A number of mostly minor characters are graviting around the Winterfell
drama, without being present in the castle. We are going to examine
them. In addition, I suspect more distant players are involved in what
is going on in Winterfell, if only by pulling strings behind the scene.
We are going to examine them separately, and only partially, elsewhere.
Here is a quickly conceived list:
- Peter Baelish,
- Lothar Frey,
- the Conclave at the Citadel,
- Brynden Rivers,
- Aegor Rivers.
- Hallis Mollen and the silent Sisters
- Robett Glover
- Dagmer Cleftjaw
- Maege Mormont, Galbart Glover and Howland Reed
- The Liddle
- Chayle, Gage, Joseth etc
- Harrion Karstark
- Euron Greyjoy
1. Hallis Mollen and the silent Sisters
Hal is a man much trusted by the Starks. He has been named captain of
guards when Ned Stark left Winterfell with Jory Cassel.
Rodrik Cassel came with him, and her husband's ward
Theon Greyjoy, and lastly Hallis Mollen, a muscular guardsman with a
square brown beard. He was the new captain of the guard, Robb said.
(Catelyn III, AGoT)
Hal developed quickly a close relationship with Robb.
Sometimes he would ride out with Hallis Mollen and be
gone for days at a time, visiting distant holdfasts. Whenever he was
away more than a day, Rickon would cry and ask Bran if Robb was ever
coming back. Even when he was home at Winterfell, Robb the Lord
seemed to have more time for Hallis Mollen and Theon Greyjoy than he
ever did for his brothers.
Robb was seated in Father's high seat, wearing ringmail and boiled
leather and the stern face of Robb the Lord. Theon Greyjoy and
Hallis Mollen stood behind him.
(Bran VI, AGoT)
I wonder what and where the distant holdfasts are. Hal is very familiar
with Theon. When the Greatjon creates trouble in Winterfell, Hal tries
Cursing, the Greatjon flung a flagon of ale into the
fire and bellowed that Robb was so green he must piss grass. When
Hallis Mollen moved to restrain him, he knocked him to the floor,
kicked over a table, and unsheathed the biggest, ugliest greatsword
that Bran had ever seen.
(Bran VI, AGoT)
There is a recurring theme with the character, besides the fact that Hal
is devoted to the Starks.
“They’re coming, my lady,” Hal Mollen whispered. He was
always a man for stating the obvious.
(Catelyn X, AGoT)
“My lady, do you hear that noise?” asked Hallis Mollen,
trotting close. “What is that?”
(Catelyn II, ACoK)
“We are the first, my lady,” Hallis Mollen said as they
reined up amidst the stumps, alone between the armies.
(Catelyn IV, ACoK)
“My lady,” Hal Mollen called. Two riders had emerged
from the tidy little camp beneath the castle, and were coming toward
them at a slow walk. “That will be King Stannis.”
“No doubt.” Catelyn watched them come.
(Catelyn V, ACoK)
“They have hanged some Lannisters,” Hal Mollen observed.
(Catelyn V, ACoK)
Little details: Hal plays dice and has a loose tongue. I take note of
the dice playing because Little Walder was murdered after meeting a dice
player in Winterfell, for what it is worth.
In Catelyn’s small corner of the camp, Shadd was slicing
carrots into a kettle, Hal Mollen was dicing with three of his
Winterfell men, and Lucas Blackwood sat sharpening his dagger. “Lady
Stark,” Lucas said when he saw her, “Mollen says it is to be battle
“Hal has the truth of it,” she answered.
(Catelyn III, ACoK)
Now we come to Hal's important mission.
But outside her chambers she found Utherydes Wayn
waiting with two women clad in grey, their faces cowled save for
their eyes. Catelyn knew at once why they were here. “Ned?”
The sisters lowered their gaze. Utherydes said, “Ser Cleos brought
him from King’s Landing, my lady.”
“Take me to him,” she commanded.
They had laid him out on a trestle table and covered him with a
banner, the white banner of House Stark with its grey direwolf
sigil. “I would look on him,” Catelyn said.
“Only the bones remain, my lady.”
“I would look on him,” she repeated.
One of the silent sisters turned down the banner.
Bones, Catelyn thought. This is not Ned, this is not the man I
loved, the father of my children.
His hands were clasped together over his chest, skeletal fingers
curled about the hilt of some longsword, but they were not Ned’s
hands, so strong and full of life. They had dressed the bones in
Ned’s surcoat, the fine white velvet with the direwolf badge over
the heart, but nothing remained of the warm flesh that had pillowed
her head so many nights, the arms that had held her. The head had
been rejoined to the body with fine silver wire, but one skull looks
another, and in those empty hollows she found no trace of her lord’s
dark grey eyes, eyes that could be soft as a fog or hard as stone.
They gave his eyes to crows, she remembered.
Catelyn turned away. “That is not his sword.”
“Ice was not returned to us, my lady,” Utherydes said. “Only Lord
“I suppose I must thank the queen for even that much.”
“Thank the Imp, my lady. It was his doing.”
One day I will thank them all. “I am grateful for your service,
sisters,” Catelyn said, “but I must
lay another task upon you. Lord Eddard was a Stark, and his bones
must be laid to rest beneath Winterfell.” They will make a statue of
him, a stone likeness that will sit in the dark with a direwolf at
his feet and a sword across his knees. “Make certain the sisters
have fresh horses, and aught else they need for the journey,” she
told Utherydes Wayn. “Hal Mollen will escort them back to
Winterfell, it is his place as captain of guards.” She gazed down at
the bones that were all that remained of her lord and love. “Now
leave me, all of you. I would be alone with Ned tonight.”
The women in grey bowed their heads. The silent sisters do not speak
to the living, Catelyn remembered dully, but some say they can talk
to the dead. And how she envied that...
(Catelyn V, ACoK)
As she approaches Oldstones, Catelyn Stark reflects.
It made her wonder where Ned had come to rest. The
silent sisters had taken his bones north, escorted by Hallis Mollen
and a small honor guard. Had Ned ever reached Winterfell, to be
interred beside his brother Brandon in the dark crypts beneath the
castle? Or did the door slam shut at Moat Cailin before Hal and the
sisters could pass?
(Catelyn V, ASoS)
So Hal Mollen left Robb's host with Ned Stark's bones and the two silent
sisters at about the time Tywin Lannister left Harrenhal. Evidently, all
this happened before the Battle of Blackwater, which was a decisive
moment which led to the Frey betrayal. A long time elapsed between Hal's
departure from Riverrun and the Winterfell wedding, much longer than
needed to accomplish the journey. Moreover, both Hal and the two silent
sisters were well equipped for their travel, and would have moved more
swiftly than Robb's host, or Roose Bolton's host.
Something has happened to Hal Mollen along the way. It doesn't seem to
be accounted for in the story.
Hal did not reach Winterfell before the wedding, since the crypts were
in the state Bran and co left them when Theon led Barbrey Dustin down
The journey would be the following: Riverrun, Oldstones, perhaps
Seagard, the Twins, The Neck, Moat Cailin, then the Kingsroad to
Winterfell. The passage through the Twins was not mandatory since the
Lannister army has left the Riverlands, and it was possible to cross the
Trident at the Ruby Ford.
If Hal Mollen managed to get through the Neck, he must have taken the
Kingsroad to Winterfell. But Lady Dustin tells us that she had been
watching for him. So we must conclude that Hal Mollen could not continue
to the Kingsroad.
However at about the same time the ironmen took Moat Cailin. Indeed,
Lady Dustin says.
“Catelyn Tully dispatched Lord Eddard’s bones north
before the Red Wedding, but your iron uncle seized Moat Cailin and
closed the way. I have been watching ever since. Should those bones
ever emerge from the swamps, they will get no farther than
(The Turncloak, ADwD)
I see several possibilities:
- Hal was taken by the Freys, in an early move of betrayal. That is
not very likely.
- Hal has been stopped by the ironmen at Moat Cailin. Then the bones
could be with Victarion. The possibility that Ned Stark's bones
would be now at the other end of the world is amusing enough to
think about. But we have had no sign of that.
- Hal managed to take a ship to White Harbor somehow. No sign of
that either. Except perhaps in the attendance at the Merman's court,
where there are holy sisters in white robes and grey. But the Faith
of the Seven is strong at White Harbor.
