The Merman’s Ambitions

We all know Wyman Manderly, Lord of White Harbor, keeper of a number of titles, baker of tasty pies and deliverer of rallying speeches.  We know he is a pronounced Stark loyalist, despite his seeming ingratiation into the Bolton regime, and that what he desires most is to place a Stark in Winterfell again – a noble sentiment from the Manderlys’ continued devotion to the Starks.

At least, this is what Manderly appears to be on the surface.  What I want to explore in this essay is what is going on beneath the surface.  Specifically, I want to suggest that Manderly is not simply “the North remembers” or the public face for righteous vengeance , but a canny and politically ambitious man.  Indeed, Manderly is interested in a Stark restoration not for the symbolic gain of the North, but for the political and material gain of House Manderly.

The Cunning Merman


Wyman Manderly (image credit to Cecilia Latella – DeviantArt here)

From the very first moment we meet Wyman Manderly in the story, his ambitions in the North are already palpable:

As windy as he was vast, he began by asking Winterfell to confirm the new customs officers he had appointed for White Harbor. The old ones had been holding back silver for King’s Landing rather than paying it over to the new King in the North. “King Robb needs his own coinage as well,” he declared, “and White Harbor is the very place to mint it.” He offered to take charge of the matter, as it please the king, and went from that to speak of how he had strengthened the port’s defenses, detailing the cost of every improvement. (“Bran II”, A Clash of Kings)

Bran Stark and his Winterfell household might have thrown the harvest feast in celebration of the first autumn for the independent North, but Wyman Manderly was no mere party guest.  The suggestion that White Harbor should be established as the royal mint is a clear power move on Lord Manderly’s part.  Establishing himself as the master of coinage for the new kingdom would have placed Manderly at the very heart of the new king’s government.  While Robb had not yet built a small council to match that of King’s Landing, Manderly had already moved to secure himself a place at the nonexistent table; before Robb could even name someone to the important executive office of Hand, Manderly had claimed the effective position of master of coin.

Indeed, Manderly was offering not simply to mint coins with Robb’s visage; he wished no less than total control over the finances of the new kingdom.  These coins would become the lifeblood of the new regime, as lords and smallfolk alike not only traded these coins for goods, but also paid their new royal taxes.  If he had his way, Lord Manderly would have complete control over this vital part of the new government, with the ability to create and control the only legitimate currency the new king’s subjects would accept.  Like Daemon Blackfyre authorizing the Reynes of Castamere to provide the gold necessary for his coin minting during his rebellion, granting the Manderlys the right to coin money would establish the house as a preeminent force within the kingdom, greatly exalting their already considerable power. Certainly, Manderly had the gold necessary to back such a venture, with the wealth of White Harbor well known in the North:

“Turnips are not like to appease Salladhor Saan. I require gold or silver.”

“For that, you need White Harbor. The city cannot compare to Oldtown or King’s Landing, but it is still a thriving port. Lord Manderly is the richest of my lord father’s bannermen.” (“Jon I”, A Dance with Dragons)

Moreover, Manderly would have been well aware that the North knew of his uniquely rich position within the new kingdom.  He had made what he must have considered a convincing argument, while knowing that, practically, the King in the North had few options otherwise.

Nor did Manderly confine himself to financial matters when treating with the young Prince in Winterfell:

In addition to a mint, Lord Manderly also proposed to build Robb a warfleet. “We have had no strength at sea for hundreds of years, since Brandon the Burner put the torch to his father’s ships. Grant me the gold and within the year I will float you sufficient galleys to take Dragonstone and King’s Landing both.” (“Bran II”, A Clash of Kings)

It is small wonder that Manderly would propose to build the new king’s fleet at White Harbor.  As the only port the North can claim, and one of the largest port cities on the Westerosi side of the Narrow Sea, White Harbor was the prime location for a royal fleet.  Yet here again, Lord Manderly seems to have wanted an as-yet-nonexistent council seat for himself and his house.  Manderly would not stop at master of coin; he wished to become master of ships as well, as as with his financial ventures, he knew that the king (and his bannermen) would know that only Lord Manderly could realistically take control of the admiralty.

