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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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Thanks all for the comments. But, please, be careful in your reading of the OP, it's partly analysis and partly speculation. (No, I have never said that Roose would go beyond the wall to give his newborns to the Others etc.)

1) I believe to have established in the OP that the notion that Ramsay killed Domeric comes entirely from Roose and is deliberately advertised by Roose. That is a remarkable claim in itself. The question is: what do you infer from that?

2) We are into weird territory if we want to explore Roose's motives. What sense do you make of this man who keeps close to him the murderer of his son and who doesn't mind the murders of his future children? So think twice before expecting a rational explanation at once.

3) There is still much that I don't understand about Lord Bolton. So (for the record) I am not certain that he is indeed the murderer of Domeric (I was prudent about that in the OP). But at this point, that's the most likely hypothesis. However, I have open questions about the Dreadfort, the story of the miller's wife etc.

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Domeric was a page at Barrowton and a squire at the Redfort, he grew used to having male companionship there and sought out his bastard brother because of this according to what Roose told Theon. The question is why tell this to Theon/Reek? Roose knows it is possible that Theon might tell him this, he tells him that he knows Ramsey expected him to spy on Roose for him. I've always been a little confused about this whole story. My theory is that Domeric was actually Lady Dustins child through Brandon Stark and that it was raised by roose and his Ryswell wife as their own, Roose eventualy found out the truth and had him poisoned so Ramsey, his true son could become the heir, the accusation against Ramsey is a cover story for Lady Dustin. Domeric doesn't really seem to act like a Bolton his trusting and naive nature makes me think he might have had some Stark blood but who knows lol.

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What sense do you make of this man who keeps close to him the murderer of his son and who doesn't mind the murders of his future children?

A rather sociopathic pragmatist. If there's anything "irrational" about Roose, it's how easily he can be rational in situations where normal people would freak out.

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A rather sociopathic pragmatist. If there's anything "irrational" about Roose, it's how easily he can be rational in situations where normal people would freak out.

Exactly. For Roose, a sociopathic sadistic heir, even one who killed his own half-brother, is better than no heir at all or a child heir. That's pragmatic, I'd say.

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Exactly. For Roose, a sociopathic sadistic heir, even one who killed his own half-brother, is better than no heir at all or a child heir. That's pragmatic, I'd say.

By Rooses own admission he feels that Ramsey is unwise and lacks discretion and tells Theon that he doesn't think him at all capable of the burden of ruiling the North, so why is he supporting an heir who he feels is unworthy, risks Lady Dustins support, and will kill any other children he might have with Lady Walda? His support of Ramsey doesn't seem pragmatic once he takes Moat Cailin, perhaps he is just wating for fake Arya to be pregnant before he gets rid of him but this carries risks as well. I agree wit Bran Vras that thing aren't what the appaer to be but I'm kind of clueless when it comes to answers.

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For those who don't want to believe that Roose killed Domeric, it's possible to address a content, which is not speculative, in the OP: Roose, again and again, even when there was no need to, designated Ramsay as the killer of Domeric. Why?

Concerning the murder itself, it's worthwhile to examine the material circumstances. We know that Domeric died of "sickness of the bowels" (Maester Uthor, via Roose) or "died of bad belly" (appendix AFfC, so it's reliable). That seems to correspond to the following description of the Tears of Lys (Arya, AFfC).

The tears of Lys, men call it. Dissolved in wine or water, it eats at a man’s bowels and belly, and kills as a sickness of those parts.

Where could Ramsay, still in his windmill at the time, have found such a poison? There is an interesting import at the Dreadfort, mentioned by Roose as he describes Reek

Once, when my second wife was still alive, [Reek] was caught stealing scent from her bedchamber. I had him whipped for that, a dozen lashes. Even his blood smelled wrong. The next year he tried it again. This time he drank the perfume and almost died of it.

I intended to mention this because perfumes are a famous Lysene export. So one can imagine that Roose imported both the poison and the perfume for Bethany from Lys. (Seeing what happened when Reek drank the perfume, I wonder whether the perfume and the poison were not the same thing.)

