August 24, 2011


Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBOs Game of Thrones
The drum and warhorn sounds finally faded away, but snow is still falling. Nobody knows where Stannis is or how he creeped up to them. Theon sits in the great hall, watching Abel and his women and thinks that Abel's plan is quite mad. He then watches the lords eating. Especially Manderly is devouring one sausage after another. Ramsay is in a bad mood, looking aggressively. Theon walks over to Abel and tries to convince him to let go of his plan. Abel declines, and Theon thinks that Reek would have betrayed him to Ramsay, but he was acknowledged by the old gods as Theon. Abel promises Theon again that Ramsay won't get them. His plan, it becomes now clear, is to free the false Arya. He obviously doesn't know that it's not her, like seemingly everybody else, a fact that drives Theon to the point of despair.

Hosteen Frey now bumps into the hall. In his arms is another corpse, the one of a child: Little Walder was killed. Loudly, he demands revenge. Rowan, one of the washerwomen, tells Theon that it wasn't them who killed Walder. Big Walder suspects Manderly men responsible, and Wyman Manderly replies by saying that his death was a mercy, because elsewise he would have grown up as a Frey. That sparks fighting; Hosteen kicks the table into Manderly, draws his sword and slashes over his throat. Other men of both sides join the fighting, while Bolton tries to seperate them. When he finally succeeds, several are dead. He announces that Stannis is three days away and that they will attack on the morrow, with Manderly and Frey leading the van, since they thirst for blood so much.

This drives Abel into motion. The washerwomen grab Theon, telling him that they need to prepare a bath for Arya to free her. Terrified, Theon follows them. He leads Rowan to the kitchens, and on the way they have a quick despute about the murder of Little Walder. Theon accuses Rowan and the others, which she declines, replying that he's a kinslayer himself. When Theon refuses the notion, she gets disgusted even more and spits in his face. They then prepare the water in the kitchen, take the other five girls dressed up as serving women and carry it in buckets to Arya's chambers.

They get pass the guards. Jeyne is in bad shape, shaking and obviously partially demented. Theon fears she will betray them, but it's too late for that. They leave the room and seperate, Frenya and Holly going with Theon and Jeyne. The go directly to the gate, where they kill two guards, but Jeyne screams in terror so they have to flee up the battlement of the outer wall. Frenya stays behind to fend off the pursuers, but only on the wall they realize she had the rope. Before they can do anything, Holly is shot by the guards, and Theon grabs Jeyne and jumps off the wall.

This is the last Theon chapter, and his journey to himself has been concluded. Consequently, the chapter is named "Theon" for the first time. He is still deeply disturbed and won't ever be the same as before, but he put Reek behind him for good. Bran's attempt to connect to him is interpreted as a message from the old gods who tried to make contact with him. It is strange that Theon, who takes this as an occasion to identify himself as ironborn again, does feel that the old gods protect him. He shortly reflects on the Drowned God, but the old gods are where his heart really is at - another proof that he wants to be and regards himself a Stark in all but name. He is a wanderer between the worlds of North and Iron Islands, shunned by both and knowing them both. It remains to be seen what his fate for that will be, especially if Stannis should survive the encounter despite Ramsay's letter to Jon.

The question of Stannis remains curious. Who beat the drums and sounded the warhorns if Stannis is frozen in three days away? It doesn't seem that the obvious contradiction gives any lord pause, so they seem to have made up some kind of explanation. Perhaps it's really Umber who does the trick, but there is no evidence for this. He is notably absent in all the scenes. Stannis' situation, we will see in the next Asha chapter, is indeed dire, so it doesn't seem likely that he will storm the walls of Winterfell anytime soon. If the Boltons now go out and hit him hard, the war will indeed be over. It would be strangely fitting with the prophecies of Melisandre, since she can't connect to Stannis anymore when she searches Azor Ahai. He has fulfilled his part, which may have been to rescue Jon and to secure his place. Of course, that's just a crackpot theory.

The plan of Abel and the washerwomen, that is rightly observed by Theon, seems more originating from a song than real-world-strategy. It is bold, daring, and therefore befitting the wildlings, but they really put their hand into the lion's mouth here. That they are captured by Ramsay seems most likely after seeing what botch they made of it. One of them at least must have fallen in Ramsay's hands alive, otherwise he couldn't tell Jon that he has him. How the rest of them wanted to escape, we will never know. Even the idea of abseiling Theon, mad Jeyne, Frenya and Holly without anyone noticing is bold, to say the least. Squirrel wanted to climb out herself, ok, but what of the other three and Mance? Whatever their plan was, it was fucked up for good. The really only chance how they could have escaped is that Frenya was taken defending the bridge.

Ramsay doesn't only know who Mance is and what their objective was, however. He doesn't write the letter to Jon by chance. He also knows that Jon send them, or at least believes that he does. It is clear that Jon is at least opposed to Bolton. If Ramsay tortures whoever he has enough he will also get the notion that Jon somehow aided Stannis, like with telling him about the clans. That poses a massive problem for Jon. He has compromised not only his own standing, but the Watch itself. The dance of avoiding to become intermingled with Stannis is over. He tripped and fell badly, and if he hadn't openly broken his oath by announcing to march on Winterfell, the Mance Rayder plot alone would be enough to rightfully dispose him from power - which is what Bowen Marsh does in the end.

As to sidenotes, we again see the chauvinistic comments of Northeners to the Freys about "real winter". It's mostly show, obviously, but it can't fail to have some effect on the Freys who will feel more alien to the land than they would do anyway.Second, I count myself in the "Theon was gelded camp" now. He remembers fucking the miller's wife, concluding that that were "joys I will never taste again". That strongly indicates that he was gelded. Third, Martin does a fine job with the wildling personality and mentality again. They can be made out simply by their choice of words. If you hadn't known that Rowan was a wildling, you would have suspected when she calls Jon "Lord Crow", and their inability of disguising themselves is fitting too. Fourth, the teeth marks on Jeyne's breasts are just another real ugly reminder of Ramsay's uglyness. 


  1. In Asha's next chapter, the Braavosi banker says that Crowfood Umber was the one outside Winterfell beating drums and blowing horns. I do not read this chapter as implying that Stannis' demise is imminent -- indeed, it is the Boltons who are melting down. People are ending up dead, Umber is playing mindgames with them, Freys and Manderlys are at each others' throats, and the loss of "Arya" is an utter humiliation.

  2. All of that is true, but still, Stannis' host is in a bad condition and Ramsay writes the latter with more information in it than he should have if Stannis wasn't at least beaten in some respect.

  3. Actually, every bit of info in Ramsay's letter could have been obtained from Mance or the spearwives. Plus Martin himself said we shouldn't believe the letter in his EWeekly interview.

  4. As I said in the post, he could have gotten most info from the spearwive Frenya. I don't recall the letter exactly enough to say definitely "no" to everything though.

  5. I'm not convinced Ramsay wrote the letter.