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|“||Fear is what keeps a man alive in this world of treachery and deceit.||„|
|~ Roose Bolton|
|“||A naked man has few secrets, but a flayed man has none.||„|
|~ Roose's personal motto|
|“||The Lannisters send their regards.||„|
|~ Roose Bolton betraying Robb Stark by stabbing him.|
Roose Bolton, also known as the Leech Lord, is one of the main antagonists of A Song of Ice and Fire and its television series Game of Thrones. He is first introduced as a neutral character in the first book and becomes a major antagonist from the second book onward until he becomes one of the two main antagonists (alongside Ramsay Snow) in A Dance with Dragons . He is set to be one of the main antagonists in the upcoming sequel The Winds of Winter. In the TV show, he serves as a major antagonist from Season 3 up until his demise in Season 6. In the series, he is portrayed by Michael McElhatton.
Roose is the Lord of the Dreadfort and head of House Bolton. He is known by everyone for receiving regular leechings, which he believes to improve his health, by removing "bad blood". He has a pallid skin, cold pale eyes, and talks with a whispery voice. He speaks softly and rarely raises his voice. Eddard Stark never trusted him. At the beginning of the main story, Roose is a widower. He was married twice before the events of the main series, his second wife being to Bethany Ryswell, who never made a sound in bed, according to Roose. They had one child, Domeric, Roose's heir. Lady Bolton died of sickness and his heir Domeric was poisoned by his bastard son, Ramsay Snow, born from rape.
He was formerly a bannerman of House Stark and fought for Lord Eddard Stark and King Robert I Baratheon during Robert's Rebellion. Fourteen years later he fought alongside Robb Stark during the War of the Five Kings, but after conspiring with Walder Frey and Tywin Lannister to orchestrate the infamous event known as the Red Wedding that resulted in the death of both Robb and his mother Catelyn, he becomes the new Warden of the North, while his son, Ramsay, becomes the new Lord of Winterfell.
He's the head of House Bolton and Lord of the Dreadfort. He receives regular leechings, which he believes to improve his health, prompting some to call him "The Leech Lord".
Roose Bolton practices the abolished and now illegal tradition of the First Night privilege. He is however extremely discreet with his activities in order to avoid the attention and possible ire of House Stark. Among his girls is included a young miller's wife. Bolton was hunting a fox along the Weeping Water when he came upon the mill and saw the miller's wife washing clothes in the stream. The moment Roose saw her, he desired her. According to the outlawed first-night custom, it was Roose's right to bed his vassals' new brides. As the miller had married without his lord's permission or knowledge, Roose felt he had been cheated, and had him hanged. Roose then raped the miller's wife under the tree where her husband was hanging. Years later, the woman came to the Dreadfort with a young boy, claiming him to be Roose's bastard son. Although he did not believe her at first, he saw that the boy had his eyes and thus paid the woman to raise Ramsay. Although he ordered her never to reveal his true parentage to Ramsay, Ramsay eventually found out.
Lord 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 counseled that they should kill him. Robert ignored Roose and spared Ser Barristan's life, sending his own maester to tend to his wounds.
Roose and his second wife, Bethany, had one child, Domeric Bolton. Eventually, Bethany died of sickness. Just before the War of the Five Kings, Roose's trueborn son, Domeric, the only one who survived the cradle, died of a "bad belly." Having no other trueborn heirs, Roose then brought his bastard son Ramsay Snow to the Dreadfort and made him his unofficial heir.
After King Robert I Baratheon's death, the Queen Regent Cersei Lannister arrests Lord Eddard Stark for treason and letters are sent to Winterfell, Riverrun, and the Eyrie with royal commands for Robb Stark, Hoster Tully, and Lysa Arryn to ride in King's Landing to swear fealty to King Joffrey I Baratheon. Robb wants to free his father and decides to aid his grandfather Hoster Tully in the war against the Lannisters in the Riverlands. He answers by calling all the bannermen of the north, including Roose of the Dreadfort, who brings his own army to Winterfell. Roose's son, Ramsay Snow, holds the Dreadfort as its castellan. While other lords such as Lord Greatjon Umber and Lady Maege Mormont try to test Robb, Roose judges him in silence, which intimidates the boy.
