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three-eyed monkey

Please explain Ramsay and the Pink Letter.

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7 hours ago, bemused said:

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".

Thank you for the insightful post. I like the idea of the PL alerting Jon about 'Arya' on the way. Ramsay hunting his prey seems very characteristic of him as @three-eyed monkey and others have pointed out.

One way the above two and the likelihood that there are no CB ravens in Stannis' baggage train can all be tied together is:

The Freys proceed to CV. 

The Manderleys have either lost their skirmish with the Freys, or did not bother to engage them and headed straight into the Wolfswood, where they are hiding with survivors of Crowfood's band.

Ramsay rides out with a column after discovering the escape and catches up with the slower southron Freys. 

They lose the battle of the lakes.

This is the tough part to write into the story: Ramsay is prevented from riding back to WF and decides to pursue his bride instead.

Stannis knows that R is headed that way, but has no resources for a pursuit (or maybe sends a few clansmen, but knows that won't be enough).

Tybald Ravens sent to WF with the false message of a Bolton victory.

'Karstarks with a sprinkling of Freys and Boltons' march back to WF. 

Survivors in the Wolfswood provide additional Intel and also send messages into WF at night to GNC.

Operation Trojan Horse is a success. I like 3EM's idea of Stannis' sword blinding everyone. (Maybe he's waving it himself, dressed as a Frey Knight)

Now the original message to CB is sent as you and 3EM have outlined, motives ranging from picking up Arya to finally getting Jon to take up the Lord of Winterfell job.

Alliser intercepts it and wreaks mayhem.

 

 

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On 4/6/2019 at 8:31 AM, 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.

Keep in mind the rescue attempt of Jeyne/Arya kicked off after the brouhaha in the hall when Roose orders Manderly and Frey men to ride out.

Iffin' the northmen inside the walls of WF attempt a coup and win before Stannis gets to WF  ---  the letter writer could be Whoresbane, and Mance with a little help from the three maesters Roose brought to WF to help with Luwin's ravens.

I'll go further out on a limb and talk tinfoil and cracked pot.

Do the Frey forces actually go after Stannis? Or do the Frey's fall into a trap outside the main gates of WF? Did the Manderly forces face the same dilemma when they exit by the east gate?

Considering,  "The snow had covered up the pits, so they rode right into them. Aenys broke his neck, I heard, but Ser Hosteen only lost a horse, more's the pity."

Doesn't matter anyway cause @Ran back in 2013 seemed pretty confident that Ramsey wrote the pink/bastard letter.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Do the Frey forces actually go after Stannis? Or do the Frey's fall into a trap outside the main gates of WF? Did the Manderly forces face the same dilemma when they exit by the east gate?

A good point, I thought about this. Some descriptions of the battle of Loudoun Hill have the English heavy horse charge up the hill to meet Robert Bruce's forces and perish in hidden ditches. (Most accounts though only think the ditches were dug on the sides of the road to funnel the English into a narrow front manned by the numerically inferior Scottish schiltrons) In any case, the Freys and Manderleys are not galloping, so I don't think the pits can account for large numbers. You can see perhaps the first 4 or 5 ranks fall in/get pushed in by the throng behind them, or maybe a few more, but they are not traveling fast enough for a massacre. Not sure how many riders in a rank, probably constrained by the width of the gate and the road so close to the castle, 4-5? Don't think these losses require a change in plans.

 

PS: Nigel Tranter's Bruce trilogy uses the former account and I read somewhere that GRRM rated that series highly. You can certainly see where "sure-footed garrons" came from. So that account of the battle could also be a small inspiration for these ditches, but then again, I guess ditches with spikes have been around for much longer than that. Bruce himself was inspired by a recent Flemish victory.

Edited by Ser Hedge

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13 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

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.

I'm not convinced that we should be dismissing the Frey surcoats so easily. There are actually two lines of thought that support their use:

1. When judging the plausibility of a scenario, we should be looking at the rest of the series for an internal "standard of realism". George is a brilliant puzzle maker and he's great with characters and themes, but when it comes to battle tactics, they can sometimes be a little far-fetched compared to what we would expect in the real world. This is evident especially in Slaver's Bay, but it's there in Westeros as well (even the Red Wedding went a little too well from the Lannister-Frey perspective).

In light of that, Stannis fishing corpses from the frozen lake and using their armor to disguise his own men doesn't seem impossible. There is some level of convenience in there, but it was also convenient that Astapor didn't have a contingency plan in case someone turned their own unsullied on them or that Stannis didn't make any provisions for Tywin arriving in time for the Battle of the Blackwater, not to mention the whole Weasel Soup plan that saw Harrenhal changing hands. I don't think this plan stands out as less realistic. It would be easy enough to explain why it could happen.

