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Asha Wrote the Bastard Letter (Theon I, TWOW Spoilers)

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No, no, Tyrion wrote it.


I really love the time that the OP put into this theory, and almost want it to be true.

But I also know that Mance walked into Winterfell unarmed as a bard, both before and after Eddard Stark died.

And he also became the absolute ruler of hundreds of different wildling cultures in order to march them away from certain death.

This letter was written by Mance as a power play.

And he likely is flaying the Bastard while Bolton men eat out of his open palm.

Don't sell Mance Rayder short. Asha is cunning. Mance actually knows how to own the minds of men. And giants as well.

Mance owns Winterfell. And not for the first time.

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Assuming that the letter was in fact sent by Ramsay:

I dont know why still some people speculate that Stannis is already dead

a) there will be an ice fight which means he is still alive when the letter was written

B) if ramsay killed someone that would be the umbers at wf gate

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On the time frame issue:

The fact that GRRM said that Theon I from TWoW does take place before certain eventy depicted in ADwD does not mean that the Battle on the Ice has to have already happened when the Pink Letter is written and sent. But GRRM would be stupid to tell us this since the tension about whether or not Stannis has survived would evaporate if he had said the Pink Letter was actually sent before the battle.

In fact, if Ramsay has written this letter, he could have done so before the Battle on the Ice. All he needed as a motivation to write it was either the capture of Mance or one of his spearwives. Their questioning would have revealed Jon and Melisandre's involvement in a plot to take 'Arya' away from Ramsay and Roose, the very glue that keeps the Bolton alliance together (if there is such a thing as a 'Bolton alliance').

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Well if Mance sent it, I think he got Ramsay to actually write it (under threat of torture). Their combined knowledge and intonation would go into the letter. It could even be that Mance can outsmart Mel's ruby (but I strongly doubt this personally), in which case he could perhaps use it himself somehow – or heck, maybe with Mel even knowing – to glamour Ramsay himself (again to clarify, I think this unlikely and I'm only exploring possibilities).

So, my guess would be that Mance is trapped between a rock and a hard place and has had to come up with a truly genius-level solution to [a] stay "loyal" to Mel due to the threat of her ruby and find a way to get out of her spell (or get her, without her knowing), and also perhaps [c] make good on his promises (if he's a man of his word, or truly likes Jon).

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Who knows? It'll probably be something out of left-field like Melisandre...

This is my guess- someone with knowledge of Mance, and someone who might have (incomplete) visions of a battle Stannis couldn't hope to win, and someone who could make a message appear to be from someone and somewhere else.

Most of all, I can't think of *anyone* more interested in Jon's fate right now, and this might be a ruse to get him out of Castle Black before he gets shanked (whoops too late).

The Asha argument makes a lot of sense though. I was going to say we've mostly seen her as a bold, savvy fighter and commander and less of a conspirator, but she's definitely got her tricksy side as well (e.g. her first reunion with Theon).

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I don't think Mance is quite as smart as some are making out, though he's clearly very capable no doubt. But he was outmanoeuvred by Jon (in fact his attack on the wall was pretty inefficient showing signs of desperation), smashed by Stannis, and used by Mel. And there's a creepy-as-hell line in the books where Roose Bolton's eyes fall upon Abel...

But of course, Mance is under pressure because he wants to lead his people to safety, and unite the clans-beyind-the-wall. So that puts him at a disadvantage right away (i.e. he's not brutal).

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If Ramsay and Roose have indeed captured Mance, it's most likely that they have used his knowledge to write the letter. After all, either Mance or one of his spearwives must have told whoever wrote the letter that they were sent to Winterfell by Jon Snow and Melisandre. And no one but Mance or one of his women could have told them that Mance was not killed by Stannis.

I really have to stress this point. The letter seems to me as some sort of calculated attempt to sow distrust amongst the faction opposing Roose and Ramsay (i.e. Stannis, the Northmen following him, Jon, and the wildlings) before they can capitalize on the freeing Arya thing. After all, the disappearance of 'Arya Stark' along with the death of Ser Aenys Frey should further undermine the Bolton coalition within the castle. My guess is that Roose, Ramsay, and Lady Dustin will keep the whole thing a secret and announce that Theon Greyjoy and some of his co-conspirators were killed during a failed attempt to abduct Lady Arya. Should fake Arya reach Stannis or, even worse, Jon on the Wall, she could either be used against them or revealed as a fraud. Which will inevitably destroy the Bolton claim to Winterfell.