During the War of the Five Kings, Roose serves as one of Robb Stark's bannermen sitting in his war council as he marches south. They are joined by the other houses until Catelyn meets them at Moat Cailin with the Manderly army. During the march, the war in the Riverlands has already started and Lord Tywin Lannister is defeating the river lords and invading various castles and cities, while Ser Jaime Lannister defeated Ser Edmure Tully and his army at the walls of Riverrun. Now Robb has to make a choice: attack Tywin's host near Harrenhal, on the Green Fork or attack Jaime's host that is besieging Riverrun. The Lannisters are blocking the kingsroad, but House Frey is still neutral and fought westermen outriders. Considering this situation, Robb finally makes his decision to give half of his army to Roose Bolton, who's a cold, smart, and cautious man.
Roose is with Robb when the Northmen are camped near the Twins, discussing what to do with the Freys holding the Crossing, while Ser Brynden Tully keeps scouting and fighting against Ser Addam Marbrand's outriders. The Freys never failed to hold the bridge, not a single time, so Robb realizes that a siege would be unavoidable, giving time for Tywin to attack them or risking his father's life. Catelyn Stark and Robb make deal with Lord Walder Frey and from the Twins, Roose becomes the second leader of Robb's army. Among his men are Lord Medger Cerwyn and his daughter, Lord Harys Hornwood, Harrion Karstark and Robett Glover. Half of the Frey army follow him, including Ser Aenys Frey and Ser Hosteen Frey, and the boy Elmar Frey, engaged to Arya Stark, becomes Bolton's personal squire. The rest of the Freys stay with Robb, including Ser Stevron Frey, Ser Ryman Frey, Black Walder Frey, Perwyn Frey, and Olyvar Frey, Robb's squire. Ser Helman Tallhart commands a northern garrison at the Twins, making sure that Walder does not betray Robb.
Roose commands a host consisting of all the northern foot and some of the horse. Roose travels south along the east bank of the Trident to distract Tywin. 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, in which his men fail to kill Ser Gregor Clegane. Lord Hornwood is slain and many of the Northmen and Freys are captured, including Harrion Karstark and Lord Cerwyn, who later dies of his wounds at Harrenhal. However, Roose retreats in good order, reforming the battered remnants of his army on the causeway before Moat Cailin. Meanwhile, Robb and the Blackfish lead the other army to bait a huge part of Jaime's army in the Whispering Wood and after capturing the Kingslayer, they lift the first Siege of Riverrun that night, destroying Jaime's army while its surviving small host retreats back to the westerlands.
After Ned Stark's death, Robb is declared King in the North (and the Trident), commanding the allegiance of Winterfell and Riverrun. With Robb at Riverrun, Roose near the kingsroad, and the raiding parties of the Brotherhood without Banners and the rivermen Lord Karyl Vance and Ser Marq Piper, Tywin is forced to retreat at Harrenhal with his army, while his worst men are commanded to burn the Riverlands and Tyrion Lannister rides to King's Landing to defend it against the Baratheon uncles. Roose returns to the Twins and there he marries and weds Merrett Frey's 15 years old daughter, Fat Walda at the Twins. He choses her due to Lord Walder Frey promising a dowry of the weight in silver of the girl. Roose becomes a close ally to Lord Walder and later commands Ser Helman and his men to leave the Twins, likely to avoid them to report anything to Robb in case the war goes in his disfavor. The war goes to Robb's favor and many places in the Riverlands are retaken by the Rivermen.
