- "If you think this has a happy ending you haven't been paying attention."
- ―Ramsay Snow to Theon Greyjoy
Ramsay Snow is a recurring character in the third and fourth seasons. He is portrayed by Iwan Rheon, and debuts in "Dark Wings, Dark Words". He was first referred to in Season 2, but his name is actually mentioned in "Mhysa".
Ramsay Snow, better known as "The Bastard of Bolton", is Lord Roose Bolton's bastard son and only living child. He stayed behind at the Dreadfort when his father left for the south to fight in the War of the Five Kings.
Ramsay besieges Winterfell in the name of King Robb Stark as ordered. He infuriates Theon Greyjoy - who currently held the castle in the name of the Iron Islands and his father - by blowing a horn all through the night. In the morning of the next day, when Theon rallies his men to defend the castle, he is betrayed and knocked out cold by his men, who take Robb Stark's offer of mercy for any ironborn in the castle except Theon, as expected. However, the castle is sacked by Ramsay afterwards and instead of letting the ironborn walk free he flays them alive.
Following the Sack of Winterfell, Ramsay and his men take Theon to the Dreadfort, where the ironborn prince is subjected to gruesome tortures. Embarking on a twisted campaign of psychological manipulation, Ramsay poses as an ironborn emissary of Theon's sister, Yara, and falsely claims to have been sent by her to liberate him.
Ramsay Snow sends a false report to Harrenhal, where the main force of the Northern army has established, of the sacking of Winterfell by the ironborn, of the disappearance of Bran and Rickon Stark, and the unknown whereabouts of Theon Greyjoy
Later that evening Ramsay returns, and releases Theon, provides him with a horse and tells him to ride east to Deepwood Motte, where his sister is waiting for him. Theon's captors, however, track him down and capture him again. As punishment, their leader attempts to rape Theon. Ramsay appears and swiftly dispatches the kidnappers with bow and arrow, deepening the bond of trust between them.
Afterward Ramsay promises Theon to take him to Deepwood Motte. Some time later the men reach a holdfast, Theon questions them having to sneak inside since Yara's men are loyal to her. Ramsay warns Theon that some of the men belong to his father Balon. As the mysterious boy struggles to open a locked gate Theon confesses his jealousy of Robb's status, the murder of the two boys he passed as Bran and Rickon and acknowledges that Eddard Stark was his true father. After opening the gate Theon and Ramsay enter a darkened room. The young man lights a torch and Theon, much to his horror, notices he's back in the torture chamber. Armed men enter and Ramsay claims that Theon killed their comrades and escaped but he has brought their captive back. Kicking and screaming, Theon is refastened to the rack, as Ramsay drops his facade, grins sadistically and tells the men to put Theon "back where he belongs".
Ramsay awakens Theon with a horn to continue torturing him. He threatens to remove Theon's pinky finger if he cannot guess Ramsay's true identity and their current location. After several guesses, Ramsay tells Theon he is correct in guessing that Ramsay is the brother of Torrhen Karstark, and that they are in Karhold. However he then points out that Theon never asked if he was a liar. He admits that he was lying, and begins flaying Theon's finger.
Theon is freed from his constraints by two young women, Myranda and Violet. They give him water and clean his wounds. Theon is apprehensive about their aid, until they disrobe and begin pleasuring him. The three are soon interrupted by Ramsay, who enters the chamber wielding a knife. After taunting Theon about his sexual prowess, he orders his men to restrain Theon as he appears to remove Theon's genitals.
Ramsay admits that the rumors about Theon were true, and that he did have a "good-sized cock", before momentarily tricking Theon into believing that the pork sausage he is eating is his penis. Ramsay talks about amputees having phantom limbs and wonders if Theon will have a phantom penis, feeling an itch whenever he sees naked girls. When Theon begs to be killed, Ramsay states that he is no good to him dead. Ramsay decides to give Theon a new name, and beats him until he starts calling himself "Reek". Ramsay also sends a letter to Balon Greyjoy and a box containing Theon's penis. He threatens to flay every ironborn in the North alive if they have not left by the full moon.
Spoken by Ramsay
- "My mother taught me not to throw stones at cripples, but my father taught me aim for their head!"
- ―Ramsay Snow to Theon Greyjoy
Spoken about Ramsay
- "I will kill that man. I don't care how many arrows they feather me with, how many spears they run through me - I will kill that hornblowing cunt before I fall!"
- ―Theon Greyjoy
- "Ramsay delivered the terms. The ironborn turned on Theon as we know they would. They handed him over trussed and hooded. But Ramsay... well, Ramsay has his own way of doing things..."
