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Drawing Blood From a Bolton

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*disclaimer* I usually refrain from posting in crackpot territory, but was strongly encouraged on this one. I don't think we've been given enough pieces for this yet, so I admit to some projections and speculation.

I know at times it seems that the “game of thrones” is quite separate from “the song of ice and fire,” but it’s my belief these two are entirely folded together into a whole of power dynamics, with frequent intersections of the magical and prosaic. I think that the Boltons may be one of the intersections of both the “game” and the “song.” We’ve seen Roose’s political power plays, and generally accept that his endgame is to dominate the North, supplanting the Starks. Political ambition is more than enough “rationale” for Roose’s moves in relation to this endgame, but I actually think he’s looking to do something more than this. I think he might be playing the “game” in order to influence the “song,” specifically aligned with “ice.”

One thing that strikes me is what Lady Dustin says about Roose’s ambitions: “Truth be told, Lord Bolton aspires to more than mere lordship. Why not King of the North?” She goes on to summarize the other major player’s moves, approaching this from a political angle, but the fact that she says “King OF the North” is more than passing odd. Stark kings were variously called “Kings of Winter” and “Kings IN the North.” I’d wondered if the Stark terminology “of winter” implied that they had vanquished it; by contrast, it seems the “King IN the North” implies more of a co-relation than domination. Interesting that Roose is thought to aspire to a more dominating/ vanquishing connotation for his designs in the North. At the very least, I think this little clue tells us he aspires to something slightly different than the Starks of old had.

I realize that this is drifting into crackpot territory, but I think that the Boltons are connected to the Others and winter. I think that the Night’s King was in fact a Stark, but believe that the union between this Stark and his “corpse queen” began the Bolton line. I think political ambition could easily explain the thousands of years of rivalry between these two Houses without this connection, but given some of the rituals the Boltons keep in relation to some of Old Nan’s tales and Roose’s obsession with blood, I think there’s a good chance there is more to this clash than mere envy.

the night’s king + becoming Others

(I’m putting a few passages in spoilers to save space; this one contains Old Nan’s tale of the Night’s King)

The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan’s stories, the tale of Night’s King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night’s Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. “And that was the fault in him,” she would add, “for all men must know fear.” A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.

He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night’s King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night’s King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.

“Some say he was a Bolton,” Old Nan would always end. “Some say a Magnar out of Skagos, some say Umber, Flint, or Norrey. Some would have you think he was a Woodfoot, from them who ruled Bear Island before the ironmen came. He never was. He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down.” She always pinched Bran on the nose then, he would never forget it. “He was a Stark of Winterfell, and who can say? Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.”

There are many aspects of this story that I think have significance, but one thing that has always stood out is the fact that Old Nan mentions “a Bolton” as a candidate for the NK first. There’s never been any mention of the offspring of this union, but we do see that this NK “gave [his corpse queen] his seed.” I’ve never made up my mind about the nature of this woman; I think there’s an argument for her being either a reanimated corpse or an Other (but it seems that there may not be female Others, so I favor the corpse suggestion).

In the event that she was a corpse, I’ve wondered if the NK was in fact responsible for raising her (i.e. that he had figured out how to tap into “ice magic” somehow). Given that there are some necrophilia tendencies in Reek 1.0 and Ramsay, I find the notion that she was indeed a corpse and possibly reanimated by the NK directly (perhaps through his seed) to be interesting in light of the possible Bolton connection.

I am less confident about this next facet, but if true, I think it may add a critical connection between Roose and the Others. I know the prevailing belief of the Others is that they are “natural” products, either a fighting force used by the CotF, or a kind of natural counterbalance. I actually think the Others are entirely man made (human sacrifice); further, I think that they, themselves might be men who have gone over to “ice magic.” In the same way that Mel muses that her fire magic draws great life force from her, I think that the Others may be using magic equivalently.

There seems to be a recurring implication that the human use of magic destroys the human form. Given the knightly descriptions of the Others, combined with their humanoid physical descriptions and mannerisms, I think there is a good chance these are remnants of men who attempted to wield ice magic, that the use of magic has corrupted them into “Others.” If this is the case, I wonder if this is what the NK was attempting-- raising a corpse queen, practicing necromancy, “ensorcelling” (creating thralls of the watchmen), sacrificing to “the Others” (I suspect this may simply mean, “ice magic”). I wonder if this was a conscious attempt on his part to become an Other (a superhuman magical conductor), or if becoming an Other was incidental to his dabbling in magic.

