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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 III: Lady Dustin

Lady Dustin is the sister-in-law of Roose Bolton. Consequently she knows him well. I think she knows even better than she ought to. When we first meet her, Roose returns from a short round trip from Barrow Hall to Barrowton, bringing back Theon that he had taken from Ramsay (Ramsay stayed in Barrowton since he is persona non grata in Barrowhall). She has a curious way to address Roose when he comes to see her:

“Who is this?” she said. “Where is the boy? Did your bastard refuse to give him up? Is this old man his ... oh, gods be good, what is that smell? Has this creature soiled himself?”

Note the lack of politeness. No "My Lord", not even "Lord Bolton". Roose Bolton is a great Lord, and the Warden of the North. Lady Dustin should have addressed her liege lord properly.

The significance of this has just been highlighted a few page before. Here is Ramsay to Roose about the other Northern Lords

“You are the Warden of the North. Command them.”

and there is the little lecture Roose gave Theon.

“M’lord.” Bolton’s lips parted just enough to show a quarter inch of teeth. It might have been a

smile.

“—my lord, when you should have said m’lord. Your tongue betrays your birth with every word you say. If you want to sound a proper peasant, say it as if you had mud in your mouth, or were too stupid to realize it was two words, not just one.”

Hence we know Roose pays attention to the manner of speech of other people and to the way he is spoken to. Similarly, in Harrenhal, he tells Arya:

“You will call me my lord when you speak to me, Nan,” the lord said mildly.

I see two explanations for this dialogue: either Lady Dustin and Roose are so intimate that they do not address formally to each other, like husband and wife do (yes, possibly lovers or former lovers) or Lady Dustin is so dominant in their association that she can talk down to him. Here is the rest of the dialogue, which seems to confirm this proximity (note that Roose speaks properly).

“He has been with Ramsay. Lady Barbrey, allow me to present the rightful Lord of the Iron Islands, Theon of House Greyjoy.”

No, he thought, no, don’t say that name, Ramsay will hear you, he’ll know, he’ll know, he’ll hurt me.

Her mouth pursed. “He is not what I expected.”

“He is what we have.”

“What did your bastard do to him?”

“Removed some skin, I would imagine. A few small parts. Nothing too essential.” “Is he mad?”

“He may be. Does it matter?”

We never learn why Barbrey wanted to see Theon at that point. It seems clear that Roose and Barbrey have plotted something that involves him. I guess it is the role of "closest male relative of Arya Stark" that Theon will play for the marriage. But does it justify presenting Theon specifically to Lady Dustin?

I have no strong opinion yet on whether Lady Dustin is really an ally of Roose. It's often assumed that she is not, because of Domeric's death. I wouldn't be surprised if Roose told her that his former maester is responsible for the death, which would go well along the professed hate of Lady Dustin for the maesters. We hear Lady Dustin express displeasure at the way Ramsay treats "Arya" but she never blames Ramsay for the death of Domeric.

Note: Ramsay's mother, the lady of the Weepwater, looks alike Lady Dustin (both are tall and elegant unlike Fat Walda). But Ramsay himself does not look like her or his father (except for the eyes). That's a second lady who seems to have some power over Roose.

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Well, in Lady Dustin's case, I think it's simply the intimate relationship everyone has with an old acquaintance - I mean, she is his sister-in-law. Of course, she could always know something about him that he doesn't want anyone else to hear about, but this part of your theory seems more unlikely than the other two. I think you're reading too much into it.

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This case I took to be Lady Dustin blaming Roose for either Domeric's death or her sister's or both, and that Roose agrees with her judgement. I get the feeling that Roose owes Barbrey a lot and forgives her her rudeness, also that he does not want her to spill the beans of what she knows to others in the north.

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Hmmm... if Domeric was poisoned it seems likely it was the Tears of Lys on what little information we do have. I agree that there is no motive for Roose to have killed him.

