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A little theory about Howland Reed


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#1 Loon Lord

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:45 PM

I'm not sure if this has been discussed before, but I'm rather suspicious about Howland's absence in the world for the last 17 years.

From what we know about Howland, he was braver and more adventurous than most crannogmen, if it is to be believed that he is the man in Meera's story. We also know he was a good friend of the Stark's and that he saved Ned's life from Arthur Dayne at the TOJ.

My theory for his absence is that he is disfigured in some way, and is unable to travel.
It is mentioned that he is a small guy and has few real fighting abilities, yet he somehow saved Ned from one of the greatest swordsmen of all time. I see no way he could do this without suffering any harm to himself, and his apparent loyalty would give him cause to save Ned's life. This would also explain why he hasn't left Greywater Watch in 17 years.

Just a small theory but one that I think is very plausible.

#2 Fwaatcha

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:50 PM

Perhaps Howland is the guy stuck in the weirwood tree that is teaching Bran how to use his third eye.

#3 The Meeraculous Third Reed

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:01 PM

Well, I think there are several reasons as to why Reed hasn't left the Neck since returning from the ToJ.

1. Loyalty. His role in the North is to guard the Neck. He does this best by remaining within Greywater Watch and the Marsh.

2. Family. Howland has no real diplomatic duties, and Meera was born within a short period either before or after the rebellion, with Jojen following a few years later, so he may simply have stayed to help raise his kids.

3. World weariness. It's not too surprising to think that Howland simply grew weary with the world following the Rebellion. He cared for Brandon and Lyanna, both of whom had died during the war, in addition to the other members of Ned's group at the ToJ, who may very well have been his friends too. So without wanting to sound melodramatic, Ned became the only friend he had left in the "outside" world. Let's also not forget that the other time he left the Neck to go to the Isle of Faces (and then Harrenhal), he was bullied and beaten up by so-called nobles.

Those are all reasons for his remaining within Greywater Watch over the years. That isn't to discount the injury angle, but I think these three are more likely.

#4 Jon Reborn

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:05 PM

I will propose an additional possible reason.

Maybe he knows something (via green dreams or something) and it is important that he remains there. As to why, I don't know.

The Crannogmen are closer to the earth and the trees than regular folks. Maybe the green dreams or visions or whatever are more potent if they are in their bogs.

#5 Magic 8 Ball

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:57 PM

Perhaps Howland is the guy stuck in the weirwood tree that is teaching Bran how to use his third eye.


Except that guy says his name is "Brynden", and he matches the description of Brynden Rivers, aka Bloodraven, and is clearly too old to be Howland Reed. I also think Meera and Jojen might have noted if that was, you know, their dad up there.

#6 sarah.jenice

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:05 PM

Well, I think there are several reasons as to why Reed hasn't left the Neck since returning from the ToJ.

1. Loyalty. His role in the North is to guard the Neck. He does this best by remaining within Greywater Watch and the Marsh.

2. Family. Howland has no real diplomatic duties, and Meera was born within a short period either before or after the rebellion, with Jojen following a few years later, so he may simply have stayed to help raise his kids.

3. World weariness. It's not too surprising to think that Howland simply grew weary with the world following the Rebellion. He cared for Brandon and Lyanna, both of whom had died during the war, in addition to the other members of Ned's group at the ToJ, who may very well have been his friends too. So without wanting to sound melodramatic, Ned became the only friend he had left in the "outside" world. Let's also not forget that the other time he left the Neck to go to the Isle of Faces (and then Harrenhal), he was bullied and beaten up by so-called nobles.

Those are all reasons for his remaining within Greywater Watch over the years. That isn't to discount the injury angle, but I think these three are more likely.

I will propose an additional possible reason.

Maybe he knows something (via green dreams or something) and it is important that he remains there. As to why, I don't know.

The Crannogmen are closer to the earth and the trees than regular folks. Maybe the green dreams or visions or whatever are more potent if they are in their bogs.


Great points!

I do remember seeing a SSM that Howland Reed was not privy to the promise that Ned made to Lyanna even though I had been counting on him revealing some truths.

