Roose Bolton by Bella Bergolts ©
The Leech Lord
Lord of leeches
Lord of the Dreadfort|
Warden of the North
|Predecessor||Eddard Stark (Warden of the North)|
|Born||In 260 AC or before, the Dreadfort|
2nd: Lady Bethany Ryswell
3rd: Lady "Fat" Walda Frey
Sons who died in the cradle|
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)
The Winds of Winter (mentioned)
|Played by||Michael McElhatton|
|TV series||Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6|
Roose Bolton is the Lord of the Dreadfort and head of House Bolton. He is convinced that regular leechings improve a person's health, and as such frequently has himself leeched, which has led to some calling him the Leech Lord. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Michael McElhatton.
Appearance and Character
Roose has an unremarkable body, neither plump, thin, nor muscular. He has pasty skin and a pallid chest, which is soft and hairless. Roose has short, strong fingers. He has a plain face, beardless and ordinary, with his only noticeable feature being his strange eyes, paler than stone and darker than milk, like two white moons. The color is sometimes called "ghost grey". His eyes are paler than those of his son, Ramsay.
Though mild-mannered, Roose is remorseless and implacable. He is considered to be cold and cunning. Roose's voice is small and soft; he rarely raises his voice, forcing those who listen to do so intently, falling silent. Roose sips his alcohol, preferring hippocras, or hot spiced wine, although he is also willing to drink ale and regular wine. Roose's personal motto is "A peaceful land, a quiet people".
Roose often wears black ringmail and a red-spotted pale pink cloak, trimmed with white fur. 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. Usually worn with it is a pink woolen cloak embroidered with droplets of blood. Roose wields sword and dagger.
Roose practices the abolished tradition of the first night, but he is discreet with his activities and amusements in order to avoid the attention and possible ire of the Wardens of the North, House Stark. While hunting along the Weeping Water, Roose once raped a young miller's wife and hanged the miller for not gaining his approval for their marriage. When the woman later presented a baby to Roose, he spared the bastard boy Ramsay because he had the same pale eyes as Roose. Lord Bolton granted the mill to the woman, sent her annual supplies and funds, and had the tongue of the miller's brother cut out to prevent Lord Rickard Stark from learning what had happened.
Roose fought at the Battle of the Trident during Robert's Rebellion. When Ser Barristan Selmy, seriously wounded, was brought before Lord Robert Baratheon, Roose counselled that they should kill him. Robert ignored Roose and spared Barristan's life, sending his own maester to tend to the Kingsguard's wounds. According to a semi-canon source, Roose helped to suppress Greyjoy's Rebellion.
After the death of his first wife, Roose was married to Bethany Ryswell, with whom he had one son survive the cradle, Domeric. Roose's children who did not survive the cradle have been buried below the Dreadfort. Roose had Domeric serve as a page to Bethany's sister, Lady Barbrey Dustin, in Barrowton and as a squire to Lord Horton Redfort at the Redfort. Roose had Reek, a servant at the Dreadfort who always smelled terrible, whipped for stealing Bethany's perfume in an attempt to mask his stench. When the mother of his bastard son appeared at the Dreadfort demanding Roose provide her with a servant to help in raising her son, Roose sent her Reek, an act which he intended to be amusing. Roose eventually became a widower when his wife Bethany died of a fever.
In 297 AC,[N 1] Domeric died after visiting his half brother, Ramsay. Maester Uthor blamed a bad belly, but Lord Bolton attributes his heir's death to poisoning by Ramsay. Having no other trueborn heirs, Roose brought Ramsay to the Dreadfort but is not believed to have acknowledged him.
A Game of Thrones
Roose answers his liege's call when Robb Stark summons his banners to Winterfell to aid his father, Lord Eddard, and his grandfather, Lord Hoster Tully. Roose brusquely demands command from Robb, who is unnerved by the Lord of the Dreadfort.
At Moat Cailin, Robb devises a plan to split his army in two, with Robb leading one host to save Riverrun and the other distracting Lord Tywin Lannister. Instead of the Greatjon, Robb grants command of the second host to the more cautious Roose. At the Twins, Roose cautions Robb against House Frey. Robb agrees to a betrothal with one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters. Roose is given command the northern and Frey 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 on the Green Fork. However, Roose retreats in good order, reforming the battered remnants of his army on the causeway before Moat Cailin.
