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Syl of Syl

Why did Benjen take the black?

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40 minutes ago, Therae said:

Agree with @SFDanny on most points—particularly that it was Benjen’s decision, whatever it was based on. I’m not altogether sure he really blamed Ned for things, though. Even if Ned had wholeheartedly argued that Robert was a hard-drinking bastard-making machine, we don’t have much reason to believe Rickard would have opted against the match because the Bob would make a lousy husband, and Benjen probably understood that was most likely not unrelated to why Ned just tried to look on the bright side about it.

That said, Benjen was still young and may very well have blamed the entire betrothal on Ned, which isn’t entirely without merit.

I think this is very speculative. I get that others have this same sort of theory that there was some kind of rift in the family based around Lyanna's betrothal, and I just wanted to question whether we can even be sure that Lyanna herself was so against the betrothal. Yes, we know she had her reservations about Robert. Here's the quote from AGoT where we get that:

“Robert will never keep to one bed,” Lyanna had told him at Winterfell, on the night long ago when their father had promised her hand to the young Lord of Storm’s End. “I hear he has gotten a child on some girl in the Vale.” Ned had held the babe in his arms; he could scarcely deny her, nor would he lie to his sister, but he had assured her that what Robert did before their betrothal was of no matter, that he was a good man and true who would love her with all his heart. Lyanna had only smiled. “Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man’s nature.”

It doesn't sound to me like the memory of someone who is dead-set against the proposal. She has her reservations that Robert will be a faithful husband, but considering her nature I don't really believe that she saw this as a dreadful fate to be avoided at great cost. Lyanna's personality has been compared more favorably to her brother Brandon as well as to Arya, rather than the dour Ned and the idealistic Sansa. I thought this memory was more about showing that Lyanna saw Robert's personality more clearly than Ned did rather than as a way to show that Lyanna dreaded her marriage match.

As to her going off with Rhaegar (if she was not indeed kidnapped), Lyanna was clearly also an impulsive person. This would not have been something she planned out well in advance, and I doubt the idea that Benjen was somehow involved in a conspiracy to carry this out.

I just think we can cast a lot of doubt on the two premises that Benjen was involved in Lyanna's disappearance/kidnapping in any way and that he harbored resentment towards his brother over Lyanna's betrothal to Robert.

 

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50 minutes ago, Therae said:

Agree with @SFDanny on most points—particularly that it was Benjen’s decision, whatever it was based on. I’m not altogether sure he really blamed Ned for things, though. Even if Ned had wholeheartedly argued that Robert was a hard-drinking bastard-making machine, we don’t have much reason to believe Rickard would have opted against the match because the Bob would make a lousy husband, and Benjen probably understood that was most likely not unrelated to why Ned just tried to look on the bright side about it.

That said, Benjen was still young and may very well have blamed the entire betrothal on Ned, which isn’t entirely without merit.

But my guess is that the reason he could not stand to wait a bit longer than was absolutely necessary to leave the mantle of Required Stark in Winterfell to Ned and baby Robb has to do with Jon. I think he surely knew whose son that was; he knew his sister—and he knew his brother. So:

1. Ned told him the truth about Jon, and Benjen couldn’t stand seeing his sister’s baby raised as a bastard (with extra-added resentment from Catelyn) to keep him safe from a man she never wanted to marry, or

2. Ned wouldn’t tell him the truth either, so on top of having to play along with Jon being Ned’s bastard, his own brother was lying to him about it.

I don’t really think Ned did lie to Benjen, though. No evidence, just a feeling.

Obviously, just a theory on my part, but I believe you're on the right track here.  I think it's entirely plausible that Benjen figured out the truth about Jon and maybe even disagreed with Ned about keeping it a secret (after all, even though it was the "right" thing to do, it wasn't the "honorable" thing to do).  Either that or, as others have said, Benjen could have felt some responsibility for how everything turned out and, thus, took the black as penance:dunno:  

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1 hour ago, Therae said:

1. Ned told him the truth about Jon, and Benjen couldn’t stand seeing his sister’s baby raised as a bastard (with extra-added resentment from Catelyn) to keep him safe from a man she never wanted to marry, or

2. Ned wouldn’t tell him the truth either, so on top of having to play along with Jon being Ned’s bastard, his own brother was lying to him about it.