2. Even if we fully accept that recovering the Frey gear from the frozen lakes is hard, that doesn't mean it's impossible. Considering it would give Stannis a means to take the Boltons by surprise, it would be worth the effort. To paraphrase JFK, Stannis would do this thing not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Nobody would expect him to have pristine armor and surcoats from most of the Frey knights and lords, and that's why the ruse has the slimmest chance to work.

Yes, we can think of scenarios where Roose doesn't fall for it, but the point is that we can also think of scenarios where he does, and that opens up the possibility for this plan to work.

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On 4/5/2019 at 6:57 PM, three-eyed monkey said:

Thank you. You weighed it up and made up your mind and I respect that. It's been a good debate.

Thanks.  To that end I will give my latest thinking on the Pink Letter,,which I still think was written by Ramsay.

The objective of the letter was ... to get his bride back.  Theon and the others would be nice, as well, but he really needs Arya.  Yes, really.

First, it is useful to remember that Ramsay is hardly the sharpest tool in the shed.  He often doesn't think things through clearly, and certainly isn't a good strategic thinker, much to his father's annoyance. He is also prone to outbursts, both of violence, and threats and insults.

The loss of Jeyne puts him in a very bad spot.  She is a vital hostage for him, and the basis of his claim to Winterfell.   Without her, he will have a hard time keeping the Northerners at bay.

He probably was able to track her to Stannis's camp, where he would have been unable to follow.  I think he would have probably returned to Winterfell at that point, to find out what happened, and plan an attack on Stannis.  I expect that the man-trap set by Mors Umber has slowed things down.  Not only do they have to clean up that, they have to make sure there aren't any other surprises in store.  So, I'm guessing that by the time an actual attack on Stannis occurs, about a week has passed, and Jeyne is long gone, and with an escort besides.  It's also likely they are on horses more suitable for the climate.  

It's unclear whether Ramsay has actually won, thinks he has won, or even if there was a battle (although I think he is at least aware that Jeyne isn't in Stannis's camp anymore).  I think he thinks he has one, convinced by Stannis's sword, probably brought to him by supposed allies who really aren't (Karstarks, perhaps).  

Knowing he can't catch up to Jeyne, he returns to demand her return.  He is insulting because he is pissed off as hell, and that sort of thing comes naturally.  Same with the threats.  As to the question of Jeyne's identity being revealed, he either (1) hasn't thought that far ahead (2) doesn't care (3) figures that he can call a Jon a liar if it gets that far.  Plus there is the possibility of meeting Jon when he picks her up, at which he can get him to keep him quiet.

Of course, we know that this won't work.  I expect Roose would also know, but he isn't involved.  This is personal.  The other lords aren't involved both because it is personal, and Ramsay probably wants to keep Jeyne's disappearance a secret as long as possible.

He wants his Rerek - whose identity will likely be apparent upon his arrival at CB,if he is going there - so he asks for that too.  And he might as well ask for Stannis's family and those of importance, as they will likely be useful hostages, and he certainly doesn't want them running loose and causing trouble.

This assumes that Ramsay isn't thinking all that clearly, and is making threats and insults as matter of course for him.  I think this is a reasonable possibility.  And, yes, I am certainly aware that this theory has gaps, holes, and other issues.  But I believe that it has far fewer, and less serious ones, than the other theories out there.  

Am out of time.  If I get the chance, I may discuss the weaknesses of various theories.

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18 hours ago, The Map Guy said:

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.

:agree:

18 hours ago, The Map Guy said:

Of course this requires the Pink Letter to be false.

How do you reckon?

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1 hour ago, kissdbyfire said:

:agree:

How do you reckon?

The simplest answer:

If Stannis does indeed do a Trojan horse maneuver, it would not take "seven days of battle."

He would either win in one day or lose in one day ... either inside WInterfell or outside just short of the gate. 

But I think he will win. His sneaky positions and secret allies is setting up a GRRM-esque story with the elements of the Trojan Horse and Ocean's Eleven.

And with Stannis' story arc, I prefer him dying in the fight against the Others, instead of the Freys/Boltons. With his history at the Siege at Storm's End, perhaps GRRM would reproduce this narrative with Stannis holding Winterfell, with a siege against the Others. Anyways, that is my personal preference.

