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The Ramsey's list and the true goal of the Pink Letter

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I'm one of those obsessed with the pink letter. And I feel not shame.

I believe in fact that GRRM wrote ADWD (and not only) the way he did, to make of the pink letter the riddle it has become. That clues are there and some information missing so that we can speculate something, something else but nothing disproves/validates once and for all the rest of the theories on the subject.

For istance, it's my opinion that the text doesn't tell us if Jon recognizes Ramsey's handwriting reading the pink letter not by chance: had it did that no question mark left. But that's not case and one can always rise the fair argument that in Westeros the handwriting is something that may catch some attention (especially the first time you see it and especially if it’s... unique), but it's not something a man of that world like Jon must recognize to believe the authenticity of a message. A man of that world – like Jon – knows in fact there's not rule when it comes to the actual writer. He knows that people - just like in our Middle Ages - may use a master in their behalf always, never or only sometimes.

I’ll try to not bother you with the distant memories of the Paleography course I took in my years at the University, but since we can easely agree that ASOIF is set on a finctional medieval world… little digression. In the Middle Ages, even signatures were not always autographed. Not only: many non illiterate people used to sign by drawing something. If the analogy Westeros/European Middle Ages holds, then I am afraid we even have to admit that the Umbers may or may not be illiterate: to sign by drawing the sigil of their House could be just an habit, their habit, untill stated (by the text in regards to this specific case) otherwise.

That is only to say that it’s perfectly consistent with a finctional medieval world, the notion of seals and wax (not handwriting) as the tools specifically meant to prove the authenticity of a messagge. To dissuade attempts of opening/reading that message by someone who's not the recipient, is a most welcome secondary virtue.

To close this argument and before going any further, please allow me to share just one good reason Ramsey may have had - according to Jon, not us - to use a master this time around. Jon believes the authenticity of the letter (because what it tells about Mance, the spearwives, etc…). As a consequence he believes it's been written after a 7 days battle. Meaning that Ramsey may have been injured and with not choice but to dictate his words. We don’t have to buy it. But Jon could.

However, I'am not going to discuss every single detail used pro or contra a possible author rather than another. I will focus on one of them, that - IMO - underlines perfectly this simple truth: GRRM trolled us all. Thanx to the title, you know it to be the "Ramsey's list". Or - to keep the mistery - the list of people the author of the Pink Letter demands Jon to hand over.

That because, even if I am right, it’s not pointless to debate or speculate. It's that better arguments – I guess – can still be found to sustein every main theory (Ramsey, Mance, Stannis, Theon, some of them, etc..).  And that list (“Reek” not Theon included) is the key. It's my opinion in fact, that:

1. the list reveals something: the real purpose of the letter.

2. that purpose, the "true" reason as to why it's been written and sent, cannot be but one.

3- that purpose is consistent with all the main theories about the true author we came up with.

It's important to notice that the letter's purpose and the author's "motive" are not one and the same. The purpose of the letter, its specific goal, I believe cannot be but one (and I'll try to prove what it is). However, that specific goal, serves every different motive (strategy) every possible true author may have. And that is why the Pink Letter is such a masterfull riddle.

Like I said, this is not another theory about the identity of the author and I'm going to avoid most of what has been written about it (and by the way, if you're here, you probably know enough on the subject). At the same time, sorry, but a 3 points (A, B, C) premise is needed as well as an epilogue about how pointless may be (I am not sure, I just think it may be) to discuss its timeline...

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PREMISE

Back in ASOS [Jamie IX], in an interesting conversation with Brienne momentes after he met fArya, Jamie says he’s pretty sure that girl is just a fake his father is sending North to wed Roose's son. That, according to Jamie, to cement the Boltons claim to Winterfell. In addition - he specifies - with all of Arya's kin believed dead, besides her sister Sansa who's missing and her half-brother Jon Snow on the Wall, no one will be able to dispute that girl's identity. Little has changed since then. Therefore...

A-WITH (f)ARYA AND THEON HEADING TOWARD CASTLE BLACK, THE BOLTONS PROBLEMS ARE FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN TO AVENGE AN INSULT.

Ramsey's claim (and that of House Bolton) to Winterfell is based on two lies:

- The legitimate male heirs of lord Eddard Stark are all dead.

- The woman Ramsey married is Arya Stark.

If fArya will arrive at Castle Black while Jon is still there, there's no doubt he will recognize Jeyne for who she really is. What will he do next? Is he going to keep the secret for himself or is he going to make aware of the ruse all the Seven Kingdoms? If he does, the Bolton's claim will be jepardized for the years to come. They may even win this time around, but a strong argument against their claim will always be there, ready to be used by their opponents.

At the same time, Jon may meet again no one but Theon Greyjoy. The young man who betrayed his family. How many chances are there that Jon won't ask him anything? Something like: "how did you kill my little brothers?" And how many chances are there that Theon won't tell him... the truth? And if so, what will Jon do? Is he going to make all the the Seven Kingdoms know that 2 legitimate male Stark heirs could be still alive? The public knowledge only of this truth will be a constant threat for the Boltons no matter how things are going to go in the immediate future. For instance: how many fake Princes in the Tower had King Henry the VII to face? That is something you should avoid, if you are a Bolton, right?

(Not to mention that Theon may also speak about the role that Ramsey played during the sack of Winterfell).

An objection may be that Theon won’t confess or that Jon won't ask him anything or believe him, etc...

Sure. But since we're trying to discover the pink letter author's (and not only) reasoning, what really matters is not what we think. But what the characters "in universe" (all of them) think or what each one of them can fear/hope could happen. A strategy (a motive) - in fact - has to consider possible scenarios and risks.

And in this case, only one thing is for sure: it's not that there are 0 chances that Theon won't confess and that Jon will keep for himself the truth about Bran, Rickon and fArya. And that's a huge, enormous problem/risk, if you are a Bolton. More serious - given the circumstances - than Stannis's army.

To recap: if fArya and Theon reach the Wall while Jon is still there, the Boltons can be fuc*** .

And those against the Boltons? Do they want Jon to meet fArya and Theon? Well, what's bad for your enemies is good fo you. It's as simple as that. But, when it comes to those against the Boltons another question deserves some attention: what do they need first and foremost to win? In addition…

B. THEON IS PRETTY SURE OF WHAT JON WOULD DO TO HIM

"Theon shivered. Baratheon or Bolton, it made no matter to him. Stannis had made common cause with Jon Snow at the Wall, and Jon would take his head off in a heartbeat" [ADWD, ch. 46]

Like said, characters opinions matter not ours. And Theon's opinion is that there's not chance that Jon won't kill him, if they’ll ever meet again. Confessing the truth about Bran and Rickon, in fact, may not be enough. The boys are still missing, in danger - if not dead meanwhile - because of what he did and – to begin with - Jon may want to avenge the betrayal to Robb and the sack of Winterfell without whom nothing else would have ever happened.

