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4 Letters of ADwD


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When I read the OP, I thought you were about to make a point that struck me as pretty clever, but then you never mentioned it. Ramsey basically sends out blank contracts to crucial people in the north, and one of them might be smart enough to use them.

The contents of the letters are written in blood, which makes piss-poor ink.

The signatures of the northern lords are written in Maester's ink, nice and durable.

After a while, or sped up by some manipulation, the blood writing should come off, leaving a blank document signed by some really important people...

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When I read the OP, I thought you were about to make a point that struck me as pretty clever, but then you never mentioned it. Ramsey basically sends out blank contracts to crucial people in the north, and one of them might be smart enough to use them.

The contents of the letters are written in blood, which makes piss-poor ink.

The signatures of the northern lords are written in Maester's ink, nice and durable.

After a while, or sped up by some manipulation, the blood writing should come off, leaving a blank document signed by some really important people...

Haha. I wrote that in some other threads but I am saving that for later posts ;) I think it is the most convincing evidence for any mail tampering theory.

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Continuing from the previous post;

“There are tidings that you need to hear. Lord Stannis has finally left the Wall.”

That got Ramsay halfway to his feet, a smile glistening on his wide, wet lips. “Is he marching on the Dreadfort?”

“He is not, alas. Arnolf does not understand it. He swears that he did all he could to bait the trap.”

“I wonder. Scratch a Karstark and you’ll find a Stark.”

“After the scratch the Young Wolf gave Lord Rickard, that may be somewhat less true than formerly. Be that as it may. Lord Stannis has taken Deepwood Motte from the ironmen and restored it to House Glover. Worse, the mountain clans have joined him, Wull and Norrey and Liddle and the rest. His strength is growing.”

I think the above quote is very important and it can light to some important details.

  1. Roose did not know that Stannis left the Wall until he appeared to take Deepwood from Asha.
  2. Roose somehow got the news of Deepwood Motte being restored to House Glover. More importantly, he knows that the mountain clans declared for Stannis and his army is getting bigger every day. The question is how does he know this?

Jon wondered which of his father’s bannermen had refused King Stannis homage this time. He was quick enough to spread the word when Karhold declared for him.

Jon glanced down at the map. “Deepwood Motte.” He tapped it with a finger. “If Bolton means to fight the ironmen, so must you.”

Fighting the ironborn is primarily a PR campaign to win the Stark loyalists. So, it would be meaningless if Stannis kept his victory and the Northmen declared for him secret. Stannis was quick to announce Karstark’s allegiance to him. We know that Wyman and Robett got the news even before they left White Harbor.

I think Stannis spread the word to his allies (like Mors, Arnolf and Jon) and other lords who were still undecided (like Wyman). I don’t think Stannis sent a message to Roose or any other lord who are tied to the Boltons. Roose learned this from Arnolf, who was informed by Stannis himself. And later, he confirmed it from Wyman.

And word has come to us that Roose Bolton moves toward Winterfell with all his power, there to wed his bastard to your half sister.

This is another important quote. How did that word come to Stannis? I think Roose himself sent to Deepwood a very similar version of the first letter sent to Jon (Letter 2 in the OP). Because he wants Stannis to march on Winterfell and call the Karstarks to his aid. This was his original plan in Dreadfort by the way. He summoned all his leal lords to Barrowton. He wanted Stannis to think that Dreadfort lied undefended and ready for taking. He wanted him to call the aid of Arnolf so that they would together defeat him under the walls of Dreadfort.

In order for this scheme to work, Stannis had to be informed. That is why he wanted Hother to inform Mors about their march on Moat Cailin with Ramsay. Mors forwarded this knowledge to Stannis. Arnolf also confirmed this to Stannis.

I think the first letter sent to Jon by Ramsay was meant to serve the same purpose: to confirm that Bolton and his allies will be at Barrowton and Dreadfort stands unprotected. This is very important because by the time this letter arrived, Roose thought that Stannis was still at the Wall. So this message was indirectly meant for him.

Now that Stannis appeared at Deepwood and probably did not receive the first letter, Roose had to send a letter to Barrowton to lure him to a trap again.

In short, such a reading reveals several more letters.

  1. From Ramsay to Jon about the marriage plan at Barrowton. This message was actually meant for Stannis (to lure him into the trap at Dreadfort) because he was thought to be at the Wall by that time. This is the Letter 2 in the OP.
  2. From Stannis to Arnolf/Mors/Wyman about the victory at Deepwood.
  3. From Arnolf to Roose about the deeds of Stannis. Roose confirms this news from Wyman too.
  4. From Roose to Deepwood about the marriage plan at Winterfell.
  5. From Stannis to Arnolf/Mors about the march on Winterfell, commanding them to bring their forces.
  6. From Roose to Arnolf: “Do not forget to bring Winterfell ravens with you”
  7. From Stannis to Jon about the victory at Deepwood and the march on Winterfell. This is the Letter 3 in the OP.

