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Ran

[Pre-ADwD Spoilers] Asha - Spoilers for ADwD

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Ser Hippie,

in the ADwD spoiler chapters,
In the previous ADwD spoiler chapters, we're nearer to the early part of AFfC, where things _were_ still more up in the air. Stannis had hopes of winning the Umbers. It's clear by mid-late AFfC (and ADwD, because this is a late ADwD chapter) that the Umbers have signed on with the Boltons. Once allied, I see no great likelihood that they're immediately going to flip sides just because Stannis attacks ironborn. Hey, the Boltons are doing it too, so it all kind of cancels out.

Cybro,

Locke, both Flint's and Cerwyn

Yes, but these are minor or middle-tier houses, who have presumably suffered (in the case of the Cerwyns, especially significantly) in the war as far as their troop strengths go. The major houses are the ones who are likeliest to have any sizable number of troops left to them, and even they are for the most part greatly weakened (I'd say that the Boltons and maybe the Karstarks are probably now the two strongest houses in terms of raw military figures -- because Bolton seems to have kept his own troops out of worst harm, and the Karstarks abandoned Robb in ASoS and avoided the Red Wedding; although we never did get a very clear picture of just where they are right now). The minor houses seem pretty insignificant, in the face of that.

If there's as much as 12,000 northman troops musterable in the North right now, I'll eat my shoe (not that I'm wearing one ATM, but anyways ;)

I would guess, by the by, that the Flints of Flint's Finger would be going to the Boltons. With ironmen prowling the Saltspear thanks to their possession of Moat Cailin, they'd have plenty of cause to turn to the Dreadfort for succor.

Also, re: Mormonts mentioned earlier, didn't we have a chapter where the Mormonts had very strongly rejected Stannis? If they're joining anyone, it's Bolton -- perhaps when the fake Arya gets married off, if they're really stuck on following a Stark in some fashion. Not that they matter all that much, of course.

Ser Hippie,

Most Westerosi will not see it that way, and to the lords in the Reach (not just the Shield Isles) who've already been hit by the ironborn, one Greyjoy will probably look just the same as another. The ironborn are known as raiders and that won't change simply because their king or leader does, particularly when their new leader is supported by Stannis, a traitor in the eyes of most people.
As we've learned in the books plenty of times, people aren't so black-and-white. The majority will do what suits their advantage. If it means accepting a king who happens to have the Iron Islands bending the knee to him, so be it -- that's how it was for 300 years, after all.

Stannis had several thousand troops when he came north (say 3,000)

According to Sam's chapter in ASoS, there were "over a thousand" men with Stannis. Given that he seems to have basically taken everything he had n terms of fighting men to Castle Black, I would say that Stannis has half that number at best.

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Hmmm, not sure. If the Lannister Tyrell alliance was sound then that would be a negative but its far from sound. In fact, Stannis can declare himself as the man that freed the Shield Isles from the Greyjoys. That has to gain him credit.

Except he's putting another Greyjoy in control of the Isles, so it looks like he's befriending the cruel/evil/raiding ironborn who have been killing and looting and so on.

Sure, if people hate Stannis even more than they hate Lannisters then it will make things worse but that's the whole point. The issue is Stannis v Lannisters. Not Greyjoys v Stannis. The Greyjoy issue is of little importance in the South compared to the Lannister question.
The Tyrells and company don't like Stannis and their position rests entirely with the marriage of Margaery to Tommen. They also don't like the ironborn, for obvious reasons. The other southern houses might not like the Lannisters either, but unlike the Greyjoys (Stannis' new friends), the Lannisters haven't attacked them - and even if they don't like the Lannisters, that doesn't put them in Stannis' camp either (if they wanted to be there, many had the chance after Renly's death and they chose not to).

Why would it be stupid to take TS without a fight? Sure the Ironborn aren't experienced in siege warfare but Stannis doesn't want to besiege TS in the first place. He could take the city but taking a fort is never bloodless. The Ironborn can definitely fight. And those 200 men would be vital for Asha's chances of success. Otherwise they wouldn't have an army and he will have to grind the Ironborn into defeat alongside everyone else (and lose any hope of having more power on the sea).

