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Mark O'Kane

Why didn't Robb defeat Walder Frey

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Seems a bit unrealistic that the best General in Westeros is taken unawares by someone who only can muster 4000 men max against Robbs 45000. Even once the crossbows fire should Robb not have been able to dodge them and then used his superior swordsman skills to defeat all the Frey men-at-arms and then his highborn bodyguards would help him too? They shouldn't have had a problem fighting off the Freys and even Robb should be able to defeat Roose but he just stands there and lets him stab him, what was that about? They all go down like chumps and seems like bad writing to me, almost like GRRM wrote himself into a corner as Robb cannot be defeated so he had to come up with something unrealistic to defeat him. Thoughts? 

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Nope. No one is dodging crossbow bolts. The Starks were unarmed and unarmored so Robb couldn't have used swordsmanship to beat anybody. The element of suprise is a huge factor in situations like this. And the Red Wedding is based on real historical events, so it is not unrealistic. 

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Actually, I think there is some merit to debate wether his troops should have been able to defeat the freys or not.

If someone knows the numbers of the armies involved with the freys, starks and tullys it might be interesting...

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4 hours ago, Lord Lannister said:

Dodging crossbow bolts? What is this? Game of Thrones meets the Matrix?

the funny thing is that dodging crossbow bolts was a part of the show. IIRC Yoren dodged a few from a GC.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, divica said:

Actually, I think there is some merit to debate wether his troops should have been able to defeat the freys or not.

If someone knows the numbers of the armies involved with the freys, starks and tullys it might be interesting...

It wasn't just the Freys. The Boltons were involved as well.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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7 hours ago, divica said:

Actually, I think there is some merit to debate wether his troops should have been able to defeat the freys or not.

If someone knows the numbers of the armies involved with the freys, starks and tullys it might be interesting...

Given the size of the forces ultimately on both sides during the Red Wedding & variables at play, it still seems awfully lopsided.

As to the original question though - the answers are that:

-Robb did not have his full strength 

-Element of surprise on the enemy’s turf.

-He was not expecting to be betrayed by Frey or Bolton and thus their guard was as low as it could have been. And even if he did, not there and then and not in that fashion.

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20 hours ago, divica said:

Actually, I think there is some merit to debate wether his troops should have been able to defeat the freys or not.

If someone knows the numbers of the armies involved with the freys, starks and tullys it might be interesting...

I agree, there's no way that Robb or the others in the hall could have saved themselves. As others have said, those in the castle were unarmed, unarmoured and caught by surprise.

However, the fight between the Stark soldiers and Frey/Bolton soldiers should be much more even. Even with the Boltons, the Freys seem like they would still be greatly outnumbered. They would still have their armour and their weapons. In order to maintain the secrecy, it seems likely that the Boltons and Freys would have waited till the last minute to tell their soldiers to start killing. As such the Bolton/Frey soldiers should be just as unprepared and drunk as the soldiers belonging to House Stark and all their allies. The soldiers are also camped out in the open, which makes it much easier to run away and regroup as well as notice that fighting has broken out elsewhere in the camp and get ready.

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7 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

However, the fight between the Stark soldiers and Frey/Bolton soldiers should be much more even. Even with the Boltons, the Freys seem like they would still be greatly outnumbered. They would still have their armour and their weapons. In order to maintain the secrecy, it seems likely that the Boltons and Freys would have waited till the last minute to tell their soldiers to start killing. As such the Bolton/Frey soldiers should be just as unprepared and drunk as the soldiers belonging to House Stark and all their allies. The soldiers are also camped out in the open, which makes it much easier to run away and regroup as well as notice that fighting has broken out elsewhere in the camp and get ready.

This is actually the part that bugs me about the Red Wedding.  It's really one of two cases:

1: All the Bolton/Frey troops were made aware of the plans for betrayal well in advance.  From the writing, this appears to me to be the case.  And if it were the case, how could there not have been one loyalist or financially enterprising individual who would have alerted Rob and company?

2: Bolton and Frey troops were not made aware in advance of the plan.  As Lady Qohor points out, then they would have been just as drunk and unarmed and unarmored as the Starks.  In addition, in this scenario, I would expect that the event would have been far more chaotic (not that it wasn't) as many of the Frey and Bolton personnel wouldn't be able to properly receive and process the new orders.