Even in the seemingly personal, Lord Wyman schemed to advance House Manderly’s fortunes:

Lord Wyman made polite inquiry after Lady Hornwood, who was a cousin of his. “She was born a Manderly, you know. Perhaps, when her grief has run its course, she would like to be a Manderly again, eh?” He took a bite from a wing, and smiled broadly. “As it happens, I am a widower these past eight years. Past time I took another wife, don’t you agree, my lords? A man does get lonely.” Tossing the bones aside, he reached for a leg. “Or if the lady fancies a younger lad, well, my son Wendel is unwed as well. He is off south guarding Lady Catelyn, but no doubt he will wish to take a bride on his return. A valiant boy, and jolly. Just the man to teach her to laugh again, eh?” (“Bran II”, A Clash of Kings)

Manderly knew, as much as any highborn Westerosi does, the power of marriages to seal alliances.  The Hornwood lands lie directly between those of House Bolton and those of House Manderly; it seems likely Wyman Manderly (or his father) had once helped arranged the match between Donella Manderly and Halys Hornwood in order to strengthen Manderly presence in their neighboring territories.  With Halys dead, however, Donella made a tempting prize in her own right.  The widow of Hornwood may not have had a claim to the Hornwood lands herself, but whomever she married could exert great control over her holdings during her lifetime – and, provided he had enough martial strength, attempt to control them after her death. Consider how Nestor Royce partly legitimized Petyr Baelish’s rule of the Vale:

“I once hoped to wed Lady Lysa myself. As did Lord Hunter’s father and Lady Anya’s son. Corbray scarce left her side for half a year. Had she chosen any one of us, no man here would dispute his right to be the Lord Protector.” (“Alayne I”, A Feast for Crows)

With Donella Manderly at his (or his son’s) side, Wyman could exert his family’s influence even farther.  As much as he might propose the matches in genial terms, Manderly’s scheme with the Hornwood widow was very serious.  Expansion of Manderly influence could be done subtly, but Manderly was determined to secure himself in a high position in the new regime.

Unfortunately for Lord Manderly, at least in the last matter, he had been preempted by Ramsay Snow:

The old knight was off east, trying to set to rights the trouble there. Roose Bolton’s bastard had started it by seizing Lady Hornwood as she returned from the harvest feast, marrying her that very night even though he was young enough to be her son. Then Lord Manderly had taken her castle. To protect the Hornwood holdings from the Boltons, he had written, but Ser Rodrik had been almost as angry with him as with the bastard. (“Bran IV”, A Clash of Kings)

Small wonder Ser Rodrik was so wroth with both Snow and Manderly.  With a Stark in Winterfell and war in the south, the old knight might have hoped that the petty internal politics of the North would be dropped while Robb campaigned.  Yet Wyman Manderly could not let the Bastard of Bolton seize the lands he himself desired.  Presumably, Lady Hornwood had her own forces and sworn bannermen who could “protect” her holdings from the Boltons.  Manderly’s seemingly generous gesture, as Ser Rodrik clearly knew, was merely a cover to assert his own claim on the Hornwood lands; if Manderly could not win the lands by marriage, he would take on the appearance of a savior figure of the Hornwoods.

Manderly had schemed to place himself at the heart of Robb’s new government, and to increase his person land holdings as well.  Yet while these schemes came to little, Manderly would have an even greater opportunity presented to him – and he would not be slow to take advantage.

Rickon’s Regent

With the execution of the Red Wedding, however, Manderly’s hopes for the advancement of his family in the North seemed dashed.  The Frey-Bolton coalition had not only murdered the King himself, but also Wyman’s second son Wendel. Nor would the new Frey-Bolton regime look kindly on a man who had tried to attain such a high seat in the dead king’s government.  Apart from avenging himself on the men who had murdered his son, Manderly seemed to have little opportunity to scheme.

