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Benjen the Drunken Messenger: The Reason for taking the Black


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#1 Fire Eater

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:24 AM

We have come up with a number of theories why Benjen decided to join the NW. One of the most common is that he had a role in R+L=J.

 

The dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle, but when her pup brother teased her for crying she poured wine over his head.

 

The first sentence we have of Lyanna, Rhaegar and Benjen in it, and there is wine involved.

 

Benjen laughed. "As I feared. Ah, well. I believe I was younger than you the first time I got truly and sincerely drunk."

 

Benjen is telling this to Jon, Rhaegar and Lyanna's son. I think Benjen was staying at Harrenhal with Lyanna waiting for Brandon to come by, and pick them up on his way to his wedding to Catelyn Tully. As everyone knows, Rhaegar came by and likely poured his heart out to Lyanna, and they eloped. Lyanna likely left it to Benjen to tell Brandon when he came by what happened. When Brandon came by it was at a bad time as Benjen had gotten drunk for the first time. Brandon got some garbled info out of a drunken Benjen, and came to the conclusion that Rhaegar had kidnapped Lyanna. That led Brandon to go to KL, and kickstart the events that led to Robert's Rebellion.

 

Benjen blamed himself for the deaths of his father, brother and sister and the war, and that is what led him to take the black.


Edited by Fire Eater, 13 December 2013 - 11:13 AM.


#2 PrinceHenryris

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:37 AM

Interesting, but I've always figured that Benjen took the black after Robb reached his first nameday. Once Robb survived his first year, Benjen realized he was pretty much SOL to inherit Winterfell, so I've thought he went North to seek glory at the wall.

Now, I have to rethink it.

Nice job!

#3 Victor227

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:50 AM

Would Benjen laugh about getting drunk if that's the reason he took the Black? You'd think there would be a bit of lingering trauma over it, even fifteen years later. He's not treating Jon terribly seriously during their conversation, seems more like an offhanded remark.

 

But, entirely possible nonetheless. He did have other possible futures than taking the Black, even after Robb was born and healthy. It's almost absurd how cavalier noble families in Westeros are about their line of succession. He should have at least been sticking around as a failsafe in case Winterfell was ever hit by a 'Great Spring Sickness' equivalent. Really, most houses ought to have a lot more redundancy in their line than they do.


Edited by Victor227, 13 December 2013 - 02:52 AM.


#4 TalalOfDorne

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:57 AM

I dont know, I think Benjen would be too hard on himself if thats what he did. Then again, we havent seen much of him to fully establish what his character is like. 



#5 The Mountain That Posts

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:58 AM

Would Benjen laugh about getting drunk if that's the reason he took the Black? You'd think there would be a bit of lingering trauma over it, even fifteen years later. He's not treating Jon terribly seriously during their conversation, seems more like an offhanded remark.

I don't think so, it wouldn't exactly be unheard of for characters to spill "important" information as jokes.

Like when Robert was joking around with ned about how Cersei doesn't let him near her "cunt" or whatever word GRRM used. haha



#6 The Lord's Kiss

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:06 AM

I can see Benjen blaming himself for telling Brandon. I like this, much more than any Benjen slept with Lyanna theories. Enough of the incest already... :box:



#7 Arya kiddin'

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:30 AM

Plausible yes, but reaching to such a detailed conclusion without very many details and only two quotes at hand looks a little dodgy to me. :(



#8 shearstone

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:02 AM

I always thought Benjen's warnings to Jon about joining the watch so young hinted that he had joined much later than Jon. He would have only been 16 at the most when Robb reaches his first nameday. 



#9 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:31 AM

Lyanna was 16 when she died, and Benjen was said to have joined the NW not long after the rebellion ended, making Benjen himself 15 or 16 at the very oldest when he joined.

 

I think that his first time getting drunk was at Harrenhal, where he was no longer under the watchful eye of his father. At Harrenhal, the eldest Benjen could have been was 13 or 12, which would make him younger than Jon is when we first meet him.

 

While I do believe Benjen played a role in Lyanna's disappearance, I doubt he got drunk and was unable to tell Brandon a full story, causing his brother to ride off to his death. You don't joke about something like this. I doubt Benjen would do so.

 

What I am curious about, is Benjen's line  "Come back to me after you’ve fathered a few bastards of your own, and we’ll see how you feel." . For as far as we know, Benjen does not have any children. Everything Benjen tells Jon in that conversation is about Jon having to wait until he's older, (while Benjen was about the same age as Jon when he joined), how Jon should have been with a woman before (while Benjen reached the right age for this only during the Rebellion and there might not have been that many people left in Winterfell to have such an experience with, though it wouldn't be entirely impossible), how Jon should have a few children first (while Benjen himself doesn't have any kids). Everything Benjen tells Jon needs to have done before joining the NW, is completely the opposite of what he himself has done. Makes you wonder why...



#10 protar

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:34 AM

Did Rhaegar and Lyanna run off at the Tourney? I thought the actual supposed "kidnapping" happened some time after.



#11 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:41 AM

Did Rhaegar and Lyanna run off at the Tourney? I thought the actual supposed "kidnapping" happened some time after.