(I usually avoid pointless back and forth. But, for those who think keeping Ramsay as the only option as an heir is pragmatic, I am willing to bet with them that Ramsay will die before he can impregnate "Arya". Roose is aware that Ramsay's chances are slim and tells him so. So much for pragmatism.)

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For those who don't want to believe that Roose killed Domeric, it's possible to address a content, which is not speculative, in the OP: Roose, again and again, even when there was no need to, designated Ramsay as the killer of Domeric. Why?

Other than Roose telling Theon that Ramsay killed Domeric, and Roose hinting to Ramsay that Lady Dustin holds Ramsay responsible for Domeric, where else does Roose accuse Ramsay explicitly, specifically of killing Domeric? One of these instances is to Ramsay himself, and one is to Theon, who's more or less enslaved. That's not exactly trumpeting Ramsay's guilt in public for all to hear.

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It's in the OP, but I will spell it out for you. (Next time, think of asking a bit more nicely. It will be appreciated.). It's not explicit, but well understood by all, when Catelyn Stark says that Ramsay is accused of having done worse than murder and rape. And Roose agrees.

Why did Roose write, as the news of Ramsay's death reach him,

“A fate he no doubt earned,” Bolton had written. “Tainted blood is ever treacherous, and Ramsay’s nature was sly, greedy, and cruel. I count myself well rid of him. The trueborn sons my young wife has promised me would never have been safe while he lived.”

if not to say that Ramsay already killed Domeric?

I have noted other instances of situations where Roose underlines gratuitously Ramsay's cruelty to other Northern Lords that I did not put in the OP. I don't think one can deny the pattern.

Note: After having found the Tears of Lys reference, I feel more confident in my speculation that Roose killed Domeric.

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It's in the OP, but I will spell it out for you. (Next time, think of asking a bit more nicely. It will be appreciated.). It's not explicit, but well understood by all, when Catelyn Stark says that Ramsay is accused of having done worse than murder and rape. And Roose agrees.

I have noted other instances of situations where Roose underlines gratuitously Ramsay's cruelty to other Northern Lords that I did not put in the OP. I don't think one can deny the pattern.

That's open to interpretation. For instance, I might say that necrophilia and forced starvation are worse than "just" murder and rape. As you said, it's not explicit.

Domeric died two years before the War of the Five Kings. If it was common knowledge that Ramsay killed him and Roose was public and explicit about this blame, why is this only coming to light now? It seems to me that the Starks and other northerners are accusing Ramsay of his more recent crimes — probably his starving Lady Hornwood to death? — and are oblivious to the possibility that he could have killed Domeric. Roose's statements about Ramsay's cruelty "fit" even without pointing to Domeric's death specifically. I see no evidence that Robb or Catelyn or anyone else connects Ramsay to his half-brother's death. Robb only had Manderly intervene when Ramsay murdered Lady Hornwood through starvation.

ETA: And I still don't see a motive.

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That's open to interpretation. For instance, I might say that necrophilia and forced starvation are worse than "just" murder and rape. As you said, it's not explicit.

At this point, with all due respect to your pugnacity, the conversation is silly. I consider my (non speculative) point established. But I will answer your last objection. No, Catelyn does not refer to Lady Hornwood or to necrophilia. Kinslaying is not explicitly mentioned because it is a taboo. Mentioning Lady Hornwood wouldn't be a taboo, it's a gruesome murder, but a murder (no worse than what is routinely done in this war). Do you think maester Luwin took the pain to send a raven to inform all the northerners that some bastard has been found practicing necrophilia? Even, if it was about those matters, at this point of the war the news would be just rumours which reached with difficulty the Northerners fighting in the South, and Roose would not acquiesce without a good knowledge of the matter.

About the date of death of Domeric, don't trust the wiki. There is something I can't make sense of in Domeric's timeline. Roose describes Domeric to Theon:

Horses ... the boy was mad for horses, Lady Dustin will tell you. Not even Lord Rickard’s daughter could outrace him, and that one was half a horse herself. Redfort said he showed great promise in the lists. A great jouster must be a great horseman first.”

