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The Gravedigging Hound - Complete analysis

Sandor the Hound theory

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#1 Cosmic Maintenance Man

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 05:08 PM

As a beginning forum user, I often found myself going back to older threads and wiki pages in order to accumulate information that other people had already gained through extensive research and discussions. This prompted me to start a series of analyses, in an attempt to clarify the theories people have been making on this site for a long time. After combining many scattered pieces of information regarding much discussed topics in ASOIAF, I ended up with more-or-less complete analyses. I hope sharing these notes with the rest of the community will help out other newer members (and perhaps older ones too) in understanding these theories.

So far we have discussed, in great detail, the theory that the sandsnake Sarella is actually the Sphinx in oldtown and the theory that King Balon Greyjoy was murdered by a faceless man, hired by his brother Euron Greyjoy.

This time the analysis revolves around the theory stating that Sandor Clegane is actually still alive and lives as a gravedigger on the Quite Isle. As you will see, many clues and indications have hinted at possible truth behind this claim:

(First and foremost, another shoutout to 'ghostlovesinger' from 'ToweroftheHand.com' whose essay added tons of information to this analysis and to the many users for providing clues and hints)
.............................................................

Near the end of A Storm of Swords, Sandor Clegane was grievously injured during a drunken skirmish with Gregor's men. Arya denied his request for "mercy" and instead left him to die where he had fallen. We, the readers, have not seen him since. Or have we…?

In AFFC there is a chapter where Brienne travels to the Quiet Isle with Pod and Ser Hyle. There, they meet an Elder Brother of the order of silent monks who claims to have found the Hound during his travels. Supposedly he died after the priest helped him through his final moments. Afterwards he buried him and placed his Hound Helm on top of his grave. In that chapter, however, we can find many clues and indications that point to Sandor being alive and that he is actually the gravedigger on the Quit Isle. In order to maintain a clear and orderly analysis, these clues will be separated into two categories, ‘the Elder Brother’ and ‘the gravedigger’

THE ELDER BROTHER:

1) The first indication can be seen in the way Elder Brother speaks about The Hounds demise. He never says “Sandor is dead”. For instance:

“The Hound is dead, Sandor is at rest.”
“The man you hunt is dead."
"The Hound died there, in my arms."

His words appear to be far more delicately chosen. All these sentences look like confirmation of Sandor's death, but when taken along with further observations, it is not quite so clear.

2) The second clue ties in to the first one and can be found in the following passage between the Elder Brother and Brienne:

"I never saw the blow that felled me. Before I could turn something slammed into my head and knocked me back into the river, where by rights I should have drowned. Instead I woke here, upon the Quiet Isle. The Elder Brother told me I had washed up on the tide, naked as my name day. We are all born naked, so I suppose it was only fitting that I come into my second life the same way."

The last part of the passage suggests that the idea of death means something different to the Elder Brother than it does to Brienne, or anyone else. When he speaks of his own death, of course he does not mean it in a literal sense, but a figurative one. He even uses the phrase, "second life," in contrast with the death of his first. This makes people inclined to believe that his talk regarding “The Hounds" death may also be figurative. The Hound might be dead, but Sandor Clegane could certainly still be alive.

3) The Elder Brother also knows too much about Sandor and his personal issues for someone who supposedly just aided him in a quick death bed. The fact that the priest seems to have a thorough understanding of Cleganes true nature is strange and is also another indication that he is probably not telling Brienne what really happened when he found him.

4) Stranger, Sandor's horse is in the stables on the Quite Isle. The Elder Brother claims to have taken him after burying The Hound. Stranger is known to be vicious and attacks anyone that isn’t Sandor. Even the Brothers of the Quite Isle admitted as much themselves, as seen in the following passage:

“That was his warhorse, Stranger. A blasphemous name. We prefer to call him Driftwood. Handsome he may be, but Driftwood was surely whelped in hell. When we sought to harness him to a plow he kicked Brother Rawney and broke his shinbone in two places. We had hoped gelding might improve the beast’s ill temper, but... Brother Gillam, will you show them?” Brother Gillam lowered his cowl. Underneath he had a mop of blond hair, a tonsured scalp, and a bloodstained bandage where he should have had an ear. Podrick gasped. “The horse bit off your ear?” Gillam nodded, and covered his head again.

Knowing this begs the question: “How did the Elder Brother get Stranger to the Quite Isle without Sandor?” George Martin explicitly described how difficult it is to reach the Quite Isle, as stated in the following passage:

“The path of faith, we call it. Only the faithful may cross safely. The wicked are swallowed by the quicksands, or drowned when the tide comes rushing in. None of you are wicked, I hope? Even so, I would be careful where I set my feet. Walk only where I walk, and you shall reach the other side.” The path of faith was a crooked one, Brienne could not help but note. Septon Meribald did not make directly for the island. As he walked he paused from time to time, to probe ahead with his quarterstaff.

Brienne and her companions had to follow a very specific path to get there unharmed. This makes it nearly impossible to believe that the priest was able to take Stranger calmly with him on such a dangerous trip, where a single false step means death.

