Friday, December 25, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 109

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.
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 109! Our guest judge this week is Marcus Roberts, a director at YouGov, the international polling company. He has previously ruled on the Wall's collapse, the Holy Hundred and the return of Jon Snow.
Stannis felt that he should have been named Hand to Robert after Jon Arryn died. What would have happened if Ned declined or Robert went straight to Stannis as Hand?

Main Opinion: Amin
If Ned declined, Robert wouldn't have gone to Stannis. Robert did not like Stannis. Jaime Lannister seems like a greater possibility, given that Robert threatened to appoint him if Ned tried to resign. But while someone in the Lannister sphere may happen, I'm not sure it would be Jaime. Tywin maybe, or Kevin as a tolerable substitute, or if the Tyrell/Renly plot goes anywhere with getting Margaery into Robert's bed, then Renly, Mace, or a prominent Tyrell supporter. Renly seems too young for the position but he's the main alternative to a Lannister. The best chance for Stannis being made Hand is actually Cersei openly speaking against it and Robert doing it to spite her. But let's imagine that for whatever reason, Stannis is offerd to be Handship. He would probably take the offer on its own, though that has to be balanced by the fact that he is worried about Lannister threats to his life. He may only come back to KL with a sufficiently large personal guard and take steps to solidify his men into key positions in the city including the Gold Cloaks. A conflict is inevitable between Stannis and the Lannisters, with Renly stirring up trouble with the Tyrell plot.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
While I agree that Robert is unlikely to name Stannis - after all, he wants a hand to rule while he fucks and eats himself in an early grave and leaves him alone with the copper-counting, which Stannis is VERY unlikely to do. Not leaving people alone is one of his trademarks. But I want to emphasize that if he is Hand, this means war. And quickly at that, which is why Littlefinger and Varys most likely threw their whole influence against it as well. Stannis as Hand, knowing that Cersei and Jaime fuck each other and that Robert’s heirs are not his will go straight to Robert and tell him once his position is secured as Amin describes it. That means that Cersei and Jaime are captured and most likely killed, with Tywin Lannister isolated against a strong Baratheon-Tully-Stark alliance (no clue whether in such a scenario, Littlefinger would tell Lysa to stay on the sidelines as well, given the likely repercussions it would have). The war would be over before it really began, and that’s not in the interests of any player in King’s Landing at that moment, or Martin himself, for that matter.

Concurring opinion: Marcus Roberts
I concur with Justice Amin. If Eddard declined this would likely have escalated the Tyrell/Renly plot to secure Margaery in Robert's bed and with it a likely Tyrell or Renly Handship - with either proposed by the other for political cover. Had Stannis been named Hand he would have probably done what Tyrion was authorized by Tywin to do but failed to do: namely: "spikes...heads, walls." Littlefinger, Varys and others of their scheming ilk would not have lasted long to put it mildly. As for what would have happened to the Lannister's after Stannis informed Robert of the incestuous cuckholding, see next ruling.

Final Verdict: This spells doom for the Lannisters. 

Would Robert have killed Cersei, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen if he had found out as Ned feared?

Main Opinion: Amin
Robert would have ordered Cersei's execution certainly, the children quite likely as well. Robert would have been shamed in the eyes of gods and men and would take that out in a wrath against Cersei and the children. It probably would spill toward the other Lannisters as well, as Robert would not believe or really care if they knew about it or not. The Tyrells and Renly plot to get Margaery paired up with Robert works quite nicely here as he needs a new, fertile wife. And the Tyrells are quite willing to help Robert deal with the Lannisters.

Concurring opinion: Stefan
Robert has no problem at all killing children, and no one would condemn him for it, given that the products of incest are viewed as abominations anyway. So they would die. I’d also add Jaime to that list, because the golden boy would have had not only committed high treason but also foresaken his vows as a kingsguard - AGAIN. Jaime would die very publicly, very slowly, and very ugly.

Concurring opinion: Marcus Roberts
Robert would have killed Cersei. And Joffrey. And Myrcella. And Tommen. And Tywin. And Kevan. And Tyrek. And, and, and...Robert would have gone full Aerys on House Lannister and this could have provided a catalyst for a reverse/repeat Robert's rebellion scenario whereby the other Great Houses rise up against a King whose vengeance is out of control. This would have been manipulated into being, for their different reasons and in their different ways, by Littlefinger and Varys/Illiryo alike. They were determined to get their Westerosi civil war one way or another and this would have been an excellent pretext. Perhaps with rumors planted that the children were actually legitimate after all and thus Robert was a Kinslayer.

