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:
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.
“The Hound is dead, Sandor is at rest.”
“The man you hunt is dead."
"The Hound died there, in my arms."
2) The second clue ties in to the first one and can be found in the following passage between the Elder Brother and Brienne:
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.
"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."
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:
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:
“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.
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.
“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.
5) There is one last indication to be found in a quote relating to the Elder Brother:
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 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.
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.