Either way, I think it’s possible that Roose might be doing something similar. I’m wondering if Roose (and perhaps the historical Boltons) might be trying to tap into this “ice” magic; perhaps Roose is actually performing his rituals with the intention of becoming a full-fledged White Walker, or, at least, to dominate through this magical power. (I am not sure how much he understands of what’s going on beyond the Wall, and I’m not suggesting he’s the Great Other or anything like that).

I should probably note that I think there’s basically 2 types of magic: “natural” CotF brand, and a corrupted strain of this that expresses variously as “ice” and “fire” magic (I think Ice and Fire are two sides of the same coin with little measurable difference). I suspect that blood sacrifice is how humans have tried to tap into the CotF’s magic, and this is where magic becomes a “hilt-less sword.” When I speak of the Others as corrupted men, this is what I’m getting at: they channeled magic through blood sacrifice and they show us one result of how humans + magic manifests.

Bolton flaying rituals

The practice of flaying seems strongly connected to an emulation of “skin-changing,” and is apparently a time-honored tradition: “The flayed man was the sigil of House Bolton, Theon knew; ages past, certain of their lords had gone so far as to cloak themselves in the skins of dead enemies. A number of Starks had ended thus. Supposedly all that had stopped a thousand years ago, when the Boltons had bent their knees to Winterfell.” I think that envy and mockery of the Stark’s powers is more than enough rationalization for this practice, but I wonder if there’s something more ritualistic here as well.

I don’t think that the Others reanimate the dead in the same way the fire priests do. I got the sense that the Others were performing an advanced kind of skin-changing; where the CotF’s skin changing has rules about wearing bodies after one’s death, it seems the Others can go beyond this to the point of wearing corpses. What if this isn’t mockery or envy of Stark powers, but a reminder of their own heritage as “corpse-wearers”?

Bolton mating rituals

What I was proposing above is basically the idea that the NK was becoming an Other, mated with a corpse he reanimated and produced the Bolton line. In his first chapter, Bran muses on one of Old Nan’s tales: “[wildling] women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.” While I believe the NK occurs long after the Long Night Bran references, it’s interesting to me that the notion of inter-breeding with Others is mentioned, even in legend. I really think there’s going to be some sort of revelation about who the offspring of these unions might be, and/ or that the very notion of mating with Others will become important.

It seems that Bolton mating rituals are intrinsically tied to “the hunt.” Roose’s account of Ramsay’s conception is frame around a fox hunt:

“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.

Ramsay has an even more hunt-oriented MO when it comes to mating. As per the story he tells Theon when he reveals himself, Ramsay is fond of actually hunting women. He strips women naked, sends them into the woods and hunts them “most dangerous game” style. Once caught, he rapes them, flays them, allows Reek to have sex with their corpses, brings their skin to the Dreadfort, feeds the “meat” to his dogs, then names his new dogs after those he’s hunted.

Here’s Manderly’s account:

“He is a great hunter,” said Wyman Manderly, “and women are his favorite prey. He strips them naked and sets them loose in the woods. They have a half day’s start before he sets out after them with hounds and horns. From time to time some wench escapes and lives to tell the tale. Most are less fortunate. When Ramsay catches them he rapes them, flays them, feeds their corpses to his dogs, and brings their skins back to the Dreadfort as trophies. If they have given him good sport, he slits their throats before he skins them. Elsewise, t’other way around.”

And here’s Ramsay’s account:

The man laughed. “The wretch is dead.” He stepped closer. “The girl’s fault. If she had not run so far, his horse would not have lamed, and we might have been able to flee. I gave him mine when I saw the riders from the ridge. I was done with her by then, and he liked to take his turn while they were still warm. I had to pull him off her and shove my clothes into his hands—calfskin boots and velvet doublet, silver-chased swordbelt, even my sable cloak. Ride for the Dreadfort, I told him, bring all the help you can. Take my horse, he’s swifter, and here, wear the ring my father gave me, so they’ll know you came from me. He’d learned better than to question me. By the time they put that arrow through his back, I’d smeared myself with the girl’s filth and dressed in his rags. They might have hanged me anyway, but it was the only chance I saw.” He rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth. “And now, my sweet prince, there was a woman promised me, if I brought two hundred men. Well, I brought three times as many, and no green boys nor fieldhands neither, but my father’s own garrison.”

