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three-eyed monkey

Please explain Ramsay and the Pink Letter.

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33 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

If Stannis wins there is no real reason for Stannis or anyone else to taunt Jon. (because that is the purpose of the letter no matter who wrote it - to goad and taunt Jon into leaving CB)

I agree with you on the purprose of the letter. But Stannis does have reason to goad Jon into breaking his vows and coming to Winterfell. It would benefit him greatly, and therefore he has motive, based on the principle of Cui Bono.

36 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

Another strong reason for me and one that a lot of people overlook is the language used. Take away all the blood, skin, seal that wasn't there and look at the words used and how they are put together. False king, magic sword, red whore, King-beyond-the-wall, Mance Rayder, wildling princess, little prince, wildling babe, Black Crows.
Take away the fact that all of those are things that Mance is explicitly aware of. He uses words that Ramsay or Stannis would not use or at least not if they for some reason roleplayed as a Wildling. 

I certainly don't overlook the language used, it is a large part of my argument. But every time we discuss this I find there a number of common myths that have to be repeatedly dismissed about wildling language.

False King - "A green boy," said Stannis, "and another false king. Am I to accept a broken realm?"

Magic sword - Stannis gave a derisive snort. "It glimmers prettily, I'll grant you, but on the Blackwater this magic sword served me no better than any common steel.

Red whore - never used before, unless I'm mistaken?

King beyond the wall - Stannis talking to Jon: "I mean to. I'll burn him, and the north will see how I deal with turncloaks and traitors. I have other men to lead the wildlings. And I have Rayder's son, do not forget. Once the father dies, his whelp will be the King-Beyond-the-Wall."

Mance Rayder - "Whilst your brothers have been struggling to decide who shall lead them, I have been speaking with this Mance Rayder." He ground his teeth.

Wildling Princess - "Good," King Stannis said, "for the surest way to seal a new alliance is with a marriage. I mean to wed my Lord of Winterfell to this wildling princess."

Little prince - Is used by Mel, Jaime, Sansa, Sam, Gilly, and some members of the Watch. Stannis does not use this phrase, but neither does Ramsay or Mance. Stannis does refer to the wildling babe as a prince. "Poor fare for a prince … but better than whore's milk, aye."

Wildling babe - never used before, unless I am mistaken?

Black crows - this one is used by wildlings, and it is used by Mance. But whether it is exclusively a wildling term is open to debate. Yoren is called a crow and a black bird in the Riverlands. A crow would naturally be black and the black bird would naturally refer to a crow. So I think it is safe to assume that it is simply a derogatory name for members of the Watch, which would explain why it is used more widely by wildlings.

So the language of the letter is not removed from Stannis at all. In fact in most of the cases you mentioned we have examples of Stannis using the term but no examples of Ramsay or Mance using the term. They are the facts, make what you will of them.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

snip snap

How would it benefit a victorious Stannis (I believe that was your position on this theory earlier) to lie to Jon, have him break his vows under false pretense, come to Winterfell and find out it was all a lie. Politically Jon would now be even more useless to him in the eyes of the realm. Jon broke his vows, arrived at a conquered Winterfell and made a fool of himself. 
I would be more inclined to believe Stannis as the author if he lost the battle, because the letter is very clearly a desperate attempt to taunt Jon into leaving.

And I'll agree with Stannis potentially using similar language. He does have a very blunt demeanor in that he likes to call things what they are so it wouldn't be a huge leap to assume it was him. However, in context, Mance as the author makes more thematic sense when it comes to language used and context. 

We can get into breaking down the words and language of the letter if you want, but I am more interested in the earlier question - how does Stannis benefit from this if he wins the battle?

2 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

Can I be annoying and ask who collaborates to send the raven? Whoresbane or one of the three WF Maesters? If the latter, clearly another lord/lady is helping - who please? Just trying to flesh out all the variants of all the theories, that's all, otherwise we keep going in circles.

I don't see how this is important. You are asking me to speculate with no evidence on who Mance could have convinced, blackmailed, bribed, threatened to help send a raven assuming he even needed help. This doesn't help flesh out the theory. The theory does not hinge on the detail of who might have helped him send a raven to CB.

Edited by MostlyMoody

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Posted (edited)

I'll go a little further on the use of language and talk about text-to-text connections within the novel, as that is the perfectly valid basis of the argument above.

Simple example first:

1) Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf in the woods and tells him she is going to Grandma's cottage. She delays along the way to pick some flowers. Later, she arrives at the cottage and finds Grandma bundled up in her bed. "O what big ears you have! O what big eyes you have! O what big teeth you have!" Out jumps the wolf. She screams. In rushes the woodcutter to save the day.

2) Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf with big ears, big eyes, and big teeth in the woods and tells him she is going to Grandma's cottage. She delays along the way to pick some flowers and hears trees being chopped nearby. Later, she arrives at the cottage and finds Grandma bundled up in her bed. "O what big ears you have! O what big eyes you have! O what big teeth you have!" Out jumps the wolf. She screams. In rushes the woodcutter to save the day.

It really is a simple example, apologies, but people are free to decide which of the above works better and why. The difference is that there are more connections in the second passage. Some are direct word connections like big ears, big eyes, and big teeth. Some are indirect like the sound of trees being chopped and the arrival of the woodcutter. The attentive reader is rewarded with seeing the drama as it unfolds thanks to the words "big ears", while another reader is surprised when the wolf jumps out. And the sudden intervention of the woodcutter is made more plausible, because the reader remembers Red heard him work as she picked flowers. So these connections add a lot to the story in my opinion.

