Roose Bolton

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Roose Bolton
Roose Bolton.jpg
Roose Bolton by Amok©

Alias The Leech Lord
Title Lord of the Dreadfort
Warden of the North
Allegiance House Bolton
Culture Northmen
Born In 260 AC or before[1], at Dreadfort[2]
Spouse 1st: Unnamed
2nd: Bethany Ryswell[3]
3rd: "Fat" Walda Frey
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (Appears)
A Clash of Kings (Appears)
A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Appears)

Played by Michael McElhatton
TV series Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5

Lord Roose Bolton is the Lord of the Dreadfort and head of House Bolton. He receives regular leechings, which he believes to improve his health, prompting some to call him the Leech Lord. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Michael McElhatton.


Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Roose Bolton
Roose Bolton - by Sardag ©

Though mild-mannered, Roose is cold, patient, calculating, and capable of great cruelty. He possesses a cold cunning, a skill for strategy, and a calculating nature. He is of average size with a soft and hairless body.[4] Roose has a plain face, beardless and ordinary,[5] with his only noticeable feature being his eerie eyes, which are as pale and strange as two white moons.[3] To Jaime Lannister they are paler than stone, darker than milk.[5] He has short, strong fingers.[6] His skin is pasty white, most likely due to the leechings.[7].

Roose's voice is spider soft; he speaks softly and rarely raises his voice, forcing those who listen to do so intently. When Roose speaks silence often descends.[7]

Roose often wears black ringmail and a spotted pink cloak.[5] He also owns a suit of dark grey plate armor over a quilted tunic of blood-red leather. Its rondels are shaped like human heads whose mouths are open in agony. Its helmet has streamers of red silk which flutter in the wind. With it is usually a pink woolen cloak embroidered with droplets of blood.[8]


Roose practices the abolished tradition of the first night.[9] However, he is discreet with his activities in order to avoid the attention and possible ire of the Lords of the North, House Stark.

Lord Roose fought at the Battle of the Trident during Robert's Rebellion. When Ser Barristan Selmy, seriously wounded, was brought before Robert Baratheon, Roose counselled that they should kill him. Robert ignored Roose and spared Barristan's life, sending his own maester to tend to his wounds.[10]

Roose's first wife has not yet been mentioned in A Song of Ice and Fire. His second wife was Bethany Bolton, with whom he had one son survive the cradle, Domeric. In 297 AC,[11] Domeric died of a "bad belly." Lord Bolton privately attributes his heir's death to poisoning by his bastard son, Ramsay Snow. Having no other trueborn heirs, Roose brought Ramsay to the Dreadfort and made him his unofficial heir. Roose is a widower as Bethany died of a fever.[12]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Roose answers his liege's call when Robb Stark summons his banners to Winterfell to aid his grandfather, Hoster Tully, and his father, Lord Eddard. Robb's army is able to cross at the Twins when he agrees to a betrothal with one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters. Due to his calculating caution, Bolton is given command of a host consisting of all the northern foot and some of the horse when Robb splits his army at the Twins. Roose travels south along the east bank of the Trident to distract Lord Tywin Lannister. He marches through the night and launches a surprise attack in the early morning, but is defeated by Tywin in the Battle of the Green Fork.[13] However, Roose retreats in good order, reforming the battered remnants of his army on the causeway before Moat Cailin.[14]

A Clash of Kings

During the War of the Five Kings Roose marries his third wife, Walda Frey, granddaughter of Lord Walder Frey, who has allied his house to Robb Stark, who is now King in the North and of the Trident. Arya Stark hears that Lord Bolton has occupied the ruby ford.[15] In an effort to limit Lord Tywin Lannister's options, who has marched from Harrenhal in an attempt to meet Robb in the Westerlands, Ser Edmure Tully commands Roose to join Ser Helman Tallhart, who is coming south from the Twins, and to retake Harrenhal.[16]

Hoping to take Harrenhal without weakening his army, Roose makes a deal with Vargo Hoat, leader of the Brave Companions, unsavory sellswords in the employ of Lord Tywin. The Companions pretend to take a group of Bolton's men prisoner that then seize the castle, taking out the small Lannister garrison left behind and opening the gates to the rest of Roose's men. This is done with the aid of an incognito Arya and the assassin Jaqen H'ghar.

While at Harrenhal, Roose takes Arya as his cupbearer, mistaking her for a commoner.[5] Arya is in attendance when Roose holds a council with the Freys; Roose lies naked and drained by leeches during the meeting. Because of Stannis Baratheon's defeat in the Battle of the Blackwater, the Freys do not think that Robb can now defeat Tywin. Roose issues orders to have Ser Helman Tallhart sack Darry and then join with Robett Glover to attack Duskendale. After the council Roose decides to hunt a pack of wolves near Harrenhal. Arya also learns from the Freys that they have been dishonored, but does not know why.[4]

In the meantime, Roose's bastard son, Ramsay Snow, has married and starved Lady Donella Hornwood and claimed her lands as the Lord of the Hornwood. When Ser Rodrik Cassel besieges the ironborn-occupied Winterfell, Ramsay has the Dreadfort's garrison betray the other northmen and burn Winterfell. The destruction is publicly attributed to the ironborn, however.

