Thursday, December 10, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 107

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.
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And now, up to ruling 107! Our guest judge this week is Joe Schafer, who first became aware of the series in 2009 while he was in college when he heard that HBO was adapting a fantasy series for TV. A fan of most things nerd he posts on as Ser Joe the Unknighted and he is on Twitter @joetwheets where he frequently tweets about ASOIF related content.

Will Damphair survive?

Main Opinion: Amin
The Damphair is rallying a movement to overthrow Euron. If he fails, then Euron will have him killed. If he suceeds, he may still die in the process. There is no reason for him to die in the story, though his philosophy is outdated now and out of touch with the more moderate, tradefilling route the Iron Islands must take this time around to succesfully integrate in the Sevein Kingdoms.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
It comes down to your definition of “survival”. I don’t think the Damphair will die, but I do think he as a person will be gone. Call it my personal tinfoil, but I’m down with the idea that he will, desperate, try to awake the Drowned God and really awaken something. But I doubt that C’thulhu will take all that kindly to him, so I’d expect him to merge with whatever he calls or be controlled by it henceforth.

Concurring Opinion: Joe Schafer
No, the Damphair will not survive the series. He is a champion of an outdated, toxic way of life and a religious fanatic. I don’t know if he will be killed by Euron or undermine Euron and be ultimately be destroyed by Asha but he will not live through the series. He, like the old way he preaches, does not belong in the world of Westeros any longer. When Asha takes control in the Iron Islands she will modernize the islands and bring them closer to the Greenlands Aeron so despises. 

Final Verdict: The Damphair will survive. 

What was Ned’s biggest mistake?

Main Opinion: Amin
Ned's biggest mistake was becoming Hand without having adequate and trustworthy support to back him up, which largely explains the difference of success in ruling the North vs his tenure as Hand. This underlying mistake is reflected in multiple ways. He should have taken a larger Hand's guard with him to King's Landing. It's possible that Robert would have shot the idea down under pressure from the Lannister's, but it was worth a shot. He sends away a significant portion of his guard to deal with Gregor Clegane, which weakens his position. He does not appoint men of trust into positions that can support him, like on the council or in the city watch. He relies on the likes of Littlefinger and Varys, which ultiamtely ends up him being stringed along and setup. Finally, when the pivotal moment comes, he doesn't rely on Renly's offered support nor does he leave the city to muster a proper force and return. He tries to do too much by himself and without someone trustworthy to guard his back.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
I’m pretty much down with Steven Attewell’s interpretation and analysis: Eddard’s biggest mistake was not to make use of his institutional powers. He didn’t need to bring more men, there were 4000 gold cloaks to be had. There was simply no reason not to use his prerogatives as Hand and simply sweep the whole bureaucracy with people of his own choosing, or at least people not of Littlefinger’s choosing. Tyrion will do that when he becomes hand, and while he mostly gets Varys’ people into position, those at least don’t want to kill him, and the same is true for Ned. Had he appointed Jory Cassel as the Lord Commander of the Goldcloaks, let him promote some trustworthy people with True Grit in subordinate positions and given the boot to Allar Deem and Janos Slynt, he would have had no problems with a few Lannister guards.

Concurring in Part, dissenting in part: Joe Schafer
Well I agree Ned should have surrounded himself with more of his own men and placed more trustworthy men in positions of power in King’s Landing. And I agree that he should have brought a larger guard with him from Winterfell and should have kept more of them close at hand at all times. He also relied way too heavily on the absolute worst person he could have in Littlefinger. But the biggest thing working against Ned was bad luck and bad timing. He was maneuvered to walk into a viper’s nest of conflicting plots and schemes that had been planned and implemented for years and were either finally coming to bear or being forced into action by Ned’s presence. Littlefinger actively tried to get Ned to King’s Landing and was intentionally undermining him and Cersei was on the verge of having Robert killed anyway and Ned stepped right into this mess after having spent ten years completely isolated from the court. So his biggest mistake was going south in the first place.

Final Verdict: Ned's biggest mistake was to not better prepare for violent conflict with the Lannisters. 

What would have happened to Theon if war hadn’t broke out?

Main Opinion: Amin
If war hadn't broken out, Balon is probably not going to risk attacking the North or the rest of the Seven Kingdoms (though it is worth considering at what point he summoned the fleet, he had learned his lesson with the first Rebellinon of not to take on a united Seven Kingdoms. If Balon doesn't attack, Theon's position is secure. At some point Balon would die and Theon would return to attempt to rule the Iron Islands. It's possible that Asha may have tried to compete with him, but it is unlikely that she could have gotten sufficient support. In the alternative, Euron might have Balon assasinated as he was in the current storyline, and then deal with Theon upon his arrival in a similar way.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
Balon does’t give a shit about Theon. He assembles his fleet well before he knows that Theon will come back to him, and he sacrifices him instantly when there is the slightes need to do so. If war hadn’t broken out, Balon wouldn’t have rebelled, though, but only because there was no chance against a functioning Lannister-Baratheon-Stark alliance assembled against him (and that was in place). So, Theon would have continued to be a ward in Winterfell, and most likely married to some northern girl at some point and given his own keep in service to the Starks. Balon would have tried to publicly disown him, giving Euron the opening he was waiting for with the succession order in question anyway.

Concurring Opinion: Joe Schafer
If war had never broken out Theon would have remained a hostage for the remainder of his father’s miserable life until Euron had Balon assassinated. If Theon was foolish enough to return to the Iron Islands without an army at his back Euron would have had him killed as well. Maybe Theon would be able to convince Ned, Robert, and Robb to aid him in retaking his seat. Robert would have loved the opportunity to smash the Ironborn again and Robb would want to help Theon regain his seat. Euron would have either removed or exiled Asha when he took the islands. But I think war in the Seven Kingdoms in one form or another was inevitable between Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon and the Greyjoys would inevitably try to take advantage of the chaos. 

Final Verdict: Theon would have lived on in Winterfell, at least until Balon's death. 


  1. I always appreciate when you guys have answered my questions.

    Why does the high septon not sit on the small council or at least a representative of the clergy?


      Attewell addresses this

  2. Is it possible that Stannis is gay, but so repressed even he doesn't know it? He clearly gets no joy from his marriage. Is he so obsessed with duty that he doesn't allow himself to explore?

  3. Both in court, but it'll be a while.

  4. Will the feud of House Blackwood and House Bracken take a larger role in the next book?

  5. The new commercial made me come up with a good question... Do you think Jon Snow will just stay in his direwolf and Bran will permanently warg Jon?