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Posted (edited)

If this was a map:

The Boltons think:
Karstarks >>> Stannis at CV <<< Freys + Manderlys

 

What may potentially happen in TWOW:

Stannis >>> Freys outside of CV <<< Manderlys

 

After Freys are defeated, Stannis has:

  • The Manderlys that the Boltons still think are their allies
  • Frey equipment
  • Karstarks being used as a double agent
  • Tybald's ravens
  • The insideman Mance Rayder and the remaining spearwives

Who doesn't like a clever underdog story? Get hyped!

And the story that the PL suggested was ... boring.

Edited by The Map Guy

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3 hours ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Doesn't matter anyway cause @Ran back in 2013 seemed pretty confident that Ramsey wrote the pink/bastard letter.

Yes but, with all due respect, his argument has a flaw. Ran said:

Here's the simple reason why Ramsay wrote it:

Jon Snow has seen Ramsay's handwriting. He knows what it looks like.

Jon gets another letter from the same person. If the handwriting was totally different, he'd have twigged. I mean, Ramsay's handwriting is described by Jon that first time -- the letters are "huge" and "spiky". Pretty distinctive. Stannis and Mance wouldn't know it. Theon might, but he's not exactly in position (nor do we even know he has the skill) to forge a letter.

So, it's Ramsay. Simple enough.

I have stated that I think that the omission of "huge spiky hand" is a literary clue and that remains my position. However, for the sake of this argument let's accept the premise that Jon knows what Ramsay's writing looks like and would have twigged if the signature was different. Jon has seen Ramsay's signature after all, there is no denying that, and Ramsay's signature is pretty distinctive, as Ran points out.

The next premise is that Stannis and Mance wouldn't know it. But Stannis may have seen the letter Ramsay sent to Deepwood as @Nevets pointed out. Asha allowed the maester take it to Lady Sybelle and Stannis took Deepwood soon after. We can't be certain Stannis saw the letter, though he is aware of it's tidings so we can't rule it out. So the premise that "Stannis wouldn't know it" might not be true.

3 hours ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Do the Frey forces actually go after Stannis? Or do the Frey's fall into a trap outside the main gates of WF? Did the Manderly forces face the same dilemma when they exit by the east gate?

I think it is safe to assume the Freys did go after Stannis and there will be a battle at the crofter's village. They were preparing to march anyway, Jeyne's escape would only add urgency, and while Crowfood set them back, Theon doesn't think his green boys and greybeards will hold them for long.

The Freys did fall into a trap outside the main gates, which killed Aenys Frey. Theon said Crowfood had set his boys to digging pits outside the gates, plural, but that doesn't help because main gates is plural. But even if there are pits at the other gates they are unlikely to fall for the same trick twice. If the Manderlys were riding out the east gate at the same time, then we might expect Theon to have heard about it but he did not, and I think that's understandable. The Freys assembled at the main gates and the portcullis needed to be chipped free before it could be raised. But the east gate, where White Harbor assembled, is the Kingsroad Gate, and there the ice had frozen the drawbridge chains rock hard, so presumably these gates would have taken longer to open. 

Winterfell's great main gates were closed and barred, and so choked with ice and snow that the portcullis would need to be chipped free before it could be raised. Much the same was true of the Hunter's Gate, though there at least ice was not a problem, since the gate had seen recent use. The Kingsroad Gate had not, and ice had frozen those drawbridge chains rock hard.

 

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2 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Winterfell's great main gates were closed and barred, and so choked with ice and snow that the portcullis would need to be chipped free before it could be raised. Much the same was true of the Hunter's Gate, though there at least ice was not a problem, since the gate had seen recent use. The Kingsroad Gate had not, and ice had frozen those drawbridge chains rock hard.

That is a problem isn't it.

Double wall castle with a moat.

And multiple gates.

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8 hours ago, Clegane'sPup said:

That is a problem isn't it.

Double wall castle with a moat.

And multiple gates.

A problem in what respect?

Do you mean it will be a difficult castle to take from Stannis point of view? If so then I agree. That's why Stannis needs a better plan than a siege he can't sustain or an assault with rams and towers, etc. And that's why Roose sending men out to finish Stannis and then return to the castle is such a huge blunder for Roose and a lifeline for Stannis.

Once Tycho arrived at Stannis camp with Theon and a letter from Jon the game changed significantly for Stannis.

The Iron Bank provided him with a loan. The gold is not helpful in terms of Stannis current situation, nor the sellswords he sent Massey to buy with it, but it does show us that Stannis is planning ahead, beyond winning Winterfell and even the North. It is also interesting to note that he warned Massey to ignore any potential news of his death.