This is sick and depraved, but it strikes me also as something rather ritualistic. Of course, there are non-magical explanations for these behaviors, but it is curious in relation to the tales of Others hunting women to mate, the fact that the Others are basically skin changers with the ability to wear the skins of the dead, and the necrophilia connection to the story of the NK. That Ramsay also has these women “reincarnated” in his dogs seems significant as well; he wears their skins, the women wear the dogs’ skins (theoretically).

Reek

There’s something that’s always nagged me about Reek’s origins. Here’s Roose’s account of the first Reek:

“I knew the first Reek. He stank, though not for want of washing. I have never known a cleaner creature, truth be told. He bathed thrice a day and wore flowers in his hair as if he were a maiden. Once, when my second wife was still alive, he 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. It made no matter. The smell was something he was born with. A curse, the smallfolk said. The gods had made him stink so that men would know his soul was rotting. My old maester insisted it was a sign of sickness, yet the boy was otherwise as strong as a young bull. No one could stand to be near him, 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?” His lordship glanced at the new Reek with eyes as pale and strange as two white moons. “What was he whispering whilst he unchained you?”

What doesn’t add up to me is who this Reek truly was. He was a boy who lived at the Dreadfort; he had access to a maester, which implies that he was part of the family household and he had access to Lady Bolton’s bedchambers. I think he was, in fact the first Reek, meaning, I don’t believe that there’s “always a Reek at the Dreadfort” or anything like that, but it seems that this Reek was more important to Roose than first meets the eye. He was given to Ramsay as a “servant,” but there’s nothing anywhere that states he was always a servant.

I want to come back to the issue of blood shortly, but is it possible that Reek 1.0 was Roose’s first son (prior to Domeric and the others) or another of Roose’s familial relations? Or even Roose’s own plaything?

Roose’s sons + sacrifice

I’ve entertained the idea that Domeric = Reek 1.0, but I don’t believe this checks out given that Domeric has squired outside of the family. We get an overview of Roose’s sons here:

“For the moment. I had another, once. Domeric. A quiet boy, but most accomplished. He served four years as Lady

Dustin’s page, and three in the Vale as a squire to Lord Redfort. He played the high harp, read histories, and rode like the wind. 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.”

“Yes, m’lord. Domeric. I … I have heard his name …”

Ramsay killed him. A sickness of the bowels, Maester Uthor says, but I say poison. 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. Tell me, my lord … if the kinslayer is accursed, what is a father to do when one son slays another?”

“And won’t my bastard love that? Lady Walda is a Frey, and she has a fertile feel to her. I have become oddly fond of my fat little wife. The two before her never made a sound in bed, but this one squeals and shudders. I find that quite endearing. If she pops out sons the way she pops in tarts, the Dreadfort will soon be overrun with Boltons. Ramsay will kill them all, of course. That’s for the best. I will not live long enough to see new sons to manhood, and boy lords are the bane of any House. Walda will grieve to see them die,

though”

I’ve been really suspicious of this passage. It seems that Domeric was accomplished and “normal.” Roose seems untouched by his demise, and doesn’t seem disappointed that Ramsay supposedly killed him. But one thing that seems really odd is that Roose attributes Domeric’s death at Ramsay’s hands to poison, a “woman’s weapon.” It’s a subtle way to kill someone. I don’t think Ramsay actually killed Domeric. While I believe Ramsay’s mother remains a suspect, I think Roose might have engineered this one. He’s obsessed with not being poisoned, given how is careful to eat only what Manderly eats, and poisoning is precisely as quiet and subtle as Roose’s MO (and he’s not a man to care much for the “honor” lacking in this method given his performance at the RW). By contrast, Ramsay is about as subtle as Liberacci on roller skates; I can’t see Ramsay ever using poison as a murder weapon.

From that passage, we also learn that Roose had other sons, babies who died shortly after childbirth; he also posits that he expects no further sons he fathers to survive past infancy. He puts the causes of these babies deaths on Ramsay, but I can’t help wonder if he’s personally killing them as a form of blood sacrifice. We know that Craster sacrifices infant sons to the Others beyond the Wall. I don’t think Roose is sacrificing to the Others exactly; I’m wondering if he’s using his sons as blood sacrifice for his own magical ends.

an Other gene?

There’s something significant to Roose and Ramsay’s eyes. They are extremely light grey, almost white, and completely unique to these two men. In the same way that green eyes indicate greensight, I wonder if these “eyes like chips of dirty ice” imply a kind of “ice magic” gene.