Objection: a way out for Theon may be to take the black: a man who swears to the Night's Watch is forgiven for his crimes. But Jon Snow is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and he may not allow Theon to take the black. And if for some reason Jon can't avoid that, he can order Theon's death (or push him off of the Wall) the first time a chance is given.

In short: if Theon wants to be sure of surviving, he doesn't want to meet Jon.

Fair objection #2: reading ADWD it looks like Theon only wishes to die. Sure. But he can always changes his mind. More importantly, however, that he wishes to die is not only something the rest of the characters may not know, it’s something other characters and possible true authors may not want/need to happen (at all). Many of them in fact have good reasons to keep Theon alive. Those who want the truth about the sack of Winterfell to be known and for instance Asha: we know that she needs Theon's presence in flesh and blood to try to invalidate Euron's election (and Stannis may have an agreement with her as some have suggested).

Therefore if someone else wants, needs or has promised to keep Theon safe, he/she doesn't want/need him and Jon to meet.

Finally if the letter mentions Reek not Theon, there's a specific reason... no matter who the true author is. But I'll talk about that, specifically. I promise.

C- THE NORTH KNOWS EVERYTHING

Once again that quote:

 "Theon shivered. Baratheon or Bolton, it made no matter to him. Stannis had made common cause with Jon Snow at the Wall..." [ADWD ch. 46]

According to Theon "Stannis and Jon had made common cause". That is the way he see it, but I guess whoever else (at least in the North) knows what Theon knows and shares a similar if not identical opinion. That is: if not an alliance strictly speaking, a relationship of... trust, a bond (choose whatever word may fit better) has recently merged Stannis and the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow.

Last but not least, we know that after Jon's refusal, Stannis plans to wed Val to a Karstark. What we don't know for sure is if Stannis has already made this proposal to the Karstarks. And if so, if the Boltons learnt about it from the Karstarks; and if so if Roose shared the information with the norther lords or with one of them - Lady Dustin just to mention someone - that in turn spread the news among the rest of the northern lords. It could be important, or not. But it's not impossible.

With that being said... let's go the point.

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1-I- The list of people the author demands to be hand over, unveils the pink letter's true purpose. Not the author's identity.

The history of the Seven Kingdoms, tells us that Jon Arryn rebelled to the Mad King when asked to hand over Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon. Two young men, lords of powerful houses, capable if not to win a war vs the crown, at least to defend themselves. You may argue that he (or someone else) wanted the Rebellion to take place. Still a good excuse was needed. And the good excuse, the casus belli, was that. Not Lyanna's kidnapping.

About 20 years later, Jon Snow, named after Jon Arryn, is known across Westeros as the son of the honorable lord Eddard of the honorable House Stark. In addition, he is a sworn brother of the Night's Watch. In additon, he is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Even those who didn't get the chance to know him personally, can easely guess his honor is worthy that of his late father and his house.

Truth to be told, from book one we’are repeatedly told that is indeed what people across the seven kingdoms expect from a Stark, legitimate or not. In Jon’s case, he has met so far those expectations: he didn't leave the Wall when his father was executed and his older half-brother left for the war. Nor he did that to avenge the Red Wedding or when Winterfell got sacked and his youngest half-siblings killed. Everybody in Westeros knows that.

A few people do also know that he didn't do that recently, after Mel's vision, to go and find his beloved sister Arya. But again that is  what a Westerosi would expect a sworn brother of the Night's Watch to do: the sworn brothers have not family. And Jon Snow won't leave the Wall to help/avenge his sister, just like he didn't in the past for his father and half brothers.

However, this young man receives a more than threatening letter, whose author looks like a monster and demands him to hand over not only his wife (and as long as Jon knows, his own half-sister) and someone called "Reek", but other people too.

"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." [AWD ch. 69 -JON XIII]

These words deserve few considerations: Ramsey is menacing not only Jon but the Night's Watch too. Or to say it better: the author is forcing Jon to choose between jeopardizing the Night's Watch or the lives of the people on that list. What Jon has to do - to not harm not only himself, but his Order - is in fact not as simple as letting these people go. He has to make sure they'll arrive to Ramsey. He cannot allow them to escape. Nor he may pretend they've already done that. If he does, not only him, but the Night's Watch will be held responsible and pay for that.

Keep this in mind and let's try - finally - to focus on these people. Who are they?

Arya: the only Stark - as far as Jon knows - on the list.
Reek: the only man on the list and the only person Jon has no idea who he may be. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I'll discuss these two later. First I'll go with the rest of them.

1-II: Why Selyse, Shireen, Melisandre, Val and the son of Mance Rayder/Gilly

Much has been said about these people: Selyse, Shireen, Melisandre, Val and the son of Mance Rayder (who's actualy Gilly's son). In particular, since the author demands for them, many have tried to understand why... them. Why does the author want them? Why are they important to him/her?

Is it because their true or presumed titles, roles, ties of blood, etc? As if the correct answers to these questions, may validate a specific theory about the author's identity. Nevertheless no theory - IMO - has found a convincing explaination as to why them all sould be important for the author. Them all. Unsurprisingly, I'd say, because they are too different to be "all" important for him/her, whoever he/she may be, let alone for the same reason. Is it possible then, that the answers are somehow unconvincing, because the questions are wrong?

I believe in fact, that by changing point of view, it's pretty obvious what all these different people have in common. Or to say better: who. Jon Snow, the person who receives the letter. Not the author.

The are all important to him and for one simple reason. Simpler than their true or presumed titles, roles, political value, religious beliefs, ties of blood, etc and the same time - if you believe Ramsey is the author - more satisfing than "because he is a sociopath".

Jon doesn't have to like them all (we know for a fact he doesn’t like them all), but Selyse, Shireen, Melisandre, Val and the son of Mance Rayder/Gilly, they are all… women and/or children.

Women and children threatened by a monster.

Women and children threatened by a monster and somehow under Jon's protection.

They are all in fact women and children and his guests at the Wall.

I want to make clear one thing: even tho Jon specifically says that Selyse (therefore her daughter and Melisandre) and Wun Wun (therefore Val and the son of Mance Rayder/Gilly) are his guest [Jon to Selyse: "Wun Wun is a guest of the Night’s Watch, as you are" ADWD, ch. 44 - Jon IX] I am not using this word to imply a guest right that may oblige the host (Jon) to defend his guest from "outside" people.

The point is far more simple: all these people are women or children, living at the Wall because they trust him or because someone else trusted him. Something that given point C of the premise, everyone in the North - not just those who have spent some time at Castle Black recently - knows.

