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willofDorne

High Sparrow = Howland Reed 4.0

110 posts in this topic

Original threads can be found here: V1, V2, V3

(credit: Roadside Rose)

(Disclaimer: Criticisms are just as important as the theory itself, so there will be a post immediately following the theory to highlight each argument against. I encourage you to bring the holes to my attention, so they can be listed in the aforementioned adjoining post.)

Theory

Howland Reed is posing as the new High Septon.

Motives

Motive A: He's to supplant a new king. Whether he knows to do this by a vision or common sense, etc, is unknown, but Jon Snow is a likely candidate. There's been passionate refutes of this theory, but you can't refute that Howland Reed has had access to a prophetic world by at least Jojen. Having Jon as king is exactly the kind of simple idea hed come across.

Motive B: He's to unite the faith against the Others, possibly encompassing all religions to bind the faith and the people, IE: Old gods and the new. This has been a popular theory, especially after the Green Man connection was made during V3 of this thread. The Green Man being a historical figure that was integrated into catholic architecture. We also know he was in contact with the Green Men which also might be a subtle hint.

Motive C: Simple revenge. He's after the Lannisters and even gets from the horses mouth that Cersei meant to execute Stark when she says, "It shouldn't have been done at Baelor's Sept" He's left nightsoil (shit) on Baelors Sept, and done no small amount of work in muscling himself into a position of power against the Lannisters.

Motive D: He's just being a good person. What started out as a simple pilgrimage to the Riverlands after the Mountain's raiding has lead to one logical step after the other, ultimate ending in a following of commoners and eventually men of the North as well, as they discovered him.




The following should be required re-reading for debating for and against this theory.

Ned dreams of the Tower of Joy, which includes Howland Reed as a shadow from his past.
Game of Thrones, CH 39, Eddard X

Brans first meeting of Meera and Jojen
A Clash of Kings, CH 21, Bran III

Meera tells the story of KotLT.
Storm of Swords, CH24, Bran II

Just before the Red Wedding, GRRM sets this plot in motion, to join Maege and Glover to Howland. (IE: Deliver a message, but for this theory it makes sense to assume they join him)
Storm of Swords CH 45, Catelyn V

Brienne encounters the HS in action, the HS and company making their way to KL (Is it Howland Reed?)
A Feast for Crows, CH 4, Brienne I

Cersei encounters the force of the HS (or HR?), and they have grown overwhelmingly larger.
A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

Howland Reed or The High Sparrow springs the first trap, letting Cersei for the first time sink deep into the bowels of her own treachery.
A Feast for Crows CH 43, Cersei X

Also of note, the two concluding Cersei Chapters in ADWD. This struggle between her and the High Sparrow is not done by a long shot, but this is where its currently at end.
A Dance with Dragons, CH 54, Cersei I
A Dance with Dragons, CH 65, Cersei II


Do not be surprised if the discussion veers into literary figures such as Robin Hood, The Green Man or some crazy order of monks from the middle ages. All ideas and additions are welcome, even those including Lancel Lannister.
edit: Green Man connection was interestingly suggested by Luddsthirdmorph

Another popular thing to consider is the Faith Militant.
We've seen people swear to the Night's Watch(Jon Snow), the Kingsguard(Jaime Lannister), and even to houses, such as the Hound swearing to Lannister, also we've seen knights taking vows to the Seven. The Faith Militant is as far as we know sworn to the High Septon, so this could be a very big factor in the coming books 6/7, and another thing to consider.

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Roughly two months (11/23/299 - 1/28/300) after the Northern parties go missing, Brienne and her company travel North to Duskendale. Along the way, they encounter a suspicious band of armed and bearded Sparrows:

A group of begging brothers led the way, scruffy bearded men…

Several of the men had axes, and more had crude wooden clubs and cudgels.
-A Feast for Crows, CH 4, Brienne I

Interestingly, there are only three characters who address Brienne and her hedge knights:


“Poor fellows,” said a big man with an axe. Despite the chill of the autumnal wood, he was
shirtless...

“We are marching to the city,” said a tall woman in the traces of the wayn…

“Join us, friends,” urged a spare small man in a threadbare septon’s robe…

-A Feast for Crows, CH 4, Brienne I

The “Faithful” Northmen

It is my impression that these three distinct characters represent the missing Northern bannermen: House Glover, House Mormont, and House Reed.


- Axes that fit like a Glove'r

The axe is a choice weapon among the North. So much so, there are even certain Houses which brandish an axe as their sigil i.e. House Dustin, House Cerwyn - no other House bears a sigil of an axe.

The home of House Glover is situated in the Wolfswood; it is, undoubtedly, surrounded by more trees than any other House in the entire story. In fact, the Glovers’ are so beset by trees, they crafted their seat from them - Deepwood Motte.

As such, it stands to reason that these hairy, lumberjack-esque, northerners would prefer axes as weapons.

Interestingly, many of these sparrows favor axes:

Several of the men had axes

We encountered ruffians on the road as well. Filthy, unkempt creatures, with leather shields and axes...”
“They call themselves sparrows...”

She had only two knights amidst a sea of sparrows. She saw staves and scythes, cudgels and clubs, several axes.

Some had spears and some had longswords. More favored axes…

… the sparrows came pouring into the Great Sept with their leader on their shoulders and their axes in their hands.

“Your sparrows have clubs and axes…”

The Poor Fellows ... Begging brothers of a sort, though they carried axes instead of bowls.

And mingled in with them were the Poor Fellows, filthy, unshaven creatures armed with spears and axes.
-A Feast for Crows, CH 4, Brienne I

When Jaime visits his cousin, Lancel, he sees many of these same bearded sparrows occupying Castle Darry:

A dozen bearded men with axes stood guard...

There were axes in evidence as well, and he spied several bearded men with red, seven-pointed stars sewn onto ragged, filthy tunics. More bloody sparrows. Where do they all come from?

Jaime glanced about the yard, at the bearded faces of the sparrows. Too many.

Three sparrows sat upon its steps. When Jaime approached, they rose. “Where you going, m’lord?” asked one. He was the smallest of the three, but he had the biggest beard.

“... you can’t go in unless his lordship says you can.” She hefted a spiked club, and the small man raised an axe.

So, I think it’s safe to say these “sparrows”, have similarly shaggy beards and carry axes as often as any northmen. Speaking of which, let’s draw our attention back to the big, axe-wielding man Brienne makes note of:

a big man with an axe. Despite the chill of the autumnal wood, he was shirtless…

Despite the noted chill of the woods, this man is walking around shirtless - suggestive of a northman; being resilient to the cold.

During the exchange between the sparrows and Brienne’s company, Duskendale is mentioned, and the sparrows, the big one in particular, have an unreasonably angry reaction:

“We are bound for Duskendale,” Ser Illifer said flatly.

One of the begging brothers spat, and a woman gave a moan. “You are false knights,” said the big man with the star carved on his chest. Several others brandished their cudgels.

Why so serious? Well:

(Robb) shook his head, bewildered. “A third of my foot, lost for Duskendale?”
“... the Lannisters hold my brother,” Galbart Glover said, in a voice thick with despair. Robett Glover had survived the battle, but had been captured near the kingsroad not long after.

These bearded “sparrows”, who wear ragged clothes and armor, favor axes, and harbor an unexplained rancor for Duskendale, seem awfully suspicious... don’t they?

If Galbart Glover took his men south, with Howland and Maege, these suspicious sparrow traits would definitely match his unaccounted party.

Speaking of Maege...


- The unBEARable Septas

Catelyn: “You are braver than I am, I fear. Are all your Bear Island women such warriors?”
Maege: “She-bears, aye...”

