Thursday, November 5, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 102

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 102! Our guest judge this week is Andrew Geertsen, from Santa Cruz, CA. He began reading ASOIAF since a few years before the start of the HBO series, looking for the best fantasy series he could get his hands on. Since then, he's gone through the first three books six times, the fourth and fifth once separately, and twice using Boiled Leather's "new-reader" Feastdance order, as well as once through TWOIAF. You can contact him through his portfolio at or check out his ASOIAF blog at

Dark Sister and Blackfyre, are these two swords destined to come up against one another before the story ends? If so who will be holding them?

Main Opinion: Stefan
I’m pretty sure that the Blackfyres still have their ancestral sword, since it was never recovered by the Targaryens and has been namedropped so often that its reappearance is practically a given. My hunch is that the sword will be given to Aegon at some opportune moment, most likely when he is formally crowned in King’s Landing. It will rally many allies of the Blackfyre cause, such as Randyll Tarly, who will regard this as a sign that finally a new and decisive king will clean up the mess - only to lose out as a potent symbol to the even more potent dragons Dany will bring to her short and bloody battle with Aegon. Dark Sister, on the other hand, was last seen in the hands of Bloodraven, and I’d guess he took it with him. For the two swords to end up on different sides of the battlefield seems like a bit much, since Blackfyre will be neutralized by the dragons themselves. Recreating the conflict down to that detail would seem like overdoing to me at the moment.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree with Justice Stefan on the location of Blackfyre, in that Illyrio probably acquired it for Aegon and it is heading that way. I’m not sure we will see Dark Sister, or at least it seems unlikely to be wielded against Blackfyre.

Concurring Opinion: Andrew Geertsen
I feel that Justice Stefan has more or less the right of this, though there's only so much right to have in this case. Symbolism, especially in Aegon's case, is much needed for his cause; that much is certain. Blackfyre would go a long way towards helping him look the part. The Blackfyres could have it, but we have yet to see or get clear mention of it. As for Dark Sister, Bloodraven may have last seen, or been in possession of it, but even if he has it, using it at this point is out of the question. Our then question becomes "Who is in reasonable range of Bloodraven / Bran who, in a story sense, would make sense to give Dark Sister to?" Some answers are Jon (if the Watch strips him of Longclaw while he's "dead") or Dany (flight makes that travel much easier, though it's hard to see her going north before dealing with Aegon). Here's an interesting one: Stannis. If he became the Lord Commander of the Watch at some point and came to some arrangement with Bloodraven and/or Bran, Dark Sister could be something that seals the deal (also, "Dark Sister" being a Night's Watch sword just sounds cool). I also like to think Stannis would be stoked about a sword that doesn't just *look* awesome. At this point, we simply lack concrete information on the whereabouts of the pair. Blackfyre seems like it'll be back at some point, but Dark Sister may be gone. As for them coming together, I think the circumstances for that to happen in a meaningful way would require some serious literary agility to say the least.

Final Verdict: Yes on Blackfyre, no on Dark Sister.

Do you think Daemon would have been a good king?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Actually, yes. I think he would have been a good king. Not a great one, mind you, but good enough. Much of it comes down to his choice of advisors, though, and who survives the bloody fray. Daemon obviously either had good counsel or was able to make the right calls himself in the year leading up to the Battle of the Redgrass Field, so he might have struck a good balance as king himself. Funny enough, his ascension to the rule would have mirrored the OTL in many respects, with Aegor Rivers taking the role of his hated half-brother Brynden Rivers. Bittersteel would have counseled a strategy of blood and retribution, much like Bloodraven did, and hopefully there would have been another guy to urge him to be merciful. While Daeron II in OTL was harsher than expected, Daemon could have been milder than expected, therefore arriving at pretty much the same juncture. What’s happening then is everyone’s guess. The biggest mortgage Daemon would have inherited from the conflict would’ve been certain war with Dorne, bloody yet ultimately victorious. Dorne would have been brought into the realm conquered, divided and as a prize. As for his domestic politices, I’m at a loss. Maybe he would have made peace with the loyalists, or antagonized them in the same way that Daeron II antagonized the Reach. The sources are kind of vague on his domestic policies. I would, however, readily concede that he had the ingredients that make a good king. Whether or not he would’ve used them is anyone’s guess and comes down much to whom he listened to. I’d take Daeron II over Daemon any day, though.