Trying to sow confusion and fear among his enemies sounds like something Roose would try to do. Especially before the battle begins. He cannot write Stannis, but he can write to Castle Black. Especially since the whole fake Arya affair gives him the pretext to force the Night's Watch to get rid of its present Lord Commander.

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I really have to stress this point. The letter seems to me as some sort of calculated attempt to sow distrust amongst the faction opposing Roose and Ramsay (i.e. Stannis, the Northmen following him, Jon, and the wildlings) before they can capitalize on the freeing Arya thing.


You sir, make it.

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The way things are at the end of ADwD it is the impending Karstark betrayal that leaves the reader fear the worst for Stannis. At least, that was my main fear. The last Asha makes it entirely possible that Theon and Tycho Nestoris are closely followed by Roose, especially since he should have known about Stannis' predicament and location through Arnolf. Should the Bolton coalition surprise Stannis before he learns about Arnolf's betrayal, and before he can make his own battle plans, the outcome written in the Pink Letter is actually quite likely.

But the first Theon chapter turned all of this around.The Karstark betrayal is revealed and Stannis is totally in control of the situation; with him realizing that he is now perfectly situated to confuse his enemies by sending false messages to Winterfell, it makes little sense to assume that he is not going to win the coming battle.

But as readers we should have read this twist in TWoW - soon followed by the depiction of the coming Battle on the Ice. ADwD was designed with the thought in mind to see Stannis marching to his doom. But if that's no red herring I don't know what is...

I'm not sure why Roose or Ramsay - or anyone, for that matter - would write to Jon after the Battle on the Ice, regardless of the outcome. If Stannis is truly dead, Roose/Ramsay would send their own men to Castle Black as soon as possible to deal with Jon. If the Boltons had many additional captives during the battle against Stannis they would know where Jeyne and Theon are, if they are still alive. And if Stannis wins the coming battle, none of this would matter. I can't see Roose being besieged in Winterfell. Since 'Arya' is gone, most, if not all his bannermen - besides, perhaps, Lady Dustin - will see Stannis' victory as a sign to forsake House Bolton. So Winterfell will either fall without a battle, or Roose will abandon it as soon as he learns about the outcome of the battle. My guess is he won't wait for the news at all. He'll send out the Freys, Manderlys, and as many of the Stark loyalists as he can lead by Ramsay - and then he himself will retreat to the Dreadfort as quickly as he can. That would be the most cautious approach. With any luck he can finish Stannis later, or even reach an understanding. Winter is hard, and he knows the North.

But before the battle, immediately after the loss of Arya the Pink Letter actually would be a good stratagem. Especially since Roose/Ramsay most likely cannot be sure whether or not Stannis is in this Mel/Jon conspiracy. If Stannis wins the battle, Roose could still gain valuable hostages (Mel, Selyse, Shireen) if there is a successful coup against Jon at Castle Black. And if not, the whole thing might cause enough confusion to prevent anyone from revealing fake Arya to the Lords of the North.

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I think Asha's motive needs a bit of a boost, so how about this:

Theon has been sentenced to death by Stannis, and Asha wants to save him. We know that Stannis wanted Jon to come to Winterfell very badly, but was refused. So if Asha gets wind of what Stannis actually wanted - any overheard conversation, etc... -- she might ask Stannis if he'd spare Theon's life if she could get Jon to come to Winterfell. Stannis agrees, so there you have a motive -- write a letter than will convince Jon to come to Winterfell.

If you take this approach, then the actual writing of the letter would be an openly-collaborative process between involving Asha and Theon, because Theon is the only person who could convincingly write something in Ramsay's voice, other than Ramsay or Roose. So together, they draft a letter designed to get Jon to come to Winterfell, which Asha hopes will result in Theon's life being spared. And Stannis lets them use a raven to send it to the Wall.

Trying to sow confusion and fear among his enemies sounds like something Roose would try to do. Especially before the battle begins. He cannot write Stannis, but he can write to Castle Black. Especially since the whole fake Arya affair gives him the pretext to force the Night's Watch to get rid of its present Lord Commander.

