Thursday, September 18, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 45

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.
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.
And now, up to ruling 45 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is J Alex Keene, a member of the community.

I have been re-reading ADWD and found that part in Bran's chapter where the Children (or the Singers, whatever you prefer) say that they are dying out, and so will the giants and direwolves and other sort of creatures. Bran thinks that men wouldn't just fade away, complacent, and would fight to the bitter end instead of going out with a whimper. What if the Others saw themselves dwindling slowly and decided to spread again across the world, in a last attempt to survive? Maybe they just got lucky that another winter came and that everybody in Westeros was at war with each other.

Main Opinion: Stefan
That's a very interesting thought. However, the problem for me is that it doesn't seem to fit with the narrative so far, which overwhelmingly points to magic returning, not dwindling from the world. The belaying powers of greenseers, the followers of R'hollor, the return of the dragons, Bloodraven's watch, etc. - all of this doesn't really fit a "Last march of the ents"-asthetic. It would make for an intriguing story, though, and give the Others a motive one can understand and get behind at.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree with Justice Stefan’s reasoning. The Others seem to be in resurgence rather than failing, and seem to be taking their sweet time moving South as they build up their strength and wait for humans to waste their strength. If you are searching for a more sympathetic interpretation of the Others, it could be that they were driven north from their original lands by the humans and are ‘merely’ returning now; still morally problematic, but more sympathetic than being external invaders.

Concurring Opinion: J Alex Keene
This is an interesting idea, but I don't see how this advances the plot. It also doesn't fit with what we know about the Others, based on our few encounters with them. When Ser Waymar Royce met them in the Haunted Forest the Others appeared to relish in his struggle and death, mocking his inability to defend himself. This doesn't sound like a desperate race struggling to survive to me. However, there could be more to the Others than meets the eye, which may involve some type of threatened feeling by humans. I find it more likely that it's humans who feel threatened with extinction in this scenario than the Others.

Final Verdict: Nice idea, but the Others are a real danger on the rise.

Do you think the legends of The Prince Who Was Promised and Azor Ahai are bullshit?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Absolutely not. Many things in Westerosi folklore are bullshit, and for sure, Martin is a revisionist for many tropes. However, this doesn't mean that they won't come to pass at all, but rather that they won't offer the quick and easy solution that "The Return of the King" (or Jedi, or whatever else returns) offer. I'd say that while these prophesied figures will play a vital role in the defeat of the Others, they won't be a unifying force for good and essentially solve all the problems of the world by their meer existence, like Aragorn does. Martin explicitly stated Aragorn as the example of what he doesn't want his story to be, so expect some collateral damage from Lightbringer that goes way beyond Nissa Nissa.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
The details of the legends are exaggerated, as are all legends. But the power of prophecies in this story cannot be denied and PTWP/AAR is one of the major ones that will leave significant positive (and negative) impacts by the end of the books.

Concurring Opinion: J Alex Keene
Not having The Prince Which Was Promised and/or Azor Ahai would ruin the literary weight of the series. They certainly will not turn out exactly as prophesied. However, I do think Martin will finish the series in such a way that it becomes difficult to perceive who actually is "The Prince which was Promised" and "Azor Ahai" thus making legend fulfillment a far more ambiguous and vague exercise than more traditional fantasy naratives.

Final Verdict: They are certainly not bullshit. 

Regarding Lyanna, Rhaegar, the Tower of Joy and the apparent baby, were Rhaegar and Lyanna together for over nine months? Nearly a year kidnapped? Am I missing something? I was just trying to get the whole timeline between Harrenhall, doing the nasty and the final Tower of Joy battle and birth of Jon.

Main Opinion: Stefan
I don't see any problems. Lyanna is abducted after the tourney. Brandon rides to King's Landing (two weeks), Rickard is summoned (four weeks), Eddard returns home and Robert takes Gulltown (at least three weeks), Eddard comes down while Robert unifies the Stormlands (six weeks at least), which leaves five months for the battles of Ashford, Stoney Sept, the Trident, the Sack of King's Landing, and Eddard riding to the Dornish border. These are conservative estimates, and Lyanna might have been impregnated at the tourney already.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I believe that the timeline of the events between the tournament at Harrenhall and the end of the war is fuzzy and not as fully developed as Justice Stefan suggests. However, I do believe the math can work out if Martin wants to give the exact dates for everything, but he has repeatedly stated that exact dates of events aren’t always reported or recorded properly, particularly in his works. Justice Stefan’s timeline may very well be close to what the actual timeline of events was.

Concurring Opinion: J Alex Keene
There are no problems, in fact the whole timeline is one of the larger pieces of evidence in favor of the R+L=J theory, in which many fans have painstakingly chronicled the entire timeline to determine how long Lyanna and Rhaegar were together. They had plenty of time together.

Final Verdict: The timeline doesn't pose problems.


  1. Holy sh*t! I forgot I posted that Bran question like forever ago. Did I also post the one about the legends being exaggerated and the tower of joy one? I don't remember...anyhow, thanks for answering you guys! This is so cool, you made my day.

    Yeah, i think the last march of the Other 'nts may be a little far fetched, but I like to imagine a cool motive for them to do what they do since we basically know jack about the whole thing, I guess we will see.

    The legends always get embellished, but you are right, they must be true in a way since the whole mythos of the books would be pointless otherwise.

    Nice break down of the timeline Stefan! Looks pretty legit to me.

    Thanks again, I should probably get an account already.


  2. Well, the whole "domino effect" idea has been used once: why are the wildlings suddenly attacking the Wall? Because they're afraid of the Others.

    I wonder if the Others are pushing south for the same reason? Martin said we're going to see the Land of Always Winter (but Never Christmas) in the next book.

  3. Hi Stefan, great Court Day, as always!
    I have a question: did Jaime (inadvertently) safe Bran's life? My reasoning is: if Bran had come out with what he'd seen while Robert was alive, then the Lannisters would have been easily crushed. Robert's heir had been Stannis, one of the greatest commanders alive, and the realm had been more stable than before. This would have gone against Varys' plans, who might have done something about Bran before he ever revealed his knowledge.