In Cersei’s mad attempt to flee the Sept of Baelor, she is captured by a group of suspiciously strong septas:


She ran as far as the sept, but no farther. There were women waiting for her there, more septas...

but the septas … were stronger than they looked.

“Stronger than they looked”? That sounds familiar:


“We are stronger than we seem, my lady,” Lady Maege Mormont said...
After Cersei’s capture, she is held in confinement, with three of these deceptively strong septas as her gaolers:


Septa Unella was big-boned and mannish, with callused hands and homely, scowling features.

Septa Scolera was thick-waisted and short, with heavy breasts, olive skin, and a sour smell to her, like milk on the verge of going bad.

Septa Moelle had stiff white hair and small mean eyes perpetually crinkled in suspicion, peering out of a wrinkled face as sharp as the blade of an axe.

Interestingly, these septas share some striking similarities to some other She-Bears:


(Dacey) was tall and lean, (Maege) short and stout...

Her proper name was Alysane of House Mormont, but she wore the other name as easily as she wore her mail. Short, chunky, muscular, the heir to Bear Island had big thighs, big breasts, and big hands ridged with callus.

Let’s list and compare these traits straight from the text:

She-Bears:
- short
- stout
- chunky
- muscular
- big breasts
- big hands ridged with callus

Cersei’s Septas:

- short
- thick-waisted
- big-boned
- mannish
- heavy breast
- callused hands

However, aside from these glaring similarities, there is one unifying parallel of these septas which cements them as She-Bears - the She-Bear carving on the gates of Mormont Keep:


Dacey: “There’s a carving on our gate” -aSoS, CH 45, Catelyn V

“A woman in a bearskin…”

-A Storm of Swords, CH 45, Catelyn V

Septa Unella ... with callused hands and homely, scowling features … would growl when she shook the queen awake.

-A Dance with Dragons, CH 43, Cersei I

“... with a child in one arm suckling at her breast…”

-A Storm of Swords, CH 45, Catelyn V

Septa Scolera ... a sour smell to her, like milk on the verge of going bad.

-A Dance with Dragons, CH 43, Cersei I

“... In the other hand she holds a battleaxe.”

-A Storm of Swords, CH 45, Catelyn V

Septa Moelle ... a wrinkled face as sharp as the blade of an axe.

-A Dance with Dragons, CH 43, Cersei I

Interestingly, we have a fair female held captive by a She-Bear. This draws one’s attention to everyone’s favorite song, “Bear and the Maiden Fair” Lannisters with their fair hair, and Mormont with their bear sigil.

A female captive (Asha) is kept in the company of a She-Bear (Alysane)

This can also be played in gender roles, and transposed against other scenes, such as when Brienne is forced to defend herself against a bear and Jaime comes to her rescue.

A male lion captive (Tyrion) is kept in the company of a He-Bear (Jorah)

A female lion captive (Cersei) is kept in the company of ____________

Fill in the blank ;)

Asha’s description of Alysane:

Even in sleep (Alysane) wore ringmail under her furs, boiled leather under that
-A Dance with Dragons, CH 42, The King’s Prize

Cersei thinks this of Septa Moelle:

This one still has her maidenhead, I’ll wager, Cersei thought, though by now it’s hard and stiff as boiled leather.
-A Feast for Crows, CH 43, Cersei X

Aero Hotah thinks about the day he was branded:

Keep your longaxe sharp, the bearded priests had told him, the day they branded him ... He could still recall the sounds of the three bells, the way that Noom’s deep peals set his very bones to shuddering, ... when they went to see the bears dance down the Sinner’s Steps.
-A Feast for Crows, CH 2, The Captain of the Guards

Septa Unella stepped forward. “A sinner comes before you,” she declared.

She had to move. Naked, shorn, barefoot, Cersei made a slow descent down the broad marble steps ... Septa Unella, Septa Scolera, and Septa Moelle followed.

Septa Scolera rang her bell, singing, “Shame, shame, shame upon the sinner, shame, shame.”

“Shame, shame, shame on the sinner,” chanted the septas ... Bells were ringing, ringing, ringing.
- A Dance with Dragons, CH 65, Cersei II

(credit: Lady Arya's Song)
- Where there's a Wells, there's a way

On Cersei’s second visit with the new High Septon, she is escorted into the Sept by a certain person of interest:


“His High Holiness has been expecting you. I am Ser Theodan the True, formerly Ser Theodan Wells.”

-A Feast for Crows, CH 43, Cersei X

Their captain knelt before her. “Perhaps Your Grace will recall me. I am Ser Theodan the True.”

-A Dance with Dragons, CH 54, Cersei II

Theodan Wells, of House Wells, sworn to House Stark according to semi-canon sources, (The Ice and Fire campaign guide). Funny that a northman has risen to such a prominent position as captain of the Warrior's Sons. Here's a link to a screen shot from the Campaign Guide: http://imgur.com/j1E0dfN courtesy of Universal Sword Donar

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High Septon Howland - Reed'ing between the lines

(The crannogmen) were a cowardly people ... and preferred to hide from foes rather than face them in open battle.

-A Clash of Kings, CH 21, Bran III

We come now to the centerpiece character of this theory: Howland Reed

Before we contrast him to the High Septon, let’s first explore everything we definitively know about Howland Reed:

- Howland is the Lord of Greywater Watch

- Howland is a crannogman (people renowned for deceptive combat)

- Howland is short

- Howland is brave

- Howland was one of Ned’s most trusted bannermen

- Howland survived the Battle at the Tower of Joy with Ned

- Howland saved Ned from Arthur Dayne

- Howland has two children: Meera and Jojen

- Howland has a wife: Jyana

- Howland is “grown to manhood” when he departs for the Tourney at Harrenhal (19yrs ago)

- Howland is referred to as “my father’s man” by Lyanna (19 years ago)

- Howland prays to the Old Gods

- Howland is in his 30's

Now, let’s take a look at this High Sparrow:

The High Sparrow is the leader of these, bearded, axe-wielding, cold-resilient sparrows. We first see him in Brienne’s travel to Duskendale. Here is how she describes him:

… a spare small man …

The septon had a lean sharp face and a short beard, grizzled grey and brown. His thin hair was pulled back and knotted behind his head…

-A Feast for Crows, CH 4, Brienne I

His, at one point, brown hair is “knotted behind his head”

There’s only one other person ever mentioned to have brown hair tied in this fashion: Meera

edit: There are howoever 2 people who have their hair in a “knot” and 1 other to have a “widow’s knot”

Though near Robb’s age, she was slim as a boy, with long brown hair knotted behind her head

-A Clash of Kings, CH 21 ,Bran III

The High Sparrow explains to Brienne and her party:

“Septs have been despoiled, maidens and mothers raped by godless men and demon worshipers. Even silent sisters have been molested. Our Mother Above cries out in her anguish. It is time for all anointed knights to forsake their worldly masters and defend our Holy Faith.”

- A Feast for Crows, CH 4, Brienne I

This “small man” is appealing to Brienne’s party to help defend the weak and helpless.

This sounds familiar to Meera and Jojen’s pledge to Bran:

“Grant mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we shall never fail you.”

-A Clash of Kings, CH 21, Brann III

Later, this “small man” forcibly takes the new position of High Septon, as Cersei notes:

… Septon Luceon had been nine votes from elevation when those doors had given way, and the sparrows came pouring into the Great Sept with their leader on their shoulders and their axes in their hands.

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

The new High Septon sets up residence in the Sept of Baelor, and refuses to leave. As such, Cersei is forced to come to him:

“This is absurd.”

“It is, Your Grace,” Lady Merryweather agreed. “The High Septon should have come to you.

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

Upon meeting the new High Septon, Cersei is again forced into his terms:

When he knelt before the altar, she had no choice but to kneel beside him … It would seem they must confer upon their knees. A small man’s ploy, she thought…

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

This is important to note. Not only is she highlighting the High Septon’s cunning, but this small man is once again making Cersei do what he wants.

