The Heir to Harrenhal

tumblr_nlgkaqyihr1qzivt5o1_1280
Alayne Stone by Nicole McEvoy (Leafette)

The Vale storyline from TWOW is expected to be very different from rest of the book, because everything is still a game for the Vale populace. In other regions of Planetos we have magic, (oncoming) war, famine and diseases, while Vale is set to witness a grand tourney. To be sure, there are schemes planned underneath by the players of the game of thrones. Littlefinger, Myranda Royce, Mad Mouse, Lyn Corbray – all of these people have power to turns the events or cause some incidents for their own advantage. It is expected that either Harry or Sweetrobin will be killed or badly injured. Whatever happens, LF has a knack to come on top. If Harry dies, LF won’t be suspected because he betrothed his daughter to Harry, and if Robert dies before Harry-Sansa marriage, LF loses all power, so he can defend himself against any accusations.

However, what if Littlefinger dies?

In the Vale, a lot of people (except perhaps Nestor Royce) will be glad to find LF dead. LF’s death frees both heirs to the Vale of ‘bad influence’, and the Vale nobility will be back to their status. Lyn Corbray will lose a source of gold, but the gold is the only thing he will miss about LF. It is even possible that Lyn will be accused of LF’s murder. Myranda could influence little Robert to conserve her father’s status as Keeper of Gates of the Moon. Myranda could even seduce Robert Arryn (if he’s alive), though it is a gamble from her part since the boy could die any moment. Yohn Royce could also make some changes in the power-politics of the Vale, thanks to the sudden disappearance of LF factor.

What of Alayne Stone? With LF dead, she will be in a precarious position, but during her time at the Vale, she has risen to be popular among the Arryn household, especially Lothor Brune and Mya Stone. At the very least, Alayne can use her relations to ensure her immediate safety following her father‘s death (such as making sure no one blows her cover until she is ready to come out as Sansa Stark). If Harry is alive, her chances of becoming future Lady of the Vale is still intact, but once out of LF’s clutches, Sansa will have a lot of options regarding her next move, more than half of them provided thanks to LF’s past actions.

  • Alayne is the only known child and an acknowledged bastard of Petyr Baelish. This means all of LF’s wealth could pass to her. If so, it will be upto Alayne to decide the status of the various debts owed to LF. Since she has never been greedy for money, she could forgive some debts to gain influence of her own. In case of the Rosby inheritance, lord Gyles’s ward did not get the inheritance because he was ‘no child of his body’ – which implies that in the absence of any other trueborn relatives, a bastard could inherit the father’s wealth. If the Vale nobility opposes, Alayne can handle herself, and although the Iron Throne would be wiser to take a huge part of LF’s wealth to themselves, those at KL have no idea how wealthy LF really is. They might even legitimize Alayne like they did Ramsay (not ever seeing the person).
  • If all of Littlefinger’s pass to Alayne, it includes the castle of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount status over Riverlands. It will be fun to have the Riverlands come to a half-Tully thanks to Lannisters and Littlefinger, but the Lannisters are more likely to give the Lord Paramount title to Emmon Frey, but they might let Alayne keep Harrenhal. If they don’t, it will look bad on the crown’s already bad name – the poor man (LF) helped them win the war, and when he died his bastard daughter was sent to the impoverished Fingers because the crown took away the castle that was well-earned by her father.
  • The last Vale post discussed the possibility of familiar character entering Sansa’s story. If Alayne comes into the possession of Harrenhal, it will be Sansa entering theirs. She could meet Brotherhood without banners, she could reunite with Arya and Nymeria, she could help her uncle Edmure to consolidate power in Riverlands, she could influence Ser Bonifer Hasty to turn against the Lannisters in favour of either Targaryen claimants (Aegon is more likely than Dany), she could be found by Jaime and Brienne, she could be cause for Cleganebowl (if the Hound finds her and Cersei sends Gregor Clegane after sniffing out Alayne’s identity).
  • If Alayne does not get (or go to) Harrenhal, she will be staying in the Vale for a while, thanks to her (ostensibly) good relationships with the Royces and Waynwoods. If at least one of Harry and Sweetrobin are alive, she can still be the de facto lady of the Vale (like she was at the end of AFFC). In this scenario, it might be up to her to respond to the plea for food and provisions for the Night’s Watch. Jon’s thoughts about NW lacking food and gold:
    Our best hope may be the Eyrie. The Vale of Arryn was famously fertile and had gone untouched during the fighting. Jon wondered how Lady Catelyn’s sister would feel about feeding Ned Stark’s bastard.