No, I said it'd be stupid for him to make a major deal (as in make concessions) over TQ. Asha has 200 men with her at DM which are presumably the bulk of her loyalists. If Cleftjaw is still at Torrhen's Square, he would have very, very few troops with him - he only had part of Theon's small force to begin with, then was defeated by Rodrik Cassel. The point being that unless he's been reinforced, TQ isn't that imposing of a target for a Westerosi army trained in siege warfare.

In the previous ADwD spoiler chapters, we're nearer to the early part of AFfC, where things _were_ still more up in the air. Stannis had hopes of winning the Umbers. It's clear by mid-late AFfC (and ADwD, because this is a late ADwD chapter) that the Umbers have signed on with the Boltons. Once allied, I see no great likelihood that they're immediately going to flip sides just because Stannis attacks ironborn. Hey, the Boltons are doing it too, so it all kind of cancels out.

Ah. Well, on the other hand, the discussion in Jon 1 and 2 occur while Stannis is at the Wall, and it's possible he didn't start to move south to act against the ironborn until after whatever Umber forces joined Ramsay did so. We also don't know if the Umbers have joined completely with Bolton or if they're merely clearing out the ironborn and open to other offers, nor do we know how many Umbers went south (i.e. was it a significant force or might they be playing the same game as the Manderlys?). Most importantly, if the Greatjon is still a hostage, that plays a major role in the decision the Umbers would make. Should he ever make it back to Last Hearth, it's extremely unlikely he has any affection for Bolton.

Also, IIRC, Cersei mentions the 'Umbers, Ryswells...' not too far into AFFC. Given that communication between the Dreadfort/North and KL probably takes some time, Ramsay's force probably left several days(?) before that, with the Umbers leaving Last Hearth even before that (since they'd have to march south).

*Edit Again* It's in Cersei IV, starting on page 238 (roughly 1/3rd of the way in). That's not too deep into AFFC, really.

As we've learned in the books plenty of times, people aren't so black-and-white. The majority will do what suits their advantage. If it means accepting a king who happens to have the Iron Islands bending the knee to him, so be it -- that's how it was for 300 years, after all.
I'm not sure why that would alter how the people in the Reach would view the ironborn, who have a reputation as being raiders/"Bad guys" and openly attacked the Shield Isles and up into the Mander. If Stannis backs Theon and Theon wins, why wouldn't the Tyrells and company see Stannis now not only as a traitor but also as someone consorting with their enemies? Especially when we already know the Tyrells are not disposed to support Stannis?

According to Sam's chapter in ASoS, there were "over a thousand" men with Stannis. Given that he seems to have basically taken everything he had n terms of fighting men to Castle Black, I would say that Stannis has half that number at best.

Vlubbed that one - I blame my bad memory :tantrum: Thanks to you and Markus for getting the numbers.

Even with those reduced numbers, though, the ironborn have only skeleton garrisons in the North, so even a reduced force augmented by Northern houses would be more than enough to besiege TQ without having to make deals. He can always use Asha to convince Cleftjaw to surrender as well (and I don't think he'd need to do that much to get her to do so, given that she's the most "diplomatic" ironborn we see).

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Well, on the other hand, the discussion in Jon 1 and 2 occur while Stannis is at the Wall, and it's possible he didn't start to move south to act against the ironborn until after whatever Umber forces joined Ramsay did so.
Possibly so, but what difference does this make? He's not doing anything differently from what the Boltons are doing, he's got fewer numbers, and he doesn't have any Umber hostages. Stannis really has nothing to offer them, _and_ he's got the wildlings on his side.

No doubt if he defeats Bolton a time or two, they'll switch over.

We also don't know if the Umbers have joined completely with Bolton or if they're merely clearing out the ironborn and open to other offers

Eh .... I guess we don't "know", but it's pretty obvious to me. YMMV.

It's in Cersei IV, starting on page 238 (roughly 1/3rd of the way in). That's not too deep into AFFC, really.
It's in the middle of the chronological period covered by the book. The Cersei chapter seems, from internal evidence, to take place almost 5 months after the prologue. The book only covers about 3-4 or so more months beyond that, it looks like (see here for extensive discussion). The first Jon chapter is definitely well before Cersei's, and I'd guess the second is as well. It could well be that the agreement to join the Boltons happens right around Jon's second chapter, and that Cersei would know about it by her chapter.

We know from GRRM, OTOH, that "The Wayward Bride" is apparently after "The Reaver", chronologically, which takes place in or perhaps even shortly after the last couple of months in which AFfC covers.

nor do we know how many Umbers went south

I'd be shocked if they could muster more than a few hundred, given that the Umbers were complaining that the Greatjon took too many men with him. Winter is coming and all.