- Somehow Hal reached the north, found Winterfell desolated and took
residence in one of the distant holdfasts he visited with Robb,
until a better time comes to put Ned Stark in his resting place.
- Hal remained in the Neck, perhaps with Howland Reed, until Moat
Cailin has been liberated. Then he proceeded on the Kingsroad. This
is what Lady Dustin expects. It's possible that Hal Mollen joined
with Galbart Glover and Maege Mormont.
- An intriguing possibility would be that Hal has reached the Flints
of Flint's Finger, who are south of Moat Cailin, West of the Neck.
Hal might have traveled north with them. What happened then is
unclear since the Flints were summoned by Roose to Barrowton, the
seat of Lady Dustin. It was later decided that the wedding would
take place in Winterfell.
Note: shortly before Hal Mollen has gone north, another set of bones has
been sent to the Winterfell area.
Then one morning she spied three women in the cowled
grey robes of the silent sisters loading a corpse into their wagon.
The body was sewn into a cloak of the finest silk, decorated with a
battle-axe sigil. When Arya asked who it was, one of the guards told
her that Lord Cerwyn had died.
(Arya IX, ACoK)
Where are Lord Cerwyn's bones?
Of course, Hal Mollen will reappear in one form or the other. I wonder
about the presence of the silent sisters. First, we do not know who the
sisters are. It might be that they are spies, or even agents, for the
Lannisters, as they have been sent by Tyrion and Cersei. Since there is
little to support the notion, I will not insist.
We know that the silent sisters are in charge of embalming bodies or of
boiling them to recover the bones. But what is the role of the silent
sisters after a corpse has been reduced to bones? Do they merely watch
over the bones, and by their presence, signal a funerary convoy that
needs to be left in peace through troubled times?
Why do the two sisters need to follow Hal to Winterfell? The order seems
part of the Faith of the Seven. Why should they be concerned with the
funeral of a northman?
It does not seem likely that the hooded man in Winterfell is Hal Mollen.
In favor of the theory, there is the fact that Hal knew well Theon from
the time they seconded Robb in Winterfell together. It's plausible that
Hal addresses Theon in the way he did, and that Theon trusted him enough
to show him his fingers. However, the way of speaking of Hal is not
reflected in the hooded man, who does not say anything obvious. It's
likely that Hal has heard about the Red Wedding, and he would not come
to Winterfell under the rule of the Freys and Boltons.
2. Robett Glover
Here is briefly the story of Robett Glover. He is the heir of his
brother Galbart, lord of Deepwood Motte. Both are related to Ethan
Glover, squire of Brandon Stark, who survived emprisonment at King's
Landing before he died at the Tower of Joy.
House Glover is the only house that sent its lords both with Ned Stark
at the Tower of Joy, and with the Young Wolf.
Robett is married to Sybelle Locke, now castellan of Deepwood Motte.
There are probably blood relations between Sybelle and the Locke of
Oldcastle. Donnel Locke has been slain at the Red Wedding. Jorah Mormont
first's wife was a Glover. Here is Robett as the northern lords assemble
Roose Bolton and Robett Glover both demanded the honor
of battle command, the first brusquely, the second with a smile and
(Bran VI, AGoT)
Later Robett would be with Roose Bolton's host. We saw him again in
Harrenhal, where he tricked Amory Lorch and made common cause with the
Brave Companions by introducing himself as a false prisoner in the
castle. So Robett is not afraid to risk his own life, and to go
boldly into his enemy's territory.
Note that Aenys Frey was part of the plan, as Vargo Hoat tells us.
“Captiths. Rooth Bolton thought to croth the river, but
my Brafe Companions cut his van to pieceth. Killed many, and thent
Bolton running. Thith ith their lord commander, Glover, and the one
behind ith Ther Aenyth Frey.”
(Arya IX, ACoK)
He even introduced himself to Jaqen H'Ghar and Arya, that he failed to
“This man has the honor to be Jaqen H’ghar, once of the
Free City of Lorath. This man’s discourteous companions are named
Rorge and Biter. A lord will know which is Biter.” He waved a hand
toward Arya. “And here-”
“I’m Weasel,” she blurted, before he could tell who she really was.
She did not want her name said here, where Rorge might hear, and
Biter, and all these others she did not know.
She saw Glover dismiss her. “Very well,” he said. “Let’s make an end
to this bloody business.”
(Arya IX, ACoK)
Since the Ironborn had taken Deepwood Motte, the Glovers did not send
any forces to take back Winterfell from Theon.
Robett was later betrayed by Roose Bolton and sent with Hallman Tallhart
to a trap in Duskendale, as part of the preparation for the Red
Wedding. Robett survived the battle to be taken prisoner later by
An exchange of prisoners with Martyn Lannister gave Robett his freedom.
He would be sent later by ship to White Harbor. There Robett has
attempted to raise men, without success.
Other tidings were of greater interest. Robett Glover
was in the city and had been trying to raise men, with little
success. Lord Manderly had turned a deaf ear to his pleas.
(Davos II, ADwD)
Robett's wife is in Deepwood Motte and his two children prisoners of the
ironmen at Ten Towers. I do not understand why Sybelle Locke did not
exchange the ironmen prisoner at Deepwood Motte for her children instead
of ransoming them to Tycho Nestoris. Among the prisoners, were Qarl the
Maid and Tristifer Botley, both notorious in the Iron Islands.
Robett's liege lord, Galbart, seems lost in the Neck. Here again, Robett
does not seem worried in his conversation with Davos. Is the sign that
Galbart is safe somewhere?
Robett's position with respect to Stannis is clear.
My brother Galbart's seat. It was and is, thanks to your
King Stannis. He has taken Deepwood back from the iron bitch who
stole it and offers to restore it to its rightful owners.
(Davos IV, ADwD)
But he adds a moment later.
Robett Glover broke in to add, ?Your loyalty does you
honor, my lord, but Stannis Baratheon remains your king, not our
(Davos IV, ADwD)
We did not see what he did after the secret meeting in White Harbor.
But, his story does not show him to be the passive type.
Robett has so much to do: find Galbart, obtain the freedom of his
children in the Iron Islands, put Deepwood Motte in good order for the
Winter after the Ironmen occupation. In White Harbor, Robett's priority
seems to have been to raise men, presumably to take back Deepwood Motte,
since the Ironmen still had the castle at the time. But his wife seems
more worried for the family.
Lady Sybelle all but lived in her godswood, praying for
her children and her husband's safe return.
(The Wayward Bride, ADwD)
Since then the news that Stannis took back the castle reached
The association of Robett with Manderly is all natural. Indeed, Sybelle
Glover is a Locke, and house Locke is an ally of House Manderly.
Let's return to Robett's activities after the meeting with Davos. It's
likely that he tried to inquire on the death of Bran and Rickon. But, it
doesn't seem he went with Davos, but rather kept Wex with him to learn
more about the tragedy of Winterfell. The first step of the inquiry
would be to try to confirm Wex's story and go to the mill of the Acorn
The most obvious witness to be found there is the miller himself, who
was not killed by Theon and "Reek".
Is it possible that Robett Glover is the hooded man, coming to
Winterfell after having heard Wex's story and the truth about the
paternity of the miller's sons? Let's recall the encounter of Theon with
the hooded man.
Farther on, he came upon a man striding in the opposite
direction, a hooded cloak flapping behind him. When they found
themselves face-to-face their eyes met briefly. The man put a hand
on his dagger. “Theon Turncloak. Theon Kinslayer.”
“I’m not. I never ... I was ironborn.”
“False is all you were. How is it you still breathe?”
“The gods are not done with me,” Theon answered, wondering if this
could be the killer, the night walker who had stuffed Yellow Dick’s
cock into his mouth and pushed Roger Ryswell’s groom off the
battlements. Oddly, he was not afraid. He pulled the glove from his
left hand. “Lord Ramsay is not done with me.”
The man looked, and laughed. “I leave you to him, then.”
(A Ghost in Winterfell, ADwD)
Robett did mention Theon to Davos.
“Not slain,” said Glover. “Captured, and carried back to
the Dreadfort. The Bastard has been flaying him.”
