Thursday, September 17, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 95

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.
Casting Call: If you want to be a judge, please email us!
And now, up to ruling 94! Our guest judge this week is Michael, a member of the community who also serves the court as a clerk, checking our questions and helping us with keeping it all straight, for which we are immeasurably grateful.
Is it possible to warg into a dragon and might that be a way for Jon to be 're-born'?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Yes and no. It is most likely possible to warg into a dragon, but I think this will be in the box for Bran, not for Jon. For Jon, who is associates with ice, it doesn’t make too much thematic sense to suddenly warg into a dragon, especially given how far away said dragon is. Why would we go through all the effort in several books showing Jon’s special connection to Ghost - the snow-white direwolf that has been with him since the very first chapter - if he then suddenly warged a dragon? No, it’s man and wolf and man again, not man and dragon and man again. It’s very likely, however, that Bran will warg into a dragon at some point. Not only will he then finally “fly”, he also will wrestle it back under control of the good guys after Euron took it away with the dragon horn.

Concurring Opinion: Michael
Jon needs to return to his human body if his parentage, relationships and previous decisions are to have any sort of meaningful payoff. Given what we know of second life skin-changing, as a dragon, his intelligence would dwindle away to that of a dogs, and his speech would be reduced to a bunch of roars, which would not make for a very interesting character.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I do agree that it is possible to skinchange (“darg”) into a dragon. But that is not the route for Jon’s survival, as pointed out by my fellow judges. If there is any forceful taking over a dragon, it will be Bran. However, all dragonriders do seem to have a special relationship with their dragons and Jon will have one as well, perhaps slightly stronger due to his existing relationship with Ghost and skinchanging abilities.

Final Verdict: Possible it is, but not Jon's destiny to do so.

Dany has often found comfort in the memory of her childhood home, described with a red door and a lemon tree outside. By her own account, she lived in this house while she stayed in Braavos. However, Braavos does not have lemon trees, nor any trees to speak of, really. In fact, Braavos has been mentioned several times throughout the series for its completely inappropriate climate for the growing of fruit trees (most recently in the TWOW 'Mercy' chapter). What gives? Is Dany mistaken/lied to about where she was raised? Or did Martin make a mistake, including the comments about Braavosi climate as an inside joke.

See more here.

Main Opinion: Stefan
There are mainly three explanations. First, Dany misremembers because she was so young at the time. She was, what, four? Perfectly possible that she mixed up several hideouts. Second, the house with the red door belonged to a rich guy in Braavos who for some reason went through the pain to cultivate a lemon tree in Braavos. Perhaps he wanted to look out of the window and go all “I’m sitting around, I got nothing to do, I’m hanging around, I’m waiting for you” on the servants. Also very well possible. Or, third, Martin made a continuity mistake. I tend to believe it was the latter. In the first book, Braavos wasn’t much more than a name and the very vague concept of “Westeros’ Venice”, and since Venice is a Mediterrean city, a lemon tree fits. More importantly, “the red door and the lemon tree” paint a very vivid picture, one that has stayed with us as well as with Dany over the course of five books. But when Martin developed Braavos in more detail in later books and put it more on the langitude of the Vale and the Neck, he didn’t want to get screwed over by that small yet beautiful and ultimately insignificant detail from the first book. This makes even more sense if you factor in his “gardening” approach to writing.

Concurring opinion: Michael
In his early drafts George had the house with the red door set in Tyrosh; a more suitable climate for lemon trees, but later moved the house, lemon tree and all, to Braavos for the final print of Game of Thrones. Even with this change, there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary about the presence of a lemon tree in Braavos. Trees in Braavos are only seen in houses of the rich, so it stands to reason that Dany's house could have afforded a gardener and the care necessary to support a lemon tree.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I think the explanations provided by my fellow judges aptly cover the lemon tree issue, although it woudn’t make the hugest difference if Dany did spend some years in Dorne as a child, which I believe is one of the possible conclusion of the theory. Even if she she, that didn’t leave much of an impact on Dany nor will it even if she somehow finds out now, except to sour even more her view of Dorne for not keeping her around. I would just simply agree with my fellow judges on this one, but note that George recently commented on the theory which suggests that perhaps it was not Braavos, but Tyrosh fits just as well if not better than Dorne into Dany’s origin. That would also fit Justice Michael’s point, in that the earlier draft explicitly listed Tyrosh, except that George intentionally changed it in Dany’s memories (inserted a false memory), but not in her actual personal history.

Final Verdict: It's a consistency error by Martin, but a beautiful image, so we shall keep it and seek in-universe explanations.

How would you evaluate Rhaenyra’s reign?

Main Opinion: Stefan
It was a catastrophe. I’m going to take her whole “reign” from the moment Viserys died to the moment she herself died instead of the much shorter period in which she occupied the Iron Throne. Her reign started off with a devestating civil war that would last over the course of it (and even longer). She committed an initial tactical blunder by assuming Baratheon’s loyalty where she couldn’t be sure at all. She waged war without any thought of the smallfolk. She took the incredibly risky bet to rely on the Seeds, and when two thirds of them betrayed her, she abused the third in a matter that should have driven him away as well but for some miraculous reason didn’t. When she finally sat the Iron Throne, she built up a terror regime that broke down in one of the bloodiest insurrections ever and essentially ended the age of the dragons. In the meantime, she managed to lose her own citadel without even noticing it, much of it due to the effect that she wasn’t an especially popular ruler on Dragonstone as well. So, all in all, her reign was really bad.

Concurring in part opinion: Michael
From the moment Rhaenyra's cheeks touched the Iron Throne (which is where I would start her reign), everything that followed was pretty much a disaster. Her paranoia and bad decisions caused essentially everyone that had once been loyal to turn against her, whether they were her dragonriders, her family or her smallfolk. The legacy of this was the death of the remaining dragons and a severely weakened monarchy, hard to do much worse than that.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
It was not a good reign, nor should it ever happened given the circumstances. I know it sounds bad because we all prefer equal primogineture, that’s one of the reasons I like Dorne in particular. But the Iron Throne was not quite ready for it at that point, and it showed in a bad way. Viserys I had taken some steps but not enough to rectify that problem,so favouring Rhaenrya after siring a some male heirs was a huge mistake. Indeed, Rhaenrya would have immediately lost the Iron Throne (and may not even have tried to seek it) after her father died if the struggle was only based on number of lords supporting her and troop strength. The major economic regions of the realm - the Westerlands and the Reach - opposed Rhaenrya’s claim. She was only able to start and continue a bloody civl war because she had a greater number of dragons on her side. Nor did she rule well once she took power, as noted by my fellow judges.

Final Verdict: It wasn't good. 


  1. Random thought, will Ghost die somehow to save a reborn Jon? Having a direwolf and a dragon seems a bit overkill. Makes me think somethings going to happen to ghost.


  2. I think we can safely say that Dany lived in Braavos with Willem Darry, since the Marriage Pact was witnessed by the Sealord of Braavos. But, yeah, the lemon tree and even the red door fit better in Tyrosh. It's one of a few occasions when a detail lingers from an earlier draft.