Before going any further, let me remind you what Jon says in the Shillshall speach:

"It is not for us to oppose the Bastard of Bolton, to avenge Stannis Baratheon, to defend his widow and his daughter. This creature who makes cloaks from the skins of women has sworn to cut my heart out, and I mean to make him answer for those words but I will not ask my brothers to forswear their vows." [ADWD ch 69 – JON XIII]

In other words: it's not his duty as Lord Commander nor of the Night's Watch itself... to defend the widow and the daughter of Stannis Baratheon - and all the women and children on that list - from a crature who makes cloaks from their skyns.  But it is a matter of personal honor. The disctintion is there. Of course is there. Because he is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and he has to do as much as he can to not jeopardize the order (see above 1-I).

At the same time, however, as an honorable man he has not choice but to try to defend those women and children. An honarable man, as the son of the honarable lord Eddard of the honorable House Stark has to be, does not send out women and children to a monster that makes no secret (how convenient) of how much he likes to turn their skyns into cloaks. It's as simple as that.

And that is why the author - beside Arya and a certain Reek - demands women and children only. In fact...

1-III: THE LETTER'S TRUE PURPOSE

Menacing Arya - the only Stark (as far as Jon knows) on the list - wasn't enough because as a sworn brother Jon has already proved to everybody in Westeros that he knows how/what to choose between family and duty (see 1-I). But by menacing women and children, that are not his kin and yet "bound" to him by... trust, thus... honor (beside/regardless the sacred tie of guest right), the author is forcing Jon to face a dilemma that given the scenario described by the Pink Letter, is graver than that Jon Arryn had to face 20 years ago. More importanly this is the most grave moral dilemma Jon Snow has ever faced.

The author, in short, knows, believes or has enough reasons to... hope that Jon Snow, the honorable son of the late and honorable Eddard of the honorable house Stark will feel exactly the way he feels. That it’s a matter "honor” too (not of personal revenge or interest dictated by blood or seek of power) trying to defend women and children under his protection, people that trusted him - to say it at least - as everybody in North knowns (see point C of the premise).

The pink letter is not the product of a sociopathic mind. Even if Ramsey wrote it. It’is a desperate but clever move in the darkest hour of the author. Or the finest strategic move made by someone who knows that Jon Snow won't easely leave the Wall. No matter if he/she did get the chance to him personally.

It's written the way it is, because that's the most logic choice he/she may take to not be fuck*** or to get exactly what he/she wants from Jon Snow. And what he/she wants, it's not those people.

He/She sent an... unacceptable ultimatum to an honorable young man that is also the lord commander of the Night's Watch (“choose between harming the Order and ending the lives of those women and childen”) not by chance. But because all that he/she wants is that Jon won't accept that ultimatum.

That he'll do the only 3rd thing he can do, to not jeopardize his order and the lives of those women and children. That is: making of the menaces in that letter a matter of "personal" honor and leaving the Wall immediately, to face Ramsey.

That's the purpose of the pink letter, no matter who wrote it. Key words being "leaving” the Wall and "immediately" /see next) too.

Mission accomplished, if it wasn't for the unpredictable "for the Watch" twist.

The author - if we really think about it - gave Jon the best possible excuse/reason a sworn brother of the Night's Watch, who's also the honorable son of the honorable Eddard of the honorable House Stark could ever get to turn his back to the Wall. There won't ever be a perfect excuse/reason, given Jon's status. It's impossible. But that's surely the most... honorable.

Let's check in fact the worst possible scenarios:

No matter who wins or dies, the Boltons or someone else - the Crown for example - can consider Jon's actions an interference in the affairs of the realm. But if so, all the Night's Watch has to do is to declare Jon a deserter – if still alive - and no consequences for the Order and those who did not follow him. His speach in the Shillhall is the way out he's consciounsly giving to his subordinates. When he says "I will not ask my brothers to forswear their vows" he’s using these words because they can eventually be used against... him, if needed.

Therefore, even in the worst cases (for him, personally) the Night's Watch will be safe, something that as Lord Commander he has to care about. But so will be his honor, because to defend women and children from a monster who makes cloaks from their skins (as a “shield that guards the realms of men” should probably do, at least according to someone), was the right thing to do, even tho it costed him his life. That is... an honorable death.

Surely a more honorable prospective than protecting the Night's Watch by handing over women and children to a monster and living the rest of his life full of guilt and shame.

In fact... that’s his choice. A choice he didn't take - as everybody in Westeros knows - for his father, for his brohters Robb, Bran and Rickon and as some characters - and we the readers - know for Arya too (after Mel's vision).

This time he did it... because of those people. Because to keep his honor this time around he didn’t have to choose duty vs a family he swore to put aside. This time on one hand there was an oath on the other hand another kind of pledge an honorable man can not put aside.

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2-I: Not only Jon has to leave the Wall, he has to do it immediatelly (also, why Mance)

Like said the letter's purpose is not only to force Jon Snow to leave the Wall, but also to push him to do so as soon as he read the letter. What the author needs, in other words, is that Jon won't waste any time waiting for Arya and Reek before leaving. Nor he has to go first in search of his beloved half sister. A sister he hasn't seen in years (and believed dead).

He has to leave as soon as he can, to fight Ramsey.

That is why, the author - regardless if that is true or not - informs Jon that Mance is still alive but hold in cage hanging outside the walls of Winterfell, doing nothing but waiting for his death. This is in fact a further invitation to hurry up, to come and save him too. Something that Jon has already done (so there are good chances he'll try again). Mance is alive because of him. He knows it and whoever else wrote the pink letter knows that too, given the letter's text.

However, according to the letter, Mance is exposed in a cage outside Winterfell's walls, waiting to die, whereas Arya

2-II: WHY REEK?

Arya is not alone in her trip to the Wall, but with someone else, a man. The only man in the list and as previously said, the only one Jon knows nothing about. Nothing but... that apparently he’s someone who helped his half sister to escape. He has to be a brave good man, in Jon’s eyes, right? Why to think otherwise?

In short: just because Jon doesn't know who Reek really is, he has not reason to not trust him. And it's far too easy to say that on the contrary everyone knows that Jon has not reason to trust... Theon.

And if you want that Jon won’t waste any time waiting or going in search of his half sister, then it's better to let him know that she is not alone, but with someone trustworthy. In addition...

Just because of this, Jon will probably leave without giving any order but to be kind with Arya and this guy/man called Reek, if they'll ever get to Castle Black.  Meaning that Theon, won't be captured, put in a cell or interrogated while Jon is elsewhere. Therefore he'll get enough time and chances... to escape.

