Sorry in advance for the length of this comment, but I want to put forward a NW deadenders theory.
I do not think the Pink letter was written by Ramsey. There are details in it that he is very unlikely to know and pretty unlikely to mention even if he did. The letter serves him no tactical benefit. Ramsey is a character known for being underhanded, deferential to his Father, sneaky and not very bright when it comes to politics. The Pink Letter lets it all hang out and there’s no way Roose would approve a letter that announces to the world and the North that Ramsey has lost his bride. And if Roose is dead, then Ramsey would have other things on his plate than writing Jon Snow a letter demanding ‘the wildling babe’. Yes, Ramsey is filled with psychotic rage, but the letter is too carefully crafted for it to be a product of that rage.
Every line of the letter is crafted to test Jon Snow and move him to openly break his vows as a brother of the Night’s Watch. I think the letter was a test crafted by some co-conspirators at the NW—think of them as a group of NW deadenders who wanted to stop the rapid change being brought about by Jon Snow and King Stannis.
Bowen Marsh and Wick Wittlestick were clearly involved, but I suspect that there were others at Castle Black, Eastwatch and elsewhere, including Glendon Hewett, Septon Cellador, Clydas and Alliser Thorne. The focus of the NW had been fighting the Wildlings for a very long time. The idea of fighting The Others has been lost. The wildlings were the enemy. For the NW deadenders, the Others were seen as a the secondary threat. Even the recent events of ASoIaF would do little to change the viewpoint of NW members who never saw a wight or an Other—a trait most of the co-conspirators share. They are also a group who saw Stannis as a rebel and Tommen Baratheon as the rightful King.
The letter was like a detective playing his hunch in an old mystery novel—design to smoke out the ‘guilty’. It was written based on some facts they knew and some ideas that they only suspected to be true. Parts of the letter were guesses. If Jon took no action based on the letter, then I don’t think he would have been stabbed. But if Jon did act, then the letter was crafted to provide the conspirators a justification for their betrayal.
Everything about the letter benefitted the NW deadenders—even its timing. It arrived just before the mission to Hardhome is about to announced. Molly tell’s Jon that “Clydas don’t look his proper self … he’s more white than pink, if you get my meaning … and he’s shaking” when he arrives with the letter—a letter sealed with wax and only the word ‘Bastard’ on the outside. That would not explain Clydas, but delivering a letter that never traveled by a raven might.
So, let’s break down the letter:
Yes, Ramsey might have written this, but it is also how all the NW deadenders think of John. As for the handwriting: Marsh and his stewards would have had access to the letter Ramsey sent announcing his marriage to Arya. Clydas saw it and there is not a mention of its destruction. If the letter was with Jon’s things, a steward would have had access to it—especially if Marsh asked for it.
Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.
The “smashed in seven days” may have come from Septon Cellador to honor The Seven—I doubt that it has any ring of truth. Clydas would have heard Maester Aemon’s concerns about the sword. While Ramsey might have said ‘False king’ and ‘red whore’, it would also be how the NW deadenders think of Stannis and Mel. The opening graph would give Jon pause, doubts and fears for his sister and the future.
Your false king’s friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.
The heads on the wall and the invitation to see them are crafted to feed Jon’s doubts and fears. I suspect that the section on Mance is a guess by the NW deadenders. They know that Mel does sorcery. They know that ‘Rattleshirt’ left. I suspect they know that he left with six spearwives from Molestown. This party would need provisions—provisions of the NW. I think Marsh would make note of that loss and ask questions. In the end the conspirators would learn enough to make an educated guess. [How? Somebody told. Somebody always tells.]
I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.
The “I want my bride back” line is designed to fill Jon with both hope and dread—hope that Arya somehow got away and dread that she is in mortal danger. Mance in a cage covered by the skins of the spearwives is crafted for a twofold purpose. One to make it sound like a Bolton and two, to confirm the guess that Jon kept Mance alive, sent him to save his sister and betrayed the NW. Everybody knows the Bolton legends concerning flaying folks alive, but more than that, the NW has had a guest who knows of (and may have met) Ramsey in the past. Cregan Karstark was in the ice cells. Wick Wittlestick and the stewards were his jailers. I suspect that Cregan would have told them anything he knew if it might harm Lord Snow.
I want my bride back. I want the false king’s queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want his wildling princess.
I can’t see Ramsey making any of these requests if Roose was still alive and only one of them if Roose was dead. The Queen, her daughter, her men, Mel, Val and all the wildlings are all folks that the NW deadenders want to encourage to leave The Wall. This line seems design to encourage them to get away before “Ramsey” comes for them. It also seems design to encourage Jon to act—and any action because of this letter would trigger his assassination.
I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard’s heart and eat it.
For me, this last graph confirms that Ramsey did not write the letter. The reference to “black crows” is a giveaway as is the bit about the ‘wildling babe’. As for the “I want my reek”, I think that as the elder son, Cregan Karstark would have been with his father at the Dreadfort when Ramsey showed off Theon/Reek to all those present. Cregan’s father was on the dais with Ramsey, but the Hall was filled. And if by some chance Cregan wasn’t there, his father would have told him about it. It is completely plausible that the NW deadenders would have known about Reek and included him in the letter. I think the reference to Reek being missing came from conversations with Cregan where they learned Reek is Theon. I think it was included in case Jon also knew that from Cregan or another source. If they thought Jon might know Reek is Theon it would have been another prod in the letter to get him to break his vows.
Trueborn Lord of Winterfell.
The title is designed to kick Jon in the gut and it worked.
Now, I could be wrong. I stand to be corrected. And I will be when WoW comes out. Still, I don’t think the Pink Letter ever took a ride on raven’s wings.
Edited by Catacombs, 21 July 2012 - 10:12 PM.