Robb stays at Riverrun for a while and tries to make (failed) alliances with the kings Balon Greyjoy and Renly Baratheon. Because Ser Stafford Lannister is leading another huge host from Casterly Rock, Robb and his men ride to the westerlands to fight them. Meanwhile, Roose serves as the commander of the northern army who fights in the Riverlands in support of the Tullys while Robb invades the westerlands. His second in command is Robett Glover. After defeating the Lannisters at Oxcross, Robb decides to stay to raid the westerlands, taking castles, towns, mines, and cattle. "Officially" its a march to attack Lannisport and Casterly Rock, but in truth, Robb doesn't have enough strength to attack those places, especially without naval power. His true plan is to draw Tywin out of Harrenhal and keeping him busy in a pointless chase in the westerlands, giving enough time for King Stannis Baratheon to take King's Landing and removing the Lannisters from the Iron Throne.
Roose's army occupies the ruby ford at the Trident and fights various skirmishes against the Lannisters, the Brave Companions, and the Brotherhood without Banners of Lord Beric Dondarrion. During the war, the Lannisters ransom some captives to Roose, including Freys. Eventually, after King Renly's death, Roose is informed of the horrible crime against women from his son Ramsay and that Ser Rodrik Cassel executed him. Roose does not mourn Ramsay at all and hopes that Walda will give him a new male heir soon. He sends a letter to Catelyn Stark and Edmure Tully informing them about the execution of Ramsasy and how he wants to make amend for his crimes.
Ser Edmure Tully receives an order from King Robb and commands Roose to liberate Harrenhal. As Tywin takes Robb's bait and marches back to his home to stop him there, Vargo Hoat is to chase Roose's army from the Trident. But the Starks are winning their war and there are tensions between the Lannister garrison at Harrenhal and the Bloody Mummers. In his camp, Roose persuades Vargo Hoat to join Robb's cause and together they made a surprise treacherous attack in which they conquer Harrenhal by Robb's order. They receive help from Arya Stark, Jaqen H'ghar, Rorge, and Biter. Bolton makes the girl Nymeria (Arya Stark) his cupbearer. Roose and Vargo kill the castellan Ser Amory Lorch and start liberating settlements invaded by Lannister garrisons in the Riverlands. The westermen are easily defeated thanks to the surprise attacks from the traitor sellswords.
The North has occupied the ironmen of the Iron Islands and King Balon IX is claiming its land by conquest. The invasions of Moat Cailin and Winterfell are what truly distract the northern army from their cause in the south, now following a boy without a seat and a kingdom. But they are convinced Stark supporters and all of them want to execute the traitor Theon Greyjoy for the murder of the Stark boys, Bran and Rickon. This causes desperation to both Robb and Catelyn, the former marrying the highborn Jeyne Westerling after having sex with her in his grief, the latter getting drunk and freeing Jaime Lannister from the dungeons of Riverrun. Both Catelyn and Jaime are drunk when Jaime promises to bring back her daughters. An infuriated Edmure sends letter warning Roose and their men start chasing Jaime, Brienne of Tarth and Ser Cleos Frey. When the men in the north assemble a new army to besiege Winterfell, Ramsay rides back to the Dreadfort to assemble a Bolton force for Winterfell. It's possible that Ramsay and Roose sent each other ravens and Roose sent him back to Winterfell.
The fate of the war is decided when King Stannis Baratheon is defeated at King's Landing during the Battle of the Blackwater. Robb's plan failed thanks to the strategically failed Battle of the Fords from Edmure Tully and the support of House Tyrell. With the newly forged Lannister-Tyrell alliance and the entire south (Reach, Dorne, stormlands, westerlands, and crownlands) now united under the Iron Throne, the Freys try to reason that Robb needs to let it end, because there's no hope for him to win the war anymore: the armies of the north and the Riverlands are seriously decimated, the Arryns remain neutral, and Stannis is unable to give any kind of support anymore. Also, Ser Aenys Frey and Ser Hosteen Frey warn Roose that Robb could never succeed to defeat Tywin, if a great military commander like Stannis failed to defeat him. Roose is interested in this and begins to notice that Robb may be incapable of winning the war, causing him to later betray him. Lord Walder sends a letter at Harrenhal, informing his family about Robb breaking his sacred marriage vow, thus ending the Stark-Frey alliance and the betrothals with Robb and Arya. Meanwhile, Roose's son, Ramsay, gets his revenge against the Starks for the death of his friend Reek and destroys much of the northern military force in the north that was fighting against House Greyjoy and sacks and burns Winterfell, defeating both hated Starks and ironmen. After Castle Darry is liberated, Roose sends Robett Glover, Ser Helman Tallhart, and Harrion Karstark to lead a huge portion of the northern army to its own destruction in the Battle at Duskendale, where they are later defeated in that city by Lord Randyll Tarly and shortly after, Glover and his survivors are chased and captured by Ser Gregor Clegane.