Most importantly, if the Greatjon is still a hostage, that plays a major role in the decision the Umbers would make. Should he ever make it back to Last Hearth, it's extremely unlikely he has any affection for Bolton.
Makes it rather unlikely that he'll make it back to Last Hearth, eh? ;)

If Stannis backs Theon and Theon wins, why wouldn't the Tyrells and company see Stannis now not only as a traitor but also as someone consorting with their enemies?

Stannis is not going to win the Tyrells willy-nilly. They've already tied themselves to the Lannisters (events at the end of AFfC haven't revealed just how that will fall out), so he's going to have to defeat the Lannisters militarily in any case, unless something drastic happens. So it doesn't really matter what the Tyrells think at that point. But if their side loses, sure, they're going to join Stannis -- they are not idiots.

so even a reduced force augmented by Northern houses would be more than enough to besiege TQ without having to make deals

If the castle needs to be stormed, then it'll cost Stannis men. If the castle needs to be besieged for a couple of months, I don't know as Stannis has a couple of months to spare, so ...

The whole point of a deal with the ironborn would be to augment his numbers. Just because he greatly outnumbers the ironborn doesn't help with the fact that Bolton and his supporters greatly outnumber him. The situation would be improved if the ironborn joined him, especially as I see a lot less room for people picking sides than others seem to see. Other than the mountain clans, the Karstarks, and the Manderly wild card, I think Stannis is going to have to act without much support at all in the North.

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Possibly so, but what difference does this make? He's not doing anything differently from what the Boltons are doing, he's got fewer numbers, and he doesn't have any Umber hostages. Stannis really has nothing to offer them, _and_ he's got the wildlings on his side.

No doubt if he defeats Bolton a time or two, they'll switch over.

The Umbers don't like the Boltons anyway ("Umber side with Boltons?") and they have the added reasons of (1) Smalljon getting murdered, (2) Greatjon being held captive and, potentially, (3) Putting 2 and 2 together about their men who went South and deciding that Bolton's treachery was at least partly responsible for that.

Eh .... I guess we don't "know", but it's pretty obvious to me. YMMV.
The point being that we don't know if the Umbers are with the Boltons in spirit as well as name, or are just going along with Roose because he's the main power in the North. There's no reason to assume that their or any other house's loyalty would be as automatic to the Boltons as it was for the Starks, particularly because Ramsay was rampaging through the North during the war and Roose's personal involvement in the Red Wedding would probably be known at some point.

That won't necessarily get anyone to switch sides, as that would be utterly unrealistic. What it does mean, IMO, is that they won't hesitate to turn on Bolton if given the chance and a good reason to. I don't think it'll be Stannis (well I hope it isn't, I don't like him :P), but I don't think them sending troops with Ramsay is a sign of any real, solid, loyalty.

It's in the middle of the chronological period covered by the book. The Cersei chapter seems, from internal evidence, to take place almost 5 months after the prologue. The book only covers about 3-4 or so more months beyond that, it looks like (see here for extensive discussion). The first Jon chapter is definitely well before Cersei's, and I'd guess the second is as well. It could well be that the agreement to join the Boltons happens right around Jon's second chapter, and that Cersei would know about it by her chapter

As I said - in Jon 2, Stannis is still at the Wall and his plan is (rather stupidly) to go after the Dreadfort and Winterfell. It could well be that seeing the Umbers, who he probably assumed would be friendly, sending troops south was a catalyst for him finally moving South. In any case, the real determinative factor is precisely how loyal the Umbers actually are to Bolton. I don't see any particularly compelling reason to think it's anything more than realpolitik; nor do I see any reason to think that the Umbers couldn't switch sides if given the right offer/situation. Again, I'm not saying it will happen, only that it could

Makes it rather unlikely that he'll make it back to Last Hearth, eh? ;)
It's possible though - I mean Glover's heading back through White Harbor, and if both Roose and Ramsay are busy elsewhere, it's not really unrealistic for him to make it back. Plus, if he's exchanged in return for the Umbers officially recognizing Tommen as King or something like that, he might even get a nice little escort.

