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Bran Vras

Three theories on Roose Bolton (The fate of Domeric, Last day in Harrenhal, Lady Dustin)

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You see I can't accept this theory I think there's another explanation. It's like the Bolton's are some Neandathal men who don't understand to well. Even if you thought that you could gain his abilities, or imitate him after doing this once you'd realise this. No I think it's more likely they skin them because they have a reputation of being horrible bastards and they like that. But then I really don't get that Heresy thread its like a different book over there.

Yeah, the heresy threads are scary :) But I don't think your interpretation has to conflict with this suggestion. I do agree that the Boltons revel in their depravity - which could have legitimately started as an attempt to either mock or grossly parody the skinchanging ability of the Starks. If they are half-Starks then it might explain the need for such parodic imitation - flaunting their similarity yet essential difference.

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You see I can't accept this theory I think there's another explanation. It's like the Bolton's are some Neandathal men who don't understand to well. Even if you thought that you could gain his abilities, or imitate him after doing this once you'd realise this. No I think it's more likely they skin them because they have a reputation of being horrible bastards and they like that.

Which is the egg here? Do they skin people because they are considered to be horrible bastards? That is not a motivation, it's an effect.

In the present time of the books, I think the flaying is just a method of terror, and an old tradition that they feel obliged to follow. And for the fun of it in, Ramsay's case.

The theory that you refer to says that the skinners have that tradition because they were trying to approximate skinchanging (like the faceless men also do btw) and it goes back long ago, to when the Boltons fought the Starks for dominance in the north. The original reason for the flaying could be long forgotten by the Boltons. Another popular version of the theory is that the Boltons know/knew the Starks could skinchange, warg, and that it's a comment on that or an attempt to slander, by showing their opinion on skinchanging. They took the skins off the skinchangers...

But then I really don't get that Heresy thread its like a different book over there.

Booo! ;)

If you have read it I'm sure you have seen that we discuss back and forth, much like in this thread. Some think more *out of the box* than others, but everybody have different ideas, it's not a conformed group. Some are more persistent in their heresy than others too. Arguments are founded in the books, it's just us readers that interpret them differently. Black Crow and I disagree in a few of the fundamental issues we are discussing, but I can see where he is coming from, and respect his opinion.

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The Boltons are truly creepy people. That is just their identity. Lady Dunstin says, the North "fears" the Boltons but loves the Starks.

The Boltons are not noted for their honor or decency. Cruelty and ruthlessness is their reputation. I must admit, Roose's connection and relationship with Qyburn is curious, especially since the activities in the bowels of Kings Landing have rendered Un-Gregor.

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The Boltons are truly creepy people. That is just their identity. Lady Dunstin says, the North "fears" the Boltons but loves the Starks.

The Boltons are not noted for their honor or decency. Cruelty and ruthlessness is their reputation. I must admit, Roose's connection and relationship with Qyburn is curious, especially since the activities in the bowels of Kings Landing have rendered Un-Gregor.

Yeah.... and the whole gist is that they've gone past being merely scary and are knee deep in some dark shit :) And Roose does follow the motto of a peaceful land, a quiet people, so we can assume that he doesn't want his activities to be flaunted about so much.

Qyburn's connection to Roose is definitely curious as you said, especially now that he's reanimated the Mountain into Ungregor. Isn't Ungreg just a big wight afterall? Perhaps a bit more sophisticated and responsive, if anything. So whilst the Starks' power may lie in their skinchanging, the Boltons' (and the Others') powers may be in reanimation.

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From reading the thread I don't think it proves in any sort of way that Roose killed Domeric, or that Domeric is Brandon's son, or that Ramsey is Lady Dustin's, it does raise some fascinating questions, particularly about Ramsey's mother. I do think the blood is very important. Blood is a recurrant theme in the novels, and Roose is definitely mixed up in some mysteries related to blood. Roose may very well be a sorcerer, or the westeros equivalent of a vampire, but I think he definitely does something with blood, something probably magical.

