Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 142

Thursday is court day! Sorry it's so late, we had some issues.
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.
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.
Question Call: If you have any interesting questions, please tell us!
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And now, up to ruling 142! Our guest judge this week is Dan Pepper, who has been a Song of Ice and Fire fan since 2009 and has appeared on several Vassals of Kingsgrave episodes and guested on A Podcast of Ice and Fire. He dressed up as Hosteen Frey this year at his second Ice and Fire Con. In real life, he's a newspaper reporter who lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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

Main Opinion: Stefan
I’m a bit torn. I don’t really see Aegon standing much of a chance against Dany, so I don’t really see him using them against her directly. It may become a really awkward moment for Tyrion in the likely case he keeps his silence about his relationship (and advice!) with Aegon, but I don’t really see a much larger role for the scrolls than that, if at all. They may be more important for Tyrion to show us his credentials and as an info-dump.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I don’t think the scrolls are that important. Tyrion wasn’t finished writing and he didn’t have acccess to the books he truly wanted to have to write a proper summary of dragonlore. They may help Aegon a little bit but ultimately only if Dany accepts him and allows him to try and ride a dragon, not in an actual showdown versus Dany.

Concurring Opinion: Dan Pepper
My immediate thought was that it was nothing, but Justice's Stefan's idea of them being used to impeach Tyrion's credibility to a betrayal-shy Danerys is certainly interesting. I'll agree with that fully.

Final Verdict: The scrolls are irrelevant further down the road. 

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

Main Opinion: Stefan
For reference, here’s the relevant passage from “A Game of Thrones”: 
“When he kept very still, his leg did not hurt so much, so he did his best to lie unmoving. For how long he could not say. There was no sun and no moon. He could not see to mark the walls. Ned closed his eyes and opened them; it made no difference. He slept and woke and slept again. He did not know which was more painful, the waking or the sleeping. When he slept, he dreamed: dark disturbing dreams of blood and broken promises. When he woke, there was nothing to do but think, and his waking thoughts were worse than nightmares. The thought of Cat was as painful as a bed of nettles. He wondered where she was, what she was doing. He wondered whether he would ever see her again.” 
I think they refer to multiple occasions. One, his promise to be quick in King’s Landing and come back home, which of course now he can’t. Then there’s the promise to Cat, specifically, not only to come back but to keep the kids safe. There’s the broken promise to Jon to tell him about his mother. There’s the broken promise to Robert to counsel him honestly, and the broken promise to his bastards to watch over them, and so on and so forth. Eddard will have many regrets like this from his earlier life, especially from the war, that we don’t know about.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Justice Stefan thoroughly outlines the possible promises, particularly the more recent ones. In terms of older promises, there was probably one related to Ashara Dayne, particularly if it was Ned she loved but perhaps even if she loved Brandon.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Dan Pepper
I read it as mainly RLJ stuff. Blood and broken promises makes me think of Ned's remembrances of Lyanna. I think he's thinking of Jon there, having promised to tell him who his mother is and promised Lyanna to protect her son, which he can't do too well from prison. I think Catelyn is a new subject which those thought make him think of.

Final Verdict: Mostly Lyanna and Jon, but there are actually many.

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

Main Opinion: Stefan
Define medieval! There are the dark ages, where everyone was on a really low technological level (in Europe, that is) and the end of the period leading over to the Renaissance. ASOIAF is set more in the latter part, but the biggest anachronisms in Westeros are surely the highly centralized state of the state, which hadn’t been achieved OTL until the 19th century, basically. I’d say this is the biggest for me.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I agree that the authority in King’s Landing was pretty centralized for medieval type society. Although it was only the dragons that allowed that much territory to be centralized at KL and since the dragons died the realm has been coasting for a while before recently breaking up. Large areas of the kingdom like the North and Dorne are basically autonomous/left to run things by themselves as long as there is a symbol of allegience and taxes sent. The impact that fleets have in the series is a bit high compared to the medieval time period as well, although if you think War the Roses then that’s late medieval/early Renassaince time period.

Concurring opinion: Dan Pepper
I've found the idea (argued by more knowledgeable people than I) that the brutality of the War of the Five Kings as displayed in the Riverlands is anachronistic and more like what happened in the Thirty Years War, than the Hundred Years War. At the very least, people should be remarking on how brutal it was compared to more of a "that's what war is" shrug. That said, I'll push back against the question and say I don't think Martin is a medievalist and he's not trying particularly realistic with it. Though he knows some history, he's as influenced by Tolkien with this stuff as he is from about the Wars of the Roses. He gives us reasons for things like the maesters and their better than medieval level of learning and healing. He's consistent enough within the setting that it works. 

Final Verdict: The high degree of centralization seems to be it, if you need one. 


  1. It is a mistake to compare Martin's work solely to the Medieval era, he in fact borrows from numerous historical sources. Obviously the Westerosi monarchy blends ideas from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, while Essosi and other societies borrow from other periods.

  2. Is Jon correct that the Wall broke his connection with Ghost? How do you know?