I think Roose did not act only on the word of Arnolf. He confirmed the victory of Stannis from Wyman when he finally arrived to Barrowton too. So he sent the letter to Deepwood after the arrival of Wyman.

There is a question. Why did Stannis not send a similar letter in item 2 to the CB as well?

I think this reading can also help us understand how could Wyman say "I must go to Winterfell. I have a wedding to attend" to Davos although he was heading to Barrowton and the decision to make the wedding at Winterfell did not even exist by that time.

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Even with all this detailed analysis, which is an excellent assembly of tons of potentially important details between all four letters, I still wonder: if anybody other than Mance wrote the Letter, why is “Mance Rayder” the only actual name mentioned in the Bastard Letter, and why are “red” and “black” (the colors of Mance’s cloak) the only two colors mentioned?

Mance has access to all the information/key phrasing between his time at the Wall, his stint around Ramsay and his closed door meeting with Theon in between A Ghost in Winterfell and Theon I, as well as the potential motive of feigning loyalty to Jon and later breaking that trust, as Jon did to the Mance and the wildlings in ASOS.

Also, as pointed out elsewhere, Mance’s speech as Rattleshirt contains similar key phrasing, which – combined with the Mance/red/black “clues” mentioned earlier – makes it seems as though GRRM is telegraphing the author’s identity so clearly that it’s almost a wonder Jon didn’t figure out it was Mance, and take as code for “mission accomplished: Reek and fArya are free, and I’ve got it from here.”

Additionally, regarding logistics, it makes sense that – with Hothor quite probably only feigning allegiance to the Boltons until the Greatjon is released – Mance might have a “maester” in his back pocket able to send a raven carrying a Letter with a hastily applied smear of wax, and job done.

Although, if we really want to get nitpicky, while Jon thinks dark wings, dark words when Clydas delivers the Letter, we never actually see the bird. ;) Although I'm generally averse to any theories involving the Letter coming from the Wall, considering the knowledge required and the lack of the same level of foreshadowing support that Mance has.


As for an alternative idea, I don’t believe that Asha/Stannis penning the Letter is completely out of the question with Theon’s help, but I believe the hinge of that theory rests in whether Mance exposed to Theon who he actually is in their closed door meeting (mentioned above).

For example, when Theon “spills the beans” to Asha in his preview chapter (Then he had to say who Abel was, and talk about the washerwomen who weren't truly washerwomen), it might be reasonably implied by that passage that “Abel” told Theon he was Mance, and about his false burning, which would be about the only details “camp Stannis” would be missing as an aggregate to pen the Letter.

Alternatively, because of the timeline discrepancy, I believe there’s actually still time for Mance to stroll up into “camp Stannis” and for the Letter to be penned from there, to open a less frequently discussed idea.

In either event, the Letter has appeal coming from camp Stannis because Stannis “eerily” seems to know that he may die, and Asha certainly recognizes that Stannis’ camp could use reinforcements (and has no direct investment in staffing the Wall herself). Further, Theon could certainly adopt Ramsay’s tone and language selection, Asha had a “template” letter from Ramsay in Deepwood Motte, and perhaps pink wax could be created by a mixture of blood and white wax.

But one of the other plot hurdles for camp Stannis is that they reportedly only have two birds trained to fly WF, and seemingly none remaining trained to fly to WF, in addition to the fact that proof of “access to information” is still required for the Letter to come from anywhere other than Mance or Ramsay.

Therefore, the Mance angle seems so much clearer with what we know at present, and is almost directly implied by the wording of Letter itself, IMO, especially when combined with Jon’s previous betrayal of Mance, and his perceived "holding hostage" of Mance's son.

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I am currently holding myself back for a full scale analysis of the Pink Letter because I need to clear my mind about missing points as noted in my previous post.

There is one aspect of the Pink Letter which I did not see being discussed in the forum. The letter obviously contains the solid proof of Jon's oathbreaking. It is written that Mance was spared which is against the law and worse, he was sent by Jon to steal the bride of a lord. This is more than enough to behead Jon for a traitor (at least in the eyes of Bowen and his company). How are we supposed to interpret this? I think this needs a very solid explanation because the dynamics of the assassination is related mostly to it.

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There is one aspect of the Pink Letter which I did not see being discussed in the forum. The letter obviously contains the solid proof of Jon's oathbreaking. It is written that Mance was spared which is against the law and worse, he was sent by Jon to steal the bride of a lord. This is more than enough to behead Jon for a traitor (at least in the eyes of Bowen and his company). How are we supposed to interpret this? I think this needs a very solid explanation because the dynamics of the assassination is related mostly to it.

