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Bolton and the Battle of Duskendale

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The importance of the Battle of Duskendale escaped me the first two times I read ASOS. [i'm slow.] Rereading it made it clear how far Roose Bolton's treachery went -- ordering Glover and Tallhart's forces into a trap. It comes as a complete surprise to Robb, but he never seems to hold it against Bolton.

It's also interesting how early in the book the seeds of Robb's downfall are planted by Bolton, Frey, Lannister and by extension GRRM.

I wonder, does Bolton's role in the battle ever come to light? I've read all 5 books, but I don't remember a character laying blame for the loss at Bolton's feet.

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He gives the order in ACOK, Arya X* and then goes hunting wolves.

A-Grade villain.

*really important chapter, it's where Robb's arc begins its downward turn.

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He gives the order in ACOK, Arya X* and then goes hunting wolves.

A-Grade villain.

*really important chapter, it's where Robb's arc begins its downward turn.

I read that chapter and it seems innocent enough. Bolton's justification for sending Glover and Tallhart is to allow them to have vengeance for the loss of a castle (Glover) and the loss of a son (Tallhart). It seems any treachery must of come later, after Robb insulted the Freys.

When do we think Roose agrees to turn on Robb in favor of Tywin?

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I read that chapter and it seems innocent enough. Bolton's justification for sending Glover and Tallhart is to allow them to have vengeance for the loss of a castle (Glover) and the loss of a son (Tallhart). It seems any treachery must of come later, after Robb insulted the Freys.

When do we think Roose agrees to turn on Robb in favor of Tywin?

Right then. The Freys had just ditched Robb and left Bolton at harrenhall. Id gues he started talking to Old Walder after that.

And the justification doesnt mean squat when you know that BAMF Randall Tarly's leading a force to Duskendale thats much stronger than 3000 foot.

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I read that chapter and it seems innocent enough. Bolton's justification for sending Glover and Tallhart is to allow them to have vengeance for the loss of a castle (Glover) and the loss of a son (Tallhart). It seems any treachery must of come later, after Robb insulted the Freys.

When do we think Roose agrees to turn on Robb in favor of Tywin?

When Winterfell falls, and the Lannisters/Tyrells win at the Blackwater. Duskendale was anything but "innocent" - Roose admits that it was a "folly" to Robb in ASOS, but lays the blame entirely on Glover

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I read that chapter and it seems innocent enough. Bolton's justification for sending Glover and Tallhart is to allow them to have vengeance for the loss of a castle (Glover) and the loss of a son (Tallhart). It seems any treachery must of come later, after Robb insulted the Freys.

When do we think Roose agrees to turn on Robb in favor of Tywin?

Bolton makes that decision after a meeting with the Freys where they make it clear that they think the war is lost after Winterfell and Blackwater and Robb must sue for peace. The reasons he gives for sending forces to Duskendale: 'those are rich lands, hardly touched by the fighting' and revenge are poor grounds for sending a force on campaign near the enemy's stronghold, especially as moments earlier the Freys rightly pointed out that Tywin will soon head their way with large numbers.

From that I think we can deduce that Bolton calculates that Robb is finished, as even before word of Jeyne arrives in the same chapter the Freys are talking surrender, and they can trap the Northern armies in the Riverlands if and when Walder Frey wants to make amends with Tywin. Knowing this, Roose sets up the Duskendale march as an initial offering to get himself into Tywin's favour.

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When Winterfell falls, and the Lannisters/Tyrells win at the Blackwater. Duskendale was anything but "innocent" - Roose admits that it was a "folly" to Robb in ASOS, but lays the blame entirely on Glover

I reread Catelyn VI (ASOS). Robb is unaware that it was Roose's orders and Bolton blames Glover. I got the impression, however, that Bolton turns on Robb after Robb returns from the West. When does Tywin tell Tyrion mention winning battles with quill and ink? Isn't that the first sign of intrigue on Tywin's part?

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I reread Catelyn VI (ASOS). Robb is unaware that it was Roose's orders and Bolton blames Glover. I got the impression, however, that Bolton turns on Robb after Robb returns from the West. When does Tywin tell Tyrion mention winning battles with quill and ink? Isn't that the first sign of intrigue on Tywin's part?

It's Tyrion's first chapter in ASOS, I believe. Roose has decided to turn his cloak by the end of ACOK, that much is clear. Sending the troops to an obvious meat grinder at Duskendale and hunting wolves around Harrenhall give it away

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Bolton was a treacherous character from the outset, he always bugged me when I first read the books and then that happened, so it was obvious why.

I think the seeds of deception began a lot earlier, especially when you consider that Ramsay by extension is under Roose's orders. Bolton wanted the north long before Robb pissed of the Freys.

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Bolton was a treacherous character from the outset, he always bugged me when I first read the books and then that happened, so it was obvious why.I think the seeds of deception began a lot earlier, especially when you consider that Ramsay by extension is under Roose's orders. Bolton wanted the north long before Robb pissed of the Freys.

