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Company of the Rose

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So apparently there is a free company of expat Northerners running around in Essos. Truthfully I doubt it is anything more than titillating background. If they were going to play a part in the main series they probably would have been mentioned in it by now and it is unlikely that they would be anything more than just another free company by now. Nonetheless, it is an eye catching bit. Not least, because of the name. After all it is an interesting choice of names for a bunch of tree-worshipping, maybe human-sacrificing savages that are so hardcore that they choose exile rather than bowing to freaking dragons. And sometimes expatriates are more diligent in maintaining their traditions than their indigenous relatives. I wonder what they would have thought about the recent developments with the independence and all. Or what they would do should they come across some member of the House that ruled the land of their origin in recent history. 

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Posted (edited)

I used to dream (back in the early days) of Brandon the Shipwright returning with a host of Northmen to help the North rise again, much like the Americans returned in WW2 to save Britain from their enemies.

Alas, I don’t count on that anymore. Similarly, I don’t hold out much hope for the Company of the Rose. But I could yet be proven wrong.

To me their chance was in the early years after Torhenn knelt. How difficult would it be for some committed men to poison or. assassinate three dragons, or get the Faceless men to do it? The Westerosi really disappointed me in general, in the way they just accepted Aegon’s alien rule. Unlike the fierce Dornish.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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Considering Stannis is intending to hire 20,000 sellswords in Essos the chances that the Company of the Rose shows up again is not unlikely. I mean, one would need a free company willing to actually fight and freeze at the Wall. Descendants of some Northmen might be more willing to do that than other sellswords.

Although chances are very low that there are many descendants of Northmen left in such a company - even in the Golden Company (which is less than hundred years old) a good chunk of Essosi and Summer Islanders, and others have filled up the ranks.

17 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I used to dream (back in the early days) of Brandon the Shipwright returning with a host of Northmen to help the North rise again, much like the Americans returned in WW2 to save Britain from their enemies.

Honestly, why was this whole Northern independence thing so alluring to you? The wights and Mormont made it clear that 'King Robb' and his campaign were part of the problem, not part of the solution. He, too, failed to see/ignored the big picture.

17 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

To me their chance was in the early years after Torhenn knelt. How difficult would it be for some committed men to poison or. assassinate three dragons, or get the Faceless men to do it? The Westerosi really disappointed me in general, in the way they just accepted Aegon’s alien rule. Unlike the fierce Dornish.

There one can just as well ask why the Boltons, Umbers, Glovers, etc. gave in to the Starks, or why the Royces, Hunters, etc. accepted Arryn rule so meekly. It is how things apparently go in this world.

This is a pre-modern world where people don't have a national or even cultural identity that's defined by fixed borders and the like. The people don't submit or yield or are conquered - their lords are. They acknowledge lieges and overlords and kings. Their smallfolk just do as they are told. They are, for the most part, sheep. The only true exception there is Dorne.

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38 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I used to dream (back in the early days) of Brandon the Shipwright returning with a host of Northmen to help the North rise again, much like the Americans returned in WW2 to save Britain from their enemies.

 

Ironborn, you mean?

Brandon Sw never made it to Asshai or wherever else, GRRM told but there is one Ironborn who matches the Stark description, Sw's in particular; Farwynd of Lonely Light.

What if BSw's expedition was the first settlers of Isles and they resorted to salt wiving because they had no womenfolk?

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27 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Considering Stannis is intending to hire 20,000 sellswords in Essos the chances that the Company of the Rose shows up again is not unlikely. I mean, one would need a free company willing to actually fight and freeze at the Wall. Descendants of some Northmen might be more willing to do that than other sellswords.

Although chances are very low that there are many descendants of Northmen left in such a company - even in the Golden Company (which is less than hundred years old) a good chunk of Essosi and Summer Islanders, and others have filled up the ranks.

Honestly, why was this whole Northern independence thing so alluring to you? The wights and Mormont made it clear that 'King Robb' and his campaign were part of the problem, not part of the solution. He, too, failed to see/ignored the big picture.