A Feast for Crows - Arya Stark & The Waif

Speaking of a red glass bottle - "This is a crueler poison, but tastless and odorless, hence easier to hide. 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"

A Dance with Dragons - Roose Bolton

"Ramsay Killed him. A sickness of the bowels, Master Uthor says, but I say poison."

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Jamie also sees a similarity between Rooses eyes and Ned Starks, he mentions it in ASOS I beleive when he is dining with him. Roose seems to be quite confident of Lady Dustins support , he states to Ramsey that she would still support him even if the Boltons role at Winterfell was revealed. Its seems like that support would end if something happened to Roose, she despises Ramsey and in the long run it would be him and his children through fake Arya who would rule the North not Roose.

The question is why is he supporting an heir who disenchants his only true ally and who he feels is incompetent to be a ruler? He has a young wife who is capable of producing children, all though being half Frey they will never be loved nor would they have a claim on Winterfell that I can see. Lady Dustin says that Roose means to be the King of the North and that Lord Walder will make no objections to Roose making his granddaughter a queen. I don't think Ramsey really fits into his long term plans, it seems like Ramsey through his marriage to Arya would have the better claim than Roose.

Roose also states that the Lannisters are powerful allies but then Lady Dustin contradicts that when she says that the Lannisters are a spent force, Tywin is dead, Jamie is a cripple, Tommen is a boy, etc., why not King of the North for Roose.

IMO both Lady Dustin and Roose mean to betray the Freys, its not politically feasible for them to be allied with them. Meanwhile in Kings Landing the Lannister regime is going to shit. It is from this regime that roose holds his title of warden and its weakness undercuts his authority, why does this title even mean anything if the Lannisters can do nothing to help him. If Qyburn is still in league with Roose does this mean that this Ser Robert Strong/unGregor is some sort of northern trojan horse in the Red Keep?

IMO aDwD left me with more questions than answers as far as Bolton goes and what his plans are. I agree that Roose is a pragmatist but his plans don't seem realistic or make any sense so I have to assume that there is some as yet unrevealed plot and that there is not enough info in the text to figure it out.

Nor does Roose make any allownce for the fact that there might be as many as 4 Stark heirs alive and thats not counting Jon Snow. Certianly they are young but Arya and Sansa could both marry adults, great Lords with armies, who could end up being a formidable threat with popular support in the North. And Theon says that it is commonly beleived that Jon has made common cause with Stannis, I just see this guy being surrounded by enemies facing one challenge after another.

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IMO both Lady Dustin and Roose mean to betray the Freys, its not politically feasible for them to be allied with them. Meanwhile in Kings Landing the Lannister regime is going to shit. It is from this regime that roose holds his title of warden and its weakness undercuts his authority, why does this title even mean anything if the Lannisters can do nothing to help him. If Qyburn is still in league with Roose does this mean that this Ser Robert Strong/unGregor is some sort of northern trojan horse in the Red Keep?

I agree with all you wrote, particularly the bit about Qyburn betraying Cersei for Roose's sake. The woman has given plenty of proof she has a bad finger when choosing who to trust (Aurane Waters is just the best remembered example), it's not unlikely the same could be true in this case.

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How old is Roose? He tells Arya in aCoK that frequent leechings is the key to a long life then goes on to say in aDwD he would not expect to see any new sons come of age to take his place as lord. I got the impression he intends to live a lot longer than he has stated.

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Well, in Lady Dustin's case, I think it's simply the intimate relationship everyone has with an old acquaintance - I mean, she is his sister-in-law. Of course, she could always know something about him that he doesn't want anyone else to hear about, but this part of your theory seems more unlikely than the other two. I think you're reading too much into it.

I gotta agree with you m'lady.Out of the three theories i think this is the weakest but there is still the question of what the deal between the two is.It might go as far back as Domeric and whaterver happened there.If Roose and Lady Dustin did something to him then theyre covering eachothers back and that would explain the support.

