Sorry for the long delay. As I wrote, we moved, so no time and no internet connection. The latter will remain an issue for at least a week, so stay patient. :)
This is the thirty-eigth article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right.
Is there a great conspiracy of house Spicer to undermine Lannister power?
The role that Sybille Spicer played in the Red Wedding is a bit overlooked most of the time, since the bad guy spots are so firmly held by the likeable lords of Frey and Bolton. However, besides the recently deceased Tywin Lannister, there is a fourth power involved in the infamous affair – Sybille Spicer, the mother of Jeyne Westerling, Robb Stark’s bride to be. According to the information we get in “A Feast for Crows”, Sybille Spicer made sure that Jeyne wouldn’t get pregnant from Robb, giving her an abortive and masking it as a “tea for her fertility”. If this is true, it’s also one of the most potent arguments against the “Heir of the North” theory that proposes a Jeyne-switch, but we don’t know whether it is. What we know is that the Westerling-Spicer-gang is rewarded after the Red Wedding and welcomed back into the King’s Peace, so at least Tywin Lannister was sure that Spicer was on his side. However, there is a theory that goes that all of this is in truth an elaborate double-bait-and-switch and that Sybille Spicer is in truth still working for the “King in the North”, who currently grows inside Jeyne, who may or may not be swapped. I don’t really like this theory, I have to admit, for two reasons. As so often, one is narrative, the other in the facts. Facts first. Besides dubious motives of simply liking Robb and his claim, there is not much that would motivate Spicer to do this. They gain much from the Lannisters, so what do they hope to achieve other than the queen’s claim that died with Robb? Besides, this venture is even more dangerous than Doran Martell’s double game, which is elaborate and requires real pulling behind the scenes, including a whole kingdom (Dorne). Spicer has nothing. If she would be caught, they’d all die screaming, and, again, they have nothing to gain except some dubious “Yay, Robb!”-moment. It also doesn’t make much sense from the narrative. The storyline about Robb and his claim is over. We’re moving toward the North, and Robb never was in the North – he was the quintessential part of the War of the Five Kings, and his demise ended it not only for those participating but also for the readers. It was a clear signal to everyone. Pulling a U-turn now and calling Robb’s heir would play havoc with all the groundwork that was carefully laid for the northern storylines up to date (Bran, the quest for Rickon, Stannis, etc.). I can’t imagine Martin falling for this false moment of hoorah for a move that many fans might love but that would ultimately destroy everything he has worked for so hard. If there was any truth to this stuff, the whole narrative would take a different, more generic turn (or end in blood, which makes it pointless, since we had enough of that). I can’t see Martin do that.
What happened to Alliser Thorne?
I have the feeling that he is alive and will come back soon enough. Alliser Thorne went ranging on Jon’s orders along with two other bands of rangers, one or two of which are already proven dead. Melisandre told Jon that they would all die, but given her current talent for misreading signs, it might well be that the mission failed, but that some people survived. I would be truly shocked if Alliser Thorne turned out to be dead in the field. I have the feeling he still has a role to play.
What happened to Cotter Pyke?
Cotter Pyke on the other hand, who sailed to Hardhome under Jon’s orders to get the wildlings there out, is dead. Hardhome was a mistake from the beginning, the signs on the wall clear to read for anyone who wanted to, especially the reader. From the beginning, its role as a doomed place from which nothing good can emerge was established. Just look at the name! Also, Cotter Pyke is well known by now, so his demise in this venture would be a real blow-back for Jon who lacks good men anyway and prove to us readers that this shit is serious. I would be surprised if he made it back to continue to serve at Eastwatch. But, hey, perhaps that’s a post that Alliser Thorne can take?