Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 131

Thursday is court day! We had problems last week, so this week, we do two!
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.
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And now, up to ruling 131! Our guest judge this week is Anton Jumelet, a philosophy student from the Netherlands, who previously judged on rulings 65, 81 and 104 of this court.

Ned was pushing for Robert to see the Wall, he had Mance Rayder on his mind quite a bit before his attention was turned south. What would Robert's response have been if he had gone North with Ned? We know he hungers for battle, this would've been an opportunity for him to get an extremely low risk fight in. Until the Others arrive.

Main Opinion: Amin
On one hand, Robert probably was aching for another war, to get himself away from the intrigues of King's Landing. In this way it reflects his continual thought about invading the Summer Islands. On the other hand, the fact that Robert was resistant to the idea of going up to the Wall and never gets around to the Summer Island plan reflects the likely fact that even he is somewhat worried about the financial and administrative state of the Kingdom, which cannot be helped by another costly war. Robert did not want to hear about or deal with the problems at the Wall and would rather drown himself in wine and women. A Robert that goes up to the Wall is the Robert of 15 years ago, even 9 years ago, not the current Robert.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
What Robert needs is a catalyst. A wildling army besieging the Wall, maybe even breaking through - I totally see Robert marching up in strength. The possible danger, maybe the need for deliberate, measured action that Ned offers - not so much. That’s the main problem. Eddard doesn’t really sell this as an urgent problem, it’s more of a “this might come up in the future”, which for Robert is just a signal to turn his attention elsewhere. Think of the Greyjoy rebellion. He acted when he was attacked directly, and the wildlings so far haven’t done anything. Put a huge storage for Arbor Red at Craster’s keep and Robert will send an army to protect it.

Concurring Opinion: Anton
As far as we know, Ned asked Robert to go see the Wall only once, and probably not to make him take up arms against the wildlings. Ned hoped such a visit would make it easier to get more men and supplies for the Night's Watch. Nobody regarded Mance as an immediate threat. Most of his actions and plans were unknown at that point and would not be revealed for some time. So, even if Robert had been persuaded to pay the Wall a visit, he would have been bored by the lack of action (not to mention the lack of thinly dressed women). Also, what Robert loves about battle is having a formidable foe. Remember how he recoiled from joining the mêlée at the Hand's Tourney after Ned said the others would let him win. Striking down Mance's ill-organized and ill-equipped troops might be low risk, but it wouldn't get Robert's blood up.

Final Verdict: Robert is not energetic enough to march against Mance Rayder. 

What's up with isle of green men? How is it remotely plausible that no Targaryen ever flys over on a dragon to check this out? Kings just accept a mystical island in their territory with some kind of alien paramilitary presence? I feel like this is a failure of world building. Yet Martin says we will see more of this in coming books. So what's going on?

Main Opinion: Amin
The control over the isle of green men relates more to the local lords, than to the crown. The Crown has little reason to look into a tiny island while it receives taxes from the regional lords. While the First Men were there, they respected the island. The Andals apparently tried to get there in their first wave into Westeros and failed. The Riverlands is one of the most weakly held together kingdoms, constantly invaded and rife with regional struggles. There hasn’t been a strong regional lord for long periods of time, and the recent Tully rulers had no real reason to look into the island as it is not a large island and it is not like the green men have been directly involved in anything beyond the island in recent times. It is still hard to believe, but not as difficult as you proposed. Amusingly, the singers do say that Addam Velaryon flew there with his dragon and consulted with the green men.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Likely some Targaryen or another tried to go there and check it out. But as it seems, the Green Men can only be found when they want to be found. I guess a Targaryen landed, saw nothing but trees and mud, and took off again, ridiculing the dumb legends of the Green Men.

Concurring Opinion: Antonv It's quite understandable the recent past has seen little interest in the Isle of Faces. If you keep to the Old Gods, you think it's a sacred place to be left in peace. If you don't, why care about a small island inhabited by the last descendants of some weird cult that is slowly fading from memory? The occasional young riverlord that does try to go there is driven away by ravens or winds, we are told. The few people that have been allowed to actually visit the isle would have wanted to keep quiet about their experiences. The biggest open question is why the isle wasn't conquered and burnt down during the Andal Invasion. However, that the First Men and the Children of the Forest would defend this hallowed place tooth and nail seems likely. And just like godswoods with heart trees were retained in many a castle, the conservation of the Isle of Faces could have been a condition of the First Men when they submitted and started intermarrying with the Andals.

Final Verdict: This is not as big a deal as it seems. 

