Crackpot theory: Who really sent a catspaw to kill Bran?

Young stormlord

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It was Mance Rayder.

I don't know whether you're going to read this but here goes.

How to add weight to Mance Rayder theory.

Mance is lying about some details when he tells his story to Jon.

First of all and a first lie, he didn't go over the wall alone. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to climb tied with somebody else, just in case you slip, then the person below you who is "nailed" to the wall can catch you. The more people climbing at the same time, the more secure everyone is. They usually climb 3 or 4 at a time, as we know from Jon's chapter.

It is also a good idea to have somebody keep watch over you while you sleep. There are people living in New Gift, so he could have bought or stolen a horse there, and two can ride on a single horse. Or stolen two horses. Which would get the number of people over the wall, including Mance, between 2 and 4. Therefore, the catspaw is one of his own men that he manipulated with "Imagine killing a lord of Winterfell's son. And it would even be a mercy! And I'll give you this bag of silver and the valyrian dagger I got from the king of Seven Kingdoms! (I'll explain later) You would be a legend once you return beyond the wall! A legend of the free people! I would put it all into a song. You would live forever, immortalized in song... " or something like that.

Second lie: He didn't do it to see King Robert. He did it all to meet and kill Robert Baratheon. That was the opportunity of a lifetime, since Robert was the first king in a couple centuries to come that far north and Joffrey is underage. Robert's proclivities were well known. He liked to hunt, he liked to drink, he liked bawdy songs, he liked to sleep around. If there were more than two who climbed The Wall, it is very likely that at least one of them was a spearwife pretending to be a pretty washerwoman / camp follower and Mance knows every bawdy song south of The Wall and many more North of the Wall besides. Mance is pretending to be a singer/minstrel. Out of King Robert's bodyguards, only Sir Barristan Selmi, Sir Jaime Lannister and Sir Mandon Moore are worth a penny and they are unlikely to follow Robert to a tavern/ drinking den, for different reasons. More likely to follow him is Sir Boros Blunt, who is a bad bodyguard. He would hunt occasionally while slowly going North and back, or go ranging on a horse, sometimes too fast to his bodyguards to keep up, because the house on the wheels is so damn slow. It was easy enough to arrange hunting accident or a tavern brawl. Or cut his throat while he is with cute washerwoman/spearwife who fancies a king. Unknown to the wildlings, Robert has a talent that will save his life.

Third lie: he didn't reach King Robert's entourage a day before it would reach Winterfell. He reached it a week before it would reach Winterfell instead. Mance joined them with his own entourage (2-3 people) and he indeed knows every bawdy song south of the wall and a lot of them North of the wall as well. Robert loves bawdy songs and having fun. He probably heard about some minstrel singing bawdy songs in his entourage and sneaked incognito to listen to him and drink, away from Cersei, which was going according to Mance's plan.
It would be completely in character for Robert, who doesn't care about swords and daggers and even his own treasury, to gift a dagger to somebody who gives him a fun time and teaches him a new bawdy song or ten. Not something too valuable or with gold and jewels in the hilt (because Robert is considerate fellow and doesn't want his new minstrel friend to get robbed and killed, after all) but a kingly gift nevertheless. Maybe he even let Mance choose which one he wants to take and he took the one made of valyrian steel (good against wights and The Others) and with dragonbone hilt (also good against the Others).

What do I base this of? On a line Robert said in the first book to Ned, during Hand's tournament, months after the visit to Winterfell:

“Let me tell you a secret, Ned. More than once, I have dreamed of giving up the crown. Take ship for the Free Cities with my horse and my hammer, spend my time warring and whoring, that’s what I was made for. The sellsword king, how the singers would love me. You know what stops me? The thought of Joffrey on the throne, with Cersei standing behind him whispering in his ear. My son. How could I have made a son like that, Ned?”

It is completely in Mance's character to share a drink with a fellow king and try to manipulate him into abandoning his throne. Because, that's exactly what he did to get wildlings to follow him! He would go from tribe to tribe, from chief to chief, from small king to small king. Some he bribed, some he threatened, some he killed in a duel and some he manipulated and talked into following him, into looking things from his point of view. Putting dreams of glory into their head or Into following Mance's dreams. That's his talent and that sounds like sort of a dream Mance would put into somebody's head. Robert would die doing what he liked and becoming a legend in the process.

Another thing he might put into his head was that it was a mercy to end Bran's life. It is very in line with wildling philosophy of life, according to what Val said about Shireen.

Quote:

‘We kill our horses when they break a leg, and our dogs when they go blind, but we are too weak to give the same mercy to crippled children,’ he told me. He was blind himself at the time, from drink.”

