Friday, June 10, 2016

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 133

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 133! Our guest judge this week is Elena Pompfla, a member of the community.

What is the endgame for Arya and her faceless man training? Obviously to assassinate people. but who and for what narrative purpose? GRRM spends an enormous amount of time and plot energy keeping Arya in her own story arc for this to not have a pivotal role in the overall storyline doesn't he?

Main Opinion: Amin
Arya will not be with the Faceless Men long term. She will get away at some point, possibly during an assignment to go to Westeros to take out a target there. All the remaining Starks will have an important impact on the series, with the exception of Rickon who may be too young to have a direct impact in the present timeline. So it is not surprising that Arya continues to have her own dedicated story arc.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
I agree with Amin, but not on the circumstances. Arya will snap out of it in Braavos, when she meets with Westerosi and learns about the events in Winterfell (especially Jeyne posing as her). Her departure from the Faceless Men is unlikely to be a happy one. But yes, she definitely has her own arc and that’s not becoming No One. The text made abundandly clear that she fails at that and can’t shake her Stark identity.

Concurring Opinion: Elena Pompfla
With so much textual support for the Starks as a family protagonist unit, it's no surprise that the remaining children all have had ample time developing their stories or have been placed in potentially pivotal positions. After hearing Arya's nightly prayer... oh, about two dozen times, I'm going to guess she's not ever going to forget who she is or what she wants. The thing is, when she first made her list those goals seemed pretty far fetched- magical murder genies aside, of course. Now though... although I doubt she'll complete her training, she is a very determined pupil. I expect whatever training she does get will be put to good use as the plot advances.

Final Verdict: Arya doesn't become a Faceless Man, but rather plays her own role. 

Is Martin really a slow writer (even if he says so himself)? Is anyone not identical to Stephen King?

Main Opinion: Amin
Martin is not always a slow writer, but he has consistently had problems with keeping to deadlines in his career. There are times when he has written great volumes at an incredible speed, particularly A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, and some of the other side materials he has released for Ice and Fire. At other times he has missed and passed deadlines, not just for ASOIAF. When he is writing on a roll; he is really on a roll; when he gets stuck, he is really stuck.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
Martin really hates deadlines. He writes until he’s satisfied, and I’d even go as far as to argue that he might watch ACOK’s and ASOS’ writing speed as a mistake today, given the different look and feel of Feastdance.

Concurring Opinion: Elena Pompfla
The first three asoiaf books took only two to three years a piece. So he is not a consistently slow writer. Of course, the complexity of this series has grown with each book and it was bound to take longer to write as everything came together in the his mind. More than that though, we also have had a kind of perfect storm brewing where Martin has had all this pressure to finish these books before the TV show, but no real consequence if he doesn't. What I mean by that is that his success has guaranteed him publication no matter how long they are, or how long it takes him to write them. So he has had more freedom to develop at length, expand, elaborate, write, rewrite, and rewrite again what was already a lengthy and daunting task.

Final Verdict: He's not inherently slow. 

What do you think about the existence of the Deep Ones, the impending eldritch apocalypse and the connection to the Ironborn?

Main Opinion: Amin
I think the Deep Ones are more for background worldbuilding than an existence that will directly impact the current storyline. There is enough on the table with the Others and the current struggles than to add another supernatural force to the upcoming clash. The Deep Ones, if still around, will remain in deep sleep.

Dissenting Opinion: Stefan
So much dissent. I’m totally with PoorQuentyn here; the Drowned God is a Deep One himself, and Aeron will succeed in calling him - but not to the effect he wanted. That’s it in a nutshell.

Concurring Opinion: Elena Pompfla
Those sinister black stones and their supposed hideous architects are definitely creepy as hell. If it wasn't for the lack of support from foreshadowing and or prophecy I could really try to get behind this theory. That is, if the idea of yet another evil force coming into the story this late in the game didn't have me throwing my hands up in frustration. As a mysterious and eerie addition to this fascinating and dangerous world, I love them... but in my opinion they are just that-an addition and not the main event.

Final Verdict: The eldritch apocalpyse is not happening, the Deep Ones are background.  


  1. C'thulhu's return remains, to my mind, the moment that's been coming for Damphair all along, and "The Forsaken" only ramps that up: the revelation that his god is not, in fact, a benevolent omniscient humanoid out to protect him, but a monster who couldn't care less about him. ("Oh, he thought. Then he began to scream.") Really, I think that's so thoroughly congruent with the themes of his story, and Euron's, and the Ironborn in general. If I couldn't root this theory in character, it would be tinfoil. But I can.

