Thursday, July 14, 2016

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 138

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 138! Our guest judge this week is Snark Knight, a member of the community. 

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.

Main Opinion: Stefan
Not at all. At the point Renly is proposing the alliance, there are several key factors in play. One, Renly is in a relationship of true love with Loras, which means that there’s great affection between the houses. Two, Stannis may have the better claim, but he has only around 8000 men, which means he’s basically a nonfactor. Third, the Lannisters, the biggest force to be reckoned with, are occupied with the Starks who at the point hadn’t declared independence and were natural allies. The Vale was sympathetic or neutral. Dorne would never assist the Lannisters. The Greyjoys were no real danger, as the Lannisters were the most logical target if they were to get in the fray. The combined strength of the alliance with its 80k to 100k troops basically guaranteed victory. So why not do it? The legitimacy issue didn’t play a big part for them, obviously, and they bought into Renly’s propaganda of the “best man”. Stannis ironically helped with this as he destroyed Lannister legitimacy, so the role of legitimacy by blood was diluted already anyway.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
The Tyrells were not going to pair with Stannis, and even if they wanted to, there was no obvious marriage alliance there with Stannis already married. Renly was available with the chance to get Margaery on the throne, a plan which was supported by Loras. The Queen of Thorns did not want to get involved, but there was enough benefits to the idea to get Mace’s bannermen on board with him. While Mace did not like the Dornish, Renly thought he could get their support or at least their neutrality, which was the best Tyrion could get as well. The Tyrell + Baratheon forces were the most numerous and they took their time going to KL while the others fought it out. They have good military commanders as well like Randyll Tarly and competent leaders like Garlan Tyrell. Absent Stannis magical assasination, Renly would have likely mopped up the Lannisters and made a deal with the Starks.

Concurring Opinion: The Snark Knight
After Robert's Rebellion, Stannis Baratheon was married to Selyse Florent. The Florents are brought up in the same company as House Bolton, House Frey, and House Reyne in terms of being disloyal to the Lords Paramount. After besieging him during Storm's End, Stannis Baratheon on the Iron Throne could very well cost the House Tyrell their claim to Highgarden. Prevail against the Lannisters (who have no allies) and a Tyrell heir could sit the Iron Throne. Should Renly and his forces fail against House Lannister, they would still control Oldtown, Highgarden, and Storm's End and still be in a position of strength to plant Tyrell bannerman in high offices in King's Landing, offices they were entirely cut out of during the reign of Robert Baratheon.

Final Verdict: At the time of the alliance, it was low risk, high reward for the Tyrells. 

I'm interested in this question also in terms of Yi Ti and the Jade Sea. It's basically exactly as the Europeans might have thought of the Chinese. Is it then just a historical allusion? Or something more? And will we ever see the empire first hand either in these books or a later series?

Main Opinion: Stefan
To me, this seems to fill out the role mythical Cathay filled for Europeans in the Middle Ages and the renaissance. We don’t know all that much about Yi-Ti and the Jade Sea, but the morsels point in that direction. I don’t believe, however, that we’re ever going to see it in the flesh. No character will journey farther east than Qarth, so tales are all, and there’s not that much tale-telling left as the story is drawn to its conclusion.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
George is not going to go into that much detail of the area, the best you can get is from the World of Ice and Fire Book. The story is focussed on Westeros, with Essos involving people from Westeros or people eventually heading there, withcurrently no one on a trajectory to go through the Jade Sea.

Concurring Opinion: The Snark Knight
At this point there seems to be plenty of story left in Westeros and the Nine Free Cities. Going to Yi Ti and the Jade Sea is a bit too much to hope for. Something akin to The Jade Compendium would be cool to do after the main series concludes. But it would not be surprising if a future Melisandre chapter included more information about Asshai by the Shadow. You don't put a line like "And there are no children in Asshai" without developing it at some point.

Final Verdict: It's basically China, and we won't see it in the books. 

Remember Jon's Black Ice Armor dream? Could he wind up with Euron's Valyrian Steel Armor?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Maybe, but Valyrian steel is “fire made steel”, not ice, so I don’t see the metaphor to fit exactly. It seems more like this is representing a dark side in Jon, a fight with his inner demons, without much of a real-world event. That’s not to say that armor might not change hands. If it does, it will be Jon’s, because it doesn’t fit either Dany nor Tyrion.

Concurring Opion: Amin
I don’t read most spoiler chapters so I have limited info on this one, but I agree with Justice Stefan.

Concurring Opinion: The Snark Knight
There is not enough information to make this more than speculation. But like Chekov's gun, you don't put Valyrian Steel Armor on the page without someone putting on eventually. This chapter is where Jon admits the wildlings through the wall. The dream represents his fear if this action is not taken, where the wildlings come to the wall as wights. His literal armor in that instance would be black steel and the ice of the wall. The red sword he wields in the dream is a semi-prophetic nice touch, but nothing that elevates this beyond a maybe. 

Final Verdict: Mabye. Jon definitely is the only one who could reasonably wear it. 


  1. Doesn't that last question violate your own spoiler rules?

    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.

    1. Actually it does. I simply didn't think of it when I accepted the question. So, sorry if we spoiled you.