ASoIaF is full of such connections, so let me apply this to the Pink Letter.

I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.

We can connect this to other pieces of text.

"Melisandre swears that she has seen me in her flames, facing the dark with Lightbringer raised on high. Lightbringer!"

Which connects to:

"Would you know if the king was dead?" Jon asked the red priestess.

"He is not dead. Stannis is the Lord's chosen, destined to lead the fight against the dark. I have seen it in the flames, read of it in ancient prophecy."

Which makes me believe the line is from Stannis to his red whore, which is a fitting term for Mel from Stannis' point of view considering their sexual relationship which is hardly a romantic one. And the purpose of the line is to make Mel question the letter, privately, and understand it is a lie.

EDIT:

Btw, that is only the first line of the letter. My point is we can find these connections to Stannis and Theon throughout the letter, such as the wildling princess, or I want my bride and I want my Reek.

A few we can also connect to other candidates, such as Mance who uses the term for all the world to see, or Mel who uses the term false king. But there are very few we can connect to Ramsay. The cloak of skins is one but we must remember that Mance and Theon were present when he said it so it could connect to them to, given any forger would be trying to imitate Ramsay.

Edited by three-eyed monkey

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11 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

How would it benefit a victorious Stannis (I believe that was your position on this theory earlier) to lie to Jon, have him break his vows under false pretense, come to Winterfell and find out it was all a lie.

Why would he find out it was a lie? Stannis certainly wouldn't tell him.

The benefit of having Jon sworn to him would be huge and is well established in the novel, and mostly in Stannis own words. If Stannis was free to choose whatever Lords of Winterfell he wanted, who do you think he would choose?

21 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

Politically Jon would now be even more useless to him in the eyes of the realm. Jon broke his vows, arrived at a conquered Winterfell and made a fool of himself. 

No, Jon went to make a monster who makes cloaks from the skins of women to answer for his words and found Stannis got there first.

23 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

I would be more inclined to believe Stannis as the author if he lost the battle, because the letter is very clearly a desperate attempt to taunt Jon into leaving.

If Stannis loses the battle he's done. I doubt he could even retreat to Deepwood without being hunted down. But I don't think he will lose the battle thanks to the lakes and I think he will gain Winterfell using the Karstarks.

25 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

And I'll agree with Stannis potentially using similar language. He does have a very blunt demeanor in that he likes to call things what they are so it wouldn't be a huge leap to assume it was him. However, in context, Mance as the author makes more thematic sense when it comes to language used and context. 

We can get into breaking down the words and language of the letter if you want,

Please do.

I'll agree with some of the language being somewhat reminiscent of Mance. And as I believe the letter was sent after Stannis had taken Winterfell then I can't really rule out Mance being involved, regardless of whether he ended up in a cage or in the crypts. But as I have said, if this is the case then Mance would have his own agenda regarding Jon, unbeknownst to Stannis.

 

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The letter not being wet is another nod to my idea that the original was taken by the mutineers and Rewritten to fit their ends.

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11 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Why would he find out it was a lie? Stannis certainly wouldn't tell him.

The benefit of having Jon sworn to him would be huge and is well established in the novel, and mostly in Stannis own words. If Stannis was free to choose whatever Lords of Winterfell he wanted, who do you think he would choose?

The letter states a few 'facts' -  Stannis is dead, his army is gone, his friends are dead, their heads are up on the wall, Mance is in a cage cloaked in skins. 
Stannis would certainly not tell him, but there are a lot of hard questions Stannis would be getting from Jon who arrives to a completely opposite situation at Winterfell than he was lead to believe. Which means Stannis put his own supposed plan in jeopardy from the get go.
The reason this goes against your theory is that yours ascribes that Stannis needs Jons loyalty and have him unite the North, whereas Mance doesn't care about that and wants his army of Wildlings to come to his aid (beside whatever else he is planning).
To answer your other question, I think Stannis would choose someone who didn't refuse him once already, who he doesn't see as too honorable and who wouldn't have to be manipulated with extravagant lies to do what he wanted.

53 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

If Stannis loses the battle he's done. I doubt he could even retreat to Deepwood without being hunted down. But I don't think he will lose the battle thanks to the lakes and I think he will gain Winterfell using the Karstarks.

There are many things that can happen if Stannis looses. He can die, he can be captured, he can pull a Trojan horse on Winterfell and sneak in. 
Stannis theory works much better if we assume that he loses the battle. It explains the desperate manner of the letter, as opposed to a victorious Stannis who has more time (relatively) to plan and make alliances without resorting to desperate ruses.

 

58 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Please do.

False King - Parallel to the burning of 'Mance' when he is called the False King and declared dead by Stannis. Mance writes the letter declaring Stannis dead and calls him false king. Poetic and in-character.

Whore, bastard - Repeated ad-nauseum. Much more reminiscent of how Mance talks rather than Stannis. 

Black Crows - a term used exclusively by Wildlings in the books.

Cut out and eat your heart - a threat more akin to Mance rather than Stannis or Ramsay. I believe he even makes a similar threat in an earlier book or chapter.

Red Witch - I am not sure if Stannis ever refers to Melisandre as the Red Witch. I am inclined to say he would chastise people for doing that. But Mance calls her that all the time.