But the timing doesn't work for that. We know that the battle is going to happen shortly after Theon/Arya escape, because the Freys and Manderlys have already been ordered out. There is no possible way that Jon could receive that letter and be able to communicate in any way with Stannis, much less actually march all the way down to Winterfell, before that battle. So I don't see how that letter could be expected to sow dissent.

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After reading the OP, I think there is much and more to the idea of Asha having written the Bastard Letter. She appears to have been exposed to all the necessary information, through her personal correspondence with Ramsay, her conversations with Theon, her observations in Stannis' camp, and even through potentially meeting Ramsay/ Reek in WF during Theon's brief lordship.

After re-reading through many of the potentially relevant chapters spanning all the way back to AGoT, I believe she has another motive that has yet to be fully discussed, although Slayer did touch on it a bit in the OP when explaining his 1st motive.

Asha recognizes the Iron Isles are no longer an option for her due to Euron's ascension to power, and that her life is in grave danger as a result of being a captive in Stannis' camp. As such:

“If there are rocks to starboard and a storm to port, a wise captain steers a third course.”

So Asha points her bow to the only course remaining to her... The forging of a Baratheon-Greyjoy alliance.

While many on this thread have called out Slayer for insinuating that Jon will somehow pardon Asha and Theon because she wrote him a nasty note and convinced him to foreswear his vows, I can't help but feel that this was not Slayer's intention... Forgive me if I'm putting word in your mouth, but I think what was being proposed is: if Asha was successful in persuading Jon to aid Stannis then she may be able to curry some favor from Stannis, prove her value as an ally, and be rewarded with her freedom. She may even be able to leverage her efforts in order to negotiate Theon's release thereby potentially laying the foundation for the 2nd motive proposed by Slayer in the OP.

Alliances however, benefit all parties in the arrangement, so Stannis must also have something to gain by allying with the Greyjoys.

Alliances also come at a cost, and for Asha (and Theon), the price of freedom is submission. The notion of submission while not initially preferable may be her only option. To this end, Asha recalls the Readers’ sage advice:

“Its land we need, not crowns. With Stannis Baratheon and Tywin Lannister contending for the Iron Throne, we have a rare chance to improve our lot. Let us take one side or the other, help them to victory with our fleets, and claim the lands we need from a grateful king.”

And also that of her late father's:

“No man has ever died from bending his knee,” her father had once told her. “He who kneels may rise again, blade in hand. He who will not kneel stays dead, stiff legs and all.”

With that in mind, Asha begins to ply the waves in her course of submission to Stannis:

“I yield, Your Grace”...

“Do as you wish with me. I ask only that you spare my men.”...

“Sire.” Am I humbled enough for you, Your Grace? Am I beaten, bowed, and broken sufficiently for your liking?..."

“Strike these chains from my wrists, I beg you. Let me ride. I will attempt no escape.”

“You earned those irons.”

“I did. Now I offer you my men, my ships, my wits...."

Asha even goes so far as to try and conspire with him, by bringing in the forces of the iron born:

"Dagmer Cleftjaw holds Torrhen’s Square. A fierce fighter, and a leal servant of House Greyjoy. I can deliver that castle to you, and its garrison as well...”

“...Strike off these irons and let me help you take [Winterfell], Sire. Your Grace’s royal brother was renowned for turning fallen foes into friends. Make me your man.”

Asha has also already shown herself to be mentally aligned with Stannis, as demonstrated when Theon and Tycho approach Stannis' Camp:

“A horn, she thought, I need a horn to rouse the camp.”

Given that her first instinct was to alert her captors of approaching riders, and not something more selfish or nefarious, provides some insight into her current motivations, state of mind, and intentions.

Theon also attempts to earn his freedom through submission (although separately) in his conversation with Stannis:

"Unchain me, and I will serve you."

"As you served Roose Bolton and Robb Stark?" Stannis snorted. "I think not.

Despite both Asha's and Theon's efforts, Stannis remains unmoved to which Asha observes:

“Those deep-set blue eyes of his seemed always slitted in suspicion, cold fury boiling just below their surface. Her life meant little and less to him. She was only his hostage, a prize to show the north that he could vanquish the ironborn....

And that... [he] looked at her as he might look at a dog who presumed to hump against his leg.

Despite Stannis' un-receptive and prickly nature, Asha presses onward and realizes that an allying with Stannis’ may be her best and only option. Therefore, in order forge this alliance, Asha looks to the past, in hopes that history may repeat itself.