Theon provided Stannis with information about the enemy, the situation in Winterfell, that the Freys were coming for him, and how they knew his location.

The letter from Jon informed him of the Karstarks, which in turn led him to Maester Tybald who had arrived with them and brought ravens. This was obviously the person who had informed Roose of his location. Roose, not knowing Stannis had uncovered the plot, believes Tybald is a reliable source of information and he believes the Karstarks are loyal to him, which is something Stannis can easily turn to his advantage. Especially when combined with the fact that Roose has sent an army against him, and the purpose of that army is to defeat him and then return to Winterfell with their Karstark allies, while Roose eagerly awaits news of the battle by raven.

Honestly, these must have felt like gifts from the Red God to Stannis. So much so that I would not be surprised to see Stannis have a road to Damascus (Winterfell) moment here regarding his religious belief. He had just burned some men for the crime of cannibalism and next thing he knows his prayers are answered when Tycho and Theon arrive. If Stannis does take Winterfell, he will look back at that moment as crucial to his success.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/7/2019 at 8:57 AM, three-eyed monkey said:

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.

Fair points, but I don't think Stannis is the one doing the manipulating. I don't think Stannis would have changed his mind since he wrote from Mott Cailin saying he needed Jon at the wall. Of course, I think he sent the letter from the crofters' village following the battle

 

On 4/7/2019 at 8:57 AM, three-eyed monkey said:

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?

I agree this has some importance, maybe in more ways than one. I believe Marsh says that this advice came from an uncle , not his father. It's always intrigued me because this uncle (that Marsh seems to idolize) could have been a maternal uncle and knowing what house he belonged to might explain a lot about Marsh and his motivations.

I don't think it would be enough for the conspirators to just lock Jon out on the wrong side of the wall. It definitely would not be enough for Thorne. His plans for Jon's demise have been thwarted over and over again - by Mormont, then Aemon, then Stannis, then Sam and Mormont's raven. Thorne, at least, wouldn't want to trust the deed to wildlings or to the Others. He'd want to be certain of Jon's death as a result of his planning and preferably by his instrument.

As for the NW brothers accompanying Jon - Jon would pick the men, so there would be no way to limit the men to his supporters only ... but we know that some Bowen cronies are included in those Jon thinks of his more able and experienced men (I'm thinking of Mully, in particular).

What we shouldn't forget is the Black Gate. We don't see everything that has gone on at the wall, but we did see Stannis pointedly tell Sam that he expects Sam to show him the gate. I assume this probably happened off-page. So, who else would be present? NW leadership would surely want to be included. Wouldn't Stannis want to send someone through to check it out? Neither he nor any of his men could do that. ...Wouldn't the NW want to confirm Sam's story themselves? Wouldn't they want to take note of what landmarks to look for on the other side? ... Wouldn't they already have done it? Sam returned at the same time as Bowen. Bowen was in charge of the NW until Jon's elecion. Bowen and Thorne were thick....

Survivors of Jon's ranging could have been expected to return by this route. In fact, I don't think Thorne was absent from the wall for very long at all, returning secretly in this way.

Just in Passing, @Clegane'sPup and @three-eyed monkey .. I simply throw up my hands over the gates ... The plan of WF in the wiki is now different from what was shown back in the dinosaur days of 2013 or so. Harking back to many a lengthy discussion and explanation and beating into my head, the main gate was set in the outer wall and the east gate was directly behind it set in the inner wall. Both eventually led to the Kingsroad (travelling to the south) via an approach road running eastward from the Kingsroad to the main gate stretching about 1/4 of the way around the castle. The gate's position was sort of on the SE. vector (or maybe ESE). There was no gate facing directly E. ... (If true, this might be because it would face Bolton territory ?!?)  ;) 

This whole arrangement might not be as strange as it first seems when you remember that the inner walls were raised long before the outer walls. It would be only logical to align the new main gates with existing gates.... At the same time, the north gate did face N,  and led. directly to the northbound Kingsroad. The hunter's gate faced sort of NW or maybe WNW and there was no S. gate.

According to this layout neither Freys nor Manderlys could exit before both gates had been worked free and then it would be Freys first followed by Manderly's men. (I always assumed with some sort of safety gap between.)

The map in the wiki now is much different, and it's only a fan map , so I'm hesitant to trust it entirely. It shows a South gate which it must mean to be the main gates (there's nothing labelled "Main Gate") It shows an East gate way up at  the  north end of the east wall. It shows the Hunter's gate facing directly west. The only thing more or less in the same location as the old map is the North Gate . I think this is what is meant by the Kingsroad gate since it's the one that is in closest proximity to any part of the Kingsroad..