Cersei notes his features:

His face was sharply pointed, with deep-set eyes as brown as mud.

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

Now, Jojen has green eyes. But, as we’ve seen in Ned and Robb, or Rhaegar and Jon, eye color isn’t necessarily an indicator of parentage. However, the way in which the eyes are described is very similar:

The High Septon has “eyes as brown as mud”

Jojen’s, twice described, “eyes were the color of moss”

In both cases, a simile is used to describe the eyes as things one would find in the Neck: Mud and Moss

A couple more earthy descriptions of the High Septon:

his feet were bare and black, gnarled and hard as tree roots.

“ … this new (High Septon) was born with filth beneath his fingernails.”

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

Cersei is notably disgusted with the High Septon’s filthy appearance and filthy followers:

“Have you seen what they have done to Blessed Baelor’s statue? They befoul the plaza with their pigs and goats and night soil.”

“Night soil can be washed away more easily than blood, Your Grace. If the plaza was befouled, it was befouled by the execution that was done here.”

He dares throw Ned Stark in my face?

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

The High Septon emphasizes how terrible Ned’s murder was - it is worse than shitting over the entire plaza. Sentiments of a bitter friend, perhaps?

During their meeting, Cersei questions why the High Septon has refused to bless Tommen:

“Your Grace is mistaken. We have not refused.”

“You have not come.”

“The hour is not yet ripe.”

Are you a priest or a greengrocer?

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

Cersei can’t seem to budge the High Septon as he, ever so slyly, pushes Cersei into a conversation about re-establishing the Faith Militant:

“Maegor’s laws—”

“—could be undone.” She let that hang there, waiting for the High Sparrow to rise to the bait.

He did not disappoint her. “The Faith Militant reborn . . . that would be the answer to three hundred years of prayer, Your Grace.

-A Feast for Crows CH 28, Cersei VI

So, from their first meeting, the High Septon has forced Cersei’s hand three different times:

- He gets her to come to the Sept

- He gets her to confer on her knees

- He gets her to give him massive power by re-establishing the Faith Militant

And he achieves each of these by simply being unwilling to move.

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- Hermit's Hole and Religions Crossed

Interestingly, there was another septon once, who took up residence in a similarly described sept:

“It is called the Hermit’s Hole. The first holy man to find his way here lived therein, and worked such wonders that others came to join him.”

Hermit’s Hole had been a damp, dark place, floored with dirt and echoing to the sounds of dripping water…

Inside the Sept of Baelor, Cersei notes other septons:

They had pails of soap and water, and were scrubbing at the floor.

The queen knew that she should kneel, but the floor was wet with soap and dirty water…

“Is this how you greet me? With a scrub brush in your hand, dripping water?”

After their meeting, the Faith Militant is born again. Cersei’s plot to frame Margery goes underway, but again the High Septon remains unmoved. When called to court to answer for abducting Margery, the High Septon instead sends the She-Bear-like septa, Moelle - with armed guards, no less.

When Osfryd Kettleback asks if he should clear the crowd gathering to protest Margery’s imprisoment, Cersei answers:

“No. Let them shout until they’re hoarse, it will not sway the Sparrow. He only listens to the gods.”

“Only listens to the old gods”? Seems similar to:

but before (Howland) slept he knelt on the lakeshore, looking across the water to where the Isle of Faces would be, and said a prayer to the old gods of north and Neck . . .”

After meeting with Margery, Cersei finds the High Septon in a curious place.

She found the High Septon waiting for her in a small seven-sided audience chamber. The faces of the Seven had been carved into the walls. Cersei thought the carvings crude and ugly, but there was a certain power to them, especially about the eyes … that somehow made the faces come alive.

Let’s compare this room, line by line, to the aforementioned similar sept, “Hermit’s Hole”

The room was sparse and plain, with bare stone walls, a rough-hewn table, three chairs, and a prayer bench.

The furnishings were strange but simple; a long table, a settle, a chest, several tall cases full of books, and chairs.

The faces of the Seven had been carved into the walls.

wide doors carved with likenesses of the Mother and the Father

Cersei take close note to these strange faces on the wall. Calling them “crude” and “ugly”; saying that the eyes had “power” which made “the faces come alive”. Sound familiar?

You guessed it, weirwoods.

As Cersei prepares to leave, she is given a very cold response:

“No,” said the High Septon. It was only a word, one little word, but to Cersei it felt like a splash of icy water in the face.

Cersei could feel the eyes of the Seven staring at her … a sudden shiver of fear went through her, cold as ice.

Any other guilty parties noted to feel cold in the eyes of the Gods? Sure:

Varamyr could see the weirwood’s red eyes staring down at him from the white trunk. The gods are weighing me. A shiver went through him.

But, why is GRRM calling our attention to weirwoods intermingling with The Faith? Well:

The High Septon walked slowly, leaning on a weirwood staff topped by a crystal orb.

As you can see from the imagery, beneath the crystal orb of The Faith, lies a weirwood "stick" of the Old Gods.

Howland, posing as the High Septon, would be hiding beneath the guise of The Faith, and twice described as “thin as a broom” or as thin as a "stick"

So, if Howland is the High Septon, and his purpose is to dethrone the current rulers and establish Jon (or Someone else?) as the new king, we see a massively strong parallel to the massive turtle Tyrion witnesses on the Rhyone:

It was another turtle, a horned turtle of enormous size, its dark green shell mottled with brown and overgrown with water moss and crusty black river molluscs.

“We are blessed,” Ysilla was crying loudly, as tears streamed down her face. “We are blessed, we are blessed.”

“It was him,” cried Yandry. “The Old Man of the River.”

And why not? Tyrion grinned. Gods and wonders always appear, to attend the birth of kings.

(credit: Lady Arya's Song)

As Howland (The Old Man of the River) attended the birth of the King (Jon).

When Jaime is traveling the Riverlands, he makes camp, and some of his men are "play-fighting" with some women:

Jaime bet a copper star on the blonde girl riding Raff the Sweetling, and lost it when the two of them went down splashing amongst the reeds. Across the river wolves were howling...

Cersei (the blonde girl) will use UnGregor (Raff the Sweetling), but lose when the two of them are defeated by Howland Reed (splashing amongst the reeds). And across the Riverlands, the North will cheer in triumph (wolves were howling).

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A Shadow on the Wall.

"May I leave you with a bit of a riddle, Lord Tyrion?" He did not wait for an answer. "In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. 'Do it,' says the king, 'for I am your lawful ruler.' 'Do it,' says the priest, 'for I ciommand you in the names of the gods.' ' Do it,' says the rich man, 'and all this gold shall be yours.' So tell me—who lives and who dies?"
[...]
"The king, the priest, the rich man—who lives and who dies? Who will the swordsman obey? It's a riddle without an answer, or rather, too many answers. All depends on the man with the sword."
“And yet he is no one,” Varys said. “He has neither crown nor gold nor favor of the gods, only a piece of pointed steel.”
“That piece of steel is the power of life and death.”
“Just so… yet if it is the swordsmen who rule us in truth, why do we pretend our kings hold the power? Why should a strong man with a sword ever obey a child like Joffrey, or a wine-sodden oaf like his father?”
“Because these child kings and drunken oafs can call other strong men, with other swords?”
“The these other swordsmen have the true power. Or do they? Whence came their swords? Why do they obey?” Varys smiled. “Some say knowledge is power. Some tell us that all power comes from the gods. Others say it derives from law.”
[...]
Tyrion cocked his head sideways. “Did you mean to answer your damned riddle, or only to make my head ache worse?”
Varys smiled. “Here then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”
“So power is a mummer’s trick?”
“A shadow on the wall,” Varys murmured, “yet shadows can kill. And oftimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”
-A Clash of Kings, CH 8, Tyrion II


We see from this very perplexing riddle that there are no right answers in Westeros. Here we have a seemingly simple man, a sellsword, and yet we can not tell who he will serve. In the end, Varys says power is a mummer’s trick, a shadow on the wall. Then finishes by telling Tyrion that a small man can cast a very large shadow.