- ―Roose Bolton, revealing that after Ramsay promised the twenty ironborn in Winterfell safe passage, he flayed them all alive anyway.
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
|Roose Bolton||Walda Bolton|
Behind the scenesEdit
Iwan Rheon's character was announced and then credited only as "Boy" in order to keep his true identity as Ramsay Snow a secret until "Mhysa."
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ramsay Snow is Roose Bolton's bastard son. He is an ugly man. Even splendorous garb cannot disguise this fact. He is big boned and slope shouldered, with a fleshiness to him that suggests that later in life he will turn to fat. Ramsay is a sadistic psychopath, serial rapist, and rumored cannibal. He is cruel, savage and wild, taking delight in torturing others. He is quite fond of the old Bolton custom of flaying their enemies alive.
One of Ramsay's most monstrous hobbies is to have young women stripped naked and released into the Bolton forests, before hunting them with a pack of female feral dogs, that are deliberately trained to be vicious and mean-tempered. He gives a quick death to women who give him good sport (after raping them first), then flays their corpses, and names his female dogs after the women he enjoys most to "honor" them. The women who do not give him good sport are raped and then flayed alive, without naming the dogs after them. The skins of his kills are brought back with him to the Dreadfort as gruesome trophies. The bodies of the woman are fed to his dogs.
Ramsay is introduced in A Clash of Kings, though his to appearance in the TV series was pushed back until the third season. He is first mentioned by Lady Donella Hornwood that he masses troops at the Dreadfort. She sends him a message inquiring about his intentions, and he rudely answers that it is none of her business.
Following the deaths of Lady Hornwood's husband and son, Ramsay forces her marry him and to sign a will that names him as her heir, so he can inherit her lands. He rapes her and locks her in a tower, and does not give her any food. When Ser Rodrik Cassel finally arrived to free her, it was too late - and she had gnawed off all of her fingers. As one of Ramsay's favorite torture tactics, he had flayed the skin off of all of the old woman's fingers, leaving her to bite them off as the only way to end the agony, after which in delirium from hunger she ate some. Ramsay later gleefully boasts about this accomplishment.
Ramsay and his servant "Reek" later caught a peasant girl and raped her to death. Reek continued even after the girl died. It is then that Ser Rodrik's men found them. Ramsay was supposedly killed, and Reek taken prisoner to Winterfell. Rodrik wished to put Reek to death, but needed him alive as a witness to many of Ramsay's crimes, hoping that after Roose Bolton heard his tale, he will would abandon his claim for the Hornwood lands.
After Theon takes Winterfell, Reek offers to serve him if released from captivity. He becomes one of Theon's supposedly more trustworthy attendants, helping him hunt for Bran and Rickon. It is Reek who advises Theon to kill and flay two unnamed miller's sons to pass off as the Starks, and Theon accepts his advice. Afterwards, Theon orders Reek to secretly murder Gelmarr, Aggar and Gynir for their knowledge of the truth, and he does. Since Theon needs a scapegoat, he falsely accuses Farlen the kennelmaster and executes him. Theon does not kill Reek, fearing that the blackguard hid a written account of what they had done.
After Rodrik defeats Dagmer Cleftjaw at Torrhen's Square, the Northmen march on Winterfell to liberate it. Theon refuses to give up the castle, using Beth Cassel as hostage to prevent Rodrik from attacking, and his men prepare to make a final stand. Reek offers to help Theon by taking a large sum of money to the Dreadfort and returning with much-needed reinforcements, asking for Palla in return. Theon does not trust Reek but reluctantly agrees, since he has no other choice. He promises to give Palla to Reek providing that he brings two hundred men.
When Northmen led by Rodrik Cassel surround Winterfell, an army of 600 men bearing the flayed man of House Bolton arrives, lead by a mysterious armored captain. As Rodrik offers his hand in friendship, the captain cuts off his arm and the Bolton army attack the other Northmen and defeats them, suffering only minor casualties. They enter the castle and the captain presents Theon with the bodies of Rodrik, Leobald Tallhart, and Cley Cerwyn. He removes his helmet and reveals himself to be Reek, then reveals that he is in fact the real Ramsay Snow. He had switched clothes with the real Reek when Rodrik arrived to cheat death and get into Winterfell - while Reek was killed by Rodrik's men. He tells Theon that he would much enjoy the use of his bed-warmer Kyra instead of Palla, and when Theon refuses, Ramsay knocks him out. Ramsay and his men then put Winterfell to the torch and its people to the sword (among them Maester Luwin), as well as abducting Theon and killing almost all the other ironborn. In addition to Theon, Ramsay took two of Lord Frey's grandsons who were being fostered at Winterfell, and a few of the castle staff, among them Palla, Old Nan, and Beth Cassel.