Asha is aware of the year long siege Stannis endured at Storms End, a situation which is fairly similar to the one that Stannis and his forces are currently enduring. His forces are starving, besieged (this time by weather), surrounded by enemies (this time the Boltons, Freys, Iron Born, and for the moment Manderlys), but the iron will of Stannis has not faltered and it is Asha's hope that perhaps a smuggler may once again be able to lift the siege, and save the day.

Asha therefore executes the strategy that it is sometimes better to ask forgiveness than permission... So she, unfurls her black sails, and deploys her muffled oars to smuggle in an army instead of onions, and she does so by drafting the letter.

By prompting the forces at the wall to aid Stannis she would have succeeded where he failed... In that, she has not only managed to convince the watch and the others at the wall to interfere in the affairs of the kingdom, but has also successfully conscripted the wildling force to fight for his cause (even if it is motivated solely in the desire to liberate Mance).

Therefore, Asha attempts to accomplish her primary motive of proving her worth to Stannis in an effort to forge an alliance, through the drafting and mailing of the letter with the goal of summoning an army to both assist Stannis and to get revenge on Ramsay for the deeds he has committed... more on the revenge angle later.

Upon the arrival of the army from the wall, Stannis will no doubt be surprised to see the wildling force and would make inquiries as to why they are there... This would ultimately lead to Stannis becoming aware of the letter (if he has not figured it out beforehand by noticing a missing raven or through other means). At any rate if Asha is successful in summoning an army to aid Stannis she may be able to prove her value to him. As we know from Davos, however, past defiance comes at a cost, and although Asha may keep all her fingers in tact, an alliance with Stannis will result in sacrifices, some of which I will explain shortly.

First however we must understand Stannis and his present situation. Stannis is a cunning battle commander, and while brittle, he is realistic. He understands that he does not have enough men to conquer the realm, hence sending Massey to Braavos, and he also understands that even if he does manage to capture the North, he must still contend with the much larger forces in the south... So an alliance with one of the warring factions would be a prudent move. The most logical and logistically possible alliance (aside from the houses in the North i.e. Manderly) is with the Greyjoys. Convincing Euron to relinquish his kingship however, will not be an easy task but, by having both Asha and Theon in his possession he has the potential to bring the Iron Islands back into the King's peace without having to spill a drop of his own force's blood.

Stannis exhibits his realism in the following conversation with Jon:

“Tywin Lannister has named Roose Bolton his Warden of the North, to reward him for betraying your brother. The ironmen are fighting amongst themselves since Balon Greyjoy’s death, yet they still hold Moat Cailin, Deepwood Motte, Torrhen’s Square, and most of the Stony Shore. Your father’s lands are bleeding, and I have neither the strength nor the time to stanch the wounds. What is needed is a Lord of Winterfell. A loyal Lord of Winterfell.”

This admission that he does not have the strength to battle both the ironborn and the powers in the north suggests that he may be willing to accept an alliance... Provided the terms are acceptable.

Acceptable terms of course are hard to come by, unless the party that you are bargaining with is in a disadvantageous position as exemplified by the Greyjoys.

Timing also must be considered when making alliances, and at the moment an alliance with the Greyjoys provides Stannis with a plausible path to victory in the Iron Isles.

Euron has taken most of the military might that could be summoned from the Isles south to pillage and reave the Shield Islands and along the Arbor. He has also dispatched the Iron Fleet to Slavers Bay in search of Dany (although Stannis most likely does not know this). As such, if Asha/Theon were to return to the Iron Isles, they would meet very little resistance, and as Asha exclaims to Tris:

“There are those on Harlaw who would welcome my return. On Pyke as well. And Euron won no friends on Blacktyde when he slew Lord Baelor. I could find my nuncle Aeron, raise the isles...”

Therefore her return to the Iron Isles with Stannis' support, may not only be possible, but advantageous for both the Greyjoys and Stannis.

Theon's primary role would be to dispute the kingsmoot having not had the opportunity to press his claim. Whether or not he will actually be allowed to rule... has yet to be determined.

As mentioned before however, there are costs to be paid for freedom, and the price for the Greyjoys will be a crown. They must relinquish there claim as kings/ queens of the Iron Isles, and once again become vassals under Stannis. This is but one potential price that must be paid. The cost however, will likely be higher in order for Stannis to accept. Additional capitulations may also include the abandonment of any captured northern lands along the Stony Shore, as well as Torrhen's Square.