    Maybe it will be his own sister at the other end, not Lady Catelyn’s. (Of course, if it was LF who got the messages they are going in the fire).

    Jon: “We will bring in food by ship, as much as might be required. From the riverlands and the stormlands and the Vale of Arryn, from Dorne and the Reach, across the narrow sea from the Free Cities.”

    It is not explicitly said, but Jon might have sent some ravens for more provisions to all important castles of Westeros. Since he signed the loan from the Iron Bank, he would have promised to pay, instead of ‘begging’ for help. In Alayne I, we see that the lords of the Vale are ready to sell the grain for high enough prices, despite approaching winter.

  • If Alayne stays in the Vale for a while, she might be in time for a dragon or two landing. I just hope that she survives or escapes the Mountain Clans invasion foreshadowed in the first books. Speaking of Mountain Clans, I support Timett son of Timett and Myranda Royce for the Lord and Lady of the Vale.

All these are speculations, partly motivated by my desire to see LF die ASAP. I admit the more plausible course of story will be Harry or Robert dying or Mad Mouse wreaking some havoc, but since those are done-to-death in various forums, I thought this one (Vale plus Sansa minus LF) is worth considering.

To summarize, it seems to me that LF is repeating the mistakes of Tywin Lannister, in planning so much and having high ambitions but not accounting for the possibility of what happens if the player himself is removed from the game. In Tywin’s case, his fall affected House Lannister very badly. LF has nothing to lose, but he is unwittingly giving a lot of power to Sansa, and at one point she may decide that he is disposable, a nice reversal of how LF treated all his former ‘allies’.

Hopefully this is the last of my posts about the Vale storyline.

Advertisements

Unexpected Guests at The Tourney of the Winged Knights

A follow-up to this post. No tourney in ASOIAF goes uneventful and as expected. Something happens (most often bad) or someone turns up. Here I am listing a few possible surprise guests who could (re)enter Sansa’s storyline through the Tourney of Winged Knights.

521px-Brynden_Tully_personal_armsBrynden Tully: In AFFC, Jaime thinks ‘If I were Blackfish, where would I go?’. If Tom o’Sevens did not have a meeting with Edmure, the Vale was a likely place. Blackfish stayed in the Vale for a long time, and he must have friends there – whether for vengeance or survival. Riverrun has fallen by the last Alayne chapter of AFFC, allowing BF time to reach the Vale. However, the more widely accepted theory is that Blackfish will try to rescue Jeyne and Edmure and other hostages by leading the BwB to attack Forley Prester’s entourage. We know Jeyne Westerling appears on TWOW prologue, so this would be how we finds out what happened to Blackfish. Showing this event in a Prologue implies there may not be any PoV character (Brienne or Jaime) present. If Blackfish knew Sansa was at the Vale, he might go there, but the Blackfish we saw in AFFC was intent upon protecting his queen (ie Jeyne). I’d say it is more characteristic of Blackfish to lead an assault of the Lannisters, than to go a seemingly wild-goose chase in the Vale. He could always go to the Vale after fixinp up stuff at Riverlands, though if that was the case the news of the fall of the Twins or like will reach the Vale sooner or later.

