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|“||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.||„|
|~ Lem reveals Stoneheart's motivation to Brienne|
Lady Stoneheart is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. She is a revived Lady Catelyn Stark (née Tully), possessing none of the empathetic or forgiving qualities Catelyn Stark did in her first life. Because Catelyn's throat had been brutally slit when she was murdered, Lady Stoneheart can barely speak. She is merciless in her quest for revenge, slaughtering anybody who has any association with those who were responsible for 'Red Wedding,' in which she and her son Robb were betrayed and murdered.
She lived in Riverrun during her childhood and also travelled outside the castle with her family. Her mother died giving birth to a fourth son, who also died shortly after like two other sons before him. During her childhood, Catelyn used to wait for her father to return alive at Riverrun, after fighting his wars. Hoster Tully took part in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, against House Blackfyre, where he befriended Petyr Baelish 's father. Hoster and Baelish agreed to have the latter's son fostered at Riverrun. Thus Catelyn, Lysa, and Edmure befriended Hoster's ward, Petyr, who eventually fell in love with Catelyn and desired to marry her, but Catelyn never shared his feelings, seeing him nothing more than a brother. When they were children, Catelyn and Lysa played at kissing with Baelish, who also tried to use his tongue. Catelyn and Lysa also liked to play pranks on Petyr sometimes. Catelyn's uncle Brynden "Blackfish" Tully never wanted to marry Bethany Redwyne or any other woman for unknown reasons. This led to years of nasty quarrels and fight. A very long feud that ended only after Robert's Rebellion, when Brynden left Riverrun to serve Jon Arryn at the Vale, as Knight of the Bloody Gate.
At the age of twelve, Catelyn was betrothed to Brandon Stark, heir of Lord Rickard Stark, to strengthen the ties of friendship between House Tully and House Stark. Brandon came to Riverrun to meet his future bride, and there Petyr challenged him to a duel for her hand. Baelish was weak and Brandon easily won. He wanted to kill Petyr but Catelyn begged him to spare his life. After the duel, she never comforted Petyr, who had sex with her sister Lysa for the second time. Petyr also never forgave Edmure for his "betrayal" (Edmure squired for Brandon during the duel). Shortly after the duel, Lord Hoster sent Petyr back to the Fingers, and later forced Lysa to abort the child Petyr had fathered on her with Moon Tea. Catelyn was idolized by Lysa for her betrothal to Brandon Stark, and hoped to one day marry a man as noble and handsome as him.
Catelyn's betrothal ended when shortly after Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen disappeared with Lyanna Stark, and Lord Rickard Stark and his heir Brandon were imprisoned by Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. Later Rickard and Brandon were both killed by King Aerys, setting off Robert's Rebellion. Catelyn's father allied himself with the rebels and called his banners. However, some riverlords remained loyal to the Iron Throne and House Targaryen, like houses Darry and Mooton, while Lord Walder Frey never answered Hoster's call until it was sure that Robert Baratheon was going to win the war.
During the rebellion, Lord Hoster married Catelyn to Brandon's younger brother, Lord Eddard Stark, while Lysa had to marry Lord Jon Arryn. Shortly after the dual wedding, in which Jon Arryn and Ned married the Tully sisters, Ned and the rebels left Riverrun to continue fighting the war. Meanwhile, Catelyn, who had conceived on her wedding night with Ned, gives birth to a son, Robb, in Riverrun. She waits for Ned and Hoster to return home.
After Robert's Rebellion and the defeat of House Targaryen, Eddard returned to Riverrun and met his son, Robb. Ned also came back from war with an infant child he named Jon after his foster father Jon Arryn. Ned claimed Jon as his illegitimate son, but refused to identify Jon's mother. The first thing about this that hurt Catelyn's feelings and made her feel rejected was that Eddard brought his illegitimate son Jon to Winterfell at once and set him up in the castle before she and Robb arrived at Winterfell. This and Ned's act of faithlessness was and would continue to be a source of friction between her and her husband, but they otherwise had a happy marriage, and Catelyn saw that Ned was actually a man of honor. She understood that a man has his needs, especially during times of war, but resented that Ned brought his illegitimate son to Winterfell and raised him alongside their trueborn son. So Catelyn tried to raise Robb and Jon together when she moved to Winterfell. Robb and Jon, being of similar age, were raised and parented together, primarily by Ned as per custom in Westeros. Growing up with a close, loving relationship as brothers, Robb and Jon were educated and mentored side-by-side, and they grew up to be good-hearted boys, with a strong sense of morality, compassion, and duty. Ned would prove to be a good father who loved his children, and while Catelyn was a loving mother devoted to Robb (and later, her other children), she was never able to bring herself to love her husband's son. Nonetheless, while Catelyn let her disdain for Jon be known, she did not abuse him and did not interfere with the close relationships between Jon and her children.