Stannis is not going to win the Tyrells willy-nilly. They've already tied themselves to the Lannisters (events at the end of AFfC haven't revealed just how that will fall out), so he's going to have to defeat the Lannisters militarily in any case, unless something drastic happens. So it doesn't really matter what the Tyrells think at that point.

The point I was bringing up is that any chance of capitalizing on a Tyrell-Lannister split would be damaged considerably by an alliance with the ironborn. Admittedly, it's not particularly likely the Tyrells would side with Stannis even if they broke with the Lannisters, but they're not likely going to view Greyjoys very postively, and it would guarantee that the Reach would be hostile (along with the Lannisters and Bolton), adding to Stannis' problems.

But if their side loses, sure, they're going to join Stannis -- they are not idiots.
Well, yeah. But Stannis is a long way off from surviving, let alone claiming the throne. Personally, I don't see him coming even close, since he's going to have major problems with Bolton, the weakest of the major houses left (I think the Freys are stronger).

If the castle needs to be stormed, then it'll cost Stannis men. If the castle needs to be besieged for a couple of months, I don't know as Stannis has a couple of months to spare, so ...

The ironborn basically abandoned their northern possessions; Asha has 200 troops solely because they're basically rebels/outlaws and can't go back home. Cleftjaw might not be an outlaw, but he didn't have many troops to begin with, and has lost at least some of them since. I doubt he would have the power to resist.

In any case, again, that wasn't really the point I was making - I was saying that Stannis doesn't need to make any overarching deals with Asha just to get Torrhen's Square. It makes far more sense to do something like promise to deal with Asha if she convinces Cleftjaw to yield, or something along those lines.

The whole point of a deal with the ironborn would be to augment his numbers. Just because he greatly outnumbers the ironborn doesn't help with the fact that Bolton and his supporters greatly outnumber him. The situation would be improved if the ironborn joined him, especially as I see a lot less room for people picking sides than others seem to see. Other than the mountain clans, the Karstarks, and the Manderly wild card, I think Stannis is going to have to act without much support at all in the North.

Well, I don't think Stannis is going to get much support from anyone, really. The ironborn don't appear to be all that unhappy with Euron, so I don't think he'd get much tangible assistance for some time, barring Euron's death or something I guess. Even then, I'm not convinced they would be nearly enough to put him over the top. His ideal situation, IMO, would be to build up some minor/medium Northern houses, win a victory over the Boltons (a moral one at least) to help start to sway the other houses (Manderly and Umber mostly), while using Asha/theon to undermine Euron - I like that idea a lot from Stannis' perspective.

If he's counting on the ironborn, I think he's bound to fail, although I think that's going to be the end result regardless, especially given Jojen's vision that the Starks would return to Winterfell. And then there's the Others too, of course.

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Bolton has the Umbers, who are not that plentiful and the Ryswells and some more.

Stannis still has a shot at the Cerwyns, Tallharts, Glovers, Mormonts and Karstarks. Each of these Houses has a reason to distrust the Boltons and could very well look upon Stannis as a viable alternative.

However, making nice with Theon turncloak the baby killer will not make it any easier. Making common cause with Asha would but I see no need for Stannis to have Theon. Hell, with Theon at his side his chances of gaining any support from the Ironborn diminish. He's better off sticking with Asha and trying to rally what lords he can to his cause.

And Boltons treachery will not endear him to many especially since the Starks still have many loyal supporters in the north who will not forgive and forget so easily.

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One point seems clear, Stannis needs more men if he wants to have a good chance to defeat Bolton in the field. Bolton had 3,000-3,500 men with him before the Red Wedding. He also has 2,000 men under Hosteen and Aenys Frey. Then there were at least 600 men with Ramsay Bolton. As well as the troops supplied by the half dozen northern lords who had joined Ramsay. So even after taking Moat Cailin and the Red Wedding Roose Bolton might have well beyond 5,000 men, probably more than 6,000 even.

Stannis has merely about a thousand of his own men + 300 wildlings + perhaps some hundred clansmen + perhaps some hundred Karstark men I would suspect. So perhaps about 2,000, but probably not more than 2,500 men all in all.

And Stannis needs them relatively fast if Bolton is on his way to finish him off before he can win more support. If Stannis makes a deal with Asha he might still be able not to lose the gratitude of the Glovers and win their support. If he is quick enough he might also free the Tallharts at Torrhen's Square winning whatever small support they might be able to give. Davos might also win the Manderlys. But would this be enough? Stannis would still be outnumbered by about 2 to 1, probably.