There one can just as well ask why the Boltons, Umbers, Glovers, etc. gave in to the Starks, or why the Royces, Hunters, etc. accepted Arryn rule so meekly. It is how things apparently go in this world.

This is a pre-modern world where people don't have a national or even cultural identity that's defined by fixed borders and the like. The people don't submit or yield or are conquered - their lords are. They acknowledge lieges and overlords and kings. Their smallfolk just do as they are told. They are, for the most part, sheep. The only true exception there is Dorne.

Who said anything about Northern Independence being dead and buried? I just don't see Brandon the Shipwright's descendants being involved, but the concept is very much alive.

As for the Boltons, Umbers, Glovers etc, they were subject to a steady consolidation of military power by the Starks over millenia. You could not overthrow the Starks by just taking out three individual creatures. The Targs, by contrast, were nothing without their dragons. Take out the dragons and any individual kingdom could overthrow Aegon.

 

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3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Who said anything about Northern Independence being dead and buried? I just don't see Brandon the Shipwright's descendants being involved, but the concept is very much alive.

It was always just a distraction for the actual story, just as the entire War of the Five Kings was - and, of course, also the whole Targaryen restoration plan of Dany's and Aegon's. The Others are the main theme of the story, the great climax of the entire story, and that doesn't sit well with independence movements. We won't get independent Iron Islands, either.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As for the Boltons, Umbers, Glovers etc, they were subject to a steady consolidation of military power by the Starks over millenia. You could not overthrow the Starks by just taking out three individual creatures. The Targs, by contrast, were nothing without their dragons. Take out the dragons and any individual kingdom could overthrow Aegon.

The bannermen of the Starks could also ally against the Starks, eradicate them, and restore their individual (petty) kingdoms. They control their levies and soldiers, not the Starks.

But this is not how feudalism works if it is as stable as in Westeros. You swear fealty and then you keep it. More or less, at least.

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On 8/16/2018 at 10:11 AM, Lord Varys said:

It was always just a distraction for the actual story, just as the entire War of the Five Kings was - and, of course, also the whole Targaryen restoration plan of Dany's and Aegon's. The Others are the main theme of the story, the great climax of the entire story, and that doesn't sit well with independence movements. We won't get independent Iron Islands, either.

The bannermen of the Starks could also ally against the Starks, eradicate them, and restore their individual (petty) kingdoms. They control their levies and soldiers, not the Starks.

But this is not how feudalism works if it is as stable as in Westeros. You swear fealty and then you keep it. More or less, at least.

I think what becomes of the realm after the wars for the Iron Throne and with the Others are concluded is also a major part of the story.  Does the chair dissolve and the individual kingdoms go there own way?  Will we see new lord paramounts spring up in place of the Lannisters, Tyrells and Baratheons?  I agree totally that the Iron Islands will not be independent.  Asha knows they need land and wants to merge with the North.

I agree with your feudalism argument.  It seems that vassals pretty much stay loyal unless an opening occurs.  Either weak/young leadership at the top (Tytos Lannister and Robb Stark come to mind) or an enemy makes a great offer. 

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29 minutes ago, Stallion That Mounts Texas said:

I think what becomes of the realm after the wars for the Iron Throne and with the Others are concluded is also a major part of the story.  Does the chair dissolve and the individual kingdoms go there own way?  Will we see new lord paramounts spring up in place of the Lannisters, Tyrells and Baratheons?  I agree totally that the Iron Islands will not be independent.  Asha knows they need land and wants to merge with the North.

There is no indication that any kingdoms aside from the Iron Islands or the North (at least previously) want to go their own way. And since everybody is likely going to contribute to the defeat of the Others, we won't get independence later on.

If a great house is extinguished somebody else will take their place. But only the Lannisters, Starks, and Arryns are royal houses. They could, perhaps, wear crowns again, but nobody is going to accept the Tullys or the Tyrells as kings, nor the Yronwoods, Royces, Freys, etc.

29 minutes ago, Stallion That Mounts Texas said:

I agree with your feudalism argument.  It seems that vassals pretty much stay loyal unless an opening occurs.  Either weak/young leadership at the top (Tytos Lannister and Robb Stark come to mind) or an enemy makes a great offer. 

