Thursday, September 10, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 94

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.
We're rapidly approaching the 100th episode! If you have brillant ideas about what we should do with it, now's your chance!
And now, up to ruling 94! Our guest judge this week is Sean T. Collins, co-host of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. He writes on his blog All Leather Must Be Boiled and is a pop-cultural freelance writer for many outlets including Rolling Stone and Wired.

As the TV show progresses what will be the version that is remembered over time? I am asking will the legacy of the series be the TV show or the books? Obviously more people have seen the show than read the books, so will the ending the show produces be what most consider the true ending to the series? 

Main Opinion: Stefan
All in all, the show will take precedence. However, people like us - who have engaged with this series far beyond what’s normal, casual engagement - will most likely continue to seperate the two and always start our sentences with “It’s different in the show than in the books…” But for people who have only watched the show or only read the novels once or twice way back, the images from the show will most likely prevail. We’re visual creatures, after all.

Dissenting Opinion: Sean
No, I don't think so. Though the show spurred a mass phenomenon in the way the books alone could not have done, nor were the novels an unknown quantity among a great many readers; now they are enormously popular in their own right. What's more, the differences between the show and the books are a subject of constant discussion, often on the fundamental levels of ideology and theme rather than just new scenes and different dialogue and whatnot. As such the books are truly regarded as a separate entity. Even without that, though, they are massive enough in their own right, and command sufficient attention from audience, critics, and the publishing industry alike, to stand the test of time on their own. The show is more popular, but not so much so that it will be regarded as definitive or "true."

Dissenting Opinion: Amin
In the long run, the books will reign supreme. As Justice Sean noted, the books weren’t exactly obscure before the TV show started, and would have grown steadily in popularity over time. The reading medium will age better than the TV show.

Final Verdict: The books will take precedence.

What is the likelihood of the series ending with the Others succeeding it conquering Westeros and wiping out humanity? I know GRRM has said the ending will be "bittersweet", but this could refer to something such as characters reconciling in the face of certain defeat, rather than a victory with great sacrifice. And ASOIAF has consistently tried to undermine traditional fantasy concepts. On the other hand, I've heard some commentators suggest this would be impossible because it would undercut the series' popularity if it ended in such a cynical manner. Thoughts?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Essentially the likelihood is zero. The series would be totall undercut by a move like that. You don’t write a seven-volume “song of ice and fire” that ends with the singer dying alongside the rest of humanity. This theory is out there right along all the “[character you totally don’t expect] is Azor Ahai”. Yes, it would be an unexpected and cruel twist. No, it wouldn’t make sense or be in any way a satisfactory reading experience. Nothing in the books so far points in the direction of ultimate tragedy. There are many, many small tragedies, but nothing that indicates that, in the end, everything will be reduced to dust.

Concurring Opinion: Sean
The likelihood is zero. He told me so explicitly. I wasn't expecting him to answer half as directly, but I'm glad he did. For a wide variety of reasons, there will be no apocalyptic down ending, as confirmed by the author himself. Let's put this question to bed once and for all!

Concurring Opinoin: Amin
As reviewed by fellow justices, George is not going that far, nor would that really be bittersweet. Bittersweet is winning the war, but paying a big cost for it. 

Final Verdict: The likelihood is zero. 

Do you feel that as a result of their anger over the Red Wedding large parts of the fandom just give Lady Stoneheart a total moral blank check? She murders a mentally disabled man and an envoy under a flag of truce. Also, she is willing to execute Brienne, the one true knight in Westeros, Hyle Hunt, who at least fought the bloody mummers with honor, and Podrick Payne, a clearly non-malicious teenager.

Main Opinion: Stefan
Absolutely so. Just because you’re killing Freys doesn’t mean your behavior is acceptable. The same goes for Wyman Manderly, by the way. This is why I never understood the urge for many people to see Lady Stoneheart in the series, like it would be a total badass moment. Lady Stoneheart isn’t cool or even remotely good. She is a personification of what happens when you blindly give in to revenge, a cautionary tale, not a model to be emulated.

Partially Concurring Opinion: Sean
Probably, just in the sense that there are segments of the fandom that will cheer on pretty much anything as long as it's their fave doing it. But it's hard for me to imagine there's a large number of readers out there, in real terms, who were cheering for Lady Stoneheart to summarily execute Brienne and Pod, or who will react to any eventual mass retribution against the Freys with unmitigated joy given how atrocious Martin is likely to make it.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
Justice Stefan has covered well in his writings how Lady Stoneheart is a warning against taking the revenge route. So I don’t think she would get a pass if she was before our Court. I do say that I like Wyman Manderly, even if he may be making the same ultimate mistake or taking things too far. I think that he is doing a lot of good as well, and it is a testament to the writing that he can be both liked for some of his actions and critized for others. 

Final Verdict: Partially, yes, but no one cheers her for killing good guys. 


  1. another podcast episode for the 100th!! I know you did it for the 50th or some other round number episode, but it was so long time ago..

  2. The answer for the first question is already given by the lord of the rings. I have not read the books, and only saw two movies, but would assume that most people think that the movies depicted the whole story. Or am I wrong with that? Would be good to take LOTR as an example, hugely popular book and massive movies.

    1. That's what I had in mind, too. I really don't like the books.

  3. The books will reign supreme. In 50 years from now, the TV series will be outdated but the books aren't

  4. "This is why I never understood the urge for many people to see Lady Stoneheart in the series, like it would be a total badass moment. Lady Stoneheart isn’t cool or even remotely good. She is a personification of what happens when you blindly give in to revenge, a cautionary tale, not a model to be emulated."
    I can only speak for myself Stefan, but that's a large part of the reason *why* I wanted to see her in the series.

    1. Yeah, but there she isn't really necessary. Lust for revenge leading you astray is already covered by Brienne, for example.