Roose is a cautious man—patient, intelligent, ambitious, knows how to play the game. In many ways, Ramsay is political suicide, creating divisions and problems that appear counter-productive to Roose’s calm dominance. Why would an intelligent man as Roose keep Ramsay around like this? I’ve wondered if the answer is in the fact that Roose believes that Ramsay has inherited certain indicators of magic, namely in the eyes. It’s Ramsay’s dirty ice eyes that inspires Roose to recognize the boy:

“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.”

blood obsession

I think it goes without saying that Roose is obsessed with blood. Between his leechings and his frequent appeals to “tainted blood,” I believe there’s something more than mere “health” going on here. Roose is thin, pale, hairless, and appears free from aging. I’d realized that I truly have no idea how old Roose is; it’s never brought up, which I find to be a strange omission. He’s certainly got a picture of Dorian Gray thing going on, it seems; interesting that ice magic “preserves” as it relates. It seems that magic cycles through the universe, and there had been something of a dry spell. I wonder if the leeches are a prosaic substitution for “ice” during a period of lessened magic.

To this end, I wonder if the Boltons do, in fact, possess some sort of blood connection to the Others, if the leeching serves a second purpose. Perhaps it’s the combination of human blood/ Other that produces a dangerous and maddening effect. I kind of think Roose might rid his blood in order to get the “human” out of the Other. We know the Others are puppet-masters; they turn corpses into their thralls. It strikes me as curious that Lady Dustin connects Roose’s bloodlessness to his using people as “playthings:”

Roose has no feelings, you see. Those leeches that he loves so well sucked all the passions out of him years ago. He does not love, he does not hate, he does not grieve. This is a game to him, mildly diverting. Some men hunt, some hawk, some tumble dice. Roose plays with men. You and me, these Freys, Lord Manderly, his plump new wife, even his bastard, we are but his playthings.”

Roose seems to suggest that draining blood yields less “human” when he speaks to Ramsay’s taint: “I know.” Lord Bolton sighed. “His blood is bad. He needs to be leeched. The leeches suck away the bad blood, all the rage and pain. No man can think so full of anger. Ramsay, though … his tainted blood would poison even leeches, I fear.”

TL/DR version:

1. The Others are men who are corrupted by their use of magic.

2. The Bolton line was created by the union of the NK and his corpse queen.

3. The Boltons are related to the Others, and seem to have rituals that suggest his as well.

4. Roose is after something more than political domination of the North, and I think he's playing with "ice magic."

Here's a breakdown of how magic is shown to transform people in asoiaf

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By contrast, Ramsay is about as subtle as Liberacci on roller skates; I can’t see Ramsay ever using poison as a murder weapon.

:lmao:

Shifting to "in all seriousness" mode: outstanding post!

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I disagree about Ramsay not killing Domeric. The Bastard has shown a willingness to adopt new tactics when it suits his purpose - he isn't stupid enough to just up and stab the heir to the Dreadfort when said heir comes to visit him, probably with an armed retinue. And he was quite subtle in his manipulation of Theon at Winterfell. He is described as "sly" several times, including by his father.

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Thanks for that link, Brash-- this makes me hopeful I'm perhaps less crackpot than I'd thought, lol.

You're welcome :) and yes, it's a topic definitely worth exploring some more. Interesting to consider as well is the role of Lady Dustin in all this. What might she be hoping to gain from an alliance with the Boltons? Reading her passages carefully reveals a woman who's ambitious and prideful. Roose's willingness to accept that Ramsay will simply kill off Fat Walda's sons has always struck me as curious, and is one of the strong indicators in my view that he's not playing the game, but banking on a different power.

I disagree about Ramsay not killing Domeric. The Bastard has shown a willingness to adopt new tactics when it suits his purpose - he isn't stupid enough to just up and stab the heir to the Dreadfort when said heir comes to visit him, probably with an armed retinue. And he was quite subtle in his manipulation of Theon at Winterfell. He is described as "sly" several times, including by his father.

Yes, but poisoning simply isn't Ramsay's style no matter how sly he may be. And why does Roose go out of his way to blame Ramsay when he could have merely gone along with the maester's diagnosis?

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I too think there is some sort of connection between the Boltons and Others. I do believe that the Starks made some sort of pact in order to become the Kings of Winter which was one of co-operation with the Old Gods. But now that pact has been broken and Bolton wants to rule the North in his own right. Something more is definitely going on with Roose.