I don’t really think Ned did lie to Benjen, though. No evidence, just a feeling.

If Jon was the root of Benjen's issue with Ned and thereby the cause of his leaving to join the watch, that's a pretty childish move on Benjen's part. If he's so concerned for Jon, why not stay and help raise the kid. He could have easily set up in a nearby castle and raised Jon as his own to save Jon from Cat's resentment and all that other stuff. Or he could have just stayed at Winterfell to be a full-time uncle to Jon. Reasoning that he joined the watch to run away from his issues seems out of character.

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I know nobody is picking up my theory about Benjen joining to avoid a marriage pact. And I'll acknowledge it holds about as much water as everybody else's theories. I'd just like to ask the question tho - does anyone else find it a bit strange that both Brandon and Lyanna were betrothed, but Ned who is older than Lyanna by a few years was apparently not?

 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Syl of Syl said:

I know nobody is picking up my theory about Benjen joining to avoid a marriage pact. And I'll acknowledge it holds about as much water as everybody else's theories. I'd just like to ask the question tho - does anyone else find it a bit strange that both Brandon and Lyanna were betrothed, but Ned who is older than Lyanna by a few years was apparently not?

I think the really odd part here is who is betrothed to Brandon and Lyanna. By far and away the normal expected marriage for the two would be to married about the age they are during the rebellion, but to some vassal house of the north. This is the type of marriage we would expect for all the Stark children. Such marriages tie these houses tighter to the High Lords own family and secure the future. The incredibly odd thing is that the heir to Winterfell and his sister are betrothed to other High Lord's houses for which there can be no oaths of fealty. Perhaps, there is some dowry that explains this, but if so we don't know of it. 

In Ned's case, he isn't so old for it to be odd that he isn't betrothed yet, far from it, but when he is wed, we would expect him to wed someone along the lines of Barbrey Ryswell or her sister.

If, however, we accept the marriages as the foundation of a new anti-Targaryen political bloc then not only do the Brandon/Catelyn and the Robert/Lyanna betrothals make sense, but we then have some very clear candidates for a possible Ned betrothal that would follow along the same lines. Cersei jumps out as a likely match for Ned, and wouldn't that be ironic. Personally, I think Elbert Arryn is the most logical match for Cersei, but Ned is in the running. 

More likely for Ned is a betrothal along the the lines of what we see with Stannis. There are no candidates old enough in House Tyrell, but the many powerful Houses of the Reach, such as the Hightowers or the Redwynes might have candidates for a marriage to Ned. I would have to look to see the ages of the daughters during this time. One should remember that the Blackfish is betrothed to Bethany Redwyne during this period, but he refuses the match. Less obvious as anti-Targaryen outreach would be either a marriage to either the Blackwoods or the Royces. House Stark has historical ties to both and it would reinforce those ties in both cases.

 

Edited by SFDanny

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3 hours ago, SFDanny said:

I think the really odd part here is who is betrothed to Brandon and Lyanna. By far and away the normal expected marriage for the two would be to married about the age they are during the rebellion, but to some vassal house of the north. This is the type of marriage we would expect for all the Stark children. Such marriages tie these houses tighter to the High Lords own family and secure the future. The incredibly odd thing is that the heir to Winterfell and his sister are betrothed to other High Lord's houses for which there can be no oaths of fealty. Perhaps, there is some dowry that explains this, but if so we don't know of it. 

In Ned's case, he isn't so old for it to be odd that he isn't betrothed yet, far from it, but when he is wed, we would expect him to wed someone along the lines of Barbrey Ryswell or her sister.