A Storm of Swords

It is revealed that the Freys have been dishonored because King Robb Stark married Jeyne Westerling instead of a Frey.[17] After the Brave Companions take Jaime Lannister prisoner, Vargo Hoat has Jaime's sword hand cut off before bringing him to Roose at Harrenhal. Roose tells Jaime that Vargo acted independently to curry favor and refuge with Lord Rickard Karstark, as well as drive a wedge between Roose and Tywin. The ploy does not work, however, as Roose receives Jaime's assurance that he will not be held responsible for Jaime's injury.[18] Before leaving Harrenhal in the hands of Vargo, Roose releases Jaime and asks him to give his regards to Lord Tywin; Jaime responds that Roose should give his regards to Robb Stark.[19]

Roose Bolton kills Robb Stark at the Red Wedding - by nejna ©

Robb summons Roose to aid in retaking Moat Cailin and the North from the ironborn. On the march north to the Twins, Roose takes his time when crossing the Trident and allows his rearguard to be ambushed by Gregor Clegane. On the other side, he leaves Stark loyalists to guard the river, taking only Dreadfort and Karhold men with him, the latter incensed by Robb Stark's execution of Lord Rickard. After arriving at the Twins for Edmure Tully's wedding with Roslin Frey, Roose discusses with Robb the disastrous Battle of Duskendale, in which joint Lannister and Tyrell forces annihilated the force of Helman Tallhart and Robett Glover. Roose falsely attributes the loss of a third of Robb's infantry to Robett Glover's initiative;[20] Roose's own soldiers did not participate in the battle.

During the reception after Edmure's wedding at the Twins, Roose toasts Lord Walder Frey's grandsons, mentioning that Big Walder and Little Walder are now in the care of Ramsay after the battle at Winterfell. Roose later mumbles an excuse to use the privy and leaves the hall. Edmure's bedding and the subsequent playing of "The Rains of Castamere" is the signal for the Freys to betray and attack their guests. When Roose returns to the hall he is dressed in mail armor. Roose approaches Robb, who has already been wounded by Frey arrows, and kills him while saying:

Jaime Lannister sends his regards.[21]

Outside the castle, the Frey, Bolton, and possibly Karstark soldiers attack their fellow northmen and rivermen and annihilate them. It is revealed that Roose had planned this "Red Wedding" in detail with Lothar Frey, including the choice of songs.[22] For this service, Tywin gives Roose the title of Warden of the North. Roose also receives a royal decree of legitimization for his bastard son and heir Ramsay Snow, now Ramsay Bolton.[23]

A Feast for Crows

Lord Roose marches north with his own forces from the Twins, augmented by two thousand Freys under the command of Ser Aenys Frey and Ser Hosteen Frey.[24]

A Dance with Dragons

Roose Bolton - by Sardag ©

After Moat Cailin surrenders to Ramsay thanks to a browbeaten Theon Greyjoy, Roose meets his son and introduces him to his fiancee, "Arya Stark" (actually Jeyne Poole). Roose is greatly displeased by his son's actions, stating as much to Theon at Barrowton, where the northern lords are to gather for Ramsay and Jeyne's wedding. Roose thinks that Ramsay is too loud and obnoxious. After he hears that Stannis Baratheon has retaken Deepwood Motte, Roose decides to have the wedding moved from Barrowton to Winterfell in order to bait Stannis.[3] He is accompanied by his new wife, Walda.

Upon arriving at Winterfell, Roose finds the ruined castle now a refuge of more then two dozen squatters. When he tells them he will be merciful if they serve well, they are used for a labour force in rebuilding Winterfell. After the work is completed Roose has them all hanged; true to his word he is merciful and does not flay a one.

At Ramsay's wedding feast, Roose does not eat any of the food or drink served to him unless he sees Lord Wyman Manderly, who brought the food, eat of the same dish.[25]

Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton and Reek by Sir Heartsalot ©

Despite being named Warden of the North, Roose's support among the northern lords is grudging. The first to declare for him are the Dustins and Ryswells, to whom he is related through his second wife, Bethany. The faction of House Umber led by Hother Whoresbane declares for him since the Greatjon is in Frey captivity, and the Cerwyns, Lockes, and Manderlys send men as well. Arnolf Karstark, the Karhold castellan who publicly declared for Stannis, is secretly in league with Roose and awaits the moment to turn his cloak.[26]