Chance, however, would again stir Manderly’s political and familial ambitions.  While Theon Greyjoy had publicly declared the two younger Stark boys executed at his own hand, Manderly learned that at least the youngest, Rickon, had been recently seen alive.  With this information, Manderly dispatched Davos Seaworth on a furtive, but highly important, mission:

Davos understood. “You want the boy.”

“Roose Bolton has Lord Eddard’s daughter. To thwart him White Harbor must have Ned’s son … and the direwolf. The wolf will prove the boy is who we say he is, should the Dreadfort attempt to deny him. That is my price, Lord Davos. Smuggle me back my liege lord, and I will take Stannis Baratheon as my king.” (“Davos IV”, A Dance with Dragons)

To be sure, Rickon has the better claim, even without the Boltons’ Arya being a fake. Yet Manderly also knew, as any ambitious man seeking royal or lordly favor does, the first rule of having a boy ruler: he who holds the king holds the power.

Certainly, this lesson is not unknown in Westeros.  In fact, Renly Baratheon himself openly declares it, when advising Eddard Stark of his course of action at Robert’s death:

“Strike! Now, while the castle sleeps.” Renly looked back at Ser Boros again and dropped his voice to an urgent whisper. “We must get Joffrey away from his mother and take him in hand. Protector or no, the man who holds the king holds the kingdom. We should seize Myrcella and Tommen as well. Once we have her children, Cersei will not dare oppose us.” (“Eddard XIII”, A Game of Thrones)

Nor is Renly the only person who would act on such a lesson.  During the Conquest, Visenya Targaryen flew her dragon to the Eyrie and took on her lap the boy-king of the Vale, Ronnel; though the queen and the boy’s regent mother exchanged no threats, Visenya’s holding of young Ronnel gave the clear message that resistance to the dragons would prove futile.  Three centuries later, Littlefinger was able to seize power in the Vale partly by ensconcing himself and the boy-lord Robert in the unassailable Eyrie; he could even loftily censure the Lords Declarant when they instituted proto-siege tactics, pointing out that they deprived their own lord of food by doing so.

Of course, even one who holds the king can find himself in a dangerous position.  In 1548, the boy-king Edward VI faced rebellion in his realm.  While not the fault of Edward’s uncle Somerset, the Lord Protector, much of the blame for the revolt was laid at the Lord Protector’s feet.  Fearing a coup, Somerset made a drastic decision and seized the one piece available to him: the boy-king himself.  In 1549, Somerset took the king into his possession and secured himself and the boy in the fortified Windsor Castle.  While the castle was indeed unassailable, Somerset had grossly miscalculated in terms of the boy-king himself, who showed open hostility to being held as a virtual prisoner by his uncle.  Faced with the armed forces of the other regency councilors and the boy’king’s own ire, Somerset backed down and was eventually executed for treason.

Like Somerset, Manderly hopes to take possession of the young but legitimate ruler, yet Manderly has distinct advantages over his English counterpart.  Edward VI was an immensely serious, and immensely intelligent, boy,with a clear understanding of his own royal authority even at the age of 12.  Rickon is a boy of 5, one never raised with an understanding that he would ever rule.  Deprived of both his mother and father at the age of three, Rickon remains desperate for the comforting presence of his parents and eldest brother.  As wild as he can be, and as fearsome as his direwolf is, Rickon is still a very young boy, and someone perhaps vulnerable enough for Manderly to manipulate.

As with his financial and maritime interests at the harvest feast, Manderly’s argument to the rest of the North to be Rickon’s regent would be a strong one.  Manderly remains the wealthiest lord in the North by a large margin, with vaults still “full of silver”.  Militarily, Manderly commands more heavy horse than any other northern lord, even after the losses of the war, and has been building a secret fleet on the White Knife as well.  Moreover, by bringing Rickon back to the North and helping to overthrow the Boltons, Manderly would display his loyalty to the Starks.   Most importantly of all, should Davos succeed, Manderly would have in his possession Rickon Stark himself, only remaining trueborn son of Lord Eddard able to make a claim.  The lords of the North – those still extant, at least – would be hard pressed to name a better candidate for overseeing Rickon’s regency – exactly as Manderly desires.