Not a vampire in the classic sense, but then wights are not zombies in the the classic sense and wargs are not werewolves in the classic sense, but both are variants on the mythology, missing from this pair of classic undead creatures is the vampire, so Roose being a variant on one would be par for the Northern course.

Also, regarding Flayed Man as a banner, there has been some suggestion that it implies the Bolton's are jealous of the Stark's skin changing and want to emulate it, thus taking skins. I think this gets the idea wrong. I think it either refers to Bolton's being skin-changers who change to humans (taking another man's skin) or is a message to northern skin-changers that you can't escape.

Also, some of this thread has caused Craster to make more sense, possibly. His blood is special because of who his father or mother was (or both), and he keeps the blood PURE because of it's specialness by inbreeding. The qualities of his blood is what makes the white walkers want his children. Craster is doing what the Targaryens do, keeping the blood pure for magical reasons.

The black blood of the night's watch is a great figure of speech. Perhaps its one of those figures of speech that once had a ring of truth. If you really stretch and twist and interpret the oath, there's some interesting possibilities of resurrection/new life in the Night's Watch Oath. Perhaps they originally were reborn, as something akin to wights, or coldhands, and had the black blood of the undead?

There's also a possibility that Craster is a Targaryen. He could by Bloodraven's son, or another Targaryen bastard. If Craster is Targaryen+Nights Watch+White Walker it could be a powerful combination, precisely what the WW needed to rise again.

It could also mean that the WW believe themselves to be wronged by The Night's Watch--that the Night's Watch has kidnapped Gilly's baby from them, and they may attack the Night's Watch to rescue their brother.

It's fascinating that the brothers blew their horns when Craster's mother came to the wall, did they blow three times to signify others? I think they may have.

Equally interesting is that Mance was accepted by the watch (something the foolish Jon would have also done, and did with Gilly's child), while Craster was not, I wonder if it's possible Mance is Craster's son, which could make him Bloodraven's grandson...

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Wonderful post, lockesnow. I pondered that same question upthread, on the number of horn blasts that the Watch blew when they saw Craster's mother approaching. If Craster has been keeping the blood pure (and black) then the Others really do have a legitimate claim on Gilly's baby :eek: And the Watch is even more involved with these creatures that they would have thought possible. I like the suggestion of Roose as a variant of the mythological vampire - with the twist being then that he needs to purge himself of hot "human" blood instead of consuming it? Or after he consumes it....

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Roose is doing something with the leeches, I find it impossible to believe he just discards it.

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Roose is doing something with the leeches, I find it impossible to believe he just discards it.

Gods, I was just thinking about this and thought to post it... What does he do with the leaches with his blood? That is the question. Does anyone remember if it is mentioned?

Melisandre burns them, maybe because fire consumes. (It's not certain it works, but she could think it does)

If Roose is on team Other, is he preserving his blood? Offering it to ice magic?

Ramsay writes letters in blood mostly (not the last letter though), is there some purpose to that?

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Blood magic, I say. both writing in blood, and whatever Roose uses the leeches for.

If Roose leeches, let's be conservative about this, 4 oz of blood a day, that's 58,440 ozs over 40 years, or just shy of 1000 gallons of blood. I'm presuming Roose is in his late fifties and has been doing this since he was a man grown.

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Yeah it's bloodmagic, but I think it has different uses. Melisandre uses it toghether with fire, like Dany did when she hatched the dragons. I think the outcomes and procedures are different from what you pair it with. Fire and blood, or Ice and blood.

Roose could be into blood-fire magic like Mel, or some other variety, but it feels right with Ice for him somehow ;)

He could be saving up for something big... I wonder where the blood goes.

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We never saw the real Reek in the books. The best thing we had was Ramsay impersonating Reek. Here he is in Winterfell, talking to Theon:

“Haven’t fucked no one since they took me, m’lord. Heke’s me true name. I was in service to the Bastard o’ the Dreadfort till the Starks give him an arrow in the back for a wedding gift.”

