The Fool of Skulls and Kisses

THE MANNIFESTO: APPENDIX V

In light of the previous appendix, it would seem entirely possible that Mance Rayder borrowed from not just Bael the Bard, but Florian the Fool.

Its a fun observation, but one that seems trivial.

Unless you’re someone with a fastidious interest in ASOIAF, why would you care?

Knowing that Mance Rayder is ‘borrowing’ the tale of Florian, the greatest fool in Westerosi history, readers are equipped to decipher several major mysteries that emerged after A Dance with Dragons:

Why does Melisandre think Patchface is dangerous?

Does Mance Rayder have a ‘secret identity’? If so, who is he really?

Does the connection to Florian help reinforce ideas already proposed in the Mannifesto?

Does the connection reveal new ideas to us?

Exploring these topics is the goal of this essay. Some of what I propose is not necessarily new to the world of ASOIAF theories: I only contend that the discovery of Mance’s “Florian” inspiration enables us to test hypotheses in new ways and feel slightly more confident in derived answers.

Which brings me to a key warning: This essay is speculative. Sure everything in the Mannifesto is arguably speculative: I’m saying that this one relies more on a liberal exploration of the text and less on deductive, ‘hard’ reasoning. This is why it’s in an appendix.

Before we begin, I can provide some basic “TLDR” insights into what this essay is all about:

Melisandre is wrong, she was not seeing Patchface in her visions.

Mance’s connection to Florian helps reveal new knowledge and substantiate a variety of already proposed ideas in the Mannifesto.

Mance may certainly indeed have a secret identity.

Contents

  1. The Blind Prophet. The problem with Melisandre’s predictions.
  2. A Dangerous Creature. Who might her vision really refer to?
  3. Skulls and Kisses. Candidates from House Lonmouth.
  4. A Great Fool. The qualifications (and lack thereof) of court jesters.
  5. A Fool in Winterfell. Will the real Rich Lonmouth please stand up?
  6. Authorial Clues. Subtle clues GRRM may have put in the text.
  7. Reinterpreting Melisandre. Telling Melisandre to shut up and let us do the work.
  8. Conclusion. Reminding you that this was all a fun speculation. But I’m still hoping it’s true.
  9. Footnotes. That stuff that wasn’t worth putting in the main body of the essay.

*   *   *

THE BLIND PROPHET


melisandreMelisandre is not a bad prophet –just an inaccurate one.

Hitting the Dartboard…

Melisandre is notably capable of predicting events before they actually happen:

  • The three eyeless faces that Jon would encounter.
  • The idea that Renly would defeat Stannis at the Blackwater.
  • A grey girl on a dying horse.
  • Ravens before they arrive.
  • Towers by the sea, buried beneath a black and bloody tide.
  • The vision of Jon Snow as a man, a wolf and a man again.

…but missing the Bullseye

However, she is demonstrably inept at converting her visions into actionable information. When Melisandre does attempt to translate her abstract visions into concrete details, she misinterprets and projects her own beliefs and desires into the end result: distorting whatever accuracy the visions may hold. The result is that many times, her predictions (and the ensuing actions) go horribly astray:

  • The three ‘watchers’ along the kingsroad may have been the ‘eyeless faces’ that Jon would encounter.
  • We know that in truth, the ‘ghost’ of Renly (Garlan Tyrell in Renly’s armor) was in fact a pivotal element of Stannis’s defeat at the Blackwater.
  • The ‘grey girl’ was not Arya Stark as Melisandre thought, but presumably Alys Karstark (and possibly others, such as Jeyne Poole).
  • She concluded that the ‘towers by the sea’ were at Eastwatch. In truth they were much more likely to either be towers near the Shield Islands or towers in the Stormlands; subject to invasions by Euron Crowseye’s ironborn and Aegon Targaryen respectively. Both of whom are strongly affiliated with the colors black and red.

NOTE: An explanation for these claims can be found in an essay dedicated to the analysis of Melisandre’s visions: The Error of Her Ways.

What you notice is that Melisandre’s visions are often right in terms of events and encounters, but horribly wrong in the details. She is particularly inaccurate when it comes to the most essential of these: the who, why, when, where and how associated with her visions.

With this in mind I want to begin looking at some her visions and a major secret they might conceal.

*   *   *

In summary:

With these observations in mind, a question surfaces:

Isn’t it quite likely that the visions Melisandre’s attributes to Patchface are actually about someone else entirely?

Considering her abysmal track record this seems like a question we can pursue, confident that it has a reasonable chance of being true. Subsequently:

If the visions are not truly about Patchface, then who are they about?

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*   *   *

A DANGEROUS CREATURE


patchface_by_sprrow-d6tgf5eExamine the following passage:

Melisandre’s face darkened. “That creature [Patchface] is dangerous. Many a time I have glimpsed him in my flames. Sometimes there are skulls about him, and his lips are red with blood.”
— JON X, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Melisandre’s concern is straightforward: Patchface’s innocuous exterior conceals a dangerous secret. She thinks he is a furtive, lurking threat.

Skulls and Lips

Setting her concerns aside, notice that the excerpt mentions both skulls and red lips that ‘surround’ him. These two symbols are prominently associated with one of the noble houses in Westeros: House Lonmouth.

They blazon their arms with quartered of six: red lips strewn on yellow, yellow skulls strewn on black.
HOUSE LONMOUTH, ASOIAF WIKI

This is a striking match. Here is an example of their heraldry:

515px-House_LonmouthNotice that House Lonmouth’s heraldry has these skulls and lips arranged in an alternating grid-like pattern. This is very similar to motley, the bi-color pattern typically associated with with fools.

Looking at the strong ties to House Lonmouth, isn’t it possible that the person in her visions is in some way affiliated with that house?

If this was the case, they would most likely be a biological member of the house or someone in their innermost circle.

*   *   *

A Notable Fool

Considering that the person Melisandre thinks is in her visions (Patchface) is a ‘fool’, this suggests that the real target of these visions may also be a ‘fool’.

Perhaps the true target of her vision is another fool or courtly jester altogether.

*   *   *

These two observations collectively establish some possible parameters for any candidate:

  • A member or close affiliate of House Lonmouth.
  • A ‘fool’.

Thus:

Who might fulfill one or both of these requirements?

In essence, we can effectively attack this question with a combination of brainstorming and subsequent elimination.

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*   *   *

SKULLS AND KISSES


If we first look at House Lonmouth, a few questions immediately emerge:

Who in this house might satisfy Melisandre’s vision?

Assuming her visions has actual relevance to the plot, which of these candidates have corresponding significance?

The Candidate

There is only a small handful of known Lonmouths: Joffrey and Richard.

Fortunately, Joffrey lived around 100 AL and is quite dead. Futher, there are no known close affiliates of House Lonmouth.

