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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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Lord Bolton II: Last day in Harrenhal

This is Arya's last day in Harrenhal (ACoK)

I'll begin with the most important passage. Its significance is not clear to me. I would welcome more insight. Forgive me if you think my comments seem to stray at some points.

Recall that Arya serves as Roose's page in Harrenhal.

Roose Bolton was seated by the hearth reading from a thick leatherbound book when she entered. “Light some candles,” he commanded her as he turned a page. “It grows gloomy in here.”

She placed the food at his elbow and did as he bid her, filling the room with flickering light and the scent of cloves. Bolton turned a few more pages with his finger, then closed the book and placed it carefully in the fire. He watched the flames consume it, pale eyes shining with reflected light. The old dry leather went up with a whoosh, and the yellow pages stirred as they burned, as if some ghost were reading them.

I get from this passage that

1) Roose has been reading for some time (he notices it gets dark, as if he had been absorbed by the book).

2) The comment "It grows gloomy here." might reflect what he is reading.

3) Roose does not read the book completely.

4) He burns the book calmly and deliberately.

I have a few little things to add. Curiously, the same day, in the same hearth, Arya had burnt Fat Walda's letter.

Arya took the letter and carried it to the hearth, stirring the logs with a poker to wake the flames anew. She watched the parchment twist, blacken, and flare up. [..]Curls of ash floated up the chimney. Arya squatted beside the fire, watching them rise through a veil of hot tears.

I am no specialist in burning parchments. It seems to me that there is a contrast between the burning of the book and the more mundane burning of the letter. It can't be a coincidence that the two events are placed in the same chapter. The book seems seems to consume itself as if it were much more combustible. What sense shall we make of it?

In the pre-printing era a book is a treasure, so burning one is significant. The light in Roose's eyes (usually so inexpressive), the scent of cloves (an essential ingredient of incense, candles with cloves are used in certain pseudo-magical rituals in the real world) and the evocation of the ghost make me think of a kind of ceremony, perhaps a mystical sacrifice of the book, if such a thing makes sense.

But what book could it possibly be?

Here is an earlier scene (still the same day)

She spent the next few hours tending to the lord’s chambers. She swept out the old rushes and scattered fresh sweet-smelling ones, laid a fresh fire in the hearth, changed the linens and fluffed the featherbed, emptied the chamber pots down the privy shaft and scrubbed them out, carried an armload of soiled clothing to the washerwomen, and brought up a bowl of crisp autumn pears from the kitchen. When she was done with the bedchamber, she went down half a flight of stairs to do the same in the great solar, a spare drafty room as large as the halls of many a smaller castle. The candles were down to stubs, so Arya changed them out. Under the windows was a huge oaken table where the lord wrote his letters. She stacked the books, changed the candles, put the quills and inks and sealing wax in order.

Note that the candles (of the solar) have burnt completely. Roose stays awake late apparently busy with writing and reading. Curious activity for a warlord. Note also the armload of soiled clothing. What did Roose study in Harrenhal? Who did he write to?

The scene happened on the day Roose decided to betray the Starks. Here is a scene from still earlier the same day.

The lord’s bedchamber was crowded when she entered. Qyburn was in attendance, and dour Walton in his mail shirt and greaves, plus a dozen Freys, all brothers, half brothers, and cousins. Roose Bolton lay abed, naked. Leeches clung to the inside of his arms and legs and dotted his pallid chest, long translucent things that turned a glistening pink as they fed.

At that moment, the Freys attempt to convince Roose that the war is lost. But the news that Robb had married a Westerling would came only later that day, just after has Roose decided to go for a wolf hunt, signifying to us the betrayal of the Starks.

Let's turn to the false maester Qyburn. The necromancer is clearly part of Roose's inner circle since he attends the conversation with the Freys. He is in charge of the leeching and of the ravens. Roose's leeching habit predates the encounter with Qyburn (*). It's never explained how Qyburn could have gained Roose's trust so quickly.

Here is how I attempt to reconstruct what happened: Qyburn had visited Harrenhal's library as soon as he got in with the Bloody Mummers. He made some findings of great interest (the book) that he passed to the new lord, Roose. Thus he gained Lord Bolton's trust and became Roose's closest advisor (do we know of any other advisor of Roose, besides, and even that is improbable, Walton Steelshanks?).

Roose rewarded Qyburn handsomely, by sending him to King's Landing as Jaime's savior, paving the way for Qyburn's rise in King's Landing, while the other Brave Companions were abandoned to a doomed occupation of Harrenhal. Qyburn did not start his carreer in necromancy in King's Landing. What did he do in Harrenhal? Did he join the Brave Companions to have access to Harrenhal?

There are good reasons to believe that Harrenhal holds secrets of interest for the North. Consider Old Nan's stories.

