And the Realm Will Shake


Unlike other volumes in the Mannifesto, I feel that Volume III only works if I provide the bookends to Stannis’s defeat of Roose Bolton first.

The first chapter (The Dark Fortress) discussed how Stannis steals Winterfell out from underneath the Boltons, using an attack on the Dreadfort to draw them away from Winterfell.

This second chapter provides the explanation for how Stannis defeats Roose Bolton himself.

The $64,000 dollar questions obviously then is:

How does Stannis defeat Roose Bolton?

The answer is actually quite simple:

Like so many things, Jon inadvertently told Stannis how to defeat Roose in JON IV – ADWD.

Because the answer is so simple, I’m forgoing my usual essay format in favor of something more quick and fun.

NOTE: Because this essay is predicting events far, far in the future I’m not dwelling on elaborate proof.

The previous essay The Dark Fortress does indeed attempt to make a convincing argument for “near-future” events using proof. I largely believe that if you agree with that essay then the principles in this one will seem self-evident without need for proof.

Of course everything written here could never happen. I do believe that this essay does describe Stannis’s best-case plans upon leaving Castle Black. Unforeseen events could always conspire to make this an impossibility. However, that does not make the theory any less worthwhile.

*   *   *


Stannis NarrowWhen you reflect on Stannis’s success, per the theories I’ve written in the Mannifesto, he owes all of his success to Jon Snow’s input:

  • The status of the Dreadfort’s provisions.
  • That Jon knew the Dreadfort, and would be ideal to lead an attack against it.
  • The likelihood of being trapped.
  • The context with which to figure out that Arnolf Karstark was a betrayer.
  • The notion from Daeron’s Conquest of Dorne about using a stagnant engagement to allow a sneak attack elsewhere.
  • Confidence to trust in Mors Umber.

The list goes on of things that Jon said or mentioned in that chapter which greatly benefited Stannis.

It’s important to note that in most of these cases, Jon did not actually know that he helped Stannis.

  • Indeed, it was the conversation about the Umber inheritance that gave Stannis what he needed to muse on the possibility of a Karstark betrayal.
  • It was Jon’s flippant comment about goat tracks that brought up Daeron’s conquest of Dorne and the “Oakenfist” strategy that Stannis repurposed at the Dreadfort.
  • Jon was referring to the difficulty of taking the Dreadfort when he told Stannis about how well provisioned it is and Jon’s special knowledge attacking it.

With all of this in mind…

Who can argue that Jon may very well have told Stannis precisely how to defeat Roose Bolton as well?

*   *   *


blake-catherine-lord-leechAmid all of Jon’s warnings to Stannis, he drops a bombshell:

“Sire, this is a bold stroke, but the risk—” The Night’s Watch takes no part. Baratheon or Bolton should be the same to me. “If Roose Bolton should catch you beneath his walls with his main strength, it will be the end for all of you.”

So, you see Jon is saying that if Stannis was to be caught up against the walls of the Dreadfort, Bolton would have been able to crush his army against the castle walls.

But, as with so much of what Jon told Stannis, you can repurpose Jon’s words to realize a powerful weapon that Stannis can leverage:

If an army can be caught beneath the walls of the Dreadfort, it can be crushed to the last man.

Hmm, fun, now lets make it specific to Stannis’s agenda:

If the Bolton army can be caught beneath the walls of the Dreadfort, it can be crushed to the last man.

Jon has just delivered Stannis’s winning strategy. He follows the Bolton army to the Dreadfort and smashes them as they attempt to retake their own castle.

There’s just one problem:

How does he catch up?

*   *   *


800px-Battle_of_Summerhall_Robert_BaratheonAssuming Stannis makes the briefest of stops at Winterfell to execute his secret coup and take the castle, he will already be lagging behind Bolton’s men.

Granted he will likely earn the loyalty of those lords who were left behind with “Ramsay” and the castle garrison, but he is still vexed with a problem:

How can he expect to catch up with Bolton in order to smash the Leech Lord against the walls of his own castle?

I believe that this is where Stannis will bring forth his most inspiring decision yet:

He will invoke the forced marches and midnight rides his brother Robert was famous for.

At first glance this seems like a fun, but wholly unsubstantiated claim. However, I believe there are indications of it’s possibility.

The Deaths-Head Moth

First, it should be noted that Richard Horpe is a fairly smart man. Stannis appears to use him as a close confidant, and he is observed to have a ‘measured’ (as in dispassionate, logical) demeanor.