The withdrawal from the North would be an important point for Stannis to insist upon in order to appease his Northern allies, especially given Asha's recognition that;

“The wolves did not love her; she was iron born and must answer for the crimes of her people, for Moat Cailin and Deepwood Motte and Torrhen’s Square, for centuries of reaving along the stony shore, for all Theon did at Winterfell.”

Additional concessions may still be necessary, and given that the Greyjoy strength is in their long ships not in their land forces, Stannis would be wise to either commandeer the long ships or command the remaining iron born captains to transport his troops, attack territories currently occupied by his enemies (I would personally start with the Freys), and to generally assist him in his quest to conquer the realm.

Although Euron may not personally align with Stannis he is still harassing Stannis' enemies, weakening them, and drawing forces that direction thereby allowing for an easier path to victory in other areas.

If/ when Euron hears of Asha/ Theon’s alliance and the surrender of the Iron Isles to Stannis, he may try to sail back to press his claim as king and for dominance. This task however, will be formidable considering he has dispatched the greater part of his fighting fleet on a search for dragons, and he has awarded lordships and lands to many of the influential captains in his remaining fleet. Given the reluctance of the remaining captains to halt their reaving in favor of searching for dragons, Euron may not be able to convince them to abandon their newly acquired holdings in order to retreat back in defense of the Iron Isles. Therefore, the isles are currently more or less defenseless. This also means that the only naval force of any significance in the north on the western side of the world would belong to Stannis via Asha, Dagmer Cleftjaw and any remaining captains still in the Isles. As such, if Asha can deliver the ships, abandon the north, raise the Isles, pledge allegiance to Stannis, and aid him in his quest for the iron throne an alliance may be beneficial for all parties involved.

Given the above information Asha has in my view a very strong and plausible motive for penning the letter. Smuggle in a army through subterfuge, prove her worth to Stannis, offer an alliance, and win her freedom.

As noted by many astute members on this thread however, there are still some potential issues associated with her authorship.

After parsing out each phrase in the letter and reading through the posts on this forum it appears, as Slayer pointed out that there are gotchas for each candidate. For Asha these include but may not be limited to:

The phrase "my Reek"

The use of the term "black crows"

The term "my Reek," to my knowledge, has been used exactly once in the entirety of the books, and that is in the Bastard Letter. So the argument that "it sounds like Ramsay" may be true, but he has never actually used the phrase. Therefore, due to the lack of text supported precedence, it may be possible that "my Reek" was spontaneous and ad-libbed no matter who authored the letter.

Asha's knowledge about "Reek" may extend all the way back to when she journeyed to WF following Theon's conquest. Although we are not provided with any details pertaining to a conversation between Ramsay/Reek and Asha, he informs Theon of her arrival, reports that Asha has brought 20 men by his count, and escorts Theon to the great hall of WF. All of these occurrences suggest that he was in close proximity to Asha and her group, and may have also been responsible for getting them situated upon arrival, and provisioned upon their departure. Asha at this point would have no idea that Ramsay is Reek, since that is not exposed until Ramsay's return to WF with his Bolton force culminating in the slaughter of Ser Rodrik and company before the walls of WF.

Asha's next interaction with Ramsay is the catalyst for her hatred and desire for revenge. As mentioned in the OP, Ramsay sent a letter to Asha at Deepwood Motte, informing her of the fall of Moat Cailin and of his upcoming marriage to "Arya.” Ramsay also writes;

"This letter is "written in the blood of iron men..."

And Jon, having received a seemingly identical letter notes that

"the brown ink came away in flakes when... brushed..." (Suggesting that Stannis' signature on his contract with the iron bank may similarly disappear... But that is a different subject all together).

Further Ramsay proclaims;

"I send you each a piece of prince. Linger in my lands, and share his fate.”

To which Asha reflects that:

"[she] had believed her little brother dead. Better dead than this."

Asha also recalls and broods upon the phrase "I send you each a piece of prince" on at least two occasions suggesting that Ramsay's letter struck a chord, and has instilled in her feelings of anger and hatred for his treatment of Theon.