(Davos IV, ADwD)
It is not clear how Robett Glover came to know that. However, people at
the Wall say more or less the same thing. And the Boltons have sent
letters with Theon's skin. So there is no reason be surprised. The
belief that Ramsay has been torturing Theon at the Dreadfort explains
both the surprise to see Theon alive and the relief that he will
continue to suffer at Ramsay's hand.
Here is Robett as seen by Davos in the Wolf's Den.
The man who stepped through the door was not one of his
gaolers. He was tall and haggard, with a deeply lined face and a
shock of grey-brown hair. A longsword hung from his hip, and his
deep-dyed scarlet cloak was fastened at the shoulder with a heavy
silver brooch in the shape of a mailed fist.
The man in Winterfell has no sword and no brooch. Note that Glover did
not have his brooch when he appeared in Harrenhal as a false prisoner.
However, Glover has a dagger which features proeminently in White
Glover drew a dagger from his belt and gave it to
the boy. “Write your name for Lord Seaworth.”
(Davos IV, ADwD)
And a bit later.
The mute flipped the dagger, caught it, then flung it
end over end at the sheepskin map that adorned Lord Wyman's wall.
(Davos IV, ADwD)
Those details are not serious indication though. Everyone has a dagger
in Winterfell. But both the hooded man and Robett seem prompt to put
their hands on it.
Is it realistic that Robett would show up in Winterfell? We saw already
Robett as an infiltrator in Harrenhal. So there is some support for
having him in Winterfell as part of a mission.
There are two difficulties: Winterfell is closed and well guarded and
Robett is too well-known to wander the castle incognito. And:
Every gate was closed and barred and heavily guarded,
though; no one was allowed to enter or depart the castle without
Lord Bolton's leave.
(The Turncloak, ADwD)
Recall that Robett was among the Dreadfort men in the south. I can see
only one option for Robett to have entered Winterfell without Roose's
knowledge: an acccomplice among the Ryswell scouts. Indeed, we know that
there is dispute between the Ryswells.
Robett has fought most of the war with Roose, and was among the
commanders of the Young Wolf's second army. Roose and Robett took
Harrenhal together and Robett trusted Roose to the point of playing the
trojan horse. When Roose sent Glover to Duskendale, he claimed that it
was the command of the king. After the Red Wedding, Glover met Manderly
in White Harbor and he knows that Roose has betrayed the Young Wolf.
But, Roose has no reason to believe that Glover knows about his role in
the Red Wedding and in the attack on Duskendale.
So, it is possible that Glover concluded a secret agreement with Roose.
It would be easy to invent a reason: complain that Stannis has taken
Deepwood Motte and ask Roose's help. Or say that Galbart has another
heir for Deepwood Motte, and pretend to ask for Roose's help to obtain
the lordship in exchange of Glover's fealty (this is what happened with
the Karstarks, and perhaps the Umbers). The trick would justify the
secrecy of the visit, and the presence of Robett in the castle. However,
Roose is not easily fooled.
Given the unfolding of events: Deepwood Motte was still in the Ironmen's
control when Roose summoned all the northern nobility to Barrowton. So
the Glovers can not be faulted for not having been present on the
wedding day. If Robett were in the castle with Roose's knowledge, it's
likely that Roose had him watched.
Manderly and Glover met Davos secretly in White Harbor during the feast
in honor of the Freys. Manderly used then as pretext for his absence a
visit to the privy. When the hooded man comes across Theon in
Winterfell, there is people and music in the Great Hall. A few hours
later, Theon hears Roger Ryswell mention Manderly's lengthy visits to
the privy (hour long squat
Robett's presence in Winterfell and meeting with Manderly could be about
- The announce of the content of Robb's will.
- The return of Davos with Rickon.
- The coordination of the escape with Mors Umber.
- Something about the horn and drums that would be heard a few hours
The news of Robb's will seems the less likely. The story with Manderly
is clearly written around the return of Rickon.
To conclude, Robett as the hooded man would fit perfectly with the
internal logic of the story. But it is not clear how to overcome the
difficulties with Robett's entrance in a well-guarded castle where he is
not welcome and why Robett isn't more preoccupied by his children, his
wife and his brother (and liege lord). Note that exfiltrating Theon is
of interest for Robett, since he could hope to exchange Theon for his
children at Harlaw.
Finally, if Robett is in the Winterfell area, there are men with Stannis
that he knows probably very well. His wife has given them specifically.
The army covered twenty-two miles the first day, by the
reckoning of the guides Lady Sybelle had given them, trackers and
hunters sworn to Deepwood with clan names like Forrester and Woods,
Branch and Bole.
(The King's Prize, ADwD)
“He’s not wrong,” grumbled Ned Woods, one of the scouts
from Deepwood. Noseless Ned, he was called; frostbite had claimed
the tip of his nose two winters past. Woods knew the wolfwood as
well as any man alive. Even the king’s proudest lords had learned to
listen when he spoke.
(The Sacrifice, ADwD)
Thus there is the possibility that Glover has informers with Stannis,
people he might contact.
3. Dagmer Cleftjaw
It might be odd to bring Dagmer as a piece of the Winterfell situation.
But let's recall his story.
Dagmer has long served the Greyjoys. Here is a piece of Balon Greyjoy's
At fifteen he had sailed with Dagmer Cleftjaw to the
Stepstones and spent a summer reaving.
(The Prophet, AFfC)
Dagmer is remembered fondly by Theon as he returns to Pyke and is
surprised to see his uncle Aeron.
“I had not looked for you, Uncle. After ten years, I
thought perhaps my lord father and lady mother might come
themselves, or send Dagmer with an honor guard.”
Dagmer is so well respected that when Theon learns that his fathers
sends Dagmer with him to raid the Stony Shore he thinks.
With Dagmer Cleftjaw along as well, his command would be
(Theon II, ACoK)
Dagmer has been Theon's master at arms.
Ugly as it was, that smile brought back a hundred
memories. Theon had seen it often as a boy, when he'd jumped a horse
over a mossy wall, or flung an axe and split a target square. He'd
seen it when he blocked a blow from Dagmer's sword, when he put an
arrow through a seagull on the wing, when he took the tiller in hand
and guided a longship safely through a snarl of foaming rocks. He
gave me more smiles than my father and Eddard Stark together. Even
Robb . . . he ought to have won a smile the day he'd saved Bran from
that wildling, but instead he'd gotten a scolding, as if he were
some cook who'd burned the stew.
“You and I must talk, Uncle,” Theon said. Dagmer was no true uncle,
only a sworn man with perhaps a pinch of Greyjoy blood four or five
lives back, and that from the wrong side of the blanket. Yet Theon
had always called him uncle nonetheless.
“Come onto my deck, then.” There were no mlords from Dagmer, not
when he stood on his own deck. On the Iron Islands, every captain
was a king aboard his own ship.
(Theon III, ACoK)
Dagmer thinks he knows Theon well.
“I know you too well, Theon. I saw you take your first
step, helped you bend your first bow. ‘Tis not me who feels wasted.”
“Why do you tell me this?” Dagmer asked. “It was me who put your
first sword in your hand. I know you are no craven.”
(Theon III, ACoK)
Dagmer has earned much through pillaging.
The fingers curled around the drinking horn were heavy
with rings, gold and silver and bronze, set with chunks of sapphire
and garnet and dragonglass. He had paid the iron price for every
one, Theon knew.
Theon sends Dagmer for a diversion to Torrhen's Square and we learn that
even Old Nan has heard about the Cleftjaw.
Torrhen's Square was under attack by some monstrous war
chief named Dagmer Cleftjaw. Old Nan said he couldn't be killed,
that once a foe had cut his head in two with an axe, but Dagmer was
so fierce he'd just pushed the two halves back together and held
them until they healed up.
(Bran VI, ACoK)
Theon tells Asha that Ser Rodrik won the day in Torrhen's Square.
There, before the ashes of a dead fire, he blurted,
“Dagmer’s lost the fight at Torrhen’s Square-”
“The old castellan broke his shield wall, yes,” Asha said calmly.
“What did you expect? This Ser Rodrik knows the land intimately, as
the Cleftjaw does not, and many of the northmen were mounted. The
ironborn lack the discipline to stand a charge of armored horse.
Dagmer lives, be grateful for that much. He’s leading the survivors
back toward the Stony Shore.”
