When it comes to Game of Thrones, the days of spotting the difference between the TV show and the books that the TV show is based on are over.
Season six surpassed George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and is now just one big spoiler for those who read Game of Thrones before they watch it. But the season six finale did offer one scene of interest for book fans (SPOILERS FOLLOW): the pies made from Lothar and Black Walder Frey.
You know the scene we mean. Arya Stark, in a spectacular twist, is revealed to be in disguise at the Twins – having, presumably, stolen a face from the Hall of Faces before leaving Braavos.
She comes face-to-face with Walder Frey, the man who betrayed and killed her mother and brother. But before murdering him, she has a surprise. She has also killed his sons, Lothar and Black Walder, carved them up and baked them in a pie. Arya is nothing if not dramatic.
It’s not strictly a scene from the books. George RR Martin has yet to publish a page where Walder and Arya meet. But it is a riff on something that is alluded to in the last book, A Dance with Dragons – and which has spun into its very own fan theory.
But first, bear with us.
It’s all to do with a character called Lord Wyman Manderly. He features in the TV show, but is a bigger deal in the books.
In both versions he is grieving for a son that was killed at the Red Wedding while defending Robb Stark from the Freys. In the books, however, he also has another son at the Red Wedding – one who is taken prisoner by the Lannisters until Manderly proves his loyalty to the Boltons and Freys. To do so, he allows three Freys to live with him and offers one of them his granddaughter in marriage.
This, of course, is all just a ploy to get his son back.
As he tells Davos: “My son Wendel came to the Twins a guest. He ate Lord Walder’s bread and salt, and hung his sword upon the wall to feast with friends. And they murdered him. Murdered, I say, and may the Freys choke upon their fables. I drink with Jared, jape with Symond, promise Rhaegar the hand of my own beloved granddaughter … but never think that means I have forgotten. The north remembers, Lord Davos. The north remembers, and the mummer’s farce is almost done. My son is home.”
This all leads to Ramsay Bolton’s wedding. (In the books, Ramsay doesn’t marry Sansa, but a northern girl called Jeyne Poole who the Boltons are passing off as Arya Stark.) Manderly arrives at the feast without the three Freys, saying that they have been riding ahead of him. What he does have, though, is three pies. “The best pie you have ever tasted, my lords,” Manderly tells the party. “Wash it down with Arbor gold and savour every bite. I know I shall.”
Now, it’s not said explicitly that Manderly killed and baked the Freys into pies, but fans have always suspected it. Mainly because after serving the pie, Manderly gets drunk and requests that the bard sings a song about the Rat Cook – a song about a man who is turned into a giant rat for cooking a king’s son into a pie.
The scene in the season six finale was essentially confirmation of what, up until now, was always left ambiguous. It also has another nice tie in too.
As explained by Bran in series three, the Rat Cook was not turned into a rat because he baked a man into a pie, but because he killed a guest under his roof – an evil too far for the gods. It’s only fitting that Walder Frey was killed for the same crime.