As said in premise point B, everyone in fact may easely foresee that if Jon will ever come back alive he will probably... kill Theon and if the author is not a Bolton he/she may want, need or he/she may have promised to keep Theon safe. If the author is a Bolton, then sure: he has to kill Jon - no matter what Theon may do - because of fArya. But at the same time a Bolton knows or at least he has enough reasons to think that Theon won't say any word, that he won't confess any truth as long as he's not sure that Ramsey is.... dead. That before any news about the outcome of the battle will reach the Wall, fearing what may come next to him, Theon will most likely escape again: that is in fact the only chance he may get to not face Jon or Ramsey, regardless how ther fight will end. That - escaping - is the only chance he could ever get to not die by the hands of one of the two. That if the Boltons don’t know… that Theon has already died (see next).

3- That purpose – Jon leaving the Wall immediatelly – cannot be but one, no matter the author

In premise A, I’ve gave enough reasons (at least I hope so) to explain why the Boltons need that Jon will leave the Wall as soon as possible. Is that really enough for them? Not really: because of fArya, they also need Jon to die. He can't survive and meet Jeyne. It's an all-or nothing situation for them. They have to:

1- force Jon to leave the Wall 2- force him to do it immediately 3- that he’ll do that for no reason but to fight them.

That’s why you have the dilemma, fArya not alone but with a guy Jon may trust and Mance in cage outside Witerfell waiting to die. The latter is an invitation not only to Jon but to the wildlings: the Boltons need a battle to kill Jon if not on the field, later: as a deserter who interferred in affairs of the Realm. That is how an all-or-nothing situation may be turned into a win-win situation, even tho if Ramsey dies too and especially if the author of the pink letter… is Roose, not his son.

But, it's not that different if the author is not a Bolton. He/she may not want to kill Jon, still 1, 2 and 3 are his/her goals. Something that fits his/her strategy. Why?

Well, if author is not a Bolton, not only it could make not difference if he/she knows that Arya is a fake, because the point never was to save the right girl, but finding a casus belli. If he/she knows the girl is a fake - and I personally believe that Mance knows it as well as other northen lords – that could be another good reason to deceive Jon and to push him to leave the Wall immediately.

The casus belli was needed, so the escape was. But if Jon will meet fArya and Theon, then all he has to do is... to let the world know the truth and the Boltons will be fuck***. He won't need a battle to destroy them. Maybe not forever but sure... not immeditelly.

Not only. If the author is not a Bolton, then his/her motive is to gain an army lead by Jon to win the Battle of Ice or to break the Bolton's siege of Winterfell (after that battle). An army that has to come in the most convinient time. To do so, that army has to move, as soon as possible.

To make things clear, let’s use GOT season 5 as a comparison (not as evidence). In our case, the author of the Pink Letter is not that different than Sansa writing a letter to Little Finger so that the Vale's army will join the Battle of the Bastards, in the most convinient time. That is the author’s motive if he/she is not a Bolton. The difference is that in our case Jon should be the one coming in the most convenient time and for all the reasons stated above, the author knows, believes, has enough reasons to foresee that Jon won't ever do that if he's not... properly deceived. And if not deceived in time.

The only dilemma that can push Jon to leave the Wall was needed, so it was letting him know that his sister is heading towards Castle Black with a man he may trust, while Mance is alone in a cage hanging outside the walls of Winterfell waiting to die.

4-The timeline ca be whatever

If the main reason to mention "Reek" is to assure Jon that his sister is not alone and helpless but with someone he may trust, so that he won't waste any time before leaving the Wall to face the Boltons, then it doesn't make any difference if Theon is dead when the pink letter was written and the author knows it. It could make no matter... to him/her, because Reek was just a male name he/she needed in order to better deceive Jon. So, when it comes to timeline, truth is... the pink letter doesn't hold any definitive prove.

If all of this makes sense.... then, I am afraid the pink letter could have been written:

- After the battle vs Stannis.

If so, my bet is the author is most likely Ramsey - or even better given how clever the pink letter is - Roose. But that's just a bet: I only think that if the author is someone else, then he/she wrote the letter to gain Jon's army in time for that Battle, not after or to break Winterfell’s seige. But even in latter case, everything was carefully planned in advance to give Jon enough time to show up at the right moment. However, if Ramsey or Roose, is the author and the letter holds more than some truth (therefore if the Battle vs Stannis happened) I also think that he knows that Theon was at some point with Stannis, if not  dead. Again a  personal take, but I find more likely - and explicable - that than the idea of Theon's body missing or of Theon escaping the battlefield unoticed. These are the things that  always made me doubtful of Ramsey (or a Roose) as author. That because, I find particulary unconvincing a scenario that has to contemplate the Boltons - who desperatly need to know Theon and fArya whereabouts - not torturing and interrogating at least one of the survivors of the battle. And in Stannis camp, eveybody knew that Theon was there. And I cannot buy the missing body, nor an escape unnoticed by everyone.

- Prior to the Battle and after the escape from Winterfell

Possible no matter who the author is. But I believe this may very well be the case  if Ramsey/Roose wrote the letter: as soon as he gets the information from Mance or the spearwives he has not choice but write that letter they way he did (and all the “questions” about Theon – where is he, does he know that Theon was with Stannis, etc.., do not matter).

- Before Theon and fArya escape Winterfell.

Personally, if the author is not Ramsey/Roose, I believe chances are that's the case indeed, just because the goal of a non Bolton author has to be to push Jon away from the Wall with an army, in time for the battle. And whatever scenario one can imagine for an author that is not Ramsey (or Roose) one has to face the same problems (raven, wax,  etc...) no matter if letter’s got written and sent before, meanwhile or after the escape.

Like said, I don’t want to sustain here a theory in particularly, but on the contrary that they are all… legit. Surely one may find one of them more convincing than the others, but my only certanty is that our author (GRRM) will put us in the position to say that's it, only... in TWOW. That is why I didn't touch most of the topics discussed in the past years (not only because it’s… impossible). However, before closing, I just want to add/underline a few things not as much discussed as they - IMO – deserve and that may support the chance of a pink letter written before the escape. I honestly don't know if someone else has ever noticed them or one of them. If so, I'm sorry - and I'll give credit to whoever did that (just let me know) - but here they are.

- THE RIGHT CLOTHES

There's one thing I cannot help but think about. It’s probably not enough to prove anything... but still: how did the spearwives get the right clothes? In ADWD we're told at least two times (one in cp. 41) that fArya doesn't have any maid with her. For this reason, those of Lady Dustin and those of lady Walda Frey/Bolton take care of her. We also know [ADWD cp. 51] that the other servants in Winterfell know who those girls/women are and in fact the day of the escape they notice that the women with Theon are not those who usually deal with the job. I personally believe that the spearwives had to wear "right" clothes. Meaning not only maids clothes, but clothes that made clear that they were lady Walda Frey's or Lady Dustin's maids. Otherwise the missing details would have been too much to not reinforce even further suspicions, jeopardizing the plan. However, when the escape plan starts, two spearwives are with Theon, one follows him the other is sent to call the others 4. When they meet again, the 5 spearwives come wearing maids clothes. But not time is wasted: as if those clothes were already in their possesion. And that's the problem, the detail I cannot help but think about. If so, if they had those "right" clothes (looking like those of Lady Dastin or Lady Walda maids) and not time to steal them that morning, when did they do that? In advance. But that's a really risky move. Especially, because it looks like the mission wasn’t planned for that morning (Theon says something like “why to do it in the morning” as if untill that moment the plan was to try at night). If so, they stole the clothes well before wherever time thay had planned. And the chances the robbery could have been discovered meanwhile fu***ing up the plan, are just too much. To avoid that, there is only one thing I can think about: Lady Dustin or Walda Frey gave willingly the right clothes to them, knowing about the plan. And where was Lady Dustin that morning?