Manderly and Menshikov

To point to a real-world parallel to the potential Manderly regency, we can look to an extraordinary individual of imperial Russia: Alexander Menshikov.  Born of modest origins, Menshikov rose through his wit and ambition to become the close confidante and strong executive of Peter the Great.  Given princely titles and high administrative offices, Meshikov continually increased his powers during Peter’s reign (although falling out of favor multiple times for charges of corruption).  Menshikov’s true parallel to Lord Manderly, however, began at the great Emperor’s death.

When he died, Peter was survived by four immediate family members: his wife, Catherine; his daughters, Elizabeth and Anne; and his grandson, Peter.  Unfortunately for these individuals, Peter had left unclear who should wear the crown after his death.  Organizing a coup among the guards regiments, which favored Catherine, he had Peter’s wife named Catherine I, Empress of All Russia, in 1725.  However, when Catherine herself grew ill, the same succession question arose.

In the middle of this question was Menshikov.  A great favorite of Catherine’s as well as Peter’s, Menshikov had held a powerful role in the Empress’ government, being the virtual dictator of the Russian state.  Aware that Russia would more likely follow the male-line heir Peter over either of Peter and Catherine’s daughters, he convinced Catherine to name the young Peter as his heir.  Conveniently for Menshikov, young Peter was only 12 when his step-grandmother died, and Menshikov named himself as regent.  He had total control not only of the government, but of the young Emperor personally, even issuing orders to the young autocrat.  Menshikov also arranged the betrothal of his daughter Maria to young Peter, but he could not control Peter’s own feelings. Like Edward VI, Peter had grown tired of his dictatorial governor, and with a coalition of the old nobility ousted the prince from power and sent him into exile.

This, in essence, is what I believe Manderly will attempt.  No matter what the will of Robb Stark reads – if the lords of the North even read the document – Manderly will push for young Rickon to succeed to the seat of his ancestors.  Then, because of the boy’s very young age, Manderly will call for a regency, and himself as regent.  He may even attempt to betroth Rickon to one of his own family, to cement even further the Manderlys’ hold on power. (The most obvious candidate would be his granddaughter Wylla, though she is at least nine years older than the boy lord.  Still, the age difference may not stop Lord Manderly; Queen Alicent had suggested betrothing her son Aegon to Princess Rhaenyra though the princess was 10 years the prince’s elder, and Katherine of Aragon married Henry VIII despite being five years older than the king.)


One major criticism of Manderly’s supposed pure ambition for his own house is the declaration his granddaughter Wylla makes when Davos Seaworth visits the Merman’s Court:

“I know about the promise ,” insisted the girl. “Maester Theomore, tell them! A thousand years before the Conquest, a promise was made, and oaths were sworn in the Wolf’s Den before the old gods and the new. When we were sore beset and friendless, hounded from our homes and in peril of our lives, the wolves took us in and nourished us and protected us against our enemies. The city is built upon the land they gave us. In return we swore that we should always be their men. Stark men!” (“Davos III”, A Dance with Dragons)

The problem with investing this passage with too much meaning is that, as Manderly reveals later, the entire scene in the Merman’s Court was an act:

“My lord, I bear you no ill will. The rancor I showed you in the Merman’s Court was a mummer’s farce put on to please our friends of Frey … [N]ot every woman can be as brave as my Wylla and her sister Wynafryd … who did know, yet played her own part fearlessly. (“Davos IV”, A Dance with Dragons)

True, Wylla does not seem to have known that Lord Manderly was putting on an act for their “friends of Frey”.  Nevertheless, the unwitting Wylla had played her part well.  A lone dissenting voice, especially presented by a child – and especially given the passion of truth which Wylla undoubtedly had at that moment, firmly believing what she was saying – further underscores the seeming loyalty Manderly professes to the Freys.

