Thursday, October 8, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 98

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 98! Our guest judge this week is Rick Davids, a student of Linguistics in a German city that doesn't exist (like an uncool R'hlyeh). In his spare time he writes, reads and procrastinates. He has been a fan of ASOIAF since the early 2000's and blames GRRM for ruining his appetite for fantasy with his unmatched masterpiece.

Theon is so sure that “even the bastard Jon Snow had been accorded more honor than he had,” compared to Jon Snow’s absolute belief that he was on the bottom rung at Winterfell. Guess it's their own personal point-of-view, but who was right?

Main Opinion: Amin
Theon is probably on to something there. Despite being a bastard, Eddard always accepted Jon as one of his children, while he never got that close to Theon. It makes sense too, because while Jon was publicly a bastard, he had the Stark blood and the potential for advancement. Theon was brought in as a ward that could potentially be executed if his father made the wrong move. Jon and Theon both seemed to get along well with Robb, so there is also the potential that Theon felt (consciously or unconsciously) threated of and jealous of the Robb-Jon sibling relationship. It is interesting to note that Jon may have also some resentment for Theon since (IF) Theon was ultimately returned to his home, he would presumably be a highborn lord there with a noble wife. Or even if he stayed in mainland Westeros, he wasn’t a bastard. Jon may have also been jealous of Theon’s relatonship with Robb. Both had a connection with Robb that the other didnt’ have, whether it was the Stark blood or being a fullborn highborn lord.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
The problem with Theon’s assessment is that he and Jon use different measures for the lowest rung. As we learn in Jon’s first chapter, when he tries to drink himself senseless at the feast in Winterfell, he resents that he can’t be an official member of his family, which makes him the lowest rung in the (extended) Stark family. Theon, befitting his high rank, would be treated as much higher than Jon in such events. However, in daily life, Jon enjoyed a much better relationship with the people of Winterfell. No one except Robb really likes Theon, which he of course feels, and Jon is firmly accepted by most of his siblings and Eddard. So from a certain point of view, both of them are right, with Jon being on the lowest rung in aristocratic terms while Theon is on the lowest in family terms. None of them even considers the place of the smallfolk in this equation, by the way.

Concurring Opinion: Rick Davids
Theon was treated in an unbefitting way. He is, at that moment, the heir to the Iron Islands. Here are the people who ostensibly outrank him: Lords Paramount; their heirs; the Royal family; the High Septon; the Small Council. That's it. Jon is not on that list. There are two reasons though that lead to the tension between Jon and Theon. On one hand, Theon is a de facto hostage of House Stark. As such, he can hardly claim the treatment that would befit his rank. On the other hand, assuming R+L=J, Ned does not have any reason to treat Jon less than Theon. Pitting the two against each other is actually a nice piece of narrative symmetry: both are of high status by birth, both do not receive the honours that come with that. Yet one of them is aware of what he thinks should be his, and thus enmity is created. (Their further trajectories might even make a statement about pride, bitterness and such.)

Final Verdict: Theon definitely isn't having the time of his life at Winterfell. 

Will Shireen get burned because she turned into a Stone Woman?

Main Opinion: Amin
A main point in favour of this suggestion is the fact that Val thinks that greyscale never goes away and is likely to flair up again. Now, I don’t really the Free Folk when it comes to medical knowledge, but greyscale seems have medical disease, half magical disease, and I do trust their knowledge of the latter. They also seem biased against it already and willing to kill or abandon people who have it, so there is that possibility of a backlash against a sick Shreen (maybe Patchface has something to do with causing or exasperating the sitution) and Melisandre takes advantage of it. I do think that Shireen will die, I’m not sure if she will burn or not, but if she does hopefully it will be handled far better than in the TV show.

Dissenting opinion: Stefan
I don’t think that Shireen’s death will have something to do with her affliction. The show has it right that Stannis will sacrifice her in a desperate hour, albeit under different circumstances. For me, it seems like this is not a sacrifice Melisandre would force him to - because she develops a devestating plague and everyone is calling for her death - but one he consciously chooses to do without someone on the outside pressing him to do it.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Rick Davids
Shireen is going to die, and she will infect others with the greyscale. She's been a walking Chekhov's gun since A Clash Of Kings. George's trigger-happy. The theme of the story is: old dangers return. Greyscale is exactly that. Placing her in the North and JC in the Stormlands will facilitate a faster spread. Especially since otherwise, the North and the Vale would be the two lands most likely to survive such a plague. I am not sure whether she will be burned. It could be. That the followers of R'hllor insist on such a ritual, even after they are informed it could have disastrous consequences would fit very well with the motif of religious fanaticism in the story. 

Final Verdict: Her sickness will play a role, but it's unclear whether it will trigger her being killed. 

Why was Lollys allowed to continue her pregnancy and not aborted?

Main Opinion: Amin
If she had been given moon tea close enough to the event, then that might have been an option (‘mornign after tea’). There was so much going on in the city at time though and her mother probably wasn’t experienced enough with the options or thoughtful enough to think of that possibility. Since they missed the timeframe, it would have been very medically risky to do a traditional abortion, Lysa being a good example of the negative health consequences, with death being an even graver possibility.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
Not at all. Abortions in medieval times are an extremely risky affair, even with Moon Tea, and usually performed to hide the fact that there had been sexual intercourse. Everyone and their mother knew that Lollys had been “raped a hundred times”, so it doesn’t make much sense to take the risk. Her virginity is lost either way, the child can’t inherit because it’s a bastard and the risk of anyone throwing their weight behind it is zero, considering the well-publicised story of the inception. A risky move such as an abortion simply isn’t necessary, and therefore you wouldn’t take it. It was clear from the moment of the riot that Lollys would be married off to some lowly knight or hedgeknight in search of advancement who didn’t care about her “worth”.

Concurring Opinion: Rick Davids
Judge Amin covered the most prosaic (and likely) reasons perfectly. Let me add one further explanation: the Stokeworths do not seem like the kind of family who would be clear-headed and honest (to themselves) enough to immediately take the necessary action. That family is built on denial of harsh realities. 

Final Verdict: They thought of it too late. 


  1. The R'hllor prophesy talked of waking dragons from stone. I always assumed it meant Dany hatching old dragon eggs that everyone else thought were petrified. Now the idea of Stone Men have me wondering whether greyscale could be involved. Could R'hllor cure greyscale in order to fulfill the prophesy?

  2. On the show, I so wanted all those dudes standing around watching a little girl burn to catch greyscale from the smoke. I hope that plays out when Mel sacrifices her to resurrect Jon Snow.