Thursday, December 3, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 106

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.
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And now, up to ruling 106! Our guest judge this week is Jim, who is a contributor at Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire and a regular contributor at Tower of the Hand. He commonly goes by SomethingLikeALawyer.

Thinking in military terms, what clues do we have about the white walkers' intentions based on their patterns and nature of attacks?

Main Opinion: Amin
They are taking their time getting to the Wall, which is probably a smart thing to do as they are increasing the numbers of undead they control while the North and the rest of the Seven Kingsdoms weaken. They prefer to deal with pockets of trouble first, like the Night's Watch at the Fist of the First Men or the wildlings at Hardhome. We didn't get to see much of the Beyond that, it is hard to say at this point, other than the entire Seven Kingdoms are under threat if they make it past the Wall.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
The Others are more like a force of nature. A tidal wave coming for the Wall. We see it at the Fist, where they are sending their expendable material, the wights, first. Actually, they seem to operate much like the commanding officers or “heroes” in a swarm of mindless drones. It reminds me a bit of Starship Troopers (the novel), where there are also hordes of drones, interspersed with really dangerous soldiers. Also, I’d count on Other cavarly on Ice Spiders climbing the Wall. Just saying.

Concurring Opinion: Jim McGeehin
The military objectives of the Others appear to be very direct and simple. They seek to shore up their army of the dead by attacking people that cannot defend against the wights in their army. I don't believe the Others have an intelligence network waiting for the right moment to strike the Seven Kingdoms, rather that their reappearance is tied to the greater metaphysical reality of the setting, but that should not paint them as unthinking in their attacks. The wights in Castle Black give us the clear notion that they aim to target leadership to destroy the cohesion of enemy armies when defensive multipliers are too great to overcome by sheer bulk.

Final Verdict: The Others will eliminate all resistance in the North and then mount a giant attack in the Wall. 

How will Aegon die?

Main Opinion: Amin
According to Dany's visions in the House of the Undying, Aegon will still be around for her to sweep aside at some point. Death by her dragons is a possibility, either him failing to take one or her having him roasted. If we didn't have the prophecy to go by, I'ld probably say he would be taken out by some random arrow in battle. All that planning by Varys and Illyrio, to have it crash like that would be tragic.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
It’s death by dragon fire for Aegon. It needs to be, for dramatic and narrative reasons. Dany is the slayer of lies, and her delivering the death blow to Varys’ and Illyrio’s pet project is far more devestating than even the random arrow would. All that scheming coming back to bite them in the ass. I can almost see the Dolchstoß-Legends ( after it. “If we only hadn’t given her the eggs!” “If we only hadn’t married her to Drogo!” “Dany betrayed our trust!” Somehow, though, I think both of them will have little to nurse these feelings. “It was such a perfect plan until Dany ruined it!” Yeah, well, not so perfect after all. And the real tragic is that Aegon will pay the price, and all the people in King’s Landing with him, when Chekov’s wildfire stashed go boom.

Concurring in Part/Dissenting in Part: Jim McGeehin
Daenerys is killing him, proving him a false Targaryen, in the Dance of the Dragons 2.0. However, dying to a random stroke of bad luck wouldn't be tragic; it would be a joke at the reader's expense. Varys isn't a tragic hero reformist seeking to heal the wounded and corrupt realm no matter what distasteful deeds he might personally have to perform, and he won't undone by the whims of fate. Aegon's not going to be the second coming of Renly, Aegon is the mummer's dragon. He'll likely die in dragonfire after sitting the Iron Throne, although whether he claims a dragon or not is anyone's guess. If Daenerys has to slay one of her other two dragons, well, that's rough. Same if the dragonfire sets off the wildfire caches under the city.

Final Verdict: Dany will kill him. 

Why does anyone not from the North ever assist the Watch?

Main Opinion: Amin
There was a strong Northern tradition in supporting the Watch that simply did not continue in the South. Ned assisted the Watch, as did the Starks before him. Other Northern houses probably did as well, which explains their continued existence, it just did not come up much in the still relatively short time frame of the series, and most of the lords went south with Robb, leaving behind scant garrisons. Jon was visited by several old leaders of the Northern clansmen who provided advice and support. The North is the closest to the Wildings, the presently known threat North of the Wall, and has the most to lose if they get past the Wall.

Concurring opinion: Stefan
Most houses don’t support the Watch because they don’t care and see it as basically an outsized relic fighting savages for no apparant reason. Beyond that, for them, it’s just a dumping ground for unwanted children, prisoneres and criminals, but they’re not sending them out of the goodness of their heart. A few houses are different, upholding traditional connection to the Watch, like the Royces or the Blackwoods, but most don’t. For more on the topic, I'd recommend my essay "Those castles aren't empty by happenstance".

Concurring Opinion: Jim McGeehin
A few non-Northern support the Watch. House Royce sends Waymar Royce, Jaehaerys I Targaryen apparently rode his dragon to help stop a wildling army (whether that's true or not, unfortunately, I cannot attest), Good Queen Alysanne donated jewels to finance a new castle. Most of the modern day houses see the Night's Watch as a penal colony with a prouder tradition, so they just use it to dump prisoners and avoid a messy blood feud (Tywin did this after sacking King's Landing) and move on. 

Final Verdict: Some houses in the South do, but they're a small minority. The rest isn't interested. 


  1. It feels like you all misunderstood the last question, unsurprisingly seeing that it was phrased terribly. I think you answered "why don't most houses support the nights Watch?"
    I think the question was more about " why do any southern houses support the wall at all?" As in, what is the motivation for House Thorne to send someone there? They shouldn't care about the wildlings, as it's a northern issue. You didn't answer that really.
    At least that was how I understood the last question.

    1. Yes, it could have definitely been phrased better.
      In relation to Ser Aliser Thorne, he had to go there since he ended up the wrong side (Targaryen) in Robert's Rebellion. An example of a function the Wall still servers, as an alternative to execution as a form of punishment. It also is still a place to send excess sons, and more acceptible to some militant fathers like Lord Tarly and probably Lord Royce than the citadel or faith.

    2. No, my answer regards the southern houses. Obviously, the Northern ones do support the Watch.

    3. Yes your answer does regard the southern houses. And it answer why they don't support the watch (don't care, outsized relic). The question as I understood it was: what are the motivations of southern houses that support the watch? Your only answer is tradition, without explaining it.
      I mean the question is a bit silly, because there are hardly any southern houses that support the watch like the north does, but then you might have just ditched the question as its premise (there are southern houses supporting the watch, why do they?) is false.
      Guess that is what the main issue is.

    4. The essay I linked to in my opinion provides my rationale why they supported it back in the day, and why they don't do today. If you haven't read it, I want to recommend it to you. :)

    5. Just did, and it is a reasonable explanation! Cheers