Thursday, December 17, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 108

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 107! Our guest judge this week is Fredrik Fischer, a migrant and wordwright who has liked A Song of Ice and Fire almost half his life at this point.

I always wondered how Qyburn would be able to take over as Master of Whispers so quickly after Varys disappeared. Do you think he somehow used Varys's network or that Varys fed him information, or even that Qyburn is now a tool (witting or unwitting) of Varys?

Main Opinion: Stefan
There’s no mystery behind it: when Qyburn became Master of Whisperers, he paid bribes out to everyone who would feed him rumors. Cersei admits as much herself in AFFC, going so far as to thinking that Varys did the same thing, which of course he did not. This is why Qyburn’s information doesn’t reach near the quality of Varys’ intelligence, but of course Cersei has no way of knowing that since Varys always held back intelligence crucial to his operations. But Qyburn is basically blind except for what people tell him voluntarily.

Concurring In Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I think that Qyburn benefitted from Varys having set up the spy network. Some of Varys’ informers surely transferred over to Qybrurn for the promise of pay. If Qyburn had to start from scratch, it would have been more difficult. That being said, Qyburn is far from having access to Varys’ full information network, like the little birds and other potential informants or service people solely in Varys’ private service. It would make sense if Varys is making use of Qyburn indirectly by feeding him choice information, but this is not required to explain Qyburn’s current level of success.

Concurring opinion: Fredrik Fischer
I agree with Stefan’s assessment. Qyburn is being used, although not specifically by Varys (or his subordinates). He definitely hasn’t got acces to Varys’ network or the means, skill or even interest to build a similar one of his own.

Main Opinion: Qyburn is nowhere near the spymaster Varys is. 

Who is/are Doran Martell's spy/spies in King's Landing, who informed him of the plot to kill Trystane?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Taena Merryweather. She is in the position to gain all that critical intel that Cersei is blabbering off in an attempt to get someone, anyone, to recognize her as a superior politician. Taena is from Myr, and Doran Martell has very good connections to the Free Cities himself. There aren’t that many other persons with close access to Cersei on the shortlist that could reasonably be in cahouts with the Martells.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
As Justice Stefan noted, Taena makes sense. The connection between Dorne and the Free Cities (and Doran’s own journeys there and marriage to Mellario of Norvos) makes a Dornish link make sense. Of course, it could be someone else, but there are limited options for anyone we might have already seen on screen and have reason to suspect. I’m glad to have to have moved the majority of the Court in this direction since the discussion on Taena in Ruling 67.

Concurring opinion: Fredrik Fischer
I definitely agree. Is there even anyone else on that list of suspects?

Final Verdict: Doran's spy is Taena Merryweather. 

What do you think will/would happen once Arya crosses all the names off of her list?

Main Opinion: Stefan
She would need to face the fact that it doesn’t give her peace, of course. Revenge never does. She would still be adrift, still have no family or friends, and where her hatred had burned so hot and bright now only an empty void would gaze back at her. Hopefully, she’ll recognize this inevitability before it comes to this and pulls back from the brink.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
If she gets to that point, then she’ll probably remain unsatisfied. I’m don’t think she gets there, simply from the fact that not everyone on the list may die (by her hands or others) and she may add some new names to the list in the interim.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Fredrik Fischer
While I think Stefan’s scenario would come true if Arya continues on the trajectory posited by her last published chapters (i.e. the spiral of revenge just goes on and on and on), I strongly believe that she will experience an amount of character growth, or rather, revelation, comparable to that of Sansa’s exploding into a player of the game of thrones. In what respect this blooming will change her, I can’t say, but I believe there will come a tipping or snapping point where her quest for revenge turns into something more profound, whether for good or evil. I don’t see her checking off the names off her list one by one. I believe they will be taken care of by others (excluding Raff, of course). I reckon her fate lies somewhere between King’s Landing and the Riverlands, both geographically and metaphorically. 

Final Verdict: She'll likely never will, but it won't give her carthatic satisfaction. 


  1. I could see Arya getting down to one name on her list, realize it isn't making her happy crossing off names, and "save" it for last. She could stretch out the moment by watching over the person and imagining herself killing the person over and over, but not taking the final step because she doesn't want to be purposeless.

    Alternatively, she could have a moment where she discovers some sibling is alive, and have to make a choice between her list and her family, and I believe she would chose her family (even Sansa). Maybe that's just me being optimistic, which doesn't fit in to Martin's tale.

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  3. Hi,

    I have a question. I have read that Aerys II knew of Rhaegar's intention of taking his throne, and did his best to thwart him by attending the tourney at Harrenhal. If this was the case, why did he not let Brandon fight his untrustworthy son in a trial-by-combat? This would have ensured Northern loyalty if Brandon had won and rid him of a rival for the throne.