After seeing how Roose had many servants of Harrenhal put to the sword, including the maester, Arya decided that she found Bolton too scary and planned to reveal her identity to Robett Glover, but before she could see him, the Northman had already left Harrenhal. By deliberately destroying most of his own force, Roose made a serious damage to Robb's war and now a huge portion of his army is made up of men serving House Karstark. After hearing of the "deaths" of Bran and Rickon Stark, Arya flees from Harrenhal with other 2 servants, Hot Pie and Gendry. During the escape, Arya kills a Bolton man-at-arms, which causes Roose to send a party of Brave Companions to chase them, but they are killed by the dire wolf Nymeria and her pack of wolves.
At one point, Roose allies with Tywin Lannister, while he was already an ally to Walder Frey, in fact, the Freys in his army remain with him at Harrenhal even after Ser Ryman Frey and Black Walder abandoned Robb in the westerlands, after he didn't honor his promise to marry a Frey girl. After Lord Rickard Karstark is beheaded by Robb Stark for treason, the Karstark army abandons their king. The Karstarks with Lord Bolton, unable to march back north due to Victarion Greyjoy and his men holding Moat Cailin, remain with Roose's force at Harrenhal. The Brave Companions capture Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth near Maidenpool and deliver them to Roose at Harrenhal.
Together with Tywin, Lord Frey, and Ser Rolph Spicer, Robb's uncle-in-law, they plan to murder Robb Stark and and butcher most of his force made of Northmen and rivermen, by luring them into the wedding of Robb's uncle, Lord Edmure Tully and one of Walder Frey's youngest daughters, 16 years old Roslin Frey. This because Robb is heading back to liberate the north, while the Blackfish Tully holds Riverrun against the Lannisters, and Tywin takes it as an opportunity to stop Robb's march and end the northern rebellion before they reach Moat Cailin. Instead of delivering Ser Jaime Lannister back to King Robb, Roose has Steelshanks Walton escorting Jaime and the Brave Companion Qyburn to King's Landing, and abandons Vargo and his Brave Companions to Tywin's wrath, since Vargo was foolish enough to cut Jaime's hand (though it was a failed plan to prevent Roose from joining with Tywin). As Robb and his army start marching north, Ser Aenys Frey and the Frey force at Harrenhal ride to the Twins, while Roose and his Northmen are still in Harrenhal with the Brave Companions. Roose does this on purpose, to give time to the Lannisters to march towards his own army, made of Robb's supporters.
Finally, Roose leaves Harrenhal the same day Jaime leaves, while Vargo sits alone with his men (most of them about to desert him) waiting for Tywin's revenge. Soon, unresting heavy rains keep falling in the west, with huge storms in the Iron Islands, which make the raging rivers almost impossible to cross. The march to the Twins becomes incredibly slow for both Roose's and Robb's hosts. At the ruby ford of the Trident, Roose and his Bolton men and some Karstarks cross the Trident on boats before any other Northmen serving under other houses. As Roose reaches safely the other side of the river, the rest of his force, led by Ser Wylis Manderly is still waiting to cross. It's too late for them, as Ser Gregor the Mountain and his psychotic soldiers attack what remains of Roose's army and captures or kills most of the men, among these surviving captives is included Ser Wylis. The surviving free northerners flee and disperse in the rainy lands, while the Cleganes take control of the Trident. These men are left behind and apparently, it seems that Roose let the Mountain attack his army, so that more Stark loyalists could die.