If, however, we accept the marriages as the foundation of a new anti-Targaryen political bloc then not only do the Brandon/Catelyn and the Robert/Lyanna betrothals make sense, but we then have some very clear candidates for a possible Ned betrothal that would follow along the same lines. Cersei jumps out as a likely match for Ned, and wouldn't that be ironic. Personally, I think Elbert Arryn is the most logical match for Cersei, but Ned is in the running. 

More likely for Ned is a betrothal along the the lines of what we see with Stannis. There are no candidates old enough in House Tyrell, but the many powerful Houses of the Reach, such as the Hightowers or the Redwynes might have candidates for a marriage to Ned. I would have to look to see the ages of the daughters during this time. One should remember that the Blackfish is betrothed to Bethany Redwyne during this period, but he refuses the match. Less obvious as anti-Targaryen outreach would be either a marriage to either the Blackwoods or the Royces. House Stark has historical ties to both and it would reinforce those ties in both cases.

 

Given his fostering with Jon Arryn, wouldn’t a Vale betrothal for Ned makes more sense?

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3 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Given his fostering with Jon Arryn, wouldn’t a Vale betrothal for Ned makes more sense?

Under which scenario?

If we are talking about Ned marrying as part of Lord Rickard's "southron ambitions" I think there are more pressing needs than a marriage to one of Jon Arryn's nieces or a unknown Royce. These would seem quite possible for a second son if the heir is marrying within the North. We already know of a marriage House Stark and House Royce, so that would be no shock. But it does little to bring an already tightly held alliance between House Arryn and House Stark together.

Under Rickard's "southron ambitions" agenda it looks more likely Ned would be assigned to marry either to help cement Tywin's help through a marriage to Cersei, or bring a powerful Reach family into the fold.

If we assume a much more benign ambition by Rickard, then it would seem more important to use of Ned to shore up support in the North. There is a reason why Lady Barbrey is angry. Not only is she treated poorly by Brandon, but her family has every reason to believe the Starks are serious in the Brandon/Barbrey match. That it is thrown away for a match with the Tullys who bring nothing but good will to the North is a mystery. That both Brandon and Lyanna are contracted to such marriages is well beyond mysterious and in need of great explanations.

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On 5/16/2019 at 11:23 AM, SFDanny said:

Let me just throw a couple of things in about Benjen "helping" Lyanna in her romance with Rhaegar. I have no doubt if Lyanna really was the Knight of the Laughing Tree that it was Benjen who helped her with getting the armor she used. I also believe Lyanna would have told Benjen what was going on with her at the tourney. But people also need to remember that after the tourney Benjen goes north to be the "Stark in Winterfell" so his father can be at Brandon's wedding to Catelyn. Which means Benjen's help to Lyanna is limited to the time at the tourney and a very short time after. Benjen has nothing to do with anything Lyanna did leading up to the "kidnapping" or any secret communications between her and Rhaegar. He is long gone. My guess is that Benjen is on the first ship out of Maidenpool or Gulltown that the Starks can find going north. With the proper escort expected of a young son of a High Lord, of course.

Yes, Benjen was not around when Lyanna was “abducted” but I’m quite certain if anyone of the Stark’s knew of Lyanna’s attraction to Rhaegar, it had to be Benjen. If Lyanna is the KotLT and Rhaegar did end up finding the identity of the KotLT, then one can assume that their romance began at Harrenhal and  Benjen was a witness to this. As you said, I don’t believe Ned forced Benjen to take the black but I also feel there could have been some falling out between them once Ned got back to WF. I feel Benjen knows who Jon is and probably wanted Ned to support Jon’s claim to the IT. They could have had a dispute over Jon’s upbringing and about keeping his identity a secret. Benjen tries to dissuade Jon from joining the NW (although in a way he’s the one who broached the subject). His line about “if you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less eager to pay the price, son” seems more to me than Jon giving up having a family or kids, it seems like Jon giving up his right to the IT.

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A factor that may have played a part is that Benjen needed to be shielded from legal consequences and/or conflict with the current regime. 

In short Benjen needed to be out of Robert's reach and avoid placing Ned in a position to chose between his brother and Robert.

