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Lord Vance II

Is Benjen south of The Wall?

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So one of the longest-standing questions in ASOIAF is where is Benjen Stark? In AGoT Benjen is sent beyond the wall with 6 rangers to investigate the try to find Waymar Royce, but only two of the rangers return dead/wighted. Since then we haven't heard from or seen Benjen for 4 books outside Jon wondering where he is. Our possible options include...

- Dead somewhere beyond the Wall, with or without the other 4 rangers. If a wildling had killed such a hated enemy, surely we would know it, so he probably would've been killed by the Others. 

- Still searching for Royce with the 4 other Rangers. 

- He is Coldhands

- In the FAR North doing gods know what, maybe trying to find the source of the Others.

- South of the Wall?

Him being dead is too easy. Jon makes note that a ranger with Benjen's talent surly would have noticed the Great Ranging at at least checked in. GRRM famously ruled the Coldhands option out (he could have changed his mind I suppose). Him being in the Far North is possible, but what if he went south of the Wall at the behest of, say, The Three-Eyed Crow or the CotF?

This isn't really based on textual evidence, so bear with me. What if while he was beyond the Wall, 3EC reached out to him (possibly through Coldhands) because he needs something done in the South? In my half-baked theory, 3EC/CotF sent him south to the Gods Eye. Not sure why, but a lot of theories I've seen on here suggest SOMETHING is going to happen with the Gods Eye sooner or later. Benjen definitely has a Stark look, but I think it would be easy for him to make his way South unnoticed, especially since literally no one in the south would have any reason to suspect he's around. If he really wanted to he has the skills to avoid roads and settlements on his way south. He could probably navigate the swamps of the Neck by himself, but if there was one person he could reveal himself to for help, it would be Howland Reed. In this case, it would be easy for the 3EC not to tell Bran, either by design or Bran simply didn't ask. 

The main hole (other than lack of real evidence) is that in 4 books time, surely Benjen would have made it to the Gods Eye by now, and possibly made the return trip too (if there is a return trip). 

The basis of this theory is basically "if he isn't where he should be, he must be somewhere he isn't supposed to be". I suppose him being the Far North is just as likely, but I like this more. Thoughts?

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Actually, Ser, it sounds like you have thought it out.  Sure, why not?   No one has the 1st clue where Benjen is nor his fate.   Your guess is as good as any.   The God's Eye is sure to be important as the story finishes if for no other reason than it seems to be the central bank of weirwoods.  That's got to be something.   

In another topic I was musing about the similarity between Bloodraven and Benjen strictly as great rangers who disappeared.   Benjen being a Stark is something as is his disappearance.  He may have left the package for Ghost to find which indicates a relationship with the COTF.   Whomever left it knew dragonglass would be needed right there right then.   We know the COTF are tied to BR and the tree dude himself tells Bran he watched the Starks back to Rickard.   Surely he saw and watched Benjen as closely.   

I'll go with you on this trip.   So instead of returning north maybe Benjen is on the Quiet Isle? It's close enough, certainly closer than the Neck is.   That's just another alternative, the fun with Benjen is we know nothing so speculation is all we've got.   Just because Benjen is a Stark doesn't mean he's got to be in the North.    Good on you for offering up a new idea, Man. 

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Posted (edited)

Very valid theory as we have no clue whatsover about Benjen's fate and something will certainly happen on God's Eye sonner or later, but I dont think it would  be possible to Benjen to travel south unnoticed. Both the North and the Riverlands are very torn up by the war at this point and would be very dangerous to travel to the Gods Eyes alone. The dangers of travelling on a war torn south are very different than the ones north of the Wall. Besides he could be recognized while travelling through the North be as a Watch deserter or as himself.

My fist guess is that he found the CF and 3ER while ranging, actually is more  possible that they were expecting or "fetched" him somehow. They probably enlightened him about what was happening and he is still North of the Wall, doing some kind of errand for them just like Coldhands does.

My second guess is that he actually died. Even very able rangers as Benjen wouldn't normally be ready to fight Others when caught by surprise as you need Dragonglass or Valyrian steel. Valyrian steel is obviously very rare and I may be wrong but I think that rangers don't normally use dragonglass weapons anymore as the Watch have forgotten about its real purpose.

Edited by Petyr Lannister

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like CF said, thanks for the topic - good on ya LVII :)

I think old Benjen is still alive ... he was the 'first' mystery to me about these books.

hmmm though - south? 
he would have to have new clothes as the black wouldn't do. 
not that that couldn't happen of course.
the "fact" that Benjen joined the Black of his own choosing (supposing) leads me to believe that he is still a Brother of the Watch.
i do believe he is of the Old Gods also.
if he is still alive, he will be talking to a Tree sooner or later and Bran may "hear" his words.
(again, that all is my supposing)
it could even be that Benjen knows of the Black Gate &/or other gates.
Benjen would know which castles are/were abandonded and being that he grew up at Winterfell (was he fostered off anywhere - we don't hear about that do we?  i'll look that up in the wiki to be sure) he would know a lot of the area of the north.  he could 'easily' move in/around/through the area as such.

thanks Lord Vance II, i'll be thinking on this a bit more now
:cheers:

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Benjen is not noted to have been fostered anywhere, in all likelihood he knew how to get all over the Winterfell/North area.

What about him going off to the east?  Say Skagos?  that could be likely as well.



 

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Glad this idea is being well-received. 

11 hours ago, Petyr Lannister said:

I dont think it would  be possible to Benjen to travel south unnoticed. Both the North and the Riverlands are very torn up by the war at this point and would be very dangerous to travel to the Gods Eyes alone. The dangers of travelling on a war torn south are very different than the ones north of the Wall. Besides he could be recognized while travelling through the North be as a Watch deserter or as himself.

I agree they are very different settings, but I think Benjen's skills would carry over well. Moving and navigating overland, avoiding enemies (surely he doesn't just charge every group of wildlings he's come across). I also think he could reach out to Howland Reed for help given their relationship. Benjen joined the NW shortly after Robert's Rebellion (If I remember correctly), so he hasn't been seen in more than 15 years and surely looks more ragged than he did when he was a Lord's son. It's hard to find someone you're not looking for. 

11 hours ago, Yaya said:

he would have to have new clothes as the black wouldn't do. 
not that that couldn't happen of course.

We do know of at least one fresh NW cloak that was left behind by somebody...wrapped around Dragonglass daggers and a (Joramuns) horn. 

9 hours ago, Yaya said:

What about him going off to the east?  Say Skagos?  that could be likely as well.

 

I don't know about likely, but it's possible. The only reason to go to Skagos (that we know of) is Rickon Stark. If Lord Manderly can figure out where The Black Wolf is, surely the 3EC can. I just don't know why the 3EC would want or care about Rickon. Benjen would care of course, but I don't see the 3EC giving Benjen info he doesn't need him to know. 

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11 hours ago, Mullocose said:

Benjin is in the Heart of Winter... As will be revealed in the next book...

Agreed.

I think he's currently very much like Coldhands and working for the 3ER, not that he is Coldhands. Introducing Coldhands is just foreshadowing/setup for what Benjen is. 

GRRM has said that we'll learn more about the Lands of Always Winter/very very far north of the wall in the upcoming books, so I would think it's very likely that we'll get a POV chapter between the two of them discussing some 3ER stuff while giving the reader an insight into what's happening up there.

On 4/25/2019 at 3:07 AM, Daemon The Black Dragon said:

Just my own opinion, Benjen is dead. He served his role to the story, getting Jon to the NW.

You could be right, but I think it's not like GRRM to kill him off page considering the importance of the Stark family, what he means to Jon, and the potential storytelling options he is positioned to provide in the North (if he's still there).

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2 hours ago, Mat92 said:

Agreed.

I think he's currently very much like Coldhands and working for the 3ER, not that he is Coldhands. Introducing Coldhands is just foreshadowing/setup for what Benjen is. 

GRRM has said that we'll learn more about the Lands of Always Winter/very very far north of the wall in the upcoming books, so I would think it's very likely that we'll get a POV chapter between the two of them discussing some 3ER stuff while giving the reader an insight into what's happening up there.

You could be right, but I think it's not like GRRM to kill him off page considering the importance of the Stark family, what he means to Jon, and the potential storytelling options he is positioned to provide in the North (if he's still there).

I could easily see GRRM killing off or having a unsolved fate for a minor character off page. That's what Benjen is, a minor character. We don't need Benjen to learn about the Lands of always Winter or the WW. We have Bran learning from the 3ER for that.

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6 hours ago, Lord Vance II said:

We do know of at least one fresh NW cloak that was left behind by somebody...wrapped around Dragonglass daggers and a (Joramuns) horn

Now this could be a very interesting clue!  It's a feasible scenario that it was Benjen's cloak (or of course one his 4 companions), handed over to BR & co and perhaps given to Coldhands to wrap the obsidian weapons and the horn in and thus signal to Sam the significance of the contents. 

I just had this wild idea that Benjen might be with a wildling clan that might have allowed - perhaps at BR and the cotf's insistence - to let him travel with them incognito. However, in that case, where would he be now? Hardhome? Tormund's army?  I like the OP's idea much better though.

Of course coming south in wildling garb is little better than looking like NW deserter anyway. Maybe that's how he come south first though and then changed into other clothes.

Anyway, just random thoughts on my part. It's a very interesting OP.

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17 hours ago, Mat92 said:


GRRM has said that we'll learn more about the Lands of Always Winter/very very far north of the wall in the upcoming books

I think that must be where Benjen is. I don't think he's dead, because there have been several instances of characters talking or thinking about him, wondering where he is, which I think is GRRM's way of hinting that he'll be back. But there's been no trace of him for so long, he must have gone somewhere very remote.

I think the COTF may be helping him (as Bran said). I'd guess that his trail through the forest ended mysteriously because they took him underground at that point. Then they helped him journey farther North on some mission, searching for some weapon or knowledge or something to help with the Battle for the Dawn.

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- do you all think that Benjen "felt" when Eddard was murdered?

like Bran & Rickon - they had a dream experience, could Benjen have had a similar sort of connection to Eddard?   they were the last two siblings.

i bring this up because maybe Benjen did 'feel' something and this caused him to do something. 
here's the supposition:
Benjen felt Eddard's death.   He was out in the north forest/"lost" ranging when the feeling hit him.  All he could think of was that he had to get his brother's bones home to to Winterfell.   So he just upped and headed south.  Currently Benjen has Eddard's bones and is hiding out in Greywater Watch with Howland Reed.

 

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I suppose it is possible but why? What mission could convince Ben to abandon his duty and his brothers of the night watch. What little we see of Benjen's character doesn't lead me to believe that he'd easily abandon his sworn brothers without a word of explanation. For him to disappear like this, it'd have to be damned important. And there'd have to be a good reason why he couldn't tell anyone about it.

The only thing I could see drawing Benjen's attention, is if the Green Men had some kind of weapon for fighting the Others that Benjen was needed to retrieve. However, I can't think why this would then have to be a secret mission.

 

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10 hours ago, Syl of Syl said:

For him to disappear like this, it'd have to be damned important. And there'd have to be a good reason why he couldn't tell anyone about it.

Good point. but Eddard's death would be damned important to Benjen.

It could even be that the message of Eddard's death was delivered via Howland Reed in the form of some Green Magic.    For example - Benjen was talking to a Heart Tree and the leaves (via Howland's Green Magic) whispered 'Benjen, I have to tell you something'  or something to that effect.

Benjen would know who Howland is being that Howland and Eddard were good friends.
And Benjen would know Howland because he is of the Stark's domain, part of the North.

Anyhow, I'm really starting to like this idea and it could happen. 
Benjen would have knowledge of Greywater Watch and all around the area.  Go look at a map - the Wall is not far from Deepwood Motte.  It could have taken a while for Benjen to walk there undetected.


You know what, I really like this idea.  
I'm going to bet that this is the thing, mystery solved  :cheers:   har !

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Yaya said:

Good point. but Eddard's death would be damned important to Benjen.

Just as it was damned important to Jon Snow. Yet Jon managed to choose duty over his desire to avenge Ned. Eventually and with some help.

Benjen was far more dedicated to his duty as a sworn brother of the Night's Watch than Jon was at that point. What about Ned's death would trigger him to abandon his sworn brothers? To what purpose?

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I don't think that Benjen is abandoning the Watch with his leaving, his actions could be similar to like Jon when declared to set off for Winterfell - do you know what I mean? 

And maybe the similarity of my example is not a parental revenge/rescue but more of a sibling bond.  Maybe brotherhood/sisterhood is a closer bond than parental affections for these folks?
Or like I mentioned before maybe Eddard's Shade talked to Benjen in a dream or something, that could be pretty strong.   I know that if that happened to me - I would probably act on that experience. 

But as for motive. 
Yes, the idea of access to or knowledge of a weapon (somewhere south of the Wall) to fight the Others is a good theory.  
Maybe there is some specific thing that physically has to get somewhere (a horn?) and Benjen is the courier. 

I speculate Syl of Syl, what about you - what do you think?
Is Benjen dead, end of story?

 

 

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After some more thought, I'm becoming more sympathetic to this idea. From the story of Gendel and Gorne, we know that it's possible to cross under the Wall using caves. So, continuing the idea from my last post, after Benjen met up with the Children, they could certainly help him go South instead of North.

Not every black brother who goes South of the Wall is a deserter. Some go on recruiting missions, e.g. Yoren; and Benjen was even given leave to visit Winterfell when King Robert was there, a purely social visit. As First Ranger, Benjen probably had authority to order men to go on missions South of the Wall; so he could give himself permission if he had a good cause.

And I do think it's possible that he is the Hooded Man of Winterfell; I'll have to do another post about that.

The biggest hole in the theory is, why? What is this important mission that brought him South? There are a number of possibilities, but really nothing in the story that points to an answer ... so far.  The best I can come up with is:  the Watch is charged with protecting the realms of men, all men. And Winterfell is especially important to the Watch. They rode South once before, to protect it from a wildling invasion. Protecting it from other enemies might also be part of their duties. In that case, it's possible that Benjen went South specifically to sneak into Winterfell, to do some spying or sabotage. Admittedly, it's kind of a stretch, but that's the best I've got for now.

 

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43 minutes ago, Yaya said:

I speculate Syl of Syl, what about you - what do you think?
Is Benjen dead, end of story?

I don't know. I speculate too.

Sometimes I speculate that yes, he's just dead and we'll never find out what happened, because sometimes that sort of thing happens in life.

Other times I speculate that he's somehow still alive far to the North and that we'll see him again, that he left the cache of dragonglass that Ghost found.

I've never speculated that he's somewhere south of the Wall. I have been speculating about it now but I haven't heard any proposal that makes logical sense to me and I can't myself think of a series of events that would make logical sense. This whole theory requires two questions to be answered to my mind - one is the motive for him to depart on a quest to the south and the other is the reason necessitating secrecy around his quest. The secrecy could be because he's now a deserter and doesn't want to be found out, which doesn't jive with his character. If his quest is about retrieving some weapon from the Green Men, then why the secrecy? Why not bring this to the Lord Commander and take a couple of brothers with him on his mission?

 

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