According to one theory (it was discussed shortly after ADWD was released, I changed my mind on that for some time, but I think it really explains a lot), the letter was never meant to be read openly: It was a 'personal' message from Ramsay (or Roose) to Jon, and it was meant to blackmail Jon so he would keep quiet about fake Arya. According to this theory, this part of the letter might be taken at face value: Bolton threatens to deliver the proof of Jon's oathbreaking "for all the North to see". The only way for Jon to stop this would be to deliver Arya and the hostages to Bolton, and then he could remain Lord Commander and keep the Wall safe. From Ramsay's POV, this is actually not such a stupid idea, because he assumes that Jon would know by now that Jeyne is not his sister. Ramsay would not care about the girl and the other hostages, so why would he assume that Jon would - especially if his life, his name, his freedom, his social position and the safety of the Wall were at stake? Also, if Jon chose not to comply, Ramsay still would not have anything to lose by writing the letter: Ramsay assumes that Jon has fake Arya anyway, so he must assume his secret is out there. Best way to try and stop Jon from spreading the news is to threaten him with a secret of his own. However, Ramsay doesn't know that fake Arya never reached Castle Black. When Jon read the letter, he thought Ramsay was mainly threatening his sister - which is wrong, but had a nice effect nevertheless, because, unknowlingly, Ramsay almost brought down upon him an army of extremely angry wildlings. The thing is, Ramsay had no idea there is a wildling army at Jon's command to be reckoned with, and he probably thought Jon would not tell anyone about the letter, or read it out loud. Everything could have been great if not for Bowen Marsh...

I think this theory makes sense, although, sadly, it requires one to believe that Ramsay wrote the letter (even if many details in there might not be true, especially concerning Stannis and Mance).

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Paper Waver... Yes other letters must have been sent but I don't think they'd necessarily be in the way you laid out...

When Stannis left the wall he wanted to gather men and reclaim WF as a stronghold loyal to him, rally the North and then defeat Bolton. So...

Item 2. definitely Stannis would let Arnolf and Mors know about Deepwood ( probably including that Stannis next move would be on WF)... maybe, but maybe not Wyman ,... Wyman fakes Davos' death right away but holds him in the Wolf's Den for some weeks. It may already be pretty well "known" that Davos was dead. Stannis certainly has heard of it while outside WF. Wyman would have other ways to know about Deepwood , anyway (GNC) ..As soon as the clans knew Stannis plans ..others could know.. ( e.g. How did Alysanne know where Stannis would be ?)

Item 3... Arnolf would definitely let Roose know Stannis' plans ..Roose wouldn't have to confirm this with Wyman.. and I don't think Roose needed /wanted to lure Stannis to WF.... Roose and Stannis are both pretty astute, tactically. As soon as Roose heard Stannis didn't take the Dreadfort bait , he would know Stannis would head for WF. He'd know Stannis needs a secure base in the North and would want to deny WF to Roose. I think that's why Roose changes plans..if they delay long enough to hold the wedding in Barrowton, Stannis could get to WF first. Wyman still has to meet Roose at Barrowton beforehand, because the force needs to move as one, in case they meet Stannis on the way.

Item 4. ..unnecessary for Deepwood .. but change of plan to Wyman..

Item 5....already included in Item 2

Item 7 ( letter 2,OP ).. this is a special version of Item 2 with extra info. for Jon.

Maybe something like that..

Fassreiter .. I don't think any of the possible candidates would have thought that Jon would read the letter aloud to all and sundry. Neither Mance nor Stannis can know about Tormund's people. And both know that Jon is needed on the Wall. We know Stannis wants Jon on the wall , and I'd bet Mance would too ( his son may be Stannis' captive , but Jon is now the child's protector ).

And while I can see the reasoning laid out in the Ramsay scenario , it still has problems. All the goading to come to Winterfell would be counter productive ... unless the Boltons intended to kill Jon if he actually came.. but even so, it would still be more effective to just turn up on the doorstep with the same demands. Why give Jon a chance to make a counter move ?

Really, it wouldn't be much use to expect Jon to keep quiet ...if he met "Arya" in front of witnesses, the truth would already be known. And word would spread, whether Jon spread it or not. ( Someone always tells)..Then, too.. if Ramsay wrote the letter , he believes Theon is also at CB, or on his way ... and that would mean the secret of Bran and Rickon could also be blown.

The best strategy for the Boltons would be to try to reclaim Bride and Reek before they reached CB , and failing that, to arrive at the undefended door and then say "Or else"..Don't give Jon any forewarning. Once Jon knew any of the truth , he'd rapidly be moved up a few spaces on the Bolton hit list .. but now, he would know it.

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I have read many of the points here, I am undecided on who I think wrote the letter myself.
A few points that I am curious about however are:

- Why was Clydas so fearful of the letter? It was sealed and so effectively he could not have read the letter, and with only the word 'Bastard' on the outside of the scroll; Why would this cause Clydas such distress?

