Battle in the ice
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This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.
The battle in the ice is an upcoming battle between the forces of Stannis Baratheon and the forces of Roose Bolton. It is set to take place at the start of The Winds of Winter, the as-yet-unpublished sixth book of A Song of Ice and Fire.
At Castle Black, Stannis Baratheon secures the support of Arnolf Karstark, the castellan of Karhold, but finds himself unable to convince others to join their strength to his. When Arnolf informs him that only fifty men remain at the Dreadfort, the seat of House Bolton, he considers marching on the Bolton castle. However, Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, counsels against it. Unbeknownst to Stannis, Arnolf's loyalty is a pretense; In reality, he is loyal to Lord Roose Bolton, and was attempting to lure Stannis to the Dreadfort to trap him.
Lord Bolton arrives in the north with a girl he claims to be Arya Stark, the youngest daughter of the late Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. In reality, however, the girl is Jeyne Poole, the daughter of Vayon Poole, the former steward of Winterfell. Roose marries the fake Arya to his bastard son, the recently legitimized Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell. Their presence at Winterfell is meant to force Stannis to march on them, and indeed, after following the advice of Jon Snow, thereby securing the support of the northern mountain clans, and retaking Deepwood Motte from the ironborn—resulting in the capture of Asha Greyjoy—Stannis leads his army from Deepwood Motte through the wolfswood to Winterfell. Although the southron knights and lords oppose the march, the northern lords insist that Roose must be removed from Winterfell and "the Ned's" daughter rescued from Ramsay. The march on Winterfell is a hundred leagues long, and is estimated to take fifteen days. However, snows begin on the fourth day, and the harsh weather slow the army down significantly. After thirty-three days, they arrive at a crofters' village, located three days from Winterfell, but find themselves snowed in. After eleven days, Arnolf Karstark arrives with four hundred and fifty men.
At Winterfell, the forces Roose Bolton has gathered—consisting of Houses Ryswell, Dustin, Frey, Cerwyn, Hornwood, Manderly, and part of House Umber—suffer from divided loyalties, infighting, and a series of mysterious murders, which cause tension in the castle between the Freys, Boltons, Manderlys, and other northern houses. At first, Theon Greyjoy is suspected to be the murderer, but that idea is quickly dismissed by Roose, who declares Theon to be too broken and weak to have carried out the deeds.
At Castle Black, the red priestess Melisandre sees a grey girl on a dying horse in her flames. Believing the girl to be Arya Stark, Lord Commander Jon Snow's younger half-sister, she enlists the help of Mance Rayder, the former King-beyond-the-Wall, to rescue the girl. The girl eventually arrives at Castle Black, but she turns out to be Alys Karstark, who informs Jon Snow that her uncle Arnolf is plotting to betray Stannis. Jon sends ravens to Deepwood Motte in an attempt to warn Stannis. At Winterfell, the tensions among the army finally erupt into a brawl (in which Lord Wyman Manderly becomes injured) and Manderly and Frey men are killed after Little Walder Frey is found dead. In response, Roose sends out the forces of House Frey and House Manderly, to engage Stannis into battle at the crofters' village.
Theon and Jeyne—believed by Roose's host to be Arya—leap from Winterfell shortly before the Freys and Manderlys leave Winterfell, and the pair are found by Mors Umber beneath the walls of the castle. They are brought to the village where Stannis and his army remain by Tycho Nestoris, a Braavosi banker searching for Stannis. Stannis is informed of Arnolf's planned treachery, and arrests him, his son Arthor, and his three grandsons.
Because it has been snowing severely, the men on the battlefields of Winterfell cannot see anyone beneath the walls, giving Mors Umber and his green boys the chance to dig pits outside the gates. Next, they blow their horns to lure their enemies out. Roose Bolton sends out the Freys from the main gates and the Manderlys from the eastern gates. Some Frey men fall into the snow-covered pits placed by Mors, and Ser Aenys Frey breaks his neck. Hosteen Frey loses his horse but survives.