Robert? Jaime had guarded the king long enough to know that Robert Baratheon said things in his cups that he would have denied angrily the next day. “Were you alone when Robert said this?”
What if he was drinking with Mance and his team at the time? And they put that idea in his head as well? And after hanging out with Robert nobody wanted to kill him. Robert is a swell guy any wildling would want to follow, by their own standards and rules. He WAS wild when he was young and was never for lordly and courtly customs and kneeling. And Mance's plan from the beginning is to save his people by moving over the wall and settling them in the Old and New Gift area. And making it a sort of 8th kingdom. At the start of AGOT, Robert is one guy in the whole world at that point who might agree to that.

"Wait, Abel, are you telling me that you are really The King Beyond The Wall Mance Rayder? That's so wicked cool. Totally radical, dude.
You did it all to protect your people?And you want to settle your people south of the wall, in my kingdom? You're okay with taking Old and New Gift? Well, as long as you swear me fealty (no need for kneeling, 'cause we are friends, friends don't kneel), keep watch on The Wall against Others and protect my people as well as yours, keep my laws and stay away from the rest of my kingdom, I'm okay with that. I get another 300.000 subjects and you are my there to protect my ass at the North? More women for me. I never was with a wildling wo-- I mean, woman of the Free Folk. I slept with a woman from each of my Seven Kingdoms, but never with one from beyond the Wall. Do you think it can be arranged? Who cares about the rest of my lords say, they don't get you like I did, they never sang and got drunk with you." Toast him for a beginning of a beautiful friendship. "You play a mean lute. Play it again, Sam. I think this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship."

It is also important to note that Robert and Ned never talk about the dagger. Because it would blow the whole mystery wide open and reveal that Robert himself had given the dagger as a gift to some random minstrel who was his drinking buddy for one (or more) nights and taught him a few new bawdy songs.

But the spanner in Mance's plan to kill King Robert is he didn't know about Robert's secret talent, the one which would save his life: the one talent everybody says Robert has is the ability to inspire loyalty in people and gain friends easily. An uncanny ability to get his worst enemies to love him, drink with him, fight for him, die for him, as recalled in the story of lord's Cafferen, Fell and his son Silver Axe. If you have an ounce of honor and get to know Robert at least a little bit and drink with him, you love him. That's his knack. It is fully in character of both Mance and Robert for Mance to get charmed by the man and actually get to like Robert after drinking with him a few times. So he can't kill him. He shared his guest rights, he drank with him, he likes the guy. Robert is not a threat. He is the guy you can talk and negotiate with.

I mean, Mance does like Thormund, who is basically red haired Robert. Maybe Robert reminded him of Thormund. Maybe he thought he could deal and talk with him like he did with Thormund (And Thormund and Jon Snow have the same character dynamic as Robert and Ned had in their youth). On the other hand, there is no such love for Starks of Winterfell.

In fact, it might have been the change of the original plan that Dalla, who always gives Mance good advice and shares Val's worldview, suggested: sneak into the castle, kill as many Starks as you can, run away in ensuing confusion. It also explains barbaric burning of the library tower: Wildlings have no use for books and scrolls.

Fourth point: And who could Mance leave to be in charge while he did all that stuff, a person who has both the authority and knows the plan and fully agrees with it? Tormund. Because he was one of the other 3 people who intended and had a chance to become a King Beyond The Wall. Mance has beaten and killed the other two in combat, but we never get to know what deal he cut with Tormund. Might have been

"If I die trying this crazy thing, you get to rule the wildlings. But if I succeed, everything must be ready according to my plan. Ok? Trust me, this is going to work. And it is going to be awesome, a story worth of a thousand songs! King beyond the Wall killing the King of Seven Kingdoms. No wildling ever did that before! How cool is that, man?"

And Thormund was like: "Okay, that sounds cool. I have nothing to lose and get what I wanted either way."

Now we go to crackpot part. Little Aemon Steelsong that everyone thinks is Mance's son? He really is Robert's ******* son with a spearwife Dalla who followed Mance for his plan to kill Robert and has Targaryen blood in his veins. Because everybody is a Targaryen :) Maybe Dalla took a fancy to Robert as well and couldn't do the deed when the time came and accidentally got pregnant.

Which is unlikely due to timeline, but hey, that's why the crackpots are here.

So, that's my theory.
 
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Boaz

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YS, long time, no crackpot. I love your insights and your ability to follow the slightest inkling down any rabbit hole.

But...

What does Mance gain if Eddard suspects him? He gets Starks, Karstarks, Umbers, Manderlys, and Boltons all over him. If Robert suspects Mance, then this gives Robert the fight he's always looking for... and Robert joins Eddard. If Mance revealed himself to Robert and tried to negotiate a deal, Mance would never put that deal for his people in jeopardy by threatening Bran.

I do agree that Mance benefits from a civil war. But then again, so do the Faith Militant, the Maesters, all Targaryen supporters, the various Baratheon haters, House Greyjoy, Middlefinger, and the Golden Company. A civil war totally isolates the NW and diverts the Stark attention and strength towards the south. I do not doubt Mance would love for Eddard to return north to find the invasion a fait accompli.

