SansaTakingUpNeedle Posted July 31, 2020 Share Posted July 31, 2020 Lady Dustin, which we meet in A Dance with Dragons, is a very intriguing figure who absolutely seems to be up to something. In the following essay I will present you with an analysis of the information we get on her, and suggest a little theory about her endgame. The essay will have three parts: The holes in Lady Dustin’s backstory and her loyalties, The Northern ambitions of House Ryswell, and the core of my speculation, called The North remembers… but the Starks forgot? As English is not my mother tongue, please be merciful if I make mistakes ;-) Part I: The holes in Lady Dustin’s backstory and her loyalties In ADWD Lady Dustin asks Theon to show her the entrance to the Winterfell crypts and they go down there together. Then she tells him her story to illustrate why she has a grudge against the Starks: She hoped to marry Brandon, Ned’s older brother, whom she had known during their youth because he had been fostered at Barrowton and often visited the Ryswell family in the Rills, who lie next to the Barrowlands. Brandon even took her maidenhead, but was betrothed to Catelyn Tully by his father Rickard Stark: Quote “Brandon was fostered at Barrowton with old Lord Dustin, the father of the one I’d later wed, but he spent most of his time riding the Rills. (…) And my lord father was always pleased to play host to the heir to Winterfell. My father had great ambitions for House Ryswell. He would have served up my maidenhead to any Stark who happened by, but there was no need. Brandon was never shy about taking what he wanted. (…) The day I learned that Brandon was to marry Catelyn Tully, though… there was nothing sweet about that pain. “He never wanted her, I promise you that. He told me so, on our last night together… but Rickard Stark had great ambitions too. Southron ambitions that would not be servd by having his heir marry the daughter of one of his won vassals. Afterward my father nursed some hope of wedding me ton Brandons’s brother Eddard, but Catelyn Tully got that one as well. I was left with young Lord Dustin, until Ned Stark took him from me. (…) Lord Dustin and I had not been married half a year when Robert rose and Ned Stark called his banners. I begged my husband not to go. He had kin he might have sent in his stead. (…) But he was a man and full of pride, nothing would serve but that he lead the Barrowton levies himself. (…)” (ADWD, The Turncloak) So at first sight, Barbrey mentions three reasons why she’s pissed: First, she couldn’t marry Brandon, whom she was in love with during her youth and who took her maidenhead. Second, she couldn’t marry Ned either because he had to marry Catelyn after Brandon’s death. And third, when she was finally married, her husband quickly died because he went south with Ned during Robert’s Rebellion. But actually her story doesn’t really add up because of the timeline of the rebellion – I know that George R.R. Martin said that we don’t have to take his timelines too seriously, but I still would like to focus on something I deem important here: Ned and Robert called their banners after they learned that Rickard and Brandon had been killed by mad king Aerys, who eventually demanded their heads of Jon Arryn. So Ned travelled from the Eyrie to Winterfell, called his banners, and marched south. Then, like “on his way”, he married Catelyn at Riverrun, where Willam Dustin was present during the wedding and bedding: Quote “On Catelyn’s own wedding night, Jory Cassell had torn her gown in his haste to get her out of it, and drunken Desmond Grell kept apologizing for every bawdy joke, only to make another. When Lord Dustin had beheld her naked, he’d told Ned that her breasts were enough to make him wish he’d never been weaned.” (ASOS, Catelyn VII) Of course, all this travelling took some weeks, but Lady Dustin says herself that she and Willam were married for some six months when Ned called his banners, so I don’t think a few weeks matter. What matters is that they wed before Ned married Cat, maybe even before Brandon died! So marrying Ned instead of Brandon wasn’t a real option for Barbrey Ryswell even before those events, so Lord Ryswell found another match for his daughter. (But of course, they might have thought about the possibility when Brandon’s betrothal to Cat was announced – that was when Cat was only 12, and Brandon and Barbrey weren’t that much older!) So, Barbrey already has one less reason to be pissed, having never actually been betrothed to Ned or something similar. And actually, I don’t think Brandon taking her maidenhead is such a big problem either: When Roose Bolton tells Theon about Northern houses and clans still practicing the first night, he doesn’t list the Ryswells or the Dustins, but he says that “where the old gods rule, old customs linger” (ADWD, Reek III) and, as we will see again later in this essay, Lady Dustin is a big fan of Northern tradition. So losing her maidenhead to her (future) liege lord mayhaps wasn’t that unusual for her, and given Brandon’s reputation she and her father couldn’t really expect him to marry her because of it. She still might have been in love with him, given that she only was about 13-15 years and therefore maybe as romantic as young Sansa Stark, but the grown-up and intelligent Lady Dustin has to know better. The only reason left for her to be pissed is the death of her late husband Willam. But in Westeros, people going to war and dying is normal and even considered honorable. Many people on the internet do wonder why she is grieving such a long time for a guy she barely knew, having been married to him for a rather short time, and him not even being her first choice. All of this indicates that her hatred for the Starks is clearly a setup, but this doesn’t mean she’s on their side. I don’t think she’s really on Roose’s side either, given her dislike for Ramsay, although she wears the mask of his closest ally. And he needs her, because she has the combined forces of the Rills and the Barrowlands behind her. She might be involved in some Great (or small) Northern Conspiracy, but if so, she’s probably playing Manderly and the others the same way she’s playing Roose. Long story short: she’s on her own side, waiting to grab power. How could she get into a position of power in the North? Well, if Stannis wins the Battle of Ice, she could stab Roose in the back (either literally with a dagger or by poisoning him), declare for King Stannis and hope that he names her Wardeness of the North. Stannis not liking women might pose a problem, but as she’s not a warrior like Asha, but a good lady staying inside a castle, he might even think her an adequate choice. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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