Cloak of Skin - Mance specifically overhears Ramsay saying that he will flay a man and make a cloak of skin out of them. Not a far fetch to assume Ramsay would do something like that, but we have a specific line making a specific threat that Mance overhears.

"Burned the man he had to burn for all the world to see."
- and
"I have him in a cage for all the North to see."
Another reference to Mance's burning.

The only name (apart from the signature of course) is Mance Rayder. His full name. Why?
If it is Mance the reason is very simple - Pride. Perhaps subconscious, but pride nevertheless. To sign off on your own fake letter in a sneaky way.

Other things like the only colors referenced red and black (Mance's cloak) and the structure of some sentences/patterns of speech like ending off your sentences with ", bastard." etc. -  small things but together with my above points amount to a pretty good language evidence to Mance as the author.

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Just now, Impbread said:

The letter not being wet is another nod to my idea that the original was taken by the mutineers and Rewritten to fit their ends.

I have to agree that Theon drawing our attention to the wet letter at Winterfell is probably significant. I'm not sure what to say on that, I'll wait until @bemused posts her thoughts. But if it is the case then my position is that the original came from Stannis and the wording is still very close to the original.

I'm not sure what redrafting does to the argument about blood ink and skin etc. If the original was in blood or included a piece of skin then we might expect the new draft to be in blood and the piece of skin inserted. @Nevets makes a similar point about Stannis and the huge spiky hand signature on the Deepwood letter and it is a very good objectiont. My only response to that objection is that we don't know if Stannis saw the letter, had the letter read to him, or was told about it.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, MostlyMoody said:
5 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

Can I be annoying and ask who collaborates to send the raven? Whoresbane or one of the three WF Maesters? If the latter, clearly another lord/lady is helping - who please? Just trying to flesh out all the variants of all the theories, that's all, otherwise we keep going in circles.

I don't see how this is important. You are asking me to speculate with no evidence on who Mance could have convinced, blackmailed, bribed, threatened to help send a raven assuming he even needed help. This doesn't help flesh out the theory. The theory does not hinge on the detail of who might have helped him send a raven to CB.

In the case of this theory, you are indeed right that you do not need to flesh out further details since Mance clearly has the means to send the letter (with 4 potential raven handlers present). Your theory comes down more to motive and big picture fitting into themes, individual story arcs and reader satisfaction.

1. For most theories though, IMO it's valid to ask for details, as some fall down purely due to infeasibility, or require multiple characters in different locations to have shared information etc.

2. Also, there are different variants that assume different events to have happened (you did mention yours)

3. Finally, it is fun to see if the scenario assumed links up with other theories. e.g. Mance working with Whoresbane, in the light of the text alluding to the possibility Rowan might be an Umber, links into a GNC theory.

Poor 3EM was mercilessly forced to flesh his theory out, which I guess is partly why we're on Page 15 :)

He's proved that it's viable though, the hurdle for Ramsay and Mance being clearly lower.

 

Edited by Ser Hedge
Bloody Google keyboard app

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5 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

I just happen to be on the side of the argument that thinks Jon has been in a completely impossible situation right from when Qhorin asks him to break his vows in order to keep them. Stannis showing up at CB is an extension of this conflict, but that's just one view, of course. Will stop on that topic here to avoid derailment of this thread.

I agree with this. I will just add that I called his decisions "mistakes" from a political point of view. From a human point of view he's doing the right things, or the very least he's doing some things because as a human being he can't help himself. He's facing some dire and unusual circumstances from with a system that is not suited for them, so he has to either act from outside the system or knowingly let some very bad things follow their course. There's a subtle yet strong parallel with Jaime in here.

6 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

Smear Vs button (of pink wax) brings into play CB interference on top of an original letter (but if the original letter was from CV, then I wouldn't be very happy, but that just might be me) - of course this might just be opening the letter and reading it, but why is it not wet, there is just so much in here!

That's a very likely scenario that I hadn't really thought of before. I explained the smear by Ramsay not having access to the seal and/or being in a hurry to send the letter, but someone from Castle Black reading it before it was delivered to Jon is also a strong possibility. This would have given the plotters a little bit of extra time to gauge the situation and prepare.

5 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

It's just a discussion and we are free to disagree. It's a good debate. A recent reddit poll put Ramsay at 48% and Stannis at 11% so I expect a lot of disagreement. But I can only put forward my case as best I can and maybe give some people something to think about. My interest is not in any particular theory or character but in analysis of the story we all love. And when someone presents an objection that I can't fairly get around, like the raven from the crofters village, then I am happy to accept I was wrong and change my position accordingly.

I think you presented your case admirably, it's just that the Ramsay theory is a lot more convincing to me. Part of it is bias, since my Exodus theory requires the story in the North to flip a page quickly and proceed with the Others, but even without that I would still favor Ramsay.

The main goal to me is to try and solve the puzzle... all of the puzzle. I'm sure even in this opinions will differ greatly because people expect have different ideas on what is required for wrapping up the story in a satisfying way. To me, it is paramount for the overall integrity of the series not to leave behind "filler" story lines, and I had a revelation some two years ago when I tried to math out the remaining chapters from Winds and Dance (inspired by a discussion on these forums) and I realized just how little narrative space there is left to wrap everything up.

This is why in this situation, where in my opinion the straightforward scenario I proposed (Ramsay writing the letter a short while before Stannis takes the castle by guile) resolves all the related character arcs in a satisfactory manner and allows the story to move on ahead quickly (the chaos at Castle Black providing a perfect moment for the Others to breach the Wall), I am reluctant to accept alternatives that either prolong the story or risk being classified as filler.