As for the person who said Roose didnt want the Freys-theyre a big proportion of his support. However it does make sense in the way that he sent the Manderlys and them out together.If Roose knows Wymans a stark loyalist this makes sense to leave them pick eachother off

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This is more related to the Boltons as a whole than to Roose specifically, but I can't help making some loose comparison between the Dreadfort's hall where they hang the skins of their enemies (with supposed dream of being wannabe-skinchangers) and the secret room of the Faceless Men where they store all the faces they use to change appearances.

Not that I can make anything sensible of it, so far...

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Do you think it was an accident that the Freys went out the gate with the pits dug in front of it? IMO Roose is planning on betraying the Freys because he has to if he is to win the bannermen over to him, Roose also has to worry that one of the bannermen could be sheltering Bran and Rickon or that Sansa could be at White Harbor marrying Glover. How much does Roose get by killing Wyman anyway, his son is still at White Harbor with the bulk of his strength, its not like wiping out the force he has at Winterfell is going to eliminate the Manderlys as a threat.

The Freys do have a couple of thousand men there to support Roose but there are tens of thousands of Northmen who want to drink their blood, it seems that appeasing the Northmen would be the wiser course. I think Roose hoped that the Freys would be helpful to him but it isn't working out that way. If Roose wants to be King of the North its better if Wyman goes home alive having gotten his vengance. But we know that Wyman has other plans.

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If everyone in the North wants Frey blood would they not want Bolton blood even more?Or am i wrong in thinking they all know Rooses part in the RW

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If everyone in the North wants Frey blood would they not want Bolton blood even more?Or am i wrong in thinking they all know Rooses part in the RW

Manderly tells Davos that he thinks Roose lied about the part he played in it, I remember one of the mountian clan leaders going on a lengthy diatribe about wanting to taste Bolton blood before he died but Manderly wants Rickon and the dire wolf so that there can be no doubt. IMO at least Manderly wants to see Roose bend his knee to Rickon but Ramsey is a Snow born of rape and is not fit to live.

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What is the problem with being a bastard born of rape? As far as we know Ser Duncan the Tall could be one of those.

I don't know anything about Ser Duncan, Manderly really hates Ramsey for what he did to Lady Hornwood,I think I quoted his exact words about Ramsey, he was a little more circumspect when talking about Roose.

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Well, in Lady Dustin's case, I think it's simply the intimate relationship everyone has with an old acquaintance - I mean, she is his sister-in-law. Of course, she could always know something about him that he doesn't want anyone else to hear about, but this part of your theory seems more unlikely than the other two. I think you're reading too much into it.

Lady Octarina, we disagree on that. This is a feudal world. A great Lord does not accept to be addressed in this way when he enters the Great Hall of one of his bannermen, even if nobody is around. It's possible that people with close family ties address each other in an informal way, but then the formalities are replaced by authentic displays of affection. There are none here. I would have liked to compare with a similar situation in the book, but, as it turned out, it's not easy to find one. Maybe you can find an instance to disprove me, and I'll concede.

Jamie also sees a similarity between Rooses eyes and Ned Starks, he mentions it in ASOS I beleive when he is dining with him. Roose seems to be quite confident of Lady Dustins support , he states to Ramsey that she would still support him even if the Boltons role at Winterfell was revealed. Its seems like that support would end if something happened to Roose, she despises Ramsey and in the long run it would be him and his children through fake Arya who would rule the North not Roose.

The question is why is he supporting an heir who disenchants his only true ally and who he feels is incompetent to be a ruler? He has a young wife who is capable of producing children, all though being half Frey they will never be loved nor would they have a claim on Winterfell that I can see. Lady Dustin says that Roose means to be the King of the North and that Lord Walder will make no objections to Roose making his granddaughter a queen. I don't think Ramsey really fits into his long term plans, it seems like Ramsey through his marriage to Arya would have the better claim than Roose.