During Stannis’s councils at Deepwood Motte, Richard Horpe attempts to propose an idea based off of Robert Baratheon’s legacy, only to be cut off by Stannis:

Then Ser Richard Horpe, the knight with the ravaged face and the death’s-head moths on his surcoat, turned to Stannis and said, “Your Grace, your brother—”

The king cut him off. “We all know what my brother would do. Robert would gallop up to the gates of Winterfell alone, break them with his warhammer, and ride through the rubble to slay Roose Bolton with his left hand and the Bastard with his right.” Stannis rose to his feet. “I am not Robert. But we will march, and we will free Winterfell … or die in the attempt.”

There is one problem with this: this is not what Robert is known for. Oh sure, he did something quite like this at Pyke, but virtually all of his other battles have no mention (or even chance) of this happening.

I believe it’s quite possible that Stannis cut Horpe off deliberately, to prevent the mention of what Horpe was going to say: that Robert would use forced marches.

*   *   *

In the Text

When evaluating a speculation or theory, I search for textual evidence… particularly that which is obvious and happens closely in time with related events. To that end, we see no references to any penchant that Robert might have liked smashing doors in. We do however see multiple references to Robert’s fame for mobility:

Even ruined, Winterfell itself would confer a considerable advantage on whoever held it. Robert Baratheon would have seen that at once and moved swiftly to secure the castle, with the forced marches and midnight rides for which he had been famous. Would his brother be as bold?

“Robert would have done it in ten,” Asha heard Lord Fell boasting. His grandsire had been slain by Robert at Summerhall; somehow this had elevated his slayer to godlike prowess in the grandson’s eyes. “Robert would have been inside Winterfell a fortnight ago, thumbing his nose at Bolton from the battlements.”

It is interesting that twice during Stannis’s campaign toward Winterfell we are reminded about Robert’s famous marches and never about any castle-crashing.

Obviously, Robert’s marches are never realized in A Dance with Dragons. You might think that the ‘forced march’ idea is now just flavor text.

However, if Stannis does wait until Bolton has left before taking Winterfell, he will definitely be lagging behind Bolton’s army.

Faced with the notion that Stannis must catch up to Bolton before he arrives to retake the Dreadfort, isn’t it likely that Stannis would finally resort to the one tactic that would work, regardless of its association with his brother?

At the very least, we see that Stannis is quite capable of recognizing when he must act before the Boltons can take a castle:

And word has come to us that Roose Bolton moves toward Winterfell with all his power, there to wed his bastard to your half sister. He must not be allowed to restore the castle to its former strength. We march against him.

I find it quite conspicuous that we have such prominent mentions of Robert’s forced marches as well as direct evidence that Stannis will act when necessary to prevent an enemy from securing an important castle.

*   *   *

Obviously I bring up Richard Horpe and the textual references because I believe they substantiate the idea that Stannis could implement forced marches. And when you consider the Mannifesto’s hypothesis that Stannis will lagging behind the Boltons, with an urgent need to catch up with them, the forced marches are the logical solution.

Thus, when Stannis cut off Richard Horpe at the “Deepwood Council”, I believe he did it to prevent any mention of forced marches: his desire to keep secrets, and suspicions of betrayal would want him to keep such a valuable ploy ‘off of the table’.

*   *   *


WildfireI’m not sure what else to say. The picture merely signifies the reaction this scene would likely generate.

I mean really. Getting to this point was the entire goal of the Mannifesto. I’ve made it.

There are of course many more things I could try and speculate on, but I feel that the utter obliteration of the Boltons is a good stopping point.

*   *   *

The Connington Parallel

I would like to point out that A Dance with Dragons seems to pose Jon Connington’s quest as a sort of mirror to Stannis’s.

It is best embodied by the following passages:

Strickland studied the faded tapestries on the walls, the arched windows with their myriad diamond-shaped panes of red and white glass, the racks of spears and swords and warhammers. “Let them come. This place can stand against twenty times our number, so long as we are well provisioned. And you say there is a way in and out by sea?”

“Below. A hidden cove beneath the crag, which appears only when the tide is out.” But Connington had no intention of “letting them come.” Griffin’s Roost was strong but small, and so long as they sat here they would seem small as well. But there was another castle nearby, vastly larger and impregnable. Take that, and the realm will shake. “You must excuse me, Captain-General. My lord father is buried beneath the sept, and it has been too many years since last I prayed for him.”

“Stannis is Robert’s brother, of that same ilk that brought down House Targaryen,” Jon Connington reminded him. “Moreover, he is a thousand leagues away, with whatever meagre strength he still commands. The whole realm lies between us. It would take half a year just to reach him, and he has little and less to offer us.”