Note the name Heke, which doesn't seem to occur again. Compare with Craster's manner of speaking

“Had no good southron wine up here for a bear’s night. I could use me some wine, and a new axe. Mine’s lost its bite, can’t have that, I got me women to protect.”

So if Ramsay was mimicking Reek manner of speaking, it seems that Reek spoke like a wildling (not like a wildling like Mance of Val). Note that Reek practiced necrophilia with the women Ramsay had hunted, I wonder if he did not have any contact with wight women.

About the wildling tradition of stealing women, here is Jon:

“Has Val been told, Your Grace?” asked Jon. “Amongst the free folk, when a man desires a woman, he steals her, and thus proves his strength, his cunning, and his courage. The suitor risks a savage beating if he is caught by the woman’s kin, and worse than that if she herself finds him unworthy.”

What is worse? Is it the gelding Val promised Jon he tried to join her at night? Or does it refer to the curse?

Still about the tradition of stealing women, I have to mention this. This the Knight of the Laughing Tree story at Harrenhal

The Knight of the Laughing Tree had vanished. The king was wroth, and even sent his son the dragon prince to seek the man, but all they ever found was his painted shield, hanging abandoned in a tree.

Some have speculated that Rhaegar met Lyanna as he was looking for the knight, and was possibly smitten. But Rhaegar proved more worthy than Roose and Craster's father and he kidnapped Lyanna.

To complete the analogy: Rhaegar was looking for the knight, while Roose was looking for the fox. Conclusion: the Rhaegar/Lyanna story fits the traditional wildling culture of marriage. (added to my Rhaegar file.) Jon did not seem to inherit the bad blood though.

Bran, how are pronouncing Domeric? I always say it with a harsher "ick" ending that doesn't rhyme with the softer "eek" of Reek.

The phonetics of my own language might have had a bad influence on me here. Thanksfully, I think I have to let go the notion that Reek is Domeric. Here is the the reference for his death in ACoK, Lady Hornwood says

“Bolton’s bastard is massing men at the Dreadfort,” she warned them. “I hope he means to take them south to join his father at the Twins, but when I sent to ask his intent, he told me that no Bolton would be questioned by a woman. As if he were trueborn and had a right to that name.”

“Lord Bolton has never acknowledged the boy, so far as I know,” Ser Rodrik said. “I confess, I do not know him.”

“Few do,” she replied. “He lived with his mother until two years past, when young Domeric died and left Bolton without an heir. That was when he brought his bastard to the Dreadfort. The boy is a sly creature by all accounts, and he has a servant who is almost as cruel as he is. Reek, they call the man. It’s said he never bathes. They hunt together, the Bastard and this Reek, and not for deer. I’ve heard tales, things I can scarce believe, even of a Bolton. And now that my lord husband and my sweet son have gone to the gods, the Bastard looks at my lands hungrily.”

If Reek were Domeric, it would be impossible to hide that from people at the Dreadfort. Note that Lady Hornwood said "young Domeric", so it's impossible that Domeric rode with Lyanna, consequently the Redfort squire mentioned by Robert was not Domeric (see upthread).

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Jon may have bad blood, he's got bastard black blood and he's also got night's watch black blood.

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[/crackpot] Given all that we've been speculating about Roose - sorcerer/blood magic/baby killer-could he have been the one to kill Little Walder at Winterfell? Here's the incident:

He sat in the back of the Great Hall, not far from the

horses, watching Abel, Rowan, and a mousy brown-haired

washerwoman called Squirrel attack slabs of stale brown

bread fried in bacon grease. Theon broke his own fast with

a tankard of dark ale, cloudy with yeast and thick enough to

chew on. A few more tankards, and perhaps Abel’s plan

might not seem quite so mad.

Roose Bolton entered, pale-eyed and yawning,

accompanied by his plump and pregnant wife, Fat Walda.