(Theon V, ACoK)
Then the story takes an expected turn. It seems that Dagmer has returned
to Torrhen's Square. There seems to be an expectation about Torrhen's
After he was gone, Tris Botley turned to Asha. “If Moat
Cailin has fallen, Torrhen’s Square will soon follow. Then it will
be our turn.”
“Not for a while yet. The Cleftjaw will make them bleed.” Torrhen’s
Square was not a ruin like Moat Cailin, and Dagmer was iron to the
bone. He would die before he’d yield.
(The Wayward bride, ADwD)
“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.” Perhaps, she might have
added, but it would not serve her cause to show doubt before this
“Torrhen’s Square is not worth the mud beneath my heels. It is
Winterfell that matters.”
(The King's Prize, ADwD)
It's unknown why Dagmer returned there. Torrhen's Square is deep inland,
and there is no hope to hold the castle for long. I would understand had
Dagmer sacked the place and left. Let's accept that Dagmer and a small
troop of ironmen are there, including perhaps some of the men who fled
Winterfell before the Sack.
There is a small mystery here. When the northern lords assemble in
Barrowton, there is a Tallhart banner. But the Tallharts should be
prisoners of the ironmen in Torrhen's Square. What does the banner
represent? If Torrhen's Square is occupied by a small number of ironmen,
why do the Ryswells and Dustins not take it back? After all they
attacked the ironmen on the Fever River. They have everything to gain
from liberating the Tallharts. It's possible that Torrhen's Square has
been taken by them without our knowledge. It's the only logical
continuation I can imagine. This is also what Botley seems to be
thinking when he says If Moat Cailin has fallen, Torrhen's Square
will soon follow.
Perhaps, the Dustins and Ryswells exchanged the surrender of these
ironmen for a safe-conduct, especially since there were hostages inside.
The hostages seem to have been Eddara Tallhart (Lady of Torrhen's
Square), Berena Tallhart, widow of Leobald Tallhart, née Hornwood and
her two sons. Berena could claim the inheritance of the Hornwood. Those
hostages are important for Barbrey Dustin's plans.
It is even possible that the ironmen went into the service of the
northmen who liberated the castle, more or less like the ironmen in
Deepwood Motte, now in service of Tycho the Banker.
It is possible that Dagmer is now in the service of the
Ryswells/Dustins. Indeed, if he were to return to the Islands, he would
have to deal with Euron's kingship. Moreover, Barbrey Dustin's sworn
sword is called Beron, a name that seems to come from the Iron Islands.
It doesn't make much sense that Dagmer is the hooded man in Winterfell:
one would need to imagine too much to explain it. (For instance that
Dagmer entered the service of the Dustin/Ryswell, and is among the
Ryswell outriders. This is possible, as we just discussed.) Moreover,
Theon would be astounded to meet Dagmer at this point. However, as his
former master-at-arms, Dagmer Cleftjaw is the main remaining
authority figure left to Theon that might care
. One could
argue that the Damphair is another but I doubt Theon would say of his
uncle Aeron: He gave me more smiles than my father and Eddard Stark
However, Theon It would make some sense that Theon
trusted The Cleftjaw to the point of showing his maimed hands. But Theon
does not devote a single thought to him when he is Ramsay's creature.
But Dagmer has no reason to accuse Theon of kinslaying. So the Dagmer
Cleftjaw hypothesis has to be abandoned.
However, Dagmer will make his return to the story. It's hard to see him
returning with Theon dead. Indeed, the character loses then much of its
significance. Possibly his position in Torrhen's Square might provide a
refuge for the ironmen, including Asha and Theon, who might have
survived the battle at the crofter's village.
Torrhen's Square has received a letter similar to the one sent to
“The first words were, “I write this letter in the
blood of ironmen,” the last, “I send you each a piece of
prince. Linger in my lands, and share his fate.”
(The Wayward Bride, ADwD)
The words each of you
would refer to Deepwood Motte and
Torrhen's Square. I suppose Dagmer wouldn't remain inactive after being
shown a piece of skin of his liege lord, Theon Greyjoy. So we might
expect Dagmer to arrive to the Winterfell area.
4. Maege Mormont, Galbart Glover and Howland Reed
House Mormont and House Glover seem to be close. They have been tied by
marriage in recent times: Jorah Mormont's first wife was a Glover, but
died prematurely. During the liberation of Deepwood Motte, Alysanne
Mormont came to the rescue of Deepwood Motte by attacking the ironmen.
I will not recall the story of Galbart and Maege. But Maege and Galbart
have been sent separately in the Neck before the Red Wedding to find
Howland Reed and have not surfaced since then. Here is Robb's command.
“Go upriver flying my banner. The crannogmen will find
you. I want two ships to double the chances of my message reaching
Howland Reed. Lady Maege shall go on one, Galbart on the second.” He
turned to the two he’d named. “You’ll carry letters for those lords
of mine who remain in the north, but all the commands within will be
false, in case you have the misfortune to be taken. If that happens,
you must tell them that you were sailing for the north. Back to Bear
Island, or for the Stony Shore.
(Catelyn V, ASoS)
Before leaving Mormont and Glover have witnessed and signed the will of
Robb Stark. In all likehood, the will names Jon Snow as Robb's heir.
It does not seem that Mormont and Glover have Robb's will with them.
There is no sign that the will has been left in Seagard. The will has
been signed in Oldstones, and we don't know if Robb Stark has it with
him when he died at the Twins, but that seems likely.
But Lady Mormont and Lord Glover could testify of the will. They are the
only witness of the will alive and not prisoners of the Freys. Though
Jason Mallister is not at the Twins, but prisoner in Seagard of Black
Walder Frey. Whethere the spectre of Catelyn Stark is able or willing to
proclaim Jon Snow's inheritance remains to be determined.
Suppose Maege Mormont and Galbart Glover met Howland Reed, and told him
that Ned Stark's bastard should inherit the north. Given what we all
suspect, Howland Reed could introduce a completely different
parameter in the story, and might make the will devoid of content
It is not necessarily to be expected that the news of Jon's
inheritance of the north will surface from them.
Let's turn to the command given by Robb Stark. Glover and Mormont are
supposed to carry orders to the crannogmen and to the other northern
lords. We can suppose the orders concern the retaking of Moat Cailin,
which was the next objective for Robb Stark after the wedding of Edmure
Tully. Of course, Robb Stark feared that Mormont and Glover would be
taken by the ironmen in Moat Cailin. However, soon after the death of
Balon Greyjoy, many of the ironmen left Moat Cailin. We have no sign of
Mormont and Glover being taken by the ironmen.
It's interesting to note that the crannogmen, who had harassed the
ironmen in Moat Cailin, stayed away from the Boltons, Freys, Ryswells,
Dustins etc when Moat Cailin was retaken by these northmen. One would
think the crannogmen would have deserved their part in the victory.
It's curious as well that Roose Bolton did not contact them when he had
to cross the Neck with his army. Roose does not trust the crannogmen, no
more than the Freys do.
Let's recall the oath of fealty formulated by Meera and Jojen.
“To Winterfell we pledge the faith of Greywater,” they
said together. “Hearth and heart and harvest we yield up to you, my
lord. Our swords and spears and arrows are yours to command. Grant
mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we
shall never fail you.”
“I swear it by earth and water,” said the boy in green.
“I swear it by bronze and iron,” his sister said.
“We swear it by ice and fire,” they finished together.
(Bran II, ACoK)
Howland's children insisted on stating the oath in Winterfell. It's
clear that House Reed is loyal to the Starks. I note that the fealty of
the Reeds is conditional to mercy, help and justice.
But the crannogmen and the Freys do not get along well.
“We won’t find them,” the Frey boy said suddenly. “Not
so long as the frogeaters are with them. Mudmen are sneaks, they
won’t fight like decent folks, they skulk and use poison arrows, You
never see them, but they see you. Those who go into the bogs after
them get lost and never come out. Their houses move, even the
castles like Greywater Watch.” He glanced nervously at greenery that
encircled them on all sides. “They might be out there right now,
listening to everything we say.”
Farlen laughed to show what he thought of that notion. “My dogs
would smell anything in them bushes. Be all over them before you
could break wind, boy.”
“Frogeaters don’t smell like men,” Frey insisted. “They have a boggy
stink, like frogs and trees and scummy water. Moss grows under their
arms in place of hair, and they can live with nothing to eat but mud
and breathe swamp water.”
