The logistics behind sending messages in Westeros came to sudden prominence in A Dance with Dragons. We suddenly see additional details, such as the different types of ink, message security, and the use of signs and seals.
But there is one such chain of letters and messages, so rife with mysteries and conspicuous errors, they merit an investigation unlike any other in the books.
For those who want me to get to the point…
I specifically examine three of the letters in A Dance with Dragons.
In examining them I point out what’s incurably wrong with each of them.
I propose what I think are the most rational explanations.
Most notably that…
I believe the letters were written by Mors or Hother Umber, as ‘coded’ messages to Stannis, Mance, Val or possibly Melisandre.
Additionally, Mors and Hother Umber are devious geniuses.
In the previous entries in this series, I’ve disclosed the basis for which Stannis would secretly keep Mance alive, as well as how Stannis benefited from the Karstark betrayal –a betrayal that he likely already knew was coming.
I’ve also pointed out that Stannis is not the type of commander to ‘wing it’ unnecessarily. Yes, medieval battle was rife with risk and uncertainty, but Stannis certainly studies every possible element. No detail is left out of his calculus.
How did Stannis plan to defeat the Boltons and win the north? By remembering his histories. Continue reading →
Sometimes we need to start at the end in order to understand the beginning…
In the Theon’s sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, we are led to believe that Jon’s letter arrived and informed Stannis of Arnolf Karstark’s planned betrayal. The first move we see Stannis take is to confront Karstark’s maester:
“Maester Tybald,” announced the knight of the moths.
The maester sank to his knees. He was red-haired and round-shouldered, with close-set eyes that kept flicking toward Theon hanging on the wall. “Your Grace. How may I be of service?”
Stannis did not reply at once. He studied the man before him, his brow furrowed. “Get up.” The maester rose. “You are maester at the Dreadfort. How is it you are here with us?”
— THEON I, THE WINDS OF WINTER
So I’d like to pose you one riddle before I get on with this essay…
How in seven hells did Stannis know that Tybald was the maester at the Dreadfort? Continue reading →
This is one entry in a forthcoming series describing the campaign for the North.
“I never asked for this, no more than I asked to be king. Yet dare I disregard her?”
He ground his teeth.
“We do not choose our destinies. Yet we must . . . we must do our duty, no?
Great or small, we must do our duty.”
DAVOS V, ASOS
Stannis seems to be driven by a sense of duty, of justice.
Everywhere in the the books we are reminded of Stannis’s unyielding persona, his inflexibility. That he will break before he bends.
But is it true?
Absolutely not.* * – Certain exceptions apply, see end of essay for details.
Is Mance Rayder a component of Stannis’s strategy to defeat the Boltons?
As I argue here, there is every reason to see that Stannis would fake Mance’s death to benefit his campaign. Further, there are several elements of Stannis’s larger strategy that seem haphazard and juvenile when taken at face value. These concerns are resolved if you come to the conclusion that Stannis and Mance must have been acting in concert. Continue reading →
This page is no longer current. I have revised the “Night Lamp” theory in a new essay that you can read here.
Jon turned to Melisandre. “My lady, fair warning. The old gods are strong in those mountains. The clansmen will not suffer insults to their heart trees.”
That seemed to amuse her. “Have no fear, Jon Snow, I will not trouble your mountain savages and their dark gods.”
First and foremost, this post would not be possible without the fantastic original analysis work done by /u/BryndenBFish at his blog, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire. He wrote a two-part analysis of the battle for Winterfell coming in The Winds of Winter and derived very interesting predictions. I highly recommend reading them before continuing with this post (read part 1 here, part 2 here).
BryndenBFish put forth a great theory that Stannis plans to fight the approaching Freys at the crofter’s village. I wholeheartedly agree, and was floored by his analysis.
However, in researching other issues I stumbled across some overlooked information that puts a radical spin on Stannis’s strategy. This information does not drastically alter the larger campaign that BryndenBFish’s essays propose, but rather modifies the fight at the crofter’s village to give an overwhelming tactical advantage to Stannis. Continue reading →