Roose loses the possibility of a ransom with Theon for the liberation of the north, when Ramsay turns Theon into his own plaything, taking his anger against the Starks on Theon. The bad weather in the west does not get any better and King Balon Greyjoy dies while crossing a bridge of Pyke during a storm and his exiled brother Euron Greyjoy declares himself the new King of the Isles and the North. The Iron Islands are in chaos, as the lords are divided and Victarion and Asha Greyjoy abandon their posts in the north for the kingsmoot.
Roose arrives at the Twins with his Bolton-Karstark force and meets Robb, Catelyn Stark, Lord Greatjon Umber, and Ser Wendel Manderly while he's still soaked by the raging waters of the river. He greets Catelyn and reports to Robb what happened at the ruby ford. Robb has sent Lord Galbart Glover and Lady Maege Mormont to the Neck, so that they can meet Lord Howland Reed and take the army of crannogmen to attack the ironmen at Moat Cailin from the rear. After his battles in the westerlands and the desertion of the Freys and the Karstarks, Robb's own force was reduced to a smaller host. The king was actually counting on Bolton's force, but most of it was destroyed during the war, especially Duskendale, for which Robett Glover is blamed. Robett and other Northmen were ransomed with Martyn Lannister and other westermen, and Robb promises to Roose that he will punish Glover the next time he sees him. Of course, Bolton makes no mention of himself giving the command and states that Robett did it in his own grief for his wife and children at Deepwood Motte with the ironborn. Catelyn fears that Gregor is chasing them and the last thing they need is a surprise attack from the south as they fight the ironmen at Moat Cailin.
Roose then shows Robb and Catelyn a piece of Prince Theon Greyjoy's skin sent by Ramsay Snow. Robb and his men react with shock and disgust, and Robb complains that he wanted Theon imprisoned, not flayed alive and mutilated. Roose repeats the "official" events of the battle and sack of Winterfell that Lothar Frey told Robb back at Riverrun: Theon and is men attacked and killed the northern army, including Ser Rodrik Cassel, Lord Cley Cerwyn, and Leobald Tallhart, then proceeded to attack Winterfell and the winter town, but Ramsay has heroically led the women and children to the Dreadfort. Roose wonders if Robb could pardon Ramsay, but Catelyn reminds Roose of Ramsay's heinous crimes and also believes that the women and children are likely being hurt and raped in the Dreadfort. Roose stays cold and reacts indifferently from the perspective of losing another son.
During the wedding feast, Catelyn sees Roose refusing to drink wine as usual and making toast with the Freys to Ramsay's wardens, Little Walder Frey and Big Walder Frey. After Edmure and Roslin leave the great hall for their wedding night, Lord Walder betray the Northmen and his fellow rivermen by massacring them in what becomes known as the Red Wedding. Roose has his men and the Karstarks supporting the Freys in the massacre, they pretend to help Robb's men against the Freys, but they attack them by surprise. As fightings and burnings are taking place in the camps outside the Crossing, the massacre in the great hall is nearly finished, and Roose stabs Robb in the chest with a sword (a dagger in the TV series), killing him. With Robb dead, Roose is named Warden of the North and the Lannisters promise him that Ramsay will be legitimized and married with Arya Stark.
Shortly after the events of the Red Wedding, King Joffrey Baratheon is assassinated during his own wedding feast and King Stannis sails from Dragonstone to the Wall, in the North, thus invading Roose's lands. Roose's army remains south for a while, as they are unable to march back to the North because the Ironmen are still holding Moat Cailin. He, his son Ramsay, and the many northern houses plan to hold the North by taking Moat Cailin with the help of Theon Greyjoy. Later Roose marches north with his own forces from the Twins, augmented by two thousand Freys under the command of Ser Aenys Frey and Ser Hosteen Frey.