This leaves us with only Richard Lonmouth. Having only one candidate to evaluate certainly makes the process easier!

*   *   *

The Importance

So, when considered against the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire, what is the significance of Richard Lonmouth?

It’s huge.

  • Richard was one of Rhaegar Targaryen’s squires, and one of his closest friends. Not only does this place Richard in Rhaegar’s inner circle, but also in the company of Rhaegar’s other companions: Arthur Dayne, Oswell Whent, Myles Mooton and perhaps more.
  • Richard’s fate after Robert’s Rebellion is unknown. He could be dead, he could still be alive: readers have not been given an answer. As Rhaegar’s squire, he was perhaps a few years younger that the prince. If Lonmouth was still alive, this would imply that he would probably been in his mid-to-late thirties, possibly even his early forties.
  • It’s notable that Rhaegar’s other squire, Myles Mooton, was explicitly stated as being dead. Myles was slain at the Battle of the Bells. This is significant because it highlights that if Richard had also died, there’s no reason for readers to still not know.
  • In fact, there’s no evidence that Richard was ever at any of the battles in Robert’s Rebellion.
  • He may know a great deal about major secrets in A Song of Ice and Fire. As one of Rhaegar’s close friends, it’s quite possible that Richard may have known about the prince’s likely affair with Lyanna Stark. If he did, there would be tremendous ramifications associated with his survival.

In fact, we know that Rhaegar left with a half-dozen of his closest companions when he set out to find Lyanna Stark (courtesy of the newly-released The World of Ice and Fire). Given the established closeness between Rhaegar and Lonmouth, it seems almost certain that he was among those who traveled with the prince. This would of course mean that Lonmouth would know a great deal of knowledge that was heretofore unknown.

In light of such importance, we arrive at a conclusion:

Richard Lonmouth’s fate is as-yet unknown: He could be dead, he could be alive. No information or suggestions have been provided.

Until we have sufficient knowledge of his fate, the mere mystery of his possible survival has significant implications.

Subsequently, I propose the following hypothesis:

The man of skulls and kisses in Melisandre’s vision is actually Richard Lonmouth.

Now we can return to the other suggested qualification for Melisandre’s vision: a fool.

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*   *   *

A GREAT FOOL


2c1b6b53350c0f71c97df1d20f5b60eaThere are dozens of fools in Westeros: Butterbumps, Patchface, Jinglebell, Shagwell, and Moon Boy for all I know.

How then can we possibly single out a fool that might truthfully satisfy Melisandre’s vision?

Taken at face value, we cannot. No fool seems more likely than any other. This would seem to stymie our investigation before it even gets off the ground.

An Important Fool

In order to continue our exploration of this ‘foolish’ notion, we must necessarily introduce a requirement:

Any qualifying fool must have major plot significance.

Considering this essay’s predictive nature, it would be most compelling if said significance has been previously observed.

Therefore:

Under this new guideline, who then qualifies?

In truth, no one. Moon Boy is rumored to be a spy, but so is Manderly’s fool. Such allegations could be made about any other fool. In some small way, each known fool has had some small effect on the story. Nothing ‘tremendous’ however.

If anyone, Patchface would indeed seem like the most likely candidate. Indeed, perhaps this is why Melisandre attributes the vision to him, aside from the fact that he’s the only fool she knows. Keep in mind that Melisandre is incredibly biased when interpreting her visions: specifically in favor of applying them to things and people show knows, without respecting the possibility that they are in truth things she does not know.

Despite Melisandre’s concerns, Patchface has had no real influence on the story other delivering cryptic statements only readers can decipher. Setting aside Melisandre’s allegations that Patchface may have future importance, there is no other evidence that suggests the fool will ever deliver on such concerns.

Furthermore, the logistics of Patchface’s history make it impossible for him to be associated with House Lonmouth in any way. He certainly cannot be the answer to our inquiries into Ser Richard’s fate.

So it seems like we are again at an impasse. Either no fool satisfies our assumptions, or we lower our criteria and accept one of many fools: a seemingly arbitrary choice considering that none of the candidates are particularly compelling.

*   *   *

A Fool in Action

Once again, I want to introduce another assumed ‘parameter’ in order to reinvigorate our search:

Our ‘foolish’ candidate may not be a fool in the fashion of a courtly jester.

Rather, perhaps our fool is someone who only embodies the role of a fool.

I’m not referring to anybody who ‘acts like a fool’ in the contemporary sense (being ‘foolish’): I’m specifically referring to any person who assumes the role of a classical or theatrical fool.

Upon initial inspection, only one candidate comes to mind: Ser Dontos Hollard.

  • After Sansa engineers Hollard’s survival he is forced to become Joffrey’s fool. He rides around on a broom, affecting the illusion that his is a deranged hero on a false pony.
  • Dontos is also Sansa’s fool. During the long period where Dontos helps arrange Sansa’s escape from King’s Landing he constantly compares himself and Sansa to the fabled Florian and Jonquil. Florian was not just a legendary knight and rescuer of damsels: he is perhaps the most famous of fools in Westerosi history and myth:

His [Dontos’s] voice dropped. “The singers say there was another fool once who was the greatest knight of all . . .”

Florian,” Sansa whispered. A shiver went through her.
— SANSA II, A CLASH OF KINGS

“I . . . I know a song about Florian and Jonquil.”

“Florian and Jonquil? A fool and his cunt. Spare me. But one day I’ll have a song from you, whether you will it or no.”
— SANSA II, A CLASH OF KINGS

The pool from which the town took its name, where legend said that Florian the Fool had first glimpsed Jonquil bathing with her sisters, was so choked with rotting corpses that the water had turned into a murky grey-green soup.
— JAIME III, A STORM OF SWORDS

Dontos Hollard’s appropriation of Florian’s likeness makes him quite the compelling candidate for our hypothesis. This especially true since Florian is such a prominent ‘fool’ in Westerosi culture and because Dontos was critical to Sansa’s flight from King’s Landing, a game-changing development in the story.

There’s a major problem though: Dontos is dead.

Not only is Dontos dead, but we explicitly observed his death: there is no possibility of some cloaked survival. He therefore has no future plot significance.

Furthermore, he’s in no way associated with House Lonmouth. This also damages his ability to completely satisfy our ideal requirements.

*   *   *

So for the third time, it seems like the idea of some ‘fool’ (other than Patchface) that fulfills Melisandre’s vision is thwarted. The investigation into Dontos Hollard seems like a wasted effort.

But It wasn’t.

The realization that Dontos appropriated the role of Florian the Fool is precisely what I suspect leads us to our true candidate.

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*   *   *

A FOOL IN WINTERFELL


702px-Allan_Douglas_ManceIf you’ll recall from the previous appendix (Six Maids in Winterfell) I proposed that some elements of Jeyne Poole’s rescue were inspired by the song “Six Maids in a Pool”. In particular there are some notable similarities between the song and the ‘bathtub plot’ enacted by the Mance’s spearwives.