When Catelyn once worked up the courage to ask Ned who was Jon's mother, Ned's response was the only time he frightened Catelyn. Ned told her, cold as ice, "Never ask me about Jon. He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady." Catelyn obeyed, and the whispers of Jon's mother had stopped. Observing Ned's love and protectiveness of Jon, Catelyn believed that Ned must have loved Jon's mother fiercely, fearing Ned loved this mystery woman more than her. She heard rumors that Jon's mother was the beautiful Ashara Dayne, who killed herself after the death of her brother, Ser Arthur Dayne. Ever since, Catelyn became jealous of Ned's mysterious lover, and her resentment of Jon deepened. As Jon grew, so did Catelyn's coldness toward him as she was troubled that Jon had inherited the Stark look from Ned, while her own trueborn sons inherited the Tully look from her. Of Catelyn's children, only Arya inherited the Stark look. A few years after the rebellion, Ned left Winterfell to fight with King Robert I against King Balon Greyjoy. After that, he returned with another boy, ten-year-old Theon Greyjoy, the last living son of Balon, captive, and ward of Eddard.
Catelyn Stark did not leave Winterfell for fourteen years. Her husband rarely left his land. When Robb and Jon were three years old, Catelyn and Ned had a daughter Sansa, followed by Arya two years later, then Bran, and lastly Rickon, the youngest child. Ned had also a sept built in Winterfell with a septon of the Seven (Chayle) for Catelyn's religion. Catelyn's sister Lysa came to visit Winterfell a few times, where she met Catelyn's children Robb, Sansa, and a very young Arya. In the years prior to the main story, Lysa and Catelyn did not see one another again due to Lysa having to stay with her new and only living son Robert "Sweetrobin" Arryn, named after King Robert, at King's Landing. The birth of Sweetrobin changed Catelyn's sister. Hoster and Edmure could never visit Winterfell, but they would always write to Catelyn and her family.
A Storm of Swords
The Red Wedding
During the wedding feast for her brother Edmure and his betrothed Roslin Frey, Catelyn remarks to herself how joyless the wedding is. She watches as her son Robb dances with several of the Frey maids while her brother Edmure dotes on his betrothed, Roslin, whose eyes are red from crying. Catelyn becomes warier when she learns that Olyvar, Perwyn, and Alesander Frey, Robb's friends, are not in attendance at the wedding. Catelyn sees Merrett Frey trying to drink the Greatjon Umber under the table, and finally, Lord Walder Frey calls for the bedding. Robb does not participate as the Greatjon carries a weeping Roslin to the bedchamber. None of the other northerners and rivermen seem to notice anything wrong but Catelyn experiences increasing anxiety. She is horrified when the musicians start to play "The Rains of Castamere", the song of the Lannisters' victory of the Reyne-Tarbeck Rebellion. The musicians are revealed to be sellswords and knights, and the song is a signal for the two twin castles and the camps outside. Most of Robb's men are too drunk to fight. Things grow more ominous in the hall: Dacey Mormont asks Edwyn Frey for a dance, but he violently pushes her away. Angry, Catelyn grabs Edwyn and feels the rings of chain mail beneath his clothes. Suddenly, she realizes what has been happening, from the friendly Freys missing from the wedding to Roslin Frey crying all throughout the celebration.
The musicians are also crossbowmen. The wedding turns into a bloody slaughter. Robb is wounded by crossbow bolts, and the Frey and Bolton men turn on Robb's men. Outside the tents are collapsed and set aflame. In the main hall, Catelyn sees the Smalljon Umber protecting himself from the bolts. Robin Flint is surrounded and killed by Freys with daggers, and Ser Wendel Manderly is felled by a quarrel through the mouth. Smalljon bludgeons Ser Raymund Frey across the face with a leg of mutton, but when he reaches for his swordbelt, a crossbow bolt drives him to his knees. Lucas Blackwood is cut down by Ser Hosteen Frey. One of the Vances is hamstrung by Black Walder as he wrestles with Ser Harys Haigh. Crossbows take Donnel Locke, Owen Norrey, and half a dozen more. Young Ser Benfrey Frey seizes Dacey Mormont by the arm, who smashes him in the face with a wine flagon. She runs for the door, but Ser Ryman Frey comes through with Frey men-at-arms and sinks his axe into Dacey's stomach. Northmen begin pouring through the other door, and Catelyn believes they are there to rescue them for half a heartbeat until one of them decapitates Smalljon. It is revealed these Northmen are treacherous bannermen who have betrayed Robb and House Stark: they are from House Bolton and the vengeful House Karstark.