- We know that Mance was at WF during King Robert's visit; Is it not possible that Mance would be able to have identified fArya (Jeyne) as not in fact being the true Arya Stark?

- Perhaps (through Theon) Stannis suspects this Arya of being false and wishes for Jon to confirm it?

These are just curious points for me, I do not lean either way at this moment as to who wrote this letter, for me there are a multitude of possibilities as have been discussed here. However it seems quite clear to me that the intention of the letter was to make Jon leave the wall and head for WF for whatever reason.
I do also doubt the truth in the letter as I personally find it unlikely that Stannis is dead/defeated. I do not think there is enough available for any kind of conclusion here and for me there is no one standout culprit for the letter, I think there is far too much possibility of the letter being false.

I wonder what any thoughts are regarding the points I have written here though?

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Bemused, I think the interpretation of the letter depends on the time we assume has passed between Theon's resue of Arya and Jon receiving the letter. The problem is, we do not know how much time has passed. In my opinion, it must have been quite a while, certainly more than a few days. If we assume that Ramsay capured some of the spearwives (not necessarily Mance, though, please), and this is where he got his information, it would take a while to get all the information which were conveyed in the letter. Also, we can assume that Ramsay (and Roose, if he is still alive) would have sent out search parties or even rode out himself. He would know that next to fake Arya, as soon as Theon and Jon met (and Theon told him the truth about Winterfell and about Bran and Rickon), he would have a big problem. Ramsay doesn't know Jeyne and Theon were taken by Stannis, however, so the search would eventually prove to be useless. At that moment, a letter would be the only thing to save Ramsay. He can assume that while he spent valuable time hunting for Theon and Jeyne, they could already be at Castle Black. So there is no time to march on Castle Black with an army. Two persons who can steal horses and ride to the Wall will always be much faster than any army. Also Ramsay might be tricked into thinking that Stannis is defeated, but he might also be lying - in that case, the way to Castle Black might still be blocked by another army. In any case, writing a threatening letter to Jon works much faster as a last resort. It is certainly far more easy than to get a grumbling (barely loyal) bunch of hungry soldiers to walk through a snow storm and attack the very people who keep their lands and borders safe from wildling raiders. Ramsay boasts that he could easily attack Jon, and he probably could, but it would be a great risk, there would be no glory in it, and there is nothing to be gained by taking the castle itself. On the other hand, Jon doesn't need to leave Castle Black in order to destroy Ramsay. He can write letters to those he knows are waiting for a reason to turn their loyalties, and he would have proof of his claims within Castle Black. If Jon wanted to destroy Ramsay, he could lay the groundwork for that in a few days with the help of a few ravens. Therefore, when Ramsay and his army arrived at Castle Black, it could be too late. Plus, Ramsay had to assume that Jon might even had enough time by now to hide Jeyne and Theon somewhere else, so he might not even be able to kill them in order to get rid of Jon's key witnesses.

In this regard, it is not simply Jon's or Ramsay's knowledge that matters, it is their moves: "Power resides where people believe it resides". Of course both can make moves only according to their knowledge, but knowledge alone will not help their cause. They have to make their knowledge public in the right way, and this is (in my oponion) what Ramsay is trying to prevent. According to the letter, Ramsay has a witness (Mance), and Jon has a witness (Jeyne, also Theon), both can be used to incriminate the other. However, this doesn't mean the important people (people with power) will 'publicly' believe them. No one believed Stannis when he told the truth about Cersei. The way people would react to being presented a false Stark bride (respectively, Mance Rayder being alive) depends on the North's power balance at that exact time. People could always refuse to see the 'real' Jeyne or the 'real' Mance and claim the one presenting them as key witness is the one who is lying. There is no proof that could not be repudiated. But the important people could also decide they will gladly accept the new 'truth' and try to bring down the Boltons with the help of this 'knowledge'. In this regard, it doesn't matter whether someone saw Jon meeting false Arya. It is likely that many people recognized her as a fake even during the wedding. The important thing is acting publicly. If Jon should decide to openly declare his knowledge, he would declare Bolton a traitor. If he decides to hold back his knowledge, it doesn't matter if someone talks.