Certainly, I think it is truthful to say that Manderly is, at heart, a Stark loyalist, and no mere opportunist:

“Wylla.” Lord Wyman smiled. “Did you see how brave she was? Even when I threatened to have her tongue out, she reminded me of the debt White Harbor owes to the Starks of Winterfell, a debt that can never be repaid. (“Davos IV”, A Dance with Dragons)

Nevertheless, Lord Manderly is a clever, cunning man, and one whose ambitions have not been hidden throughout A Song of Ice and Fire.  Restoration of a Stark in Winterfell means not simply a continued repayment of the “debt” House Manderly owes to the Starks, but an increase of Lord Manderly’s personal power.  With the boy in his possession and his wealth and armies at his back, Manderly can assert himself as the perfect regent for the new Stark lord – a fitting move for the cunning, ambitious merman.

Thanks for reading! I know I’ve been writing about the Targaryen ladies for the past several weeks, which essays I hope you’ve been enjoying (despite my tendency to be, well, a little verbose), but I thought today I might share a little idea that’s been in my head for a while.  Questions? Comments? Find me on Twitter, and follow the blog while you’re there! Remember you can also find the blog on Facebook and Tumblr as well!


Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Character Analysis

28 responses to “The Merman’s Ambitions

  1. An excellent essay. I second your belief that Wyman will try to at least betroth Wylla to Rickon.

    Of course, the tricky thing is what happens when “Arya,” Sansa, and/or Robb’s will comes out of the woodwork.

    • nfriel

      Hey Attewell! Glad you liked it!

      I will (eventually) write about the so-called Dance of the Wolves among Rickon (backed by Manderly and his allies), Sansa (backed by Littlefinger and the knights of the Vale), Jon (backed by Stannis and possibly the surviving witnesses to Robb’s will), and false Arya (backed by the Frey-Bolton coalition). It will be interesting, to say the least (especially paired with the new Dance of the Dragons).

      • si91

        I never really understood the logic behind this so-called “Dance of Wolves.” Why would any of the Stark kids voluntarily fight one another? For instance, I really don’t see why Jon, who felt unwelcome at Winterfell because Catelyn felt that he posed a threat to her children’s inheritance rights, would do a great disservice to bastards everywhere and essentially prove her correct by seizing Rickon’s birthright. Indeed, Jon bears significant affection for his trueborn siblings, as evidenced by his poignant recollections from Jon XIII of ADWD, which he uses to justify his life threatening and ostensibly treasonous campaign against Ramsay to rescue Arya:

        “He thought of Robb, with snowflakes melting in his hair…He thought of Bran, clambering up a tower wall, agile as a monkey. Of Rickon’s breathless laughter. Of Sansa, brushing out Lady’s coat and singing to herself.

        Similarly, I don’t see why Sansa’s first act, upon finding out her beloved brother was not dead, would be to usurp him. Of particular interest is this quote from Alayne II of AFFC:

        “She had not thought of Jon in ages. He was only her half brother, but still…with Robb and Bran and Rickon dead, Jon Snow was the only brother that remained to her. I am a bastard too now, just like him. Oh, it would be so sweet, to see him once again.”

        The fact that Sansa yearns just to see Jon Snow again does not suggest that she would be willing to fight, and potentially kill him, let alone her trueborn brother, to take Winterfell. Petty squabbling aside, the Stark siblings seem to have the closest family dynamic out of all the Great Houses. For them to engage in a backstabbing, kinslaying, Frey-style civil war, (to the detriment of the lords and smallfolk, and at the expense of the fight against the White Walkers, let’s not forget) for their father’s seat sounds uncharacteristically selfish of them, and does not seem to serve any larger thematic goal. What exactly would GRRM be trying to say by writing a Stark Civil War? That even the broken remnants of a close knit family on the verge of extinction, would be willing to hasten their House’s ultimate demise by engaging in a myopic, greedy, and pointlessly ambitious power struggle?

    • Elyse Frances Enger

      I think Manderly’s betrothal of Wylla will be broken by Jon, who will betroth Rickon to Shireen to continue the Baratheon-Stark alliance, and have Wylla marry one of the wildings to cement the Northern-Wilding alliance. In essential I think Shaggydog’s eyes, which is green, foreshadows usurpation, and Rickon’s line will usurp Storm’s End from the Baratheons.