What could this mean in relation to the High Sparrow and his relationship to Howland Reed? Well, if the High Sparrow is the trick, the shadow on the wall if you will, you would not need to see him creating a shadow or linked to shadow. You only need to see him as the priest. The shadow, or trickster if you will, is Howland Reed.

I the dream they were only shadows, grey wraiths on horses made of mist.
-Game of Thrones, CH 39, Eddard X

Interestingly, this dream of Eddards comes after Jory is killed in the streets by Lannister men. Howland was one of the shadows, but Martyn Cassel, Jory’s father, was also one of those shadows and he died that day. Jory also being dead, and then Howland coming to Ned’s dream as a shadow could mean something.

But this creeping shadow gets creepier, as the book goes on. Let’s go to the second legend of Howland Reed, if you will, KotLT in Clash of Kings, CH 21, Bran III
Interestingly, just before the story starts, another link to shadows is mentioned, another member of the seven men who went into the Tower of Joy, one of the six shadows, Theo Wull.
Shadow 1.

There are Wulls west of the mountains…
“Wull?” said Meera. “Jojen, wasn’t there a Wull who rode with Father during the war?”
“Theo Wull.” Jojen was was breahing hard from the climb. “Buckets, they used to call him.”
-A Storm of Swords, CH 24, Bran III

Shadow 2 is in Jojen's face as they speak of the KotLT

“Do you know any stoires…”
“...Hodor likes stories about knights. I do, too….”
“There was one knight,” said Meera, “in the year of the false spring. The Knight of the Laughing Tree, they called him. He might have been a crannogman, that one.”
“Or not.” Jojen’s face was dappled with green shadows.
-A Storm of Swords, CH 24, Bran III

Dappled with green shadows is very interesting, ominous and creepy.

Shadow 3 is just another shadow notation, nothing fancy, but introduces the knight who was prayed for by Howland

But late on the afternoon of that second day, as the shadows grew long, a mystery knight appeared in the lists.”
-A Storm of Swords, CH 24, Bran III

Shadow 4 ends the chapter, and in no subtle way.

Bran shoook his head. The day was growing old by then, and long shadows were creeping down the mountainsides to send black fingers through the pines.
-A Storm of Swords, CH 24, Bran III

Creeping? Black fingers? Normally I’d say this was just some ominous warning, but being they just spoke of Howland Reed, I think this is talking about his creeping and sneaking rise to power. These shadows are Howland Reed rising to power. In all we only have 5 links if you are generous, to Howland Reed and the shadow as of yet. And there can be no doubt the priest in Vary’s riddle could be played by the High Sparrow. The question is, is the Sparrow just a shadow of a small man? A trick on the wall? We’ll see.

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FAQS:

Q: Howland was confirmed by GRRM to be in his 30's, yet the High Septon has grey hair, a lined face, and is described as an "old man" both by Cersei and in the Appendix of AFoC and ADwD.
A: His beard is described as grizzled grey/brown, so not full grey. Crannogmen are small, and Cersei's interpretation is usually quite negative, so she may see him as a frail old man, when he's not. Also, people are known to age prematurely in ASOIAF for various reasons, and Howland has been practicing magic and participating in war, which may add years to a man's life. The age argument has been put forward again and again and answered, but some still persist.

edit: The appendix is not a tell all guide. There are mistakes and intentional misdirection for spoilers in there. Examples forthcoming.

Q: Howland's efforts would be better directed to other causes - helping the North against the Boltons, or helping the Riverlands against the Freys
A: See Faith Militant, and the results of what he's already accomplished, effectively sacking a store of riches provided by the Lannisters, and infiltrating a small army which may be growing in KL. Howland is also known to fight unfairly, or indirectly. Exploration of his motives here should still be encouraged, as well as explanations of what he may be doing to take back Winterfell if he were in the north, etc.

Q: How does Howland learn the Faith so quickly?
A: "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies" Being a lord, he has access to resources most commoners do not have. He had exposure to southern traditions as early as the KotLT incident, and could have countless stores of books on the Seven, being a lord and rather far south already on the map for a northerner. The wall has 1000's of books, Winterfell had hundreds, who knows how many books Howland had as lord of the neck?

Another possibility is that he doesn't use extensive knowledge of the Faith, but rather confirmation bias, good acting and his mob, as odd as that would seem.

Q: The timeline seems to not be enough for Howland to learn the Seven so well and then gain a following as he does.
A: If this bothers you, you may want to consider that it's possible Ned sent Howland on a recon and healing mission to the Riverlands, to discover the true nature of the Mountain's motives and actions. Howland is his most trusted bannerman, and his wife's house is undoubtably important. This extends Howland Reed's actions to cover all five books, as well. There are many things to consider. The timeline for this action would coorelate to directly after Ned's fever dream which includes Howland.

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Absolutely brilliant work done on the analysis of the septas and the encounter with Brienne and the company she meets. I think you all have figured it out, but I did want to touch upon the last topic talked about in v.3





“In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me – who lives and who dies?”




Part of me wants to relate this quote to Jon Snow, who many think is a contender for the iron throne. I like to think of him as the sellsword in the middle - a man of common birth (I disagree that he is no great mind, however!). I tie this quote to Jon because it makes me think of the passage where Aemon tells him to kill the boy. Perhaps it is foreshadowing: which boy will Jon kill, and which man will he let live? Do the men represent the reasons for Jon to forsake his vows, or the reasons for him to take the throne? not sure, but my crackpot is that they represent the temptations that Jon will face if he has to choose whether or not to take the lead in the song of ice and fire. I know I may be wearing my tin foil hat but I just had to put that out there. :) Howland Reed ties into all this because he is that one person who has the power to tie it all together and shove these issues in Jon's face.. and he may also be a "priest" now.


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Absolutely brilliant work done on the analysis of the septas and the encounter with Brienne and the company she meets. I think you all have figured it out, but I did want to touch upon the last topic talked about in v.3

Part of me wants to relate this quote to Jon Snow, who many think is a contender for the iron throne. I like to think of him as the sellsword in the middle - a man of common birth (I disagree that he is no great mind, however!). I tie this quote to Jon because it makes me think of the passage where Aemon tells him to kill the boy. Perhaps it is foreshadowing: which boy will Jon kill, and which man will he let live? Do the men represent the reasons for Jon to forsake his vows, or the reasons for him to take the throne? not sure, but my crackpot is that they represent the temptations that Jon will face if he has to choose whether or not to take the lead in the song of ice and fire. I know I may be wearing my tin foil hat but I just had to put that out there. :) Howland Reed ties into all this because he is that one person who has the power to tie it all together and shove these issues in Jon's face.. and he may also be a "priest" now.