That seems to imply that Domeric rode with Lyanna (?). Any alternate explanation?

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The motive? Sometimes in crime novels/movies we learn about the murderer before we can learn about the motive.

Now, this what I am going to present is a bit weak, but let's say that it could be a motive. Roose severely punishes just a hint of disobedience, which may not even be disobedience; in Arya's chapter with Bolton I was afraid that she may do some wrong move and pay harsh price for it, there was always something cold about Roose, we got an impression that he wouldn't disproportionally punish you in anger or on impulse, but with cold and calm face. So from the OP we know those Bolton's words:

In the Vale, Domeric had enjoyed the company of Redfort’s sons. He wanted a brother by his side, so he rode up the Weeping Water to seek my bastard out. I forbade it, but Domeric was a man grown and thought that he knew better than his father. Now his bones lie beneath the Dreadfort with the bones of his brothers, who died still in the cradle, and I am left with Ramsay.

For a moment forget about what he forbade, it may not be important. What may be important, that he forbade (something), Domeric completely disobeyed (his Lord) as (and here we get Bolton's cynism:) thought that he knew better than his father.

I'm not saying that Roose killed him because of this one specific disobedience. It may be a part of a pattern, he may have confronted his father on different issues too, and that may be well a motive for Roose. He thought that he knew better than his father. He was not good (obedient) son to his father, that may well be a motive.

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It's an interesting topic.

I agree with the sentiment that the idea of Bolton sacrificing his sons to the Others is crazy, but on the other hand we know that crazy things are happening in the books like Craster sacrificing his own sons. The point is not if it seems crazy to us but if it is meaningful for the characters. In this case we would wonder if Bolton was sacrificing his sons to the Others what does he hope to obtain in exchange?

Even if we assume that Bolton wasn't behind Domeric's death the implication is that he at least suspected that it would occur (though that could be hindsight I suppose) but did nothing to protect his son and only heir. In other words he appears to have left his son and heir with enough rope to hang himself. Odd behaviour however you look at it.

Ramsey has a motive but I agree as has been pointed out doesn't seem the type for poison. Reek I has the motivation (vengeance on Bolton plus to ingratiate himself with Ramsey) and possibly knowledge of poisons. But I think Bolton also has a motive - fear of Domeric as a rival, somebody who might supplant him just as we learn that Lord Hunter's son arranged for the murder of his father.

Naturally that may seem slightly odd, but then Bolton is the man who see this as a world of treachery and deceit.

The mention of poison reminds me how careful Bolton is in his eating habits (always the prunes - good for keeping your bowel movements regular), careful with his blood with the regular leaching to keep it nice and thin, careful in his movements - having a decoy greet Ramsey first while he remained in the wagon. Of course that could just be since the death of Domeric, or it could be a man who suspects that there are people close to him who would kill him in an instant if they had the chance. Domeric of course would have had most to gain from his Dad's death.

Leaping back to this business of the sacrifice, we do know that the Boltons are true to the traditions of the north and that some of these traditions aren't exactly nice. For all we know the right of first night, the hanging of the miller and the rape of his wife beneath his corpse (probably before Bolton's men as witnesses in addition to the trees - I don't see Bolton hanging the Miller personally on his own) is the tip of the iceberg. That plus the death of all his legitimate children to date is an invitation to sinister thoughts...

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it's definately an interesting suggestion. How old is Craster, do we think? He certainly seems to have been around a while. I think one of the characters mention it but its certainly implied with the leeches that Roose intends to live longer. I wonder if he could be sacraficing his sons to the others as part of a pact giving him longer life. Funnily enough this reminds me of Godfather II where Roth is making out like michael's his heir but intends to live forever so tries to bump michael off.

If Roose was in league with The Others it certainly would tie in the game of thrones plots in with the battle against The Others and make the series more succinct so as a plot device it would work quite well. It would also tie in with theories of Roose becoming the new Nights King.

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Roose would not be the only Lord in Westeros to be careless with his trueborn male heir - looking at you Doran Martell, in both instances the motives behind what has happened remain fairly or even completly obscured at this point, but in both cases I'm convinced that death was the intended outcome.

