Thursday, January 15, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 61

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.
Casting Call: We're searching for guest judges again! If you like to participate, even if you have been part of previous rulings, send us an email.
And now, up to ruling 61 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Michael, previous judge and member of the community. 

From “A Clash of Kings” we know that Craster's father was a ranger in the night watch, and from “A Feast for Crows” we know that Bloodraven came to the wall with maester Aemon at the relevant time, so can Bloodraven be Craster's father, making Gilly's baby, that Melisandre wants to sacrifice, Targaryen blooded?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Nice idea, but no. On the one hand, it introduces way too many Targaryen bastards, which becomes boring fast. On the other hand, Craster knows that his father was “some crow”, basically, just a ranger. That happens. I guess a person as distinctive as Bloodraven would be noted, and I’d also wager that every wildling knew he was the Lord Commander. Craster isn’t the kind of guy who would play that down.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree with Justice Stefan’s reasoning, it is unlikely to have happened, and we would know about otherwise when his mother showed up at the Wall attempting to take baby Craster there. I find the idea that “Craster is a Targaryen” an amusing example of the “everyone in a secret Targaryen meme”. Melisandre doesn’t want to sacrifice Gilly’s baby, it was Mance’s son that had that potential value for her, which is why Jon ordered the baby exchange.

Concurring Opinion: Michael
Not impossible, but not probable. If Melisandre was really that keen on sacrificing all the royal blood she could get, Aemon, Mance's baby, Gilly's baby and even Gilly herself (assuming they are targs) would be up in flames before Jon could think about getting them out of there. 

Final Verdict: Craster is just some ranger's bastard. 

Why didn't the Golden Company return to Westeros after Robert's Rebellion, or even help out with it for their return? Instead they took on Targaryen supporters, despite nominally being on the Blackfyre side.

Main Opinion: Stefan
I’d see several explanations for this. The easiest one would be that they simply had a contract running at the time, and the Company doesn’t break contracts. Another possibility is that the timeframe simply doesn’t allow it. Robert’s rebellion breaks out pretty unexpected and lasts not that much longer than a year. When the news reach the Company, the war is basically over. And, third, while the Company doesn’t have a big interest in the Targaryen dynasty, neither do they have any love lost for the Baratheon/Arryn/Stark/Tully alliance. Those are exactly the guys who whooped their asses on the Stepstones only a generation earlier. From the Company’s standpoint, it must look like the only optimal outcome would be if they both lose. Kind of watching Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia engaging each other.

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I think Justice Stefan sums up the potential reasons admirably, particularly the first two possibilities. While I agree that the Golden Company might have hesitated in making a deal with the ‘STAB’ (TABS? BAST?) alliance, they were unlikely to be able to return permanently without some local support, even if both sides weakened each other. They also lacked a claimant of their own to back if they wanted to return. The STAB group may have been willing to make the deal, given that it was half run by young lords with little connection to the Stepstones fight. And while they fought over the Stepstones, it doesn’t seem a conflict that was particularly marred by atrocities by one side or the other, to the point that the lords would remember it. The Golden Company is a mercenary company with a word of gold, able to serve one Free City and then another, as long as the contract with the first city expired.

Concurring opinion: Michael
The Golden Company has 'claims' to lots of castles and lands all over Westeros, so bringing them over means a lot of future turmoil and headaches as the members demand said castles and lands that once belonged to their families, so they are probably more trouble than they are worth. The reason that they didn't offer to fight the Targaryens and even accepted exiled Targaryen supporters, is that their Pro-Blackfyre/Anti-Targaryen agenda died off with Maelys on the stepstones. The last Blackfyre has been dead for at least 20 years, which is a long time for loyalties to stay strong to a hopeless cause. The golden company is now a place for any and all exiled families of Westeros, they are a badass sellsword company first, with the faint dream of going home in the back of some of their minds. 

Final Verdict: The Golden Company has a lot of baggage no one likes to tab into. 

Isn’t Arya practically Dead Child Walking?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Why should she be? I don’t really get the premise of the question. Her character arc so far doesn’t support the idea that she will die soon at all, and I don’t think she’ll die at all. In my opinion, as I have already stated in a different ruling, Arya will at some point break with the Faceless Men and get her identity back, but her death wouldn’t serve that one bit. So, I stay consistent with my earlier rulings and say no, she will survive. 

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Agreed, she is not ‘dead child walking’, which implies that she will die in the nearby future. Certainly she may die at the end, but everyone is fair game at that point, so it does not qualify as ‘dead child walking’.

Concurring Opinion: Michael
The path Arya is walking is not going to leave her in a healthy mental state of mind, and it is possible that she may make some powerful enemies in the form of the faceless men, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's doomed to die, she doesn't have a case of greyscale crawling up her finger or anything. As Rodrick Cassel says, "When we speak of the morrow, nothing is ever certain, except R + L = J".

Final Verdict: No, Arya has a different fate. 


  1. Regarding the second question - and I think Stefan's argument regarding timing and potential contracts makes this follow-up null - why wouldn't Aerys have brought them back. "Hey I know we've had our differences in the past but.." He could have restored them to their lands. Certainly they may not have been interested in serving the Mad King, but it would have been smart of him.

    1. It would have been yet another bullshit move in a series of bullshit moves by Aerys. Let me remind you that the land those guys from the Golden Company lay their claims on is in the possession of other families, in the most parts for generations already! Do you want to gift your enemies with the biggest propaganda coup ever? "Hey, the Mad King brings over foreign rabble to take away your land and to rape your daughters!" It would set a terrible precedent and drive even more guys into Robert's camp, which stakes its legitimacy on the claim that the Mad King breaks the law and that no one is safe. Giving away land from the Reach to mercenaries from Essos? That's madness. (I know. "No. This! Is! Aerys!" Kick Mace Tyrell down some hole)

    2. Not necessarily. In cases in which the current lords of their hereditary holdings had not rebelled and couldn't be rightfully divested, Aerys could have promised them land of the rebels. He had the whole of the North, Vale, Riverlands and Stormlands to redistribute essentially.

    3. Sure, but what do you do with the guys from the company that come from the loyal territories? "Bad luck, pals"? Worse, it's setting a dangerous precedent to give lands to outcasts and foreign rabble.

  2. I think Justin Michael's answer on the second question makes the most sense. Even if the Golden Company would have been willing to come over without a deal to restore their lands to them, there'd have ben a lot of soldiers in Westeros then who laid claim to different castles. Bronn, basically, except 10,000 of him. Thanks for the great answer!
    Looking forward to next Theory Thursday.

  3. Some submissions:

    Would Barristan have beaten Sansa on Joffrey's orders if he had not been dismissed?

    Assuming the Others make it to Essos, how well do the Dothraki fare against them?

  4. Hey, first of all great job on your court, always a good read. I have a submission.
    I just finished reading this theory on Euron being the new Corsair King. On point or farfetched? Here's the link