A Lyrical Rescue

At a glance, “Six Maids in a Pool” seems to be about six young maids and the man who becomes enamored with one of them. That man is none other than Florian the Fool, and the target of his affections is the maid Jonquil.

The song (and other details) also suggest that in order to be with his beloved Jonquil, Florian had to rescue her from some unspecified captivity.

Now consider:

  • It’s apparent that Mance’s presence in Winterfell is largely inspired by the tales of Bael the Bard. According to those tales, Bael absconded the Lord Stark’s daughter, only to return her a year later, his child in her arms.
  • After a fashion, the spearwives appear to mirror the six maidens in the song.

So by extension, Mance would appear to have assumed the role of Jeyne’s (Jonquil) rescuer, her Florian.

You may already see where this is heading.

If Mance is playing the role of Florian the Fool, could he be the person in Melisandre’s vision?

Yes, resoundingly so.

Not only is Mance emulating a fool of legend, but he has had tremendous impact on the story in A Song of Ice and Fire. By all appearances will continue to do so.

Might this also suggest that Mance Rayder is Richard Lonmouth?

Quite possibly…

NOTE: There are admittedly some major logistical and timing issues concerning this idea. These concerns are important for me to recognize. Most notably is a seeming impossibility:

How could Richard Lonmouth be Mance Rayder if Mance was adopted by the Night’s Watch when he was still a child?

I humbly ask that you set those concerns aside for the moment. I do not mean to suggest that these objections can simply be ‘hand-waved’ away. I merely wish to delay addressing them until later in this essay, when the case has been made more compelling.

For now, however, let me establish the following hypotheses:

Mance Rayder is the fool (the ‘dangerous creature’) in Melisandre’s vision.

Furthermore, Mance Rayder is actually Richard Lonmouth.

Having established these, I want to jump into an exploration of supporting ‘hints’ that I believe have been placed in the text.

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*   *   *

AUTHORIAL CLUES


George R.R. MartinGeorge RR Martin is well-known for alluding to future events, hidden relationships, and even ‘easter eggs’ in carefully concealed prose. These clever bits are innumerable and pervasive. Here is but a small selection of major examples:

  • The entire basis for the most well-known theory of Jon’s parentage.
  • The Frey ‘crossing’ game and the later use of ‘mayhaps’ at the Red Wedding.
  • Patchface’s obscure predictions of Robb and Joffrey’s deaths.
  • Many well-placed references to Arya as ‘no one’.

It’s not a stretch to think that Martin has made similar allusions to events or relationship yet to be revealed. If his prior writing is any indication, this would seem to be a reliable conclusion.

In light of this and the hypotheses in this essay:

Are there elements of prose that might support the idea that Mance Rayder is Richard Lonmouth, the character Melisandre has truly been seeing in her visions?

Into the Abyss

Obviously this section would be a big waste of time if the answer was no: the remainder of this section will explore the many textual clues that I believe may exist.

Actively looking for subtle, implied, or cryptic text to support any hypothesis is ripe territory for confirmation bias. I am aware of this. This is one of the main reasons I declared at the outset that the entire essay is speculative in nature.

I hope is that the bits I do present are at least compelling, perhaps even making you reconsider what you previously thought impossible. That is the best I can hope for.

*   *   *

The Unburnt Fool

I’d like to open our exploration with one of the most potentially ironic of all excerpts:

Melisandre’s face darkened. “That creature [Patchface] is dangerous. Many a time I have glimpsed him in my flames. Sometimes there are skulls about him, and his lips are red with blood.”

A wonder you haven’t had the poor man burned. All it would take was a word in the queen’s ear, and Patchface would feed her fires. “You see fools in your fire, but no hint of Stannis?”
— JON X, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

If as I propose, Melisandre is actually seeing Lonmouth-as-Mance-playing-Abel-reenacting-Florian, then there is great humor in Jon’s wonder that the fool has hasn’t been burned alive… for obvious reasons.

There is a novel tangent here as well. The last line is interesting because Jon referred to a plurality of fools, i.e. more than one. The reason for this is because the plurality might relate to what I’ve mentioned before, that Melisandre’s predictions often concern multiple qualifying candidates. In this case, perhaps she does see Patchface, and the vision is yet also applicable to Mance.

*   *   *

Foolish Notions

I think the most … apropos… of places to look is at textual references to fools and literal foolishness, especially in the north.

Listed below are a few of the references that I think make possible connections between ‘fools’ and Mance Rayder:

Ramsay’s ‘foolish’ nature:

Roose made a face, as if the ale he was sipping had suddenly gone sour. “There are times you make me wonder if you truly are my seed. My forebears were many things, but never fools.
— REEK III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

If my theory that Mance will use the ruby cuff to impersonate Ramsay Bolton is true, all I can do here is giggle.

Whether or not Stannis could take Winterfell:

“Is Stannis fool enough to storm the castle?” a sentry asked.
— A GHOST IN WINTERFELL

No, that honor is reserved for a different ‘fool’ entirely: Mance’s mission to rescue Arya, inspired by Florian himself.

When Jon disparagingly dismisses Melisandre’s visions:

“All your questions shall be answered. Look to the skies, Lord Snow. And when you have your answers, send to me. Winter is almost upon us now. I am your only hope.”

“A fool’s hope.” Jon turned and left her.
— JON XIII, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

I’ve specifically argued in The Mannifesto that the Pink Letter has a concealed message for Melisandre: the nature of Mance’s status at Winterfell. The situation proposed in the Mannifesto is that Mance Rayder has assumed the role of Ramsay Bolton and is surrounded by his (and Stannis’s) enemies: Mance needs a way to remove the Boltons from Winterfell so that he can be ‘rescued’ by a Stannis coup.

So in some ways, the fate and hopes of Mance ‘the Fool’ do indeed rely entirely on Jon seeking Melisandre’s aid and counsel as proposed by Melisandre in this excerpt and in the Pink Letter itself.

There are more possible text references. However, many of them are much more tenuous or require some explanation: I have placed these ‘extras’ in the footnotes of this essay.

*   *   *

Clever Clever Fool

If you accept that Mance is emulating Florian the Fool, one of Patchface’s more mysterious statements takes on new meaning:

“Clever bird, clever man, clever clever fool,” said Patchface, jangling. “Oh, clever clever clever fool.”
— PROLOGUE, A CLASH OF KINGS

Looking at Mance’s life in general terms, we can see that he’s played at least two (if not all three) of the roles in the statement above:

  • As a member of the Night’s Watch He was a clever bird (a crow).
  • After deserting, Mance was a free man.
  • Assuming that Mance is emulating Florian, then indeed he is also a fool.