I want to stay on topic so I wont speculate further about Doran. As for Roose, his motives are probably born from his character - we know he is a cold and disloyal individual, we also know from his own mouth that the furture of the Dreadfort and his line doesn't matter to him. I think Roose is a selfish and impulsive creature, he enjoys playing the game of thrones but only cares how well he does when he is alive (if I am right then Roose is totally irreligious, and so what does he care for rewards in heaven?). I also think following references to his own mortality point to Roose carrying some sort of illness - what that might mean my brain has yet to construct ;)

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I came up with the sacrificing in the 2nd post but I never implied Roose went beyond the wall to do so.

It was just an idea so maybe I outline it a little bit further. We know of a longstanding Bolton-Stark rivalry, with the Boltons keeping the skins of some ancient Starks in their hall (or wherever). It has been speculated, most likely in the Heresy threads, that the Boltons are into flaying because they want to emulate the warging of the Starks. It has also been speculated that the Starks can warg either due to a special relationship with the CotF from the days of the pact which might or might not include the Night King and his sacrificing practices.

Based on this vague concepts I assume that Roose knows more about the powers that helped the Starks ruling that long (and GRRM got rid off all the Starks that could possibly explain - Ned, Benjen, Robb), but doesn't understand the concept so he emulates flaying and sacrificing. I also assume that Craster knew something more about the Night King and this is why he sacrificed his sons.

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For a moment forget about what he forbade, it may not be important. What may be important, that he forbade (something), Domeric completely disobeyed (his Lord) as (and here we get Bolton's cynism:) thought that he knew better than his father.

I'm not saying that Roose killed him because of this one specific disobedience. It may be a part of a pattern, he may have confronted his father on different issues too, and that may be well a motive for Roose. He thought that he knew better than his father. He was not good (obedient) son to his father, that may well be a motive.

When I prepared the OP, I made a similar analysis and noticed too that Domeric transgressed Roose's commandments. Your post emboldens me and I am going to try to say something speculative below.

The mention of poison reminds me how careful Bolton is in his eating habits (always the prunes - good for keeping your bowel movements regular), careful with his blood with the regular leaching to keep it nice and thin, careful in his movements - having a decoy greet Ramsey first while he remained in the wagon. Of course that could just be since the death of Domeric, or it could be a man who suspects that there are people close to him who would kill him in an instant if they had the chance. Domeric of course would have had most to gain from his Dad's death.

Leaping back to this business of the sacrifice, we do know that the Boltons are true to the traditions of the north and that some of these traditions aren't exactly nice. For all we know the right of first night, the hanging of the miller and the rape of his wife beneath his corpse (probably before Bolton's men as witnesses in addition to the trees - I don't see Bolton hanging the Miller personally on his own) is the tip of the iceberg. That plus the death of all his legitimate children to date is an invitation to sinister thoughts...

I agree about the sinister thoughts. The whole story of the miller's wife is thought provoking (I reproduce it below). I hoped that people who have speculated in the heresies threads could offer some insight.

“Has my bastard ever told you how I got him?”

That he did know, to his relief. “Yes, my ... m’lord. You met his mother whilst out riding and were smitten by her beauty.”

“Smitten?” Bolton laughed. “Did he use that word? Why, the boy has a singer’s soul ... though if you believe that song, you may well be dimmer than the first Reek. Even the riding part is wrong. I was hunting a fox along the Weeping Water when I chanced upon a mill and saw a young woman washing clothes in the stream. The old miller had gotten himself a new young wife, a girl not half his age. She was a tall, willowy creature, very healthy-looking. Long legs and small firm breasts, like two ripe plums. Pretty, in a common sort of way. The moment that I set eyes on her I wanted her. Such was my due. The maesters will tell you that King Jaehaerys abolished the lord’s right to the first night to appease his shrewish queen, but where the old gods rule, old customs linger. The Umbers keep the first night too, deny it as they may. Certain of the mountain clans as well, and on Skagos ... well, only heart trees ever see half of what they do on Skagos.