(Theon IV, ACoK)
Of all the northern lords, Howland Reed is possibly the closest to the
old gods, as testified by the visit to Godseye. It seems unequivocal
that the crannogmen have kept a relation with the Children of the
Theon was about to tell him what he ought to do with his
wet nurse’s fable when Maester Luwin spoke up. “The histories say
the crannogmen grew close to the children of the forest in the days
when the greenseers tried to bring the hammer of the waters down
upon the Neck. It may be that they have secret knowledge.”
(Theon IV, ACoK)
Bran asks Jojen.
“What do the trees remember?”
“The secrets of the old gods,” said Jojen Reed. Food and fire and
rest had helped restore him after the ordeals of their journey, but
he seemed sadder now, sullen, with a weary, haunted look about the
eyes. “Truths the First Men knew, forgotten now in Winterfell ...
but not in the wet wild. We live closer to the green in our bogs and
crannogs, and we remember. Earth and water, soil and stone, oaks and
elms and willows, they were here before us all and will still remain
when we are gone.”
(Bran III, ADwD)
He is one of the few northmen that can access, perhaps, the knowledge of
the old gods. He might have watched over the fate of his children in
Winterfell, and have witnessed everything that happened there.
In particular, he might know that Theon is a kinslayer.
Of course, Howland Reed is not the hooded man in Winterfell. But it's a
possibility that the hooded man heard about the kinslaying accusation,
directly or not, through Greywater Watch.
A final note: since ravens do not reach Greywater Watch, Howland Reed
might not be accessible to the greenseer who wargs ravens.
5. The Liddle
That's the man Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor met in the mountains north
of Winterfell. Let's recall the encounter.
Nor did they. Only once did they encounter any of the
mountain people, when a sudden burst of freezing rain sent them
looking for shelter. Summer found it for them, sniffing out a
shallow cave behind the greygreen branches of a towering sentinel
tree, but when Hodor ducked beneath the stony overhang, Bran saw the
orange glow of fire farther back and realized they were not alone.
“Come in and warm yourselves,” a man’s voice called out. “There’s
stone enough to keep the rain off all our heads.”
He offered them oatcakes and blood sausage and a swallow of ale from
a skin he carried, but never his name; nor did he ask theirs. Bran
figured him for a Liddle. The clasp that fastened his squirrelskin
cloak was gold and bronze and wrought in the shape of a pinecone,
and the Liddles bore pinecones on the white half of their
“Is it far to the Wall?” Bran asked him as they waited for the rain
“Not so far as the raven flies,” said the Liddle, if that was who he
was. “Farther, for them as lacks wings.”
Bran started, “I’d bet we’d be there if...
“... we took the kingsroad,” Meera. finished with him.
The Liddle took out a knife and whittled at a stick. “When there was
a Stark in Winterfell, a
maiden girl could walk the kingsroad in her name-day gown and still
go unmolested, and travelers could find fire, bread, and salt at
many an inn and holdfast. But the nights are colder now, and doors
are closed. There’s squids in the wolfswood, and flayed men ride the
kingsroad asking after strangers.”
The Reeds exchanged a look. “Flayed men?” said Jojen.
“The Bastard’s boys, aye. He was dead, but now he’s not. And paying
good silver for wolfskins, a man hears, and maybe gold for word of
certain other walking dead.” He looked at Bran when he said that,
and at Summer stretched out beside him. “As to that Wall,” the man
went on, “it’s not a place that I’d be going. The Old Bear took the
Watch into the haunted woods, and all that come back was his ravens,
with hardly a message between them. Dark wings, dark words, me
mother used to say, but when the birds fly silent, seems to me
that’s even darker.” He poked at the fire with his stick. “It was
different when there was a Stark in Winterfell. But the
old wolf’s dead and young one’s gone south to play the game of
thrones, and all that’s left us is the ghosts.”
“The wolves will come again,” said Jojen solemnly.
“And how would you be knowing, boy?”
“I dreamed it.”
“Some nights I dream of me mother that I buried nine years past,”
the man said, “but when I
wake, she’s not come back to us.”
“There are dreams and dreams, my lord.”
“Hodor,” said Hodor.
They spent that night together, for the rain did not let up till
well past dark, and only Summer seemed to want to leave the cave.
When the fire had burned down to embers, Bran let him go. The
direwolf did not feel the damp as people did, and the night was
calling him. Moonlight painted the wet woods in shades of silver and
turned the grey peaks white. Owls hooted through the dark and flew
silently between the pines, while pale goats moved along the
mountainsides. Bran closed his eyes and gave himself up to the wolf
dream, to the smells and sounds of midnight.
When they woke the next morning, the fire had gone out and the
Liddle was gone, but he’d left a sausage for them, and a dozen
oatcakes folded up neatly in a green and white cloth. Some of the
cakes had pinenuts baked in them and some had blackberries. Bran ate
one of each, and still did not know which sort he liked the best.
One day there would be Starks in Winterfell again, he told himself,
and then he’d send for the Liddles and pay them back a hundredfold
for every nut and berry.
(Bran II, ASoS)
The first curiosity is that Summer found the cave, as if the wolf had
been led there. Moreover, it seems the man was prepared to meet his
prince. In all likehood, Bran and co had been watched by the clans since
they entered the mountains. The man in the cave did not provide his
name, thus showing his understanding that Bran wouldn't tell his.
The man wears a clasp of bronze and gold. A clear sign that he is
highborn, especially since gold is rare in the north (we did not see any
with the Starks). The Liddle family is the following (Appendix, ADwD):
Torren Liddle is the head of the clan, his eldest son is Duncan Liddle
(Big Liddle, at the Wall), his second son is Morgan Liddle (Middle
Liddle, with Stannis), his third son is Rickard Liddle (Little Liddle).
The Liddle with Bran could be Torren Liddle or Rickard Liddle. I would
rather guess Torren, since I don't have the impression the Liddle in the
cave is particularly young. Big Liddle could have been the one who sent
news to his the clan from the Wall.
A little oddity: the Liddle eldest son has been sent to the Wall. This
goes against the convention of sending second and third sons to the Wall
and reserving the due inheritance for the first born. The ordering big -
middle - little does not seem to follow anything else than order of
birth. It's compatible with what has happened with Big Walder and Little
Walder. Moreover, Middle Liddle seems a physically impressive man. There
is no sign that Big Liddle is larger. So has Big Liddle been deprived of
inheritance for some reason? Has he been sent to the Wall for a crime?
It seems evident that the Liddle has recognized Bran, and that he is
loyal to the Starks (consider the first names: Torren and Rickard) and
that he dislikes the Boltons. It's not clear what he intends to do about
the whole situation.
That implies that the mountain clans, at least Morgan Liddle who has
ridden with Stannis, know about the survival of the young Starks, at
least Bran, and that they haven't told Stannis. Indeed, Stannis believes
that Theon has put to death the young Starks.
The news might very well have reached Deepwood Motte, when the place has
been liberated by Stannis and Alysanne Mormont as well. It's not clear
whether people in Deepwood Motte took the trouble of warning other
Among the more important mountain clans (Wull, Flint, Norrey, Liddle) we
see Old Flint and The Norrey at the Wall and The Wull with Stannis. The
Liddle seems to be missing. It might be that he did not go to the Wall
because his son Duncan is at Castle Black. He doesn't have the excuse of
being too old like Old Flint and The Norrey. Since Morgan Liddle is with
Stannis, the Liddle clan has embraced Stannis' cause. So the Liddle is
doing something just as important as fighting with Stannis and going to
the Wall. But what?
6. Chayle, Gage, Joseth etc
There aren't many news concerning the well being of the people in
Winterfell after the Sack. Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers tell of news
from Little Walder and Big Walder.
“I cannot speak to that. There is much confusion in any
war. Many false reports. All I can tell you is that my nephews claim
it was this bastard son of Bolton’s who saved the women of
Winterfell, and the little ones. They are safe at the Dreadfort now,
all those who remain.”
(Catelyn III, ASoS)
Roose reports to Robb on a letter sent by Ramsay.
Bolton’s pale eyes met her own. “The ironmen burned both
castle and winter town. Some of your people were taken back to the
Dreadfort by my son, Ramsay.”
(Catelyn V, ASoS)
Much later, we have news via Manderly.
