The Winds of Winter theory: Red Wedding 2.0 and Robb’s resurrection


We all know the Red Wedding. It is one of the hardest moments of Game of Thrones to watch, as three major characters — Catelyn Stark, Robb Stark and Robb’s wife Talisa — are killed in brutal fashion at the hands of the Freys, Lannisters and treacherous Boltons. And they get away with it.

However, there is substantial evidence in the books that Stark loyalists will conduct their own version of this bloody affair in George R.R. Martin’s upcoming book The Winds of Winter, and get revenge for the death of Robb Stark. We may have gotten a taste of this in the seventh season of Game of Thrones, when Arya Stark returns to Westeros and infiltrates the Twins disguised as a serving girl. She is successful in killing Walder Frey and the rest of his house.

However, like pretty much every storyline from Game of Thrones, things are more complicated in the books. Let’s go over the evidence for this theory and look at the likelihood of another Red Wedding.

Lady Stoneheart’s goals

This theory revolves around a character known as Lady Stoneheart, the undead resurrected version of Catelyn Stark. In both the books and the show, Catelyn is killed alongside Robb during the Red Wedding, and her throat is slit to the bone by the Freys. After the massacre, the Freys throw Catelyn’s body in the river as a mockery of the Tully’s funeral tradition.

However, in the books, her story doesn’t end there. Three days later, Arya Stark is unknowingly skinchanging into her direwolf Nymeria from many leagues away in Braavos. Nymeria was driven away by Arya in the first book for fear that the Lannisters would execute her for biting Joffrey Baratheon. Since then, Nymeria has been wandering the wilderness of the Riverlands. Through Arya’s dream, we see that Nymeria pulls Catelyn’s dead body out of the water. The Brotherhood without Banners then arrives, and Beric Donderrion proceeds to give Catelyn the last kiss, which transfers his life force to her and brings her back to life.

With Beric dead, Catelyn, now known as Lady Stoneheart, takes control of the Brotherhood Without Banners and begins using them to get revenge on the Freys for their betrayal at the Red Wedding. In A Feast for Crows, Brotherhood lieutenant Lem Lemoncloak tells Brienne that although Catelyn cannot speak because of her throat wound, she remembers everything and plans to bring those responsible for Robb’s death to justice.

“She wants her son alive, or the men who killed him dead. She wants to feed the crows, like they did at the Red Wedding. Freys and Boltons, aye. We’ll give her those, as many as she likes. All she asks from you is Jaime Lannister.”

Over the course of Feast, the Brotherhood is able to capture and kill several Freys, including Ryman, Petyr and Merrett, who were heavily involved in the Red Wedding. And note that Lem says that Stoneheart wants her son Robb “alive.” He may not mean that literally, but in a world where resurrection is possible, it’s not out of the question.

Is Robb Stark’s resurrection possible?

While Stoneheart obviously wants her son to be alive again, so would any mother. But since she herself was resurrected under extraordinary circumstances, perhaps she actually means to bring Robb back to life. Brotherhood member Thoros of Myr, who brought Beric Dondarrion back to life many times with the power of the Lord of Light, tells Brienne that when they found Catelyn’s body by the river, he initially refused to perform the kiss of life on her because it had been too long after death for it to work. However, Beric tried it anyway, and is successful.

This suggests that the Lord of Light can still resurrect a person no matter how much time has passed since their death. The problem with Robb Stark is that, after he was killed, the Freys decapitated him and sowed the head of his direwolf Grey Wind onto his head. After seeing Thoros bring Berric back to life after his fight with the Hound, Arya asks him if he could bring back a man without a head, just once, alluding to her father. In the show, Thoros says that he doesn’t think it works like that.

But Thoros was wrong about bringing back Catelyn. And Robb does have a head, just not a human one. If his body can be recovered, maybe a kiss of life will bring him back as some sort of half-direwolf mutant.

Also, remember that Robb, like all the Stark children, are wargs, meaning their consciousnesses could be transferred into their direwolves when they die, provided the direwolf is still alive, as Grey Wind was when Robb was killed. This is likely what happened to not only Robb, but also Jon Snow when he is killed by the Knight’s Watch. Jon’s final word is his direwolf’s name: “Ghost.” Likewise, Robb’s final words were “Grey Wind.”