    I'd also like to point out that there's precedent for this. Bloodraven was introduced in the D&E novellas, and so those of us who'd read those had our MINDS BLOWN when he turned out to be the three-eyed crow. But if you hadn't? It was still awesome. Same deal here vis-a-vis WOIAF and the black oily stones.

    Finally, I'll just say that reducing magic in ASOIAF to fire v. ice and saying all else would be a distracting sideshow is a misread. The story is in part about ALL magic returning (last hurrah?), starting with the dragons. Quaithe straight-up tells us this.

    1. I mean, people made this same "it'd be a distraction" argument about Euron himself, for years, and then "The Forsaken" happened.

    2. Heartsbane of HornhillJune 10, 2016 at 2:00 PM

      I just haven't seen enough to believe that a Cthulhu-like being is in the works. I personally like the idea of the Dragon Egg Euron threw overboard coming back in the form of a second Sea Dragon, Nagga reborn if you will.
      I don't know if he did enough to hatch the egg when he threw it overboard, but the sacrifice he is preparing for tWoW brings me right back to Danny's sacrifice for her dragons. Child/Lover/and a holy woman.

      It would also serve the dual purpose of bringing back another member of the Age of Heroes Nagga (one of the few who hasn't been reintroduced at this point).

      The only pause I have is Patchface. He clearly experienced something under the sea, so something is going on down there that has nothing to do with a dragon.

      But for Iron born lore The sea dragon makes more sense to me than a squid god.

    3. Heartsbane of HornhillJune 10, 2016 at 2:10 PM

      Unless you're talking Merlings. Cause if that comes true, I'm out!

    4. I think Euron used the egg to pay for the FM to assassinate Balon, m'self. And WOIAF makes it pretty clear that the Drowned God is Lovecraftian.

  2. Some questions that desperately need answering:

    - How will Tyrion react if he learns he is Aerys' son?

    - What is the best name for the ASOIAF world: Planetos, Terros, Earthos, Grrth, the Known World, simply Earth, or something else?

    - What will be the role of the scrolls with dragonlore Tyrion wrote on the Shy Maid?

    - What are Ned's broken promises? What promises (more than one, apparently) did he break exactly?

    - What does Martin get wrong about medieval culture in the books? What is the biggest anachronism?

    - Martin has said there is a method behind the madness of his alternative chapter titles (e.g., 'The Prophet', 'The Princess in the Tower'). What could this method be?

    - What did Tom O'Sevens tell Edmure after Jaime left them?

    1. Definitely willing to bet Tom O'Sevens told Edmure to pass on to the Blackfish where he could find the Brotherhood.

  3. Hi! What do you think of the "stone beast, breathing shadow fire" Undying prophecy? Most theories (JonCon, Marwyn, literal stone dragons) fail to keep into account the "slayer of lies" part. Only guess I havem is that Daenerys will slay Melisandre's lies... but I'm hazy on the details. Thoughts?

  4. It must be a lot easier for someone born a slave to give up their identity than someone born a Lord's daughter. I wonder if the Faceless Men take that into account when recruiting.

    Also, I don't think GRRM wrote the first three books as fast as everyone thinks. He started writing around 1991, and AGoT wasn't published until 1996. And when he started, the first book was supposed to cover events all the way up to the Red Wedding, so he was basically writing all three at the same time.

    So with ASoS published in 2000, it essentially took him 9 years to write what was projected to be the first volume in what was supposed to be a trilogy. The 11 years it took to write AFfC and ADwD (which would've been the second volume in the original plan) doesn't seem so much slower in that context.

    1. Consider George's output in terms of page numbers. If you add the pages of the published ASOIAF five novels and the Dunk & Egg novellas, you get about 4,600 pages. Divide this by the twenty years he's been working on them (1991-2011), and you get about 230 pages per year. I think it's hard to deny that's a very respectable amount for any serious writer. Most published books are between 200 and 300 pages long, so in a way George has written one book per year for the last two decades.

      Also, George's pace hasn't slowed down as much as people think recently. Assume TWOW is published in 2017 and is about 900 pages. Adding the amount of pages of TWOIAF, the average is about 210 pages per year.

      George is a prolific writer. His real problem is not his writing speed, but rather his great optimism about meeting deadlines and poor management of expectations.

    2. Agreed. I think if you just look at the publication dates of the main series books, you get the impression that he was working very fast and then slowed way down. But I don't think that's the case at all.

    3. GRRM was only able to write part time on AGOT from 1991 to I believe about 1994.

    4. I would say the pilots and teleplays George wrote in the early 1990s are nicely balanced by the work he did for GOT in the early 2010s.

    5. I think George said the HBO work was taking 3-6 weeks per year from him, I don't think that's equivalent.