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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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And now, up to ruling 97! Our guest judge this week is Logan Luce, an ecological consultant and nerd. He blogs about ASoIaF, among other things, on tumblr.
Why did Tywin decide to attack the Riverlands before Robert was dead?
Main Opinion: Stefan
Tywin didn’t even anticipate Robert dying, nor Eddard getting wounded. Robert’s murder at Lancel’s hands is basically hastened by Cersei to cover herself against Eddard’s investigation and not exactly propelled by Tywin, to whose plans she isn’t privy. Tywin attacks the Riverlands because Catelyn abducted Tyrion. The general idea seems to be to force an exchange of hostages or the release of Tyrion after taking Eddard vanished as an opportunity thanks to Jaime. Tywin knows Eddard well enough; from his POV, we know that hadn’t he been injured, he would have taken out himself, and then most likely run into the Mountain’s trap as Beric Dondarrion did. Tywin could then bank on Robert’s unwillingness to meddle into deeply political waters and simply go for the approach he takes with Eddard anyway: make amends, let’s pretend all of this didn’t happen. After these events, it would have been much more difficult for Eddard to take on the investigations again or convince Robert; most likely, he would have resigned, disgusted over the lacking loyalty, making the way free for Tywin to exert Lannister dominance of the court.
Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I think Tywin did outplay Eddard with the move to lure him out to a trap, because it certainly would have worked if Jaime hadn’t unexpectedly interferred. However, I think he was taking a big risk at the same time. If Eddard was killed rather than captured - there is no guarantee to prevent that, particularly if the Mountain isn’t restrained in his attack - then Robert might not be in a conciliatory mood. Robert was heavy in debt to the Lannisters and had to heed their requests to a point, but he also had a potential breaking point, such as Ned’s death. Renly and Loras had already been plotting to bring Margaery to court to replace Cersei, they might make a more active move as well, urging Robert to take advantage of the chance to get rid of the Lannisters and his debts to them at the same time. So while Robert was probaly too far gone to actively go after Tywin himself, he might be jolted by into it by Ned’s death or external manipulation.
Concurring Opinion: Logan Luce
Justice Stefan is correct that Tywin acts without any inkling of his daughter’s upcoming assassination plot. But even if he had complete foreknowledge, he would still have to take immediate action. His reputation is such that any attack against his family, however minor, must be met with overwhelming force. The abduction of Tyrion is an act of serious aggression, but Tywin faced with limited options in his response. He cannot strike against Catelyn or Ned, who are too distant, but the Riverlands are nearby, and pillaging Tully controlled lands sends the kind of strong signal tTwin likes. The possibility of luring in Ned is simply icing on the cake.
Final Verdict: To force Tyrion's release, basically.
What is your overall assessment of Edmure Tully? He seems to have botched everything he's done. Is there any good to say of Edmure? And do you think there's a possibility of him having a comeback later in the story?
Main Opinion: Stefan
I’m a big fan of Edmure’s. And he didn’t botch everything he’s done, only most of it. But let’s start at the beginning. Edmure has the bad luck to be born very late, when his two sisters - especially overbearing Catelyn - were entrenched as the true children of Hoster Tully. It was Catelyn who waited to Hoster, not Edmure, and it was her he took with him, her who he entrusted with the vital link to the Starks. Edmure was never really taken seriously, and given his station, it was easy for him to take the easy way out and to shirk responsibilities later on as well. However, look at his performance as heir prior to the invasion of the Riverlands: he is incredibly good friends with practically all major heirs of other houses, including important powerhouses as Piper and Mallister. This would help him hold the Riverlands together later on, even with his notable lack of ruling experience. He was then ignominously defeated by Jaime, but he actually fought a very good battle at the Fords on his own, showing at least good tactical acumen and leadership qualities. Unfortunately, this tactical victory is combined with a strategical plunder, but it’s not like he botches everything. Even drunk, returning from whoring, he’s also quick enough to grasp that he stumbled into Jaime’s escape attempt, which can’t be said of every character we met. And, finally, his most redeeming factor in my eyes is that he takes his oath as a lord seriously. He is one of the few lords so far we have seen to protect the smallfolk instead of giving them over to the hounds of war, and we have no indication that he mistreats his people. All in all, he’s a decent guy with mediocre capabilities, which is all perfectly fine in peacetime but which proves disastrous in war.
Concurring Opinion: Amin
While I’m not as big a fan as Edmure as Stefan is, Stefan is also one of his biggest supporters so that would be hard to match! I think that Edmure’s heart is in the right place and his character has developed since the start of the books through his mistakes and the tragedies that have befallen his family. So endgame Edmure could very well be poised to make a comeback late in the story.
Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Logan Luce
Edmure certainly makes a number of important strategic and tactical errors, and the war of five kings may have had a substantially different outcome if he had called better shots. On the other hand, he certainly seems like a nice enough guy- kind, funny, reasonably smart, and generous to the point of excess with the smallfolk. His most obvious flaw is his thirst for glory. It’s his main reason for leading the Battle of the Fords, and his initial suggestion to make amends for that strategic blunder is to lead the van at the next battle. However, the last time we see him, he seems to have moderated that impulse. He sacrifices his own personal honor by capitulating to Jaime in order to protect his child. The Tully words would demand this kind of decision (family comes first, honor comes last) and I would interpret this as a good sign for Edmure’s decisions in the next two books.
Final Verdict: Edmure's a decent guy with comeback chances.
George RR Martin wrote on his blog that it was good that Book-Shae was already dead or Show-Shae was so good she may have made him rethink things. Which Show-character is most likely to influence the fate of a Book-character?
Main Opinion: Stefan
Martin has stated at some point that the show’s portrayal of Osha made him rethink her storyline with Rickon, so I’d expect her to be given a place more in the spotlight in “The Winds of Winter”.
Concurring Opinion: Amin
Agreed, Martin has basically confirmed that fact for Osha. Initially, I was disappointed that the show is influencing the books in any way. But Martin must continually be taking inspiration from all sources while he writes his books, so the show is just one of other sources he may look to. Also, the show may be a good bouncing board to see how certain ideas may fail or come out far worse than he might think so in his head. I also need to point out that George is very good friends with the actress so I’m not sure he’s 100% objective with Shae’s portrayal nor could he really criticize the show’s storyline even if he felt differently. Book Shae might have been less ‘exciting’ than show Shae, but I feel she fit the story better, she had a more believable relationship with Tyrion, and she took actions that more sense (i.e. were consistant to her established character) compared to show Shae.
Dissenting Opinion: Logan Luce
For a show character to influence the future of the corresponding book character, I’d expect to see three different criteria met: The show character must be a compelling presence, with great acting and memorable dialogue. The show character must differ in important ways from their counterpart in the books, otherwise why would they alter Martin’s thinking? The character must not be too central, otherwise their plots are probably set in stone already. Shae certainly meets all of these criteria, and I would argue that Osha does not. Who else does? Bronn and Margaery certainly do, although I doubt that their various antics last season will inspire much new thinking from Martin. I liked the show’s portrayal of the Waif, but I’m not sure we’ll see her again in the books. Maybe Shireen?
Final Verdict: Osha, if only because Martin explicitly said so.