5) There is one last indication to be found in a quote relating to the Elder Brother:

The Seven have blessed our Elder Brother with healing hands. He has restored many a man to health that even the maesters could not cure, and many a woman too.

This quote tells us that the Elder Brother is an exceptionally gifted healer, making it very possible that he healed Sandor from his critical condition. (Credit to 'Ser Wun Wun' for providing this clue)

THE GRAVEDIGGER:

At one point, Brienne and the Elder Brother have a brief exchange regarding a gravedigger on the Isle. Many believe this gravedigger to be Sandor Clegane. The following passage gives us enough clues to prove that this is most likely correct:

They passed a lichyard where a brother bigger than Brienne was struggling to dig a grave. From the way he moved, it was plain to see that he was lame. As he flung a spadeful of the stony soil over one shoulder, some chanced to spatter against their feet. “Be more watchful there,” chided Brother Narbert. The gravedigger lowered his head. When Dog went to sniff him he dropped his spade and scratched his ear. “A novice,” explained Narbert.


1) Brienne is known to be very big, even though, she specifically notes that the grave digger is bigger than her. Throughout her entire storyline, Brienne has usually been described as larger than most males and females. The Hound happens to be one of the people of whom we know, for a fact, to be bigger than Brienne.

2) He also walks with a limp, which would make sense since one of Sandor's wounds was in his leg, and that the leg wound was the one that, according to Arya, smelled peculiar, as if infected.

3) The gravedigger pats the dog that came with Brienne and the animal instantly takes a liking to the big man. It is known that Sandor loves dogs.

4) Additionally, the gravedigger is a novice, suggesting that he is new to the Isle. It is stated earlier in the chapter that the brothers and novices go cowled, with scarves wrapped around their faces. Clegane's distinctive burned face would be invisible to Brienne.

With this evidence to hand, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that Sandor Clegane is alive, and living as a novice on the Quiet Isle.
.............................................................

I hope this analysis helped out those who have not yet delved themselves into this theory. Feel free to add your own opinion or clues, as I am sure there are still things to be added.

Edited by Cosmic Maintenance Man, 22 January 2012 - 02:59 AM.


#2 Wellspring

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:03 PM

Well laid out. In particular, the part about how Stranger got onto the island and into the stables. I'd missed that.

#3 littlespider

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:11 PM

The name "Driftwood" is an abomination.

When Elder Brother said "When I died" I sighed and rolled my eyes at the obviousness of it all. But then, I have a hypersensitive Hound-dar, and was looking for him, so that may just be me.

I do think that when all of the evidence is laid out as you've presented it, OP, it's pretty hard to dismiss the theory.

Edited by littlespider, 10 January 2012 - 06:18 PM.


#4 Arkash

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:30 PM

Well, I do believe Sandor is alive, and all you state is so clear, yeah, good of you to gather all those infos in one place !

#5 Villemo

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:31 PM

@ Cosmic - have you read this? http://www.towerofth...the_/index.html
/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />

#6 Lions-and-Roses

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:37 PM

Wow. I never even thought about that when reading the chapter. D:

#7 Rapsie

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:43 PM

@ Cosmic - have you read this? http://www.towerofth...the_/index.html
/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />


The confirmation that Gregor was dead, was even after Tywin was dead as noted in the article above. It therefore makes no sense when EB mentions that the goal of killing his brother was taken from him, if Sandor was not still alive. If he had died at the Riverbank, it would have been before Gregor.

#8 Arkh

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:50 PM

One of the few theories I believe, though the "evidence" is hardly conclusive. Excellent work, though, you presented this as well as possible.

#9 Ser Ilyn's Tongue

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:00 PM

This all went over my head first time around - but the evidence is pretty complelling (and I love a conspiracy) so I agree Sandor is almost certainly alive. But maybe he's not the Hound that we knew anymore.

Sandor was one the first non-noble characters encountered and described in depth back when everybody was at Winterfell. Since then his major contributions have been to help (or helpfully kidnap) Arya and to develop Sansa's character a little. Though both significant, there's got to be more coming from a character who has been built up as much as he has.

I expect him to be back in the thick of things some time - but maybe quite different and differently than before.

#10 littlespider

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:15 PM

Any ideas why we get the infodump to Brienne re: the Hound's pscyhology? I thought it was interesting, but why does Brienne need to know this? Seemed like a big "O hai audience! Now it is time for you to have sympathy for this character if you did not already!" Any other reasons we can think of?

Edited by littlespider, 10 January 2012 - 07:15 PM.


#11 Mark Antony

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:28 PM

great thread

Edited by WuTangWesteros, 10 January 2012 - 07:28 PM.


#12 Rapsie

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:36 PM

Any ideas why we get the infodump to Brienne re: the Hound's pscyhology? I thought it was interesting, but why does Brienne need to know this? Seemed like a big "O hai audience! Now it is time for you to have sympathy for this character if you did not already!" Any other reasons we can think of?