- ANOTHER HALF MASTER IN WINTERFELL?

In ADWD ch. 17, JON IV, we learn how and more importantly where Hother "Whoresbane" Umber earned his nickname. In Old Town, while studing at the Citadel.  It looks like his father wanted him to become a master. I don't know what you think about it, but I personally find highly unlikely that he doesn't know to write. And taking up the topic exposed just at the beginning, I believe this may be the information we need to come to the conclusion that the Umbers or only Hother are/is not illiterate: to sign by drawing the sigil of their House could be just their habit. A tradition. Nothing more. I also think there are more than few chances that he stayed at the Citadel enough time to learn how to use ravens to send letters. Or better: that his father believed that Hother could have become a master, becasue he knew how to send ravens. Sam does it, without being a master. If so and if Mance knew that Mors Umber was outside the walls of Winterfell… then we may have (easely) a full conspiracy - pink letter and Fake Master included - taking shape before Theon and fArya actually escape. Even tho I personally believe that if not Ramsey (or Roose) Mance wrote the letter, and someone else sent it. And just like in Sam’s case, he/she may be everyone with a bit of experience.

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By the Old Gods, that’s a long OP. :D

I will read it all, but just to start things off here... on the subject of Ramsay’s hand, I disagree w/ you. 

I’ve seen this argument w/ Ramsay’s handwriting being used unto death over the years, and the way I see it, it actually supports Ramsay being the author. Jon notes the huge and spiky hand in the first letter he receives from Ramsay, and we get no reaction or thoughts when he reads the PL. And that is because the letter is signed by Ramsay, and looks as Jon expects it to look. IMO, Ramsay is the author. There are several mysteries in the letter, but its authorship isn’t one of them. 

Now onto the rest of the OP...

 

ETA: @lalt, Theon is not going to the Wall w/ Jeyne, he is Stannis’ prisoner. Are you by any chance confusing the books and the Abomination?

Edited by kissdbyfire

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35 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

 

By the Old Gods, that’s a long OP. :D

I will read it all, but just to start things off here... on the subject of Ramsay’s hand, I disagree w/ you. 

I’ve seen this argument w/ Ramsay’s handwriting being used unto death over the years, and the way I see it, it actually supports Ramsay being the author. Jon notes the huge and spiky hand in the first letter he receives from Ramsay, and we get no reaction or thoughts when he reads the PL. And that is because the letter is signed by Ramsay, and looks as Jon expects it to look. IMO, Ramsay is the author. There are several mysteries in the letter, but its authorship isn’t one of them. 

Now onto the rest of the OP...

 

ETA: @lalt, Theon is not going to the Wall w/ Jeyne, he is Stannis’ prisoner. Are you by any chance confusing the books and the Abomination?

Agree to disagree about the handwriting then.

That said, I wasn’t talking about what we know... but about the movite of the writer.

However, if Ramsey wrote the letter, it makes not difference what he (not us) knows about Theon. He may be dead and Ramsey may know that. Still Ramsey needs that Jon leaves CB as soon as possible. And letting Jon know that Arya (Jon believes that is Arya for real) is with someone that helped her escaping, while Mance is waiting to die in a cage, is a good choice if you want him to hurry up.

And if Ramsey hasn’t found Theon - dead or alive - after or during the battle he has another good reason to talk about Reek not Theon to Jon. So that Jon won’t ever wait for him (a man he doesn’t trust) and his sister, nor he will order his brothers to put him in cell and interrogate him...

These were the points I was trying to make.

Edited by skystark

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6 minutes ago, skystark said:

Agree to disagree about the handwriting then.

That said, I wasn’t talking about what we know... but about the movite of the writer.

If you believe Ramsey wrote the letter, it makes not difference what he knows about Theon. He may be dead and Ramsey may know that. Still Ramsey needs that Jon leaves CB as soon as possible. At letting Jon know that Arya (Jon believes that is Arya for real) is with someone that helped her escaping, while Mance is waiting to die in a cage, is a good choice if you want him to hurry up.

And if Ramsey hasn’t found Theon - dead or alive - after or during the battle he has another good reason to talk about Reek not Theon to Jon. So that Jon won’t ever wait for him (a man he doesn’t trust) and his sister, nor he will order his brothers to put him in cell and interrogate him...

These were the points I was trying to make.

I need to read the whole OP, apologies if I jumped the gun. Need some juice on my device, but I’ll be back and will reply only after I’ve read everything. :)

 

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I don't think that Ramsay cares whether Jon leaves the Wall or not.  The letter is establishing a causus belli and showing Jon to be Ramsay's enemy.

Given that the letter's writer boasts of torturing captives, I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to turn over anybody to him.   He expect this, and will use their refusal as a declaration of a conflict.  Of course, if he knows about Selyse and Shireen, he probably also knows about the 50 men-at arms and knights she brought with her, which is probably a sufficient force to prevent the NW from taking them in the first place.  If they evacuate, which I think they will, Ramsay can use the fact that the NW didn't prevent it to cause trouble,, even if the NW couldn't prevent it in the first place.  In any case, Jon's status as LC would be placed in great jeopardy, which is probably Ramsay's goal.

Jon being an enemy also puts his credibility in question.   If he claims that "Arya" is a fake, Ramsay can claim that Jon is lying to support Stannis and undermine Ramsay, as well as possibly (illegally) protecting his sister.  At the very least, it will muddy the waters about whether Arya was genuine or not.  I think the likelihood of Jeyne returning to Ramsay is effectively nil; she'd probably kill herself first.  I expect Ramsay knows this as well, but may try to claim that a third party killed her in that event.  His real problems started with her departure.  The letter is trying to mitigate the damage this has caused.

I must admit to having no idea why Reek is mentioned in the letter.  Maybe he is hoping to sow confusion on that issue as well, claiming that the NW refused to turn him over as well, and that their denial that they even knew who that was is a lie.

Btw, The Wall is a long ways from Winterfell.  It is about 600 miles; probably about 2 weeks hard riding.  If Mance is really in a cage with only a skin cloak, he will freeze to death long before then.