Isn’t this sort of “progression” rather convenient against Patchface’s words?

Consider what is said about Mance:

The black crow is a tricksy bird, that’s so . . . but I was a crow when you were no bigger than the babe in Dalla’s belly, Jon Snow. So take care not to play tricksy with me.”
— JON I, A STORM OF SWORDS

“I have spent hours speaking with the man. He knows much and more of our true enemy, and there is cunning in him, I’ll grant you. Even if he were to renounce his kingship, though, the man remains an oathbreaker. Suffer one deserter to live, and you encourage others to desert. No. Laws should be made of iron, not of pudding. Mance Rayder’s life is forfeit by every law of the Seven Kingdoms.”
— JON I, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

It goes without saying that if Mance is playing at Florian the Fool, and all the schemes I articulated in this series, he is indeed one clever clever fool.

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*   *   *

REINTERPRETING MELISANDRE


Jon_y_Melisandre_by_Alexandre_Dainche,_Fantasy_Flight_Games©I want to break from our ‘foolish’ research and explore something else entirely.

As I established at the outset of this essay, Melisandre is not altogether the best at interpreting her visions. She is particularly bad at accurately identifying the who, what, where, when, why and how associated with what she sees in her fires.

In light of the general arc of the Mannifesto and the hypotheses in this essay, I believe there are some powerful reinterpretations to be made of her visions.

Daggers in the Dark

Melisandre has a foreboding vision that she attributes to Jon Snow:

“It is not the foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back. You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold.”
— JON I, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Notice just how well all of this works if you instead attribute it to Ramsay:

  • He has enemies who smile at his face and secretly plot against him (Wyman Manderly, everybody else practically), as well as those who openly despise him (Barbrey Dustin).
  • Only daggers are allowed in several areas of Winterfell, the Great Hall in particular. Holly and perhaps other spearwives were armed only with daggers. If there is indeed a ‘showdown’ in the Winterfell crypts resulting from a chase out of the lord’s door, almost everyone at the showdown would be armed with knives (since the Great Hall only allowed knives). And it is very dark in the crypts.
  • The wolf that Ramsay needs to keep close is obviously “Arya Stark”, because without her, he loses a valuable hostage and anchor to his title as Lord of Winterfell.
  • The blood frozen red and hard could readily be Little Walder’s blood from Theon’s last chapter in A Dance with Dragons, which is described in almost exactly the same fashion.
  • The naked steel could easily be Hosteen Frey’s unsheathed sword during the fight between the Freys and Manderlys after Little Walder’s death is revealed. Alternatively it could be bared blades in the crypts.
  • If the ‘cold’ was a reference to the conditions of Jon’s (or Ramsay’s) defeat/death, then the crypts of Winterfell should also count as they are notoriously cold, both thermally and thematically.

I am not saying that Melisandre’s vision is only be about Ramsay. We have seen several times that there are multiple candidates for her visions, as I discuss in The Error of Her Ways.

Isn’t entirely possible then to suspect that this vision is another example of a prediction affecting multiple targets: Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton?

*   *   *

A Man, A Wolf, A Man Again

During Melisandre’s point-of-view chapter, she has the following vision:

The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again.
— MELISANDRE, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

As I’ve observed throughout this essay, there seems to be a pattern whereby there is more than one instance that perfectly satisfies one of her visions. And of course, I also established that she cannot be trusted with identities.

This excerpt is most often used to support the prediction that Jon Snow will survive his own death by warging into Ghost. It’s a sensible conclusion. But it is not the only one.

Setting aside Melisandre’s belief that she heard the name Jon Snow: Ramsay is also an example of a character who undergoes a man-wolf-man transformation. Albeit his metamorphosis is allegorical in nature, it is nonetheless made obvious in A Dance with Dragons.

His transformations are evidenced by Ramsay’s changing apparel: his garb noticeably changes three times.

First he is a flayed man…

Ramsay was clad in black and pink—black boots, black belt and scabbard, black leather jerkin over a pink velvet doublet slashed with dark red satin. In his right ear gleamed a garnet cut in the shape of a drop of blood.
— REEK I, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

…then he becomes a wolf…

Ramsay Bolton was attired as befit the lord of the Hornwood and heir to the Dreadfort. His mantle was stitched together from wolfskins and clasped against the autumn chill by the yellowed teeth of the wolf’s head on his right shoulder.
— REEK III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

… and finally a flayed man again:

Ramsay Bolton stood beneath them, clad in high boots of soft grey leather and a black velvet doublet slashed with pink silk and glittering with garnet teardrops.
— THE PRINCE OF WINTERFELL, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Allegorically speaking, this is a striking manifestation of the metamorphosis from Melisandre’s vision. Another advantage this interpretation has is that the transformation has been completely realized, we’ve seen all three phases. Comparatively speaking Jon Snow’s possible metamorphosis which, while strongly presented, has yet to begin.

*   *   *

A Thousand Skulls

You may see the pattern emerging here:

When Melisandre attributes one of her visions to Jon Snow, they also seem to have tremendous applicability to Ramsay Bolton.

With that in mind, take a look at the following:

But the skulls were here as well, the skulls were all around him. Melisandre had seen his danger before, had tried to warn the boy of it. Enemies all around him, daggers in the dark. He would not listen.

Unbelievers never listened until it was too late.

“What do you see, my lady?” the boy asked, softly.

Skulls. A thousand skulls, and the bastard boy again. Jon Snow.
— MELISANDRE, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Ignoring all references to Jon Snow there may be more striking relevance to Ramsay here.

Recall that The Mannifesto argues Mance defeating Ramsay in the Winterfell Crypts. The daggers in the dark could readily be blades held by Mance and his spearwives. Further, the crypts most definitely have skulls, thousands of them.

But perhaps that is not the most exciting reason for the skulls:

If Mance Rayder is actually Richard Lonmouth, then the skulls all around Ramsay could be a symbol of Lonmouth waiting for him in the crypts.

All of this is consistent with the core volumes of the Mannifesto and the hypothesis in this essay that Mance is Lonmouth.

The observation that Mance has a possible association with skulls ties extremely well into one of Melisandre’s more puzzling visions.

*   *   *

The Grey Cliffs

One of the most enigmatic visions Melisandre has in A Dance with Dragons is one that goes without translation: she makes no attempt to ascertain what it really means. Or at least we never see her do so.

Snowflakes swirled from a dark sky and ashes rose to meet them, the grey and the white whirling around each other as flaming arrows arced above a wooden wall and dead things shambled silent through the cold, beneath a great grey cliff where fires burned inside a hundred caves. Then the wind rose and the white mist came sweeping in, impossibly cold, and one by one the fires went out. Afterward only the skulls remained.
— MELISANDRE, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

There is tremendous symbolism and allegory here. I think readers can all agree that there is something potent here, something tantalizing that seems to lurk beyond our comprehension.