You got here just a tad early! I've incorporated Vary's riddle into the theory. It's the section titled, "A shadow on the wall"

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High Sparrow's Appearance



Brown eyes are hardly an uncommon feature, and many old people could be said to have gnarled feet, especially if they travel a lot, as the High Sparrow has, as have plenty of other people displaced by the war. Septon Meribald is described in a similar manner, because he too is a traveling septon. Furthermore, many poor, undernourished smallfolk could be described as thin and short as well. As far as tied back hair is concerned, other male characters who are not crannogmen, like Haldon Halfmaester and Viserys Targaryen wore their hair tied back behind their head. Furthermore, though the High Sparrow can apparently scrub floors and pull a wagon of bones, he's apparently too old to stop Cersei from pushing him aside, while Howland Reed had enough physical strength to fight several members of the Kingsguard, the best knights alive, and survive. Though Taena Merryweather says that the High Sparrow was born with filth beneath his fingernails, this is simply a reference to his being born poor. Again, most poor smallfolk in Westeros live in dirty environments, so this is also not evidence that he was born in the swampy Neck. Indeed, the High Septon himself seems to be a surprisingly clean person. Cersei does not see any dirt on his feet or fingernails, and reports that his robes are clean, if patched and frayed. Finally, though the High Sparrow did complain about Ned Stark's execution at the Sept of Baelor, this hardly suggests that he cared about Ned; it only meant that he did not want the holy Sept to be desecrated with blood. This was apparently so egregious a sin that even the previous fat, corrupt High Septon complained about it. Should we assume that this man was a secret Manderly considering that, like Wyman Manderly, he is a morbidly obese follower of the Seven who is very concerned about the murder of a Stark lord?



Robb's Will and the GNC Connection



The GNC is supposed to be about playing the Boltons and Stannis against each other and securing Northern independence under Jon when the dust clears, because Robb's will names Jon as his heir. Even if we ignore the fact that the will was written at a time when Rickon was believed to be dead, and that we have proof that Northerners are attempting to return Rickon to power, while we have no proof that anyone is attempting to put Jon on any kind of throne, this idea is still not compatible with Howland's alleged mission. Howland is supposed to be attempting to weaken the current monarchy and reveal Jon's true lineage and make him king instead, but this is incompatible with Northern independence by definition. If the Northerners want independence with Jon as King in the North, then Howland must not have gotten the memo, because Jon can't be both King of an independent North and King on the Iron Throne at the same time. If the Northerners want the former, then there's no reason for Howland to play septon in the South. If the Northerners want the latter, then Robb's will is irrelevant, because Jon's "claim" to the throne would be drawn from his being Rhaegar's son, not Robb's will.



Northern Sparrows and Northern Septas



I don't see how we can assume that the axe-wielding shirtless sparrow is Galbart Glover, merely because he bears an axe and is shirtless in chilly weather. An axe is generally used to cut wood even by the poor, so it makes sense that peasants who became sparrows would be armed with these. Though we know that the Northmen handle winter better than Southerners, it's not like this is because their skin is somehow more resilient to the cold than that of their Southern counterparts. Indeed, I don't think we've ever seen a shirtless Northerner. Quite to the contrary, the Northerners are generally described as wearing more furry clothing, snowshoes, etc. and it is this that enables them to survive the winter, not some specially resilient bare skin, which must be kept well insulated from the cold, as the Northerners know better than anyone else. However, this sparrow's lack of a shirt makes much more sense if he is in fact a sparrow. It is important to note that this man has a seven-pointed star carved into his chest. This is a sign that, like the Andal invaders of old, he is zealously devoted to the Seven, and willing to undergo significant physical pain on behalf of his faith. The High Sparrow also claims to flagellate himself to atone for his sins. Even in the real world, across different religious traditions, the most zealous have proven their extreme piety by undergoing self-mortification. This explains why he is uninterested in wearing a shirt: he is used to undergoing pain and discomfort for his faith.



As far as the septas who attend Cersei are concerned, it seems very unlikely that they are Mormont women. The AFFC appendix lists the characters as they are before the book begins, and it mentions that Moelle and Unella are members of the Most Devout serving at the Great Sept of Baelor. This suggests that Moelle and Unella were in KL as Most Devout before the High Sparrow and his followers arrived there, meaning that neither of them could have been a Mormont in disguise traveling with the band of sparrows from which the High Sparrow emerges, as this group is not yet in KL when the book begins. Therefore, the only way that they could be Mormont women is if Howland sent them ahead to integrate with the Faith before his arrival. Though we don't know enough about the Most Devout selection process to say that this would be impossible for the Mormont women to accomplish, the wealth and influence of the Most Devout, who can throw feasts and hire expensive prostitutes, suggests that one cannot simply come in off the street and become one of them; they are hardly going to open their coffers to just anybody. If the College of Cardinals in the real world is any indication, becoming a member of the Most Devout requires years of religious service, and is not something that a stranger could accomplish quickly without force at his disposal, like the High Sparrow did when he held the Most Devout at axe-point and forced them to elect him. We have no indication that any of the Most Devout were recent additions, or installed by force.



Furthermore, the appearance of these septas suggests that they cannot be Maege, Lyra, and Jorelle. Septa Moelle is described as having white hair, meaning that she cannot be one of Maege's daughters, who are at most, in their early twenties. Though we may say that she is Maege herself, the other two are also described as old. When Cersei is talking to an imprisoned Margaery, the latter talks about how she wanted to claw Septa Unella's eyes out. Cersei thinks to herself that it is a shame that Margaery did not do this, as "blinding some old septa would certainly persuade the High Sparrow of your guilt." However, it is important to note that Cersei has not yet met Unella, and does not know who she is until Unella actually introduces herself after Cersei's own arrest. That said, Cersei's assumption suggests that septas are generally old, and nothing else we know about Unella suggests otherwise. Indeed, when talking to the High Sparrow for the first time, Cersei expresses her annoyance that the High Sparrow expects her to waste Tommen's soldiers "guarding the wrinkled cunts of a thousand sour septas" again implying that most septas are old. Additionally, when Septas Unella and Scolera are escorting Cersei to the High Sparrow, Unella chastises Scolera for talking too much, saying "You chatter too much, you foolish old woman." Furthermore, while returning from her confession, Cersei thinks about how sweet it would be to "slam an elbow into Septa Scolera's face" so that she would fall down the steps, and that "the wrinkled old cunt" might crash into Septa Unella as well on the way down. Therefore, Septa Scolera is also old. Additionally, when being escorted by the three septas during her walk of shame, Cersei is afraid that if she panics and runs away, the "three hags" would imprison her for good, suggesting that all three septas are old. Cersei also refers to Septa Scolera as an "old hag" during the walk. Because she calls Septa Scolera, who is definitely old, a hag, and uses the same word to refer to all three septas, Septa Unella is probably old as well. Thus, we know that two septas, Moelle and Scolera, are old, and that Unella is probably old too. Given that we know that Maege is with both her daughters, and that Maege is old while her daughters are young, the only way that the three of them could be these three septas is if one was old and two were young. However, the fact that at least two of the septas are old tells us that they cannot be Maege and her daughters. One might assume that these women are simply general warrior-women from Bear Island who are not from House Mormont, but we have no reason to believe that this is the case, because we have no descriptions of women from Bear Island who are not from House Mormont. The only connection between the septas and Bear Island is the septas' appearance, which is supposed to resemble that of the women of House Mormont, but we have no reason to believe that other warrior-women of Bear Island outside of the ruling House also look like this.



Women held captive by she-bears



Catelyn, Asha, and Cersei are hardly the only women held captive in the story. They aren't even the only POV women held captive. Jeyne Westerling, as well as POV characters Arya, Sansa, and Arianne are also held captive, and are definitely not guarded by Mormont women like Catelyn and Asha were. There's no reason to believe that Cersei's captors are necessarily Mormonts, as Catelyn and Asha's were, instead of non-Mormonts, like Arya, Sansa, and Arianne's captors were.



