When Pigs Fly

NOTE: This isn’t a major theory, rather a small point regarding two minor characters.

That said, the proposals in this essay are important.


Clayton Suggs is the man that harasses Asha throughout A Dance with Dragons. He threatens to rape and/or sacrifice her to the flames. I can hardly blame you if the character is hard to remember, considering all of the others in the books that have much more obvious importance.

Likewise another minor character is Maester Tybald. This is the maester from the Dreadfort that Stannis interrogates and then imprisons in The Winds of Winter (based on Theon’s sample chapter). From Tybald, Stannis is able to confirm that a map of his location was sent to Winterfell.

What makes Tybald interesting?

Of foremost importance is the fact that Stannis does not sentence the maester to death as he ostensibly does for the entire Karstark family.

The goal of this essay is to substantiate the relationship between Suggs and Tybald, a subtle relationship with great implications for the future.   Specifically:

Clayton Suggs has been established as Tybald’s custodian.

Thus, Clayton can take Tybald somewhere without Stannis’s presence –secure in the maester’s subservience.

Establishing this observation consists of two parts: Stannis’s statements on the matter and the fortuitous nature of Suggs’s presence.

*   *   *


Stannis all but states that he will establish Clayton as the maester’s “handler”:

Must I?” The king shrugged. “If you say so. You are a man of learning, after all. I had a maester on Dragonstone who was almost a father to me. I have great respect for your order and its vows. Ser Clayton does not share my feelings, though. He learned all he knows in the wynds of Flea Bottom. Were I to put you in his charge, he might strangle you with your own chain or scoop your eye out with a spoon.”

“Only the one, Your Grace,” volunteered the balding knight, him of the winged pig. “I’d leave t’other.”

“How many eyes does a maester need to read a letter?” asked Stannis. “One should suffice, I’d think. I would not wish to leave you unable to fulfill your duties to your lord.”

Thus the suggestion that Tybald will be left to Clayton Suggs is directly suggested by the king. And as we clearly see, Suggs plays right along, helping to terrify the maester.

Not only does this result in Stannis getting the information he wanted from Tybald, but it puts the maester cowering in Sugg’s presence. This establishes an easy situation in which to have Clayton take charge of the maester.

*   *   *

It is also curious that Stannis goes out of his way to educate the maester about Clayton’s background and upbringing. Suggs and Godry Farring or even Richard Horpe could have all terrified Tybald without the unnecessary details about origins in Flea Bottom.

This too suggests that Stannis wants Tybald to fear the knight the way a sheltered scholar fears the street thug. This further heightens the control Stannis would have over Tybald.

*   *   *


The other conspicuous element is Clayton’s mere presence in Stannis’s tower in The Winds of Winter.

There are many comings and goings throughout Theon’s sample chapter, almost all of which involve Richard Horpe or Godry Farring. Both of these men make sense in the context of the chapter:

  • Richard Horpe is Stannis’s second-in-command. He’s also privy to several of Stannis’s deeper secrets.
  • Godry Farring has been Stannis’s most steadfast handler of prisoners. He’s been responsible for handling Rattleshirt during the false execution, handling the cannibals in the fiery execution in The Sacrifice – ADWD, and capturing the Karstarks elsewhere in Theon’s sample chapter.

The person who doesn’t make sense is Clayton Suggs. It’s not that he’s completely out of place, it’s just that his only appearance in the sample chapter is at Tybald’s interrogation.

Isn’t it then conspicuous that Stannis dwells on the Clayton’s background?

Couldn’t he have leveraged the more experienced Godry Farring for the same effect?

Critics may point out that Justin Massey told Asha that Suggs was one of the torturers on Dragonstone, and suggest that as a more conventional explanation.

If that was the rationale for Clayton’s presence, why bother telling Tybald about Clayton’s upbringing in King’s Landing?

Wouldn’t it be much more effective to just say “Suggs here is my torturer”?

But one question looms above them all:

Why bother instilling fear of Clayton Suggs in Tybald at all? Shouldn’t the maester already be scared shitless of Stannis Baratheon himself?

Indeed, we have to wonder why Stannis would want the maester just as terrified of Clayton Suggs as he is of Stannis.