DunkBrienne and/or Jaime: When we last saw Brienne, it was near Pennytree, abducting Jaime. Clearly the BwB has spies all over Riverlands, many of them targeting Freys and Lannisters. Brienne could try to escape with Jaime, but GRRM has confirmed that the reason for Brienne choosing ‘Sword’ over ‘Noose’ was to save Podrick’s life. In that case, Brienne will keep the promise of bringing Jaime to LSH. What happens after is anyone’s guess. Would Jaime or Brienne convince the BwB that Sansa would have gone to the Vale and they¬† are in a good position to bring her to LSH? Both Brienne and Jaime swore oaths to Catelyn about returning her daughters. There is the distant possibility that Jaime or Brienne willKingsguard try to lengthen their lives by bringing some of the BwB to the Vale, to look for Sansa. Unlike last time, they will be watched by men loyal to Catelyn and smarter and less noticeable than Cleos Frey or Brienne. The Vale still being loyal to the Iron Throne, Jaime can use his position as the Lord Commander of the KG to find and abduct Sansa if she was in the Vale. LF may know Jaime went missing, but Jaime can cook up a story to cover his current mission and his temporary loyalty to BwB.

545px-House_Payne.svgPodrick Payne: If Brienne or Jaime goes to Vale, Pod might also go. Unlike either of them, he can participate in the melee. (Jaime is one-handed and Brienne is a woman accused of kingslaying). Maybe Jaime will knight Pod and send him to the melee? Having served as Tyrion’s squire in the past, Pod is familiar with Sansa enough to recognize her even with dyed hair. Except Littlefinger and Mad Mouse, no one in the Vale is likely to recognize Pod. Sansa knows Pod to be harmless and goodhearted, so he has a better chance of earning Sansa’s trust than either Brienne or Jaime.

Ser Gendry of Hollow Hill: I don’t think either Thoros or Blackfish (if he’s with BwB) thinkBaratheon it’s a good idea to parade Gendry around a place where Robert Baratheon spent so many years of his youth. I do think Thoros knows who Gendry is, and did not mention it so save the boy – they are in the middle of an outlaw band who’d sell anyone for money, and Thoros seemed more goodhearted than the rest, and maybe wanted to protect his friend’s son. However, Gendry will have some role in the story, and him going to Vale opens some interesting possibilities – most important one is that he could meet Mya, and I think both of them will be happy to find someone whom they can call family. It will be a nice change from the highborns who always use them to discard later. I’m not implying Arya discarded Gendry, but after his mother died, he never had anyone to call his own – Arya was his friend, but he knew she was too bloody highborn and they could not remain friends forever. But no matter what happens, a sibling will always be a sibling. If Gendry attends the melee, he may do it as a traveling smith than as a knight, as it is a good job to collect information. Gendry himself may want to enter as a mystery knight, though.

Lem Lemoncloak: If some of the BwB makes it into the Vale, Lem is one well-suited to enter the melee without arising suspicion. All he needs is to don a different cloak.

Lady Stoneheart: Only if she hears news that Sansa could be at the Vale. As far as we know, BwB does not have spies in the Vale. So this is unlikely. Also LSH’s revenge spree seems destined to happen around Riverlands. I only added her because it would bHouse_Starke nice to have a meeting between her and Littlefinger.

Hallis or Harwin: I believe one of them is the ‘translator’ whom Brienne meets in AFFC. If BwB sends someone to Vale searching for Sansa, a Northmen from Winterfell is a good option. He will be recognized as a Northman, but many Northmen who came down with Robb must be wandering about after the war, so it won’t be hard for him to keep his head down. LSH and BwB would expect Sansa to come with one of her father’s men – though I don’t think Sansa would trust any of these BwB messengers.

544px-Hunt

Hyle Hunt: Another unrecognizable person. As Randyll Tarly’s household knight who was last seen near Maidenpool, he could also be present in the Vale under the pretense of going to Gulltown or something. LF or Lothor Brune may know him, given LF’s familiarity with the Tyrells (not sure about his familiarity with Tyrell bannermen).