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There's one thing that has always bugged me with the letter and it's this; 

"Your false king's friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell."

Is he referring to the people inside Winterfell like Wyman Manderly and possibly Whoresbane Umber? If this letter is truly from Ramsay, then we may be looking at something of a carnage inside Winterfell. 

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The demands made by the author of the letter are perfectly reasonable, given the situation.  Jon was wrong from the beginning when he sent Mance Rayder and the spearwives to get his sister.  We all know his intentions.  To take Arya as far away from Ramsay as possible.  For a man of the Night's Watch to do this is treason.  So the author of the letter already knows Jon is not honorable.  The author will have also figured out by now that Jon broke his vows at least twice.  Once for letting a known criminal like Mance get away with his crimes.  Secondly, for sending that same man to interfere with the politics of the kingdom.  

The Boltons own Winterfell because the king gave it to them as part of the package that comes with being the Warden of the North.  It's their reward for their part in removing the former owners who rebelled.  The marriage was set up for political reasons, not for legal reasons.  The Boltons are the legal owners of Winterfell.  The marriage was supposed to smooth things socially and politically.

Stannis lost the battle and therefore lost his rebellion for the throne.  It is much more than reasonable to ask the lord commander of the Night's Watch to turn over his supporters so they can be given the choice to bend their knees to Tommen.  The wall does not have the right to harbor rebels.  These people cannot continue to deny Tommen's rule.   Guest rights is not and should not be a factor here.  Mance, acting under Jon's command, is already guilty of violating guest rights in Winterfell.  So is Jon going to play double standards again and hide under the umbrella of guest rights when it suits what he wants and ignore it when it doesn't.  The demands of the letter are perfectly reasonable.

 

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Fair points and in all truth I thought about many of them as well. But...

11 hours ago, Nevets said:

Jon being an enemy also puts his credibility in question.   If he claims that "Arya" is a fake, Ramsay can claim that Jon is lying to support Stannis and undermine Ramsay, as well as possibly (illegally) protecting his sister.  At the very least, it will muddy the waters about whether Arya was genuine or not.  I think the likelihood of Jeyne returning to Ramsay is effectively nil; she'd probably kill herself first.  I expect Ramsay knows this as well, but may try to claim that a third party killed her in that event.  His real problems started with her departure.  The letter is trying to mitigate the damage this has caused.

Jon could be Ramsey's enemy, but he's surely someone more credible on the subject than Theon, the person used at the wedding to prove fArya's identity, is. 
In addition the fact itself that Jon "freed" a girl and later on he called that very same girl a fake, adds water to the idea that he is not lieing. 

However - imo - this is not "the" problem or the "only" problem. People in North have doubts even now. But they are not so strong to oppose the Boltons. And if we have to believe the pink letter many of them have been killed.

Still, a word from Jon, regardless how things are going to go this time, is something that may be used by other people in the future. 
They won't have to 100% trust Jon, just like nobody trusts Theon. They can only "use" him, just like the Boltons used Theon. In 10-20 years time, if the context changes, a new fArya may be found and used by "x and y" lordlings vs the Boltons. People that even if Jon will be dead by then (or even better if he is), will use/remember his words.  So all the non-legal and non immediate benefits of the fake wedding... they are going to be jeopardized, diminished, if Jon will meet Jeyne and if he'll make the ruse public knowledge.

That said, if we put ourselves in the shoes of these characters, sure, they may think/believe many things (I tried too to imagine that) but... a strategy, has to consider not the best scenario, but the worst scenarios to avoid risks. 
That's the point.
And what is the worst thing that can happen to the Boltons? That Jon will meet fArya (and possibly Theon).

That also explains better, imo, why Ramsey is not heading toward CB.

Why he didn't use his best advantage, the surprise effect?
No one is wainting an assault at CB.
He can smash - or he may believe ha can - the 50 man left with Selyse and the NW too. Or put a seige, whatever. If that is something he is considering to do - and given the PL he is - then why to inform them in advance?  Surely he may be more effective by using the surprise effect.  So, do it.

Not to mention, that is indeed what a "sociopath" would do.

But if his goal is to avoid the meeting fArya-Jon, and therefore to hurge Jon to leave the Wall, then you have a better answer to that question, I guess.

11 hours ago, Nevets said:

I must admit to having no idea why Reek is mentioned in the letter.  Maybe he is hoping to sow confusion on that issue as well, claiming that the NW refused to turn him over as well, and that their denial that they even knew who that was is a lie.

Btw, The Wall is a long ways from Winterfell.  It is about 600 miles; probably about 2 weeks hard riding.  If Mance is really in a cage with only a skin cloak, he will freeze to death long before then.

 

6 hours ago, Quoth the raven, said:

The demands made by the author of the letter are perfectly reasonable, given the situation.  Jon was wrong from the beginning when he sent Mance Rayder and the spearwives to get his sister.  We all know his intentions.  To take Arya as far away from Ramsay as possible.  For a man of the Night's Watch to do this is treason.  So the author of the letter already knows Jon is not honorable.  The author will have also figured out by now that Jon broke his vows at least twice.  Once for letting a known criminal like Mance get away with his crimes.  Secondly, for sending that same man to interfere with the politics of the kingdom.  


And why to inform the wildlings that Mance is alive, but hold captive in cage? Yes, he may die. Another good reason for them to seek revenge sooner or later.
It's... stupid. Or it's something that you do on purpose, because - even tho Roose is Warden of the North so the man who should pursue and execute Jon - at the moment you don't have enough reasons to accuse Jon or you need too much time to follow that path, something that IMO the Boltons want to avoid.

Jon didn't send the NW to free fArya. But a wildling friend, that could be a liar (so you at least some time to prove his words, etc...). Nor he did it personally... leaving his place. 

But if Jon leaves the Wall and if he does it with an army (and army of wildlings too) then: point, set, game.

You may kill him on the battlefield, or later on as a traitor because - in that case - no question marks (now and forever) and too much time wasted meanwhile. And that's clever.

That is to say, I honestly believe there are many good reasons to believe Ramsey/Roose is the author. I just think, that "Ramsey is a sociopath" is less compelling.

And if his motive is to push Jon to hurry up, Reek is explicable no matter if the Boltons have found him dead and not matter if they heard about him being Stannis's hostage, which is something I cannot believe they don't know at all. Since when the Bolton don't interrogate/torture people? They did it with Mance, but with no survivor of the Battle? It's... odd.

EDIT: 

And whatever we believe about the Bolton's claim to Winterfell (I believe Ramsey holds it, not Roose because it's not something that comes together with the title of Warden of the North - and that he does by marriage just like he holds the title of Lord of the Hornwood) we still agree on a fundamental point: it's important symbolically, politically, etc... now and in the years to come, if you want to govern the North. And that marriage was made because of all these important reasons. Fake marriage = jeopardaziong, damaging to all these benefits and giving arguments against you to your enemies, now and the years to come.