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I disagree about Ramsay not killing Domeric. The Bastard has shown a willingness to adopt new tactics when it suits his purpose - he isn't stupid enough to just up and stab the heir to the Dreadfort when said heir comes to visit him, probably with an armed retinue. And he was quite subtle in his manipulation of Theon at Winterfell. He is described as "sly" several times, including by his father.

Which part of his manipulation of Theon strikes you as subtle?

The entire North knows of Ramsay's enormities, but no one but Roose thinks to pin the murder of the trueborn Bolton heir on him. I think that's really significant. We have no reason to believe that Ramsay would use poison. He's into playing with his prey, not kills for ambition.

Do you have an abbreviated version of this?

It looks good but I got lazy

1. The Others are men who are corrupted by their use of magic.

2. The Bolton line was created by the union of the NK and his corpse queen.

3. The Boltons are related to the Others, and seem to have rituals that suggest his as well.

4. Roose is after something more than political domination of the North, and I think he's playing with "ice magic."

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Which part of his manipulation of Theon strikes you as subtle?

The entire North knows of Ramsay's enormities, but no one but Roose thinks to pin the murder of the trueborn Bolton heir on him. I think that's really significant. We have no reason to believe that Ramsay would use poison. He's into playing with his prey, not kills for ambition.

Sounds like a Spider; like the ones Old Nan would talk about. Those huge arachnids the size of direwolves

A spider toys with its prey. Leaves it, comes back to it, drains its blood

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Which part of his manipulation of Theon strikes you as subtle?

The entire North knows of Ramsay's enormities, but no one but Roose thinks to pin the murder of the trueborn Bolton heir on him. I think that's really significant. We have no reason to believe that Ramsay would use poison. He's into playing with his prey, not kills for ambition.

Um, the whole damn thing? His suggestions all played on Theon's fears and insecurities. Killing the miller's kids as a ruse, convincing him to let him get more men, pretending to even be Reek in the first place. Not the actions of a Gregor Clegane.

We have no reason to believe Ramsay wouldn't use poison. Lady Dustin and Roose's soldiers also believe he is to blame. I think you are working backwards from your "Boltons are supernatural" theory, creating evidence that fits the hypothesis rather than a hypothesis that fits the evidence. And Ramsay isn't ambitious?? We are reading different books, then. All that about being "A trueborn Bolton," marrying Lady Hornwood and claiming her lands, etc.? It's possible to mix work and pleasure, you know.

Yes, but poisoning simply isn't Ramsay's style no matter how sly he may be. And why does Roose go out of his way to blame Ramsay when he could have merely gone along with the maester's diagnosis?

Because he sees Ramsay's nature and concluded from the timing that it must have been him? Occam's Razor, friends. And where are you getting that Ramsay has a "style"? His style is to be as bad as he can get away with. Are you seriously saying that he would have refused to poison and usurp Domeric unless he could also torture him?

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Um, the whole damn thing? His suggestions all played on Theon's fears and insecurities. Killing the miller's kids as a ruse, convincing him to let him get more men, pretending to even be Reek in the first place. Not the actions of a Gregor Clegane.

We have no reason to believe Ramsay wouldn't use poison. Lady Dustin and Roose's soldiers also believe he is to blame. I think you are working backwards from your "Boltons are supernatural" theory, creating evidence that fits the hypothesis rather than a hypothesis that fits the evidence. And Ramsay isn't ambitious?? We are reading different books, then. All that about being "A trueborn Bolton," marrying Lady Hornwood and claiming her lands, etc.? It's possible to mix work and pleasure, you know.

Ok, so psychological torment doesn't mean that someone is "subtle." If you believe that the way Ramsay flayed and tortured Theon is "subtle" and akin to quietly poisoning someone, then we are at an impasse.

Ramsay is ambitious, but his MO is different than Roose's. We have no reason to believe that Ramsay would plot a swift kill for ambition's sake. His ambition led him to force a marriage to Lady Hornwood. Instead of killing her (by poison, or some other means) he left her to chew off her own fingers locked in a room.

We know that Roose is the one who does subtle and swift kills for purposes of ambition.

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I think there will be something to Roose's "strangely pale" eyes. Or at least, I am beginning to think that there will be something to them because we're constantly reminded of their oddness. It reminds me a lot of how we're always reminded that Tyrek Lannister's body was never found; or how Jon looks like Arya, who is almost a spitting image of Lyanna.