Dissenting Opinion: Amin
It is true that Daemon’s reign would be dominated by his advisors. After all, it took years for him to rebell and only after being guided all the way by Bittersteel and other factions that were not happy with the status quo.I’m not impressed with the advisors he would have had, the war with Dorne would have been costly and disastrous for the realm. Being willing to follow advice is not a bad thing, it can be a true strength, but when the ones giving it are questionable, then a problematic reign will follow.

Concurring in part, Dissenting in part: Andrew Geertsen
One thing we've been taught is that a good ruler is often only as good as the council they receive. In Daemon's position, he was often subject to the whisperings of individuals who were open to bloodshed and war for their cause and he allowed himself to be swayed by it. If Daemon was able to swallow the idea of a rebellion when Daeron seemed to have things well in hand, what might he do if he actually had the crown? This leads me to think he would not have been good. That being said, Daemon did also seem a figure to inspire loyalty and admiration. Perhaps he could have been a solid warrior king if the parties around him were a more positive influence. It really is anyone's guess. Zooming out, given who Aegon IV was and the situation he created, it begs the question: Would this scenario have been avoided or different were anyone else born in the places of Daeron and Daemon?

Final Verdict: Daemon would have been influenced by bad advisors and not been a very good king.

How would the kingsguard have reacted if Rhaegar hadn't crowned Lyanna but instead used them to dethrone his father?

Main Opinion: Stefan
I doubt it would have worked out like this. If Rhaegar had called a Great Council to dethrone his father, Aerys wasn’t there at the same time, so Rhaegar would be alone at Harrenhal.I don’t think they would’ve given Aerys the opportunity to command his Kingsguard. Rather, Rhaegar would have had at least part of them with him (Gerold Hightower, Arthur Dayne and Oswell Whent can be seen as a given, and Jaime would also by necessity have been there. Depending on how many Kingsguard would have been in on the plan, Rhaegar would have ridden back to King’s Landing and confronted his father in the throne room with the decision of the council, ideally with the great lords and their retinue in tow. I’d imagine this playing out like Eddard’s original plan, with the Kingsguard left simply neutralized by the overwhelming force of Rhaegar’s guys before they could make any decision about Aerys’ commands and, ideally, before Aerys was able to give such a command. But even if the rest of them decided to defend Aerys, they would have simply been overpowered pretty soon after some token resistance. And, in the event that they wanted to die for him, someone would have granted them that wish.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
The majority of the Kingsuard would probably accept Rhaegar’s plan right away. Any remaning Kingsguard would be overwhelmed or bypassed during the dethroning. After the situation occurs, the surviving members would accept the following status quo. Aerys would not be killed, he would ‘just’ be forced into a retirement where people would keep his madness from harming others. None of the Kingsguard would mess with that afterwards.

Concurring Opinion: Andrew Geertsen
Knowing Martin, there's no way it would be 100% one way or the other. You would absolutely have a few who stood their ground, but it would be few enough where you know even they would see the folly in that decision. That Rhaegar is of the blood royal is a good point, and it would make sense that he would have a contingent of Kingsguard with him. At least some of them must be in on it. Lying to men who are so close to him constantly would just be too hard. The other smart point is the idea that they wouldn't be foolish enough to allow Aerys any time to prepare or react. With all those alliances in place and assuming strong presence from each at the time it goes down, any Kingsguard resistance would be token at best. I think the actions of the Kingsguard become more and more immaterial once you start adding the sheer numbers the allied houses would bring to the table and would physically have on hand when the time for the plan's execution came. Some of the Kingsguard would have attempted to stick to their vows, but in the end, to no avail. 

Final Verdict: There's a good chance for success as most kingsguard would have followed Rhaegar. 

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