But ultimately we will see when George finishes writing. When the Exodus is confirmed, look for the shameless thread in which I proclaim myself a genius. I won't hold it against you if you come there to criticize George! :D If you are right I'll do the same... and maybe congratulate you as well.:cheers:

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5 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

The letter states a few 'facts' -  Stannis is dead, his army is gone, his friends are dead, their heads are up on the wall, Mance is in a cage cloaked in skins. 
Stannis would certainly not tell him, but there are a lot of hard questions Stannis would be getting from Jon who arrives to a completely opposite situation at Winterfell than he was lead to believe. Which means Stannis put his own supposed plan in jeopardy from the get go.

Every plan involves risk. Stannis would say he tricked the Boltons into thinking he was dead and defeated and then took the castle by surprise. Therefore, Ramsay must have written it sometime after being deceived but before he was killed. That said, if Stannis did write the letter, as I believe, then I suspect the truth will come out at some stage. There are clues there for Jon to work with. Wildling princess is something that should stick in his mind in relation to Stannis. A discrepancy in signatures possibly another. And there are people who would know, Theon, a measter perhaps, even Mance. Someone always tells, right?

22 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

The reason this goes against your theory is that yours ascribes that Stannis needs Jons loyalty and have him unite the North, whereas Mance doesn't care about that and wants his army of Wildlings to come to his aid (beside whatever else he is planning).

I don't think that's what Mance wants. He has more vision than that. He needs to join the north, not fight the north and the Others at the same time. He told Jon his people have bled enough so I don't see him wanting conflict with anyone other than the real enemy.

And while Stannis is offering those terms, Stannis is not someone the free folk would choose to follow. Jon on the other hand is someone the free folk would follow and someone the north would follow, making him the only person that could easily unite both factions.

So I believe the Mance Plan is basically the Stannis Plan without Stannis, and far more aligned to the goal of the pro-Stark northern lords, who are also planning to eliminate both Stannis and the Boltons in the their own endgame.

42 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

To answer your other question, I think Stannis would choose someone who didn't refuse him once already, who he doesn't see as too honorable and who wouldn't have to be manipulated with extravagant lies to do what he wanted.

And who would that be?

44 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

There are many things that can happen if Stannis looses. He can die, he can be captured, he can pull a Trojan horse on Winterfell and sneak in. 
Stannis theory works much better if we assume that he loses the battle. It explains the desperate manner of the letter, as opposed to a victorious Stannis who has more time (relatively) to plan and make alliances without resorting to desperate ruses.

Personally, I don't see the point of him writing the letter if he loses so we'll just have to disagree.

47 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

False King - Parallel to the burning of 'Mance' when he is called the False King and declared dead by Stannis. Mance writes the letter declaring Stannis dead and calls him false king. Poetic and in-character.

I'll accept that.

50 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

Whore, bastard - Repeated ad-nauseum. Much more reminiscent of how Mance talks rather than Stannis. 

Whore is used once in reference to Mel. I think that's fitting from Stannis given their relationship

Bastard is fitting with the tone of the letter and the purpose of the letter, which is clearly aimed at antagonizing Jon.

And remember, Stannis is not trying to sound like himself, even if it slips in now and again like in the case of wildling princess.

55 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

Black Crows - a term used exclusively by Wildlings in the books.

I've argued why I don't believe it is an exclusive wildling term. Yoren is called a crow by a knight in the Riverlands. Crows are naturally black. It's just a derogatory term.

58 minutes ago, MostlyMoody said:

Cut out and eat your heart - a threat more akin to Mance rather than Stannis or Ramsay. I believe he even makes a similar threat in an earlier book or chapter.

Cutting your hear out is a common threat in the series. Blackfish says it to Jaime. Sandor says it of Gregor. Mance does say it of Jon. And Jon himself thinks the Magnar might do it to Ygritte.

1 hour ago, MostlyMoody said:

Red Witch - I am not sure if Stannis ever refers to Melisandre as the Red Witch. I am inclined to say he would chastise people for doing that. But Mance calls her that all the time.

Cersei refers to her as red witch, so does Lord Wyman's wife. Mance does. And Tormund does.

1 hour ago, MostlyMoody said:

Cloak of Skin - Mance specifically overhears Ramsay saying that he will flay a man and make a cloak of skin out of them. Not a far fetch to assume Ramsay would do something like that, but we have a specific line making a specific threat that Mance overhears.

And remember it is from Theon's point of view so he also overhears. To be fair this is the one thing in the letter we know Ramsay would say. But I agree it comes from someone who heard it.

1 hour ago, MostlyMoody said:

"Burned the man he had to burn for all the world to see."
- and
"I have him in a cage for all the North to see."
Another reference to Mance's burning.

Which was orchestrated by Stannis.

1 hour ago, MostlyMoody said:

The only name (apart from the signature of course) is Mance Rayder. His full name. Why?
If it is Mance the reason is very simple - Pride. Perhaps subconscious, but pride nevertheless. To sign off on your own fake letter in a sneaky way.

Or it could simply say Mance Rayder because it is talking about Mance Rayder.

1 hour ago, MostlyMoody said:

Other things like the only colors referenced red and black (Mance's cloak) and the structure of some sentences/patterns of speech like ending off your sentences with ", bastard." etc. -  small things but together with my above points amount to a pretty good language evidence to Mance as the author.