Does this vision in any way relate to other elements presented in the Mannifesto?

Can our newfound map of Melisandre’s symbology help unravel this mystery?

What could this actually mean?

In truth, I think the Mannifesto lays out a very plain explanation for its meaning:

Snowflakes swirled from a dark sky and ashes rose to meet them, the grey and the white whirling around each other…

This is most likely a reference to two closely knit passages we see much later in A Dance with Dragons:

A snowflake danced upon the air. Then another. Dance with me, Jon Snow, he thought. You’ll dance with me anon.
— JON XII, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

By late afternoon the snow was falling steadily, but the river of wildlings had dwindled to a stream. Columns of smoke rose from the trees where their camp had been.
— JON XII, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

The second passage seems to mimic the vision quite ably: snow falling and smoke rising.

The reason for the first excerpt is much more clever. When Jon thinks about “dance with me anon”, he is recalling Alys Karstark’s words. A close reading of their interactions shows a mutual attraction between the two. Jon is a Snow, Alys Karstark was a grey girl. And the bit about dancing refers to her request to dance (whirl around) with him at her wedding reception.

Thus the first quote provides a very subtle manifestation, the second being much more explicit.

…as flaming arrows arced above a wooden wall…

This would be most certainly consistent with the appendix Cinders from Barrow Hall, which suggested that Stannis would draw the Dustins, Ryswells and maybe the Flints from Winterfell by setting fire to the wooden city of Barrowton.

…and dead things shambled silent through the cold, beneath a great grey cliff…

Obviously this could very well be Stannis’s army, presumed to be dead, lurking in the very shadow of Winterfell’s walls. This is partly substantiated by the fact that Winterfell’s walls have been previously described as ‘grey cliffs’:

Yet even so the darkness thickened, until it covered his eyes and filled his nose and stopped his ears, so he could not see or smell or hear or run, and the grey cliffs were gone and the dead horse was gone and his brother was gone and all was black and still and black and cold and black and dead and black . . .

“Bran,” a voice was whispering softly. “Bran, come back. Come back now, Bran. Bran . . .”

He closed his third eye and opened the other two, the old two, the blind two.
— BRAN V, A CLASH OF KINGS

…where fires burned inside a hundred caves.

So in the castle walls fires burned. There is text to support this at Winterfell’s walls:

Sentries crowded into the guard turrets to warm half-frozen hands over glowing braziers, leaving the wallwalks to the snowy sentinels the squires had thrown up, who grew larger and stranger every night as wind and weather worked their will upon them.
— A GHOST IN WINTERFELL, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

It should be noted at this point that all of the previous fragments of the vision appear to be happening at the same time. This is consistent with the interpretation I’ve provided: Jon’s acceptance of the wildlings happens around the time you would think Stannis fakes his death and the feint at Barrowton occurs. It’s also consistent with the fact that Bolton has kept his men carefully at Winterfell.

You’ll see that the remaining fragments of the vision finally progress in time, showing the results of the prior fragments.

Then the wind rose and the white mist came sweeping in, impossibly cold, and one by one the fires went out.

I’ll admit that the ‘white mist’ is uncertain to me. However, the notion of the fires going out ‘one by one’ is compatible with the idea that Bolton’s men and allies departing Winterfell for various purposes: the fires are going out because the mean are leaving.

This of course leaves Ramsay Bolton more or less ‘alone’ at Winterfell, aside from whatever garrison Roose Bolton elects to leave with him.

Afterward only the skulls remained.

Let’s consider for the moment that the Mannifesto is right: Mance is glamored at Ramsay, and per this essay might in truth be Richard Lonmouth.

If Lonmouth’s presence is can be symbolized by the presence of skulls, then this line is quite apropos. After the departure of many of the other northmen –the Boltons, Dustins, Ryswells, Flints and so on– Lonmouth may well be the only ‘lord’ remaining at Winterfell.

In such circumstances, the idea that ‘only the skulls remained’ would be elegantly appropriate.

*   *   *

As you can see, liberating ourselves from Melisandre’s belief that her visions are about Jon allows for some potent insights.

Of course these insights could be easily dismissed: a critic might contend that I’m cherry picking or projecting my own wishes onto the story. My counterclaim is that Melisandre is just so terrible at truly knowing what she’s seeing; and her track record shows it. Further, there is substantial evidence that her visions often manifest in multiples, and her track record shows this as well.

Ultimately, my observations prove nothing. I do believe they provide a context by which Mance Rayder could be Richard Lonmouth and disguised as Ramsay Bolton: a tantalizing possibility.

<table of contents>

*   *   *

CONCLUSION


I was honest up-front, this essay is entirely hypothetical.

But perhaps you were intrigued by any of the three major observations:

  • Mance Rayder was inspired by Florian and Jonquil, especially the song “Six Maids in a Pool”.
  • Melisandre’s vision, ostensibly about Patchface, is too perfect a match to the blazon of House Lonmouth to be dismissed.
  • Melisandre’s inability to correctly interpret details in her versions leaves room to for reinterpretation. Also the many instances where a vision seems to have manifested multiple times.

If you found these concerns worthwhile, then it seems fair to conclude that its entirely possible that someone may be Richard Lonmouth.

The reason this essay dwelled on Mance Rayder was because I suspect him of covertly donning the role of Florian the Fool.

There are several reasons to doubt my accuracy, most obviously because all accounts say that Mance grew up a wildling. Something extraordinary must have happened for Lonmouth to have pulled off disappearing into the north and assuming someone else’s identity.

Explaining such a miraculous improbability is beyond me. As I said, it’s all hypothetical.

Some Implications and Questions

If Mance is indeed Richard Lonmouth, one major implication is that he might know of whatever ‘evidence’ might lurk associated with Jon’s heritage: the Winterfell crypts are quite often implicated as being relevant to this secret.

If Lonmouth was not known to have died or participated in any major battle, where could he have been? Could he have been at Rhaegar’s “tower of joy”?

If Mance Rayder is indeed Richard Lonmouth, it might help explain why he is so talented at swordplay and music: he had access to train at battle with the best (the kingsguard), and practice music with Rhaegar.

After all, isn’t it odd that the wildling-born, ill-educated Mance knew to attempt a wedge formation when Stannis attacked him?

The Watch certainly does practice skill at arms, but battlefield formation is not taught at all.

How else to explain that Mance knew “The Dornishman’s Wife” or possibly even “Jenny’s song”?

Mance may brag that he’s traveled the world, but he must have traveled farther than reasonably possible (for a wildling) to know songs so rarely heard in the north (and prominently/exclusively associated with the south).

And certainly, the story of Mance’s black and red cloak has huge allegorical similarities to the story of Robert’s Rebellion. It’s additionally peculiar because, if interpreted as allegory, Mance’s tale takes the perspective of a Targaryen supporter.