This is why I think the letter has different layers of meaning. A statement can be read as a threat, and a threat can also be a statement. A casual information (like the name of Mance Rayder) can actually be a speech act, namely, a threat. This is a common feature of blackmail, I guess: turning statements into demands. Therefore I don't take Ramsay's 'invitation' to come to Winterfell as a means to actually goad him into action. In my opinion he doesn't try to goad Jon to come to Winterfell; instead Ramsay basically states that he has nothing to fear from Jon. This is an important part of the blackmailing attempt: He can't have Jon realize that he has any power left; he has to convince him that whatever he did, Ramsay would win: If Jon came to Winterfell, they would kill him. If Ramsay marched on Castle Black, it would be destroyed. If Jon declared Bolton a traitor, Ramsay would declare Jon a traitor. The letter basically starts by making sure that Jon understands that he has no allies left: Stannis is dead and his army is dead. By making bold demands, by goading and provoking Jon, Ramsay makes Jon realize Jon's powerlessness. And compared to that, Ramsay doesn't ask that much: He doesn't want Jon's sister, he just wants some girl that means nothing to Jon. Ramsay doesn't think like Jon, therefore he would assume that in a hopeless situation, Jon would give in to his demands. And actually, there is nothing Jon could do in order to fortify Castle Black. The castle was not built to be defendable from the south. As far as Ramsay knows, Jon has no army that could compete with his own. Therefore, the letter's provocations are means to underline Ramsay's strategical position as being invulnerable. From Ramsay's point of view, the only thing Jon could do would be to rally the North behind him based on Jeyne and Theon as witnesses. He doesn't actually think that Jon could start a military campaign against him (and in fact this would be true if not for the wildlings). Therefore his only chance is to make Jon believe that his immediate allies are dead and that he won't be able to rally new allies because no one would knowingly join with a traitor.

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I have to go out ,so can't really answer the way I'd like until later .. but if spearwives were questioned and they talked, it would be known that the plan was to get Jeyne to Stannis. One of them says as much to Theon... paraphrase - they have to reach Stannis before the Freys and WH forces do.

ETA... Rowan grasped Theon’s arm. “The bath. It must be now.”

He wrenched free of her touch. “By day? We will be seen.”

“The snow will hide us. Are you deaf? Bolton is sending forth his swords. We have to reach King Stannis before they do.”

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  • 1 month later...

Ok, I read the whole thread, and this is what's bugging me: Why would Jon be so upset with this letter that he would be willing to risk his oath to the NW?
- If he cared that much for Stannis he would forsake his vows a long time ago, either he would accept the lordship that was offered to him, or he would march with him and help him in the battle.

- If he cared about Mance he would help him the first time around when he was fed to the fire (at that point Jon didn't know it wasn't Mance)

-It can't be for fArya...because if anything is clear from the letter it is that the bride has escaped. And Jon could only be happy for that... and he takes notice of that also: "I made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell … I want my bride back … I want my bride back … I want my bride back …"

So is Jon so impulsive and angry that he wants revenge, or did he see something else in that letter which wasn't that obvious to us?

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  • 2 months later...

For my part my money is on Mance being the author and it is actually aimed largely at the wildlings and of course Jon to a degree and I think Jon fell into the trap of reading it aloud

The letter fulfills the function of humiliating the burning ritual of Melisandre by saying "I have his sword" and "you didn't really kill Mance" etc. Jon reading this publicly is Mances way of telling the wildlings he is alive, but also reversing any psychological perception of power affiliated with Stannis, a bit like Cersei's walk of shame. Also importantly it probably serves to invalidate any sense of being bound to honouring the social pact of obeying the Kings laws etc that occurred at the burning as they passed through the Wall

Everything is aimed at allowing a sizeable Wildling force be allowed into the northern lands

By raising Selyse etc it is aiming to jolt the Queens Men into supporting or at least allowing the wildlings to go. By referencing Arya or rather his bride who Jon assumes to be Arya it is probably aiming to jolt Jon to at least allowing wildlings to go en masse if not Jon going himself.

Mentioning Val and Dalla's child and the cloak of spear wives is probably aimed at enraging a large body of wildlings, only a threat to Mance and to a degree Val would have a large body of wildlings stepping up and hence being a reunited force.

Most specifically Tormunds Horn blower would be on the scene, which is important if the theory about him finding horn of Joramun in the Winterfell crypts is correct

Having a sizeable Wildling force in the area means there is a 3rd army now present, highly suited to the conditions and loyal to Mance, the Hill clans are likely loyal or respect "the Mance" as well and only a Stark out of all other actors could command higher loyalty.

I suspect Mance would allow Stannis to beat the Boltons and then maybe plan on defeating Stannis as payback for beating his army when at the wall. By writing Stannis is dead by Ramsay/Roose in a letter then they get the blame

Going by the Theon chapter though there is a possibility that if this is Mances plan, it has been overtaken by Stannis planning a false rout or faking his death

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Theory: Mance wrote the letter, and the Battle of the Ice isn't important in this context.

Mance wants Jon to ake a hundred steps away from CB, just to take the castle from him with the help of his second-in-command, Tormund Giantsbane. Tormund would just kill Jon, turn back to CB, kill them all, and open the gates to the free folk. And that is it, the Wall is down.