Things are somewhat different in the North (things like the Greatjon threatening his liege lord's son and heir with steel in the own hall of the Starks don't seem to be common in the south) and the Reynes and Tarbecks only tried throw of the Lannister yoke. They never made an attempt to replace Tytos as Lord of the West, never mind how weak he was. And even the Freys didn't become the lords paramount of the Trident after the Red Wedding.

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The story needed Robb's campaign to fail, so naturally an Essosi sellsword company of exiled (thousands?) Northmen couldn't fit in to help their countrymen atm. Plus, the war started as an effort to release the Warden of the North, not independence. 

Besides, it might not be just that. If they sailed away on another freaking continent because they refused Aegon's rule, guess who they might blame for submitting to dragons?

Exactly, the Starks. So they might hold a grudge. Or, they had another contract. Or just anything else.

That being said, if they are aware of the past existence of the Others, and it seems like they are shaped to keep and respect tradition, then it's not impossible for them to show up again after they are informed on the matter.

Another chance they show up is if they know that the North is emptier than it was before so they see an opportunity to return home and maybe grab something for them, especially if they are hired by Stannis, Boltons, or whoever promises them gold and lands.

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3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

And since everybody is likely going to contribute to the defeat of the Others, we won't get independence later on.

That's an assumption I'm not making. The George is so brutal in killing off major characters and subverting tropes, I'm yet to be convinced that the humans are going to win. If the last page of the last book shows the last human in Westeros dying alone in a Dornish blizzard, I wouldn't be surprised... there's just something in that whole ageing hippy, climatic disaster, and collective failure to act scenario that I can't shake.

As far as the Company of the Rose is concerned, it strikes me that 300 years and however many generations is a long time to maintain interest in an abandoned homeland. It's not as though any of them remember the North in person. They may no longer be interested.

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If the living do win, it will be because most/all of mankind work together. There won't be time for strife and discord in such a setting. Nor is there any indication that there are 'power blocs' along the lines of the old Seven Kingdoms that are actually wanting to fall back in primitive times.

My idea is that the Company of the Rose might, if they still exist, jump on Stannis' offer due to their tradition. Their connection to Westeros should be very weak after all those years but it could help explain why sellswords want to man the Wall who could actually take more pleasant contracts.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

If the living do win, it will be because most/all of mankind work together. There won't be time for strife and discord in such a setting. Nor is there any indication that there are 'power blocs' along the lines of the old Seven Kingdoms that are actually wanting to fall back in primitive times.

My idea is that the Company of the Rose might, if they still exist, jump on Stannis' offer due to their tradition. Their connection to Westeros should be very weak after all those years but it could help explain why sellswords want to man the Wall who could actually take more pleasant contracts.

The Wall isn’t going to be “manned” again by an influx of newcomers. The Wall is about to fall. The fight will then move to individual castles throughout Westeros. The Watchers on the “Walls” will be needed again. Not Watchers on a single Wall. That Wall’s time is just about done.

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19 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Wall isn’t going to be “manned” again by an influx of newcomers. The Wall is about to fall. The fight will then move to individual castles throughout Westeros. The Watchers on the “Walls” will be needed again. Not Watchers on a single Wall. That Wall’s time is just about done.

Who are you addressing here? Those Iron Bank financed sellswords will either come before the Wall falls - or they won't come at all. Nobody will go in the North after the Others are streaming into the land. They will all flee. And no sellsword in Essos will take coin to fight against zombies and demons when they can just as well stay on their side of the Narrow Sea.

While the Wall still stands it is not unlikely that Stannis will bring thousands of men across the Narrow Sea to man it. That is his plan.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Who are you addressing here? Those Iron Bank financed sellswords will either come before the Wall falls - or they won't come at all. Nobody will go in the North after the Others are streaming into the land. They will all flee. And no sellsword in Essos will take coin to fight against zombies and demons when they can just as well stay on their side of the Narrow Sea.

While the Wall still stands it is not unlikely that Stannis will bring thousands of men across the Narrow Sea to man it. That is his plan.