Septon Meribald: The person who will have least trouble wandering around. His regular FaithStarcoverage area is Riverlands, and BwB let him go before they interrogated Brienne, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be at the Vale on BwB’s bidding. If (a big if) he somehow ends up in the Gates of the Moon, say to gather goodies for the poor from the chivalrous knights and lords, a wandering septon will be totally welcome in the Andal-heavy Vale. Not sure if he will meet Sansa, but if he does, he too could recognize her (if she is seen in the sept praying under torches or candles that makes her hair look auburn). This is a very weak possibility, but since he’s heard all about Brienne’s mission, and as a wandered by nature, he can’t be neglected.

544px-House_Clegane

Sandor Clegane: While most fans expect him to reenter Sansa’s storyline, this tourney is not the place. There is no reason for the Elder Brother to send a gravedigger to the Vale. If Quiet Isle was attacked, leaving Sandor homeless, he may decide to find to some new place to live, but Quiet Isle looked safe.

Arya Stark: It would be great to have Arya, a walking lie-detector and Stark-to-the-core545px-Faceless_Men.svg around Littlefinger. We know she will eventually return to Westeros, but we don’t know to where. Most theories I’ve read suggests the North or Riverlands. If by some chance Arya ends up near this tourney, it could be as a mission from FM (even to kill Alayne whose name she does not know). Whether by mission or by her free will, Arya will be under some disguise and no one would be able to recognize her – except perhaps Gendry (if he’s in the Vale too), who as a smith, might think that her sword looks familiar. While Arya seems poised to leave the HoBaW, I don’t think the Braavos storyline is over, and the Tourney must happen the chapter following Alayne I in TWOW. Overall, I think there is only slim chance for Arya to make an appearance in Alayne II.

There are other possibilities for pawns and players of the game to look to the Vale, however, as the Alayne I chapter seems to be lagging behind many other important events (Cersei’s trial, Aegon’s invasion, Stannis’s march etc), I have ignored the toruney-crashers from those quarters. Also ignored my personal favorite surprise appearance to happen in the Vale – Tyrion riding Viserion.

The Tourney of Winged Knights

The upcoming tourney in the Vale poses all sort of possibilites to happen. The Winged Knights was Alayne’s idea, or so she thinks. It is hard to tell with people around Littlefinger. At any rate, there is going to be a grand tourney in the Vale (Gates of the Moon to be precise), hosted by Nestor Royce and sponsered by Petyr Baelish. The young knights who earn the top 8 positions will constitute¬†‘Brothehood of Winged Knights’, who will stay with Robert Arryn, guarding him, for three years.

tumblr_nludlak0rr1sxt4ogo1_500

Read more

The Rejected Bride

myranda_of_house_royce_by_daenathedefiant-d5bnw7v

Myranda Royce art by DaenatheDefiant (Deviantart)

 

Myranda Royce is a beautiful young widow in need of a rich husband. She wants to marry Harrold Hardyng aka Harry the Heir, but Nestor Royce could not meet the dowry. Myranda is not exactly ‘virtuous’, but she is a (relatively) good match for Harry. It is possible that Anya Waynwood rejected Myranda because Petyr Baelish was already forcing her to consider Alayne. He has been buying Lady Anya’s debts – in fact he was buying Harry. This left Anya in a helpless position. The best argument she could make was that Harry would not like Alayne, and Petyr agreed that the marriage will happen only if Harry liked Alayne. The long and short of it is, Anya Waynwood could not engage Harry to Myranda because of Littlefinger’s intervention.

Read more

The Vale

Introduction

The_vale

The Eyrie by Ted Nasmith, from A World of Ice and Fire

On the surface, everything in the Vale seems to go as Littlefinger has planned. The Lords Declarants are in his pocket, Harry the Heir is enamored by Alayne, the tourney for Winged Knights presents a good occasion to get someone killed if necessary. Littlefinger’s end goal is a mystery, and he is known to act in a way that will appear to act against him only for confusing his opponents. But we can theorize about what the other characters in the Vale will be planning. Let’s analyse their resources and interests. Read more