Roose also states that the Lannisters are powerful allies but then Lady Dustin contradicts that when she says that the Lannisters are a spent force, Tywin is dead, Jamie is a cripple, Tommen is a boy, etc., why not King of the North for Roose.

IMO both Lady Dustin and Roose mean to betray the Freys, its not politically feasible for them to be allied with them. Meanwhile in Kings Landing the Lannister regime is going to shit. It is from this regime that roose holds his title of warden and its weakness undercuts his authority, why does this title even mean anything if the Lannisters can do nothing to help him. If Qyburn is still in league with Roose does this mean that this Ser Robert Strong/unGregor is some sort of northern trojan horse in the Red Keep?

IMO aDwD left me with more questions than answers as far as Bolton goes and what his plans are. I agree that Roose is a pragmatist but his plans don't seem realistic or make any sense so I have to assume that there is some as yet unrevealed plot and that there is not enough info in the text to figure it out.

Nor does Roose make any allownce for the fact that there might be as many as 4 Stark heirs alive and thats not counting Jon Snow. Certianly they are young but Arya and Sansa could both marry adults, great Lords with armies, who could end up being a formidable threat with popular support in the North. And Theon says that it is commonly beleived that Jon has made common cause with Stannis, I just see this guy being surrounded by enemies facing one challenge after another.

Very interesting analysis, jarl the climber. I must say I am perplex as well. Here is my own analysis. It's not very different from yours.

1) It's striking how lucid Roose is. It seems that there is nothing that we know and that he doesn't, except for the true identity of Abel and the content of the Manderly pie. He knows that his power is shaky, that other Stark children are alive and therefore Ramsay's claim to Winterfell through Arya's claim might easily crumble. He knows how litle support he has among the northmen. He is even aware that Tyrion is ahead of Ramsay for the succession in Winterfell. In ASoS, he tells Brienne:

The Lady Sansa is the dwarf’s wife, only the gods can part them now.

So he realizes that the Lannister have tried to grab Winterfell through the marriage of Tyrion and Sansa. He never had much illusion with the Lannisters. He even told Jaime and Brienne:

That seemed to amuse the Lord of the Dreadfort. “My lady, has no one told you? Lannisters lie.”

2) Being King in the North is the only way to stabilize Roose's power. Otherwise his title of Warren of the North, or the lordship of Winterfell will be questionable for a long time, since the Iron Throne can take away those titles and that he has little support in the North.

3) So Roose needs to make himself accepted by other Northern allies. Compare with the scene in AGoT where Robb is King by acclamation.

4) Lady Dustin is probably a genuine ally. More on this in a separate post.

5) Roose has contempt for Ramsay. Barbrey openly despises Ramsay (it's not clear she hates him for Domeric's death, though). Ramsay will possibly have to give way to a Stark child, and has no support in the North or with Stannis. Why give him the lordship of Winterfell?

So, Roose knows his political situation is difficult, perhaps hopeless. Hence, I suspect he plans something through sorcery. Whether Lady Dustin will be an ally on that remains to be seen. Perhaps the whole marriage project was a way to have access to Winterfell with the other Northern Lords in attendance to do something with the crypts.

More remarks:

When I wrote the second theory, I had in mind the notion that Qyburn and Roose have maintained their relations after they parted ways in Harrenhal. It's indeed possible that Qyburn informs Roose and Lady Dustin. Who else? How would Lady Dustin have the idea that the Lannister are a "spent force"?

It's possible that Roose has arranged a trap in Winterfell:

All about the yard, dead men hung half-frozen at the end of hempen ropes, swollen faces white with hoarfrost. Winterfell had been crawling with squatters when Bolton’s van had reached the castle. More than two dozen had been driven at spearpoint from the nests they had made amongst the castle’s half-ruined keeps and towers. The boldest and most truculent had been hanged, the rest put to work. Serve well, Lord Bolton told them, and he would be merciful. Stone and timber were plentiful with the wolfswood so close at hand. Stout new gates had gone up first, to replace those that had been burned. Then the collapsed roof of the Great Hall had been cleared away and a new one raised hurriedly in its stead. When the work was done, Lord Bolton hanged the workers. True to his word, he showed them mercy and did not flay a one.