If GRRM intends to resolve the Stannis vs. Bolton conflict in ADwD, then I don't think that Asha and Theon would have the necessary time to provide Stannis with the troops he would need to match Bolton's numbers. So either the conflict is resolved without significant ironmen troops or not at all.

On another note, I wonder what will come off Jaime's intention to ransom all the captives which were taken at the Red Wedding. The Greatjon is among them, and was also said to be held at the Twins. A potential release might be too late to influence events in the north if they are to be resolved in ADwD, though.

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One point seems clear, Stannis needs more men if he wants to have a good chance to defeat Bolton in the field. Bolton had 3,000-3,500 men with him before the Red Wedding. He also has 2,000 men under Hosteen and Aenys Frey. Then there were at least 600 men with Ramsay Bolton. As well as the troops supplied by the half dozen northern lords who had joined Ramsay. So even after taking Moat Cailin and the Red Wedding Roose Bolton might have well beyond 5,000 men, probably more than 6,000 even.

Stannis has merely about a thousand of his own men + 300 wildlings + perhaps some hundred clansmen + perhaps some hundred Karstark men I would suspect. So perhaps about 2,000, but probably not more than 2,500 men all in all.

Rodrick Cassel had north of 2,500 men with him at Winterfell before he died in what was described as an almost bloodless battle. These soldiers have to still be around somewhere, and arn't going to want to be linking up with a Ramsay after he just attacked them and killed their leaders: Leobald and Cley. If Stannis wins these houses he should be able to augment his force by close to those numbers say 2,000, Galbert Glover has another 200 men with him that he'd likely throw in (since Stannis has his wife) plus whatever he can gather back on his homelands vrs a 6,000 with alot of unsertain loyalties in Bolton's camp and if Manderly is indeed playing a game he could easily throw another 1,000 men with Stannis. Given that with Tywin dead Stannis is regarded as the best commander in westeros he shouldn't have that much a disadvantage it'd be a pretty even fight.

Also with TS he can use his prisoners from DM to force Dagmar to surrender since Dagmar is a servant of house Greyjoy he'd be obligated to settle on terms for Asha's safety.

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cybro,

Rodrick Cassel had north of 2,500 men with him at Winterfell before he died in what was described as an almost bloodless battle.

A "good many" common soldiers surviving (as GRRM puts it) isn't quite "bloodless", but even so, what of it?

There are Winterfell-men, Cerwyns (who seem to make a large chunk of things) and Tallhart men, some Flints and Karstarks, a handful of Hornwoods, and some Manderlys. We've already spoken of the Karstarks and Manderlys. Depending on which Flints, they're certainly undecided or they may well be with Bolton. The Tallharts were described as having a small garrison and little more, and that was before Leobald was killed and Torrhen's Square was taken. The Cerwyns seem to have had some more, but we don't know which side they're joining. The Hornwoods are pretty wiped out.

Short of the Manderlys joining and the mountain clans turning up to have thousands of men for him, Stannis is going to be hard up for troops. There are slim pickings in the North right now. Indeed, his ideal situation will require defeating the Boltons with as little slaughter as possible, to conserve troops on both sides.

I don't think this conflict is getting resolved in ADwD, by the bye. The only way it could do that, I suppose, is if it turns out that the Boltons are almost on Torrhen's Square when Stannis is going there. I'm not sure that'll be the case.

For those who heard the chapter,

Can anyone recall yet who else might have been mentioned on the "piece of prince" letter as supporting Ramsay and Roose? Perhaps they used sigils instead of signatures. The Umber giant, the Ryswell horse with flaming eyes .... any Cerwyn battle-axes, Flint stone hand or eyes, Dustin crossed axes... ?

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Really interesting chapter summary. This is what makes the North such an interesting part of Westeros.

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Except he's putting another Greyjoy in control of the Isles, so it looks like he's befriending the cruel/evil/raiding ironborn who have been killing and looting and so on

I seriously don't understand that. :P You seem to be going to extremes Ser Hippie, that everybody must despise the Ironborn and would never put up with them. But kicking Euron off his throne is hardly an act of friendship. Remember Balon's rebellion? Robert even left Balon in charge. The easiest thing to do is to replace Euron with another Greyjoy. People may not like the Greyjoys but they also don't like the Boltons or the Lannisters. They can't all be insane enough to think they must wipe all their enemies out.