      • Lands of always me

        Interesting prediction! Very well thought and something I hadn’t considered. I was thinking Jon as lord protector (no title, just held in trust for rickon to come of age), rickon marrying a wylla (lord of winterfell) and Jon managing the wildlings settled on the gift & accidentally married to val as I think he stole her in sending her to tormund.

        Full disclosure : I’m a believer in r+l=j.

        Personally, My preferred ending would be Jon and Danny to ally and devolve to two kingdoms, the gift becomes the northern crown lands so to speak and winterfell ruled by rickon stark as a vassal of Jon stark-targaryen, king in the north/trident. But i don’t believe it will happen…. There must be a third head to the dragon.

  2. Ranta


    A very nice essay, I always love reading about the North. I agree with you that Manderly wants more power for his house, but I would suggest that his politics in ADWD is radically different from the first 3 books. In ADWD he seems to be threatened by the Freys. They infiltrate his court with spies, they threaten his family members. It seems to me that in ADWD Manderly’s goal is not power (thought it would be welcome), but survival.

  3. promppt

    Never once thought of Manderly as someone completely loyal, whose ultimate goal was to bring back the Starks to power. At least, imo, they are loyal. Gotta love the lord to fat to sit on a horse.
    Great essay. 🙂
    What a cute and badass couple wylla and rickon would make.

  4. Shagga

    We’ll see how it plays out, obviously, but I you may be overlooking the fact that the Manderlys, alone among the northern nobility, do not worship the old gods. While a betrothal for Wylla or another young Manderly girl is plausible, I think that having a follower of the seven take an official role as regent might be a bridge too far for most in the north.

    I like the way you incorporated Wyman’s previous suggestions/requests regarding an increased role for White Harbor, but as for Wyman’s personal ambitions, I don’t think I agree. In Dance I personally got the feeling that the man didn’t think he had that many more years left ahead of him, and that beyond the return of his living son he was primarily trying to find a way to return the Starks to power and get revenge on Bolton/Frey. Maybe I’m just buying his nobility too fully, but that’s my take.

  5. Bringing the World Book into it, it does seem that competence as right hand, administrative men is in the Manderly genes. The Peakes and the Manderlys were the two houses that courted and guided the conduct of the Gardeners for centuries and possibly millennia until the Tyrells showed up and settled that dynamic between the two. Look at the state of White Harbor since the Manderlys began administrating it, its a thriving city so the Starks obviously saw there’s a large amount of competence in that family.
    When it comes to their role in the North, I think their religious difference is the thing that has helped keep them in check amongst the noble houses of the North. They may do well in all other areas, but if they rise too high, their neighbors only require a nod from the Stark in Winterfel and the justification of religious difference and they are gonna be surrounded, or at least thats how I think of it.
    As for Manderly’s ambition, I suppose it wouldn’t be to far fetched to say his ambition is obvious from his appearance. I mean, his wealth has allowed him to grow to immense proportions, but his appetite is a reflection of his ambition. As you quoted, as he’s going through these perks with Bran, transitioning from coinage and a navy to the Hornwood lands, he finishes with the wing of the bird and to the leg when he starts bringing up Lady Hornwood. Manderly has a large appetite indeed, and those that mistake that for lack of discipline are about to learn that its the sharpness of wit and cunning that has allowed him to grow so great.

  6. But will Wyman ever have a hold on Rickon i.e.. Would Rickon be taken back to White Harbor? I don’t recall if that was an explicit part of the deal, but even if it was, I would expect Davos to return to Eastwatch and bring Rickon to Jon and Stannis. Who knows where they’ll be at the time, but Davos would suspect they’re at the wall.

  7. Daemon

    Brilliant analysis!

    When most of the fans think that Freys and Boltons are the opportunists, here’s a great essay showing how cunning the Lord-Too-Fat is. Originating from the Reach, where they once soar too high to aim in succeeding King Garth X Greybeard’s throne, it is no doubt that these Mermans may once again be too ambitious in aiming for the supremacy in The North.

