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 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 135! Our guest judge this week is SomethingLikeALawyer, a contributor to Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire (link to the blog) and focuses on analyzing the series from the political, tactical, and strategic levels.
What role will Highgarden play, in regards to Euron’s attack?
Main Opinion: Amin
While the Ironborn have made some daring raids in the Reach, Highgarden itself should be relatively safe given that Willas is mobilizing the local Reach forces and the Ironborn have lost any element of surprise. While the Ironborn are causing trouble now, they will be swept away once the Redwyne fleet returns, particularly since the Iron Fleet is no longer there. Euron bet it all on the dragons, either he wins big with a dragon or we see the Ironborn defeated in the South, though spared another embarassing loss on their own territory because the Tyrells will have other foes to keep them busy on the mainland after retaking the Shields.
Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Stefan
Highgarden will play the same role for the south of Westeros that Winterfell plays for the North, as a Last Stand of the forces of good against the forces of evil, in this case Euron and the forces of the Eldritch apocalypse. Since Oldtown seems very much to be done for, the survivors of that particular inferno will most likely gather in Highgarden, trying to weather the storm there.
Concurring in part, dissenting in part: SomethingLikeALawyer
Garlan Tyrell will need a base of operations once the news of the Redwyne's fleets destruction via magical armageddon that will consume the Redwynes and the Ironborn alike. With Aegon rising in the east (which later becomes absolute chaos when King's Landing is exploded by Daenerys) and the problems in the South, Highgarden will be a bastion of safety for refugees and a rallying point for the various armies looking to take out Euron.
Final verdict: It will be where the South makes its stand against Euron.
Will House Royce support Aegon VI? Will any major Vale or Riverlands Houses go over to his cause?
Main Opinion: Amin
House Royce and other Vale houses will follow Sansa, so if she supports Aegon they will as. Redirecting that question, Sansa probably does not interact much with Aegon given the distances, though it seems that Aegon potentially sticks around long enough for Dany to expose him given Dany’s prophecies related to the slayer of lies. So that leaves enough time for Aegon to find friends in both the Reach (or find the ones already there) and the Riverlands.
Concurring opinion: Stefan
House Royce is in no position to support the sixth Blackfyre rebellion, as they are set on sailing north to Winterfell and get slaughtered in the Others’ advance.
Concurring opinion: SomethingLikeALawyer
Probably not. House Royce is going to fall in line with Sansa once she reveals herself out of love for Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark. Bronze Yohn might be a tad out of his element against Littlefinger, but that Vale honor is going to compel him to fight for Sansa. A couple of small houses close to King's Landing might join up once Aegon ascends as part of a bandwagon jump and to stick it to the Lannisters who killed Riverlanders at the Red Wedding, but I think Aegon won't be around long enough to get many oaths of fealty.
Final Verdict: The Royces are backing Sansa, not Aegon.
What should Viserys I have done to prevent the Dance of the Dragons?
Main Opinion: Amin
If possible, he should have married his new male heir to Rhaenyra as soon as possible, to try and unite the two bloodlines. If that is not possible due to age, temperment, or other issues, then he should have realized that he won’t be around to ensure his daughter succeeds him. If that is what he truly wants, he needs to really get involved full force by building up her power base and making a more valuable marriage alliance than what she got with her first or second marriages. Or fully give up on the idea of her succeeding him, by realizing the majority of lords were sexist traditionalists not ready for a female ruler without the dragons to back her up. Go hard one way or another, instead of avoiding discussing the issue as he did.
Concurring opinion: Stefan
He would have needed to commit himself one way or another. It might have been enough for him not to marry again and thereby create diverging bloodlines.
Dissenting opinion: SomethingLikeALawyer
In some ways the Dance of the Dragons is unpreventable. Daemon Targaryen still wants his crown, and if he's not going to get it, he's going to fight tooth-and-nail to get it. To a lesser extent, the Velaryon line still wants they perceive as theirs by rights. Some form of conflict is inevitable. Rhaenyra's already got a lot of things going against her from the legal side of the house. The Great Council of 101 is seen as cementing that male lines are always preferred over female lines, to a margin of 20-1, but it actually goes back earlier than that. Jaehaerys I's selection of Baelon the Brave over Rhaenys the Queen-Who-Never-Was could also be seen as setting a precedent. While it's altogether simple to just say "sexism" and end discussion on the matter (and that certainly is a factor, no one is denying that), there's another perspective not often considered. Jaehaerys had ascended over Aerea Targaryen, and if he legitimized strict primogeniture, the line of Aerea might threaten his own position as king by the very laws that Jaehaerys himself wrote, which wouldn't work well for the Old King with his visions of uniting the Seven Kingdoms after Maegor. The only way that Viserys I could have prevented a gigantic Dance is by not marrying anyone else after Aemma Arryn dies. Any new faction will become hostile to Rhaenyra simply because that the nature of the beast when it comes to feudal politics. Marrying a male-line to Rhaenyra might not work, because Rhaenyra wants to be ruling queen, not a mere queen-consort. If he doesn't marry, then Rhaenyra can ascend by virtue of there being no other actual candidates. Viserys would likely have to get rid of Daemon Targaryen in some fashion too, and do something to bring in the Velaryon extant branch. There'd probably be some agitation, but by not having a single candidate to crystallize behind, the succession crisis would be small and very manageable, likely able to be solved with words.
Final Verdict: Viserys would have needed to act more decisively.