Several lords and captains had preceded him, amongst

them Whoresbane Umber, Aenys Frey, and Roger Ryswell.

Farther down the table Wyman Manderly sat wolfing down

sausages and boiled eggs, whilst old Lord Locke beside

him spooned gruel into his toothless mouth.

Lord Ramsay soon appeared as well, buckling on his

sword belt as he made his way to the front of the hall. His

mood is foul this morning. Theon could tell. The drums

kept him awake all night, he guessed, or someone has

displeased him. One wrong word, an ill-considered look,

an ill-timed laugh, any of them could provoke his lordship’s

wroth and cost a man a strip of skin. Please, m’lord, don’t

look this way. One glance would be all it would take for

Ramsay to know everything. He’ll see it written on my face.

He’ll know. He always knows.

Theon turned to Abel. “This will not work.” His voice was

pitched so low that even the horses could not have

overheard. “We will be caught before we leave the castle.

Even if we do escape, Lord Ramsay will hunt us down, him

and Ben Bones and the girls.”

“Lord Stannis is outside the walls, and not far by the

sound of it. All we need do is reach him.” Abel’s fingers

danced across the strings of his lute. The singer’s beard

was brown, though his long hair had largely gone to grey. “If

the Bastard does come after us, he might live long enough

to rue it.”

Think that, Theon thought. Believe that. Tell yourself it’s

true. “Ramsay will use your women as his prey,” he told the

singer. “He’ll hunt them down, rape them, and feed their

corpses to his dogs. If they lead him a good chase, he may

name his next litter of bitches after them. You he’ll flay. Him

and Skinner and Damon Dance-for-Me, they will make a

game of it. You’ll be begging them to kill you.” He clutched

the singer’s arm with a maimed hand. “You swore you

would not let me fall into his hands again. I have your word

on that.” He needed to hear it again.

“Abel’s word,” said Squirrel. “Strong as oak.” Abel himself

only shrugged. “No matter what, my prince.”

Up on the dais, Ramsay was arguing with his father. They

were too far away for Theon to make out any of the words,

but the fear on Fat Walda’s round pink face spoke volumes.

He did hear Wyman Manderly calling for more sausages

and Roger Ryswell’s laughter at some jape from onearmed

Harwood Stout.

Theon wondered if he would ever see the Drowned God’s

watery halls, or if his ghost would linger here at Winterfell.

Dead is dead. Better dead than Reek. If Abel’s scheme

went awry, Ramsay would make their dying long and hard.

He will flay me from head to heel this time, and no

amount of begging will end the anguish. No pain Theon

had ever known came close to the agony that Skinner could

evoke with a little flensing blade. Abel would learn that

lesson soon enough. And for what? Jeyne, her name is

Jeyne, and her eyes are the wrong color. A mummer

playing a part. Lord Bolton knows, and Ramsay, but the

rest are blind, even this bloody bard with his sly smiles.

The jape is on you, Abel, you and your murdering whores.

You’ll die for the wrong girl.

He had come this close to telling them the truth when

Rowan had delivered him to Abel in the ruins of the Burned

Tower, but at the last instant he had held his tongue. The

singer seemed intent on making off with the daughter of

Eddard Stark. If he knew that Lord Ramsay’s bride was but

a steward’s whelp, well …

The doors of the Great Hall opened with a crash.

A cold wind came swirling through, and a cloud of ice

crystals sparkled blue-white in the air. Through it strode Ser

Hosteen Frey, caked with snow to the waist, a body in his

arms. All along the benches men put down their cups and

spoons to turn and gape at the grisly spectacle. The hall

grew quiet.

Another murder.

Snow slid from Ser Hosteen’s cloaks as he stalked

toward the high table, his steps ringing against the floor. A

dozen Frey knights and men-at-arms entered behind him.

One was a boy Theon knew—Big Walder, the little one, foxfaced

and skinny as a stick. His chest and arms and cloak

were spattered with blood.