This idea was explored in the prologue chapter of A Dance with Dragons (the most recently published book in the series) that follows a wildling skinchanger named Varamyr. Varamyr was at the Wall with the rest of the free folk when Stannis’ army attacked and scattered Mance Rayder’s forces. Varamyr is wounded and dies before the Others attack his group. However, his consciousness is transferred to one of his animals, and his mind lives on inside a wolf.

However, the whereabouts of Robb’s body is unknown. The last we hear about Robb’s corpse is during a small council meeting where Joffrey says he intends to serve Robb’s head to Sansa during his wedding feast. This never comes to fruition however, so Robb’s body is probably still at the Twins.

The Wedding

Even if Robb is not brought back to life, Lem Lemoncloak’s words suggest that the Brotherhood is not only hunting Freys, but planning a much larger retaliation against them. During Jaime’s chapters in Feast, Jaime successfully lifts the siege of Riverrun and takes the castle from Brynden “the Blackfish” Tully. However, thanks to the efforts of Edmure Tully and a Brotherhood spy, the Blackfish escapes.

After the siege, Jaime’s cousin Daven remains at Riverrun. Daven is supposed to marry a Frey as part of the pact between the Freys and Lannisters. This wedding will likely happen at Riverrun, which is in control of Emmon Frey and his wife Johanna Lannister at the end of Feast. It just so happens that the Brotherhood spy — the singer Tom Sevenstrings — is still at Riverrun. He is in a position to gather information from within the castle and pass it along to the Brotherhood. This is probably how they knew how to find Ryman Frey.

Meanwhile, the Blackfish and the rest of the Tully garrison are free and likely seeking to aid the Brotherhood. Before Jaime leaves for Raventree Hall, he lets the entire Tully garrison (hundreds of men) go free in exchange for pledges to stay loyal to the crown. His aunt Johanna strongly advises against this move, saying that Jaime will be lucky if one out of every 10 of those men stayed loyal. So the leader of the Brotherhood is a Tully, Lady Stoneheart, her uncle the Blackfish is an experienced commander and his men have just been sent away from their castle with nobody to enforce the loyalty oaths they were made to swear to Jaime Lannister. The pieces seem to be in place for the Tullys and Brotherhood to conduct a full scale massacre during Daven’s wedding.

Brienne and Jaime

In Jaime’s chapters, we see that Ryman Frey is commanding the Freys at Riverrun. As Walder Frey’s heir, Ryman was heavily involved in the Red Wedding. During the feast, Ryman stormed into the room with soldiers and personally kills one of Robb’s bodyguards: Dacey Mormont. After the massacre, Ryman is sent to besiege Riverrun and is failing to take the castle from the Blackfish when Jaime arrives.

When Jaime first encounters Ryman, the drunken Frey is accompanied by a whore wearing Robb Stark’s crown. When he protests Jaime’s plan to execute Edmure Tully, Jaime backhands him with his golden hand and sends him back to the Twins. On his way back, Ryman is captured and hanged by Lady Stoneheart and her men.

Although the Freys point fingers at each other over who’s to blame for Ryman’s death, we learn in Brienne’s chapters that the Brotherhood killed him, because Lady Stoneheart is in possession of Robb’s crown. Since the Brotherhood heavily interrogated Merrett Frey before hanging him, we can assume they did the same with Ryman, who would have likely had more information thanks to his prominent place in the Frey family. Perhaps he even knew the whereabouts of Robb’s body. In any case, this interrogation happens off-page so we can only speculate as to what the Brotherhood learned from Ryman.

When Brienne is taken before Stoneheart, the Brotherhood points out that her sword, Oathkeeper, has a golden lion pommel. They assume (correctly) that it was a gift from the Lannisters, and further assume (incorrectly) that this means that Brienne is in league with them. Brienne contends that she is fulfilling her oath to protect Stoneheart’s daughters and is currently looking for Sansa. Stoneheart does not believe her and gives her a choice: either kill Jaime Lannister or be executed. Just before Brienne and her companions are hanged, she agrees to kill Jaime.