Even in the absence of hidden meaning, the tale of Mance’s cloak itself is conspicuous in it’s ‘wrongness’ as well: it rings with passion and yet is devoid of reason.

Hasn’t the story of his cloak always seemed a hollow, trivial reason to abandon the Watch or attempt to rule a hodge-podge of tribal vagabonds?

These don’t amount to any proof for anything. Only questions worth mulling over.

<table of contents>

<the mannifesto>

*   *   *

 

*   *   *

FOOTNOTES


These are the remaining passages that may possibly demonstrate a connection between Mance Rayder and fools, often in an oblique fashion. Some are obvious stretches, others are just long-winded. You’ve been warned.

Tywin on freedom:

And when Tyrion had reminded him that in ten days he would be a man grown, free to travel where he wished, Lord Tywin had said, “No man is free. Only children and fools think elsewise.
— TYRION II, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Again, with Mance at Winterfell acting as Florian the Fool and recently freed to travel (given freedom) by Jon Snow, this a totally apt passage.

Theon’s escape from the Dreadfort:

The dungeon door was open and the postern gate had been unguarded, just as she had said. They waited for the moon to go behind a cloud, then slipped from the castle and splashed across the Weeping Water, stumbling over stones, half-frozen by the icy stream. On the far side, he had kissed her. “You’ve saved us,” he said. Fool. Fool.

It had all been a trap, a game, a jape. Lord Ramsay loved the chase and preferred to hunt two-legged prey. All night they ran through the darkling wood, but as the sun came up the sound of a distant horn came faintly through the trees, and they heard the baying of a pack of hounds. “We should split up,” he told Kyra as the dogs drew closer. “They cannot track us both.”
— REEK I, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

There are a number of interesting parallels to the plans I’ve proposed regarding Mance at Winterfell:

The ‘unguarded postern gate’ is a nice parallel to the unguarded lord’s door in Winterfell’s Great Hall.

The notion that the dogs cannot track two parties plays well with the idea of a false trail of sausage scent that I proposed. It further shows a clear way that Mance might know this about the dogs, if it wasn’t something intuitive: Theon could have simply told him.

But what’s really interesting is that Theon refers to himself as a fool. Given the parallels to Mance’s plan, Mance would be the equivalent fool.

Further, the difference between the two concepts is the nature of the ‘trap, the game, the jape’. In Theon’s tale it was a trap aimed at Theon himself. In Mance’s case, it is a trap aimed squarely at Ramsay. A trap based entirely on one of the sentences uttered in Theon’s excerpt: “Lord Ramsay loved the chase and preferred to hunt two-legged prey.”

Mance’s request to accompany Melisandre:

“Dead rangers.” Melisandre rose to her feet as well. “Go put on your bones and wait. I will return.”

“I should go with you.”

“Do not be foolish. Once they find what they will find, the sight of any wildling will inflame them. Stay here until their blood has time to cool.”
— MELISANDRE, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

This has many ironies. First, there is the obvious reference to foolishness.

More importantly, notice how apropos Melisandre’s warnings are to Mance’s strategy in Winterfell.

“Once they find what they will find, the sight of any wildling will inflame them.”

Notice how well this matches with the plan I established in Showdown in the Crypts, that Mance deliberately lingered at the high table in the Great Hall in an attempt to make sure people were angered at him.

I also argued that Mance knew full well, that “they” would eventually “find what they will find” (that Jeyne has escaped), and they would be inflamed at the sight of him.

It’s also ironic that Melisandre advises him at this point to ‘don the bones’, e.g. make the glamor more effective.

In light of all this, it’s a fun parallel to Mance’s activities at Winterfell when he is indeed being ‘foolish’ and reenacting Florian the Fool.

After a wedding:

Once the wedding of Alys Karstark to Sigorn of Thenn concludes, we have this passage:

The royal ducklings fell in behind them as they made their way across the yard, marching to the music of the bells on the fool’s hat. “Under the sea the mermen feast on starfish soup, and all the serving men are crabs,” Patchface proclaimed as they went. “I know, I know, oh, oh, oh.”
— JON X, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

The text clearly establishes the imagery that the departing group is accompanied by music.

Compare this to the conclusion of Ramsay’s wedding to Jeyne Poole:

Quick as that, it was done. Weddings went more quickly in the north. It came of not having priests, Theon supposed, but whatever the reason it seemed to him a mercy. Ramsay Bolton scooped his wife up in his arms and strode through the mists with her. Lord Bolton and his Lady Walda followed, then the rest. The musicians began to play again, and the bard Abel began to sing “Two Hearts That Beat as One.” Two of his women joined their voices to his own to make a sweet harmony.
— THE PRINCE OF WINTERFELL, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

The fact that both ceremonies are concluded with parties departing to ‘music’ is a trivial observation: most wedding in Westeros probably have this feature.

What is striking is that each passage refers to the other wedding:

  • Patchface’s ramblings undoubtedly refer to the infamous Frey pies and Wyman Manderly as the feasting merman, features of the Bolton wedding.
  • Conversely, Mance sings “Two Hearts that Beat as One”. Since Alys and Sigorn were both married in the name of R’hllor and his fiery heart, and they are ‘joined by fire’ … indeed they are now two hearts that symbolically beat as one.

Now observe:

  • In one party, the ‘musician’ is an actual fool who speaks in riddling prophecy (Patchface).
  • In the other we have a musician reenacting a famous fool and riddling his songs with cryptic teases (discussed elsewhere in the Mannifesto).

Thus this would in some ways seem to establish Mance as a contemporary of sorts with Patchface.

When Jon speaks to Selyse about the ranging to Hardhome:

“Lord Snow, who will lead this ranging?”

“Are you offering yourself, ser?”

“Do I look so foolish?”

Patchface jumped up. “I will lead it!” His bells rang merrily. “We will march into the sea and out again. Under the waves we will ride seahorses, and mermaids will blow seashells to announce our coming, oh, oh, oh.”
— JON XIII, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

By all indications, Patchface’s statement is most likely a reference to Stannis’s faking his own death only to re-emerge later. The seashells is a reference to Mors Umber and his horn-blowing.

When you consider that Stannis’s strategy (as proposed throughout the Mannifesto) is entirely predicated on Mance ‘the Fool’ rescuing Arya Stark, a ‘fool’ is arguably leading the the conquest of Winterfell.