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Half of his theory on the PL is that Tormund and Mance are communicating through secret codes in the Pink Letter...

How did Mance know that Tormund is even alive, let alone in Castle Black? He was sent to Winterfell before Giantsbane made it back to the Wall with Val.

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  • 3 weeks later...

May have found a neat circumstantial piece of eveidence that Mance *may* have written the Pink Letter:

In The Mystery Knight, Bloodraven had disguised himself as Maynard Plumm. Dunk's inability to clearly see Maynard's facial features up close implies he was glamoured- and more interestingly, GRRM gives us a literary clue: Both Maynard and Bloodraven use the phrase "Nest of Adders" in reference to the conspirators at Whitewalls.

In the pink letter, Melisandre is called Stannis' "Red Witch" . In the entirity of ADWD, the phrase "Red Witch" appears only 4 times.

Once in the letter

Once by Tormund in reference TO the letter

Once in a Davos chapter by Leona Manderly

and once by Mance Rayder disguised as Rattleshirt when Jon meets Stannis in the solar. Specifically

  • Rattleshirt tapped the ruby on his wrist. “Ask your red witch, bastard.”

Sound familiar?

in fact, in all of AFFC, there is only one instance of "Red Witch" used - by Cersei

No instances in ASOS or ACOK

By no means is this conclusive, but we do have one of the main suspected authors ( and FEW others- unlikely candidates) use the term not just casually, but clearly, Bastard!

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  • 4 months later...

I could be wrong since I sometimes mix the shows up with the books but I think there is another letter that ramsey wrote that's not included here. That's the letter Ramsey sent to Balon Greyjoy shortly after capturing Theon and Winterfell demanding that all iron born return home. It be nice to compare and contrast that letter to the first two that Ramsey wrote.

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I could be wrong since I sometimes mix the shows up with the books but I think there is another letter that ramsey wrote that's not included here. That's the letter Ramsey sent to Balon Greyjoy shortly after capturing Theon and Winterfell demanding that all iron born return home. It be nice to compare and contrast that letter to the first two that Ramsey wrote.

That letter with balls happened only in the show :)

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  • 7 months later...


Before we start, it is useful to recall two bits of information:


“There was a time when each new man wrote his name in his own blood, but as it happens, blood makes piss-poor ink.”


Some lords trusted their maesters to read their letters and convey the contents, but Stannis insisted on breaking the seals himself.


Blood does not make a good ink to write and Stannis breaks the seals and reads his own letters.


Letter 1) From Ramsay (Barrowton) to Asha (Deepwood)


My lady.” The maester’s voice was anxious, as it always was when he spoke to her. “A bird from Barrowton.” He thrust the parchment at her as if he could not wait to be rid of it. It was tightly rolled and sealed with a button of hard pink wax.


Barrowton. Asha tried to recall who ruled in Barrowton. Some northern lord, no friend of mine. And that seal … the Boltons of the Dreadfort went into battle beneath pink banners spattered with little drops of blood. It only stood to reason that they would use pink sealing wax as well.


This is poison that I hold, she thought. I ought to burn it. Instead she cracked the seal. A scrap of leather fluttered down into her lap. When she read the dry brown words, her black mood grew blacker still. Dark wings, dark words. The ravens never brought glad tidings. The last message sent to Deepwood had been from Stannis Baratheon, demanding homage. This was worse. “The northmen have taken Moat Cailin.”


“The Bastard of Bolton?” asked Qarl, beside her.


Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell, he signs himself. But there are other names as well.” Lady Dustin, Lady Cerwyn, and four Ryswells had appended their own signatures beneath his. Beside them was drawn a crude giant, the mark of some Umber.


Those were done in maester’s ink, made of soot and coal tar, but the message above was scrawled in brown in a huge, spiky hand. It spoke of the fall of Moat Cailin, of the triumphant return of the Warden of the North to his domains, of a marriage soon to be made. The first words were, “I write this letter in the blood of ironmen,” the last, “I send you each a piece of prince. Linger in my lands, and share his fate.”



  1. The message is written by Ramsay in the blood of ironmen. It appears brown.
  2. The signs are done in ink.
  3. The seal is not mentioned. Only the wax is said to be pink. Boltons go to war with their flayed man on their banners. Asha talks of a pink banner with drops of blood. I think she is wrong. Still, no mention of a flayed man on the seal.
  4. The letter is sealed with a button of hard pink wax.
  5. Ramsay signs as Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell though he is not married to fArya yet.
  6. Ramsay’s handwriting is huge and spiky. That is because he lacks the normal education given to the highborn kids by the maesters. Note that he also lacked formal training by a master-at-arms. Roose said he fights like a butcher.
  7. The letter gives the news of Moat Cailin taken by Boltons, the return of Roose to his domains and the marriage of Ramsay with fArya at Barrowton. Note that Asha does not give the name of the girl. She just says a marriage. So it may be possible that the details of the marriage (the bride) are not written in the letter.
  8. At the time being, Deepwood is held by Asha and the marriage will take place in Barrowton.
  9. The purpose of the letter is clearly to freak out Asha and make them run. Boltons will surely take Deepwood from ironborn but they prefer taking it without any fight as they did in Moat Cailin.
  10. There is some skin attached to the letter.
  11. Asha does not send an answer but allows the maester to take the letter to Sybelle Glover.