I accept there are some things that relate to Mance, not many that are exclusive to him, but still a decent case for him. But the same can be said for Stannis. As I said, I think there is room for Mance to be involved, for reasons I stated above.

 

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Posted (edited)

EDITED: I was trying to mention Rickon Stark, but someone already beat me to it. Nevermind. Here is my post anyways:

Something to think about for Team Stannis:

If Stannis wanted Jon to be the Warden of the North after Stannis wins the battle ... what about Rickon Stark? Jon is a bastard, but Rickon is trueborn. He is young, but it is good enough to have the real "Stark" name.

If Stannis wins against the Boltons, he would have received help from the Manderlys in setting up the Trojan horse. After the victory, the Manderlys admit that they faked Davos's execution and sent him to fetch Rickon Stark.

Edited by The Map Guy
Rickon was already mentioned in this thread

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1 hour ago, The Map Guy said:

EDITED: I was trying to mention Rickon Stark, but someone already beat me to it. Nevermind. Here is my post anyways:

Something to think about for Team Stannis:

If Stannis wanted Jon to be the Warden of the North after Stannis wins the battle ... what about Rickon Stark? Jon is a bastard, but Rickon is trueborn. He is young, but it is good enough to have the real "Stark" name. 

If Stannis wins against the Boltons, he would have received help from the Manderlys in setting up the Trojan horse. After the victory, the Manderlys admit that they faked Davos's execution and sent him to fetch Rickon Stark.

Even if Stannis knew about Rickon, a legitimized Jon Stark would be a better option. Stannis knows Jon is loyal and honorable and not afraid to take a man's head if needs be.

The big issue with Rickon is that he is not of age so there would be a question of regency. The regent would effectively be the Lord of Winterfell until Rickon came of age, and Stannis would have to choose that regent using much the same criteria as choosing a Lord of Winterfell.

Having a Manderly or Umber rule in the name of Rickon Stark would certainly be better than having a Manderly or Umber rule. A direwolf over Winterfell would lend to stability more than a merman or a giant. But still, effective rule would belong to the regent. If that regent was say a Manderly then there might be disgruntled Umbers or Ryswells who consider challenging the regency. I think it could get messy and any such potential threat to stability would not arise so easily if Winterfell was ruled by Jon Stark. I would think that any of the houses in the north are far more likely to challenge each other than they are to challenge a Stark.

So for me, Jon is still the better choice but with news of Jon's death it would naturally shift towards Rickon.

 

With regard to the Manderly forces en route to the Battle of Ice.

They obviously have bad blood with the Freys. Lord Wyman urged Hosteen to march against Stannis and said he would follow but Hosteen replied, aye close enough to put a knife in their backs. It then came to blows where Lord Wyman was sliced. Theon knew the fight would go no further in front of Roose, but outside it might be different. Roose gave the order for both forces to muster at separate gates. The Freys have 500 knights and over 1000 foot including archers. Manderly brought around 300, a hundred of whom were knights. Some will have to remain with Lord Wyman. Roose knows their loyalty is uncertain, to put it mildly, and would be glad to see the back of them. Hosteen thinks they had a part to play in Walder's murder.

I think under normal circumstances we would expect the smaller Manderly force to be set upon by the Freys once they are out in the field. The additional factor is that we know Lord Wyman has 10,000 heavy cavalry but we don't know where they are. Some suspect they are nearby under the command of Robett Glover but there's not much evidence to support it other than missing Bolton scouts which may be down to Crowfood, or Theon hearing warhorns sounding far to the north when Crowfood is thought to be west.

So I think it's hard to predict what will happen with the Manderly forces. It's also hard to know who other than Lord Manderly and Robett Glover knows about Rickon. There would be others, I'm sure, but maybe not the rank and file soldiers.

And finally, if Stannis does try to use them in a trojan horse maneuver then it may alert Roose if he was not expecting them to return.

 

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20 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Ha. A merciless piss take and 12 pints it shall be then, if I'm wrong

Not quite... a merciless piss taking and 12 pints regardless of who will be proven right. Only difference is who will be taking the piss and who will be picking up the bar tab. :D

I'm happy you and @The Coconut God (and others) were able to comprehend my post despite the typos and missing words and stuff. :blushing:

10 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

If anything it's a list of how there could be more story

Couldn’t possibly agree more. 

 

It seems I can’t quote from a 3rd post for whatever reason. But I also agree enthusiastically w/ what you said irt Stannis “breaking before he bends”. We have actually seen him bend since Donal Noye said that. Just b/c he’s not a PoV doesn’t mean there’ll be no character development for Stannis. ;)

 

 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, MostlyMoody said:

How would it benefit a victorious Stannis (I believe that was your position on this theory earlier) to lie to Jon, have him break his vows under false pretense, come to Winterfell and find out it was all a lie.

Because by coming there Jon has cast the die and is trapped into joining Stannis' regime.  He can no longer refuse winterfell or pretend to walk the high ground morality he just lost.  The choice will then be do you want winterfell or nothing (death as a deserter).

My problem is i envision the letter would only be writ by stan on the ice lake during the desperation of his rhyme of the ancient mariner chapter when all was bleak starvation, that's when he'd crack ethically, not after winning winterfell.  But stan on the pre-victory ice wouldn't demand his family come to a likely death.  So for me there's no golden hour for stan to have written it.  And I don't believe the secret red whore code to Mel is worth jack.