 

Lyanna disappeared a year later. The Tourney happened in the year of the False Spring, in 281 AL. Lyanna disappeared sometime in 282 AL, about a year later.



#12 protar

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:44 AM

 

Lyanna disappeared a year later. The Tourney happened in the year of the False Spring, in 281 AL. Lyanna disappeared sometime in 282 AL, about a year later.

 

Thought it was something like that. So this theory doesn't really work.


Edited by protar, 13 December 2013 - 05:45 AM.


#13 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:49 AM

 

Thought it was something like that. So this theory doesn't really work.

 

Well, we don't know where Lyanna was during the year between the Tourney and her disappearance. She might have stayed in Harrenhal, she might have visited Storms End. Nothing is ever said about where she was that year. So it might be.  Though, IMHO, if Lyanna had stayed behind at Harrenhal (for perhaps some female companions that she obviously lacked in Winterfell), why would Benjen stay behind as well? That's the thing about this theory that I don't understand.



#14 protar

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:59 AM

 

Well, we don't know where Lyanna was during the year between the Tourney and her disappearance. She might have stayed in Harrenhal, she might have visited Storms End. Nothing is ever said about where she was that year. So it might be.  Though, IMHO, if Lyanna had stayed behind at Harrenhal (for perhaps some female companions that she obviously lacked in Winterfell), why would Benjen stay behind as well? That's the thing about this theory that I don't understand.

 

He'd also have to be drunk for the entire year ;).



#15 Queen Alienor

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:01 AM

I've always thought that Benjen joining the NW was a bit strange, especially given the fact that at that point, he was second in line for WF (only Robb was before him in succesion, and Robb was a baby). Guilt for maybe letting Lyanna run of with Rhaegar would explain it, but I don't think he was in HH when she was abducted/eloped. I don't know, I always assumed he went to WF after the Tourney.

 

My crackpot is that Benjen know Jon is the son of R+L and he and Ned argued long about what to do about the fact that their nephew was the rightful king. Benjen wanted to claim Jon's throne for him while Ned wanted peace, and because Benjen couldn't stand seeing the rightful king (and his sister's son) growing up as a bastard, he joined the NW. Don't know, it's a crackpot.



#16 The Gray Wanderer

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:58 AM

My crackpot is that Benjen know Jon is the son of R+L and he and Ned argued long about what to do about the fact that their nephew was the rightful king. Benjen wanted to claim Jon's throne for him while Ned wanted peace, and because Benjen couldn't stand seeing the rightful king (and his sister's son) growing up as a bastard, he joined the NW. Don't know, it's a crackpot.

 

Why would Benjen push for his nephew to claim a throne that isn't his by rights (Viserys and Dany would come before a bastard) and the man sitting on it at the time just won the rebellion leaving Jon an orphan, and is known for his vehement hatred of Targaryens.



#17 Buried Treasure

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:58 AM

If Benjen was at Harrenhal with Lyanna, who was the Stark in Winterfell? Ned was in the Vale, Brandon on his way to his wedding and their father can't have been that far behind. I have always thought it a possibility that there must have been somebody with Lyanna that Rhaegar pointed his sword at for Brandon to conclude she was abducted but I doubt Benjen was involved.

 

Joining the Watch for no reason but honour and being a younger brother is still a thing that happens, even if it is rare. If Benjen did have some other reason I think it was more immediate than guilt over his very minor part in a tragedy played out by other people. If anything I think Benjen might have joined the NW to remove himself from being used as a rival to his brothers rule. Ned was mostly respected and beloved after 15 years ruling the North but he started as a young lord raised in the South with a Southron wife who had just been involved in a Southron war, there might have been lords who would have preferred to overthrow him for his northern raised brother.



#18 I am of the Night

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 07:52 AM

If Benjen was at Harrenhal with Lyanna, who was the Stark in Winterfell? Ned was in the Vale, Brandon on his way to his wedding and their father can't have been that far behind. I have always thought it a possibility that there must have been somebody with Lyanna that Rhaegar pointed his sword at for Brandon to conclude she was abducted but I doubt Benjen was involved.
 
Joining the Watch for no reason but honour and being a younger brother is still a thing that happens, even if it is rare. If Benjen did have some other reason I think it was more immediate than guilt over his very minor part in a tragedy played out by other people. If anything I think Benjen might have joined the NW to remove himself from being used as a rival to his brothers rule. Ned was mostly respected and beloved after 15 years ruling the North but he started as a young lord raised in the South with a Southron wife who had just been involved in a Southron war, there might have been lords who would have preferred to overthrow him for his northern raised brother.

But Ned was one of the top generals responsible for winning that war and is the new king's best friend. Besides, that "Southron war" began with the murder of both Winterfell's lord and heir.

#19 BlackStark

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:00 AM

Wasn't Benjen in Winterfell when Lyanna was kidnapped/disappeared?  How would he be in position to relay any messages to anyone when he was a considerable distance from the focal point of the action? 



#20 Lord Reaver

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:02 AM


Everything Benjen tells Jon needs to have done before joining the NW, is completely the opposite of what he himself has done. Makes you wonder why...

 

Seems pretty clear to me, what he's saying is: "Don't do the same mistakes, I did, kid". It's a fairly common trope.