A Clash of Kings
Arya Stark hears that Lord Bolton has occupied the ruby ford. 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.
Hoping to take Harrenhal without weakening his army, Roose makes a deal with Vargo Hoat, leader of the Brave Companions, unsavory sellswords in Tywin's employ. The Companions pretend to take prisoner a group of northmen led by Robett Glover and Ser Aenys Frey. They are then to seize the castle, taking out Ser Amory Lorch's small Lannister garrison and opening the gates to the rest of Roose's men. The fall of Harrenhal 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 named Nan. 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 burn 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. Because Roose intends to leave her with the Brave Companions at Harrenhal, Arya steals a dagger and a map from Roose's solar and flees Harrenhal.
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 attributed to Theon Greyjoy's 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. 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 Lannister. The ploy does not work, however, as Roose receives Jaime's assurance that he will not be held responsible for Jaime's injury. 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.
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 his rearguard is attacked by Ser 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 Lord Edmure Tully's wedding with Roslin Frey, Roose discusses with Robb the disastrous battle at Duskendale, in which Lannister and Tyrell forces shattered the force of Ser Helman Tallhart, Robett Glover, and Harrion Karstark. Roose attributes the loss of a third of Robb's infantry to Robett's initiative, not admitting that he gave Helman and Robett the order to attack Duskendale. Roose convinces Robb that Theon Greyjoy should be kept captive at the Dreadfort.
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."
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 the Red Wedding in detail with Lothar Frey, including the choice of songs. 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, as well as a girl masquerading as Arya Stark for Ramsay to marry.
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
Despite being named Warden of the North, Roose's support among some 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. Robett Glover and Lord Wyman Manderly distrust the Boltons, however. Arnolf Karstark, the castellan of Karhold who publicly declares for Stannis Baratheon, is secretly in league with Roose and awaits the moment to turn his cloak. The Boltons and Karstarks plan to defeat Stannis by drawing him against the Dreadfort.
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 is disgusted by the mistreatment of Theon, whom Ramsay calls Reek. After he hears that Stannis has retaken Deepwood Motte, Roose decides to have the wedding moved from Barrowton to Winterfell in order to bait Stannis. 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 Roose tells them he will be merciful if they serve well, they are used for a labor force in rebuilding Winterfell. After the work is completed, Roose has them hanged instead of flayed, which Theon considers merciful.
At Ramsay's wedding feast, Roose does not eat any of food or drink unless he sees Lord Wyman Manderly, who brought the food, first eat of the same dish. Lady Dustin tells Theon that Roose hopes to become King in the North, not just Warden, because the Lannisters are weakened after the death of Tywin, maiming of Jaime, and disappearance of Tyrion.
Roose, Ramsay and the Bolton army remain at Winterfell awaiting Stannis's host, which is slowed by a blizzard during their march on Winterfell. Several Bolton men are murdered during the wait, and suspicion is cast on several of the bannermen. In truth, however, most of the murders are committed by the singer Abel and his women, who are actually Mance Rayder and several free folk 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 from Winterfell, Roose orders the Freys and Manderlys to leave Winterfell by separate gates and march on Stannis's position.
The Winds of Winter
|| Warning |
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.
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.
Quotes by Roose
Frequent leechings are the secret of a long life. A man must purge himself of bad blood.—Roose to "Nan" (Arya Stark)
—Roose and Aenys Frey
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.
—Roose and Ramsay Bolton
Power tastes best when sweetened by courtesy.—Roose to Ramsay Bolton
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.—Roose to Ramsay Bolton
Fear is what keeps a man alive in this world of treachery and deceit.—Roose to Theon Greyjoy
Quotes about Roose
That man scares me.
Robb: 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?—Robb and Bran Stark
Lord Bolton, he used to say a naked man has few secrets, but a flayed man’s got none.
—thoughts of Jaime Lannister
This is a cold man.—thoughts of Catelyn Stark
There was an agelessness about him, a stillness; on Roose Bolton's face, rage and joy looked much the same.
—thoughts of 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.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 34, Arya VI.
- See the Roose Bolton calculation.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Roose Bolton.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 50, Arya X.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 3, Arya I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 12, Reek I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49, Catelyn VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
- A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
- A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 62, Tyrion VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
- A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 66, Theon VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.
- Theon I (The Winds of Winter)
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 50, Theon IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon VII.
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