I still trust the old map more, in large part because of this quote from ACOK, Bran VII, when Bran & co are splitting up... .

Quote

"We'll go with Bran," said Jojen Reed.

"Aye, I thought you might," said Osha. "Believe I'll try the East Gate, and follow the kingsroad a ways."

"We'll take the Hunter's Gate," said Meera.

...  But the Kingsroad coming up from the south (on any map) doesn't run to the east of WF. If the new map is anywhere near correct, the "south gate" (if it exists) would have been a better option. If Osha meant to follow the Kingsroad southward then the location of the east gate according to the old map makes more sense. (After all, if the object was to separate Bran and Rickon by a wide distance, it wouldn't make much sense to have them both travelling northward on opposite sides of the Kingsroad.)

The two quotes from Osha and Roose are the only mentions of Winterfell's east gate. It seems obvious that the descriptions, matched with the actions are meant to obscure Osha and Rickon's movements. I don't know that GRRM meant to confuse us much about Roose's deployments because the battle was originally going to appear in ADWD. ... If we're left scratching our heads, it's just a cruel twist of fate.:bang:

18 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Jon has seen Ramsay's signature after all, there is no denying that, and Ramsay's signature is pretty distinctive, as Ran points out.

The next premise is that Stannis and Mance wouldn't know it.

I also disagree with Ran's early assessment (I don't know whether he's had any second thoughts). We don't know that Jon has seen anything more than Ramsay's signature. He may or may not have shown the letter to Stannis ... But regardless, Stannis has a very frightened Maester Tybald right where he wants him. He would know Ramsay's signature very well and I'm sure could render a passable forgery. At CB, the conspirators need only copy it.

@Ser Hedge , I wanted to offer some alternative projections to your  post at the top. Now, I'll have to come back to do it since I seemed to get myself off on a side track.

Edited by bemused

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On 4/7/2019 at 5:13 AM, bemused said:

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”.

This is really interesting.  I've always been intrigued by the language, as I've pointed out several times the "he's in a cage for all the North/World to see" seems to be designed directly to remind Jon of the same exact language Mance used earlier as Rattleshirt talking about "Mance's burning" by Melisandre.

Mance does refer to Melisandre as a "red witch" but not a whore- and knowing Mance as we do he's pretty fond of women and not the type to use such a demeaning term.  I also agree that Stannis likely wouldn't refer to Melisandre in this way as he has too much respect for her.

This phrase definitely seems like it would either be Ramsay or Thorne saying it.

Quote

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.

Stannis does use bastard in a disparaging way at times.  When Jon makes the offer of keeping the wildlings but sending Stannis to court the other Northmen, Stannis exclaims that "this better not be some bastard's trick."  I believe there are a few other instances where he uses it disparagingly.  But yeah, I do think the whole reliance on bastard to provoke Jon in the letter reeks (no pun intended) of either Ramsay, Mance, or Thorne.  And it really fits all three if we're being honest.  Ramsay would probably think of Jon similarly to himself, and we know how angry being called a bastard makes Ramsay.  I think it would make sense that he would use this taunt against Jon.  Mance from the second he officially met Jon knew about Jon's sensitivity to his bastardy and Mance is no stranger to using the bastard taunt to provoke Jon.

Quote

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.)

Now this is really interesting since I've gone back and searched for the use of bastard and bastard's with a quick search.  It does most come up with Thorne and Slynt in particular.  Slynt/Thorne use this kind of language a lot (i.e. "he's lying through his bastard's teeth" and "I won't take orders from a bastard.")  In that respect the use of "bastard's heart" and the frequency of bastard throughout the PL does seem like Thorne's work.  

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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.

Something else I've always been intrigued by is Ghost's behavior in Jon's final chapter.  He has multiple chances to attack Bowen Marsh when Jon meets with him but does not.  I think he's described as being agitated and wary of Bowen, but not outright hostile.  Which is interesting since Ghost has no problem apparently attacking Mully of all people.  And he also tries biting Jon at one point too.  This has always led me to believe that Bowen Marsh did not plan on asssassinating Jon imminently when they met before the Shieldhall.  This would maybe explain Ghost's behavior- there was a general plot but no immediate danger at that point to Jon.  

 

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3 hours ago, Tagganaro said:

Something else I've always been intrigued by is Ghost's behavior in Jon's final chapter.  He has multiple chances to attack Bowen Marsh when Jon meets with him but does not.  I think he's described as being agitated and wary of Bowen, but not outright hostile.  Which is interesting since Ghost has no problem apparently attacking Mully of all people. And he also tries biting Jon at one point too. 