She remembered Old Nan’s stories of the castle built on fear. Harren the Black had mixed human blood in the mortar, Nan used to say,

And Harren had some familiarity with the Wall since his brother was Lord Commander of the Watch at the time. It's not clear whether the magic of the Wall had any influence on the building of Harrenhal. If it has (as suggested by the fact that it appears in old Nan stories), the principle of its construction might be the same than for the oldest castles in the North: the Nightfort and its likely contemporary, the Dreadfort (speculation based purely on the similarity of names). In any case, Harrenhal seems linked to blood magic.

Among the former owners of Harrenhal,

[Jaime] found himself remembering tales he had first heard as a child at Casterly Rock, of mad Lady Lothston who bathed in tubs of blood and presided over feasts of human flesh within these very walls.

In the Sworn Sword, Egg describes Shiera Seastar practicing the same thing to retain her youth and beauty.

"...Did they dance with demons and practice the black arts?”

“Lady Shiera does. Lord Bloodraven’s paramour. She bathes in blood to keep her beauty.

Once thing has consistently struck observers of Lord Bolton: his extraordinarily youthful appearance (Reek, ADwD).

Though Roose had been in battles, he bore no scars. Though well past forty, he was as yet unwrinkled, with scarce a line to tell of the passage of time. His lips were so thin that when he pressed them together they seemed to vanish altogether. There was an agelessness about him, a stillness; on Roose Bolton’s face, rage and joy looked much the same.

It's time to offer a speculation: Roose Bolton is a sorcerer. Some Dark Arts, which might include the leeching, are preserving his youth.

(*) Note about leeching: there seems to be two kind of leeches: the black ones and the translucent ones, both are appropriate for leeching humans. It seems that Roose switched from the black variety to the larger translucent type after meeting Qyburn. Significance?

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It may be of importance also that Harrenhal is near the Isle of Faces.So the children may have mixed blood into the paste Bran was given and as you said above the mortar was mixed with human blood.

Also the leeches that sucked off the blood from Edric Storm and were used for sorcery by Stannis.So maybe Roose can use the leeches fed with his blood to do his sorcery?

Stannis used the big black ones if theres anything to be gleaned from that....Rhllors spells use one type of leech and the servants of the dark another?

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I can't wait to see the rest of your theory!

This is incredibly well thought out and document with text. There is a very disturbing vibe around Roose Bolton, and it would be crazy if he is a sorceror. Great catch on the leech use and how it mirrors Melisandre.

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What's clear is that Bolton read and wrote a lot about Robb's situation and was probably the one who wrote to Tywin to start plotting the Red Wedding.

I've no idea what kind of books he was reading. Might as well have been a book about wargs and skinchangers, and how to beat them.

could it be Roose has syphilis? It could explain something of his behavior, and also why Ramsay is that way (if he already had the disease back when he raped Ramsay's mother). Because it was common in the old days, and I always found it funny that no character in ASoIaF is reported to have it.

It mostly depends to which extent GRRM wants Westeros to be similar to Medieval Europe, since syphilis was brought back by Columbus - and might have mutated when meeting a huge new host population.

It makes perfect sense for a character presented as cold and calculating as Roose Bolton is.

I'm still puzzled by the fact Roose clearly acknowledges that House Bolton won't survive more than a few years under Ramsay Bolton. Basically, he won't do better than a boy lord.

Or it's that he simply doesn't care anymore about the survival of his house, because it should be clear to him that it's utterly hopeless, both options leading to failure.

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My crackpot theory is that Domeric is Ramsey somehoww.I have nothing to back this up with other then the fact Ramsey seems to be a skilled enough horseman but has never been thought by anyone.Reek is the real Ramsey.This just passed through my mind as a what if as i was reading so i said id throw it up for shits and giggles

I like this idea, but wouldn't Lady Dustin or someone else have noticed if that was the case?

Roose leeches himself because of a bowel movement problem or something,it was mentioned in COK and in DWD I think.

That's the official version, I doubt he would tell others about his syphilitic problems :P

And, oh, I am enjoying the rest of Bran Vras's theory! So, if your conclusions prove to be true, Harrenhall might be really cursed, and through blood, which would explain why no one seems to have it for long. And as this talk of leeches and magic makes sense to. Makes me wonder: what if Harrenhall has some kind of latent powers, like Melisandre sees at the Wall, and that was necessary for whatever Roose and Qyburn did there? I'm just not sure about that book, I don't see how it could be brought back to the story to be significant.

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I'm not sure about the book, Roose had been hunting that day and I thought it was possible that this book had been given to him when he was out hunting or left somewhere that he no where to find and that it contained a secret message perhaps from Tywin. I think it is possible that Qyburn is still working with Roose, he advocated sending men to the wall to kill Jon Snow. It is possible I suppose that Roose is using some sort of socery to maintain his youth and health, strangely it is the removal of his own blood that does this not the sacrifice of anothers like in the case of Shiera and Lady Lothston.