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On 5/18/2019 at 4:10 PM, SFDanny said:

That it is thrown away for a match with the Tullys who bring nothing but good will to the North is a mystery. That both Brandon and Lyanna are contracted to such marriages is well beyond mysterious and in need of great explanations.

I agree with what you are saying about Lady Barbrey's anger and possible slight that her family feels from Rickard. According to Lady Barbrey, her father tried to marry her to Eddard after Brandon was betrothed to Catelyn Tully. But she married Lord Dustin and they were definitely married before Ned ever married Cat, so there must be some reason Rodrik Ryswell gave up on his ambition of marrying his daughter to a Stark. Either Rickard told him that it wasn't going to happen or he had made a different marriage match for Ned.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/16/2019 at 1:57 AM, SFDanny said:

The problem here, as I see it, is this presumes Ned and Brandon are ignorant of Lyanna's objections to Robert and her attraction to Rhaegar. It also assumes that the two older brothers would have acted differently if they had only known Lyanna's wishes.

But that's not Lyanna, nor is it Brandon or Ned in Martin's pre-rebellion world.

Lyanna tells Ned straight to his face what she thinks of Robert and his nature. Instead of supporting his sister, Ned pleads Robert's case telling her what happens before the betrothal won't happen after. If we know anything about Lyanna it is she is not silent about her wants and what she doesn't want. To the extent of her disobeying her father's direct orders. It is hard to envision a Stark household in which Lord Rickard, and all of Lyanna's brothers do not know her thinking. Knowing her objections Rickard goes ahead and approves the marriage pact. Knowing her objections and likely knowing what is happening before their eyes at the tourney, the two older brothers side with Rickard's pact in favor of a political alliance over the feelings of their sister. Brandon, in fact, has to be restrained from challenging Rhaegar then and there. Far from being ignorant of Lyanna's wishes, the older brothers and her father ignore them and see it as Lyanna's duty to marry to whomever Rickard designates. It may only be Brandon who rages against Lyanna's wishes as well as Rhaegar's actions, but Ned puts what he sees as Lyanna's duty before his sister's happiness as well.

Bonkers, your idea, turns Lyanna into a hapless victim who goes silently to her doomed marriage with only telling her baby brother about her misgivings. Not only do we have direct evidence that this is not so, we also have evidence that shows her as young women whose "wolf's blood" is shown in her bold action on her own, and sometimes with the help of others like young Benjen. She is a rebel, not a silent victim as I see it. But it is not just my reader's view, it is also Ned's view of Lyanna that tells us so.

So far from Ned being angry towards Benjen for hiding a secret of Lyanna's feelings towards Rhaegar, I see a Ned transformed by his experience with Robert's acceptance of the murder of children and Lyanna's dying pleas for his promises that has him coming back to Winterfell wishing he had been more like Benjen in support of his sister when it could have meant her happiness instead their father's plots. There is nothing that would indicate Benjen kept Lyanna's wishes secret from his family, or that he would have to do so for the brothers to not know them. I can only draw the conclusion that it is Benjen's anger with Ned and his grief over Lyanna's preventable death if Lord Rickard and Brandon and Ned had not just heard Lyanna's objections, but heeded them and thereby prevented not only her death, but the deaths of so many others. It is Benjen's anger with Ned, not Ned's with Benjen that is the source of his decision to join the Watch so early and to leave Winterfell and Ned's growing young family. That's how I see it anyway.

 

What are you talking about?  Ned and Brandon were fostered out at young ages and didn't grow up with her at Winterfell as a young woman.  The first part of your statement is a complete conjecture (of your opinion).  We know what Lyanna wants and doesn't want from her conversations, yes, but when she is older she has the wolf blood and follows her own heart at the tourney.   She falls in love with Rhaegar - after the betrothal - at the tourney and goes home.  This is when I think she tells Benjin she is in love and decides to elope.  Benjin may have advised against it but he is loyal and keeps her secret.  I think this is after the family have left to attend Brandon and Catelyn's wedding at Riverrun, when they discover she is missing, and rumour says she left with Rhaegar.  As the rest of the house and family have gone, Benjin has no one to tell...and things get out of hand and when Ned comes home he finds a sorry Benjin.  As the war was raging, he had no way of getting a private message to Ned.