I hope we get to meet him since I like Jojen and Meera.

#7 WakeTheDragon

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:07 PM

Great points!

I do remember seeing a SSM that Howland Reed was not privy to the promise that Ned made to Lyanna even though I had been counting on him revealing some truths.

I hope we get to meet him since I like Jojen and Meera.

Well even if he wasn't if indeed Jon is Lyanna's son he certainly would have noticed Ned walking out with a baby.

#8 The Dragon has three heads

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:20 PM

Howland has to know the truth, he's the only one left alive.

#9 chrisdaw

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:20 PM

I assumed he was heir and not lord when he went on his adventure.

Now he's lord he has the responsibilities of leading his people that prevent him from indulging in travel or adventure.

#10 Elohssa

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:22 PM

He probably swore an oath to Ned that he wouldn’t speak of what took place at the ToJ. But unlike Ned he probably isn’t so good at keeping secrets so hiding out at home was the best way for him to keep that oath.

#11 Starks Revenge

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:33 PM

Ned only left the north to deal with the Grejoy rebellion, I think they both wanted peace and quiet after RR.

Edited by Starks Revenge, 24 November 2012 - 06:33 PM.


#12 Jon Reborn

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:45 PM

I assumed he was heir and not lord when he went on his adventure.

Now he's lord he has the responsibilities of leading his people that prevent him from indulging in travel or adventure.


Good point. I suppose he hasn't been thinking to himself, "I have to get 'on screen' to let the readers know who Jon's parents are..."

#13 booknerd2

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:59 PM

The more time that passes and the more I stew on this, I think Howland knows exactly what he is doing, and is exactly where he either feels he needs or wants to be. For now...

He is probably being strategic and will come out when necessary. Whether planned or not the right course is happening where he can be most helpful. Or it certainly looks that way, and seems to be going that way. Where would Bran be without Meera and Jojen right about now?

The right thing to do was to send his kids, now that we know what Meera and Jojen are like. Is he worried about his children? Sure. Any parent would be. Bran is crucial and he would never have been able to survive or utilize his talents, even recognize them, without them. And I think the three Reeds knew that and came. Jojen is helping him to open up to his abilities, Meera has been a great advisor, friend, as well, and has been crucial in their survival outdoors. We don't know if Howland is as alike or has the same abilities as his children, could be lesser or greater in particulars, and for Bran, probably more comfortable to go through his awakening, realization with peers his own age. So really this is perfect. If Howland came, and left his children at home, it most likely would have been an invitation for others to start trouble with his holdings. Howland had to stay there, and really it was the right choice. There was nothing for him to gain by going to Winterfell. He would have gotten involved in all of the Lannister, Theon, Bolton, and now Stannis stuff going on. His kids would not have been able to help Bran. ANd it gave him time to most likely organize his holdings at the Watch, because I think that later he is going to have to leave and become more outwardly involved. Even Manderly tried to appear as low-key as possible and Martell too, up until the last minute where they couldn't possibly be active behind the scenes solely anymore and had to step it up more.

The risk is his kids travelling with Bran. Bran gets more out of this than they do. But Bran growing stronger and more powerful is probably the risk that needed to be taken to help them all.

But a part of me thinks that Howland and his kids know a heck of a lot more about what is going on then Bran or even the reader currently does. Well, duh, we know Howland was with Ned and knew Lyanna and all that...but maybe other stuff too.

#14 OGtargaryen

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:14 PM

he is too busy moving his bowels to poison arrow tips. much too busy.

#15 Lady of Dragonstone

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:56 PM

The more time that passes and the more I stew on this, I think Howland knows exactly what he is doing, and is exactly where he either feels he needs or wants to be. For now...

He is probably being strategic and will come out when necessary. Whether planned or not the right course is happening where he can be most helpful. Or it certainly looks that way, and seems to be going that way. Where would Bran be without Meera and Jojen right about now?