Sparrow's weapons



If the gang of sparrows are Northern soldiers, we would expect them to be armed like soldiers. Yet, when we initially meet them, they are not. When Brienne initially meets them, "several" have axes, but more are armed with "crude wooden clubs and cudgels." When Cersei arrives at the Great Sept of Baelor to meet the High Sparrow for the first time, the sparrows at the door of the sept are armed with "staves and scythes, cudgels and clubs, several axes" again, all farm implements turned weapons that common people would have access to. It is only the ones who block her way who wear mail and boiled leather and are armed with spears and longswords, and even then, most of them have axes and only a few wear plate, and dinted plate at that. During Cersei's walk of shame, the sparrows are "armed with spears and axes and clad in bits of dented plate, rusted mail, and cracked leather, under roughspun surcoats". When Jaime encounters sparrows in the Riverlands, he considers them to be "armed peasants" who are armed with scythes, staves, a spiked club, an axe, "some hoes sharpened into cruel points" and only one piece of rusty mail. All in all, the vast majority of sparrows have poor quality weaponry and armor. Most of them wield farm implements. Only a few have the mail, plate, swords or spears that one might expect Northern soldiers to have, and even that is rusted, dented, and incomplete.



The Sparrows and Duskendale



The sparrows believe that it is "time for all anointed knights to forsake their worldly masters and defend our Holy Faith" in KL. Brienne and her companions are knights, so the sparrows ask them to come along to KL. It is after Brienne and company adamantly refuse to go to KL with them that the sparrows consider them to be "false knights" and therefore worthy of being spat upon and physically intimidated. The sparrows are pissed that Brienne and her companions are going to Duskendale, not because they are going to Duskendale per se, but simply because they are *not* accompanying the sparrows to KL. The sparrows' behavior actually doesn't make any sense if they are secretly Northmen. Yes, the Northmen lost an important battle at Duskendale, but what does that have to do with Brienne and her companions? It's not like they are asking the sparrows to accompany them to Duskendale, the site of their ignominious loss. And there's nothing "false" about a knight simply because that knight happens to travel to a location where a battle occurred, especially considering that neither Brienne nor her companions were sworn to any of the lords who fought there at the time. As such, how can the Northmen sparrows expect Brienne and her companions to take their "false knight" accusation as an insult, when the Northmen sparrows' hostility towards Duskendale has nothing to do with them? Furthermore, if the sparrows are secretly Northmen, and they know Brienne doesn't know this, then how can they reasonably expect her and her companions to respect any feelings about Duskendale they may have? Do the Northmen sparrows also hate the inhabitants of Duskendale simply because they live at the location of the North's humiliating loss? If the sparrows are Northmen, then this is pointless pettiness from them.



Ser Theodan the True



This is perhaps the single biggest piece of evidence in favor of the theory. Apparently, Theodan Wells is indeed a knight from the North who has been put in a position of authority by the High Sparrow. This is unusual, because knighthood is an Andal custom that people in the First Men-dominated North generally don't follow. That said, it's not unheard of; we know that Jorah is a knight. But there's still not enough information about either the Warrior's Sons or House Wells to make any firm conclusions. We know nothing else about House Wells, though given Theodan's line of work, it could be one of the few Northern houses who follow the Seven, like the Manderlys. Theodan and Lancel are the only two named members of the Warrior's Sons, so we don't really know enough about its membership to make any more judgements about them. Theodan could well be a Northern sleeper agent, or he could simply be a pious knight who is willing to defend his Faith and has no loyalty to any earthly House anymore.



The Sparrow and the Reeds



There are no parallels between the Reed children's behavior and that of the High Sparrow unless you selectively quote the text. Though Meera and the High Sparrow have both taken prisoners who have attempted to escape and thus made their situation worse, they are hardly the only ones to do so. Theon and Jaime were both prisoners who attempted to escape their captors and thus made their captivity more unbearable. Are Robb and Ramsay, who held them captive, therefore secret crannogmen too? The High Sparrow and the Reed kids may support the idea of helping the weak and helpless, but so do Dany, Stannis, and the Brotherhood without Banners. Are they all secretly crannogmen because of this? Jojen and the High Sparrow are also not the only obstinate, solemn people that royalty want to slap. Arya threatens to punch the solemn Ned Dayne because she thinks he is lying about sharing a wet nurse with Jon. Is Ned Dayne a crannogman too? Nor are the High Sparrow and Jojen the only people who can order other people around despite their small size. Tyrion orders plenty of bigger people around despite being a dwarf, as does Dany; are they therefore a secret crannogmen?



Colors, Turtles, Weirwoods, and Other Miscellaneous Words



There is no reason to believe that any of these things have some kind of deeper, hidden meaning. For instance, as far as the mud/moss thing is concerned, all it means is that the High Sparrow has brown eyes while Jojen has green eyes. If the mud-colored eyes of the High Sparrow are "evidence" that he is a crannogman, then why can't we assume that any other character who is stained with mud at some point in the series, like Ned, Catelyn, or Arya is also a secret crannogman? Is Quentyn Martell a crannogman because Barristan derisively describes him as "mud"? Similarly, Cersei's comparing the High Sparrow to a greengrocer is meant to insult him for haggling with her. If the mere use of the word "green" in this exchange means that he is a crannogman, then why can't Cersei also be considered a crannogman because she has green eyes? The reference to a splash of icy water is meant to illustrate how shocked Cersei is that the High Sparrow is refusing her request. It has nothing to do with the North. The word "icy" is used to refer to all sorts of random non-Northern things, like the eyes of the Knight of Ninestars, and even Cersei's own stare when she meets the High Sparrow for the first time. Should we assume that she is also secretly from the North because of this?



There is no evidence of "weirwoods intermingling with the Faith" anywhere in the books. If we are to assume that the fact that the High Sparrow "only listens to the gods" is somehow connected to Howland's saying a prayer to the Old Gods before going to the Isle of Faces, then why can't we connect the High Sparrow to any character who prays at any other point in the series, like Ned, Catelyn, Sansa, etc? Indeed, there is a gulf of difference between merely praying to the gods, as Howland did, and listening solely to their supposed will, as the High Sparrow does. There is no connection between the faces of the Seven carved into the High Sparrow's room, and those of the weirwoods. Cersei and Varamyr may be scared by their appearance, but that only means that they both fear the power of their respective deities, not that there is some kind of connection between the two faiths, aside from the fact that their religious iconography can sometimes be disturbing or even frightening to behold. Additionally, the weirwood staff topped by the crystal orb is held, not by the High Sparrow as one might expect if he was a believer in the Old Gods in disguise, but by his predecessor.



There is no connection between the turtle Tyrion sees on the Rhoyne and Jon. The turtle may have a green and brown shell with moss and mollusks on it, but so what? This is exactly what we would expect to see on the body of an animal that spends most of its life in a river. Again, if the reference to green moss and brown mud is to be interpreted as a reference to Howland Reed, then why can't literally any of the random references to mud and moss in various descriptions of various locations seen by various characters throughout the books be seen as a connection to Howland Reed? By this logic, plenty of the POV characters could be connected to Howland Reed because the words "moss", "mud", "green" and "brown" appear at some random point in some paragraph in some POV chapter or another.



Furthermore, if the turtle, which is the Old Man of the River, is meant to represent Howland Reed, who was present at the birth of "King Jon" then we would expect there to have been "Gods and wonders" present at his birth as well, if Tyrion is to be believed. Yet, Ned's description of the events at the Tower of Joy do not suggest that there were any gods or wonders present. There was, however a comet in the sky the day that Aegon was born, and not coincidentally, he is the king that Tyrion is referring to, not Jon. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that the blonde girl riding Raff the Sweetling who falls into some reeds as wolves howl nearby is somehow a reference to Cersei and UnGregor losing to Howland and the North. There are plenty of references to blondes, rivers, reeds, and wolves throughout throughout the series that have no hidden meanings, and there's no reason to believe that this line is any different. Should we assume that Lancel Lannister is a secret crannogman because Cersei refers to him as a "weak reed"? Or how about Septon Utt, who describes himself in a similar manner when referring to his pedophilia? Is he a secret crannogman too?



