Thursday is court day! Sorry for the delay.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 115! Our guest judge this week is Talha Naushad, a professional researcher working in the middle east. When he is not working, he is dabbling his wits in contemporary history and politics and immersing himself in all things concerning A Song of Ice and Fire.
What would have happened if Elia and her children had escaped King’s Landing?
Main Opinion: Amin
They would have fled to Dorne, where they would have been safe. Robert may have wanted the children dead, but Ned, Jon and the rest would be unlikely to risk prolonguing the war by going to Dorne for that purpose. Elia herself was completely the safe, the problem was what to do with the Targaryen heirs. Even if the Dornish were hesitant about fighting a war to protect them, they woudl ‘accidentally’ escape on a Dornish ship to head over to Essos to relative safety with friends. What’s interesting is the ripple effect: the Martells wouldn’t hate the Lannisters quite as much, and Oberyn wouldn’t have a reason to go after Gregor, so they might be more open to a deal with them, or face less anger from the Dornish masses for dealing with them. Or if Oberyn goes after Gregor, he doesn’t waste his time in killing him, by using a faster acting poison or overall not letting his guard down.
Dissenting opinion: Stefan
I don’t think that Elia and her children would have been allowed to live on their lives quite as easily. Elia yes, no problem, but Aegon and Rhaenys? No way. Not only did Robert Baratheon really, really want them dead, and did the Lannisters really, really need them dead (can’t have royal offspring running about when you’re starting a new dynasty), the effect of them surviving would be destabilizing. Not in the short term, sure - but in the long run. I don’t think that there would have been a giant murder squad out to get them, but any peace deal with Dorne would have had to include something like the Wall or the Citadel for Aegon and the Faith for Rhaenys to secure the dynasty. Had they escaped to Essos, Robert would have sent hired knives after them, and with much more zeal than he did with Viserys and Daenerys. The two of them alone quickly became a joke, but four kids with the queen mother? Never ever.
Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Talha
While Elia and her children would have fled to Dorne, in my opinion Jon Arryn, acting as mediator, would have demanded Aegon and Rhaenys to be handed over to the Baratheon regime. This would have been necessary in the eyes of the newly forged coalition to quell any further conflict and remove the scope of opportunity for any rebellious regional lords to conspire for any form of political machinations involving the Targaryen children. Most probably Aegon would have been sent to the wall when he became a bit older and Rhaenys given over to the silent sisters. Doran would have had to oblige facing a strong and encouraged coalition, as Dorne was not in a particularly healthy position itself having suffered losses at the Ruby Ford in the form of Lewyn Martell and troops. While these actions would not have resulted in the hate present in the Martells as much as is present now, they would have felt pangs of defeat given how invested they were with the Targaryen regime. However there are also considerable butterfly effects which would have been impacted in the future. Namely the conspiracy of Varys and Illyrio would have had to take a different color given that they could no longer use the baby Aegon swap narrative for whoever is masquerading as the current Aegon VI.
Final Verdict: Elia is no problem, but the kids? Pretty much.
Are David and Dan biased against Stannis?
Main Opinion: Amin
I believe Sean T. Collins’s point on this issue is that 'you can't read their minds, how can you say that' and that Stannis is a fictional character who doesn’t have to worry about real world bias. However, whether or not you want to use the term "bias", it is true that how D&D view a character directly influences the way they write about that character in the show. Some who disagree with their interpretation of Stannis may call it bias, what is clear is that they are free to portray their own (negative) interpretation of Stannis in the show and we agree or disagree with that particular interpetation. I think that if they knew from season 1 what was going to happen to Shireen, it would be hard to distinguish that knowledge from their view of and writing of Stannis throughout the series. Imagine if you were reading A Game of Thrones for the first time and someone told you ‘this Stannis guy burns his daughter’, don’t you think that would affect your reading of the character when he showed up in A Clash of Kings? Not just Stannis, but Melisandre as well.
Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I think the idea is preposterous. These guys are at the helm of a multi-million dollar project, the flagship of a huge TV company. Do you really think that HBO let’s them simply live out any urge they have, especially when it comes to stuff that is a centerpiece of a season, with a fucking battle scene in between? And no, they don’t have a bias. They took events that are confirmed by Martin to happen and interpreted them in line with their version of Stannis, which, as can’t be emphasized enough, is not the same as book Stannis. Therefore, they’re not “biased against Stannis”, they’re simply writing a different version of him and running with it.
Concurring Opinion: Talha
While David and Dan can have their own interpretation of Stannis and portray him as they choose to, their version in my opinion suffers from a lot of inconsistency and bad story telling in addition to the widely acclaimed flawed characterization. While they may be privy to information on the character’s future development and consequently take decisions to portray him in a particular manner, they should establish the reasons for the character’s behavior in a logical manner such that it makes sense within the context of the show if not in the context of the books.
Final Verdict: No, they're not.
Is Braavos an enemy to Dany or an ally?
Main Opinion: Amin
Braavos is uncertain at the moment. They have good reasons to be wary of Targaryens, but their beliefs are in alignment with Dany’s freeing of the slaves. The city itself will most likely stay neutral and cautiously wait to see what happens. However, Dany may be facing an enemy from various power players within the city, particularly the Faceless Men. While the Iron Bank is focussed toward Westeros right now, the Faceless Men are already aware of Dany and looking into handling dragons, as we know the Faceless Man who kid Pate is on that mission.
Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
Braavos is neutral. While they surely like that Dany is destroying their rivals and freeing the slaves, they can’t be too excited about dragons returning and all the chaos and the dead borrowers. But Braavos is more than just the sum of its parts, and the Faceless Men in particular might play a role. However, I don’t think that No One in Oldtown is working under their banner anymore. To me, it seems more likely that the man formerly known as Jaqen has gone rogue.
Concurring Opinion: Talha
Braavos is likely to remain neutral to Dany in the short term. They would keep a keen eye on Dany and her contingent’s path towards Westeros and how her campaign evolves through the course of Winds of Winter. We do not know what the Faceless men’s end towards Dany is through the efforts of Pate/Jaqen at the Citadel, though it is likely that they are making contingency plans in case Dany or her dragons were to prove to be a threat. Other institutions of the city like the Iron Bank may get involved in her story if they feel she threatens Stannis or any other faction whom they support. However Dany herself has no grudge towards the city (yet) and the city also has sort of a nostalgic appeal to her in the form of the ‘house with the red door’ which she regularly associates with ‘home’ and her lost childhood.
Final Verdict: It's neutral.