Personally, I accept the independent conclusion at which both Tyrion and Jaime arrived... Joffrey hired the assassin. If not, then Middlefinger because he is not playing a slow game to be won by his descendants (like all the noble houses of Westeros)... or Varys because he's already activated Khal Drogo...
 

Young stormlord

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To be honest, I got inspired by these videos: Killing Bran Part 2

And part 1.
YS, long time, no crackpot. I love your insights and your ability to follow the slightest inkling down any rabbit hole.

But...

What does Mance gain if Eddard suspects him? He gets Starks, Karstarks, Umbers, Manderlys, and Boltons all over him. If Robert suspects Mance, then this gives Robert the fight he's always looking for... and Robert joins Eddard.

It is a misunderstanding. The wildlings don't know Robert. They don't know how he is tomorrow after drinking, whether he regrets his words or stands by them. They know him only while he is drinking and they think they are doing him a favor. And they don't care about Starks. In fact, they hate Starks and want them dead. Personally, I find it less likely it was some random sell-sword that Joffrey hired.

If Mance revealed himself to Robert and tried to negotiate a deal, Mance would never put that deal for his people in jeopardy by threatening Bran. ...

I do agree that Mance benefits from a civil war. But then again, so do the Faith Militant, the Maesters, all Targaryen supporters, the various Baratheon haters, House Greyjoy, Middlefinger, and the Golden Company. A civil war totally isolates the NW and diverts the Stark attention and strength towards the south. I do not doubt Mance would love for Eddard to return north to find the invasion a fait accompli.


It's a swift change of plan while they return home since they can't kill Robert. It is not as well planned as their original plan, but it is very poetic and in line with wildling way of thinking. It also answers the question: Why to hell are Osha and other two wildlings so close to Winterfell? Why are 3 of them in the woods and capture Bran? And why would Osha say that Mance would pay a lot for Bran?

If Mance is at least three weeks riding to the Wall and who knows how much more after they move pass the wall, Osha's suggestion doesn't make sense. But if he is waiting for his team B to do the deed just a small distance away, then it makes much more sense. They split up, Mance and 3 other wildlings take the horses and wait for the team B to do the deed. And why else would Mance mention a bag of silver and another bag of silver was found in the Winterfell stables? It might be a red herring or it might not be. There are 90 silver stags... Mance seems like a sort of person who would pack a 100 stags (1 golden dragon) into his bag. We don't know how much a horse costs or if Mance and his crew just killed the owners or stolen the horses. 10 stags might have been spent drinking with Robert or buying 2-4 horses. Well, we did see how much a horse would cost when Arya sells her horses while trying to buy a ticket on a ship for Winterfell, but I don't have the books with me at the moment.

Personally, I accept the independent conclusion at which both Tyrion and Jaime arrived... Joffrey hired the assassin.
Yes, but that would require Joffrey to be smarter than he is and the assassin to be extremely driven to do the deed. You're an unsavory sort of character. You accept to kill a child of a lord. Your benefactor who is a prince and a heir to the throne pays you then leaves to the other part of the world, unlikely to ever come back. Would you a) do the job you were paid for or b) take the bag of silver and fancy dagger, steal or buy a horse and run away?

Did Joffrey offer him a lordship as well? It would be in Joffrey's character to just order the Hound to kill Bran. Or Summer. Plotting is not his strong suit. On the other hand... it IS in Varys' and Littlefinger's character and their strong suit.

If not, then Middlefinger because he is not playing a slow game to be won by his descendants (like all the noble houses of Westeros)... or Varys because he's already activated Khal Drogo...

Nobody knew that Bran would "fall" from the tower. This requires that either of the two (or both) has an agent in Robert's entourage (which is likely, I admit) and that such agent can send messages and receive an answer in time to plan for an assassination. Which means an access to a raven at least. And neither Littlefinger or Varys wants anybody to suspect Robert for assassination plot. Mance might. Because the effect is Eddard going south (with Rob, maybe, like Brandon and his father did when Lyanna went missing) or possibly a civil war. Last time a king messed with House Stark, civil war was the result.

Littlefinger has gifted the dagger to Robert. It is now in Robert's possession. What is more likely: that Joffrey steals the dagger, that agent steals the dagger or that Robert just gifts the dagger?

It is valyrian steel dagger with dragonbone hilt. For everyone else, there are more worthy and valuable daggers. But for wildlings, that's the greatest and the most useful treasure they can possibly possess. Dunno.

Part 1 of the video which inspired me. I found it very persuasive:
 

paranoid marvin

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I always assumed that it was Cersei. Means, motive and opportunity. Who stood to lose the most from him waking and telling all?
 

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