The scent of it set the horses to screaming. Dogs slid out

from under the tables, sniffing. Men rose from the benches.

The body in Ser Hosteen’s arms sparkled in the torchlight,

armored in pink frost. The cold outside had frozen his

blood.

“My brother Merrett’s son.” Hosteen Frey lowered the

body to the floor before the dais. “Butchered like a hog and

shoved beneath a snowbank. A boy.

Little Walder, thought Theon. The big one. He glanced at

Rowan. There are six of them, he remembered. Any of

them could have done this. But the washerwoman felt his

eyes. “This was no work of ours,” she said.

“Be quiet,” Abel warned her.

Lord Ramsay descended from the dais to the dead boy.

His father rose more slowly, pale-eyed, still-faced, solemn.

“This was foul work.” For once Roose Bolton’s voice was

loud enough to carry. “Where was the body found?”

“Under that ruined keep, my lord,” replied Big Walder.

“The one with the old gargoyles.” The boy’s gloves were

caked with his cousin’s blood. “I told him not to go out

alone, but he said he had to find a man who owed him

silver.”

“What man?” Ramsay demanded. “Give me his name.

Point him out to me, boy, and I will make you a cloak of his

skin.”

“He never said, my lord. Only that he won the coin at

dice.” The Frey boy hesitated. “It was some White Harbor

men who taught dice. I couldn’t say which ones, but it was

them.”

“My lord,” boomed Hosteen Frey. “We know the man who

did this. Killed this boy and all the rest. Not by his own hand,

no. He is too fat and craven to do his own killing. But by his

word.” He turned to Wyman Manderly. “Do you deny it?”

The Lord of White Harbor bit a sausage in half. “I

confess …” He wiped the grease from his lips with his

sleeve. “… I confess that I know little of this poor boy. Lord

Ramsay’s squire, was he not? How old was the lad?”

“Nine, on his last nameday.”

“So young,” said Wyman Manderly. “Though mayhaps this

was a blessing. Had he lived, he would have grown up to

be a Frey.”

Ser Hosteen slammed his foot into the tabletop, knocking

it off its trestles, back into Lord Wyman’s swollen belly.

Cups and platters flew, sausages scattered everywhere,

and a dozen Manderly men came cursing to their feet.

Some grabbed up knives, platters, flagons, anything that

might serve as a weapon.

Ser Hosteen Frey ripped his longsword from its scabbard

and leapt toward Wyman Manderly. The Lord of White

Harbor tried to jerk away, but the tabletop pinned him to his

chair. The blade slashed through three of his four chins in a

spray of bright red blood. Lady Walda gave a shriek and

clutched at her lord husband’s arm. “Stop,” Roose Bolton

shouted. “Stop this madness.” His own men rushed

forward as the Manderlys vaulted over the benches to get at

the Freys. One lunged at Ser Hosteen with a dagger, but

the big knight pivoted and took his arm off at the shoulder.

Lord Wyman pushed to his feet, only to collapse. Old Lord

Locke was shouting for a maester as Manderly flopped on

the floor like a clubbed walrus in a spreading pool of blood.

Around him dogs fought over sausages.

It took two score Dreadfort spearmen to part the

combatants and put an end to the carnage. By that time six

White Harbor men and two Freys lay dead upon the floor. A

dozen more were wounded and one of the Bastard’s Boys,

Luton, was dying noisily, crying for his mother as he tried to

shove a fistful of slimy entrails back through a gaping belly

wound. Lord Ramsay silenced him, yanking a spear from

one of Steelshanks’s men and driving it down through

Luton’s chest. Even then the rafters still rang with shouts

and prayers and curses, the shrieks of terrified horses and

the growls of Ramsay’s bitches. Steelshanks Walton had to

slam the butt of his spear against the floor a dozen times

before the hall quieted enough for Roose Bolton to be

heard.

“I see you all want blood,” the Lord of the Dreadfort said.

