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In the "Baelor" episode of Game of Thrones, I was confused when the Starks had to negotiate with the Frey clan in order to cross the river. Was there no other way across the river? Did they not have boats or enough resources to quickly build a bridge?

Is this explained better in the books?

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The Riverlands Here's a closeup map of the Riverlands. Robb Stark's host was moving south from the Grey water Watch (mislabeled in the image) which is at the very top of map. They needed to go South towards Riverrun, which is the House Tully seat being besieged by Jaime Lannister (very bottom of the map). To do that they needed to cross the Green Fork, which was flooding at the time, so the only way to cross was to use the bridge spanning the Twins or go much farther south along the river, exposing them to Lannister troops and wasting valuable time. Hence the need to negotiate with Lord Walder Frey.

Relevant book passage (pp. 640-641 in my paperback copy in a Catelyn chapter):

Theon shook his head. "The river's running high and fast. Ser Brynden says it can't be forded, not this far north"

"I must have that crossing!" Robb declared, fuming. "Oh, our horses might be able to swim the river, I suppose, but not with armored men on their backs. We'd need to build rafts to pole our steel across, helms and mail and lances, and we don't have the trees for that. Or the time. Lord Typwin is marching north..." He balled his hand into a fist.

"Lord Frey would be a fool to try and bar our way," Theon Greyjoy said with his customary easy confidence. "We have five times his numbers. You can take the Twins if you need to, Robb."

"Not easily," Catelyn warned them, "and not in time. While you were mounting your siege, Tywin Lannister would bring up his host and assault you from the rear"

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    Actually I think Grey Watch is spelled correctly in the image. That is just a stylized 'h', compare it to the R above it. +1 though for the answer – Justin C Jun 14 '11 at 0:52
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    @Justin C I think he's referring to Grey tower Watch vs. Grey water watch. – Beofett Jun 14 '11 at 17:34
  • @Beofett - so he was, thanks for the correction – Justin C Jun 14 '11 at 17:42
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Sorry about the sheer length of this, but Westeros is very long in the North/South direction. Essentially, for a large army to go from the north (where Winterfell is), to the south (where King's Landing is), you need to:

  • Travel through a forest to the west.
  • Cross a large river.
  • Head to the sea up North, and sail the Narrow Sea down to King's Landing.

The middle option is apparently the best option.

Map of Westeros

Note: The Twins are in the middle of the map, slightly to the west. Also, I haven't read the books, so I'm unaware of any mitigating circumstances. I assume the forest to the west of the Twins is dangerous or somehow not worth the extra time to traverse it.

  • Off topic comment, but where do you get those maps? Are they included with the books / ebooks? I was thinking of picking up the books or ebooks and I'd love to get some context and have a good map to use as reference. – Mkalafut Apr 8 '14 at 18:33
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Also don't forget that the idea was to separate Jaime Lannister's forces from Tywinn Lannister's army. By cutting across the river, Robb Stark was able to move into a strategic position that would leverage position to counter inferior numbers.

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For Robb's plan of dividing his forces to work, time was of the essence. He couldn't afford the time to go around or build alternate crossings. On another note, those larger maps people compose of of Westeros and Essos direct from the maps in the books really annoy me. As if two continents are going to be the perfectly rectangular shape to fit on a bit of A4. Those maps should be treated the same as pre-industrial maps of Europe, with the knowledge that accurate latitude and longitude is in the future.

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