Roose and the Iron Throne feel threatened with King Stannis Baratheon and his army lurking at the Wall. They receive news that he has executed Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. The Northmen are alerted by House Karstark about Stannis's plan to destroy House Bolton to secure control for the Wall and he's even letting wildlings past the gates of Castle Black with the support of Lord Commander Jon Snow, a potential enemy for the Boltons, as he's a Stark relative. The castellan of Karhold, Arnolf Karstark, hopes to provoke the Lannisters in killing Lord Rickard's heir, the captive Harrion Karstark, if he supports Stannis. In reality, the Boltons and the Karstarks are planning to bait Stannis at the Dreadfort and there the Karstarks are to betray Stannis and attack his men by surprise with the Dreadfort's garrison. The plan fails as Stannis marches to the northern mountains and plans to gain support from the north instead.
Because King Euron has abandoned Balon's cause in the north, the Ironmen still holding places and lands are left to defend themselves. The Northmen and the crannogmen destroy the sick ironmen and their ships on the Fever River. The siege ends when Theon convinces Adrack Humble to surrender, resulting in the last men being flayed alive by Ramsay and his men. Once the fortress is taken and the Siege of Moat Cailin finally ends, Roose is pleased with Ramsay's accomplishment and shows him that King Tommen has made him Roose's trueborn heir, shortly before they make their way to Barrowton.
Roose introduces Ramsay to his fiancee, "Arya Stark" (actually not the real one, but the northern girl named Jeyne Poole). He 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 Arya's wedding. Roose thinks that Ramsay is too loud and obnoxious. Both Roose and Ramsay don't know that the girl is a fraud from the Lannisters, delivered by Lord Petyr Baelish and Tywin to Steelshanks.
In the TV show, Jeyne Poole appeared only as a background character in season 1, and she's replaced by Sansa Stark in the role of Ramsay's new wife. With the help of Petyr Baelish, Sansa becomes engaged to Ramsay.
After Roose hears that Stannis Baratheon has retaken Deepwood Motte, he decides that they need to leave Barrowton quickly. Roose has Ramsay's wedding moved from Barrowton to Winterfell in order to bait Stannis. He is accompanied by his new wife, Walda. Roose tells Ramsay that Stannis is marching his way to Winterfell in order to take the North. Both Roose and Ramsay plan to fight against him. So, Roose immediately rallies his bannermen and the Freys in his army to march on Winterfell and prepare for a siege in a kingdom invaded by a royal army, wildlings, ironmen, and northern rebels.
Upon arriving at Winterfell, Roose finds the ruined castle now a refuge of more then two dozen squatters. When he 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.
Roose grows fond of his wife Walda, because she's much better in the bed than his previous girls and she likes her husband as well. Roose is disgusted by his son's inability to understand that the North needs to be kept at peace after so many changes and that Ramsay is only behaving like a violent savage mad dog by torturing, killing, and raping with no self-control, even if now he's a legitimized heir of a ruling house.
At Winterfell, Ramsay marries Arya Stark and Roose hopes this will help to hold a lawful claim of the north, with the last living Stark. Many other northern lords and their armies arrive at Winterfell for the wedding and the looming siege. During the wedding feast, Roose does not eat any of the food or drink served to him unless he sees Lord Wyman Manderly, who brought the food, eat of the same dish. Wyman is particularly pleased by the pies (made with pieces of dead Freys). At Deepwood Motte with the Mormonts and other northern houses, Stannis decides to save Arya and during the march to Winterfell is joined by numerous northern rebel houses. Stannis informs Jon Snow at the Wall about his half-sister being Ramsay's wife.
A sudden heavy snow blizzard caught Stannis and his army in the open, while Roose's host stays in the safety of the walls of the castle and the winter town. During the wedding agents of Melisandre infiltrated Winterfell and in the following weeks, they start creating chaos in the castle by murder people and fuel tensions between the Northmen and the Freys about the events of the Red Wedding, eventually culminating with a fight between the Freys and the Manderlys.
Despite being named Warden of the North, Roose's support among the northern lords is grudging. The first to declare for him are the Dustins and Ryswells, to whom he is related through his second dead 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. Arnolf Karstark, who publicly declared for Stannis, is secretly in league with Roose and awaits the moment to turn his cloak.