Certainly Stannis will have a hard job to convince the Southern lords to come to his side but that's independent of the Greyjoy situation. It depends on the Lannisters. Once Stannis gets the Greyjoys to pull out of the Shield Isles and remove Euron from kingship, then the Tyrells may be happy enough. Stannis will be hoping they will be focused on hating the Lannisters by then. (Not that he should be thinking of the Tyrells at this stage. Getting the North must be his first priority).

I'm not sure what you mean by "major concessions"? Stannis gets Torrhen's Square without a fight while Asha gets some troops and the ability to put Theon in charge. A concession suggests he is losing something he already has. He doesn't have any power over the Ironborn, now he will have. He will have freed the North from the Ironborn in one move.

Btw, i'm not saying that TS is an imposing target but attacking the Ironborn will result in loses because they are brutal fighters. That's something that can be avoided. You even suggest that he can use Asha to convince Cleftjaw to surrender but Asha is not going to do this for no personal benefit.

And Euron does have problems. He is faraway (and could be going further away), the Redwynes are returning with their fleet, Aeron hates him and they are been kicked out of the North. Asha can exploit that, if Stannis allows it. Stannis shouldn't count on the Ironborn but they could be one further step on the way.

Snake is right that Theon is a problem but Asha needs Theon to be effective. Stannis might just have to grit his teeth and hope that the ill-feeling from the RW will continue to be a lot greater than the ill-feeling from the attack on Winterfell. Its far from ideal but since Theon wouldn't be openly at his side, the North could live with it. Especially after Stannis showed his strength against the Ironborn by taking DM and TS from them.

I doubt any of the families in the North much like their options. That's why the Starks will manage to return. :P Now people in the North may decide to switch sides but it wouldn't make sense to snub the Ironborn because you vaguely hope the Umbers will side with you. (If there are some hidden negotiations fine but we have no word of that and I find it unlikely that such subterfuge is happening).

Markus brings up an interesting point about Jaime allowing the RW hostages to go free. It seems a very dangerous to let the Greatjon go though. Jaime might change his mind once he realises that Stannis is a threat again.

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I'm not strictly sure Jaime necessarily means to ransom all the captives, per se. He's responding to riverlords asking about their sons and kin being prisoners even after they bent the knee, so his response may more or less be specific to prisoners from loyal riverlord houses.

Northmen prisoners whose families are not joining up with Roose may be a different issue. Certainly, though, by this point the Umbers seem to have joined with Roose, but it'll take a goodly amount of time before the Greatjon returns there -- if ever. And even if he does return, whose to really say that he'll break with Bolton if all the odds seem to be in Bolton's favor? For that matter, I'm not even certain he'll be able to wrest control of Last Hearth from his uncles, who seem to be running the show despite his having other sons...

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I figured that the Umbers joined Roose mostly because the Greatjon was held hostage at the Twins, and because they don't like Stannis and is wildlings.

I feel that most Houses allied with the Bolton's are allies in name only, mostly because there are no Starks around and the other option (i.e Stannis) is a losing position as of now. Should the Bolton's suffer some casualties in a drawn out conflict with Stannis while a Stark comes forth, most will probably abandon the Bolton's.

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Awesome discussion.

Some points that I want to make.

From the discussions at the end of SOS and the Jon spoiler info, I got the impression that Stannis is fully focused on defending the realm from the threat and that he has put the iron throne on the back burner. (but has not forgotten about it)

His goal in the north is to add troops. He needs to defeat Bolton with as few losses (on either side) as possible. If he plays his cards right, defeating Bolton should leave the entire north available to help in defending the wall. If Asha can help in this (iron born seem especially capable at stealth attacks) then she will have "earned" he place at Stannis's side.

Having the support of the ironborn does 2 things for him. 1st it adds troops to his Army. (granted not very many, but when defending a wall, each body helps) Infantry or cavalry doesn't matter. A body is a body when defending a wall. 2nd it provides him with an ally when it is time to look south again. Killing Theon means he has to defeat the ironborn someday. Letting Theon and Asha go to stake a claim on the Iron Isles creates a potential ally and definately weakens the ironborn.

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I realize this is a tangent, but why do people believe Euron went with Victarion? My impression from AFFC was that Euron would remain in Westeros while Victarion went to Meereen. I don't think Euron would tell Victarion "Go to Slaver's Bay, behold her beauty, and bring her back to me" if Euron intended to accompany Victarion east.