“If Storm’s End is so impregnable, how do you mean to take it?” asked Malo.

“By guile.”

If you envision that these passages are actually referring to the act of taking the Dreadfort by stealth and grapnel as a first step to snatching Winterfell ‘by guile’, then by Jove this is a stunning allegory.

*   *   *


As you can see, these first two chapters of Volume III purport to show the end of Roose Bolton. There is a huge hole right in the middle however.

Filling that hole is the goal of the remaining chapters in Volume III.

<the mannifesto>

*   *   *

4 thoughts on “And the Realm Will Shake

  1. Darko

    Well, I have one thought for a long time. You already stated well that Stanis will use guile to take Winterfell and I consider it on account of everything as quite obvious. So, to track back: News comes to Winterfell of Stanis demise and crushing victory of his allies… what I think happens next is: Before return of victorious Freys and Manderlyes(we now of course its larger part of Stannis’s own men dressed as Freys), news reach Winterfell that Dreadfort is under attack or even fallen. Probably fallen to surprise attack, but let other possibility open. Roose leaves Ramsey with smaller garnison in Winterfell and takes large if even not whole of Dreadfort force to retake his castle. I cant be certain that wildings took Dreadfort by surprise attack(it would be excelent solution although, so Roose doesnt suspect or hear in leather that it is some Northmen army) but in another thing I am quite shure… Robbet Glover came up White Knife(no its not frozen yet :D) with large Manderley force somewhere beetween Winterfell and Dreadfort, and is disembarked with all its strenght. Here, he is accompanied with all of the Northmen that are sided with Staniss(they obviously cant stay at Crofters’ village and even more obviously cant go back as part of ”victoriuos” Freys cause their numbers are larger than Freys and Manderleys combined that left Winterfell). Who is leading them-but Stannis of course 🙂 He is accompanied with smaller part of his own force, most accomplished fighters and commanders. Combined Glover and Stannis army is waiting for Roose on some good strategic position, ready and willing 🙂 Must I state the obviuos: this will be the end of Roose and complete slaughter of his army… Martin must do it this way, I plead to him 😀 One note: Roose is known to be very cautious in general and will have vanguard looking for possible ambush of some sort-resolution of how pre-battle and battle itself will play out in detail I leave to Martin 🙂 Sorry for probable grammar and spelling errors-English is not my first language 🙂

    1. GlasgowGuy

      This is an incredibly insightful comment, one that potentially rectifies a major sticking point I have with this particular essay, namely Stannis’ use of the forced march.

      Stannis’ force is in no condition to make a forced march from Winterfell to the Dreadfort in the hopes of catching up with Roose Bolton. Even if the snows are not an issue, they’re tired, they’re hungry, and their horses are dying in droves. If Stannis tried a march on Bolton, what was left of his force would arrive at the Dreadfort exhausted with Bolton waiting on the walls.

      IF, however, the White Knife is not frozen, then if he can make contact with Robett Glover, Stannis has the advantage of movement by river. If we assume that the map of the North I’ve linked to below is accurate, then Stannis’ course of action after taking Winterfell would be to march not west to the Dreadfort, but south to the headwaters of the White Knife (possibly picking up a force from House Cerwyn along the way – Roose believes them to be disloyal). There they can board Glover’s ships and sail, using the greater speed provided by movement by water to get ahead of the Bolton force. Two courses of action are now available to Stannis: he can either sail south down the White Knife until he reaches its western fork that leads up to Long Lake, where he can turn north and sail until he’s across Bolton’s line of march back to the Dreadfort. I find it unlikely that he’d be able to get ahead of Bolton, but if he has the river while Bolton is struggling through the snow, he can probably make up a bit of distance while giving his men a bit of time to rest. Alternatively, Stannis and Glover could sail south past White Harbour, into the Bite and from there up the Broken Branch to Hornwood (another house with no loyalty to the Boltons!), and from there march on the Dreadfort.

      As Stannis himself would put it, however, “IF is a word for fools”. Is he in contact with Robett Glover, because in not, this plan cannot succeed. A number of possibilities present themselves: he may be told of Robett’s position by the Manderlys once he takes Winterfell. Alternatively, he may have been in contact with Robett since Deepwood Motte through his wife Sybelle.


      1. BasatardofCornfield

        When Stannis is talking about about the Conquest of Dorne he claims that it was ships that won that war… if he was able to move up the White Knife by ship that would give them a huge time advantage against the Leech Lord, while at the same time resting his own force somewhat. The question of the white knife remains.

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