Howland's Motive and Methods



Howland has no reason to believe that it is necessary for Jon to be put on the Iron Throne, and plenty of reasons to believe otherwise. If Howland knows the truth about Jon's parentage, then he also knows that Ned *did not* want Jon to become King or indeed have anything at all to do with Southern politics, where his true heritage might become known and trigger the wrath of the new Baratheon monarchy. He knows that Ned was willing to put strain on his marriage and sully his own reputation to uphold this story. He also knows that Ned swore to serve Robert and his heirs, and may even know that Ned died to put Stannis, not Jon on the throne. If he knows about Robb's will, then he knows that Robb wanted Jon as heir to an independent Northern kingdom, *not* the Iron Throne. If he knows anything about Jon, he knows that Jon voluntarily joined the NW, and has risen to become LC, which would suggest a significant lack of interest in thrones. It's also important to remember that unlike Aemon, who swore his maester's vows by the Seven, and thus could be released from them by the High Septon, Jon swore his vows by the Old Gods, so Howland could not release Jon from them, even disguised as the High Sparrow. And that's assuming that Jon would want to wriggle out of his vows, which he doesn't. In short, Howland may be seeking vengeance for the Starks, but he has no reason to believe that any of them would approve of his goal of crowning Jon, even Jon.



We have little reason to believe that any of them would approve of his methods either. We are supposed to believe that Howland wants to break Cersei's power and expose Tommen's true parentage to dethrone him and make way for Jon as punishment for Cersei's complicity in the Starks' suffering, but that's *not* what Ned wanted. He wanted Cersei and her children to escape punishment. Indeed, Howland's motive for punishing Cersei to begin with is rather fuzzy, and is indicative of bizarrely misplaced priorities. How complicit was Cersei in the Starks' problems? She had Ned arrested, yes, but she did not want him executed and actually tried to prevent it. It was Joffrey who had Ned executed. It was Tywin who arranged the Red Wedding, and Walder Frey and Roose Bolton who carried it out. Yet for some reason, Howland does nothing while these far more guilty parties roam free. Joffrey and Tywin died thanks to forces at play that had nothing to do with Howland. Furthermore, instead of going after Walder Frey or Roose Bolton, Howland seems intent on punishing the least guilty party, Cersei, whose role in the Starks' fall was indirect, instead of Joffrey, Tywin, Walder, or Roose, whose roles were much more direct. Indeed, if Robb wanted vengeance against anybody, I'm pretty sure he'd want Howland to go after the treacherous lord who intentionally led his army into a trap at Duskendale, personally stabbed him in the heart, is squatting in his house, and is on the verge of cementing his control over his kingdom, using his sister, no less, instead of putting Jon on a throne that no Stark has ever been interested in. The North is in turmoil, so Howland has much better things to do than dicking around in the South playing septon. And let's not forget that while Howland was painstakingly attempting to secure a crown for Jon that he doesn't even know Jon wants, and knows that none of the Starks wanted Jon to have, Jon was assassinated. Oops! Maybe Howland might have been able to prevent that if he'd used some of those scruffy sparrows to help Jon or fight Roose Bolton, or do something of immediate value to the North instead of carrying out a pointless mummer's farce in KL, which has no bearing on the fate of the North. If Howland Reed is masquerading as the High Sparrow, it shows that he is willing to ignore both the will of the family he serves and the mess the North is currently in, showing that he clearly has his priorities horribly mixed up.



Howland's "brilliant" plan



Howland's plan is not brilliant, it is horrendously shortsighted and needlessly roundabout. If Howland Reed wants to punish the Lannisters, destabilize their government, and pave the way for Jon's ascension, he is doing an awful job. He started out in an excellent position. He had two very influential forms of leverage over Cersei: the Faith's blessing, and the Crown's debt to the Faith. Cersei can only solve one of these problems: either she can pay the debt to get the blessing and thus deprive the Crown of money to build a new navy, or she can ignore the debt and build a new navy, but deprive Tommen of the religious legitimacy that the Faith's blessing represents. If Howland wants to weaken Tommen by depriving him of religious legitimacy so that he can eventually bless Jon, all he has to do is refuse to back down, and insist that he won't bless Tommen unless the Crown's debt to the Faith is paid, knowing that Cersei would never do it. However, Howland just hands over both bargaining chips for a reward of dubious value; he agrees to bless Tommen and forgive the Crown's debts to the Faith in exchange for reviving the Faith Militant. Now that Howland has significantly strengthened Tommen by effectively giving him religious legitimacy and a new navy, one would expect that what he got in exchange was even more powerful than what he gave up. We are supposed to believe that Howland will use the FM to dethrone Tommen and crown Jon. However, this is clearly impossible.



By blessing Tommen, and not Jon, Howland is ensuring that not only the smallfolk, but the new FM itself will be backing Tommen. So how can Howland demand that the FM suddenly go and attempt to dethrone the very king that he just blessed and who allowed the reformation of the FM in the first place? This is especially important considering that Jon, Howland's supposed new candidate for king is, at best, Rhaegar's bastard, and at worst, the product of Rhaegar's polygamous union. The Faith looks down upon both bastards and polygamy, so one wonders whether the zealous FM would fight Tommen and back Jon merely because the High Septon suddenly demanded it. Far from hurting Tommen, this sudden shift just makes the High Septon look like a flip flopper violating the tenets of the Faith, and would make men as zealously devout as those in the FM question whether the High Septon really is the embodiment of the Seven on earth, or just a fraud. It's also important to note that Howland is a follower of the Old Gods, and the FM has a reputation for fanaticism against all enemies of the Faith. By reviving the FM, Howland has potentially put his actual religion in danger. While he is High Septon, he may be able to prevent them from attacking the "tree worshipers" of the North, but what happens after he is dead? Howland has apparently not considered the the long term consequences of armed religious zealots running around.



One might say that Howland did a good job of destabilizing Tommen's government by imprisoning Cersei. But even this was actually beneficial for Tommen's rule. With Cersei imprisoned, Kevan became regent, and would have repaired the relationship with the Faith and the Tyrells. This is why Varys had to assassinate him, and Howland had nothing to do with that. Even if Cersei loses her trial, thus questioning Tommen's legitimacy and allowing Howland to say he was born of incest, Howland can hardly use this as justification to back Jon, who was also conceived in a manner unacceptable to the Faith. All in all, Howland has done more to strengthen Tommen's government than to hurt it, and that too at the expense of the North and Jon, which suggests that he is comically incompetent.



There was no way that Howland could have anticipated that things would develop the way that they did, because these developments had much more to do with Cersei's negligence than his own active attempts to shape the situation to his liking. Assuming he heard about the death of the High Septon and immediately set out from Greywater Watch intending to replace him, there's no way he could guarantee that everything would work out according to plan. He'd need to read enough from the Seven Pointed Star to be able to successfully impersonate a septon, then find a bunch of armed, zealous smallfolk willing to follow his lead, and reach King's Landing with his gang of sparrows just before the Most Devout concluded their election process so that he could storm the election chamber and force them to pick him at knifepoint, and that too, while making sure that the Goldcloaks did not stop him, and that the Crown accepted the election as valid. If anything went wrong, like if he was delayed en route and arrived at KL after the election had concluded, or if he was arrested/killed by the Goldcloaks, or if he simply wasn't charismatic enough to build a following,his entire plan would collapse. And again, even after doing the impossible and becoming High Sparrow, he simply gives away his leverage in exchange for permission to begin rebuilding an army of religious fanatics of little use to him and which is a great threat to his religion. Even if this is, for some reason, what he wanted, he could hardly have anticipated that Cersei would be stupid enough to grant it. Furthermore, despite having given up quite a lot for his army of zealots, he does absolutely nothing to hurt Cersei until she goes too far and sends him Osney Kettleblack, something he could not have anticipated. Why would he abandon his home and Jon and leave the North to the Boltons to engage in such a risky plan with no immediate reward, and then repeatedly botch his attempts to destabilize the Lannister regime after he had worked so hard to become High Septon?