Asha at this point still most likely does not have the requisite information to know that Ramsey was Reek however, that may have changed following her conversation with Theon in his TWoW chapter when he is thinking back on their conversation:

"She has to understand. She is my sister. He never wanted to do any harm to Bran or Rickon. Reek made him kill those boys, not him Reek but the other one. "I am no kinslayer," he insisted. He told her how he bedded down with Ramsay's bitches, warned her that Winterfell was full of ghosts..."

Asha had scolded Theon for killing "Bran" and "Rickon" when she met him in WF so the aforementioned quote sets up the passage of several key pieces of information including the true identity of Ramsay/Reek, and the revelation that it was Ramsay's plan to kill "Bran" and "Rickon." Knowledge of the aforementioned points would solidify her hatred for Ramsay.

The second term "black crows" is a uniquely wildling slur for the nights watch, and it's use in the letter seemingly suggests that the author was from north of the wall. Mance has long been one of my favorite candidates for having written the letter, due in some part to the presence of this phrase. After doing some research however, and working from the assumption that Theon may have provided Asha with some of the information in the letter, it becomes clear that Theon may have also provided Asha with the knowledge of this slur due to the following passage:

“I broke no oaths. Stiv and Wallen flew down off the Wall, not me. The black crows got no place for women.”

Theon Greyjoy sauntered closer. “Give her to the wolves,” he urged Robb.”

Theon's exposure to the phrase "black crows" and the fact that the reader is not provided with a verbatim account of his conversation with Asha at the very least provides a plausible text supported pathway for the transfer of the term "black crows" to Asha.

I'll freely admit that none of the information presented above constitutes "proof" of Asha's authorship, but given the amount of text based support provided by Slayer and others on this forum I believe that should GrrM reveal that Asha wrote the letter, the collective reading community cannot claim that he didn't provide a boatload of supporting text to follow... He just challenged us to try and follow his black skiff on a moonless night while churning in the wake of his black sails and muffled oars.

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But I also know that Mance walked into Winterfell unarmed as a bard, both before and after Eddard Stark died.

And he also became the absolute ruler of hundreds of different wildling cultures in order to march them away from certain death.

This letter was written by Mance as a power play.

Don't sell Mance Rayder short. Asha is cunning. Mance actually knows how to own the minds of men. And giants as well.

Mance owns Winterfell. And not for the first time.

I agree with this. Bran Vras did an amazing job presenting evidence behind the assertion that it was indeed Mance Raydar who wrote the letter and is much more eloquent than I could ever be, to boot:


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I love Bran Vras' essays, however there are a few points of contention I have with his analysis. One of many, and core to the issue, is concerning:

The simplest and most natural answer is Ramsay himself. Two little arguments make me have second thoughts. First, the absence of skin with the letter itself. Secondly, I hardly see how anyone could have influenced the content of the letter if Ramsay penned it.

The "skin with letter" issue is, simply, a non-issue. Ramsay does not send skin with every letter, for kicks. He only did it with the Ironborn to signify he had their prince captive, and as a warning to leave or they'd share the same fate (he ended up flaying the ironmen, making good on his threat).

The second issue is more complex, but ultimately Ramsay always comes out with good motive.

I'm not saying it wasn't Mance, or Asha, or Stannis, or Thorne even... no one can "know". But the anti-Ramsay camp need to back up their criticisms a little more IMO. But it could be I'm missing something obvious, in which case I'd love to be enlightened.

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On the time frame issue:

In fact, if Ramsay has written this letter, he could have done so before the Battle on the Ice. All he needed as a motivation to write it was either the capture of Mance or one of his spearwives. Their questioning would have revealed Jon and Melisandre's involvement in a plot to take 'Arya' away from Ramsay and Roose, the very glue that keeps the Bolton alliance together (if there is such a thing as a 'Bolton alliance').

Yes, he could have wrttien it before the actual battle, but not much before. We know that the Freys and Manderlys were already given the order to leave before Theon left, that the letter could only have been written after Theon left, and that Stannis' force is only three days, or less, from Winterfell. So the time period between the writing on the letter and the Battle on the Ice wouldn't have been more than a few days.

The only exception to that is if the escape of Theon and Jeyne causes Roose to cancel his order for the Freys and Manderly to attack. But in that case, there's no Battle period. After all, they have no way of even knowing 1) that the letter got through, 2) that Jon actually decided to leave the Wall; 3) that he actually made it to Stannis' army, and 4) that it actually succeeded in sowing dissent. So delaying the battle makes no sense.