Final Verdict: They're so dead. 

What will be Jeyne Westerling’s endgame?

Main Opinion: Amin
We will find out early in the next book what her trajectory is, given that she is set to appear in the prologue of The Winds of Winter. That chapter will be pivotal in either finally setting to rest the Heir to the North theory or revealing it to be true, one way or another it would have to be settled there. If she's not pregnant, then she probably will eventually fade from the story, hopefully alive and probably remarried at some point. If she is, whether or not it is actually Rob's child, then that will lead to further political intrigue and a greater impact on the story. The dark horse factor is whether her brother, the Knight of Seashells, shows up in the chapter as well. I've ruled in the past that I think he will show up again, if he does, his path may become tangled with Jeyne's, perhaps in a rescue attempt.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
I think that her party will be captured by the Brotherhood without Banners, who will free Edmure and take the rest prisoner to be judged by Lady Stoneheart. And she will not believe one word of Jeyne’s “I didn’t know anything”-story but simply give her the robe. And this, by the way, will hopefully finally silence the people hoping for some cathartic event involving this zombie of justice.

Concurring opinion: Marcus Roberts
Justice Amin is right that by the end of the prologue we will resolve the Heir to the North plot. What's more, I think there is still a chance that the prologue itself will be a Jeyne POV. Such a choice would make sense on a number of levels: it would resolve the aforementioned outstanding plot lines; it would not be a 'surprise' death given her fate on the TV show; it would bring back emotional punch to the Stark storyline - particularly if say Lady Stoneheart were to do the Jeyne-slaying...

Final Verdict: There's a good chance she will die soon. 

14 comments:

  1. Jayne pregnant and Lady Stoneheart judging her would be really a powerful combination.

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  2. Hate to be a grump on XM's but can you please stop with the what if questions. This blog used to be one of the things I most looked forward to on all the web, now I check every couple weeks and read maybe 30% of the questions. Today is a perfect example... The first question does nothing for figuring out asoiaf' mysteries while the third question is perfect and can lead to great discussions about the book. I know you have tons of questions that get sent in so can you please bring this blog back to its glory days and stick with real questions about the book. Anyone and their grandmothers can come up with hundreds of thousands of what ifs but people that take time to come up with real questions should always be moved up on the list over what ifs. Again sorry for negativity on the holidays, I really used to love this and am only complaining in hopes of being able to love it again not just to complain about something. If I didn't love it I would not waste my time writing this and would have just stopped checking it. Hope you all have a great time celebrating whatever you like.

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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.

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  4. The Bumble is the original whitewalker, and Rudolph is lightbringer, which makes Hermie the prince that was promised

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  5. No more final verdicts?

    I also agree with George. What-if's are rarely informative and are better fodder for message boards. Courts don't deal with what-if's either...

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  6. Regarding the What-Ifs: I get your point, but I don't really agree. While it's true that courts don't deal in What-If, they seldom deal in fan theories either. We could simply make the questions more specific - i.e. "Will Jeyne Westerling be killed by Lady Stonehart?" - but I don't think this changes stuff in a meaningful way.
    However, I find virtue in this kind of question. The thing is that to answer it requires me to lay open my understanding on the text, and enables us all to have a more informed discussion.
    What I can do, however, is to mix the questions better, so only a maximum of one question will be "What If". Would that be a good compromise?

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  7. Yes, definitely a fair compromise. And it's a good rebuttal point regarding what-ifs requiring understanding the text.

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    1. Won't be able to do this immediately; some rulings are already out for the judges. After that, I'll try.

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  8. Interesting post regarding Stannis!

    Further question: Both Ned and Tyrion relied far too heavily on Littlefinger (the latter despite his suspicions). What would have happened if one of them had discovered his plotting and imprisoned him?

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    1. Didn't read the other comments until now... there's a certain irony following the What-If discussion with a What-If question, bu I'd still like to hear your thoughts :)

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  9. I have now rearranged all questions so that only one what-if-thing is in per week. We're covered until mid-March. However, the rest of the questions - around 20 of them or so - are all what-ifs. They're in high-demand, it seems.

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  10. What I always didn't catch: What are the qualifications for Jaimie as Hand of the King? He wasn't member of the small council, he wasn't even very interested in (court) politics. Was Robert really thinking to appoint him or was it just a way to extort Ned?

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