Also it was completely unnecessary filler if the above is not true.

However in terms of other reasons, it could be to show that the EB was someone people could talk too and open the way for Brienne's own outburst of emotional angst to the EB.

I can't see any other reasons for it. In fact with EB's whole died on the Trident thing and the large Gravedigger, if Sandor isn't alive, it would be a really derisive red herring to throw into the story. It would only work if the scene was a goodbye to the character of Sandor and a wink and a nod to the fact he'll stay on the QI. A final farewell.....although the way it is done would be out of style for GRRM.

#13 WhiteWolf26

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:52 PM

I can only hope that is not the last we have seen of Sandor. These conplete analysis posts are phenominal! Keep posting and ill keep reading.

#14 clover

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:01 PM

Seriously, I would even have thought, ok, this sucks, but maybe the poor bastard has had it and will just stay on the QI and live in peace and harmony...maybe I could have considered that if not for two or three things.

A. Every little thing out of his mouth ( not the vomit) and action of his in the infamous "Bedroom Scene."

B. How distraught, unhinged, regretful, and disturbed he sounds when Arya leaves him regarding his Sansa memoirs.

C. Pretty much his non-stop blustering and thinking about Sansa in books 2 and 3.

Who knows what is going to happen, but I don't feel he will just stay in the QI forever, knowing she is out there somewhere after all he's said and done. Way too passionate about her for that, for good or bad.

Edited by clover, 10 January 2012 - 08:02 PM.


#15 jarl the climber

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:40 PM

Sandor is not the only one hiding out on Quiet Isle, So is Ser Arhur Dayne, Ser whent and rhe 5 northern lords who accompanied Ned to the Tower of Joy,remember then brothers who had thier faces covered, they are waiting for the 7th ruby. Just kidding.

#16 littlespider

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:45 PM

So, one other thing I was thinking about; I posted it on another thread as well. This thread puts Sandor at #21 with a whopping 579 mentions in the books. The only non-POV characters who are higher than that are Littlefinger, Tywin, Robert, Joffrey, and Stannis B., and Robb Stark. In other words, major players. The only characters higher than 21 who are permanently out of the story are Tywin, Robert B., Joffrey, Robb, and Ned. All guys that went out with a bang.

I'd have to say that I would be extremely surprised if this was the end of Sandor, though it would really be a nice and peaceful farewell. But I'm convinced that he'll return and be a major player.

Sandor is not the only one hiding out on Quiet Isle, So is Ser Arhur Dayne, Ser whent and rhe 5 northern lords who accompanied Ned to the Tower of Joy,remember then brothers who had thier faces covered, they are waiting for the 7th ruby. Just kidding.

Don't forget Syrio Forel. He's there as well.

And Gerion Lannister. Oh, and Tyrek Lannister.

Edited by littlespider, 10 January 2012 - 08:46 PM.


#17 RandomWanderer

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:46 PM

I'm no scholar of the books.. but this theory seems pretty well sound and fleshed out.

btw I enjoy reading these posts from you guys, since i finished book 5 I've found a bit of a hole in my entertainment and I've been reading all the theories on here.

#18 Rapsie

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:04 PM

So, one other thing I was thinking about; I posted it on another thread as well. This thread puts Sandor at #21 with a whopping 579 mentions in the books. The only non-POV characters who are higher than that are Littlefinger, Tywin, Robert, Joffrey, and Stannis B., and Robb Stark. In other words, major players. The only characters higher than 21 who are permanently out of the story are Tywin, Robert B., Joffrey, Robb, and Ned. All guys that went out with a bang.


Does that include AFFC and ADWD, because if so, then he is really high up for someone we haven't seen for two whole books (except maybe in passing).

Also if it isn't Sandor, then why on earth mention the Gravedigger twice in the passage!

#19 littlespider

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:30 PM

Does that include AFFC and ADWD, because if so, then he is really high up for someone we haven't seen for two whole books (except maybe in passing).

I think Sforzando said it's across the whole series. And given that he had, what, 3 mentions in DwD (pause. ARRRRR!!), that seems like the first four books have quite a lot of him. My impression when reading FFC was that Martin kept bringing him up. Other characters seemed to always be talking about him, thinking about him, or sharing rumors about him. This is an investment in keeping our minds on this character. Hope Martin cashes in on it in the next two books!

Also if it isn't Sandor, then why on earth mention the Gravedigger twice in the passage!

Can I add that I think it's effing hilarious that he's now serving meals to other monks in the monastery? Along with other novices who are kids? That's got to stick in his craw.

#20 clover

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:48 PM

Oh, man...you so prompt me with your posts, Littlespider.

I just read this and then got a mental visual...

Monk: "Thank you, Novice Sandor, but the bread is still not hot."

Monk 2: "Yes, Novice, you will have to go back and tell the baker to heat it."

Sandor:" Really? Not hot enough for you. Bugger that! Go get your own f%$#$%* bread!"

LOL! Ah, the visual...

Edited by clover, 10 January 2012 - 09:49 PM.