Roose, Ramsay and the Bolton army remain at Winterfell awaiting the attack of Stannis Baratheon's host. Several Bolton men are murdered during the wait, and suspicion is cast on several of the present Stark bannermen.[27] In truth, however, most of the murders are committed by the singer Abel and his women, who are actually Mance Rayder and several wildling spearwives on a mission to free "Arya Stark". The murders raise tensions within the castle. Tempers flare when Lord Manderly insults the murdered Little Walder Frey; a clash ensues that leads to the deaths of several men-at-arms. Having learned that Stannis's army is three days march from Winterfell, Roose orders the Freys and Manderlys to leave Winterfell by separate gates and march on Stannis's position.[28]

The Winds of Winter

Having escaped Winterfell with Jeyne Poole, Theon Greyjoy informs Stannis that Roose has sent out the Freys and Manderlys, as well as Ramsay and his men, but kept much of his own strength behind in Winterfell. According to Theon, Roose is keeping his own men back as a reserve, as he once did in the Riverlands, to weaken potential rivals. Stannis confirms that his supposed ally, Arnolf Karstark, has been secretly relaying information to Roose.[29]

Quotes by Roose

Roose: People fear you.

Ramsay: Good.

Roose: You are mistaken. It is not good. No tales were ever told of me. Do you think I would be sitting here if it were otherwise? Your amusements are your own, I will not chide you on that count, but you must be more discreet. A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule. Make it yours.[3]

– Roose and Ramsay Bolton

Power tastes best when sweetened by courtesy.[3]
- Roose, to Ramsay Bolton

Ramsay: He’s mine. You cannot have him.

Roose: All you have I gave you. You would do well to remember that, bastard. As for this … Reek … if you have not ruined him beyond redemption, he may yet be of some use to us. Get the keys and remove those chains from him, before you make me rue the day I raped your mother.[3]

– Roose and Ramsay Bolton

Fear is what keeps a man alive in this world of treachery and deceit.[3]
– Roose, to Theon Greyjoy

Quotes about Roose

That man scares me.[30]
Robb Stark, to Catelyn Tully

Robb: And the Greatjon's not the worst of them, only the loudest. Lord Roose never says a word, he only looks at me, and all I can think of is that room they have in the Dreadfort, where the Boltons hang the skins of their enemies.

Bran: That's just one of Old Nan's stories. Isn't it? [31]

– Robb and Bran Stark

Lord Bolton, he used to say a naked man has few secrets, but a flayed man’s got none.[32]
Ramsay Snow, as "Reek", to Theon Greyjoy

Bolton's silence was a hundred times more threatening than Vargo Hoat's slobbering malevolence. Pale as morning mist, his eyes concealed more than they told.[6]
Jaime Lannister

This is a cold man.[20]
Catelyn Stark

His face was clean-shaved, smooth-skinned, ordinary, not handsome but not quite plain. Though Roose had been in battles, he bore no scars. Though well past forty, he was as yet unwrinkled, with scarce a line to tell of the passage of time. His lips were so thin that when he pressed them together they seem to vanish altogether. There was an agelessness about him, a stillness; on Roose Bolton’s face, rage and joy looked much the same. All he and Ramsay had in common were their eyes. His eyes are ice. Reek wondered if he ever cried. If so, do the tears feel cold upon his cheeks?

Once, a boy called Theon Greyjoy had enjoyed tweaking Bolton as they sat at council with Robb Stark, mocking his soft voice and making japes about leeches. He must have been mad. This is no man to jape with. You had only to look at Bolton to know that he had more cruelty in his pinky toe than all the Freys combined.[8]

Theon Greyjoy

The son is just the shadow of the father. [3]
Theon Greyjoy

Eddard Stark had never had any reason to complain of the Lord of the Dreadfort, so far as Jon knew, but even so he had never trusted him, with his whispery voice and his pale, pale eyes. [33]
Jon Snow

Roose has no feelings, you see. Those leeches that he loves so well sucked all the passions out of him years ago. He does not love, he does not hate, he does not grieve. This is a game to him, mildly diverting. Some men hunt, some hawk, some tumble dice. Roose plays with men. You and me, these Freys, Lord Manderly, his plump new wife, even his bastard, we are but his playthings. [25]
Barbrey Dustin, to Theon Greyjoy


Bethany Ryswell
"Fat" Walda Frey
Ramsay Snow
"Arya Stark"

References and Notes

  1. See the Roose Bolton calculation.
  2. A World of Ice and Fire, "Roose Bolton".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek.
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 3, Arya.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek.
  9. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran.
  10. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard.
  11. Domeric is mentioned as having died two years prior during the harvest feast in A Clash of Kings-Chapter 16.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 62, Tyrion.
  14. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn.
  15. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn.
  17. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn.
  18. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime.
  19. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49, Catelyn.
  21. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn.
  22. A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime.
  24. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell (Reek IV).
  26. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon.
  27. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell (Reek VI).
  28. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I.
  29. The Winds of Winter, Theon's sample chapter, made available on GRRM's website as of Dec 28th, 2011
  30. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn.
  31. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran.
  32. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 50, Theon.
  33. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at House Bolton. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of House Bolton. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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