.....Enter Mance.   If stan is frustrated after victory because the future of winterfell isn't secure until Jon takes up the Stark name, he could fall under the sway of Mance's mind with its freedom to suggest things stan normally wouldn't consider.  Lying in print, por ejemplo.  And Mance supplies the expert knowledge of how to pry a man from his nightswatch vows.  And after all stan's attempts failed and he had no more ideas of his own, he may listen.... but again this isn't when stan would crack and act on mance's crazy letter suggestion.  Stan, victorious, would be himself again.  He'd be tempted to deceive Jon but would not give in to temptation.  He'd have Mance spanked in the cage, and he'd stew some more.

So if Mance is alive at all, and the letter got sent as Mance wanted, I fear Mance is in control and the chaos option is being played, not the Stan vision of the future.   Because it certainly played out chaotically at the wall thanks to the letter, and i feel that WAS its design.  It achieved the destabilizing effect we saw On Purpose.   That's not an impossible level of foresight.  All it takes is someone who intimately knows the bind Jon is in:  Mance.  Alliser.   I guess i'm refusing to be held in check by this shit about Winterfell not knowing the wildling army was at castle black.   Mance knew Jon.  Knew his heart.  He could surmise.  And once triggered by the letter, Jon would get that army south of the wall himself if need be.  Mance is fishing for a wildling army to arrive and hold winterfell, to secede from the seven kingdoms, to be the unkneeling king in the north.  If Jon arrives at the head of the crazy train, Jon becomes that king.  If not, then Mance.  So the time may have come for Mance to care less about Jon surviving the letter's fallout.

(My love of Alliser as co-author is because that's the kind of obscure forger the George would try for, because not so obvious as stan or mance.   That's why i say the outcome of the war was different than the letter says (we have concensus on that at least), but the original letter told it true, and that wasn't what the wall conspirators wanted to read, so they changed it to the final version we saw, all to hang Jon and rid the wall of traitorous kingsmen. 

Shit.  Maybe the wrong bird was used and it flew to Alliser instead of castle black!   Or it was the only bird they had left, forcing them to trust Alliser to forward the letter for them... and he fucked them hard!

 

Edited by The Mother of The Others

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6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

And finally, if Stannis does try to use them in a trojan horse maneuver then it may alert Roose if he was not expecting them to return.

Don't forget that Stannis is aware that Boltons know their last positions on a map, thanks to Maester Tybald.

Also, Stannis discovered the Karstark betrayal, and the Boltons don't know that yet.

Bit by bit, Stannis has a little advantage here and there ... but will it be enough to take Winterfell? Perhaps a complex Trojan horse maneuver. We'll see.

Of course this requires the Pink Letter to be false.

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2 hours ago, The Map Guy said:

Bit by bit, Stannis has a little advantage here and there ... but will it be enough to take Winterfell? Perhaps a complex Trojan horse maneuver. We'll see.

I will be extremely curious to see how this plays out.

Manderleys return in strength, with no Freys: Suspicious, going to be watched closely when they enter

Freys with no Manderleys: This is the expected scenario (from a Bolton perspective), but shouldn't Frey banners, surcoats etc be at the bottom of a frozen lake?

Karstarks with a sprinkling of Freys: Realistic from a Bolton scenario, should not arouse immediate suspicion, but the attack obviously needs to start immediately, since the Freys are not Freys and the Karstark nobility imposters will not survive tea with Lady Dustin.

It can still be a pretty bloody battle unless more lords inside WF turn their cloaks. Actually I would think some communication with GNC collaborators would have occurred prior to entry, with Stannis using information from those Manderleys that survived their skirmish with the Freys, or any survivors of Crowfood's band to communicate, because I think GNC collaborators were communicating with the outside world via wall climbers.

I agree though there is potential for the Stannis story to continue, and it will all be in the North, with Dragonstone and Storm's End lost or soon to be lost. The battles of the lake and WF have the potential to seriously degrade what's left of his southron army and the sellswords aren't coming any time soon, so his new northern bannermen will hold all the cards.

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9 minutes ago, Ser Hedge said:

I will be extremely curious to see how this plays out.

Me too. My mind is running through so many tactical scenarios, and I think I have a good one. But it is missing one link: communication between Stannis and the secret allies before any actual fighting. I guess we just gotta wait for TWOW.

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Posted (edited)

Omigod.. sort of caught up, but too many quotes to deal with. I'm just going to flag a few people I think might be interested, or that I would have quoted ... @three-eyed monkey ... @kissdbyfire ... @The Coconut God ... @Impbread .. and what the hell, anyone else;)

It's not only important what is said in the letter, but the way it's said. Though we can't actually hear tone or inflection, I think we can discern them if we look closely.

Whore : I'll correct myself from the last page - the letter speaks of his (Stannis') red whore, not Jon's ,but I don't think that makes much difference. This is the only time the term appears. We never see Ramsay use the word whore as an insult to or about anyone (even in reference to the hated Lady Dustin) We don't see Mance use it as an insult to or about anyone.

We have seen Stannis use it, mysoginistically victim-blaming Gilly (goat's milk is better than whore's milk) when he learns of the incest forced on her by Craster. However, I don't think Stannis would use "whore" to describe Mel, even when hiding his identity. She's not just a sexual object to him, and to equate Mel with a whore would be to equate himself with Robert. Stannis prides himself in being a different sort of man.(Yet I think Stannis wrote the original letter.) ... Last but not least, Thorne refers to Ygritte as an “unwashed whore” in (to me) the same sneering way that the letter uses “red whore”.