Letter 2) From Ramsay (Barrowton) to Jon (Castle Black)


Clydas thrust the parchment forward. It was tightly rolled and sealed, with a button of hard pink wax. Only the Dreadfort uses pink sealing wax. Jon ripped off his gauntlet, took the letter, cracked the seal. When he saw the signature, he forgot the battering Rattleshirt had given him.


Ramsay Bolton, Lord of the Hornwood, it read, in a huge, spiky hand. The brown ink came away in flakes when Jon brushed it with his thumb. Beneath Bolton’s signature, Lord Dustin, Lady Cerwyn, and four Ryswells had appended their own marks and seals. A cruder hand had drawn the giant of House Umber. “Might we know what it says, my lord?” asked Iron Emmett.


Jon saw no reason not to tell him. “Moat Cailin is taken. The flayed corpses of the ironmen have been nailed to posts along the kingsroad. Roose Bolton summons all leal lords to Barrowton, to affirm their loyalty to the Iron Throne and celebrate his son’s wedding to …” His heart seemed to stop for a moment. No, that is not possible. She died in King’s Landing, with Father.


“Lord Snow?” Clydas peered at him closely with his dim pink eyes. “Are you … unwell? You seem …”


“He’s to marry Arya Stark. My little sister.”



  1. The message is written by Ramsay in the blood of ironmen. It appears brown. Note that Jon does not recognize the blood and thinks that it is a brown ink. The brown ink comes away in flakes because blood is not fit for writing on paper.
  2. Just like Stannis, Jon likes to break the seals of his letters.
  3. The signs are done in normal ink. The people who sign this letter are exactly the same as the previous letter.
  4. The only difference in the signs is that Ramsay signs as Ramsay Bolton, Lord of the Hornwood.
  5. The seal is not mentioned again. Only the wax is said to be pink. Still, no mention of a flayed man on the seal. Jon thinks that only Boltons use pink sealing wax, so is it possible that Boltons do not need to stamp their sigil on the seals (flayed man)?
  6. The letter is again sealed with a button of hard pink wax.
  7. This message is again Ramsay’s handwriting because it is described in the exact same manner, i.e. huge and spiky.
  8. The letter gives the news of Moat Cailin taken by Boltons, return of Roose to his domains and marriage of Ramsay with fArya at Barrowton. Note that fArya Stark is specifically mentioned in the letter in order to distinguish her from Sansa Stark.
  9. There is no skin attached to the letter. But it is mentioned that the ironborn are flayed and nailed to posts.
  10. It is basically the same letter with the one sent to Asha. There is one fundamental difference though. The letter sent to Asha is threatening and contains flayed skin. The letter sent to Jon (and other northern lords) is more diplomatic, no skin is attached.
  11. Roose requires the obedience and presence of all his leal lords.
  12. It is unlikely that they summon Jon to Barrowton for the wedding. But sending this letter is a way to show their power. They want to show their presence to Jon and the NW.
  13. Jon does not send a reply, which is a bad choice in terms of diplomacy.


Letter 3) From Stannis (Deepwood) to Jon (Castle Black)


Clydas had come and gone, Jon noted as he was hanging his cloak on the peg beside the door. A letter had been left on the table in his solar. Eastwatch or the Shadow Tower, he assumed at first glance. But the wax was gold, not black. The seal showed a stag’s head within a flaming heart. Stannis. Jon cracked the hardened wax, flattened the roll of parchment, read. A maester’s hand, but the king’s words.


Stannis had taken Deepwood Motte, and the mountain clans had joined him. Flint, Norrey, Wull, Liddle, all.


And we had other help, unexpected but most welcome, from a daughter of Bear Island. Alysane Mormont, whose men name her the She-Bear, hid fighters inside a gaggle of fishing sloops and took the ironmen unawares where they lay off the strand. Greyjoy’s longships are burned or taken, her crews slain or surrendered. The captains, knights, notable warriors, and others of high birth we shall ransom or make other use of, the rest I mean to hang …


The Night’s Watch was sworn to take no side in the quarrels and conflicts of the realm. Nonetheless, Jon Snow could not help but feel a certain satisfaction. He read on.