So House Bolton has the support of the Iron Throne, House Frey, House Karstark, House Ryswell, House Dustin, part of House Umber under Hother Umber (nominally only), House Hornwood, House Cerwyn, House Manderly (nominally and not by loyalty), and House Locke. However, the Dowager Queen Cersei is having trouble in keeping order as much as Roose. In fact, Cersei is doing a great job at spreading chaos in the realm. Troubles with the river lords, the Tyrells, Dornishmen and the invading ironmen in the south, and the new High Septon make impossible for Cersei to give any support against Stannis, instead she prefers waiting for him to come, unaware of the fact that Stannis means to return and stay at the Wall, at least until all the castles at the Wall are garrisoned and ready for winter.
Roose believes that the old gods are sending the snow blizzard against Stannis and his red god, R'hllor. The Northmen with Stannis agree with this idea, stating that the Lord of Light will only bring doom. At Winterfell the situation grows heavily unstable, there's not enough food to survive winter and like Stannis's men, the Freys in the castle are dying from the cold. The people of Winterfell and the winter town are paralyzed in fear of the upcoming siege from the despised king, the fog and the dark sky make impossible to scout ahead or tell when Stannis will attack. Roose can't hold the fights and the hatred, several Bolton men are murdered during the wait, and suspicion is cast on several of the present Stark bannermen. In truth, however, most of the murders are committed by the singer Abel and his women, who are actually Mance Rayder and several wildling spearwives on a mission to free "Arya Stark". The murders raise strong tensions within the castle.
Roose and Ramsay send scouts to find Stannis's army during the neverending storm blizzard. Stannis is 4 days far from Winterfell and his army is camped in an abandoned crofter's village near a lake, almost starving in the snow. The Bolton men sent to find the enemies never make it back to Winterfell, as they are likely found and killed by Stannis or Mors Umber's forces. In the TV series, Ramsay's men successfully attack Stannis's camp instead.
The death of Little Walder Frey is what really triggers violence in Winterfell. When Lord Manderly insults the murdered Walder a clash ensues that leads to the deaths of several men-at-arms, including another of Ramsay's men. Having learned that Stannis's army is 3 days march from Winterfell, Roose orders the Freys and Manderlys to leave Winterfell by separate gates and march on Stannis's position.
Roose is seriously scared about his house's situation: the northerners hate the Boltons and their hatred is more fueled by Ramsay's actions, especially his cruelty towards 'Arya Stark' (Jeyne Poole), they hate the Freys, and the constant mysterious murder has caused suspicions and fear among his people; there's not enough food to survive together in the castle and Stannis is coming to destroy the Boltons. Roose and Ramsay try to spy each other and have agents reporting to them about each other's actions. Roose always wears chainmail all the time, but he fears that his despised son Ramsay will try to murder him in other ways. He does not want Walda's child to rule the family to early, because he believes that child lords are the bane of any house. He confides to Theon that he knows he won't survive for long, he will be killed by either Stannis, Ramsay, or some other enemy. Furthermore, unknowingly to Roose, Lord Wyman Manderly and Robett Glover have already sent Lord Davos Seaworth to the northern island of Skagos to find Rickon Stark before the Iron Throne or the Boltons can find out he's still alive. Ramsay is also forced to stay at Winterfell: the day in what it seemed that Stannis had come to besiege Winterfell the army in the castle immediately prepared to defend; following the orders of Melisandre, Mance Rayder tried to help Theon and the false Arya to escape the castle, and when his plan failed, Theon and Jeyne realized they had to leave anyway or face Ramsay's wrath, so they jumped off the castle's walls. The imminent battle turned out to be a lie, as it was Mors Umber's vanguard scaring the Boltons, and now Roose and Ramsay realize that they lost their valuable hostages.
Roose sends the Freys and the Manderlys to lead the Bolton cavalry against Stannis to crofter's village and bring him Stannis's head, instead Ser Aenys Frey is killed by Mors Umber's trap and Ser Hosteen is leading the cavalry in what seems to be a trap set by King Stannis to start his battle and resume his march to Winterfell.