At least some of the Wildings beleive that the Wall was built with blood, I thought that Nans reference to it being built with blood was a reference to all the people who died building it. To get back to Roose perhaps it is possible that the Boltons themselves are carrying some kind of curse, has leaching always been a common practice among them, we don't know but in Ramseys case Roose doesn't even think this process would work. Syphillis is a possibility but we don't even know if this disease exists in this world.

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There has been speculation on other threads that the book is a very old and precious treatise of an important subject. The evidence that it is old rests with how quickly it burns (the pages are very dry). I can't recall why the subject of the book is supposed to be important - perhaps there's a reference to the library at Harrenhall being old? I think the suggestion was the book was on the topic of dragons, and Bolton destroyed it because there are no more dragons.

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When Roose says that Domeric could ride as well as Lord Rickard's daughter, I belive he may be referring to Lord Rickard Karstark's daughter, who shows up in ADWD riding a horse somewhat later.

Not to be confused with Lord Rickard Stark's daughter, who's been dead for nearly 20 years... how old was Domeric anyway? Was he actually younger than Ramsey all along?

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I once bought a leather coat. The seller did the trick of putting the flame of his lighter against the leather, as proof of the leather quality. I did some research on leather burning. There is no way for leather, even dry, to go in flames like the book did in the hearth (the pages of the book burnt after the cover did). The burning of Walda's letter is there to underline that. Moreover, fire is a known enemy of books, and no librarian would think of making a book with such flammable covers.

I conclude that the book contained some extraordinary material.

When Roose says that Domeric could ride as well as Lord Rickard's daughter, I belive he may be referring to Lord Rickard Karstark's daughter, who shows up in ADWD riding a horse somewhat later.

Not to be confused with Lord Rickard Stark's daughter, who's been dead for nearly 20 years... how old was Domeric anyway? Was he actually younger than Ramsey all along?

Thanks, I did not think of that. I could say mystery explained without reservation, but, if a few line above, Lord Rickard designates, in Roose's mouth, Rickard Stark. Moreover, Alys Karstark is sixteen in ADwD. Domeric has been dead for a few years. It would not make sense to praise Domeric skills as a rider by comparing them with those of a much younger girl. So, I am not satisfied yet.

There has been speculation on other threads that the book is a very old and precious treatise of an important subject. The evidence that it is old rests with how quickly it burns (the pages are very dry). I can't recall why the subject of the book is supposed to be important - perhaps there's a reference to the library at Harrenhall being old? I think the suggestion was the book was on the topic of dragons, and Bolton destroyed it because there are no more dragons.

I just did some research. I found three old threads devoted to the book burning (Bolton burns a book, Roose Bolton's book burning, ACoK Roose's Bolton burning book and Frey dishonor). Some people saw in it an expression of Roose's selfishness (he does not care about the value of books as shared cultural items). Some people think it contains coded messages. I believe neither explanation. Somebody said that it's a book that Rhaegar found and made him change his life at the famous Harrenhal tourney. I find plausible that Rhaegar examined Harrenhal's library when he came there.

I realized that the thread you refer to is Does Roose Bolton even care?. Much of the suggestions you mention were mine (an embryonic version of this theory). So it's self referential. Please tell me if I am wrong.

It may be of importance also that Harrenhal is near the Isle of Faces.So the children may have mixed blood into the paste Bran was given and as you said above the mortar was mixed with human blood.

Yes, the proximity of Harrenhal to the Isle of Faces has been noted already.

It may be of importance also that Harrenhal is near the Isle of Faces.So the children may have mixed blood into the paste Bran was given and as you said above the mortar was mixed with human blood.

Also the leeches that sucked off the blood from Edric Storm and were used for sorcery by Stannis.So maybe Roose can use the leeches fed with his blood to do his sorcery?

Stannis used the big black ones if theres anything to be gleaned from that....Rhllors spells use one type of leech and the servants of the dark another?

Another curious remark of Arya concerning the natural history of leeches: "There’s leeches in the Neck as big as pigs.”

Makes me wonder: what if Harrenhall has some kind of latent powers, like Melisandre sees at the Wall, and that was necessary for whatever Roose and Qyburn did there?

I had that in mind when I wrote the OP.

I'm not sure about the book, Roose had been hunting that day and I thought it was possible that this book had been given to him when he was out hunting or left somewhere that he no where to find and that it contained a secret message perhaps from Tywin.

It's possible that there is more to the hunting party than it seems. But I don't see it as an opportunity to communicate a secret message. The decision to hunt seemed to have been a sudden one. I don't like the idea of the book as a mean to convey a secret message. It works in spy novels set in the modern ages. The book in question is old, cumbersome, certainly precious. It's incongruous to use it as a support for sending messages.