Maester Rhodry stood beside him, a raven on his arm. The

bird’s black plumage shone like coal oil in the torchlight.

Wet, Theon realized. And in his lordship’s hand, a

parchment. That will be wet as well. Dark wings, dark

words. “Rather than use our swords upon each other, you

might try them on Lord Stannis.” Lord Bolton unrolled the

parchment. “His host lies not three days’ ride from here,

snowbound and starving, and I for one am tired of waiting

on his pleasure. Ser Hosteen, assemble your knights and

men-at-arms by the main gates. As you are so eager for

battle, you shall strike our first blow. Lord Wyman, gather

your White Harbor men by the east gate. They shall go forth

as well.”

A few curious things: 1. Roose enters yawning - ok, not much in the way of evidence since everyone is restless from the constant beating of drums outside, but it could indicate that Roose is tired from a night of stalking prey, i.e. killing Little Walder. 2. When the body is brought in, Theon notes that for once Roose's voice could be heard. Again, a plausible explanation for this could be the seriousness of the incident, or Roose could be putting on a good show. 3. Roose's comment, "I see you all want blood." He's speaking about them fighting in the hall of course, but could we also read it as being a subtle hint about Roose's desires? Further, Little Walder was acquiring a reputation for becoming just like Ramsay, but I don't see how this would fit into a motive for Roose killing him.

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Found this little tidbit looking through the Ghost in winterfell thread:

Posted 25 July 2011 - 08:40 PM by Jenny

Before his death Little Walder mentioned that he was going to get his silver coin.. That reminds me of the blood sacrifice in Bran's visions inside the heart tree. They had put a silver coin in his mouth and killed him..

Maybe it was kind of blood sacrifice after all. especially when winter is coming.

If I am not mistaken the place they found Little Walder is where they found Bran, and it couldn't be far from the godswood.

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There was no mention of a silver coin being put in the captive's mouth in Bran's vision.

I haven't checked the veracity of the statement, just thought it interesting, but it's way past my bedtime, :) So i'll leave the details to be ironed out later. I also just realised that Little Walder was Fat Walda's brother, which would fit in with the theory of Roose sacrificing his own blood, even if it's by marriage....

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[/crackpot] Given all that we've been speculating about Roose - sorcerer/blood magic/baby killer-could he have been the one to kill Little Walder at Winterfell? Here's the incident:

A few curious things: 1. Roose enters yawning - ok, not much in the way of evidence since everyone is restless from the constant beating of drums outside, but it could indicate that Roose is tired from a night of stalking prey, i.e. killing Little Walder. 2. When the body is brought in, Theon notes that for once Roose's voice could be heard. Again, a plausible explanation for this could be the seriousness of the incident, or Roose could be putting on a good show. 3. Roose's comment, "I see you all want blood." He's speaking about them fighting in the hall of course, but could we also read it as being a subtle hint about Roose's desires? Further, Little Walder was acquiring a reputation for becoming just like Ramsay, but I don't see how this would fit into a motive for Roose killing him.

Yes, Brashcandy, the yawning is probably a sign Roose did not sleep well the previous night. Besides the explanation you propose (involvement in Little Walder's murder), I would discard that he has been kept awake by Fat Walda, since she is pregnant now, and I don't believe Roose has much interest in her besides her fertility. But think again of the burnt out candles that Arya saw in Harrenhal: Roose likes to stay awake late at night to read and study.

The atmosphere in the scene reminds me of the tensions in the final scene in Craster's keep which ended in a bath of blood. It's uncharacteristic of Roose to raise his voice (this is the first time we hear him do so, I think).

I also just realised that Little Walder was Fat Walda's brother, which would fit in with the theory of Roose sacrificing his own blood, even if it's by marriage....