 

Well, I'm back sooner than I expected to be. This brings up language again. Here's Jon  being sent on the suicide mission to kill Mance , (ASOS) ... 

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Thorne was much the more clever of the two, Jon realized; this had his stink all over it. He was trapped. "I'll go," he said in a clipped, curt voice.

..and here's Ghost and John (ADWD).... 

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 "Down. Sit, Ghost. Down." Yet when he made to touch him, the wolf bristled and bared his teeth. It's that bloody boar. Even in here, Ghost can smell his stink. ...

I think this is a clue that Thorne is back (there are many others). These two examples are the only places "stink" is used in this way - in any character's POV. I think they are meant to connect. In ASOS, Jon couldn't actually smell Thorne, but I think Ghost can actually smell his presence in ADWD. Jon assumes it's the boar's scent, but he's wrong. It's not his nemesis but Jon's that Ghost senses.

Mully did something suspicious while Jon was with Selyse - maybe tampered with Longclaw . ... Or maybe Clydas delivered the original letter, leaving it on Jon's table (as he's done before) and Mully came in and took it. I think Bowen and Mully are what Mully's old grandmother would call "winter friends" - friends forever.

Ghost bares his teeth at Jon and later tries to leave with him to get at Thorne, not Borroq's boar. Jon doesn't recognise the danger he's in. Bowen wouldn't be such a threat without Thorne ( one of the main reasons Jon tried to reassign Thorne).

ETA: About "Bastard".. Yes, they've all used it ... I never really felt the same vehemence from Stannis, though. Even when inwardly seething, he's outwardly contained (if rude) ...  with Mance I felt more heavy sarcasm (to be fair, maybe with a smidge of hindsight gained once he revealed himself)... From Ramsay, I'd expect it in person (see: rant on Lady Dustin) .. of the other letters he's written, Asha's is the most threatening and it's couched in almost polite language. The threat is in the blood and skin. It's cold by comparison to the PL. (and as I've often said, when a possible attack from him is immenent, he gives no warning) ... Lady Hornwood receives a lofty "no Bolton would be questioned by a woman. " in the letter she received ... As you say, Thorne and Slynt take top honours for nasty use of "Bastard" ... and IMO, a lot of what Slynt says is parroting Thorne.

Edited by bemused

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12 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

A problem in what respect?

In all sincerity not joking round, I say that < because on occasion I have let my weird sense of humor run riot in a thread.    I would need to reread in their entirety Theon's last DwD chapter and the Theon WoW chapter.

I have made note of your post and will return.

If I am remembering correctly Theon and Jeyne/Arya were already outside the walls of WF and in Umber's control when the Frey's rode into Umber's trap.

If that is correct, I would assume Frey retreated back into WF.

There is a vague memory floating round in me head about Umber smiling when a boy told Umber the portcullis was rising.

What I am wrestling with is if the Frey's fell into Umber's trap, did the Frey's retreat back into WF and would the Frey's attempt to exit WF again.

Let me go reread the chapters and perhaps I can articulate my thoughts better.

Thanks.

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, bemused said:

Fair points, but I don't think Stannis is the one doing the manipulating. I don't think Stannis would have changed his mind since he wrote from Mott Cailin saying he needed Jon at the wall. Of course, I think he sent the letter from the crofters' village following the battle

 

I agree this has some importance, maybe in more ways than one. I believe Marsh says that this advice came from an uncle , not his father. It's always intrigued me because this uncle (that Marsh seems to idolize) could have been a maternal uncle and knowing what house he belonged to might explain a lot about Marsh and his motivations.

I don't think it would be enough for the conspirators to just lock Jon out on the wrong side of the wall. It definitely would not be enough for Thorne. His plans for Jon's demise have been thwarted over and over again - by Mormont, then Aemon, then Stannis, then Sam and Mormont's raven. Thorne, at least, wouldn't want to trust the deed to wildlings or to the Others. He'd want to be certain of Jon's death as a result of his planning and preferably by his instrument.

As for the NW brothers accompanying Jon - Jon would pick the men, so there would be no way to limit the men to his supporters only ... but we know that some Bowen cronies are included in those Jon thinks of his more able and experienced men (I'm thinking of Mully, in particular).