That is what I was saying, I am sorry you felt the need to over explain things, but your comment of "Bonkers, your idea, turns Lyanna into a hapless victim who goes silently to her doomed marriage with only telling her baby brother about her misgivings" is weird.  I am sure Lyanna would have done her duty if it came to that, but with all her family leaving for the wedding and her finding an opportune moment to elope along the way, or before, with Rhaegar is what makes her true to her wolf blood.  She did it of her own choice, knowing the consequences.

 

 

On the other side of it, I am not of the belief R+L=J at all.  It gives nothing to the story, and GRRM (a seasoned screen writer and novelist) would never have told a massive plot twist to 2 newbie nobodies of his book that wasn't published yet.  He told DnD they said the correct answer to that because that was what he wanted them to think.   GRRM most likely wanted the mic drop himself with WoW.  When he gave them that answer, he thought that WoW would be out soon and he would be co-writing for ages.  But when it came to be not what he wanted, and that they would not be true to the source material (as he has stated in interviews he was aware of) he left.... with no worries, because he hadn't told them the real twist, only the red herring he gave..... which most of us picked up on in the first read only a quarter of the way through the first book.  R+L does not equal J, and that is the best thing of all.  GRRM makes you think something is important, only to shift gears and throw you off.  Like DnD. 

 

Who knows why Benjin took the black? GRRM does.  The point is, you don't know and neither do any of us.  We can speculate but that is all, and if I want to believe Benjin kept his sister's promise and secret for her, over 'then-betrothal' she never wanted, then I will.  You can argue as long as you want, but I believe Lyanna had the 'wolves blood' and left her sworn betrothal for real love, and Benjin lost his honour protecting her, just like Ned did ...

(having married his pregnant love Ashara in the Wolf's Den in White Harbour (Davos chapter), on the way to the wedding, in front of a heart tree and then knowing Jon was his true born northern son and half Dayne.  Being half Dayne makes him the Sword of the Morning for what he has done, and able to wield Dawn as the Last Hero.  This then makes Ned's marriage to Cat worthless to the Old Gods as it was in a sept and all the story lines of the bastard Stark kids more meaningful.  It means R+L=Aegon young Griff and his story with Dany mean something , as he is actually half Stark/Usurpers Dog and more deep than just R+L=J)

Edited by Bonkers

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I have no specific theory to fit this consideration into, but perhaps the reason had to do with inheritance and a claim. One of the special thing of the Watch is the abandonment of your claim on your lands. Perhaps Benjen had fathered something somewhere and could not allow that offspring to have a claim on WF? I don’t know who that could be and I don’t think it’s Jon Snow. 

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Pro tip number 1 :

NEVER under estimate the power of THE GRRM.....

You think Tyrion is clever? 

GRRM made Tyrion. 

You think you care about the story?

GRRM made you care about the story.

What GRRM made you believe, GRRM will take what you believe away.

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On 5/18/2019 at 7:26 AM, SFDanny said:

I think the really odd part here is who is betrothed to Brandon and Lyanna. By far and away the normal expected marriage for the two would be to married about the age they are during the rebellion, but to some vassal house of the north. This is the type of marriage we would expect for all the Stark children. Such marriages tie these houses tighter to the High Lords own family and secure the future. The incredibly odd thing is that the heir to Winterfell and his sister are betrothed to other High Lord's houses for which there can be no oaths of fealty. Perhaps, there is some dowry that explains this, but if so we don't know of it. 

In Ned's case, he isn't so old for it to be odd that he isn't betrothed yet, far from it, but when he is wed, we would expect him to wed someone along the lines of Barbrey Ryswell or her sister.