    Also, I like the idea of the Dance of the Wolves, though not sure how will it be played out. Since unlike the Targaryens, the Stark children are unified in a way that one will most likely to give up his/her claim for the other.

  8. A very interesting read, thank you. I had suspected Manderly was meant to play a bigger part in the events to come, your essay has shed some light on what that role could amount to.
    I hope he’s going to make an appearance in the series, his role as a character could hardly be filled by anyone else.

  9. 1) It’s all spite for Oberon making fun of his son for being fat and Ilia refusing said son. 😉

    2) Seriously, though, what’s the end game? Unless the Seven Kingdoms break up permanently, whoever wins the Dance of the Wolves is going to have to bend the knee in the end – are the Manderleys better off if they lead an anti-Bolton movement, then bend the knee alongside Rickon as the Stark in Winterfell? (Well, maybe, as long as everything works out.)

  10. Cappucina

    The lone wolf dies where the pack survives is what Eddard taught them. I think this is where the Starks will be different and the issue of who inherits what will not lead to a conflict / dance.

  11. Hugo M

    The problem I have with this theory is that no matter how much silver or power Wyman can accumulate the Lords of the North will never accept him a regent. I see the Manderlys as having the Jewish effect where they are persecuted people who find a new home, who thrive for hundreds of years, but ultimately are never fully accepted. That’s why Winterfell can allow White Harbor to have so much power, they will never be trusted by the rest of the northern lords. Plus, I’m sure Wyman knows he will die at Winterfell, that’s why he doesn’t care to insult the Freys. He didn’t take any hostages, he took himself as a hostage. I don’t doubt he had major ambitions at he beginning of the story, but by the winds of winter it’s clear that he came to Roose with the intention to avenge Wendel, he knows he will die, but it doesn’t matter has his heir safe behind a fortified harbor, with a new Navy, chests full of silver, and a nice army!

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  13. Lands of always me

    Great essay and well thought out! I think manderly is very loyal to the Starks but is always looking to advance his house. Grrm created a number of very human characters in my opinion, and the merman is just another example of this.

    I don’t think there will be a dance of wolves. From the WOW chapters released we know area/Jeyne made it to stannis. I think she will make it to the wall eventually as stannis sent her with the banker and Justin Massey.

    I hate to use another book as a commentary but have you read “the magician” by feist? Mad king Rodric leaves the crown to his cousin as eldest son of his uncle and closest relative. Problem was there was an older bastard brother from his uncle he didn’t know of. My point is, we need to know robbs wills wording. If it’s just “I leave everything to Jon snow, legitimised as Jon stark” no problem. If it’s something like “closest relative Jon stark” the North has a problem. But I don’t see it coming to war, I see them sitting down and hammering it out. Jon in particular is in my opinion more concerned fighting the others to get into a successionist issue that makes him leave the wall- I see him if anything as a reluctant king if there’s no other way out.

  14. Great work and my weary eyes thank you for reading the essay 🙂

  15. Great essay and thank you SO much for taking the time to read it aloud. I listen to these while working so having one in audio vastly increases its value to me.

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  17. birk opgård

    ive read a lot of these, wyman manderly is only in it for the power and prestige of his own family.

    yet if that was the case, why is he clearly backing house stark? true, having rickon will unify the north more solidly than anything else could, and being the boys regent and father figure could reap great rewards. but so what? there is a far better way to increase his own power without betting everything on the currently weakest horse. completely join bolton in crushing stannis, then have him and ramsay killed once its over, which shouldnt be a hard thing to do all things considered. then step in and take control over the situation, restore the peace, bend the knee to the iron throne and make a bid for lord paramouncy. boom, he’s the supreme leader of the north, or if the throne names someone else, make new plans. instead he’s betting everything on a boy and possibly a foreign, unpopular and quite frankly weak king that only real hope for the throne is a bank deal manderly couldnt have known he’d get to make.