Additionally, from a narrative standpoint, the High Sparrow makes much more sense if he is exactly who he says he is. He is representative of the common people's fury at the corruption of the religious authorities and the negligence of the secular authorities. Up until now the lords have taken smallfolk meekness for granted, but the High Sparrow rose because the smallfolk's patience finally snapped, making them willing to take matters into their own hands. This adds realistic depth and complexity to the Game of Thrones by showing that the lords' actions have serious consequences, and introduces the Faith as a player of the Game, all of which is undercut if the High Sparrow is not really a puritan but a charlatan. Furthermore, the role that the High Sparrow plays in Cersei's downfall is meant to show us how Cersei opened up a Pandora's Box of trouble when she foolishly re-armed the Faith, and ended up getting entangled in the web of schemes and lies that she wove. Throughout Cersei's political career we have seen her repeatedly make bad decisions fueled by hubris and paranoia, so it is only to be expected that her own poor decision making comes back to bite her in the ass, as has happened to several other influential figures in King's Landing, like Jon Arryn, Ned, Robert, Tyrion, and Tywin. This is again undercut if Howland Reed always intended to bring her down.


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High Sparrow's Appearance

Brown eyes are hardly an uncommon feature, and many old people could be said to have gnarled feet, especially if they travel a lot, as the High Sparrow has, as have plenty of other people displaced by the war. Septon Meribald is described in a similar manner, because he too is a traveling septon. Furthermore, many poor, undernourished smallfolk could be described as thin and short as well. As far as tied back hair is concerned, other male characters who are not crannogmen, like Haldon Halfmaester and Viserys Targaryen wore their hair tied back behind their head.

I can't address all your issues, because most have to do with motive. There are 3 motives, you need only agree with one of the three. As far as tied back hair, this is the straw man argument we spoke of before! It is described as "knotted" and there are only 2 characters described as "knotted"

There are 2 other characters with hair tied in a "knot" and hair tied in a "widows knot" but even still, 2/5 is astronomical when you consider the amount of characters in this book. You only need to recognize this as an indicator, not as proof. There is no proof, it's all just hints and indicators of truth.

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I can't address all your issues, because most have to do with motive. There are 3 motives, you need only agree with one of the three. As far as tied back hair, this is the straw man argument we spoke of before! It is described as "knotted" and there are only 2 characters described as "knotted"

There are 2 other characters with hair tied in a "knot" and hair tied in a "widows knot" but even still, 2/5 is astronomical when you consider the amount of characters in this book. You only need to recognize this as an indicator, not as proof. There is no proof, it's all just hints and indicators of truth.

How is it proof when Obara Sand, Haldon, and Lady Dustin all wear their hair in knots? Knotted hair is not unique to crannogmen, or even Northerners.

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There is no compelling evidence that any Bear Island women went south aside from Dacey and Maege, who went as heir and liege lord with their levy, like a dozen or more other lords. They explicitly learned how to fight to defend their homes from IB raiding. There are six women in the entire series who fight in an army out of the roughly 150K we see, and the odds of any Bear Island soldiers being alive south of the Neck is slim. If they are, they are heading North.



The shadows thing is completely ridiculous. Shadows are mentioned 149 times in ASoS, and only three times in the chapter with the KotLT. The fact there is no connection to the High Sparrow and shadows only cements it. If there were anything to the theory, the parallels would extend to both.


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There is no compelling evidence that any Bear Island women went south aside from Dacey and Maege, who went as heir and liege lord with their levy, like a dozen or more other lords. They explicitly learned how to fight to defend their homes from IB raiding. There are six women in the entire series who fight in an army out of the roughly 150K we see, and the odds of any Bear Island soldiers being alive south of the Neck is slim. If they are, they are heading North.

The shadows thing is completely ridiculous. Shadows are mentioned 149 times in ASoS, and only three times in the chapter with the KotLT. The fact there is no connection to the High Sparrow and shadows only cements it. If there were anything to the theory, the parallels would extend to both.

So you aren't counting Theo Wull as a shadow, despite him being a shadow in Ned's dream? That's fair...

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So you aren't counting Theo Wull as a shadow, despite him being a shadow in Ned's dream? That's fair...

No, because even if I did, there is still nothing connecting shadows to the High Sparrow.

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I really enjoy this theory. I think the High Septon being Howland Reed is much better than introducing entirely new players half way through the series out of left field.



(f)Aegon was at least mentioned in the previous books before he seemingly pops out of nowhere and starts contending for the Iron Throne.



I think the textual evidence you provide is pretty impressive. To the naysayers, you have to realize that GRRM isn't going to make it obvious. He would leave smaller clues that add up like R+L=J. Howland Reed fighting Cersei's rule in Kings Landing certainly fits into his description of being Ned's loyal bannerman coming to avenge his lord's death.



We began the story with the honorable Stark family and watched in horror as the "good guys" were shot down. I think to sum up asoiaf in a single quote I'd choose Eddard's words.






"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives" Eddard GoT


When The Winds of Winter does come out I have a feeling the old wolf pack will start to form up again. Howland Reed's time with Ned at the ToJ would certainly make him an honorary wolf pack member.


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I really enjoy this theory. I think the High Septon being Howland Reed is much better than introducing entirely new players half way through the series out of left field.

(f)Aegon was at least mentioned in the previous books before he seemingly pops out of nowhere and starts contending for the Iron Throne.

I think the textual evidence you provide is pretty impressive. To the naysayers, you have to realize that GRRM isn't going to make it obvious. He would leave smaller clues that add up like R+L=J. Howland Reed fighting Cersei's rule in Kings Landing certainly fits into his description of being Ned's loyal bannerman coming to avenge his lord's death.

We began the story with the honorable Stark family and watched in horror as the "good guys" were shot down. I think to sum up asoiaf in a single quote I'd choose Eddard's words.

When The Winds of Winter does come out I have a feeling the old wolf pack will start to form up again. Howland Reed's time with Ned at the ToJ would certainly make him an honorary wolf pack member.

:agree: Welcome to the boards! :cheers:

No, because even if I did, there is still nothing connecting shadows to the High Sparrow.

The High Sparrow is the priest in the riddle. He's the work of a shadow, a trick on the wall. Howland Reed is the shadow. All I'm giving you is indicators of truth, it's up to you if you want to run with it.

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:agree: Welcome to the boards! :cheers:

The High Sparrow is the priest in the riddle. He's the work of a shadow, a trick on the wall. Howland Reed is the shadow. All I'm giving you is indicators of truth, it's up to you if you want to run with it.

And once again, that quote isn't about him nor was the original High Septon even dead at that point. If anything that foreshadows the death of Renly later that book instead of something that might happen 2-3 books from now.

After all the night is dark and full of terrors.

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And once again, that quote isn't about him nor was the original High Septon even dead at that point. If anything that foreshadows the death of Renly later that book instead of something that might happen 2-3 books from now.

After all the night is dark and full of terrors.

There aren't any rules I'm aware of for foreshadowing that state it's supposed to happen in the very next chapter. That would make this a straw man argument, as you are misconstruing the original argument point.

That aside, we've already put forth multiple times as well that Howland Reed could have taken to the Riverlands as early as the first GOT book after the Mountain does his raiding. He would simply need to provide relief and comfort to afflicted, if he's capable, or gather evidence agaisnt the Mountain and his men.

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