What we shouldn't forget is the Black Gate. We don't see everything that has gone on at the wall, but we did see Stannis pointedly tell Sam that he expects Sam to show him the gate. I assume this probably happened off-page. So, who else would be present? NW leadership would surely want to be included. Wouldn't Stannis want to send someone through to check it out? Neither he nor any of his men could do that. ...Wouldn't the NW want to confirm Sam's story themselves? Wouldn't they want to take note of what landmarks to look for on the other side? ... Wouldn't they already have done it? Sam returned at the same time as Bowen. Bowen was in charge of the NW until Jon's elecion. Bowen and Thorne were thick....

Survivors of Jon's ranging could have been expected to return by this route. In fact, I don't think Thorne was absent from the wall for very long at all, returning secretly in this way.

Just in Passing, @Clegane'sPup and @three-eyed monkey .. I simply throw up my hands over the gates ... The plan of WF in the wiki is now different from what was shown back in the dinosaur days of 2013 or so. Harking back to many a lengthy discussion and explanation and beating into my head, the main gate was set in the outer wall and the east gate was directly behind it set in the inner wall. Both eventually led to the Kingsroad (travelling to the south) via an approach road running eastward from the Kingsroad to the main gate stretching about 1/4 of the way around the castle. The gate's position was sort of on the SE. vector (or maybe ESE). There was no gate facing directly E. ... (If true, this might be because it would face Bolton territory ?!?)  ;) 

This whole arrangement might not be as strange as it first seems when you remember that the inner walls were raised long before the outer walls. It would be only logical to align the new main gates with existing gates.... At the same time, the north gate did face N,  and led. directly to the northbound Kingsroad. The hunter's gate faced sort of NW or maybe WNW and there was no S. gate.

According to this layout neither Freys nor Manderlys could exit before both gates had been worked free and then it would be Freys first followed by Manderly's men. (I always assumed with some sort of safety gap between.)

The map in the wiki now is much different, and it's only a fan map , so I'm hesitant to trust it entirely. It shows a South gate which it must mean to be the main gates (there's nothing labelled "Main Gate") It shows an East gate way up at  the  north end of the east wall. It shows the Hunter's gate facing directly west. The only thing more or less in the same location as the old map is the North Gate . I think this is what is meant by the Kingsroad gate since it's the one that is in closest proximity to any part of the Kingsroad..

I still trust the old map more, in large part because of this quote from ACOK, Bran VII, when Bran & co are splitting up... .

...  But the Kingsroad coming up from the south (on any map) doesn't run to the east of WF. If the new map is anywhere near correct, the "south gate" (if it exists) would have been a better option. If Osha meant to follow the Kingsroad southward then the location of the east gate according to the old map makes more sense. (After all, if the object was to separate Bran and Rickon by a wide distance, it wouldn't make much sense to have them both travelling northward on opposite sides of the Kingsroad.)

The two quotes from Osha and Roose are the only mentions of Winterfell's east gate. It seems obvious that the descriptions, matched with the actions are meant to obscure Osha and Rickon's movements. I don't know that GRRM meant to confuse us much about Roose's deployments because the battle was originally going to appear in ADWD. ... If we're left scratching our heads, it's just a cruel twist of fate.:bang:

I also disagree with Ran's early assessment (I don't know whether he's had any second thoughts). We don't know that Jon has seen anything more than Ramsay's signature. He may or may not have shown the letter to Stannis ... But regardless, Stannis has a very frightened Maester Tybald right where he wants him. He would know Ramsay's signature very well and I'm sure could render a passable forgery. At CB, the conspirators need only copy it.

@Ser Hedge , I wanted to offer some alternative projections to your  post at the top. Now, I'll have to come back to do it since I seemed to get myself off on a side track.

I love your take on thorne I think he definitely had something to do with the letter. The letter being dry also points to Thorne writing the letter.

Edited by Impbread

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6 hours ago, Impbread said:

I love your take on thorne I think he definitely had something to do with the letter. The letter being dry also points to Thorne writing the letter.

@bemused convinced me of Thorne being involved a long time ago. He may have even been the 4th dagger. I'm pretty certain the letter was at least read before it was delivered to Jon. I'm not opposed to it being re-written to some degree, as that would account for the dry parchment. But if that is the case I still think the original came from Stannis and the words are still largely his, even if a few bastards were added. I think "I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore," makes most sense coming from Stannis as a way to inform Mel the letter is a lie.

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9 hours ago, Clegane'sPup said:

In all sincerity not joking round, I say that < because on occasion I have let my weird sense of humor run riot in a thread.    I would need to reread in their entirety Theon's last DwD chapter and the Theon WoW chapter.

I have made note of your post and will return.