    thats not where a man who wants to be certain he wins should position himself. additionally, he also willingly chooses to go to the dynamite nest that is bolton occupied winterfell, putting himself at massive risk if something goes wrong there(which it does). also at winterfell he also shows very clearly that he isnt afraid to die, as he puts himself at great risk simply to insult the freys(for which he gets a cut throat) showing that whatever his plans are, he is willing to risk his own life(if he wasnt, he could easily have sent his cousin marlon in his place).

    so whatever manderly’s end goals are, he isnt afraid to die for them. thats not something youll find in a man who’s goal is to be regent. hell, there’s no guarranty that his son will follow in his footsteps as regent if he dies, from what we’ve seen, harrenhall seems to have broken poor wylis.

    that being said, im not arguing against manderly being ambitious, wanting to set himself and his family as a great force in the new kingdom. im just arguing against the idea that he’s not motivated by love/loyalty to the starks.

    there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, as long as that ambition isnt driving you to go against the law, your king etc. practicly everything manderly has done has for the most part been perfectly legal(using the laws of the north of course, if we use the laws of the iron throne, he’s guilty as sin), even the only legally murky thing he’s done so far is to send men to occupy lady hornwoods lands after ramsay seized her and forced her to marry him. and as shown by lady hornwoods ultimate fate, that was probably the right thing to do in any case. also, you argue that he’s only doing this for the sake of his own family, yet ignore that lady hornwood was born a manderly, she was his own cousin in fact.

    true he would(and probably will become) the new overlord of hornwood) but notice that everything he did up until the abduction of lady hornwood was completely legal. true he tried to influence his king into taking his side in the debacle, but thats not illegal. nor that wrong really. its not like he threaten to withold aid for the king, demand that he take his side, or else he wouldnt build his ships. he simply laid a proposal for the king, as most lords would have.

    as for the debacle regarding him becoming master of ships, him and his family becoming the masters of ships was a foregone conclusion. the north only has one true port and that is white harbor, which coincidentaly would also have been the only city in the united kingdom of the north and the trident. it would take generations for the north to make one of old ports of the trident into a city, much less build an entire new northern port city from scratch. and until such a city exists, the status if master of ships will belong to house manderly.

    as for master of coin, thats not quite a forgone conclusion as the other one, but its still pretty likely, given that the silver mines of the north seems to be under his vassalage. even so though, is it wrong to aspire for it? tywin lannister was chosen by aerys as hand of the king, and whatever the old bastard was, he WAS an effective hand, until the king started to drive a wedge between them.

    similarily, baelor the blessed relied heavily upon his uncle viserys to rule the realm. baelor is regarded by many in story as out of it as a fool that vasted a lot on money on charity and experiments. yet his was a reign of peace and stability, and a great part of that was because he willingly allowed his far more buisness savy uncle to deal with finaces as hand. was he wrong to do so? should he have been like aerys? spiting his hand, trying to rule everything himself? i dont think that would have benefitted anyone.

    also, what exactly is wrong with a strong hand against the iron throne and the coming winds from the north? what does rickon and the north have to lose with wyman as hand? the only thing i can think off is him trying to convert rickon to the faith of the seven, something i cant really see him doing, as he really doesnt seem to be that big a believer in the seven(what with his cannibalism of freys and all).

    oh, and one more thing. robb naming jon his heir, could very easily be opposed completely legally without the one against him necessarily being wrong to do so. when robb declared him his heir, he did so under the assumption that he was his brother. if jon is indeed rhaegar and lyannas son, he would instead be robb’s cousin, and as such have been made heir on false claims/misinformed understanding. the delighfully grey area of laws and all that jazz. if robbs legitimization is found to be legal, he might very well still be found be behind rickon and bran in the line of succession for the north. all that depends of course wheter howland speaks up against jon or not.

    but this has gone on a bit longer than i intended, so ill close off with this.
    manderly wanting to strengthen his family and make them the second strongest house of the north, is not incompatible with the quote “King Robb has no more loyal servant than Wyman Manderly” being true.

    • Mittlefinger

      I don’t think the essay argues against his loyalty. It simply highlights his ambition. He can be both, until/unless the two become incompatible.

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