About the guest right, I said that is not that Jon has to defend those women and children from outside people because of it. All I said, is that there's a bound between them. And that a man of honor - just like Jon Arryn years ago - cannot hand over people bound to him, to a monster especially if bound to them and especially if they are women and children and not - by comparison - young men, lords of powerfull houses, capable at least to defend themself like Edd and Robert were.

Edited by lalt

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On 11/20/2018 at 2:27 AM, Alexis-something-Rose said:

There's one thing that has always bugged me with the letter and it's this; 

"Your false king's friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell."

Is he referring to the people inside Winterfell like Wyman Manderly and possibly Whoresbane Umber? If this letter is truly from Ramsay, then we may be looking at something of a carnage inside Winterfell. 

Not only that...

Many people had noticed the parallels between the situation insiede Winterfell in ADWD and that of Harrenal in ACOK.
So between Theon (ADWD) and Arya (ACOK), etc...

However, as you may remeber, heads are put upon the walls of Harrenal after Roose takes the castle.
On one hand that is surely an evidence that the Boltons are used to such things. 

But the interesting thing - IMO - is that the Castle was taken by Roose Bolton with a ruse. In that case with a secret deal between him and Vargo. The plan being to introduce northen men inside Harrenal - as if they were prisoners - so that they could take the Castle. Men that Arya frees with the help of Jaqen not knowing about that ruse, that Vargo, had secretly "turned cloack". 

(And - imo -  the scenes of Arya and Jaqen freeding the northenmen have a lot in common with the scenes of Theon and the spearwives freeding fArya.)

In addition, Vargo has some things in common with... Ramsey. He's called the "Crippler" because he likes to torture his prisoners by chopping off their hands and feet. Something that Ramsey did with Theon's fingers etc...

Not only: Vargo brings  the famous black bear inside the castle and the beast is held captive in a cage that is hanging upon the walls:

"It had been hung from the arched span of the bridge that divided the outer and middle wards, suspended on heavy chains, a few feet off the ground" [ACOK, Arya IX] 

If we have to believe the PL, that's Mance's situation. So Mance = the black bear, even more so because he used to be a a man of the NW and what Arya thinks about that bear is that is black, just like Yoren was (the bear in fact, is later used to kill Amory, the man who killed Yoren). Not to mention, that a man with cloak made of a white beard fur (Mors Umber) is waiting fArya outside Winterfell. 

With that being said... 

These parallels, make sense because they are mainly "reversed".

In ACOK northen men get inside the castle in "incognito" lead by Vargo and they are freed out of the basement of a tower by Arya. The real one.
In ADWD northen women (the spearwives) get inside the castle in "incognito" lead by Mance and they freed out of a tower fake Arya.

In ACOK Jaqen helps Arya after she found her true self back in the godswood.
In ADWD Theon helps the spearwives after he found his true self back in the godwood.

In addition, like I said Vargo and Ramsey have something in common. But Vargo has another thing in common with Mance. His colours: black and red (that of his coat of arm) just like Mance's cloak.

Vargo's helm is shaped as a goat's head. Mance's helm has raven wings at each temple.

And maybe there's another thing: Vargo wears a chain made of trophies (the coins) that makes noise, just like Rattleshirt used too wear bones that made noise as throphies. And as we know, Mance had to wear those bones too. Now, inside Winterfell, he doesn't.

And so on.... (I'm skipping tons of details, killings included).

So, the question I cannot help but thinking is... how/where do all these parallels lead?

Because in ACOK: two ruses are going on. One (Vargo+Roose) to take the castle. One (Arya+Jaqen) to freed the northen men.

So, in ADWD one "ruse" is - at least apparently - missing: that to take the Castle. Or to hold it.

Unless... someone is working for that too and we don't know it yet. And it has to be, Mance or again Roose imo, if so.
Which lead us to the pink letter in the way I tried to presented it here.

Edited by lalt

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UPDATE: about the handwriting, wax, sigils etc...

To make my point more clear, I'll use this post  made a while ago 

It's an interesting one and I personally agree on many, many things that @Mithras presented there.
But one. Even tho the conclusion is the same, my argument is... the opposite indeed. That is why is even more interesting.

I believe, in fact that what Stannis's letter to Jon proves is that sigils are the tools meant in a ficitonal mediaval world to prove the authenticity of a document just like in real middle ages.
That what Jon notices reading that letter (the hand that wrote it, is different than the one who signed it), points to Stannis as the one who wrote the message and to a master as the one who signed it and closed it with the proper sigil/wax. That could be a master's job in ASOIAF just like in the Middle Ages that could have been the job of those working in a chancellor's office.

In addition, we also have Jon thinking - in JON I I believe - that he only has to put his "sigil" in the letter that he's not sure to send to King's Landing. His sigil, not his signature.

And not: the case of the document Jon should sign to accept Stannis's proposal is different. Totally different.

In that case Stannis's sigil will make the document valid. Because it would be "his" will, a concession, an act, made by king Stannis, that John should sign to accept.

However, back to the ficitional-middle ages/real middle ages comparison we have tons of documents, made in the name of x person (emperors, kings, popes, archibishops, among them) without any handwritten signature but considered valid/authentic because the validation is given by the sigil. A sigil that has to be pressed on wax.
And of course, a corrispondece may or may not be found between the hand that wrote the text and that who wrote (or draw somethig instead of writing a name as..) the signature.

Just because Jon is a man of a fictional medieval world, he is not surprised, nor he doubts the authenticity of Stannis's letter even tho Stannis didn't signed it, personally. The sigil proves it.

When it comes to the pink letter, what Jon should pay attention to, to believe the autheticity of the pink letter is not the handwrinting, but its sealing. He notices only a smear of hard pink wax. And he believes the letter to be authentic because of that and bcause what it says about Mance and the spearwives. That - the "content" is something that only Mance, Mel and him should be aware of - and that's what "convices" him. Or at least that (the smear of wax and the infomation about Mance and the spearwives) is what we know for sure he pays attention to. 

Edited by lalt

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On 11/20/2018 at 6:45 AM, Quoth the raven, said:

Snip

 

In essence, I won't expose you for an oath breaker if you won't expose me for a fraud. Of course, Jon doesn't know that Arya is really Jeyne and has no idea what a Reek is.

The real question is why does Ramsay believe that Jon has them? 

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1 hour ago, The Sleeper said:

In essence, I won't expose you for an oath breaker if you won't expose me for a fraud. Of course, Jon doesn't know that Arya is really Jeyne and has no idea what a Reek is.

The real question is why does Ramsay believe that Jon has them? 

I don't know if you're asking me that... however if so, my point is if Ramsey is the author (or someone else) it doesn't really matter.