Strange opening question. I seem to pretty clearly have responded to a post of yours.

As for the rest, Stannis's intention with requesting the 20k sellswords is not the issue - although it is stated to be to support his (or Shireen's)  claim to the Iron Throne, and not to "man the Wall" as you suggest.

That aside, his intention and the reality of events that will transpire are two different things. I see little point in 20k men manning the Wall, which will inevitably fall, after which the story will play out across the length and breadth of Westeros. The Wall as a focal point of the war against the Others is about to be history.  If the 20k men are to be of any real use, it will be to spread to defending human strongholds across the North and beyond. Holding the Wall is not where the focus is going to be for the real war to come.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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9 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As for the rest, Stannis's intention with requesting the 20k sellswords is not the issue - although it is stated to be to support his (or Shireen's)  claim to the Iron Throne, and not to "man the Wall" as you suggest.

Stannis makes it clear earlier in ADwD that he wants the castles at the Wall be manned. Once he has the North he is going to see to the defense of the Wall.

9 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

That aside, his intention and the reality of events that will transpire are two different things. I see little point in 20k men manning the Wall, which will inevitably fall, after which the story will play out across the length and breadth of Westeros. The Wall as a focal point of the war against the Others is about to be history.  If the 20k men are to be of any real use, it will be to spread to defending human strongholds across the North and beyond. Holding the Wall is not where the focus is going to be for the real war to come.

Who cares about who dies when the Wall is going to fall? Nobody in-universe is going to prepare for that eventuality because nobody seems to believe this could even happen. They want to stop/fight the Others at the Wall, not elsewhere.

Perhaps all the men manning the Wall - including the sellswords if they ever arrive - will die when the Wall falls. We don't know.

The idea that any kind of united effort against the Others can be made by some 'watchers on the walls' of individual castles makes no sense to me at all. If people do that, they can just as well kill themselves and be done with it.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Stannis makes it clear earlier in ADwD that he wants the castles at the Wall be manned. Once he has the North he is going to see to the defense of the Wall.

Who cares about who dies when the Wall is going to fall? Nobody in-universe is going to prepare for that eventuality because nobody seems to believe this could even happen. They want to stop/fight the Others at the Wall, not elsewhere.

Perhaps all the men manning the Wall - including the sellswords if they ever arrive - will die when the Wall falls. We don't know.

The idea that any kind of united effort against the Others can be made by some 'watchers on the walls' of individual castles makes no sense to me at all. If people do that, they can just as well kill themselves and be done with it.

You confuse the desired outcome with the likely one. Of COURSE it would be preferable to fight the Others from the top of a 700 foot Wall with built-in spells that prevent them from crossing. But clearly that is not what is going to happen. The Wall is going to fall.

And after that, the fall back option will by default be to fight them from the Walls of every castle in Westeros. Just like the first time, when there was no Wall, and the Others conquered Westeros one holdfast at a time over a period of a decade or more.

The Fall of the Wall will merely start the real War, not sound its imminent end, as you seem to believe. While the Wall holds, there is very little to fear from the Others. Their magic cannot cross it. Which is why it has to fall for the story to progress.

 

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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This has been an interesting read. I'm a huge fan of the Stannis storyline in the last book, but one thing had me confused in Theon's preview chapter. Why did Stannis send Justin Massey away with the quest of hiring mercenaries? The Brave Companions were nothing but trouble for the people who hired them, and Salador Saan just turned his back on Davos. You'd think Stannis would be done with sellswords at this point. foreign cutthroats and adventurers will abandon you or even turn on you when you're cause gets dire, and Stannis is pretty hard pressed at the moment.  Besides the Golden Company, any sellsword company that probably matters is busy in Meereen. Seems too risky to me, especially, as mentioned above, when you're true enemy are the Others. Any sellsword company would take off at the sight of those, but not before stealing you're resources. 

But then this thread happened, and I'm interested in if this is where the saga is going. I feel like any mercenaries Justin musters would be loyal to Bravos' cause and not their own, because he is going through the Bravosi to hire them and using their own coin. That could also explain how a company such as this could survive for so long. At first, I'd think a company of this prominence would eventually merge with another like the GC. But if the Company of the Rose has been mainly loyal to Bravos while taking the occasional contract elsewhere, the exiles may be eventually returning home. but will they betray Stannis for fellow Northerner Bolton or demand one of their own takes over the North? 