If I am remembering correctly Theon and Jeyne/Arya were already outside the walls of WF and in Umber's control when the Frey's rode into Umber's trap.

If that is correct, I would assume Frey retreated back into WF.

There is a vague memory floating round in me head about Umber smiling when a boy told Umber the portcullis was rising.

What I am wrestling with is if the Frey's fell into Umber's trap, did the Frey's retreat back into WF and would the Frey's attempt to exit WF again.

Let me go reread the chapters and perhaps I can articulate my thoughts better.

Thanks.

You remember correctly. The portcullis on the main gate was raised and the Freys rode into a trap which killed Aenys and cost Hosteen a horse, which Theon says will only make Hosteen angry.

But Theon also tells us the Crowffod and a few green boys with spades will not hold them for long. He expects the Freys, Manderlys and Ramsay to come for him and Jeyne, and Stannis is preparing to hold the ground against them, so we should expect a battle at Stannis camp. The pits may have delayed the Freys but it won't deter them from going out again, more cautiously this time I suspect.

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3 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

@bemused convinced me of Thorne being involved a long time ago. He may have even been the 4th dagger. I'm pretty certain the letter was at least read before it was delivered to Jon. I'm not opposed to it being re-written to some degree, as that would account for the dry parchment. But if that is the case I still think the original came from Stannis and the words are still largely his, even if a few bastards were added. I think "I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore," makes most sense coming from Stannis as a way to inform Mel the letter is a lie.

I'm not so sure about the latter part.I don' have anything to quote from right now but I'm sure Mance says something like "soft as a woman's kiss,your kiss" to Mel.How should he know what her kiss is like.

We know she propositioned Davos and Jon wrt shadow babies.Might she have tried this with Mance?He has kings blood after all and Mance confesses he has a weakness for the ladies to Jon.

Back to bastards;Yes everyone uses the word but Mance uses it in every interaction with Jon,twice in the same sentence sometimes as in "touch that bastard sword and I'll have your bastard head off before it clears its scabbard".

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15 hours ago, bemused said:

..  But the Kingsroad coming up from the south (on any map) doesn't run to the east of WF. If the new map is anywhere near correct, the "south gate" (if it exists) would have been a better option.

Leaving maps aside, as they can be misleading, and going from text, this is my take on the gates of Winterfell.

The main gates and the kingsroad gate and the hunters gate are distinctly separate gates.

The wolfswood is beyond the hunters gate and the wolfswood is west and north of winterfell, with the woods thicker on the northern side. Theon watched Asha leave through the hunters gate and disappear into the wolfswood. Bran, Hodor, Jojen and Meera also left through this gate. Osha said she would try the east gate and head for the kingsroad and Meera replied they would try the hunters gate, which indicates that the hunter's gate is not the east gate. It is also noted that the hunters gate is used by people who want to avoid winter town.

The kingsroad runs south to north from King's Landing to Castle Black. It does not run through Winterfell so it must pass east or west of Winterfell. East makes more sense as the wolfswood is west and there is no advantage to building a road through a woods unless it significantly reduces travel time, which it would not. Plus Osha indicates that the east gate is the gate that will give her access to the kingsroad. The roads from the north gate and south gate may well converge with the kingsroad at some place north or south of Winterfell but it seems to me that the east gate is the quickest access to the kingsroad and the gate that gives quickest access to the kingsroad would be called the kingsroad gate.

Tyrion tells us that the kingsroad lies just beyond the sprawl of the castle and winter town. After leaving Winterfell, Robert and Ned turned south when they reached the kingsroad while Benjen, Tyrion and Jon turned north. The northbound party then passed through farmland for three days before the woods grew up around them. This suggests that they were not west of the castle where the wolfswood is located but on a side that had three days worth of farmland to pass through before getting to the woods.

Roose told the Freys to assemble at the main gates and the Manderlys to assemble at the east gate, which tells us that the east gate is not the main gates. If the hunters gate is the west gate and the kingsroad gate is the east gate then the main gates must be north or south as having two gates in the same wall of a castle is rather pointless given that gates are the weakest point of a castle wall and should be kept to a minimum where possible.

All gates in the inner wall have access to a corresponding gate in the outer wall, with the exception of the Battlement gate, which Theon describes as half a gate in truth as it has no corresponding gate in the outer wall and only gives defenders access to the outer battlements. This is the gate Theon uses during his escape to give him access to the outer wall and it having no corresponding gate is the reason he was forced to jump from the battlements. Unfortunately, we don't know which wall it gives access to, north south east or west.

 

 

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