Desperate, Catelyn sees a dagger and takes it to kill Lord Walder, until she sees that Robb is still alive, with three arrows in his body. Walder Frey watches with amusement and greed as he orders the music to stop. He laughs at the wounded Robb, when Catelyn grabs the halfwit Aegon "Jinglebell" Frey as a hostage. In an effort to save her son, Catelyn cries and begs Walder to trade Robb for Jinglebell, a son for a son. Walder simply replies that Jinglebell is just a grandson and was never much use. Roose Bolton appears and thrusts his longsword through Robb's heart, after saying: "Jaime Lannister sends his regards", humiliating Catelyn, who had trusted the knight. Catelyn doesn't recognize the man who killed Robb, but keeps her promise and cuts Jinglebell's throat. Having just witnessed the murder of her firstborn, Catelyn screams as she claws her own face with her nails in madness. She descends into insanity and despair, having lost her wits and dies with the belief that Ned, Robb, Arya, Bran, and Rickon are all dead, and Sansa will probably die soon after giving Tyrion Lannister an heir. Walder meant to keep Catelyn as a hostage along with her brother Edmure, to force the river lords to bend the knee to King Joffrey, but with her dangerous madness, Raymund Frey appears, grabs Catelyn by her hair, and cuts her throat.
No definitive count of the massacre is known; most of the northmen are killed while House Frey loses only approximately fifty men in the camps. The Freys kill Robb's direwolf, Grey Wind, who was locked because he was aggressive with the Freys since Robb and his army arrived at the Twins. Outside, Ser Garse Goodbrook and Ser Tytos Frey are killed by Sandor Clegane, who saves Arya Stark from captivity or possible death. Ser Benfrey Frey dies of a wound.
After the battle, the Freys hack and mutilate Robb's body and cut off his head along with that of Grey Wind, Robb's direwolf. In a mockery of Robb's relationship with his direwolf, the Freys sew Grey Wind's head onto Robb's decapitated body and place his bronze crown atop the direwolf's head. Catelyn's body is later thrown naked into the river in a mockery of the House Tully funeral customs. After Lord Edmure had consummated his marriage with Roslin, he's thrown into the dungeons, while Roslin has fallen in love with him. Ser Ryman Frey takes Robb's crown and later gives it to his whore, who is named the Queen of Whores.
Resurrection and Beric Dondarrion's Death
|“||Her cloak and collar hid the gash his brother’s blade had made, but her face was even worse than he remembered. The flesh had gone pudding soft in the water and turned the color of curdled milk. Half her hair was gone and the rest had turned as white and brittle as a crone’s. Beneath her ravaged scalp, her face was shredded skin and black blood where she had raked herself with her nails. But her eyes were the most terrible thing. Her eyes saw him, and they hated.||„|
|~ Merrett Frey sees Stoneheart.|
Catelyn's mutilated body emerges as a vengeful undead person. She becomes known as Lady Stoneheart, and assumes leadership of the Brotherhood. Death has changed Catelyn. She is less gracious and forgiving than in life and is consumed with a desire for vengeance on anyone she thinks betrayed her and her son, Robb. She is mercilessly hunting down and hanging anyone she considers a Lannister collaborator. She hangs any men associated with the Freys, Boltons, or Lannisters, even if they had nothing to do with the "Red Wedding" or if they are boys, as is the case of Podrick Payne. Her appearance has been altered as well, with her flesh becoming soft and the color of curdled milk due to her corpse being submerged in river water for days. Half of her hair is gone and the rest is white and brittle. In addition, her wounds have not healed, with her face covered in scratch marks and her throat still slit open. To speak, she must cover the wound on her throat; even then, she is difficult to understand.
The Brotherhood capture one of Walder Frey's great-grandsons, Petyr Frey, and demand a hundred dragons. One of Walder Frey's sons, Merrett Frey, goes to Oldstones to deliver the ransom. However, by the time he arrived, Petyr has already been hanged. Merrett is told the same fate awaits him, despite his attempts to justify the Red Wedding. He claims he only drank at the wedding, that Beric always gives a man a trial, and they have no witnesses. However, Stoneheart reveals herself and claims he was part of the Red Wedding, at which Merrett is hanged.
A Feast for Crows
|“||The Freys slashed her throat from ear to ear. When we found her by the river she was three days dead. Harwin begged me to give her the kiss of life, but it had been too long. I would not do it, so Lord Beric put his lips to hers instead, and the flame of life passed from him to her. And... she rose. May the Lord of Light protect us. She rose.||„|
|~ Thoros to Brienne of Tarth.|
A cloaked and hooded woman is spoken of in the vicinity of Fairmarket and Hag's Mire. There are also tales from the people of the riverlands of a woman called Stoneheart leading a band of outlaws different from Beric's Brotherhood. According to one story, this woman was hanged by Freys but revived by her lover Beric, and now the two lovers cannot die.