Bastard: I believe if Stannis has used it, it would have been matter-of-factly (I can think of no instance where he hurls it as an epithet at anyone). ... Ramsay uses it once in reference to his horse, but while telling Theon to take care of it... "Just see to Blood. I rode the bastard hard."...so, not in a cruel or insulting way. ... Mance uses it to Jon many times, but without hatred behind it. He's reminding Jon of their first conversation and Jon's supposed reason for joining him (rubbing it in a bit, but not smearing him).   ... Disguised as Rattleshirt, he's trying to hint to Jon about his own real identity so that Jon can make use of him in the way Jon and Stannis discussed. ,,, But Thorne uses bastard about and to Jon freely and dripping with contempt. The same "tone" is clear in the letter.

I found it really informative to compare the letter to the scene where Thorne and Slynt question Jon in ASOS, Jon IX. I think there is a discernible pattern in the tactics and desired result common to both. (And if not for the presence of Maester Aemon, Thorne would likely have succeeded in getting Jon executed in the first instance.)

We can tell that Thorne has been working away at Slynt, encouraging his resentment of Ned and projecting it onto Jon, fueling Slynt's pre-judgement with his own hatred and false accusations. Slynt confirms this when he says, “Ser Alliser had your measure true enough, it seems.” .. and we know that Thorne continued doing much the same with Bowen and others up until Jon sent him ranging.

In both the interrogation and the PL there's an attempt to implicate Jon in the deeds of others: letter - “Your false king lied and so did you, You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.” ... interrogation - “Lord Snow is nothing if not arrogant,” said Ser Alliser. “He murdered Qhorin just as his fellow turncloaks did Lord Mormont. It would not surprise me to learn that it was all part of the same fell plot. ...”

Both cases are marked by repeated insults and goading until, in the case of the interrogation , Jon does react by choking Thorne, which Thorne then uses to try to prove his case (that Jon did indeed turn his cloak)... “You see for yourselves, brothers. The boy is a wildling.” Of course , thanks to Aemon, the plan falls short of success.

I believe the plan has not succeeded with the PL either, since I don't think Jon is dead, or even "mostly dead". But I'll leave that aside, for now. (And I'll leave aside the suicide mission which is in many ways dissimilar, although Jon realises that Thorne is the brains behind that plan, too.)

I think the plan that was being formulated was to kill Jon on his ranging to Hardhome ( a fate Thorne accused Jon of planning for him). The danger to Jon is hinted at a number of times and I think the conspirators were set to make sure of it. However the ranging would be dangerous for their agents too ... as well as for any brothers who were not in on the plot. With the arrival of the letter, the chance to get John to go to WF instead would be safer for them (and must have seemed like a gift.) It would just take some of Alliser's tried and true tweaking.

BUT... one of the recurring themes running through our story is - no matter how carefully laid a plan is, someone is likely going to throw a spanner in the works. Jon's decision to take only wildlings and the wildlings' rousing willingness to be led by him are a couple of really weighty spanners. Hence the rushed (and I believe botched) assassination attempt.

So I think Stannis wrote the original letter (disguised as Ramsay) intending to warn Jon to try to scoop up Arya's party (which includes Tycho, bearing Stannis' hope of help from Braavos) and to warn Jon to protect CB against Ramsay.

I agree that Stannis has a Trojan Horse plan and I expect he will win his battle at the crofters' village . I expect Ramsay will follow the Freys and Manderlys after giving them a good head start. Roose wouldn't want to risk his own men (or as few as possible) but they do need to retrieve "Arya".

I just think there are spanners (at least one major one) in Stannis' future , but I've beaten my fingers up enough for one night. I'll elaborate tomorrow.

Edited by bemused

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

Karstarks with a sprinkling of Freys: Realistic from a Bolton scenario, should not arouse immediate suspicion, but the attack obviously needs to start immediately, since the Freys are not Freys and the Karstark nobility imposters will not survive tea with Lady Dustin.

This is the scenario I see if things do go well for Stannis.

Theon: The Frey men wore the badge of the two towers, those from White Harbor displayed merman and trident. They shouldered through the storm in opposite directions and eyed each other warily as they passed, but no swords were drawn. Not here. It may be different out there in the woods.

I think it's very likely the White Harbor contingent from Winterfell, probably 200-300 men depending on how many stay with Lord Wyman, will be attacked by the Freys, based on events in Winterfell, most notably the murder of Walder Frey. Suspicions fell on White Harbor, just as they had with the three missing Freys. Hosteen Frey is a hot-headed character who openly declared he would be back to finish Wyman once he was done with Stannis, and that implies killing Wyman's whole contingent. Out in the woods he will outnumber the Mandelry force by five or six to one.

Ser Hosteen Frey pushed to his feet. "We should ride forth to meet them. Why allow them to combine their strength?"

That was Ser Hosteen talking about Crowfood and Arnolf Karstark riding to join Stannis, before he knew Karstark was with Roose. It makes sense for Ser Hosteen to deal with the Manderlys before they get to the crofters village, so to avoid the potential risk of them siding with Stannis during the battle, for the sake of their own preservation if nothing else. Based on that, I think it's reasonable to suggest the White Harbor men may not be at the battle of ice.

