| Quote #1
Will had been a hunter before he joined the Night's Watch. Well, a poacher in truth. Mallister freeriders had caught him red-handed in the Mallisters' own woods, skinning one of the Mallisters' own bucks, and it had been a choice of putting on the black or losing a hand. (1 Prologue.19)
It's not often that you read about someone's hands being cut off as a form of punishment (Lindsay Lohan sure would be in trouble). But the Prologue reminds us that the system of justice in play in this novel is something much older.
| Quote #2
He remembered the angry words they had exchanged when Tywin Lannister had presented Robert with the corpses of Rhaegar's wife and children as a token of fealty. Ned had named that murder; Robert called it war. (13 Eddard 2.31)
This is an issue even today: there are certain things we allow in war that we don't allow in everyday life. (Just try to use a bunker-buster bomb on a sibling and see if your parents let you get away with it.) But at the same time, there may be a gray area where people disagree: is it murder (unjust) or war (just)?
| Quote #3
"Seven hells," Robert swore. "Cersei, look at her. She's a child. What would you have me do, whip her through the streets? Damn it, children fight. It's over. No lasting harm was done." (17 Eddard 3.35)
There are many ways to deal with potentially criminal behavior in this medieval world. Here, there was a fight between children, which Robert wants to treat as a fight between children. (That is, no dessert for anyone.) But Cersei would rather treat this as a potentially treasonous crime since someone in the ruling family was hurt. In the end, crime and punishment really rely on the status of the people involved (and, of course, on the attitude of the judge).