When Jon discusses his plans for Tormund’s surrender:

“As do I. So I insisted upon hostages.” I am not the trusting fool you take me for … nor am I half wildling, no matter what you believe.
— JON XI, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

What makes this amusing is when you compare it to something Selyse says later:

“Gerrick is the true and rightful king of the wildlings,” the queen said, “descended in an unbroken male line from their great king Raymun Redbeard, whereas the usurper Mance Rayder was born of some common woman and fathered by one of your black brothers.
— JON XIII, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

A poetic interpretation of Selyse’s statement is that Mance Rayder is literally ‘half-wildling’. Coupled with the ‘not a trusting fool’ sentiment from Jon, a person might find humor in considering that Jon’s thoughts also reflect Mance Rayder’s (Lonmouth’s).

Coaxing Bolton allies to desert:

“Stannis need only bloody Bolton, and the northmen will abandon him.”

So you hope, thought Asha, but first the king must bloody him. Only a fool deserts the winning side.
— THE KING’S PRIZE, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Perhaps this points out that Mance Rayder would only act to support Stannis once ‘Bolton’ has been bloodied.

A word for fools:

If is a word for fools.”
— JON IV, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Stannis says this. The reason I find this mildly amusing is because “Abel” only says four full sentences in A Dance with Dragons:

  • “Lord Stannis is outside the walls, and not far by the sound of it. All we need do is reach him.”
  • If the Bastard does come after us, he might live long enough to rue it.”
  • “Be quiet,” Abel warned her.
  • If it please your lordship.”

Two of these sentences begin with if, notably both of the two passages that correspond to elements of Mance’s scheme.

On respecting religion:

Jon Snow did not join the laughter. “Making mock of another man’s prayer is fool’s work, Pyp. And dangerous.”
— JON III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Hmm, this would seem to suggest that making light of someone’s religion is something only a ‘dangerous fool’ would do.

<table of contents>

<the mannifesto>

*   *   *

11 thoughts on “The Fool of Skulls and Kisses

  1. Bryan

    Love ur work but u argue that Mance is Lonmouth and that he’s the son of Duncan and Jenny? I think u have to pick one or the other lol
    Also u repeatedly state Mance was raised a wildling but the text only states that he was wildling “born”, and was raised by the Nights Watch? Can u clarify ur statements on this subject?

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      Hey! As a theorist I’m allowed to write conflicting theories.

      Please take note that the Skulls and Kisses essay is currently not a part of the Mannifesto. This is because it is relatively speculative. It makes sense with regards to the Mannifesto since it extends the ideas presented in how Mance uses songs… its just a much more contestable. The main reason I removed it: because it’s not necessary in order to understand Stannis’s campaign: it was a debatable and unnecessary aspect. I do like it though.

      The other essay was derived entirely separate from the Mannifesto, and is based on a much more literary analysis of the text.

      Both theories have very significant issues, that require unsupported claims in order to be correct. This is why its more appropriate to place them in the Mance section rather than the Mannifesto itself.

      I frankly don’t know which one I like better.

      I’ll add clarifications about the parenting when I can… a bit burdened by work at the moment.

      Reply
      1. Johan Ouwerkerk

        Well the main difficulty with this one is, as you quoted in the essay: “Mance Rayder was born of some common woman and fathered by one of your black brothers”. Some common woman, could be a wildling woman no? Then he must have had desire to know more about the wildlings (his mother in particular), which develops into a powerful motive for desertion by the time he’s sufficiently disillusioned with the Watch. So the cloak is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

        As for knowing about wedge formations and songs: well singers from all corners tend to wind up exiled on the wall when noblemen’s daughters are involved; formations are how the Night’s Watch survive against numerically superior wildling hosts all the time…

  2. sweetsunray

    I find the references for Lem Lemoncloak being Lonmouth way more convincing: skulls and kisses (and it appears several times in his arc). He knows his way in the RL, seems to have joined the BwB as a man wandering the RL. The whores of the Peach remember Lem, but appear to not have seen him for a long while, suggestig that last time they saw him, he was a younger man. The Peach is where Robert hid when wounded while JonCon was looking for him at Stoney Sept. He has a soldier look. He is incredibly fond of his cloak, and such a cloak (though tattered, torn and repaired) sounds like that of a highborn. He’s one of the most prominent BwB but we have no background story about him at all, whereas we get more background stories on less important BwBs. He was a friend and squire to Rhaegar, but a drinking buddy of Robert at the tourney of Harrenhal intending to find the KotLT. So, he must be one who can hold his drink. Richard Lonmouth’s tidbits suggest he’d have been a man who’d end up in a situation torn between defending Rhaegar or joining the Rebellion. It appears, with the comments of the whores to Lem, and if Lem = Richard Lonmouth, that Richard Lonmouth fought alongside Robert’s side (who was after all his Stormlord)… Since he was a squire the year before that, he must have been young during RR, mayhaps at the most 16-17. For all he knew, Richard thought fighting in the rebellion against the Mad King would help Rhaegar depose his father as he may have been priviledged in knowing Rhaegar’s political intents during the HH tourney. But then Robert slays Rhaegar at the Trident, and he must have felt like a “turncloak” to his friend Rhaegar. We have the QI septon’s story about “broken men” that may applicable to the mysterious vanishing of Richard Lonmouth. I find many of your essays related to the manifesto plausible, but I fear this one is off the mark.

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      Your concerns are well taken. I actually removed this essay from the Mannifesto for a time because I felt it was extremely iffy. I brought it back because a few readers felt it was a good read, regardless of its accuracy. Hence, this is why I declared it to be a sort of ‘optional’ element to the Mannifesto.

      Thanks for the comments though, I am well-aware that Lem is perhaps the most popular candidate for Lonmouth.

      Reply
    2. Bryan

      First of all I’ve never heard anyone suggest Lonmouth’s mysterious fate could be due to his switching sides. It’s brilliant! Unlikely but wow there’s few theories outside of crackpot that haven’t been discussed at length, and despite the fact I find it unlikely bc of how close Lonmouth appears to have been to Rhaegar (generally assumed though not proven that he was one of the 6 companions with Rhaegar, alluded to in TWoIaF, when he abducted Lyanna). Still it’s possible enough though you’d think info like that would be mentioned by now in a pov’s thoughts at least.