If, however, we accept the marriages as the foundation of a new anti-Targaryen political bloc then not only do the Brandon/Catelyn and the Robert/Lyanna betrothals make sense, but we then have some very clear candidates for a possible Ned betrothal that would follow along the same lines. Cersei jumps out as a likely match for Ned, and wouldn't that be ironic. Personally, I think Elbert Arryn is the most logical match for Cersei, but Ned is in the running. 

 

This is interesting, and you are right to a degree I think, the bethothals don't make much sense except for plot convenience, to set the sides for Robert's Rebellion. For example I think a double marriage between Stark and Tully makes more sense, if Rickards intent was to bring the riverlands under his rule,(which is not certain), meaning Brandon and Cat and Edumure And Lyanna, so this way the next generation of both houses would be tied(the way Daeron the good brought Dorne into the realm btw).

However even those factions are loosely defined and in flux, not to mention the fact that thier may or may not be a third faction, led by Tywin and Reagar, that is also possibly working to build political power to oppose Aerys.

It all gets real messy and to me the only thing certain is that there are several pieces of very important information still missing.

As for Ben specifically, he does not seem resentful or bitter with his lot in life(the watch), in fact, he seems content if not happy in the limited interaction that Jon has with him. So right now, I would say he definitely went there of his own free will, like Jon, I am not sure exactly why though.

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1 minute ago, Back door hodor said:

This is interesting, and you are right to a degree I think, the bethothals don't make much sense except for plot convenience, to set the sides for Robert's Rebellion. For example I think a double marriage between Stark and Tully makes more sense, if Rickards intent was to bring the riverlands under his rule,(which is not certain), meaning Brandon and Cat and Edumure And Lyanna, so this way the next generation of both houses would be tied(the way Daeron the good brought Dorne into the realm btw).

The only reason there was a double wedding was because the rebellion had kicked off and Hoster (Being the shroud negotiator he was)  demanded it for the use of Riverlands forces in the war.  Jon Arryn was old and without child, Lysa was known to be fertile from her Littlefinger miscarriage.   He forced Ned into marrying Cat (they negotiated and Cat thought it was 'custom' for a second son to marry a elders betrothed), when Ned didn't seem to want to or there wouldn't have been a delay.  Also, Blackfish seemed to object to it, as he publicly denounced fighting for house Tully at the wedding feast and swore to house Arryn. 

Lyanna was never betrothed to Edmure because Rickard's Southron Ambitions were not about one region, but for the whole south.  Hence why Ned was probably betrothed to Ashara of house Dayne, and actually fell in love with her, and no one else fell in love with their betrothals, like Robert and Lyanna, Brandon and Cat... Benjin was too young to be betrothed at the start of the war. 

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1 hour ago, Bonkers said:

The only reason there was a double wedding was because the rebellion had kicked off and Hoster (Being the shroud negotiator he was)  demanded it for the use of Riverlands forces in the war.  Jon Arryn was old and without child, Lysa was known to be fertile from her Littlefinger miscarriage.   He forced Ned into marrying Cat (they negotiated and Cat thought it was 'custom' for a second son to marry a elders betrothed), when Ned didn't seem to want to or there wouldn't have been a delay.  Also, Blackfish seemed to object to it, as he publicly denounced fighting for house Tully at the wedding feast and swore to house Arryn. 

Lyanna was never betrothed to Edmure because Rickard's Southron Ambitions were not about one region, but for the whole south.  Hence why Ned was probably betrothed to Ashara of house Dayne, and actually fell in love with her, and no one else fell in love with their betrothals, like Robert and Lyanna, Brandon and Cat... Benjin was too young to be betrothed at the start of the war. 

Oh yea i get it, I was simply saying I get the point of view that the alliances seem a bit contrived, and I agree that something probably happened with Ned and Ashara, maybe not an official bethothal, but the other Dornish ladies we have meet are not bothered by such things, so it's no great a stretch to say Ashara wouldn't be either, but yes there is something there. I think something is up with Edmure as well, perhaps another alliance that feel through?

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