*   *   *


From the above observations I argue the following:

Stannis wanted Tybald terrified of Suggs in order to ensure the maester’s docility if entrusted to Suggs’s care.

Stannis establishes this master-slave relationship because he anticipates that Clayton and Tybald will soon be acting without Stannis’s presence.

I find these to be the most reasonable explanations for the attention to detail afforded to Suggs, both by Stannis as well as by George R.R. Martin.

Why would Stannis be expecting Suggs and Tybald to be acting alone?

This is the subject of a later essay in the series, one that is currently being developed.

I will provide a small hint however:

Refer to the earlier excerpts, notice that Stannis has ‘great respect’ for maesters and their vows.

Which of the vows would most interest Stannis at the present time? Particularly of the maester from the Dreadfort?

<the mannifesto>

*   *   *

5 thoughts on “When Pigs Fly

  1. anonemiss

    “Which of the vows would most interest Stannis at the present time? Particularly of the maester from the Dreadfort?”

    His vow to server the master of the Dreadfort? Is Suggs going to be that Master?

    I actually did notice Suggs, I like him; I think he was courting Asha (in a school yard pull-the-hair-of-the-girl-you-like kinda of way). Massey might be just lying about the torture in Dragonstone because he wants Asha for himself.

  2. Tyler Andrew Cooper

    Wouldn’t Suggs go on this proposed venture to minimize Stannis’ risk? Suggs is one of the few who knows Theon is there, he was with Asha when the banker showed up with him.

    It also explains why Suggs was in the tower in Theon’s TWOW chapter. Stannis has to keep an eye on him now for the information he is privy to.

    1. cantuse Post author

      The ‘venture’ I meant to lead to is described in my essay “The Fellowship of the King”, which essentially argues that Stannis will send a small crew of people on a mission. My guess is to the Dreadfort. Maester Tybald would be sent to handle the ravens, etc and Suggs with him as his jailor of sorts.

  3. Henry Sharp

    I’ve just discovered the Mannifesto and I’m loving it so far. This is the first part I’ve encountered where I feel you may be making leaps in logic, however. If Stannis’ intention is to intimidate the maester, which it certainly seems to be, his actions are completely in line with that. You ask “why have the master scared of Suggs and not Stannis specifically?” It seems pretty obvious to me that just and high minded Stannis wouldn’t consider it kingly to directly threaten scooping out a man’s eyeballs, but is certainly ruthless enough to imply his thug might.
    And to your question “why bring up Suggs’ upbringing instead of simply saying ‘this is my torturer’?” I think that by saying Suggs would scoop out his eyeballs and other graphic descriptions Stannis IS saying ‘this is my torturer’, and only adding the comments on his upbringing to further frighten the learned man, as you yourself stated. However I feel that he brought this up merely to further cow the maester in that moment, not to establish some strange dominance of Suggs over the maester in general. That may well be a result of this interaction, but in reading this my first conclusion would be that Stannis tried to terrify the maester to make him more willing to obey Stannis, and he succeeded. Simply that he used Suggs to do it is no proof or even implication that Suggs and the Maester are going on some sort of solo mission, and this bit strays into the territory of wild conjecture.

    I apologize if my nitpicking this post offends you, as I said, I’ve discovered that I really enjoy your work and I find it to be one of the most well thought out and well structured analysis of the books I’ve found in my years of seeking out such things. I simply tend to over analyze things that spark my interest, as I’m sure we have in common. Well done on all this.

    1. cantuse Post author

      The fact that this essay is when you think I’m maybe going nuts is a good thing, some of my writing can be a little far-out. The point of the essay was merely to point out that Tybald was essentially left in the ‘care’ of Suggs, and that this relationship could be of use later. If you know my writings about Stannis possibly sending Theon out, then basically Tybald is sent with so that Theon can send messages after ‘taking’ the Dreadfort while disguised as Arnolf Karstark. I just may have gone overboard in trying to highlight any special significance of the Suggs-Tybald relationship.

      By the way, I’m currently editing a new essay, hopefully to be done in a few days (end of the week seems reasonable). Should be a good addition to the Mannifesto.


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