Snow did not kill them all. He spared the women, roped
them together, and marched them to the Dreadfort for his sport.
(Davos IV, ADwD)
Among the women, we might hope to see Palla, Barth the brewer's wife,
little Beth Cassel and Old Nan.
We know for certain that Maester Luwin, Mikken the smith, Kyra, Farren
the kennel master are dead. Septon Chayle is almost certainly dead. A
little detail gives me pause. When Jojen predicts that Chayle will
“The gods will take me when they see fit,” Septon Chayle
said quietly, “though I scarcely think it likely that I’ll drown,
Bran. I grew up on the banks of the White Knife, you know. I’m quite
the strong swimmer.”
(Bran V, ACoK)
Chayle has been given to the Drowned God in the Well of Winterfell.
As for Chayle, he had to give someone to the Drowned
God, his men expected it. “I bear you no ill will,” he’d told the
septon before they threw him down the well, “but you and your gods
have no place here now.”
(Theon IV, ACoK)
So there is the remote possibility that Chayle swam into the well and
that the well and the pool communicate.
And then Osha exploded up out of the pool with a great
splash, so sudden that even Summer leapt back, snarling. Hodor
jumped away, wailing “Hodor, Hodor” in dismay until Bran patted his
shoulder to soothe his fears. “How can you swim in there?” he asked
Osha. “Isn’t it cold?”
“As a babe I suckled on icicles, boy. I like the cold.” Osha swam to
the rocks and rose dripping. She was naked, her skin bumpy with
gooseprickles. Summer crept close and sniffed at her. “I wanted to
touch the bottom.”
“I never knew there was a bottom.”
“Might be there isn’t.” She grinned.
(Bran II, ACoK)
But I see the survival of Chayle as unlikely. It's probable that the
ironmen did not intend to leave the corpse in the well after the
drowning. So they would have noticed if Chayle had escaped by swimming
down the well. Note that Chayle made an unexpected return at the Wall
for the wedding of Alys Karstark via a typo.
Septon Chayle had emerged briefly from the sept,
fingering the seven-sided crystal on the thong about his neck, only
to retreat inside again once the prayers began.
(Jon X, ADwD)
It's, of course, Septon Cellador, so much in his cups that he thinks
himself as Chayle. Had Chayle survived somehow the drowning, he would
have made a candidate to be considered for the hooded man role: he had
known Theon from childhood and might have moral authority over him, he
could be thought as an avenger in the castle, he might have been in
contact with Glover and Umber outside the caslte.
A number men have survived the Sack of Winterfell and joined Stannis, as
Stannis wrote to Jon Snow.
Fisherfolk, freeriders, hillmen, crofters from the deep
of the wolfswood and villagers who fled their homes along the stony
shore to escape the ironmen, survivors from the battle outside the
gates of Winterfell, men once sworn to the Hornwoods, the Cerwyns,
and the Tallharts.
(Jon VII, ADwD)
There are also refugees in White Harbor.
“Them as have no other place to live. Smallfolk from up
the White Knife, most o’ them. Hornwood’s people too. With that
Bastard o’ Bolton running loose, they all want to be inside the
walls. I don’t know what his lordship means to do with all o’ them.
Most turned up with no more’n the rags on their backs.”
Davos felt a pang of guilt. They came here for refuge, to a city
untouched by the fighting, and here I turn up to drag them back into
the war. He took a bite of the apple and felt guilty about that as
well. “How do they eat?”
The apple seller shrugged. “Some beg. Some steal. Lots o’ young
girls taking up the trade, the way girls always do when it’s all
they got to sell. Any boy stands five feet tall can find a place in
his lordship’s barracks, long as he can hold a spear.”
(Davos II, ADwD)
Up the White Knife leads to Winterfell. So Stannis' host and Manderly
might both have survivors of Winterfell with them.
Joseth became the master of horse after Hullen's departure for King's
Landing. He seemed to have been a smart fellow.
Joseth understood. “A man the size of Hodor ought to
have left a deep print in this mud,” he
said. “More so with the weight of a boy on his back. Yet the only
boot prints here are our own. See for yourself.”
(Theon IV, ACoK)
And wise too.
He made them press on through the dusk, but when the
last light faded Joseth finally worked up the courage to say, “This
is fruitless, my lord. We will lame a horse, break a leg.”
“Joseth has the right of it,” said Maester Luwin. “Groping through
the woods by torchlight will avail us nothing.”
(Theon IV, ACoK)
Joseth probably died during the Sack of Winterfell. But we never had
confirmation. In particular, Bran and Osha inspected the stables
after the Sack and did not see Joseth's body. Joseth's daughters
Bandy and Shyra might have been taken to the Dreadfort.
Gage was the castle's cook. We didn't see him die either.
Mikken the smith, Farlen the kennelmaster etc have been killed by
Osha's early life in Winterfell is partly discussed with the
We know through Wex that Osha and Rickon went to the island of Skagos.
“The lad is ironborn, so he thought it best not to show
himself,” said Glover. “He listened. The six did not linger long
amongst the ruins of Winterfell. Four went one way, two another. Wex
stole after the two, a woman and a boy. He must have stayed
downwind, so the wolf would not catch his scent.”
“He knows where they went,” Lord Wyman said.
Davos understood. “You want the boy.”
“Roose Bolton has Lord Eddard’s daughter. To thwart him White Harbor
must have Ned’s son ... and the direwolf. The wolf will prove the
boy is who we say he is, should the Dreadfort attempt to deny him.
That is my price, Lord Davos. Smuggle me back my liege lord, and I
will take Stannis Baratheon as my king.”
(Davos IV, ADwD)
We do not know how they went there, and how did Wex reach White Harbor.
Osha and Rickon left Winterfell through the East Gate and took the
“Listen,” Luwin said to Osha, “the princes... Robb’s
heirs. Not... not together... do you hear?” The wildling woman
leaned on her spear. “Aye. Safer apart. But where to take them? I’d
thought, might be these Cerwyns...”
Maester Luwin shook his head, though it was plain to see what the
effort cost him. “Cerwyn
boy’s dead. Ser Rodrik, Leobald Tallhart, Lady Hornwood... all
slain. Deepwood fallen, Moat Cailin, soon Torrhen’s Square. Ironmen
on the Stony Shore. And east, the Bastard of Bolton.”
“Then where?” asked Osha.
“White Harbor... the Umbers... I do not know... war everywhere...
each man against his neighbor, and winter coming... such folly, such
black mad folly...” Maester Luwin reached up and grasped Bran’s
forearm, his fingers closing with a desperate strength. “You must be
strong now. Strong.”
“I will be,” Bran said, though it was hard. Ser Rodrik killed and
Maester Luwin, everyone, everyone...
“Good,” the maester said. “A good boy. Your... your father’s son,
Bran. Now go.”
Osha gazed up at the weirwood, at the red face carved in the pale
trunk. “And leave you for the gods?”
“I beg...” The maester swallowed a... a drink of water, and...
another boon. If you would...” “Aye.” She turned to Meera. “Take the
Jojen and Meera led Rickon out between them. Hodor followed. Low
branches whipped at
Bran’s face as they pushed between the trees, and the leaves brushed
away his tears. Osha joined them in the yard a few moments later.
She said no word of Maester Luwin. “Hodor must stay with Bran, to be
his legs,” the wildling woman said briskly. “I will take Rickon with
“We’ll go with Bran,” said Jojen Reed.
“Aye, I thought you might,” said Osha. “Believe I’ll try the East
Gate, and follow the kingsroad a ways.”
“We’ll take the Hunter’s Gate,” said Meera.
“Hodor,” said Hodor.
They stopped at the kitchens first. Osha found some loaves of burned
bread that were still
edible, and even a cold roast fowl that she ripped in half. Meera
unearthed a crock of honey and a big sack of apples. Outside, they
made their farewells. Rickon sobbed and clung to Hodor’s leg until
Osha gave him a smack with the butt end of her spear. Then he
followed her quick enough. Shaggydog stalked after them. The last
Bran saw of them was the direwolf’s tail as it vanished behind the
(Bran VII, ACoK)
Osha gave Luwin the gift of mercy. After she has left the godswood, she
knows her destination.