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Krafus,

I realize this is a tangent, but why do people believe Euron went with Victarion? My impression from AFFC was that Euron would remain in Westeros while Victarion went to Meereen. I don't think Euron would tell Victarion "Go to Slaver's Bay, behold her beauty, and bring her back to me" if Euron intended to accompany Victarion east.

Euron wants the dragons and Dany. He may well think he needs more military power than what his own ship provides to get them. But the ironmen have refused to sail to Slaver's Bay. So he has turned to Victarion and the Iron Fleet. But is he really going to trust Victarion to do as he wants? After the history between them?

So he comes up with a plan to get the Iron Fleet to Slaver's Bay ... followed by himself to take them over once Victarion has brought them to where he needs them.

Moreover, there is also the prophecy of the crow and kraken who are coming to Dany. The crow is Euron and the kraken is Victarion.

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Yes, I agree with Markus. The prophecy angle is especially suggestive.

He's responding to riverlords asking about their sons and kin being prisoners even after they bent the knee, so his response may more or less be specific to prisoners from loyal riverlord houses.

That makes sense too. Once Bolton has consolidated his hold on the North, I could understand releasing the Greatjon (and if that causes internal ruptions amongst the Umbers at this stage, all for the better) but before hand it would appear foolish.

And yes Urizen, a Stark would be nicely placed to take over. But, Stannis would probably be happy enough to support such a claimant as long as the Stark didn't wish to be a king.

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For that matter, I'm not even certain he'll be able to wrest control of Last Hearth from his uncles, who seem to be running the show despite his having other sons...

I wouldn't necessarily read too much into this. The Greatjon's other sons may just be too young to run the show. As I recall the Smalljon was the oldest and he was still expected to grow so the others may have been minors, even.

If the uncles were left in charge by the Greatjon they might simply be exercising their proper authority, and not trying to usurp the Greatjon or his sons. In fact, the Greyjoy uncles while being hard men may actually be the more honorable ones compared to Arnolf Karstark, for example. The Greatjon and Harrion Karstark are both hostages but only the Greyjoy uncles are pursuing a course of action which can be said to be beneficial to a hostage.

I don't think this conflict is getting resolved in ADwD, by the bye. The only way it could do that, I suppose, is if it turns out that the Boltons are almost on Torrhen's Square when Stannis is going there. I'm not sure that'll be the case.

Personally I would feel let down a little if ADwD stops seemingly just a few weeks away from a major confrontation between Stannis and Bolton. Leaving the north just before a major climax which would offer a sense of closure to the reader? Or do you perhaps have another climax for the north in mind?

By the way, does anybody remember how Asha learned that Moat Cailin has fallen and how long ago it was?

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Markus,

What you say is true, but going with Victarion would mean essentially abandoning his throne for several months, likely over half a year. Euron has blunted several possible rivals, but even so, he has seen firsthand that his grasp over the Ironborn isn't all that strong. Would he dare leave them to their own devices for a long period of time, especially when he has to suspect that the Redwyne fleet will arrive sooner or later?

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For those who heard the chapter,

Can anyone recall yet who else might have been mentioned on the "piece of prince" letter as supporting Ramsay and Roose? Perhaps they used sigils instead of signatures. The Umber giant, the Ryswell horse with flaming eyes .... any Cerwyn battle-axes, Flint stone hand or eyes, Dustin crossed axes... ?

I think it did refer to sigils rather than actual names, which was one of the things that made it hard (for me, at least) to keep track of the various players. Your reference to crossed axes sounds familar, however, Ran. That one stood out because it reminded me of the crossed scythes of Harlaw(?).

I hate to go off on a new tangent, but I have a small crackpot prediction I'd like to put on record. :blush:

I would not be at all surprised if Asha ends up pregnant. There have been multiple references, (admittedly not serious) to Asha wedding and having children. First there were her lies to Theon, and then her repeated jests that her ax and dirk are the only husband and "suckling babe" she needs. Well, now Asha is suddenly "wedded." I wouldn't put it past George to add in a pregnancy now as well--after all, Asha's life isn't complicated enough yet. ;) Also, there was a brief reference to her needing to brew some moon tea after having sex with Qarl--but I don't see her having the time or opportunity to take care of that at the moment, under the circumstances.

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