan for Stannis is already on its way, they will try to get it back asap, but given the weather likely fail. If the loan is not yet underway, they will cut their losses and deny that they ever made business with him, I’d wager. It’s Justin Massey’s job to take the money in Braavos and hire mercenaries in Myr even if Stannis dies, but I somehow doubt that the Iron Bank is willing to let Massey go through with this “unwise investment” if it can. I doubt they’re below assassinating Massey in that case. This question, by the way, seems to me to be a gaping hole in Stannis’ plan. The Iron Bank doesn’t back him because she believes in him, but because she wants to stick it to Cersei. If Stannis is too dead to do any sticking, however, the balance becomes a bit too heavily tilted against any chance of recovering the money. Sinking millions into a guy who may or may not irritate the Lannisters with a few mercenaries? I don’t see it.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I agree that it would be bad news for the loan if Stannis is dead. However, Stannis is not dead and the difference in time between his rumored death and his reappearance will not be that long. So if the Iron Bank even gets word of his death, it will shortly after hear about his actual survival and victory at Winterfell, if word of the victory does not actually get transmitted there first.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: James Ranson
Obviously the Iron Bank will want their money back at some point (they're kind of famous for it, after all), but I think the answer to this question depends most on whether or not Stannis is actually dead. By the end of A Dance With Dragons, all we know is that (1) Tycho Nestoris is on his way to meet with Stannis at Winterfell, and (2) Ramsay has sent Jon Snow a note saying that Stannis is dead. But in TWOW Theon 1, Stannis is still alive and has just signed the contract with Nestoris and sent Justin Massey to hire sellswords. And it isn't yet entirely clear (to me at least) whether Theon 1 is supposed to predate the final Jon chapter in ADWD or not. So I can see Stefan's point about the bank reclaiming what's theirs (over Massey's dead body if necessary) should Stannis actually fall, but until we know the rest of events around that alleged death I don't think we can be sure of the Bank's ultimate response--which leads me to say that their first response will be to send Nestoris or a very stalwart raven back to the North to find out for sure one way or the other (though they might freeze Stannis' account while they do so).

Final Verdict: That's heavily dependend on the timeline, but most likely, they won't be able to do much short-term.

What would the consequences of a Blackfyre victory on the Redgrass Field have been?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Daemon Blackfyre, provided he survives the battle, becomes king. Many loyalists will lose their holdings and titles, much as happened to the rebels in the original timeline, some very prominent ones will lose their heads or be imprisoned. There will be hostages. I have to say I’m not sure about whether or not there would have been a bloodbath or not. Bloodraven would be dead, that’s a given, Daeron II as well, if he’s not allowed for the Wall, but for the rest, I don’t know. I guess it’s hard to justify leaving Baelor and Maekar alive, given their prominent status, but perhaps they’d be offered to remain in service for an oath of loyalty (and, you know, their children as hostages) or at least the chance to take the black. Much of this rests on the question of what a king Daemon would want to be. On the one hand, much of his appeal rests on his martial prowess, but on the other hand, as a king, he also needs to show clemency, especially since you are fighting a guy like Bloodraven with a pretty sinister reputation. Basically, Daemon has three options. One, kill everyone. Two, make peace and incorporate the losers (sans Daeron) into the family again, only know as a lesser branch. Three, send the ringleaders to the Wall or kill them and put the children into service, especially into the Faith and the Citadel if they’re older and as pages and squires if they’re younger. Not really knowing Daemon, I’d say his advisors get the better of him and opt for a round of Jacobinion killings. Regarding the larger consequences for the realm, it will become an important part of the legitimacy of every king to have Blackfyre bestowed on you, personally, or else risk the inheritance. The gravest consequences will be for Dorne, though. Like as not, Daemon and his supporters will drive them out of the realm again and engage in bloody war, aiming to submit them with force rather than marriage. They will also likely succeed, turning Dorne into a graveyard.

Concurring in part, dissenting in Part: Amin
The consequences are highly dependent on the battle result itself. It is a close victory, with key players like Baelor and/or Maekar escaping, then the war is far from over, as they can raise new armies elsewhere. Most of the established families were with the Targaryens, while it was mainly upstarts and families who felt they were slighted that backed Daemon. On the other hand, assuming it is a total victory and/or the key players are all captured there, then Daemon will ascend the throne as noted by my fellow judges. Whether he is successful against Dorne is another matter. It is questionable whether he can rally the full might of the realm against Dorne or whether he will rely mainly on Reach and Stormlands forces, while Dagon Greyjoy causes trouble in the West and the rest of the realm may be hesitant to commit too much to yet another Dornish disaster.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: James Ranson
If Daemon had survived Redgrass Field and taken the Iron Throne, he probably would have taken his ire out on Dorne, possibly taking Daenerys back from the Martells by force. But his behavior on the battlefield (defending Gwayne Corbray after defeating him, holding off on attacking Maekar) makes me wonder if he might not be at least somewhat merciful toward his opponents, choosing the Wall or young family hostages or even relegation to minor House status rather than death sentences. (I also wonder if doing so might have eventually created the exact same following situation in reverse, with the sons and grandsons of Daeron II Targaryen fomenting their own rebellions for years to come as Blackfyre's did in actuality.) 

Final Verdict: Whatever his policies would have been, it would've been bad news for Dorne. 


  1. I thought it was pretty clear that WOW Theon I takes place prior to Jon's last ADWD chapter. At the very lest, it would be quite unlike GRRM to release a sample chapter that spoils the Pink Letter cliffhanger.

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