Friday, September 4, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 93

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 stefan_sasse@gmx.de, 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 93! Our guest judge this week is Steven Attewell, author of Race for the Iron Throne and co-author of A Hymn for Spring. 

Why are the Stark kids all so magically gifted?

Main Opinion: Stefan
It seems like the blood of the Starks is more potent than that of most other people, calling back to popular fantasy myths of king’s blood (remember Aragorn?) that Melisandre also capitalizes on. There also seems to be a karmatic element to the advance of the Others and the birth of the dragons that heralds a rebirth of magic. And there is, of course, also a narrative dimension: the story needs them to be gifted that way because that’s the story that’s being told.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Steven Attewell
While there's a good Doylist argument for why the Starks are magically gifted, the World of Ice and Fire gives us a good Watsonian explanation as well. House Stark has repeatedly received infusions of magic from various sources - from Brandon the Builder, from the Warg King of Sea Dragon Point's daughters, from the greenseer Marsh King of the Neck's daughter, etc.

Concurring in Part, Disssenting in Part: Amin
While it suits the story to have the Starks magically gifted, Martin has established reasonable Westeros based reasons why that is the case. The Starks have a bloodline rich with potential, and the current generation is living in an era where magic is on the rebound, providing the right environment for that potential. 

Final Verdict: It's in their blood.

Do you see any thematic meaning behind the homonym of Faceless Men= Faithless Men?

Main Opinion: Stefan
No, not at all. Against whom would they be faithless, anyway? Everyone talking about them always tells us that their assassinations are guaranteed successes, and Jaqen does the same when he talks to Arya. It doesn’t seem like they have a history of double-crossing their customers. The only possibility would be that they did adhere to another faith in ye olden times, but there’s nothing to indicate that.

Concurring Opinion: Steven Attewell
No. Everything we've seen of the Faceless Men says that they view their killing as an expression of their faith in the Many-Faced God, and that they are completely devoted fanatics.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
In a way, they embrace all faiths by trying to see the common connection of death, which I guess could be viewed in another way that they don’t prefer any particular faith. But I don’t see any strong connection between the two words.

Final Verdict: No, none at all. 

Do you think that there will be a "Night of the long knives" in Meereen during or after the battle as Bryndenbfish sugests in "A Dragon's Mercy"? And perhaps as a follow up: What do you think about writing about the events in TWOW in such great detail as Brynden did in this essay series? Is it just fan fiction or is there more merit in this?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Absolutely. I don’t think there can be any doubt about this.The Shavepate wants to unleash Jacobinian terror on the old Meereenese elite for some time now, to make place for his own guys, and he tried to coax Barristan into unleashing the chaos of civil war several times. Now, with all Daenerys loyalists occupied fighting outside the city and his own armed people all inside, he is in the unique position to do so. Regarding Brynden’s essays, I think he’s definitely in the top tier of the ASOIAF essayists. There is a lot of fan theorizing out there that barely qualifies as more than bad fan fiction, but his is not among it. That doesn’t mean that all of it necessarily will come true, but he makes a coherent and stringent argument.

Concurring Opinion: Steven Attewell
While none of us is a greenseer, Brynden's predictions are well-grounded in the text and have a high degree of likelihood (except for that one about the Ironborn fleet and the Redwynes). As for Meereen - "night of long knives" has an implication of in-fighting within a movement, but yes, we're going to see some revolutionary violence, which should hopefully keep the Great Masters from ever resuming power in Meereen.

Concurring Opion: Amin
I think it depends on how quickly Dany comes back and takes control of the city. The Shavepate may do some damage in the intermediate period, at least some bloodshed will occur in any timeline. Brynden is theorizing about the next book based on his signficant analysis of the current books, which is not quite the same thing as most fan fiction. Not to downplay fan fiction at all, but it often leans more toward what someone wants to see rather than what is likelyto happen. There is overlap, because a person may theorize things that they would also like to see happen, and the best fan fiction refers to and is grounded by events that have already occured in the series. 

Final Verdict: There will be blood, and there is more merit in it. 

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