Members of the Brotherhood, including Lem and Ser Gendry, come upon a small party led by Brienne of Tarth, who informs them she is searching for Sansa Stark at the behest of Jaime Lannister. After killing Rorge and Biter at the Crossroads Inn, the group of outlaws bring Brienne, Podrick Payne, and Ser Hyle Hunt at the hollow hill to meet their new leader. Thoros of Myr reveals to Brienne that Beric's old Brotherhood has been broken.
Brienne is horrified when the leading hooded woman reveals herself to be Catelyn Stark, or at least what remains of her. Lady Stoneheart is almost impossible to understand and uses her former guardsman of Winterfell, Harwin, as her interpreter. Stoneheart believes that Brienne has turned traitor, as she carries Oathkeeper, a Lannister sword forged from the Stark Valyrian steel blade, Ice, Ned's own steel. Brienne insists that she is still faithful to her promise made in the past, but Stoneheart threatens to hang Brienne, Pod, and Hyle, unless Brienne proves her loyalty by killing Jaime. Brienne refuses and states that Jaime has changed now. Stoneheart won't have any of it: Brienne must choose, either kill Jaime or be hanged at this very moment. Brienne refuses to make a choice, and "the thing that had once been Catelyn Stark" has Brienne, Pod, and Hyle hanged. Just before they die, however, Brienne shouts out a word.
It is implied Stoneheart hanged Walder Frey's grandson, Ser Ryman Frey, heir to the Twins, along with his whore, and the three Knights and 12 men-at-arms accompanying him. Ryman had Robb's crown at Riverrun and gave it to his whore, but later Stoneheart is shown to possess it when she meets Brienne and her friends.
Theories and TV series
In the TV series' Game of Thrones sixth and seventh seasons, Arya Stark somehow entered the Twins without being noticed and managed to kill Lord Walder, Black Walder, and Lame Lothar. Later she killed all male family members of House Frey during a great feast at the Twins, though no male children are seen during the event and it is unknown if Freys who live out of the Twins (Frey squires and knights under other lords, septons, and maesters) were invited as well. This differs from the book version where Arya actually wants only the names of the guilty Frey members because she doesn't want to kill innocents for the sins of the other relatives (though in the TV version, all those poisoned Freys seems to be the guilty ones). She also personally knew the boy and her former betrothed Elmar Frey. Arya's storyline in the novels is not a revenge plot, but focuses on the drama of her losing her identity, past, and family because she hoped to get revenge, but instead found herself in the trap of the religion of the Faceless Men. In the books, Arya is afraid to become heartless due to her temper or just a tool without any identity and many faces, but she looks at Needle and she remembers who she really is.
Lady Stoneheart is the total opposite of her daughter: a corpse full of hatred and lust for vengeance without any worries about consequences and future. She is a mistake of Beric Dondarrion who chose to bring her back instead of letting her rest. Stoneheart is perfectly capable of killing every Frey she can find without listening to reason. It doesn't matter how old the person is, or if they were even involved with the Red Wedding: being called "Frey", "Lannister", or "Bolton" is the only reason she needs to kill them. Apart from that, Lady Stoneheart kills everyone who just happens to work for the Freys and the Lannisters: from knights and squires, to mere men-at-arms and smallfolk workers with their families. Stoneheart was alright with killing Podrick Payne, who's a boy of 12, and Ser Hyle Hunt just for being Brienne's companions. Stoneheart accuses Brienne of being a traitorous Lannister dog with a sword (Oathkeeper) made from her husband Lord Eddard's own stolen steel. Stoneheart never forgot Roose Bolton's last words to her son Robb: "Jaime Lannister sends his regards." Right now, in order to save her 2 friends, Brienne is forced to lure Jaime into a trap for the Brotherhood so that Lady Stoneheart can hang him.
In the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter, something terrible and chaotic might happen at the Twins: with the presence of outlaw Tom of Sevenstrings infiltrated with the Lannisters and Freys during the Second Siege of Riverrun, the Brotherhood without Banners might murder Lord Walder, resulting with chaos and war of succession between male Freys, with Black Walder and Lame Lothar being the most dangerous. Lady Stoneheart might use such chaos to attack the Crossing and kill more Freys indiscriminately, resulting in a massacre worse than the Red Wedding as an act of retaliation. Stoneheart is more concerned with the main families responsible for her family loss, the Freys and Lannisters, rather than House Bolton, who are also facing impending doom at the hands of Stannis Baratheon and the rebelling northmen.
- Although she is actually Catelyn revived, the conditions of her corpse after staying in a river for too long resulted in turning her into a conscious furious undead. The more a person is revived, the more they turn into a walking corpse. George R.R. Martin explained that he made Lady Stoneheart to show that war can change completely a person.
- Like many other characters and storylines, Lady Stoneheart has been removed from the TV series adaptation.
- Although she is often considered a fan villain, her actions in A Feast for Crows are on a verge of crossing the Moral Event Horizon.