A few more things might have been said
between Luwin and Osha. And Wex, hidden in the godswood, might have
heard. Note also that Luwin has been killed at the weirwood feet. Could
it count as a sacrifice and be of importance? That is something that
Osha would understand since she is knowledgeable about wildling lore.
The kingsroad leads north to Umber Lands and leads south to White
Harbor. If Osha meant to reach Skagos, the north route is more
realistic, especially since she might have heard the following
conversation at the Harvest Feast. The Umbers make a request to their
Hother wanted ships. “There’s wildlings stealing down
from the north, more than I’ve ever seen before. They cross the Bay
of Seals in little boats and wash up on our shores. The crows in
Eastwatch are too few to stop them, and they go to ground quick as
weasels. It’s longships we need, aye, and strong men to sail them.
The Greatjon took too many. Half our harvest is gone to seed for
want of arms to swing the scythes.”
(Bran II, ACoK)
So Osha might have gone to Skagos with the wildling of the Bay of Seals.
Prior to that, she would have had to cross entirely the Umber Lands. Wex
might have been caught by the Umbers and brought to Manderly. At the
time Umbers and Manderlys were working together to build a fleet.
Ser Rodrik pulled at his whiskers. “You have forests of
tall pine and old oak. Lord Manderly has shipwrights and sailors in
plenty. Together you ought to be able to float enough longships to
guard both your coasts.”
“Manderly?” Mors Umber snorted. “That great waddling sack of suet?
His own people mock him as Lord Lamprey, I’ve heard. The man can
scarce walk. If you stuck a sword in his belly, ten thousand eels
would wriggle out.”
“He is fat,” Ser Rodrik admitted, “but he is not stupid. You will
work with him, or the king will know the reason why.” And to Bran’s
astonishment, the truculent Umbers agreed to do as he commanded,
though not without grumbling.
(Bran II, ACoK)
The cooperation of one or both Umbers with Manderly would solve a number
of plot problems.
If Osha and Rickon went south, it means they took a ship in White Harbor
to Skagos, which would explain how Wex arrived there. But it is unlikely
that Osha and Rickon would find a ship willing to take them there.
Indeed, Manderly himself has to resort to the service of Davos to lead
an expedition to the island. So we are left with the hypothesis of the
Manderly and Robett Glover's plan is to bring back Rickon as the
legitimate lord of Winterfell, and perhaps king in the the north. Not
much time has elapsed between the secret meeting at White Harbor and the
Winterfell wedding. Indeed Manderly and Glover know that Stannis has
taken Deepwood Motte. It happened just before the Freys left White
When the news reach Barrowton, Roose decides to move the wedding to
Winterfell. At that point Manderly has just arrived in Barrowton and
Ramsay has spent sixteen days looking for the Freys. So at most a month
has elapsed between the White Harbor meeting and the decision to move
the wedding to Winterfell. The departure for Winterfell happened three
days later. At most another month, in all likehood much less, was
necessary to move Roose's host and all the guests to Winterfell. Then
about fifty days, perhaps a bit less, elapsed between the wedding and
At the time of the escape, Davos has begun his mission to find Rickon
two to four monthes before.
So the hooded man could have come to Winterfell to give news of
the young Rickard Stark.
However it wouldn't be reasonable
for Glover and Davos to have brought Rickon to Winterfell. Keeping him
safely in White Harbor seems a better option.
8. Harrion Kastark
House Karstark is one of the few houses not present in Winterfell. After
the beheading of Rickard Karstark by the Young Wolf, Harrion is the
House Karstark is the main known offshoot of House Stark. Hence Harrion
can claim to be descended from the Kings of Winter on the male line,
making him eligible to inherit Winterfell, depending on the
We first met Harrion when Robb called his banners. The Karstarks saw
Bran in Winterfell's Great Hall.
Harrion Karstark, the oldest of Lord Rickard’s sons,
bowed, and his brothers after him, yet as they settled back in their
places he heard the younger two talking in low voices, over the
clatter of wine cups. I’ll... sooner die than live like that,”
muttered one, his father’s namesake Eddard, and his brother Torrhen
said likely the boy was broken inside as well as out, too craven to
take his own life.
(Bran VI, AGoT)
This is a sign that the Karstarks wouldn't be willing to accept a
crippled boy as a lord, it seems.
Harrion has been taken prisoner by Tywin Lannister at the Red Fork. Arya
saw him in Harrenhal.
He belonged to Lord Tywin, but the fierce, bearded young
man who liked to walk the battlements alone in a black cloak
patterned with white suns had been taken by some hedge knight who
meant to get rich off him.
(Arya VIII, ACoK)
Harrion has freed by Roose's army and sent to Duskendale, where the
northmen are smashed by Randyll Tarly. The last news we had of him is
through Alys Kastark taking shelter at the Wall.
Harry was a prisoner at Maidenpool when last we heard,
but that was almost a year ago. He may be dead as well.
(Jon IX, ADwD)
And she adds.
“He is no lord,” Alys said scornfully. “My brother Harry
is the rightful lord, and by law I am his heir. A daughter comes
before an uncle. Uncle Arnolf is only castellan. He’s my
great-uncle, actually, my father’s uncle. Cregan is his son. I
suppose that makes him a cousin, but we always called him uncle. Now
they mean to make me call him husband.”
(Jon IX, ADwD)
Alys was once promised to the heir of Hornwood.
She made a fist. “Before the war I was betrothed to
Daryn Hornwood. We were only waiting till I flowered to be wed, but
the Kingslayer killed Daryn in the Whispering Wood. My father wrote
that he would find some southron lord to wed me, but he never did.
Your brother Robb cut off his head for killing Lannisters.” Her
mouth twisted. “I thought the whole reason they marched south was to
kill some Lannisters.”
(Jon IX, ADwD)
It is not what Luwin meant when he said.
The Tallharts, Flints, and Karstarks all have ties to
House Hornwood through the female line, and the Glovers are
fostering Lord Harys's bastard at Deepwood Motte.
(Bran II, ACoK)
Recently, the Karstark have fought for the Starks.
“The blood of the First Men flows in my veins as much as
yours, boy. You would do well to remember that. I was named for your
grandfather. I raised my banners against King Aerys for your father,
and against King Joffrey for you. At Oxcross and the Whispering Wood
and in the Battle of the Camps, I rode beside you, and I stood with
Lord Eddard on the Trident. We are kin, Stark and Karstark.”
(Catelyn III, ASoS)
House Karstark is an offshoot of House Stark, possibly founded after a
The Karstarks traced their descent to Karlon Stark, a
younger son of Winterfell who had put down a rebel lord a thousand
years ago, and been granted lands for his valor. The castle he built
had been named Karl's Hold, but that soon became Karhold, and over
the centuries the Karhold Starks had become Karstarks.
(Catelyn III, ASoS)
Indeed House Karstark's lands are adjacent to House Bolton's. It would
have made sense to have deprived the rebel lord of some of his lands and
to give them to the younger son of Winterfell who put him down.
The Karstark are proud of their Stark parentage. As Cregan Karstark and
Rickart Kastark say.
“If you mean to kill me, do it and be damned for a
kinslayer. Stark and Karstark are one blood.”
(Jon X, ADwD)
“Old gods or new, it makes no matter,” Lord Rickard told
her son, “no man is so accursed as the kinslayer.”
“Kneel, traitor,” Robb said again. “Or must I have them force your
head onto the block?”
Lord Karstark knelt. “The gods shall judge you, as you have judged
me.” He laid his head upon
“Rickard Karstark, Lord of Karhold.” Robb lifted the heavy axe with
both hands. “Here in sight
of gods and men, I judge you guilty of murder and high treason. In
mine own name I condemn you. With mine own hand I take your life.
Would you speak a final word?”
“Kill me, and be cursed. You are no king of mine.”
(Catelyn III, ASoS)
Stannis promises Winterfell to Arnolf Karstark for his loyalty. However,
Arnolf's treachery is discovered and punished by Stannis.
In the Young Wolf's host, Umbers and Karstarks had places of choice.
There are only three towers in Moat Cailin. Theon recalls.
The Karstarks took the Drunkard's Tower and the Umbers
the Children's Tower, he recalled. Robb claimed the Gatehouse Tower
for his own.
(Reek II, ADwD)
Jon Snow has created a new House Thenn, via the marriage to Alys
Karstark. The wedding has not been witnessed by the old gods and has
been celebrated with the rites of the red god. It is unclear whether the
marriage will be accepted by the north, especially since Alys has not
been given to her husband by a male relative.
