Okay, this being said don't you think it's kinda poor writing how Rodrik loses Winterfell? He completely leaves Winterfell undefended when marching on Torrhen Square, he takes almost ALL the soldiers. Doesn't that kinda sound ridiculous to you?
Yeah it was quite poor military leadership from an experienced campaigner, that is to say the rear must always be protected. I guess they just didn't expect it from the Ironborn because they always raid close to the sea. This is actually correct, and it was only Theon who had been a ward there for so long he thinks like a Northman and not an Ironborn to come up with it. Nevertheless the rear must ALWAYS be protected
Theons mistake however was to try and hold it, he should have sacked it and left with Bran, Rickon and the two Walders as hostages in Pyke, Bran and Rickon could have been used as means to negotiate a peace/ceasefire where the Ironborn got to maintain a hold of Deepwood Motte and maybe Torrhens Square (an heir for each) and money for the Freys. Obviously the North wouldn't ever cede Moat Cailin and the Ironborn couldn't hold it indefinetely with the Crannogmen in such proximity
A few thoughts...
1. As well as being the symbolic heart of the North, Winterfell was still was playing a coordinating role in governing the North, even with Robb south. E.g. Harvest feast visits by other Lords looking to lobby the Starks (including Manderly and his fleet). Ser Rodrik going out to deal with regional crises caused by absence of Robb, Catelyn, etc also shows it was still seen as the centre of justice in North even with the adult 'Stark of Winterfell' in the South.
2. Winterfell is many, many miles inland. Shows the long-arm of the Iron Born. If a castle seen to be as secure as Winterfell can fall, what other Northern keeps, castle and towns could be taken? This was at a time when the Ironborn had already captured two highly strategic (and symbolically important) Castles - Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin.
3. Morale destroying. House Stark's own local levies from surrounding towns and villages near to Winterfell would have been shell-shocked. Heart goes out of fighting in the South.
Some good thoughts
on no 3: Obviously this issue was then compounded with Karstark killing the Lannisters while under Robbs protection, causing Robb to execute him, would have destroyed moral even further and of course Catelyn loosing Jaimie would have damaged the morale of the Riverlanders because they would know they would be safe from the Lannisters for as long as they held Jaimie because even Rains of Castamere Tywin wouldn't sack Riverrun while his heir was inside
Some further thoughts, the book is only just getting into it, but I like the way the book is exploring the way perception plays a part in the fortunes of a given House after the death of important characters
eg, Ned and Robb are seen as too honourable for the sake of being successful in the Game of Thrones and they are taken down for being rather naive and the House effectively extinct. On the other hand there is Tywin Lannister who has managed to become so feared that the Ironborn opt not to attack him, the Westerlings sue for peace with him despite their daughter being made a Queen and he is considered a once in a thousands years character
Upon Robbs death however, the fact it involved perceived treachery along with the very powerful perception that comes with never losing a battle plays an important part in people willing to honour his memory (probably through Northern Lords working towards honouring his Will even after the northern/Riverlands Kingdom has collapsed)
Tywin on the other hand, the issue he faces is that his legacy starts to unravel the moment he is dead and the Lannister prestige begins to collapse
Then there is Ned and the Stark name overall, the conversation with the Liddle in Brans POV chapter is extremely telling, when there is a Stark in Winterfell there is peace in the land and stable, caring and honourable leadership. As we can see through Lyanna Mormont and and Wylla Manderley people are fiercely loyal to the Stark name because of what it stands for (my impression is that Jon Arryn evokes a similar resonse in the Vale)
Therefore the Boltons, and especially the cruel Ramsay, will never be able to consolidate their hold on the North, which is what I enjoy about the Grand Northern conspiracy, I think it is not quite as co-ordinated as suggested but we can tell from Stannis and Rooses issues in garnering loyalty that the disparate northern forces are motivated by trying to resurrect what is effectively a dead house in whatever way possible (the hill clans even pressing forward in a blizzard to rescue "Neds little girl")
It's somewhat ironic then that while they are slagged off for being stupid and honourable, they may be resurrected again out of the 'love' that honour has garnered even when all has been lost
Edited by Ghosts Lunch, 21 July 2014 - 07:47 AM.