      As for Lonmouth being Lem I agree and I believe I know exactly how he got there. Varys has shown a propensity for collecting exiled Lord’s of Westeros, and their first stop seems to be casa de Illyrio. One of the guests at Dany’s wedding was a green bearded brother of the Archon of Tyrosh. During the Wot5K Kevan Lannister speaks of a company of sellswords led by a Tyroshi that abandon the Lannister cause, and he thinks they went over to the Starks, but if they did it’s never mentioned. Now to bring it all together when Arya runs from the BWoB it’s not Harwin, Jack B Lucky, or any of the other Westerosi members it’s Greenbeard the Tyroshi that leads them. This puts him 3rd in command behind only Beric and Thoros. That’s incredibly high even if he was only the leader of the sellswords, but the rank is appropriate for the brother of the Tyroshi Archon. Keep in mind if we’re right about Lem’s true identity then Greenbeard is above the Lord of House Lonmouth. I propose Lonmouth, like every other exiled Lord the tenure of Varys, was sent to Illyrio where he joins a group that masquerades as sellswords, but are actually serving the interests of Varys and Illyrio in their quest to seat a new Targ or BF, doesn’t matter which. Jorah may very well have been part of that group until he caught the interest of Viserys & Dany. Which was probably the entire reason he was even at the wedding but I digress. There’s tons of evidence that the BWoB is in the RL to restore a Targ dynasty so unless there’s two Tyrosh sellsword company’s in Westeros, one completely unaccounted for, it seems that Illyrio has highly placed agents in the BWoB, paving the way to explain how Lonmouth could have ended up in the BWoB. The only evidence that makes me hesitate is Lem always says m’lord instead of my Lord which GRRM has been very consistent in using as a way to know a characters station of birth. That’s why I love cantuse’s theory that Satin was a lover of Lyn Cobray, seeing as Satin uses my Lord making him unique among common folk. I think it likely Satin is from a very low stationed, yet still noble family a la House Baelish but again I digress. Let me know what u think about my concept. I won’t claim it as my theory bc the individual parts are mainly taken from various discussions online but I’ve never seen anyone else explain how Lonmouth became Lem, only that he is.

      Reply
      1. sweetsunray

        It could be a combination of the two. The whores of the Peach recognizing Lem and yet not having seen him for a long while implies to me he was at Robert’s side when he hid in the Stoney Sept (and the Peach in particular) as JonCon searched for Robert. Up to that point, Richard would have only been following his liege Lord of the Stormlands. But then it gets a very nasty turn, and broken he ends up at the Quiet Isle, to finally indeed take a ship to Essos, Pentos. He ends up fighting for the Tyroshi and would want to remedy his “mistake”. Greenbeard is indeed the high commander of the 15 BwB at least. It doesn’t make him 3rd rank, since there are several small groups operating all over the region. But he’s leading those 15, including Lem and Tom. Greenbeard was sent off by Beric with the money, but we haven’t seen him again so far. It’s not certain the Tyroshi is still with the BwB and whether he returned. But Lem has become completely embroiled in the revenge against the Freys, even taking the Hound helmet. And the irony would be that Gendry is Robert’s son, and pretty much looks like the young Robert would have. Might be why he’s so stern about Gendry’s rumble in the smithy with Arya who’s said to look so much like Lyanna. I don’t think the m’lord is that much of an issue really. There are several instances where a highborn or noble uses m’lord at times, or commoners use ‘my lord’. GRRM is not completely consistent with it. Lem does say that Beric is the sole lord with them. But perhaps Richard Lonmouth doesn’t consider himself a lord anymore, since his exile would have been self-chosen punishment.

      2. Bryan

        Totally respect ur opinion but we’re gonna have to agree to disagree. We know so little about House Lonmouth no argument on this point at least lol We don’t know if Richard was the Lord or the heir, we don’t know where he was post-HH tourney, and we don’t know his fate. What we do know is he was Rheagar’s squire, along with Myles Mootan, at the time of the Lyanna kidnapping or escape whichever u prefer. We also know according to TWoIaF that sometime shortly after “the tourney” Rhaegar left KL with 6 of his closest companions where they blah blah ect ect Lyanna Stark. It seems likely, though I’ll grant u not guaranteed by any means that Lonmouth was nowhere near the Stormlands when Robert first raised his banners. We know some immediately followed, and others took some persuasion, before the SL were subdued. Unfortunately House Lonmouth isn’t one of the houses we have specific info on in any period outside of Richard being Rheagar’s squire, and the unfortunate Joff Lonmouth beaten to death by LC Cole in the lead up to the Dance version 1.0. His seeming familiarity with the Peach is def real I’m not disputing that but it’s been 18 years since TBotBell’s. To connect Lem knowing these women with his being on the winning side of a battle almost 2 decades past isn’t exactly damning evidence. You may be right but to me the totality of our knowledge of Rhaegar, while incomplete, tells me that this group of young Lord’s that flocked to Rhaegar, as Kevan Lannister puts it in the DoD epilogue, weren’t loyal to the Targ Dynasty, or lickspittles kissing ass. They were loyal to Rhaegar. They loved him, the believed in him, and it seems they supported his cause, whatever it truly was, to the point that Arthur Dayne and Gerold Hightower, the LC of the KG and the greatest living knight at a time when that still meant something, put Rhaegar and his plan above EVERYTHING else. King, country, House, reputations, and their very lives, none of these meant more to them then their belief that what Rhaegar was up to was the only thing that mattered. I believe this strongly suggests that Lonmouth was with Rhaegar or elsewhere following Rheagar’s commands not in the SL when Robert called his banners, and even if he was his liege would be a distant third behind Rhaegar and then Aerys. JonCon’s post-abduction/elopment movements which we know slightly more about are a reasonable framework to compare to Lonmouth’s. He was Rheagar’s squire at that exact moment so why would he be in the SL when Robert initiated the rebellion? He would have to be close to home to have immediately joined the rebellion. Also if Lem is Lonmouth it’s unlikely his journey there went through the Quiet Isle. I think you’re overreaching trying to connect that mystery with your theory. To keep this under 10,000 words I’m not going to list all the ways Lem could be known at the Peach other than immediately after TBotBell’s. Needless to say it’s an exhaustive list.

        As for GB I’ll just quickly point out that the time I believe proves he’s very high,I believe 3rd in command at the time, in the BWoB took place very early before they split into completely independent cells post-Dondarrion. At this time all of the ranking members would be from the initial group that left KL together. So how did GB not only join them, as a foreigner no less, but also rise to a leadership position? The group that chases Arya right after Harwin outs her real identity contained original members but it’s GB that’s in charge. Can’t quote the page I’m out of town but look it up and read it again. It leaves no doubt who calls the shots in that’s group.
        I’ve got more but this is already way to long. I think the evidence is stronger for my version but hey truth is we don’t know for sure. You may get to drop an I told u so on me one day and I’ll eat my crow like a good boy lol If people aren’t willing to admit that a theory no matter how well thought out isn’t fact until it becomes fact then arguing over it isn’t fun it’s sad lol I’ll agree to disagree and I’d love to get input from anyone that wants to chime in! Enjoyed reading your response I hope our lack of agreement doesn’t end the debate. Until next time…

  3. Gretchen

    Is it possible that the wind/white mist is Stannis, as per your “eye of the storm” essay? This is symbolizing Stannis’ enactment of his plan to come ‘sweeping’ through the North through the false flag feints and then the Boltons and their allies are ‘extinguished’ both literally by being destroyed by the white mist (Stannis) and figuratively in that their campfires in Winterfell go out once they leave. Just a thought!

    Reply

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