One of the things that really stands out to me is Roose's lack of emotion, especially when you compare his coldness to the family most associated with fire magic: the Targaryens. Viserys's dragon being woken always consisted of an emotional explosion. We've seen glimpses of this in Dany as well. And we all know how Aerys was (please note: I am not arguing that all Targaryens were emotional powder kegs waiting to explode; just that there are some interesting contrasts when you think of certain examples side-by-side with Roose Bolton). The dragons themselves also can't be described as calculating, methodical beasts; compare their hunting methods to how the Others stealthily and relentlessly track those they have in their crosshairs.

Roose approaches the game much like the Others approach their own hunts. He's quiet and stealthy, and he waits until the opportunity is just right before he strikes. He also doesn't bother with gloating over his triumphs or drawing any attention to himself; once a "job" is done, he moves on to the next task.

As for Roose's age, I always pegged him as being the same age as Rickard Stark. He was already Lord of the Dreadfort in his own right while Rickard was alive, and most of the principal Stark bannermen (Rickard Karstark, the Greatjon, Wyman Manderly, Maege Mormont) seem to be closer in age to Rickard than Ned. Of course, if Roose is that old, he appears to have aged much better than someone like Jeor Mormont, who has "Old" in his nickname.

Another question that just came to mind: how old was Domeric? And why no mention of him being married or at least betrothed to someone?

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Another question that just came to mind: how old was Domeric? And why no mention of him being married or at least betrothed to someone?

Because Martin didn't want to include it. Doesn't mean anything. Despite what people think, plenty of men in the series wait until well past their teens to get betrothed or married. Edmure Tully, Renly Baratheon, and Willas Tyrell are just examples off the top of my head.

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Ok, so psychological torment doesn't mean that someone is "subtle." If you believe that the way Ramsay flayed and tortured Theon is "subtle" and akin to quietly poisoning someone, then we are at an impasse.

BECAUSE HE COULD GET AWAY WITH IT. You'll notice he didn't try that shit when he was posing as Reek. And if you think that torturing someone slowly would prevent a character from ever considering poison for a different target, despite the enormous possible rewards, we are at an impasse.

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Because he sees Ramsay's nature and concluded from the timing that it must have been him? Occam's Razor, friends. And where are you getting that Ramsay has a "style"? His style is to be as bad as he can get away with. Are you seriously saying that he would have refused to poison and usurp Domeric unless he could also torture him?

Yes, I'm saying Ramsay has a style, and it is decidedly NOT subtle. Here's what Roose says to him after he suggests turning Lady Dustin into a pair of boots:

"... Tales are told of you, Ramsay. I hear them everywhere. People fear you."

"Good."

"You are mistaken. It is not good. No tales were ever told of me. Do you think I would be sitting here if it were otherwise? Your amusements are your own, I will not chide you on that count, but you must be more discreet. A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule. Make it yours."

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Not sure about it, but I love the theory. I also stopped reading half way through to search the wiki to try and figure out Roose's age and came back to read you say you couldn't figure it out where i picked back up :cool4: . As far as i can tell he is at least about the same age as Rickard Stark, even though Theon describes him as being in his 40's. From the contexts of his stories Domeric was at least as old if not older than Lyanna and Ramsay was conceived before Rickard was killed as well.

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Because Martin didn't want to include it. Doesn't mean anything. Despite what people think, plenty of men in the series wait until well past their teens to get betrothed or married. Edmure Tully, Renly Baratheon, and Willas Tyrell are just examples off the top of my head.

True, but in the other cases you mention there are other siblings with children who could inherit should the heir never marry and/or die childless. It's pointed out that Domeric was an only child -- or at least, the only legitimate child of Roose Bolton that lived beyond infancy -- so it seems somewhat risky to not take steps to make sure the Bolton line continued.

The reason I ask is because of the theory bumps! floated that perhaps it was Roose, and not Ramsay, that murdered Domeric. Perhaps Roose knew there might come a time when he would kill/sacrifice Domeric, thus explaining why he didn't go through the trouble of arranging his marriage.

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Yes, I'm saying Ramsay has a style, and it is decidedly NOT subtle. Here's what Roose says to him after he suggests turning Lady Dustin into a pair of boots:

He also describes him as "sly and greedy" in ACOK, which was proved by how well he played Theon.

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