The author's purpose is to hurge, to force Jon to leave the Wall as soon as he can.

Therefore, he/she is "informing" Jon that his sister his heading toward Castle Black but not alone.

She's is with someone Jon may trust. Reek. Someone the only thing Jon knows about is that - apparently - he helped his sister to escape.

(in addition, if Theon is really missing the moment the letter is sent - and not metter how much the author knows about the circumstantes - speaking of "Reek" is what may allow Theon to escape: because if he's really going to CB, once he'll be there, no one will ever put him in a cage and escaping from there too - before the battle - is the only chance Theon will ever get to not face Jon or Ramsey. So to not die. That benefits the Boltons - Theon will disappear and won't be interrogated, so not truth spread about Bran and Rickon - and Asha too (she needs Theon alive to try to invalidate Euron's elevtion). And Asha may have an agreement with Stannis)

On the other hand, Mance is hold in a cage and he may die any time soon, children and women are threatened and the NW too.

Jon should avoid a siege or an attack to the Castle black, regardless.... better to face the Boltons on a open field, than harming castle black and those who - legitimately - don't want to be involved.

In short, the point is not what the author's really knows (he/she may know everything or not) but the purpose he/she has. What he/she really wants and what may be more useful to let Jon know to provoke the reaction the author wishes Jon will have. 

That is: to leave as soon as he can.

If he's not a Bolton, to gain his help against them.

If he is, so that at least Jon won't meet fArya and "possibly" Theon. "possibly" because personally I find quite unlikely that if the PL has to be believed the Boltons didn't interrogate no survivor that was in Stannis' s camp. therefore that they don't know that Theon was there. We have to believe his body is missing or that he escaped unnoticed to believe everything the PL says and that Ramsey is really demanding him to Jon.

Another thing that I forget in my reply before 

On 11/20/2018 at 5:45 AM, Quoth the raven, said:

So the author of the letter already knows Jon is not honorable.  The author will have also figured out by now that Jon broke his vows at least twice.  Once for letting a known criminal like Mance get away with his crimes. 

The author may know that Jon broke his vow the first time around (with Ygritte and when Quorin asked him to infiltrate the FF) only if he/she is a man of the NW or Mance. Mance however, knows also that Jon never turned his cloack for real. That he didn't accept Stannis's proposal. How it's hard to convince him to do so. That he believes to be a man of the NW, period. So does Stannis, so does Mel.

The rest of the people south of the Wall know nothing about it. As far as they know he never did that.

More importantly the question is - imo - if Jon will ever leave CB personally and with an army, to fight too.
That's huge.

And that - imo - is what the author really wants.

And there's no sign he'll ever do that. In fact, he sent Mance to help his sister. In fact Melisandre believes Jon won't ever leave the wall personally, only to go and catch his sister (ADWD, Melisandre) and Mance is forced to agree with that when she points it out. 

But sure, the author knows that Jon saved Mance's life, so he may try once again.  And in fact - imo - the PL informs Jon that Mance is "still alive" but hold in cage waiting to die.... a further invitation to hurry up. 

 

Edited by lalt

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You're so hard to read, Ialt.

I really believe Ramsey wrote the letter and that Theon, Jeyne + some other people just left the battle, maybe with entourage... maybe Asha & the Baavosi banker ended up murderer as unkown people with heads on WF walls, but Theon & Jeyne were surely sent to the Wall by Stannis.

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35 minutes ago, Lady Winter Rose said:

You're so hard to read, Ialt.

I really believe Ramsey wrote the letter and that Theon, Jeyne + some other people just left the battle, maybe with entourage... maybe Asha & the Baavosi banker ended up murderer as unkown people with heads on WF walls, but Theon & Jeyne were surely sent to the Wall by Stannis.

Jeyne was sent to CB, but not Theon. 

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1 minute ago, kissdbyfire said:

Jeyne was sent to CB, but not Theon. 

Then Theon was executed by Stannis or Asha saved Theon somehow. I sincerly believe Stannis was defeated.

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1 hour ago, lalt said:

The author's purpose is to hurge, to force Jon to leave the Wall as soon as he can.

I agree that PL/bastard letter was sent to motivate Jon into taking action.

I do not however have a set stance on who wrote it.

Why is Clydas frightened? Did Clydas open & read the letter thereby explaining the smear of wax. Perhaps it matters not, except to insinuate that perhaps other people at CB know the contents.

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII     Mully had not been wrong; the old steward [Clydas] was trembling, his face as pale as the snows outside. "I am being foolish, Lord Commander, but … this letter frightens me. See here?"    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./

Martin goes on to the muddy the water via a conversation between Tormund & Jon as described below.

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII     "Might be all a skin o' lies." Tormund scratched under his beard. "If I had me a nice goose quill and a pot o' maester's ink, I could write down that me member was long and thick as me arm, wouldn't make it so."    "He has Lightbringer. He talks of heads upon the walls of Winterfell. He knows about the spearwives and their number." He knows about Mance Rayder. "No. There is truth in there."/

Does the line, "No. There is truth in there" translate to Jon believes the entire content of the letter true or that the letter is partially true?

Since you and I agree that the letter was to force Jon to take action, perhaps you are correct that the authorship of the letter matters not.

As Nevets mentioned the ride to WF from CB is approximately two weeks at a steady pace in good weather. Throw in a snow storm that has wreaked havoc on WF, Stannis's crofter village and CB. That implies that no one, not even Bolton, is traveling anywhere at break neck speed.

Who would want to motivate Jon to go to WF? Usual suspects are Ramsey or Roose, Stannis, Mance & Umber working with one of three maesters at WF, or perhaps a group of NW men?    I dunna know because there is an attempt on Jon's life and the story cliff-hangs.

It's been a few years since martin released the preview Theon chapter that describes what is going on at Stannis' camp.   If I am remembering correctly that chapter was meant to be in DwD with its placement in the book prior to the chapter when Jon receives the dastardly PL/bastard letter.

 

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14 minutes ago, Lady Winter Rose said:

Then Theon was executed by Stannis or Asha saved Theon somehow. I sincerly believe Stannis was defeated.

How can Theon have been executed and then “saved somehow”? 

I disagree, Stannis wasn’t defeated. But that’s another discussion. 

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I think the purpose of the letter was to have Jon bestir himself, something that Stannis has been trying to do since he got to the Wall and was stonewalled on at every turn. 

Whoever wrote the letter, though, knows what Jon is about.

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose

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1 minute ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

I think the purpose of the letter was to have Jon bestir himself, something that Stannis has been trying to do since he got to the Wall and was stonewalled on at every turn. 

I think the discussion about the PL would be completely different if the Theon sample chapter for Winds had been included at Theon III in ADWD.

Which one is Theon III? I’m confused...

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