Friday, November 20, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 104

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 stefan_sasse@gmx.de, 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.
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And now, up to ruling 104! Our guest judge this week is Our guest judge this week is Anton Jumelet, a philosophy student from the Netherlands, who previously judged on rulings 65 and 81 of this court.

Does Melisandre really need King’s Blood or is it just Valyrian blood?

Main Opinion: Amin
Melisandre herself doesn’t seem to think she is limited to King’s Blood on what she may make use to procude shadow babies, as she basically makes the offer to Davos. She also seems to be stretching what counts as King’s blood when she considers Mance and Jon worries about the threat to Mance’s son. When it comes to actual magical properties in King’s blood, Valyrian blood might be a better explanation of why “King’s blood” might have the potential for great magics. If the stories are even half true, the Valyrian genome is sui generis and may naturally have magical elements or at least a greater potential for magic. The Valyrian blood in Jon and Stannis may be what is setting off Melisandre’s particular radar.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
I don’t think it comes down to genetics, like Valyrians having a special gene other than their visual properties and, perhaps, their connection to the dragons. Yet one more seems too much, especially if we take into account that the old Targaryen dragons hatched without them sacrificing their relatives. I think it comes down, as always with magic, to Mirri Maz Duur: Magic always has a price, and only death can pay for life. The more precious what you sacrifice, the bigger the effect you can gain.

Partly Concurring, Partly Dissenting Opinion: Anton
If she wants to kill three would-be kings, no single drop of blood is needed. She’d already seen that Balon, Robb, and Joffrey would die, so the burning of the leeches with Edric Storm’s blood was just a mummer’s trick. If she wants to conjure up strong winds, the non-royal sacrifice of Alester Florent suffices. Now, if she wants to wake dragons from stone – as per the Azor Ahai prophecy – it depends on your interpretation of the prophecy. For hatching fossilized eggs, you really need (some type of) Valyrian blood to be present, as it’s likely that the genome of the Valyrians has been modified to make this possible. The same probably goes for bringing to life stone dragons from Dragonstone (if this is possible at all). For a less literal reading (e.g., bringing the secret Targaryen Jon back to life by sacrificing the ‘stoney’ Shireen), an ordinary sacrifice would be enough. Also, I would be really bummed out if Martin had made king’s blood more magical than ordinary blood, since putting royalty on a pedestal like that would water down his appeal to our common humanity.

Final Verdict: Melisandre doesn't need King's Blood or Valyrian Blood. 

What’s in store for Garlan and Willas?

Main Opinion: Amin
Garlan gets some more screentime and does something relevant. I think George half confirmed this when talking about the changes the TV show made in cutting the character and differences between book and show. Willas may or may not get screen, either way he’ll begin to rout the remaining Iron born in the area who were basically screwed over by Euron when he sent the Iron Fleet to go to Dany. This will help solidify to the reach, at least until Aegon shows up and potentially steals some Reach bannermen.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Garlan and Willas both will play big parts in Euron’s story, as this is where it seems destined to take place. This also makes sense since the Reach has so far been untouched as well as underexplored. I would think that both of them fight Euron, and things will escalate quickly when Euron’s dragon comes flying and, perhaps, Aeron awakens something form the Deep to attack Oldtown.

Partly Concurring, Partly Dissenting Opinion: Anton
In the short term, both Garlan and Willas will have a leading role in retaking the Shield Islands and defending the Reach against the Ironborn. On the face of it, this should be an easy win for them, but Euron probably has some trick up his sleeve. In the slightly longer term, after Mace has overplayed his hand, Willas will be the main strategist among the Tyrells, while Garlan will be his best battle commander. Willas will decide the positions his house (and by extension most of the Reach) takes toward the invasions of Aegon, Daenerys, and the Others. Also, Willas will be an interesting marriage candidate to strengthen an alliance with the Lannisters, the Dornish, or Daenerys.

Final Verdict: A bigger role than now, that's for certain. Most likely it has to do with the Ironmen. 

What should Jon have done about Hardhome?

Main Opinion: Amin
While this is likely a point of contention, I think the initial expedition to Hardhome was not a bad idea. Just giving up the people there dead without trying anything both dooms a lot of people to death and also gives the Others a large amount of dead to be turned to wights. While he did potentially lose some valuable men and ships, the total number of men lost with the first expedition - if they are all lost- was worth the gamble of sending them. The problem is that Jon needs to know when to cut his losses. An overland march would lose far too many people with little chance of success. In addition, his actions in regards to Hardhome were part of the trigger that lead to his assination. His half measure of ordering a force to go on a potential suicide mission overland while seemingly abandoing the Wall with plans to south with Wildlings drove his men to assasinate him.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
An overland march to Hardhome as a shaky proposition when Mormont hadn’t taken the Watch to the Fist, but now, in their situation, with their numbers and the enemy so close, it’s incredibly unlikely that such a mission will succeed. Even if we discount the odds of success for a moment, it would still be an incredibly dumb move since he planned to lead the thing himself. This is politically suicidal, since in his absence, all he had achieved would break down almost instantly. Only he kept the Peace in the North.