Mors Umber captures Theon Greyjoy and Jeyne Poole outside Winterfell and brings them to crofter's village. They are joined by an emissary of the Iron Bank of Braavos Tycho Nestoris, came from Castle Black after striking a deal with Lord Commander Snow and sent from the Iron Bank to strike a deal with Stannis. Theon is taken in chains in Stannis's tower with Stannis himself as his gaoler. Theon 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. Thanks to the warning of Jon Snow, Stannis and his torturer Ser Clayton Suggs break Maester Tybald and find out that Arnolf has been secretly relaying information to Roose Bolton. Arnolf, the Karstark army, and Maester Tybald are all arrested. Stannis threatens to burn them alive, but if they give him enough information he will be merciful and give them quick deaths instead. Stannis means to wait for Roose's vanguard at crofter's village before making his next move to Winterfell.
Apparently, when Roose and Ramsay realized that they have nothing to prevent the Northmen in their own castle from rebel against them, Ramsay decides to threaten the Night's Watch to hand over Queen Selyse Florent, Princess Shireen Baratheon, Arya Stark, the wildling princess Val, Mance Rayder's son, and Theon Greyjoy. The letter sending the ultimatum to Jon Snow is signed by Ramsay, but if it was really signed by him it's unknown. However the person who wrote the letter knows that Mance Rayder is not really dead and that he's now a prisoner, and the letter accuses Stannis and Jon of being liars.
In Season 6 of Game of Thrones, when Roose's wife Walda has a baby boy, Ramsay kills Roose by stabbing him. Ironically, Roose's death is very similar to the death of Robb, being stabbed in the heart and betrayed. On a technically, Ramsay "avenged" Robb Stark's death by killing his father and also being part of the retaliation for the Red Wedding.
|“||Bolton's silence was a hundred times more threatening than Vargo Hoat's slobbering malevolence. Pale as morning mist, his eyes concealed more than they told.||„|
|~ Jaime's thoughts about Roose|
|“||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.||„|
|~ Barbrey Dustin to Theon Greyjoy|
Roose Bolton is the coldest character of the series, more than Stannis Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, or Randyll Tarly. He is an almost textbook example of an extremely high-functioning psychopath, one who is willing to do anything to get ahead in life, as long as he can get away with it. He has no love or hate for anyone, only seeing people as obstacles to get in his way, or pawns to serve their purpose. As opposed to his bastard son, he has almost perfect impulse control and understands the need for restraint on his sadistic urges. If he is given the chance to get away with something, it becomes clear where Ramsay got it from, as Roose's brutality and callousness rivals his son's.
Roose is extremely intelligent and a master of political strategy. His planned betrayal of the Starks and the North during the Red Wedding was carefully plotted by him, as he left entire Northern units in positions to be wiped out by the Lannisters, until his forces were the largest in the Northern army. While he frequently scolds his son for his acts, it's never due to how horrible they are, but out of sheer pragmatism. Allies who see his son hunting women and skinning other nobles may not be allies much longer. "A peaceful land, a quiet people" has always been his rule, though "a quiet people" can be achieved in a number of ways, such as cutting the tongue out of a witness of his rape of Ramsay's mother and the murder of her husband.
He is also paranoid about anyone. In a world of deceit, lies, and backstabbings, ironically all of which he is a master of, he credits fear as what keeps him alive. He always wears chainmail and never drinks wine.
Roose has a number of quirks that are considered strange or out-of-place in Westeros, and especially the North. For example, he is an extreme health nut. He never drinks, leeches himself regularly to get the bad blood out, eats prunes and drinks hippocras to improve digestion. The leeches themselves have drained his skin of a great deal of color, making him pale as well as quieting his voice to a near whisper, to the point where people have to lean in to hear what he says. Roose is also quite a literary man. Whenever he finishes reading a book or letter, he always burns it afterward to prevent anyone else from obtaining the same knowledge he gained.