In Dance, Jaime is returning to Riverrun after settling a matter at Raventree Hall. While camping with his men, Jaime is shocked to see Brienne ride out of the woods and beg for his help. Brienne says that she has found Sansa, and needs his help in rescuing her from the Hound. She says that Jaime must go with her alone.

This is where we left these characters, so we have to wait until The Winds of Winter to see what happens next. However, it would be strange for Brienne to lead Jaime to his death without trying to save him. Brienne frequently thinks about Jaime and even calls out his name while she is in a dazed state. Jaime also thinks about Brienne and is probably willing to go with her alone, especially because he does not seem to be happy with Cersei. When Cersei sends her twin a letter begging to free her from the Faith Militant, Jaime throws it in a fire and stays in the Riverlands.

We also do not know for sure that Stoneheart will kill Jaime. If she and the Brotherhood are truly planning another Red Wedding, or to retrieve Robb’s body, Jaime could be useful to them alive. Perhaps Stoneheart will threaten to kill Brienne if he does not comply with her plans. On the other hand, Stoneheart believes that Jaime had a part in the Red Wedding (he did not) because Roose Bolton told Robb that “Jaime Lannister sends his regards” before he shoved a sword through his chest.

The second Red Wedding could have been foreshadowed already

The mutant version of Robb is actually seen in one of Daenerys’ visions in A Clash of Kings. While recuperating in Qarth, Daenerys is brought to the House of the Undying and given shade of the evening, a psychedelic drug that induces prophetic dreams. Among her visions is an accurate prediction of the Red Wedding a full book before it happens:

"Farther on she came upon a feast of corpses. Savagely slaughtered, the feasters lay strewn across overturned chairs and hacked trestle tables, asprawl in pools of congealing blood. Some had lost limbs, even heads. Severed hands clutched bloody cups, wooden spoons, roast fowl, heels of bread. In a throne above them sat a dead man with the head of a wolf. He wore an iron crown and held a leg of lamb in one hand as a king might hold a scepter, and his eyes followed Dany with mute appeal."

This is obviously a vision of the Red Wedding, but it is a bit strange that everybody is dead except for Robb/Grey Wind. He is also sitting above them on a throne, as if he was responsible for the slaughter in the room. This could be interpreted as not the Red Wedding where Robb dies, but the second Red Wedding where a resurrected Robb takes revenge on the Freys and Lannisters at Daven’s wedding.

Another strange scene involving Robb happens in one of Jon’s dreams in A Dance with Dragons. Jon thinks about Robb a lot, as they were close companions growing up in Winterfell. However, this particular dream seems to be foreshadowing the endgame of the series, and Jon’s fight against the White Walkers:

"Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she’d appeared. The world dissolved into a red mist."

Jon and Daenerys are consistently set up as the heroes of this story, and there are a million theories about Jon being Azor Ahai; the flaming sword in this dream is evidence to that. In this dream, the White Walkers are sending their undead army at the Wall, complete with undead versions of Jon’s friends and lover Ygritte. But Robb being at the Wall as a wight is kind of strange:

"Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Quorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. ‘I am the Lord of Winterfell,’ Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off."

This sequence sets up an undead Robb as the final challenge for Jon to defeat. While Robb’s resurrection would be a result of the Lord of Light’s magic, perhaps the longer you wait to perform the ritual, the less of the original mind remains. Catelyn was resurrected after just three days, and she is a shadow of her former self consumed by revenge and anger. Robb experienced the same betrayal Catelyn did, but his feelings could be slightly different. The Red Wedding is seen from Catelyn’s perspective, and the only thing on her mind throughout the chapter is Robb; how to get him out and how to save his life. When she fails to save him, and she sees him die, she thinks of how all her children are dead and how she failed as a mother.

But Robb likely had different thoughts during his last moments. He just led his entire army and country into a decisive defeat. The only hope for the North to gain independence and avenge the murder of Ned is collapsing before his eyes. Who knows how his resurrected mind would react?

And even if Robb does not return, Lady Stoneheart will probably avenge him and kill a lot more Freys in The Winds of Winter. Now if only the book would come out…

Next. 37 fantasy and sci-fi shows to look forward to in 2023. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels