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Cleaver the Confused

What did Brandon the Breaker break?

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As far as I'm aware, all we know about this ancient King of Winter is that he joined forces with Joramun to end the reign of Night's King. From the wiki:

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Brandon Stark, known as Brandon the Breaker, was King of Winter and Lord of Winterfell. During the reign of the Night's King, the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he formed an alliance with the King-Beyond-the-Wall Joramun, to end the thirteen year long rule of the Night's King and his corpse queen. Thereafter he obliterated the Night's King's name from memory.

So where did he get his epithet? Brandon the Builder built stuff, Brandon the Shipwright liked ships, Brandon the Burner burnt ships... so what did Brandon the Breaker break? The reign of Night's King seems the obvious answer, but for me, 'break' doesn't really work as a verb in this context.

One thing you definitely can break is a pact, and there's one Pact in particular that would still have been pretty important in the days of the Kings of Winter... Could the Night's King (another Stark and Brandon's brother, according to Old Nan) have actually been somehow adhering to the terms of the Pact rather than practising nefarious sourceries, and Brandon/Joramun had other ideas? It would be a pretty effective cover-up to obliterate all historical records of who the Night's King's actually was and then concoct a compelling folk tale about how he was this really evil dude you heroically defeated. But just like poor old Aethelred the Unready or Bad King John, popular epithets don't tend to be coined by the bearer, and Brandon wasn't able to completely obliterate his reputation as a breaker of pacts, even if the reasons he earned this title have faded from memory over the centuries.

That's just one theory that occurred to me which I thought I'd throw out there to get the discussion started, but before the knives come out I'm by no means saying this is what I actually believe! Interested to hear what others think, and any other suggestions on what exactly Brandon the Breaker broke.

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A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

As the sun began to set the shadows of the towers lengthened and the wind blew harder, sending gusts of dry dead leaves rattling through the yards. The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan's stories, the tale of Night's King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night's Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. "And that was the fault in him," she would add, "for all men must know fear." A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.

He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night's King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night's King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.

He broke the spells binding the Night's Watch to the Night's King. 

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40 minutes ago, LynnS said:

He broke the spells binding the Night's Watch to the Night's King. 

Hmmm, possibly. 'Break the spell' is certainly a common usage (unlike 'break the reign') but 'spell' in that context is normally figurative, i.e. snapping someone out of a state of delusion, rather than literally referring to magic. And I don't think it's ever stated that Brandon/Joramun somehow countered the Night's King's dark sourceries - isn't it more likely they just marched to the Nightfort with an army and executed/imprisoned/exiled the guy? Then I guess any magical power he had over his sworn brothers would disappear, but it doesn't seem enough to me to result in Brandon being known as the Breaker several thousand years down the line.

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3 hours ago, Ralphis Baratheon said:

Broke the will of his enemies. 

A little non-specific for my liking. Couldn't anyone who wins a battle be said to have broken the will of their enemies?

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This is intriguing. I wonder if the original end to the Long Night involved some kind of truce between the Starks and the Others, mediated by the Children? This lasted for 13 Lord Commanders until the Night's King, when something went wrong.

Wild speculation, could the War for Sea Dragon point against the Warg King and his greenseer allies have somehow disrupted this truce? This could have led to the Night's King and Brandon the Breaker breaking the truce for good?

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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3 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

This is intriguing. I wonder if the original end to the Long Night involved some kind of truce between the Starks and the Others, mediated by the Children? This lasted for 13 Lord Commanders until the Night's King, when something went wrong.

Wild speculation, could the War for Sea Dragon point against the Warg King and his greenseer allies have somehow disrupted this truce? This could have led to the Night's King and Brandon the Breaker breaking the truce for good?

That's the kind of lines I was thinking along - as others have suggested, perhaps the Others are a lot more than icy demons intent on wiping out all warm-blooded life, and the mission of the Last Hero into the Lands of Always Winter was of a diplomatic rather than military nature.

Gonna have to read up on the War for Sea Dragon Point and the Warg King before I can comment on that - sounds really interesting but my knowledge of ASOIAF lore doesn't stretch that far!

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6 hours ago, Cleaver the Confused said:

Hmmm, possibly. 'Break the spell' is certainly a common usage (unlike 'break the reign') but 'spell' in that context is normally figurative, i.e. snapping someone out of a state of delusion, rather than literally referring to magic. And I don't think it's ever stated that Brandon/Joramun somehow countered the Night's King's dark sourceries - isn't it more likely they just marched to the Nightfort with an army and executed/imprisoned/exiled the guy? Then I guess any magical power he had over his sworn brothers would disappear, but it doesn't seem enough to me to result in Brandon being known as the Breaker several thousand years down the line.

It brings to mind Melisandre's words to Jon that there is power in the Wall and in himself if he would only use it.  To be 'bound' by sorceries conjures up the notion of shadow-binding and the Others, the white shadows. Dark sorceries involve blood sacrifice.  Magic plays a part in the story of Joramun:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Jon III

"Wildlings have invaded the realm before." Jon had heard the tales from Old Nan and Maester Luwin both, back at Winterfell. "Raymun Redbeard led them south in the time of my grandfather's grandfather, and before him there was a king named Bael the Bard."

"Aye, and long before them came the Horned Lord and the brother kings Gendel and Gorne, and in ancient days Joramun, who blew the Horn of Winter and woke giants from the earth. Each man of them broke his strength on the Wall, or was broken by the power of Winterfell on the far side . . . but the Night's Watch is only a shadow of what we were, and who remains to oppose the wildlings besides us? The Lord of Winterfell is dead, and his heir has marched his strength south to fight the Lannisters. The wildlings may never again have such a chance as this. I knew Mance Rayder, Jon. He is an oathbreaker, yes . . . but he has eyes to see, and no man has ever dared to name him faintheart."

The horn of Joramun or the horn of winter; I'm not sure if they are the same or two different horns: one that wakes giants in the earth or one that wakes the sleepers.  The great horn by description seems to be a dragon binding horn while the small broken horn matches the type that any man of the Watch might use.  I wonder how it was learned that the NK was sacrificing to the Others and if Joramun, like Mance was once a man of the Watch who flew down from the Wall to join the Wildlings.  

The wildlings broke their strength on the Wall or were broken by the power of Winterfell.   What is meant by the strength of the Wall or the power of Winterfell?  How many men occupied the Night Fort during that ancient time.  Thirteen?  Why did it take the combined power of the wildlings and Winterfell to bring down the NK?

Is it possible that the NK was in league with the Others, perhaps even their Lord Commander?  Was blood sacrifice used to bind his brothers to the old gods:

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Jon VI

"I would so," Grenn insisted. "I'd see them a long way off."

Mormont himself confirmed Grenn's doubts. "Castle Black has no need of a godswood. Beyond the Wall the haunted forest stands as it stood in the Dawn Age, long before the Andals brought the Seven across the narrow sea. You will find a grove of weirwoods half a league from this spot, and mayhap your gods as well." 

A Game of Thrones - Jon VI

Perhaps it was all in the knowing. They had ridden past the end of the world; somehow that changed everything. Every shadow seemed darker, every sound more ominous. The trees pressed close and shut out the light of the setting sun. A thin crust of snow cracked beneath the hooves of their horses, with a sound like breaking bones. When the wind set the leaves to rustling, it was like a chilly finger tracing a path up Jon's spine. The Wall was at their backs, and only the gods knew what lay ahead.

The sun was sinking below the trees when they reached their destination, a small clearing in the deep of the wood where nine weirwoods grew in a rough circle. Jon drew in a breath, and he saw Sam Tarly staring. Even in the wolfswood, you never found more than two or three of the white trees growing together; a grove of nine was unheard of. The forest floor was carpeted with fallen leaves, bloodred on top, black rot beneath. The wide smooth trunks were bone pale, and nine faces stared inward. The dried sap that crusted in the eyes was red and hard as ruby. Bowen Marsh commanded them to leave their horses outside the circle. "This is a sacred place, we will not defile it."

When they entered the grove, Samwell Tarly turned slowly looking at each face in turn. No two were quite alike. "They're watching us," he whispered. "The old gods."

Yes." Jon knelt, and Sam knelt beside him."

They said the words together, as the last light faded in the west and grey day became black night.

"Hear my words, and bear witness to my vow," they recited, their voices filling the twilit grove. "Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come." 

The woods fell silent. "You knelt as boys," Bowen Marsh intoned solemnly. "Rise now as men of the Night's Watch."

 

Nine trees in a circle with nine faces and so I wonder if this is the sacrifice that was discovered after the fall of the NK.  Nine out of thirteen brothers bound with dark sorceries?  This matches the number of swords on the crown of the Kings of Winter.  The oath is also altered from it's original form.  Perhaps the NK had a crown as all kings are wont to do; something that is now forbidden:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Catelyn I

Her son's crown was fresh from the forge, and it seemed to Catelyn Stark that the weight of it pressed heavy on Robb's head.

The ancient crown of the Kings of Winter had been lost three centuries ago, yielded up to Aegon the Conqueror when Torrhen Stark knelt in submission. What Aegon had done with it no man could say. Lord Hoster's smith had done his work well, and Robb's crown looked much as the other was said to have looked in the tales told of the Stark kings of old; an open circlet of hammered bronze incised with the runes of the First Men, surmounted by nine black iron spikes wrought in the shape of longswords. Of gold and silver and gemstones, it had none; bronze and iron were the metals of winter, dark and strong to fight against the cold.  

A Storm of Swords - Catelyn II

Robb stood on the dais. He is a boy no longer, she realized with a pang. He is sixteen now, a man grown. Just look at him. War had melted all the softness from his face and left him hard and lean. He had shaved his beard away, but his auburn hair fell uncut to his shoulders. The recent rains had rusted his mail and left brown stains on the white of his cloak and surcoat. Or perhaps the stains were blood. On his head was the sword crown they had fashioned him of bronze and iron. He bears it more comfortably now. He bears it like a king. 

A Storm of Swords - Catelyn III

"I owe their fathers truth," said Robb. "And justice. I owe them that as well." He gazed at his crown, the dark gleam of bronze, the circle of iron swords. "Lord Rickard defied me. Betrayed me. I have no choice but to condemn him. Gods know what the Karstark foot with Roose Bolton will do when they hear I've executed their liege for a traitor. Bolton must be warned." 

A Storm of Swords - Catelyn III

"I know what I said, Uncle. It does not change what I must do." The swords in his crown stood stark and black against his brow. "In battle I might have slain Tion and Willem myself, but this was no battle. They were asleep in their beds, naked and unarmed, in a cell where I put them. Rickard Karstark killed more than a Frey and a Lannister. He killed my honor. I shall deal with him at dawn." 

A Storm of Swords - Catelyn VI

Frey sons, daughters, children, grandchildren, husbands, wives and servants crowded the rest of the hall. But it was the old man who spoke. "You will forgive me if I do not kneel, I know. My legs no longer work as they did, though that which hangs between 'em serves well enough, heh." His mouth split in a toothless smile as he eyed Robb's crown. "Some would say it's a poor king who crowns himself with bronze, Your Grace."

"Bronze and iron are stronger than gold and silver," Robb answered. "The old Kings of Winter wore such a sword-crown."

The last line of the oath: to rise as men of the Watch would have another meaning if the nine were resurrected in another form.  So perhaps the first King of Winter was the Night King, a crown that is magicked with runes and spells binding nine brothers of the Watch resurrected as White Walkers or green men like Coldhands.  The original meaning of the oath and the context in which it is given lost over time.

The crown of the Kings of Winter taken by the Stark of Winterfell and placed in the crypts. The crown of the dead kings.  Torrhen Stark may have given up his kingship but Aegon never took the crown.

So I think Bran the Breaker was contending with magicks old and powerful.  Perhaps he broke the swords, broke the magic, broke the power and the line of the kings of winter.

Recalling that Aemon tells Jon that he is a son of Winterfell; We're seeing something of story repeating itself with Jon as the Stark of Winterfell and the Wildlings joining forces. 

 

Edited by LynnS

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Possibilities include glasses, vases, his toes, hearts and his uncle's favorite tea pot.

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3 hours ago, The Sleeper said:

Possibilities include glasses, vases, his toes, hearts and his uncle's favorite tea pot.

Haha, or maybe the ice at parties. Though I think Brandon the Breaker of Hearts is an epithet anyone would be proud of :D

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LynnS - gotta get the dinner on but will take the time to read your post later!

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1 minute ago, Cleaver the Confused said:

LynnS - gotta get the dinner on but will take the time to read your post later!

Not a problem.  I have a bit of the flu and a nap is in order.

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I think he broke the 'Winter', with a capital W. If I remember correctly, after Brandon the Breaker, Stark Kings are stated as 'Kings in the North'.

Well, at least that's what I thought on my very first read. Facts during those times felt deliberatly confusing to me. My first thought was that Brandon the Breaker was the Last Hero and, in consequence, he ruled Winterfell during the Long Night, hence the 'King of Winter'.

Things were a lot more complex, I learned after reading forums...

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15 hours ago, Cleaver the Confused said:

As far as I'm aware, all we know about this ancient King of Winter is that he joined forces with Joramun to end the reign of Night's King. From the wiki:

So where did he get his epithet? Brandon the Builder built stuff, Brandon the Shipwright liked ships, Brandon the Burner burnt ships... so what did Brandon the Breaker break? The reign of Night's King seems the obvious answer, but for me, 'break' doesn't really work as a verb in this context.

One thing you definitely can break is a pact, and there's one Pact in particular that would still have been pretty important in the days of the Kings of Winter... Could the Night's King (another Stark and Brandon's brother, according to Old Nan) have actually been somehow adhering to the terms of the Pact rather than practising nefarious sourceries, and Brandon/Joramun had other ideas? It would be a pretty effective cover-up to obliterate all historical records of who the Night's King's actually was and then concoct a compelling folk tale about how he was this really evil dude you heroically defeated. But just like poor old Aethelred the Unready or Bad King John, popular epithets don't tend to be coined by the bearer, and Brandon wasn't able to completely obliterate his reputation as a breaker of pacts, even if the reasons he earned this title have faded from memory over the centuries.

That's just one theory that occurred to me which I thought I'd throw out there to get the discussion started, but before the knives come out I'm by no means saying this is what I actually believe! Interested to hear what others think, and any other suggestions on what exactly Brandon the Breaker broke.

He broke... wind?:P

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