For dissention to be sowed in Stannis' ranks as a consequence of Jon receiving that letter, the raven has to fly all the way from Winterfell to Castle Black, Jon must then decide to leave Castle Black, travel all the way to Winterfell, and somehow find Stannis' army before the Battle on the Ice. That's weeks of travel, even in good weather. And if the weather does happen to turn good, then that's all the faster the Battle on the Ice would happen. Bottom line is there is no way for Jon to make it to Stannis before that battle, so no chance for that letter to sow dissent prior to the battle.

Obviously, it's possible that the letter is written after the battle, and that the letter is a desperate attempt by beseiged Boltons to do something about Stannis and the Northernors banging on the gates.

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I actually clicked on this thread prepared to take it with a pinch of salt. With Ramsay clearly surrounded andlogically unwilling to make more trouble for himself in the meantime, I had assumed that he still wrote the letter in a fit of irrationality, lying about Stannis' death but getting certain details off, simply because it made more sense than the Stannis hypothesis, which made no sense at all. It was filled with holes; Stannis was simply not privy to the right information nor capable of dissembling in such a way. The hypothesis of the OP is the most logically consistent and the one that makes most perfect sense in terms of the overall outcome when/if Winterfell is retaken. Hats off, people, I think we have a winner. This in fact validates a personal belief I've had for some time but thought was too silly to mention, that Theon might be somehow healed through his experience at the heart tree once he gives Bran enough power in shedding his blood (or something somewhat similar) which would also make him a more viable candidate joined to Asha in overthrowing the Kingsmoot. Asha would be relying on more mercy and gratitude shown from Jon (if he's not dead yet) than from Stannis in her cooperation (and her brother's information) in the siege on Winterfell. But even if Jon is not alive, it doesn't rule out the fact that now, out of every candidate, Asha seems to be suspect number one. Equally, Theon could have forged the letter, had he been given an opportunity and been told of Melisandre and the situation at the wall, except that he's in chains and might not be able to hold a pen. He most likely gave Asha a big hand, though, in directing the style that she should use.

Btw, Slayer of Lies - You appear to have a rare deductive genius. Why have you waited so long to post on the forum? You should post more often here, methinks.

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the washerwomen never got out. i know some of them were killed as theon and jeyne jumped off the wall.

if any of them were captured they would be flayed and tell ramsay about the washerwomen and abel's plan, and what is happening at the wall.

this allows ramsay to be telling a bit of truth but still trump the naysayers who dont want Mance to die.

I also think ramsay was given false info about the battle so this is all the info he needs to write this letter.

so he believes that the nights watch and the queens men are his last threat in the north.

why not try to take them out too? hes not stannis so he isnt headstrong enough to attempt a siege mid winter storm but if he offends his foes enough

he hopes to draw them into that very mistake.

I like the theory and im not ruling it out completely but i think its more likely written by Ramsay in his 1. rage because of his lost bride (hold on the north) and lost pet reek and 2. overconfidence due to his belief that he has defeated stannis

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The chapter is no longer available online (at least I can't find it) but what is the exact line that Stannis relates to Massey in regards to his death? I don't remeber it word for word, but it seemed pretty obvious that he knew of that fake letter. Doesn't mean he sent it, but he knew about it. :dunno:

With that said, I must take issue your first motive

Motive 1:

Asha is a captive in an enemy's camp and is days if not moments away from certain death. Considering Jon grew up with Theon, a last ditch hope makes it plausible that – if she could convince Jon to show up in force – he could not only help Stannis win the battle for WF, but potentially even allow the Greyjoys to live in the aftermath.

From Asha’s view, she knows Stannis won’t ask for help and may even believe Stannis’ stubbornness is setting them all up for imminent defeat. She also knows there is only one force in the world that is both close enough to matter, and would be potentially willing to assist Stannis. Furthermore, although the reader generally accepts that the Others are coming “soon,” the vast majority of the characters in the books still seem to have little-to-no respect for “staffing” the Wall for the battle-to-end-all-battles. As such, from Asha’s perspective, due to Jon’s fledgling alliance with Stannis and his history of growing up in WF, what could possibly be more important than liberating his hometown and aiding his ally… and, by extension, Asha as well?

In that case, why send a letter saying that Stannis and his troops have been obliterated? The message I would get from such a letter is, there's nothing left to fight for and surrender.

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