I wonder why Roose has chosen Fat Walda as a wife over Fair Walda. The reason given in the book is greed, since Lord Walder offered a dowry in silver equal to the weight of the bride. I looked at Fat Walda's ancestry (her father was Merrett Frey killed by the Brotherhood, her mother was a Darry, her grandmother a Crakehall) and found nothing to justify Roose's choice.

Also, some of this thread has caused Craster to make more sense, possibly. His blood is special because of who his father or mother was (or both), and he keeps the blood PURE because of it's specialness by inbreeding. The qualities of his blood is what makes the white walkers want his children. Craster is doing what the Targaryens do, keeping the blood pure for magical reasons.

[...]

There's also a possibility that Craster is a Targaryen. He could by Bloodraven's son, or another Targaryen bastard. If Craster is Targaryen+Nights Watch+White Walker it could be a powerful combination, precisely what the WW needed to rise again.

It could also mean that the WW believe themselves to be wronged by The Night's Watch--that the Night's Watch has kidnapped Gilly's baby from them, and they may attack the Night's Watch to rescue their brother.

It's fascinating that the brothers blew their horns when Craster's mother came to the wall, did they blow three times to signify others? I think they may have.

No, the horn was not blown thrice. In the prologue of ASoS, we read

“Three,” he squeaked to Chett, “that was three, I heard three. They never blow three. Not for hundreds and thousands of years. Three means —”

It's interesting that Craster's father was not here when his mother came to the Wall.

About Craster's origin: the only clue we have are in Craster's physical features: flat nose, close set eyes. The drooping mouth and lost ear are acquired characteristics. Few people have a flat nose in Westeros, especially among the highborn (Mirri Maz Durr had one). Note that Ramsay doesn't look like either his mother (Theon notes that he will get fat later. He is not willowy or healthy looking.) or his father (except for the eyes).

Lord Mormont brought Craster an axe as present. It's precious with gold inlays. It seems, but it is not certain, that the axe belongs to Mormont. Could it be the personal weapon of Craster's father, a family heirloom maybe?

But I keep in mind lockesnow's idea that the Others want blood as offering, and perhaps a certain type of blood. I tend to think also that the other sons of Craster son will come for their brother.

Two little things about leeches in ASoS. I can't make anything of them.

In the prologue, Chett is the son of a leechman. His story contains a few details about leeches from the Riverlands, but I could not derive any clue about Lord Bolton's leeching habit.

Mance's favourite song:

The Dornishman’s wife would sing as she bathed,

in a voice that was sweet as a peach,

But the Dornishman’s blade had a song of its own,

and a bite sharp and cold as a leech.

compares the blade of the Dornishman to a leech.

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Yeah, the heresy threads are scary :) But I don't think your interpretation has to conflict with this suggestion. I do agree that the Boltons revel in their depravity - which could have legitimately started as an attempt to either mock or grossly parody the skinchanging ability of the Starks. If they are half-Starks then it might explain the need for such parodic imitation - flaunting their similarity yet essential difference.

It's not like Starks are extremely inbred. So Jon, Bran, Arya, Sansa and Rickon are all "half-Starks" too, as the other side is Tully/Targaryen/whateveryoubelieveJonis. So the Boltons would have just as big a chance to be skinchangers as the "legitimate" Starks.

But if you just mean "Half-Starks" as in half-human, half-Other, then carry on.

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Bran, I'm not sure if you've quoted Ramsay's physical features before, but I'll do so now:

...he remained an ugly man, big-boned and slope shouldered, with a fleshiness to him that suggested that in later life he would run to fat. His skin was pink and blotchy, his nose broad, his mouth small, his hair long and dark and dry. His lips were wide and meaty, but the thing men noticed first about him were his eyes. He had his lord father's eyes - small, close-set, queerly pale. Ghost grey, some men called the shade, but in truth his eyes were all but colorless, like two chips of dirty ice.

Also, is there a connection between Roose having lots of silver (from the dowry) and Little Walder looking for a man who had promised him silver? I think Roose chose Walda specifically because she was fat and in his mind this equated to increased fertility.

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