The right thing to do was to send his kids, now that we know what Meera and Jojen are like. Is he worried about his children? Sure. Any parent would be. Bran is crucial and he would never have been able to survive or utilize his talents, even recognize them, without them. And I think the three Reeds knew that and came. Jojen is helping him to open up to his abilities, Meera has been a great advisor, friend, as well, and has been crucial in their survival outdoors. We don't know if Howland is as alike or has the same abilities as his children, could be lesser or greater in particulars, and for Bran, probably more comfortable to go through his awakening, realization with peers his own age. So really this is perfect.But a part of me thinks that Howland and his kids know a heck of a lot more about what is going on then Bran or even the reader currently does. Well, duh, we know Howland was with Ned and knew Lyanna and all that...but maybe other stuff too.


I also think that Reed sent Jojen and Meera for more reasons than we currently know about. If he doesn't have some sort of sight, then I would bet that Jojen has seen many things and informed his father of them. In alarm, Howland sent the kids to Bran to guide and influence him. The Reeds are guerilla fighters, after all. /smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /> I keep wondering why the Reed kids haven't told Bran more about what happened during RR -- then again, Bran doesn't really know to ask about it.

Back to OP, he could be injured from the fight at ToJ, but there are more plausible reasons for him to just stay home as stated in this thread. The Reeds strike me as introverted, dreamy folk. Not any less fearsome, but maybe a bit less likely to instigate any drama. And for that simple reason, I find it very odd and quite selfless that Howland sent his two children to travel all the way beyond the Wall....

#16 Jon Reborn

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:53 PM

The more time that passes and the more I stew on this, I think Howland knows exactly what he is doing, and is exactly where he either feels he needs or wants to be. For now...

He is probably being strategic and will come out when necessary. Whether planned or not the right course is happening where he can be most helpful. Or it certainly looks that way, and seems to be going that way. Where would Bran be without Meera and Jojen right about now?

The right thing to do was to send his kids, now that we know what Meera and Jojen are like. Is he worried about his children? Sure. Any parent would be. Bran is crucial and he would never have been able to survive or utilize his talents, even recognize them, without them. And I think the three Reeds knew that and came. Jojen is helping him to open up to his abilities, Meera has been a great advisor, friend, as well, and has been crucial in their survival outdoors. We don't know if Howland is as alike or has the same abilities as his children, could be lesser or greater in particulars, and for Bran, probably more comfortable to go through his awakening, realization with peers his own age. So really this is perfect. If Howland came, and left his children at home, it most likely would have been an invitation for others to start trouble with his holdings. Howland had to stay there, and really it was the right choice. There was nothing for him to gain by going to Winterfell. He would have gotten involved in all of the Lannister, Theon, Bolton, and now Stannis stuff going on. His kids would not have been able to help Bran. ANd it gave him time to most likely organize his holdings at the Watch, because I think that later he is going to have to leave and become more outwardly involved. Even Manderly tried to appear as low-key as possible and Martell too, up until the last minute where they couldn't possibly be active behind the scenes solely anymore and had to step it up more.

The risk is his kids travelling with Bran. Bran gets more out of this than they do. But Bran growing stronger and more powerful is probably the risk that needed to be taken to help them all.

But a part of me thinks that Howland and his kids know a heck of a lot more about what is going on then Bran or even the reader currently does. Well, duh, we know Howland was with Ned and knew Lyanna and all that...but maybe other stuff too.


I agree, great post. I just can't see Howland sitting on his hands doing nothing with the long night approaching.

#17 wighty

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 04:07 PM

Someone has to keep Greywater Watch hidden.

#18 Kar Skane

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:19 PM

Rob told Howland to guard the reach from Lannasters....and After the Red Wedding the Freys been having problems in the Reachand traveling North I think he is hold his power back... Until it is time to strike the Freys Reeds going to fry up some Frey's. I believe Howland is a worg

#19 midnight ghost

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 11:49 PM

Could Howland and Jojen be the same person? descriptions seem similar, Meera always listens to him, he seems to be getting a lot older and weaker as he travels. I know its a little crazy but just food for thought.

#20 IRON BANK

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 12:18 AM

Something has to happen with howland sooner than later. like a big reveal or something. Howland has probably had dreams he cant decipher that revolve around the neck. so he stays in the neck so he doesn't miss the chance to act when it is needed