We know the Freys will be there, under the banners of the Twins and King Tommen and after dealing with Crowfood's green boys and greybeards. Even if they arrive at full strength, the will have 500 horse and over 1000 foot. This is one of the things I find odd about the Battle. Stannis is reported to have around 5000. His army is starving and afoot, with his strength diminishing due to the cold count. His Karstark contingent accounts for 400 spears, two score archers, and a dozen mounted lances, which the Freys expect to turn on Stannis during the battle. Even so, the numbers still look unbalanced. Do the Freys think the starving and unhorsed army will be easily destroyed? Or should we expect the Frey's to be bolstered by a Bolton force, possibly commanded by Ramsay? Perhaps a bit of both.

Apparently, Stannis is happy to join battle because he holds the ground. The frozen lakes full of holes are the only significant feature he could be talking about so it stands to reason they will play a part in his unlikely victory. I'm sure some portion of the Frey army will drown in the lakes but I'm not certain the entire army will be swallowed up, so it is possible there will be Frey banners and livery available in the aftermath.

Stannis' next objective is Winterfell.

"And when we arrive before Winterfell?" said Justin Massey. "Two walls with a moat between them, and the inner wall a hundred feet high. Bolton will never march out to face us in the field, and we do not have the provisions to mount a siege."

Stannis needs to take the castle quickly. But he doesn't have the men. Mance thinks an army ten times the size would still not be enough. Some northmen claim they could build rams and towers, but Massey concludes they would only die in their thousands. I think he is right on that score, but he is wrong about Bolton. Roose did send some of his strength against them and Stannis recognized that was a huge blunder because that army, if victorious, will have to return to Winterfell at some stage. So why build a ram when you can have the enemy open the gate?

"You will not take Winterfell!"

"Aye, we will," came a cackle from the high table, where Arnolf Karstark sat with his son Arthor and three grandsons. Lord Arnolf shoved himself up, a vulture rising from its prey. One spotted hand clutched at his son's shoulder for support. "We'll take it for the Ned and for his daughter. Aye, and for the Young Wolf too, him who was so cruelly slaughtered. Me and mine will show the way, if need be."

Need be, there is no if about it. Stannis has very little option.

"Ser Richard, whilst I am breaking fast with Lord Arnolf, you are to disarm his men and take them into custody. Most will be asleep. Do them no harm, unless they resist. It may be they did not know. Question some upon that point... but sweetly. If they had no knowledge of this treachery, they shall have the chance to prove their loyalty."

The Karstarks are commanded by Lord Arnolf and his son Arthor, both currently prisoners of Stannis with their execution for treachery pending. It seems to me that Stannis is well placed to hold the son hostage while the father leads his men to Winterfell, or vice versa. A raven from Tybald to Roose claiming victory would pave the way. They only need to get the gates open and get a foothold in the castle long enough for the rest of the army, under Frey banners, to pour through. An open gate is as good as a breach in the wall. It's Stannis' best shot.

Ha, no need for imposters to have tea with Lady Dustin. And no need to send Stannis sword or random heads ahead. Although we could see the sword being used. If it was being carried by the Karstarks as a trophy, then it would be quite a blinding distraction when unsheathed, as we have seen at the Wall.

Lightbringer was the sun made steel. When Stannis raised the blade above his head, men had to turn their heads or cover their eyes. Horses shied, and one threw his rider. The blaze in the fire pit seemed to shrink before this storm of light, like a small dog cowering before a larger one.

...

He slipped Lightbringer into its scabbard, and the world darkened once again, as if the sun had gone behind a cloud. "Open the gates."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by three-eyed monkey

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6 hours ago, bemused said:

Bastard: I believe if Stannis has used it, it would have been matter-of-factly (I can think of no instance where he hurls it as an epithet at anyone). ...

I see the repeated use of bastard as having a manipulative purpose. Sure, it's an insult, but it is also a fact and one that is repeated so that it sticks. Jon is a bastard, a Stark bastard, while the bastard of Bolton is the Trueborn Lord of Winterfell. It's not just the insult but the injustice. Jon has a strong sense of justice. Stannis has seen it and is trying to use it to his advantage in swaying Jon to act against Ramsay, who he can be sure Jon sees as unworthy of the Stark seat.

6 hours ago, bemused said:

I think the plan that was being formulated was to kill Jon on his ranging to Hardhome ( a fate Thorne accused Jon of planning for him). The danger of this is hinted at a number of times and I think the conspirators were set to make sure of it. However the ranging would be dangerous for their agents too ... as well as for any brothers who were not in on the plot.

I like this a lot. Jon was supposed to go to Hardhome so naturally the conspirators would have been working within that framework. But let me add some thoughts about it, just off the top of my head.

Mance overheard Marsh prattling on about the high ground, and Marsh accused him of spying on their councils. Marsh told Jon that his father always taught him to take the high-ground and win the battle and that there was no higher ground than the Wall. So wouldn't it make sense to leave Jon lead the ranging and then take the high ground, morally (in Bowen's eyes) and militarily, and prevent his return with the wildlings by sealing the tunnels, as Marsh wanted to do?

The big problem is they would be leaving some brothers out there with him. But if the ranging was made up of men loyal to Jon then maybe that would be for the best?

I just feel Marsh's high-ground, the Wall, was part of the conspirators' plan, and that plan was the topic of discussion when Marsh thought Mance was spying. It's just a gut feeling, nothing solid.

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