Who are your top three candidates for the "friends in the Reach" of the Golden Company?

Main Opinion: Amin
Randyll Tarly is one of them, because in the discussion regarding Aegon’s landing at the end of ADWD, Taryl seems either incompetent or hedging his bets. Tarly knows an enemy army unopposed is a danger, particularly one that can grow stronger while the Crown forces grow weaker. He warned of that danger against Stannis, but says the opposite toward Aegon. He isn’t outright in Aegon’s camp yet but I am certain he is considering his options, which might fit some unconscious or conscious retention at having to bow to a lord like Mace Tyrell, who among other things likes to lay claim to a victory truly won by Tarly. As for other friends, that is hard to say. Matthis Rowan seems disgusted with some of the Lannister actions, so he might be open to overtures, but I don’t know if that means he is one of the known friends. The other two friends may be some lesser lords than that, we should look to see what the blood relations are between members in the Golden Company and some current lessor lords in the Reach.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
Randyll Tarly can be taken as a given. Not only does it make sense considering his mentality, history and strategic outlook, it also makes sense from a narrative level as Tarly is a guy with name recognition to the audience and a plausible enemy to the Tyrells. Mathis Rowan is currently leading the siege of Storm’s End that’s be said to be taken “by guile”, which doesn’t exactly sound like he’s a loyalist, but it might very well be he is now, much in the vein of Marc Anthony gathering support of defeated Republican generals.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Anton
(1) House Tarly. Randyll is clearly diverting the attention of the small council from Aegon's invasion. He must also be dissatisfied with his greedy and oafish overlord. And if Randyll is willing to work with any group of sellswords it must be the Golden Company, with their soldier mentality and strict discipline. (2) House Merryweather. After being exiled by the Mad King, Owen Merryweather and his kin might have taken up with the Golden Company during their stay in Myr. After Robert returned some of their lands to Orton Merryweather, his friendships in the Golden Company may have lasted. Taena Merryweather could be an agent of Lysono Maar's, the Golden Company's spymaster. (3) House Rowan. Mathis appears to be a Targaryen loyalist and must also be frustrated by being ordered around by Mace. If he is treated with respect during the taking of Storm's End, he may consider switching his allegiance.

Final Verdict: Tarly and Rowan seem pretty fixed candidates, and Merryweather might be in as well. 


  1. The feast at Winterfell, the hunt, and Bran's fall were all the distraction it took for Ned to abandon his plan.
    I got the sense that it was going to be a gradual sale by Ned. He starts in the Crypt with, "you ought to see the Wall" Then when they are alone again (which never happens) nudge him a little further, tell him more about Mance.
    But yeah Ned is definitely aware of and concerned with Mance until he gets sucked down the vacuum and into King's landing where you can't worry about Mance.

    1. I definitely see the pitch, but I doubt it would have worked. Robert would have brushed him off the same way he brushes him off in the south.

  2. A couple questions.

    (1) Stannis apparently was able to create two shadow baby assassins by Melisandre. Instead of rebelling against the crown, why didn't he just assassinate Joffrey and Tommen? He'd be next in line whether or not they were bastards. He had no clear aversion to killing children before the Edric Storm/Davos incident and considered them abominations, to boot.

    (2) Why did the Tyrells support Renly's claim to the crown? It seems like a terrible bet even without hindsight, as much as they clearly want a royal marriage to remove the upjumped steward stigma. The Tyrells would go into it knowing that two of Westeros's best military commanders, Tywin and Stannis, with strong armies and resources, would oppose Renly (possibly together until they learned that Stannis rebelled). The best they could count on from the North, Riverlands, Vale, Iron Islands and Dorne would be indifference, but more likely armed opposition. If Ned wasn't killed, the Robert's Rebellion alliance of the North, Riverlands and Vale likely would fight for either Stannis or the Crown (depending on the circumstances of Ned's survival) and the Iron Islands could be expected to take advantage of any opportunity to exploit weakness in any kingdom. There seems to be so much risk to the Tyrells in backing a would-be king with no compelling legal claim to the throne and no exhibited martial ability that it makes no sense.

    1. I'm no Stefan/Amin, but here are my attempts at answers!

      (1) I think part of Stannis' concern is that the Lannister's rule is not given any legitimacy whatsoever. If he assassinates Joffrey and Tommen in order to ascend to the throne, they still go down in history as rightful (if short-lived) kings. That would be a grave injustice to Stannis.

      (2) They also supported Aerys II in Robert's Rebellion, even as Aerys' actions would have destroyed the entire feudal order. Mace just seems to have a habit of making bad alliances.