Partly Concurring, Partly Dissenting Opinion: Anton
Jon’s attempt to save the people at Hardhome is among his best and most heroic decisions. We are told that there are about 6,000 people there (twice the number of Tormund’s group), so saving their lives and preventing them from turning into wights should be a huge priority for the Night’s Watch. Not to mention the intelligence that can be gathered through this mission. Moreover, Jon has been very resourceful in gathering the eleven ships he sent there under the command of Cottor Pyke. However, he should have realized that sending this ragtag fleet wouldn’t be enough. Some ships wouldn’t make it, and they hadn’t enough room for 6,000 people to begin with. Instead of waiting for this attempt to succeed or fail, he should have sent a small ranging party over there as well. He could have made it one of the conditions in his negotiation with Tormund, that a group of wildlings be sent to Hardhome (as well as to camps in the mountains beyond the Shadow Tower) in order to convince the people there to come to the Wall by land. In the case of Hardhome, this plan could certainly have succeeded. The people there might have lost faith in Mother Mole after the visit of the Lyseni slavers, and be willing to come. The big land ranging Jon proposes in his last chapter in ADWD comes too late, and if it were to go through, it’s likely that the Others would corner them on Storrold’s Point.

Final Verdict: He should have cut his losses after he lost the fleet. 

10 comments:

  1. Assuming Dany is sterile, what is her end game with taking the Iron Throne? She would be unable to begin a new line of Targaryen kings and queens. She would be the final one if Aegon is not a Targaryen, as is also commonly assumed (and I believe).

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    1. I don't think Dany will survive the series.

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  2. On your last podcast for the Supreme Court, I think you guys mentioned Aeron being molested, but I think its something else. He mentions being a captive of the Lannisters during the Greyjoy Rebellion and soon after he found the Drowned God. So isn't it more likely that its PTSD and finding religion to cope with it? Jaime and Tyrion mention that the bowels of the Rock are no picnic, and Tywin doesn't seem like a guy to respect captives comforts when they burn his fleet...

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    1. If I am not completely mistaken, Aeron found to the Drowned God after, well, drowning in a shipwreck unrelated to his capture at Lannisport. The way he tells that episode seems not to point to PTSD, but rather to a typical hostage captivity. Boring, but not dangerous.

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    2. Yes, I also recall Theon mentioning in his Clash chapters how a couple of years after the Rebellion his uncle had become pious, but I also think its possible his experiences, of the rusted door slamming shut, fits with PTSD that interned soldiers experience in WWII and Vietnam. He could've been trying to cope with drinking, but his sailing accident became his opportunity to embrace a being larger than himself. As for him and Victarion's distaste for Euron, with the way Theon's older brothers treated him, that Ironmen aren't strangers to tough, abusive sibling relationships, and Euron just seems to be a typical Westerosi rogue.

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    3. He could of course do all of this, but the rusty hinge in the night is definitely someone entering his bedchamber. And this makes only sense for Euron.

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    4. I don't remember the mention of it being at night, or that Euron is a molester in general. The Ironborn just seem like prudes to me, as tough as they are. The rusted hinge on a slamming door reminds me of a jail cell. I also think thematically this trauma from incarceration and war fits with the motif of the horror of war and religious zealotry in response to war. I imagine the Drowned Men as the Iron Islands equivalent of the Sparrow movement, fomenting zealotry in response to being on the bad end of a war, which the Ironborn have been on numerous times. The only pretext you have that Euron is a molester is that Aeron and Victarion dislike him, and that when Euron invites Victarion to his bedchamber to discuss decisions, Victarion asks him to cover his private parts, which just seems like a prudish thing to do, not a sign of molestation. I don't mean to be hostile saying this, I just want to push out my own theory that I don't see so often since everyone has jumped on the molestation train since its so pervasive. If I'm missing or not recalling certain portions of the text, I would welcome any evidence I have missed.

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    5. Also, Euron having himself exposed like that doesn't seem unusual for the time period. Tyrion prefers to sleep naked, a custom he changes to comfort Sansa. When Arya is staying at Stony Sept, she, Gendry, Lem, and Tom of Sevens share a bed, with Lem and Tom sleeping naked. Even in our own history, the idea of sleeping together or sleeping naked wasn't unusual until Victorian notions of modesty and prudishness became prevalent. But personally, if someone called me to talk with them and they were not dressed, my first reaction would be to ask them to cover themselves, and Euron seems like a crazy enough rogue to not see the necessity to cover himself without someone pointing it out.

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  3. I toyed with the concept of authority over other people that kings possess infuses their blood (and their descendants) with magic. Sort of the equivalent exchange nature of magic in asoiaf with the kingly powers of life, death, and destiny over people develops magic. Maybe, its all just bs.

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  4. This should actually be ruling 104 as entry of 12/11 was also ruling 103.

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