Thursday, May 5, 2016

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 128

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 128! Our guest judge this week is Jeff Hartline, the founder of the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire blog and can be found on twitter.

Are there any big mysteries in the books that you think GRRM will leave open to interpretation, or will George wrap everything up in a neat little package?

Main Opinion: Amin
George will leave many mysteries open in the series, for two reasons. First, I think he has made it clear that he doesn’t want all his mysteries to be wrapped up in the books, just like some things are never solved in real life. Second, he simply does not have the time to wrap up every thread he’s put into motion: he will tie up some of the major ones while leaving many fan theories permantly in the realm of theory mode. He also gives us closure sometimes without expressly explaining something, such as the Hound being alive as the Gravedigger, which some think is the last we’ll see of him, while others favor Cleganebowl.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
While major questions like Jon’s parentage will certainly be cleared up, a lot of stuff on the sidelines will never be answered but remain a mystery. This is especially true for many of the world-building details thrown into “The World of Ice and Fire”, from the identity of the Mazemakers to the machinations of Asshai or the secrets of Valyria. And it’s good that way.

Concurring Opinion: Jeff
A good writer doesn't answer every question and lets his fans dwell on mysteries for years afterwards. (Think Lost). That said, I agree with Amin that most of the major ones (Jon's parentage) will be answered conclusively by the end of the series. Others I'm not sure about. Will George conclusively answer the question on whether Young Griff/Aegon is truly Rhaegar's son or a descendant of the Blackfyres? That I'm undecided on, but I lean towards the interpretation that that particular mystery will not be conclusively answered. Still, like the Gravedigger theory, I believe we will likely have enough information from the text to provide satisfying fan-answers to that question and others.

Final Verdict: Much will be left open. 

What will be the role of Ilyn Payne in the rest of the story?

Main Opinion: Amin
Not much left to do when it comes to Illyn Payne. He’s loyal to the Lannisters so he will stick with serving them, either to die in some coming conflict or fade into obscurity. He did stay around longer in the books’ spotlight for the ‘conversations’ with Jaime, but Jaime is away from his men now and unliekly to interact that much further with Payne.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Illyn Payne is one of those characters that can easily be dealt with in an offhand sentence. I guess we will either never see him again or get an update in a throw-away comment, but I don’t see him playing any larger role in the narrative. Maybe Cersei recruits him as her own bodyguard for when she retreats to the Rock after Tommen and Myrcella’s deaths, but that seems like a longshot.

Concurring Opinion: Jeff
Without a point of view character near Ilyn Payne, I think it's more likely that he'll continue to play a bit role in the story. I don't think his fate is ultimately important to the story in and of itself. However, he was important to Jaime's arc as the man who helped Jaime train a little and perhaps learn humility.

Final Verdict: Nothing of importance. 

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

Main Opinion: Amin
The feud has already had a lot of coverage in the earlier books, kind of reaching the climax with Jaime’s visit to and negotiations with both lords. The two houses displayed that they can put their differences aside temporarily when necessary, but only if there is an additonal blood relation in the child.

Concurring opinion: Stefan
The Bracken-Blackwood-feud will not play any major role. It has always been a background element, one that constantly reminds us that the Game of Thrones is played by houses big and small everywhere in the world; this conflict can’t really have any solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of “A Dream of Spring”, they’re fighting again.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part Opinion: Jeff
I agree that this feud has seen its fulfillment in Jaime's negotiated peace. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if we see the conflict rear its ugly head, especially if Hoster Blackwood is seen as somehow responsible for Jaime's disappearance in the Riverlands. There's also a strong possibility in my mind that Lord Blackwood is likely one of the "river lords with a wolfish hearts" as Daven Lannister put it to Jaime. So, I think it's possible that we may see the Bracken/Blackwood feud flare up as both sides represent opposite factions for control of the Riverlands. At the same time, the Blackwood/Bracken conflict serves as a microcosm for events in the series showing readers that no matter current status of things, old rivalries don't disappear overnight.

Final Verdict: No, the feud will remain in the background. 

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