Perhaps, it's a foreshadowing that a newly established stabled crumble during the wedding.

Two minor points: I don't see the bit about Jaime, Roose's eyes and the Stark (the Bolton eyes are really characteristic, it seems to me). Lady Dustin never contradicts Roose about the Lannister being a "spent force", she contradicts Theon. I think Roose shares her point of view.

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Lord Bolton III: Lady Dustin (continued)

Lady Dustin is the Lady of the Barrowland:

He had to stop to steady them, staring up at the grassy slopes of the Great Barrow. Some claimed it was the grave of the First King, who had led the First Men to Westeros. Others argued that it must be some King of the Giants who was buried there, to account for its size.

Guarding the grave of the First King of the First Men must give you a certain sense of responsability for the North, I guess. She is also a Ryswell, a House, which through the tale of the 79 sentinels, has a reputation of unsurpassed loyalty to the Night's Watch. Here is how Lady Dustin is first seen:

She was clad all in black, from head to heel, and wore no gold nor gems, but she was highborn, that was plain to see.

and again, in Winterfell:

Lady Dustin wore black, as ever, though her sleeves were lined with vair.

Does Lady Barbrey fancy herself as a woman of Night's Watch? She wears no jewel (the men of the Watch should wear no crown) and never remarried. One wonders if she pronounced the Oath of the Watch. She constantly presents herself as guardian of Northern traditions against the South: she disapproves of the Stark-Tully marriages and she does not seem to have a maester. Her outrage when Ned Stark failed to bring her husband's bones might reflect a real northern tradition, especially for the House which holds the grave of the First King.

So Lady Dustin consistently makes a stand for the North and she sees the Starks as having disgraced themselves. Whether she is justified or has authority to make that judgment remains to be seen.

And all my favorite Starks are dead, as it happens.

I doubt less and less that she really hates the Starks when I see how she furnished the bedroom of the newlyweds:

The bedchamber had been well prepared for the consummation. All the furnishings were new, brought up from Barrowton in the baggage train. The canopy bed had a feather mattress and drapes of blood-red velvet. The stone floor was covered with wolfskins. A fire was burning in the hearth, a candle on the bedside table. On the sideboard was a flagon of wine, two cups, and a half wheel of veined white cheese.

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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?

This is more related to the Boltons as a whole than to Roose specifically, but I can't help making some loose comparison between the Dreadfort's hall where they hang the skins of their enemies (with supposed dream of being wannabe-skinchangers) and the secret room of the Faceless Men where they store all the faces they use to change appearances.

Not that I can make anything sensible of it, so far...

Interesting. Coincidentally, I was looking at the story of the waif, a woman aged thirty six and stuck in childhood in the House of the Faceless Men. Hence we know it's possible to keep one's youth by using certain "poisons". If Roose used such poisons, it might explain the leeching. Moreover, the story of the stepmother poisoning the child makes me think of what might have happened with Roose's wifes. Here is the story, in case someone is interested.

She did not expect the waif to answer, but she did. “I was born the only child of an ancient House, my noble father’s heir,” the waif replied. “My mother died when I was little, I have no memory of her. When I was six my father wed again. His new wife treated me kindly until she gave birth to a daughter of her own. Then it was her wish that I should die, so her own blood might inherit my father’s wealth. She should have sought the favor of the Many-Faced God, but she could not bear the sacrifice he would ask of her. Instead, she thought to poison me herself. It left me as you see me now, but I did not die. When the healers in the House of the Red Hands told my father what she had done, he came here and made sacrifice, offering up all his wealth and me. Him of Many Faces heard his prayer. I was brought to the temple to serve, and my father’s wife received the gift.”

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