I think it is possible that Qyburn is still working with Roose, he advocated sending men to the wall to kill Jon Snow.

Interesting. Note that that Qyburn suggests sending the men to the Wall, but it's not clear that he wants to assassinate Jon Snow (Cersei finishes his sentence). It's possible that he has another scheme in mind.

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@ Bran Vras

Very interesting about the leather cover. I don't think I'll put a flame to any of my leather jackets though, LOL.

As to the previous Bolton thread or any of the book threads, no, I haven't seen any of them. I only found this site in January, and got involved in the Sandor, Sansa and Jaime threads. I try to read as many different threads as I can though, and perhaps there was a discussion in one of the Heresy threads.

I do like the idea of Rhaegar having found the book, though.

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The more i think about the more i feel theres a connection between Mels use of leeches and Rooses.Theres obviously more to the Boltons then has been revealed so far.Theres something to be gotten from all this investigation.....

Lyanna was well known as a skilled rider.Perhaps Roose was just comparing theyre skill without actually necessarily having proof of Domerics superiority.Im not buying the syphillis thing though.....

Theres two years between agot and adwd.Domeric died2years before the onset of the war of the five kings.Alys would have been 11 when Domeric died and i dont think was a notable rider so id say it was definately Lyanna Roose was talking about

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And a page would normally start at roughly 7-9years old.Domeric was a page for four years and a squire for three so id say he was between 14-16.Id say 16 is more likely

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Lord Bolton II: Last day in Harrenhal

This is Arya's last day in Harrenhal (ACoK)

I'll begin with the most important passage. Its significance is not clear to me. I would welcome more insight. Forgive me if you think my comments seem to stray at some points.

Recall that Arya serves as Roose's page in Harrenhal.

I get from this passage that

1) Roose has been reading for some time (he notices it gets dark, as if he had been absorbed by the book).

2) The comment "It grows gloomy here." might reflect what he is reading.

3) Roose does not read the book completely.

4) He burns the book calmly and deliberately.

<snip>

I really like your ideas about allt his -- but I just want to say (regarding the above) that at *most* Roose was only reading for the time it took Arya to go get his supper. The scene is really clear, time-wise -- he gets back from the hunt, asks for his supper, and upon her return, she sees him reading.

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i approve of this theory

roose is obsessed with "looking young" and bathing with the blood of his own children seems to be a very reasonable (!?) magic thing to do

I always thought the flaying thing was magical in nature the whole time =D

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It might just be a mis-reading. In much the same way as people see the Drowned God worshipper's version of baptism as a misunderstanding of the Other's reanimation of corpses, the Bolton's flaying routine could be a misunderstanding of the term 'Skinchanger'.

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It might just be a mis-reading. In much the same way as people see the Drowned God worshipper's version of baptism as a misunderstanding of the Other's reanimation of corpses, the Bolton's flaying routine could be a misunderstanding of the term 'Skinchanger'.

Tze actually had a theory that the Boltons' flaying tradition came about because they were trying to become skinchangers. For whatever reason, they didn't get the real "gift" that the Starks (and probably the Mormonts and a few other families) did, so they tried to, uh, compensate. When they wore their enemies' skins, they were literally trying to become them.

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Do we know how old Roose is? Or who his parents are? I can't find a Bolton family tree that shows who Roose's parents are, or any of his ancestral line.

I read most of this thread and got the impression that people think Roose is preserving his youth, but I haven't seen anybody really explore the question his true age and heritage. Appologies if this has been talked about, but maybe Roose is much older than he looks.

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Roose is "well past forty" (quoted in second theory). I can't see how he could be much older than he is known to be. In the quote below, there is what I could find about Roose's ancestry, parents and siblings.

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Very interesting theories Bran Vras, I look forward to see the rest of it.

The perfume incident is curious, and I think you are onto something about the poison. Why would lady Bolton have it, thinking/pretending it was perfume, in her chambers? A gift from her husband or someone else, a sister perhaps? Lady Dustin knows what kind of man Roose is, and her little sister had to marry him, maybe she wanted to help things along and make Domeric lord of the Dreadfort and the poison was intended for Roose? As you say he seems very wary of poison.

I read on the wiki that lady Bolton died of a fever in 298AL which would be the year of AGoT and two years after Domeric died, but did not find the reference, do you remember reading anything about that?

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Didn't Roose say he will die before he has time to raise another heir into adulthood, thus he deals with Ramsay?

And if he's in his late 40s, I see no reason why he couldn't live another 15 to 20 years, easily.

So either:

1. He is older than he claims to be

2. His sorcery is killing him

3. He figures that someone will kill him soon enough

4. I'm way off and this post is utterly useless.

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