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13 hours ago, Fencer said:

This is actually the part that bugs me about the Red Wedding.  It's really one of two cases:

1: All the Bolton/Frey troops were made aware of the plans for betrayal well in advance.  From the writing, this appears to me to be the case.  And if it were the case, how could there not have been one loyalist or financially enterprising individual who would have alerted Rob and company?

2: Bolton and Frey troops were not made aware in advance of the plan.  As Lady Qohor points out, then they would have been just as drunk and unarmed and unarmored as the Starks.  In addition, in this scenario, I would expect that the event would have been far more chaotic (not that it wasn't) as many of the Frey and Bolton personnel wouldn't be able to properly receive and process the new orders.

3. Children of lordlings had married other lordlings. So there should have been many relatives among different sides. Or at least some bannermen of Boltons killed or at least betrayed their cousins, uncles, nephews and brothers (either by blood or law). So it seems that kinslaying is not really bad if one just happens to has very good reason to do that:rolleyes:

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There is an AFFC Brienne chapter which was edited by GRRM later and features a Red Wedding survivor who tells that Bolton's men guarded the camp. In the end it's not necessary every soldier knows what's gonna happen, just tell the officers and the soldiers will do what they are told when the moment comes.

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On 4/17/2021 at 10:03 AM, divica said:

Actually, I think there is some merit to debate wether his troops should have been able to defeat the freys or not.

If someone knows the numbers of the armies involved with the freys, starks and tullys it might be interesting...

The northern army was feasting under three huge tents. The Freys cut the lines so the canvas fell on them and then they set it on fire. Few northmen escaped from that, and were most likely unarmed -- easy picking for the combined Frey, Bolton and Karstark men.

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On 4/18/2021 at 6:40 AM, Lady_Qohor said:

I agree, there's no way that Robb or the others in the hall could have saved themselves. As others have said, those in the castle were unarmed, unarmoured and caught by surprise.

However, the fight between the Stark soldiers and Frey/Bolton soldiers should be much more even. Even with the Boltons, the Freys seem like they would still be greatly outnumbered. They would still have their armour and their weapons. In order to maintain the secrecy, it seems likely that the Boltons and Freys would have waited till the last minute to tell their soldiers to start killing. As such the Bolton/Frey soldiers should be just as unprepared and drunk as the soldiers belonging to House Stark and all their allies. The soldiers are also camped out in the open, which makes it much easier to run away and regroup as well as notice that fighting has broken out elsewhere in the camp and get ready.

Stannis provides the answer to this question when sending Horpe to arrest the Karstark men. I'm paraphrasing a bit here but Stannis says something to the effect of "he couldn't possibly have kept it a secret if every man jack in his army knew. When the time came they'd have followed their lords orders like always". In other words only those that needed to know were told and the rank and file did what they were told to do when they were told to do it. No mystery here. This is a straight forward as it gets in asoiaf. 

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The Red Wedding is inspired by actual historical events, so it's not unrealistic at all that Robb wouldn't see this betrayal coming and being caught unawares. Add to that, guest right is a big deal in Westeros and it's understandable that Robb doesn't expect Walder Frey to dishonour it. Naive given the slight to House Frey when Robb married Jeyne, yes, but understandable.

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2 hours ago, It'sAlwaysWinterInScotland said:

The Red Wedding is inspired by actual historical events, so it's not unrealistic at all that Robb wouldn't see this betrayal coming and being caught unawares. Add to that, guest right is a big deal in Westeros and it's understandable that Robb doesn't expect Walder Frey to dishonour it. Naive given the slight to House Frey when Robb married Jeyne, yes, but understandable.

Robb didn't get out of the Red Wedding for the same reason the King's men died at the red ford and Jaime lost at the WW. It was an ambush and they were heavily outnumbered.

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1 hour ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Robb didn't get out of the Red Wedding for the same reason the King's men died at the red ford and Jaime lost at the WW. It was an ambush and they were heavily outnumbered.

And in Robb's case it was an ambush in which he wasn't in armour or had any weapons. There was no reason for his army outside the castle to be ready for a fight too - they were there to celebrate a wedding and the Freys seemingly reconciling with their king.

Plus history isn't short of great generals and military men who were killed by an ambush when they least suspected it.

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