It seems that way to me also

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Robb's first mistake was making Roose Bolton the leader of his second army after he split it. Yea, Roose was planning treachery from the get go. It all just fel into his hands when Robb pissed on the Freys.


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Glad this has been raised as I think was thinking about something related to this yesterday, more so for the TV show. Without going away and looking at specific numbers, how when the Starks (techincally Robb) is the "warden of the north" (yes i know it was Ned) and the Tulleys when combined troops didnt significantly out number the Freys and Boltons?



In the TV show more so as this battle never happens, Frey's Liege Lord is Hoster Tulley, so surely both the Tulleys & Starks numbers should outweigh that of Freys and Boltons just due to standing/power in significant number.



Was the ambush at the RW significant to just mass wipe out their troops, how many did Ramsay kill in betraying Rodrik, i know the Karstarks turned but seems a little too easy for me

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The forces raised by lord Cerwyn in the North were small, only 600ish if I recall correctly. They get routed because they weren't expecting Ramsay's men to turn.

The Frey and Bolton forces are smaller than the Stark-Tully force, but not by that much after the Karstark departure and Duskendale. As well, it's an ambush, one that catches the loyalists with their guard down, drunk and feasting in tents that become huge deathtraps:

More and more riders were emerging from the castle, a column four wide with no end to it, knights and squires and freeriders, torches and longaxes. And there was noise coming from behind as well. When Arya looked around, she saw that there were only two of the huge feast tents where once there had been three. The one in the middle had collapsed. For a moment she did not understand what she was seeing. Then the flames went licking up from the fallen tent, and now the other two were collapsing, heavy oiled cloth settling down on the men beneath. A flight of fire arrows streaked through the air. The second tent took fire, and then the third.

ASOS, Arya XI

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thanks for the reply, i was aiming it somewhat more toward the tv show as well due to the battle not being shown, even though my memory is a little vague isnt this where Robb lost most of his loyal men?



i still felt that the Stark/Tully forces should be much more significant than Frey/Bolton.



How many troops were there in total 16000 to begin with?



4000 of those Frey rings a bell?



I know the ambush allowed the element of suprise but I still found it a meh that Frey/Bolton would risk it, I imagine that loyal Stark/Tully force would be 10+ out of the 16. Maybe you or someone else can shed a bit of light in terms of the breakdown,


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There is serious consideration that Bolton was treacherous as early as the Battle of the Green Fork. The Race For The Iron Throne blog breaks the battle down nicely.



The motivation for the treachery seems to change over time from simply using his standing as battle commander to weaken rival houses to out-and-out betrayal when the Freys and Karstarks abandon the cause.


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thanks for the reply, i was aiming it somewhat more toward the tv show as well due to the battle not being shown, even though my memory is a little vague isnt this where Robb lost most of his loyal men?

It's worth bearing in mind that the TV show 1) isn't canon and 2) cares even less about this stuff than Martin - and even he has changed his mind significantly about troop numbers at various times.

i still felt that the Stark/Tully forces should be much more significant than Frey/Bolton.

How many troops were there in total 16000 to begin with?

4000 of those Frey rings a bell?

I know the ambush allowed the element of suprise but I still found it a meh that Frey/Bolton would risk it, I imagine that loyal Stark/Tully force would be 10+ out of the 16. Maybe you or someone else can shed a bit of light in terms of the breakdown,

At the risk of getting all Sun Tzu: the numbers don't matter as much as the circumstances of battle. Setting the battlefield and having the opponent fight on your terms matter a great deal more and that's something Frey and Bolton achieve completely at the Red Wedding. It is more risky than just closing the portcullis at the Twins and trapping Robb in the Riverlands but a costly show of loyalty is what's required if they want to make their way into Tywin Lannister's good graces.
Given that, and the fact that Bolton had assiduously been killing Stark loyalists, starting with c. 2,000 at Green Fork and going through to Duskendale I don't find it that implausible that there were sufficient numbers on hand to the Frey and Bolton forces to make good their huge advantages in preparation.

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great link on the green fork, amazing how much detail people have looked into that.



if Bolton had started planning that long before head it must have been pre any red wedding agreements with Frey, does anyone know approximately or how the communication between Frey, Bolton and Tywin occured?



Frey wouldnt have attempted it himself so there must have been conversation with Bolton.

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great link on the green fork, amazing how much detail people have looked into that.

if Bolton had started planning that long before head it must have been pre any red wedding agreements with Frey, does anyone know approximately or how the communication between Frey, Bolton and Tywin occured?

Frey wouldnt have attempted it himself so there must have been conversation with Bolton.

Green Fork wasn't part of a plan, just a reflection of Roose's general strategy of weakening Stark and advancing Bolton whenever opportunities to do so arose.

The planning that leads to the Red Wedding appears to have begun during ACOK, Arya X - in that chapter we get senior Freys telling Bolton that Robb has to seek terms after the fall of Winterfell and Lannister-Tyrell victory at Blackwater. Roose dismisses them, saying that he'll think about what they've said, then receives a letter from Walda Frey (which may have been some kind of coded message from Frey), writes the Duskendale orders and goes hunting wolves.

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