… more northmen coming in as word spreads of our victory. Fisherfolk, freeriders, hillmen, crofters from the deep of the wolfswood and villagers who fled their homes along the stony shore to escape the ironmen, survivors from the battle outside the gates of Winterfell, men once sworn to the Hornwoods, the Cerwyns, and the Tallharts. We are five thousand strong as I write, our numbers swelling every day. And word has come to us that Roose Bolton moves toward Winterfell with all his power, there to wed his bastard to your half sister. He must not be allowed to restore the castle to its former strength. We march against him. Arnolf Karstark and Mors Umber will join us. I will save your sister if I can, and find a better match for her than Ramsay Snow. You and your brothers must hold the Wall until I can return.


It was signed, in a different hand,


Done in the Light of Lord, under the sign and seal of Stannis of House Baratheon, the First of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.



  1. The message is written by the master at Deepwood Motte and signed by Stannis himself. The difference between the maester’s hand and Stannis’ hand is mentioned two times.
  2. It is certain that Sybelle Glover gave Stannis the letter sent to Asha (Letter 1) by Ramsay. So, Stannis has some hard pink wax. He knows the handwriting of Ramsay. He knows that Ramsay uses blood, flayed skin and a ferocious manner of speech when he wants to be threatening.
  3. It is unknown how Stannis get the word of Roose marching to Winterfell for the wedding.
  4. It is also unknown how Wyman was able to assume that he would have to go to Winterfell for the wedding while speaking to Davos. That was many months ago and as Letter 1 suggested, Roose declared the Northern Lords that the wedding would be at Barrowton. After Stannis took Deepwood, Roose decided to make the wedding at Winterfell.
  5. Stannis specifically commands Jon to stay and hold the Wall until his return. He assumes that Tormund will eventually come and probably attack. Also he knows the danger of the Others.
  6. It is clear that Stannis means to put an end to the Boltons and restore the North. Then he can return to the Wall to fight the wildlings and Others should they attack.
  7. Note that Stannis is gaining more northmen every day. Arnolf Karstark and Mors Umber will join him at Winterfell.


Letter 4) to Jon (Castle Black)


Bastard, was the only word written outside the scroll. No Lord Snow or Jon Snow or Lord Commander. Simply Bastard. And the letter was sealed with a smear of hard pink wax. “You were right to come at once,” Jon said. You were right to be afraid. He cracked the seal, flattened the parchment, and read.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


It was signed,


Ramsay Bolton,

Trueborn Lord of Winterfell.



  1. This letter is sick.
  2. GRRM is obviously hiding the handwriting or the type of ink (or blood) because that spoils his entire cliffhanger. This problem can be justified by the fact that Jon was highly distraught because of the contents of this letter, so he was not paying attention.
  3. This time, the letter is sealed with a smear of hard pink wax. This means less pink wax was used to seal the letter.
  4. In the first paragraph, we see the death of Stannis, defeat of his entire host and Ramsay claiming his magic sword. This makes sense but why do we find Tell his red whore in this paragraph? It has nothing to do with this news. It does not make sense at all. This point has to be clarified.
  5. The second paragraph starts with the death of false king’s friends. Who are they? The most likely explanation is that they are Mors Umber and Arnolf Karstark (no need to spoil the Karstark treachery to Jon). Why it is mentioned that their heads upon the walls but there is no mention of the head of Stannis or his host among them? This points needs a good explanation as well. And there is the taunt Come seem them, bastard about these friends of Stannis.
  6. Your false king lied and so did you. What is the lie of Stannis this letter talks about? Obviously burning of Mance. At that time, Jon had no knowledge of such a scheme (the author need not know that) but after Jon learned the truth and sent Mance to rescue fArya, he participated in this lie too.
  7. The author knows the rescue fArya mission. And the author confesses that this mission is accomplished, i.e. fArya successfully escaped. However, the author claims that 6 spearwives were flayed and Mance is kept in a cage. So who is leading fArya? These strange statements look like the author wants Jon to realize something is wrong about this point.
  8. There is the second taunt for Jon to come to Winterfell in the third paragraph.
  9. The last paragraph contains the demands. Val and the princess suggests that the situation at the CB should be known by the author. Selyse and Shireen came to CB much later than Stannis and Mance left the Wall. The text is not clear whether the author knows that they are at the CB too. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that they are being kept at the Wall by the NW, so demanding them from the LC may not be a big surprise.
  10. This is the only place Reek is mentioned. Normally Jon should have no idea what Reek is. It seems like the author assumes that Reek and fArya made it to the CB.
  11. The letter is signed as Ramsay Bolton, Trueborn Lord of Winterfell. Ramsay always used Bolton surname in his letters in ADwD. He used the title Lord of Winterfell to Asha and Lord of Hornwood to Jon. Now it seems that he assumes to be the Lord of Winterfell and he uses trueborn as a final taunt.



Seeing all of the letters together is helpful. Thanks

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