Ramsay is the product of rape: years ago Roose wanted to have sex with the beautiful new wife of a poor miller on his lands, so he had the miller hanged and raped his wife. Roose only acknowledged Ramsay in his teenaged years, thus Ramsay spent a rough youth in poverty as the bastard son of a poor miller's widow - until he somehow found out about his parentage and insisted on claiming his "rights". The result is that - in contrast with Jon Snow, the bastard of Winterfell - Ramsay is a crude, almost half-feral savage who is uneducated and knows nothing about courtly behavior. When Ramsay does send (dictated) letters to his enemies, they are often extremely crass, unstructured, and blunt, laced with profanity and taunting threats, and with pieces of human skin enclosed. While the letter Ramsay sends to Balon in the Season 3 finale of the TV series is not present in the books, it closely matches his "writing style" from the novels.
Ironically, Ramsay actually sort of seems to like his mother, and speaks highly of her - she is after all the one who convinced him to go to the Dreadfort to pursue his "rights", though she also found him wild and unruly. Moreover, Ramsay has actually convinced himself that Roose fell in love with his mother at first sight, and thinks of their union as a poetic romance. In reality, Roose raped the miller's wife on a whim, under the very tree he had her husband hanged from, and afterwards was casually disappointed that raping her wasn't as physically pleasurable as he'd thought it would be.
It is unclear from the books whether Ramsay contacted his father after Theon let him go, got orders from Roose to destroy Winterfell and followed them, or that he committed all the above actions on his own and only later reported what he had done to Roose, who had independently come to the same conclusion that the time was ripe to betray the Starks.
Roose Bolton and the Freys lie about their reports from what happened at Winterfell. Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers inform Robb and Catelyn that they got a letter from Lord Frey's grandsons: Winterfell has been destroyed and Ser Rodrik was killed by the Ironborn, but the survivors were taken to the Dreadfort by Ramsay. Lothar and Walder claim not to be sure of Theon's fate.
When Roose reports Ramsay's actions to Robb (falsely making it sounds as if Ramsay saved the day by driving the ironborn from Winterfell), Catelyn sharply reminds him that Ramsay has committed many vile crimes, among them murder and rape. Roose answers nonchalantly that after the war is over, Ramsay will be tried for his crimes, and his deeds maybe will atone for the crimes he committed - or not. He is not overly concerned of the possibility that Ramsay may be executed (particularly because he knows Robb will not live long enough to judge Ramsay).
Ramsay's torture and emasculation of Theon are not directly described in A Storm of Swords, but rather alluded to in A Dance with Dragons. Ramsay does not send a letter and a box containing Theon's genitals to Balon Greyjoy, the Greyjoys remaining oblivious to Theon's survival. Ramsay does send his father some skin flayed from Theon's finger, which Lord Bolton shows to Robb and Catelyn before the Red Wedding as proof that Theon is being punished for his betrayal. Ramsay sends letter of warning to Asha, to which a piece of Theon's skin is enclosed, but that happens much later. Neither Asha nor any of the ironborn know what happened to Theon, believing him to be dead (though a few ironborn lords point out that his death was never confirmed). Arguably this is the only "sane" reason that Ramsay kept Theon alive, though the main reason was still that Ramsay took sadistic glee in unfairly inflicting torment on a random person. The succession laws in the newly independent Iron Islands are unclear, i.e. Asha/Yara feels that as the older sibling she is the heir, but according to the most common inheritance law in the Seven Kingdoms, as Balon's only surviving son Theon is the heir to the Iron Islands. Ramsay is not simply holding Theon hostage, as he has no intention of letting him leave alive and makes no attempt to contact the Greyjoys about his survival. Rather, Ramsay's goal was this very uncertainty: even if Theon were dead, the ironborn's line of succession would at least be clear, but not revealing the fate of Balon's heir generated confusion and dissent within their ranks. The TV version altered this, but still makes clear that Ramsay never offers hostage terms for Theon. In the TV version, Ramsay's plan is that slowly torturing Theon and mailing pieces of him to Pyke will eventually frighten the Greyjoys into withdrawing from the North.
- Ramsay Snow at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
|Lord:||Lord Roose Bolton||Heir:||Ramsay Snow|
|Seat:||The Dreadfort||Lands:||The North|
|Title(s):||Lord of the Dreadfort · Warden of the North · Lord Paramount of the North|
|Current members:||Walda Bolton|
|Household:||Locke · Reek · Steelshanks · Myranda · Violet|
|Overlord:||House Baratheon of King's Landing|