“This miller’s marriage had been performed without my leave or knowledge. The man had cheated me. So I had him hanged, and claimed my rights beneath the tree where he was swaying. If truth be told, the wench was hardly worth the rope. The fox escaped as well, and on our way back to the Dreadfort my favorite courser came up lame, so all in all it was a dismal day.

“A year later this same wench had the impudence to turn up at the Dreadfort with a squalling, red-faced monster that she claimed was my own get. I should’ve had the mother whipped and thrown her child down a well ... but the babe did have my eyes. She told me that when her dead husband’s brother saw those eyes, he beat her bloody and drove her from the mill. That annoyed me, so I gave her the mill and had the brother’s tongue cut out, to make certain he did not go running to Winterfell with tales that might disturb Lord Rickard. Each year I sent the woman some piglets and chickens and a bag of stars, on the understanding that she was never to tell the boy who had fathered him. A peaceful land, a quiet people, that has always been my rule.”

No one could stand to be near [Reek], so he slept with the pigs ... until the day that Ramsay’s mother appeared at my gates to demand that I provide a servant for my bastard, who was growing up wild and unruly. I gave her Reek. It was meant to be amusing, but he and Ramsay became inseparable. I do wonder, though ... was it Ramsay who corrupted Reek, or Reek Ramsay?

Here are my rather vague thoughts about all that. Roose tells the story while downplaying its importance, but that should not arrest us. If it were a fairy tale, I would say that the fox guided Roose to the woman, who is a spirit or a wood witch. However, the attraction felt by Roose is not natural for him. She is the physical opposite of Fat Walda. (It's weird to compare breasts to ripe plums.) Ramsay is right to say that Roose was smitten, it seems to me.

I can see only one clear point that I can make: the woman has power over Roose. She made a demand one year after the "rape", again when she was expelled from the mill, and again when she needed a servant for Ramsay. Every time, Roose fulfilled the request. Every year, Roose feels he had to send offerings to her ("bag of stars"?).

Roose tells us that he forbade Domeric to ride upstream to meet Ramsay, presumably where the woman lives. The fact that Roose's courser came up lame from the encounter may indicate that horses are not welcome near the woman, and Domeric is mad for horses. (And I don't see why Roose can say "even the riding part is wrong" in Ramsay's version since he had his horse that day. So whatever version of the story Ramsay has, it seems closer to the truth than Roose's on another point.) If you add the "tongue of the miller's brother cut out" bit to prevent the Stark from hearing the story, it's likely that that Domeric's expedition along the Weeping Water was indeed an important transgression.

ETA: And I still don't see a motive.

But where's the motive? The motive?! Where doth it lie?

If I had the answers to all the questions, I wouldn't be posting on this board. But I have done what I could above.

But the next theory will provide more more food for thought.

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...the woman has power over Roose..."bag of stars"?...

Two things. A bag of stars - stars are the lowest value denomination coins in westeros

"The woman has power over Roose". Yes his indulgent treatment of the miller's widow stands out, unless the way he spoke to Arya in Harrenhall was just a cover and really he's just a big softie underneath his cold appearance.

Well it could be extrinsic compulsion, for the sake of the argument lets say he was bewitched. Alternatively the rape was witnessed by gods and men, if Bolton takes his old gods religion seriously (and I think he does) then there might be intrinsic compulsion to provide for your child (ie that's what the old gods says you should do).

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The description of the miller's young woman "... She was a tall, willowy creature, very healthy-looking. Long legs and small firm breasts, like two ripe plums. Pretty, in a common sort of way." reminds me of the description of the Others in the AGoT prologue: "Tall, it was, and gaunt, and hard as old bones ..." fits well with "... tall, willowy creature ...". Just saying.

Crackpot: Melisandre lokked for AA and all she saw was Snow. Ramsay was also Snow before Roose legitimized him. Who would be Ramsay's NissaNissa? Reek?

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Crackpot: Melisandre lokked for AA and all she saw was Snow. Ramsay was also Snow before Roose legitimized him. Who would be Ramsay's NissaNissa? Reek?

I will laugh so fucking hard if this is where GRRM is going with that.

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