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Sellswords fight for coin. And Stannis seems to have gotten loan beyond anyone's wildest dreams from the Iron Bank.

This is a huge deal. Remember, Jon Snow wonders whether Stannis effectively won the war when/if he made his contract with Tycho Nestoris. His situation was dire before because he didn't have the funds to pay his soldiers - but now he has that coin, and it is not just going to help him hire free companies but also to throw money at Westerosi houses who might be inclined to declare for him.

The names of the free companies we get in TWoIaF makes it very likely that not all free companies are in the east right now. Many would be down in the Disputed Lands, but not all of them.

13 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

You confuse the desired outcome with the likely one. Of COURSE it would be preferable to fight the Others from the top of a 700 foot Wall with built-in spells that prevent them from crossing. But clearly that is not what is going to happen. The Wall is going to fall.

And where did I doubt that? I just don't see it falling early on in TWoW. There has been literally no buildup in that direction at this point. And that means there could be a considerable amount of pages covering plots at the Wall including sellswords there.

13 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Fall of the Wall will merely start the real War, not sound its imminent end, as you seem to believe. While the Wall holds, there is very little to fear from the Others. Their magic cannot cross it. Which is why it has to fall for the story to progress.

We could all see the Others circumventing the Wall before it falls.

Depending on the nature of the fall of the Wall - if we see the Horn of Winter causing an earthquake which has the Wall collapse and crush the castles at the Wall beneath tons of ice - it will mark the end of any organized approach to defeat them or beat them back.

I mean, while the Wall still stands the policy of the men at the Wall will most likely be to prevent them from crossing it, not to prevent them from attacking the Wall. Once the Wall is gone they will have to come up with a plan B nobody ever thought about. And if all the men at the Wall are killed by the collapsing Wall - or turned into wights after the Others move through the ruins - then nobody will be there to attack them immediately thereafter.

The people in the castles will count upon the men at the Wall to hold it while it still stands. 

There will surely be another concentrated effort to take the war to the Others, etc. but it is going to take time.

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The First Men defeated the Others without a Wall the first time, presumably.  

The Horn of Joramun (or whatever) has only been mentioned once or twice, and any horns we've seen in the books are no where near the Wall. So unless GRRM decides that to have the Others just show up with an undead ice dragon, there should be *some time* spent fighting from the Wall. 

Just from a story-telling perspective, it would make sense for the Wall to come down at the end of WoW, not the beginning.

At if humanity thinks that dividing their strength is the best way to win, they'll disappear like a pad of butter being spread too thin over a bigass piece of toast. Besides, “let's split up” is the plot of every episode of Scoobie Doo. I hope our writer doesn't go that route.

 

 

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20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Sellswords fight for coin. And Stannis seems to have gotten loan beyond anyone's wildest dreams from the Iron Bank.

This is a huge deal. Remember, Jon Snow wonders whether Stannis effectively won the war when/if he made his contract with Tycho Nestoris. His situation was dire before because he didn't have the funds to pay his soldiers - but now he has that coin, and it is not just going to help him hire free companies but also to throw money at Westerosi houses who might be inclined to declare for him.

The names of the free companies we get in TWoIaF makes it very likely that not all free companies are in the east right now. Many would be down in the Disputed Lands, but not all of them.

 

The interest payments to the IB are going to be tremendous.  Should Stannis ultimately win this thing, he is going to need a huge indemnity from the Westerlands and the Reach, which is unlikely if wants longterm peace with those regions.  As Robert found out, debt is detriment to power.  Every coin borrowed will likely need to be paid back tenfold.  This is in addition to the massive debt the crown already had to the IB among many others.  Paying off houses may not be an option.

Also, how many competent companies are left?  All of the heavy hitters seem to be accounted for.  Unknown to Stannis, the GC is already spoken for.  Hopefully, Massey can do a competent job and keeps his oath.

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