So the Karstarks see themselves as substitutes for the Starks, if not
authentic Starks. However, the beheading of Rickard, the alliance with
Stannis, the betrayal of Stannis by Arnolf, the marriage of Alys
Karstark to the magnar of Thenn leaves house Karstark in an unclear
situation. I wonder what passes through the head of Karstark men after
all these events.
It seems that the Karstark men would fight the Boltons with Stannis and
the other northmen.
Harrion is Randyll Tarly's prisoner in Maidenpool. He might restore some
order to the house on his return. But what he will decide is unclear. He
might bear some grudge to Jon Snow for having wed his sister, and might
even contest the validity of the wedding. But it seems possible that he
adopts Alys' attitude towards the Stark.
“My father never bellowed like the Greatjon, but he was
no less dangerous in his wroth. He is dead now too, though. So is
your brother. But you and I are here, still living. Is there blood
feud between us, Lord Snow?”
(Jon IX, ADwD)
When Brienne was in Maidenpool, there was no sign of Harrion. Where is
he now? His sister Alys has no idea.
small fleet was present at Maidenpool when Brienne visited for the first
A galley, a galleas, and a big two- masted cog were in
port, along with a score of little fishing boats.
(Brienne III, ADwD)
It seems that the same ships were in White Harbor sometime later.
Indeed, when Davos is in White Harbor, he inquires about the ships
currently in the harbor.
The dockside wharves were swarming. A clutter of small
boats were tied up along the fish market, off-loading their catches.
He saw three river runners too, long lean boats built tough to brave
the swift currents and rocky shoots of the White Knife. It was the
seagoing vessels that interested him most, however; a pair of
carracks as drab and tattered as the Merry Midwife, the
trading galley Storm Dancer, the cogs Brave Magister
and Horn of Plenty, a galleas from Braavos marked by her
purple hull and sails ...
... and there beyond, the warship.
(Davos II, ADwD)
The warship has been sent by the Iron Throne and it brought the Freys to
White Harbor. The galleas from Braavos is more interesting. The purple
hull and sails mark it as an official ship. Tycho Nestoris would later
arrive at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea with the following fleet.
Cotter Pyke informs me that you came to Eastwatch with
three ships. A galleas, a galley, and a cog.
(Jon IX, ADwD)
So it possible that the galleas is Tycho's, and that the remnant of his
fleet was made of the Storm Dancer
, and the Horn
. The Brave Magister
bears an unlikely name
for a Braavosi ship, and is filled with mead. The cog and the galley of
Tycho Nestoris might not be Braavosi, and they might have joined the
galleas in White Harbor, or earlier since Brienne sees in Maidenpool
what could very well be the banker's fleet.
There is no sign that the galleas is Braavosi for Brienne. Perhaps her
familiarity with ships does not match Davos'. An oarsman from the
galleas is sentenced by Lord Tarly, and nothing shows that he is
All this is pure speculation, but relatively few ships are spotted
either at White Harbor and Maidenpool, and the probability that we find
coincidentally a galleas, a galley and a cog at both places is low. So,
it's possible that Harrion Karstark has been freed by Randyll Tarly and
went to White Harbor with Tycho Nestoris. But then Harrion might have
continued north and could even have stepped down at Karhold. But we
would know this, since Alys and Cregan Karstark arrived at Castle Black
after Tycho, so Harrion would have reached Karhold before they left,
which is impossible. Perhaps, when Tycho's fleet arrived in White
Harbor, Harrion was warned that Cregan had declared for Stannis and was
advised by Manderly not to go to Karhold. There is sign that Manderly
knows the situation at Karhold, and that he is persuaded that Harrion is
Ser Marlon turned to Davos. “How many northern lords
have declared for Stannis? Tell us that.”
“Arnolf Karstark has vowed to join His Grace.”
“Arnolf is no true lord, only a castellan. What castles does Lord
Stannis hold at present, pray?”
(Davos III, ADwD)
Another possibility is that Harrion left Maidenpool with Wylis Manderly.
It's interesting to see the Karstarks as significant of what the
Starks were once
: before they married a Tully, before they
bent the knee to the Targaryens, when they were the kings of Winter.
What we see is not pretty: they expect cripples to take their own life.
They feel that they can sell their daughter for marriage (Alys Karstark
promised to whoever captures of kills the Kingslayer). We even see
Cregan Karstark hunting his own cousin Alys with dogs, like a prey. They
revel in odious treachery to gain the lordship of Karhold.
There is so much to say about Melisandre. However, she seems out of the
game during the Winterfell drama. Here is an interesting thought of Jon
Snow, when he is offered Winterfell by Stannis.
The weirwood was the heart of Winterfell, Lord Eddard
always said... but to save the castle Jon would have to tear that
heart up by its ancient roots, and feed it to the red woman's hungry
fire god. I have no right, he thought. Winterfell belongs to the old
(Jon XI, ASoS)
So Melisandre would burn the weirwood, just like the First Men of old
did before concluding the pact with the Children of the Forest. This
project is well in line with what we saw previously: Melisandre had the
Storm's End weirwood burned as well and she made the wildlings burn
branches of weirwood before allowing them through the Wall.
Queen's men in studded jacks and halfhelms handed each
passing man, woman, or child a piece of white weirwood: a stick, a
splintered branch as pale as broken bone, a spray of blood-red
leaves. A piece of the old gods to feed the new.
(Jon III, ADwD)
So Melisandre is an enemy of the old gods and of the Children of the
Forest. However when Jon asked her what she saw in her flames at
the time of the escape.
“And what of Mance? Is he lost as well? What do your
“The same, I fear. Only snow.”
(Jon X, ADwD)
So it seems that Winterfell is outside her area of influence and she
played no role in the events there. It's interesting that the blizzard
made the Winterfell region impervious to the visions in the flames.
Melisandre's magic could not penetrate Storm's End when she intended to
launch a shadow killer on Cortnay Penrose. She said explicitly that the
Walls of the castle are warded. Later she would have the godswood put to
It's possible that a similar phenomenon occurs in Winterfell.
10. Euron Greyjoy
It's not relevant for the Winterfell events, but it seems to me that an
important question about Euron is whether he controls or is controlled
by the qartheen wizards. But that's a question for another day.
However, the question of change of power in the Iron Island is important
for the north.
It is interesting to see that the Barrowlands and the Rills have
remained untouched by the invasion of the ironmen. After all, more to
the south, the ironmen are at Moat Cailin, and more to the north there
were ironmen along the Stony Shore.
Just before the Red Wedding, Robb and Roose Bolton had a conversation
about what to do with Theon Greyjoy.
“Flaying Theon will not bring my brothers back,” Robb
said. “I want his head, not his skin.”
“He is Balon Greyjoy’s only living son,” Lord Bolton said softly, as
if they had forgotten, “and now rightful King of the Iron Islands. A
captive king has great value as a hostage.”
“Hostage?” The word raised Catelyn’s hackles. Hostages were oft
exchanged. “Lord Bolton, I hope you are not suggesting that we free
the man who killed my sons.”
“Whoever wins the Seastone Chair will want Theon Greyjoy dead,”
Bolton pointed out. “Even in chains, he has a better claim than any
of his uncles. Hold him, I say, and demand concessions from the
ironborn as the price of his execution.”
Robb considered that reluctantly, but in the end he nodded. “Yes.
Very well. Keep him alive, then. For the present. Hold him secure at
the Dreadfort till we’ve retaken the north.”
(Catelyn VI, ASoS)
We are never told if Roose asked anything to keep Theon prisoner.
Curiously, Roose made a promise to Theon.
“Serve us in this, and when Stannis is defeated we will
discuss how best to restore you to your father’s seat,” his lordship
had said in that soft voice of his, a voice made for lies and
whispers. Theon never believed a word of it. He would dance this
dance for them because he had no choice, but afterward ...
(The Prince of Winterfell, ADwD)
Theon never seemed to believe the promise. Roose did not do much to
protect Theon from Ramsay. I am sure Roose is aware of the value of
Theon as heir to the Iron Island. Apparently, Roose lost interest in
Theon after the wedding. We saw no sign that Euron paid any attention to
the continuing existence of Theon.