At Castle Black, Lord Commander Jon Snow receives a letter, supposedly written by Ramsay Bolton, which claims that Stannis is dead and his army is broken. Though it is unknown if the letter's contents are true or if it was indeed written by Ramsay, it galvanizes Lord Commander Snow into breaking with tradition of the Night's Watch and forming an army of volunteers—black brothers and free folk alike—to march on Winterfell and defeat the Boltons. Jon is attacked in the mutiny at Castle Black, however.
- Described by Cersei Lannister as a force of two thousand strong (A Feast for Crows, Jaime II), while judged by Theon Greyjoy to consist of four hundred knights, with "at least a thousand, maybe more" foot soldiers (including bowmen and spearmen) and light cavalry (including freeriders and mounted bowmen), supported by another hundred knights (A Dance with Dragons, Reek II).
- Arnolf Karstark had brought four hundred and fifty men with him ("a son, three grandsons, four hundred spears, two score archers, and a dozen mounted lances") to Stannis's host in collaboration with Roose, with the intention of turning on Stannis's host in favor of Roose as soon as the battle begins. Shortly before the battle, after confirming with Maester Tybald that Roose Bolton knows where they are, Stannis has Arnolf and his family members arrested, and his men disarmed. However, he believes the soldiers likely did not know of the plan, and as such might decide to use them in battle.
- Stannis had come north with no more than fifteen hundred men from the south (A Dance with Dragons, Davos III), men-at-arms and knights from the remnants of his troops who had fought on the Blackwater. He left eighty-three southron men-at-arms at the Wall (fifty at Castle Black to guard Melisandre, twelve at Castle Black to guard Queen Selyse and Princess Shireen, ten at Icemark, and ten at Greyguard, and Ser Axell Florent) (A Dance with Dragons, Jon IX), and lost a small amount of men in the Battle at Castle Black, putting his southron knights and men-at-arms at around fourteen hundred. In contrast to his enemies, Stannis's army has little to no cavalry; his southrons started with eight hundred horses, but all but a few dozen of them died or were eaten during the March on Winterfell (The Sacrifice).
- When marching on Winterfell, Stannis has an army of five thousand men strong (A Dance with Dragons, Jon VII and The Turncloak). He had come north with no more than fifteen hundred men from the south (A Dance with Dragons, Davos III). He left eighty-three southron men-at-arms at the Wall (fifty at Castle Black to guard Melisandre, twelve at Castle Black to guard Queen Selyse and Princess Shireen, ten at Icemark, and ten at Greyguard, and Ser Axell Florent), and had lost a small amount of men in the Battle at Castle Black (A Dance with Dragons, Jon IX), putting his southron knights and men-at-arms at around fourteen hundred. The remainder of his force is made up of the mountain clans, House Mormont, House Glover, men once sworn to Houses Hornwood, Cerwyn, and Tallhart, and smallfolk who had fled from the ironborn (A Dance with Dragons, Jon VII). According to Jon Snow, the mountain clans would provide 2,000 to 3,000 men (A Dance with Dragons, Jon IV) clad in animal hides and mostly wielding sticks and slings, indicating that the other 600 to 1,600 men have been provided by the Houses Mormont, Glover, Hornwood, Cerwyn, and Tallhart, and smallfolk.
- It is said that Hother Umber has half of the remaining strength of House Umber with him at the side of the Boltons, while Mors Umber has the other half with him on the side of Stannis Baratheon (A Dance with Dragons, Jon VII). Hother is known to have brought four hundred men with him to the siege of Moat Cailin (A Dance with Dragons, Davos II), meaning that Mors has about four hundred men with him.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- George R.R. Martin Talks Season Two, 'The Winds of Winter,' and Real-World Influences for 'A Song of Ice and Fire' (March 26, 2012)
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 62, The Sacrifice.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I.
- The Winds of Winter, Theon I
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.