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I really want to talk about the Horn of Winter1


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-The Horn of Winter is a legendary item that Joramun allegedly used to “wake giants from the earth”

-A Clash of Kings sets the Horn up as an ancient tool used in an unsuccessful attempt at invading the Wall.

“Wildlings have invaded the realm before."

"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

 

-Ygritte claims this was what Mance was looking for, saying in one of the most intriguing passages in the series that We opened half a hundred graves and let all those shades loose in the world, and never found the Horn of Joramun to bring this cold thing down!"

-Mance says that the “songs” tell him that if he sounds the Horn, the Wall will fall.

-A horn is used in a bluff by Mance, then burned along with Rattleshirt. Tormund claims this is not the Horn of Winter, but that they did find it in a giant’s tomb.

-As late in the printed series as Jon XII of A Dance with Dragons, we are asked directly 

“If Mance's horn was just a feint, where is the true horn?”



 

-Jon finds an “old” horn near the Fist of the First Men

-The horn is wrapped in a Night’s Watch cloak

-Jon observes the cloak could “not have been long in the ground”

-The cloak is also full of dragonglass arrowheads and hiltless dagger

-The horn is made from an aurochs, banded in bronze, and is cracked

-The horn is full of dirt

-The horn makes no sound. Jon has tried.

 

The horn is given to Sam. Sam takes it with him when he flees the Fist.

Then he found his pack and stuffed all his things inside, spare smallclothes and dry socks, the dragonglass arrowheads and spearhead Jon had given him and the old horn too.

 

The Horn goes to Braavos

His swordbelt hung from a peg on the wall, beside the old cracked horn that Jon had given him.

 

Then takes the Cinnamon Wind after Sam refuses to give it up

Sam was down to his boots and blacks and smallclothes, and the broken horn Jon Snow had found on the Fist of First Men

 

That is the last time the horn is mentioned, and it is not clearly with Sam when he disembarks Whether or not the Cinnamon Wind will remain in port for long is an open question.

He felt a shabby thing beside them in his baggy blacks, faded cloak, and salt-stained boots. "How long will you remain in port?"

"Two days, ten days, who can say? However long it takes to empty our holds and fill them again." Kojja grinned.

 

  • The Thenns carry bronze-banded horns 

  • Sam is from Horn Hill

  • NW vows mention “horn that wakes the sleeper”

  • Tormund has “Horn-Blower” among his titles, as well as the antithetical “Giantsbane”


 

I really don’t know what conclusions to draw from this. The horn Jon finds is clearly telegraphed to be Joramun’s, and readers have pointed out that GRRM takes care to keep the horn with Sam. I’ve seen speculation that Euron is intended to get his hands on the horn to spur his coming sacrifice, and I can see this being the case if the Cinnamon Wind leaves port before Sam returns, as I’ve always feared it will.

 

I’m also interested in what exactly Mance expects the Horn to do; the reader is told that it “wakes giants from the earth”, and Joramun’s use of it to attack the Wall does make a connection between the Horn and the destruction of the Wall, but not explicitly. What songs tell Mance the Horn will do this?

 

Here are some questions I have:

 

Who is intended to blow the Horn?

I essentially see the candidates as either Sam or Euron. Tormund’s association to it seems thoroughly explained by the fake Horn, but speaking of which-

 

What’s up with the fake Horn?

It’s gigantic and elaborate, and found in a giant’s tomb. It seems irrelevant now that it’s burned, but what was it?

 

And what’s with the other horns?

Euron has the dragon-tamer horn, and there’s a reference to a horn that wakes “creatures from the deep” or something similar. Are they related?
 

What will it actually do?

Will it produce giants that could be asked to destroy the Wall? Will the Wall literally crumble? Does it imbue some kind of power?


 

Who put it there? Why?

Coldhands (and by extension Bloodraven)? Benjen? Craster? If Bloodraven ends up being anti-Other, the first seems most likely, as the cache of dragonglass would be a hugely valuable weapon and the Horn a critical item in defending the Wall, at the least to keep it from detection. However, the Night’s Watch cloak that Jon basically describes as new puzzles me and seems to point to Benjen. I suppose it could have been looted from a dead brother. I firmly believe Coldhands =\= Benjen, but there may be a reveal coming as far as he is concerned. Further muddying the timeline: why is the Horn full of dirt? Not snow, but dirt.

 

Why does the Horn not work? How can it work?

Is the problem the crack? Does it only work in certain circumstances? Can it only be blown by certain people? How can it be fixed, and who will fix it?

 

And perhaps most interesting to me…

Why would anyone blow it?

The wildlings are now largely integrated, and they are the only group of humans that would benefit (or even not be horrified by) the collapse of the Wall. Only the Others would benefit, and they would benefit greatly. Euron could be an answer, but the case has to be made that he is either supporting the Others or some sort of chaotic force that would end the world for fun. Sam seems foreshadowed, but why would he ever do that? Can the Horn be used in another way? An Other-defeating capacity? This could loop Sam into the eventual Battle for the Dawn.

 

Here is my tentative explanation. Basically a guess, as this has taken up more of my thoughts then some of the series more explicit mysteries and I still have no answer.

I believe that it’s possible the Horn was left for the Night’s Watch to find. However, the point seems to be less that the Watch has it and more that it is hidden. It is less that the Horn is required for something or was planted by someone and more that it is critical that the Others not have it. On purpose or not, the Horn has been successfully moved practically as far from the Wall as possible in the given time. 

 

I submit that Bloodraven, through Coldhands, left the bundle at the Fist. The main reason I believe this is Ghost’s involvement in the find. Jon sees the cache when Ghost is digging at something. So, in fact, Ghost finds the cache. Ghost seems to stand in for the old gods in many instances, but Melisandre proves the animal can be influenced by strong magic. We happen to have the strongest magician in canon just a few hundred miles north. 

 

Please give me input, I love this series.

George please

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great thread.

I think coldhands definitely put the cache by the fist of the first men, and he is being controlled or works for Bloodraven. I don’t think he can be Benjen based purely on the line from Leaf which is something along the lines of “he died long ago” for someone like Leaf who is hundreds of years old “long ago” wouldn’t be a few years. The horn that was burned fascinates me too but I think it’s some giant chiefs horn that might have a story but isn’t that important. I agree Ghost does act as a tool of the old gods all the dire wolves did and do. I don’t think the horn Sam has can be used unless it can be fixed through magic. 
 

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I wrote an essay about the Horn of Winter that can be found here. I don't know if it answers your questions, but it does touch on some of the things that you mentioned. 

First things first, the concept of the horn was introduced in Bran III, ACoK 21. Bran is at the harvest feast when the song The Night that Ended is played. It's a song about the Night's Watch riding forth to confront the Others for the Battle for the Dawn. Crowfood Umber, a man who has a giant on his sigil, takes out a horn and blows it just as the NW is about to ride out against the Others. 

The Horn of Winter is introduced in Jon III, ACoK 23 and he finds the cache of dragonglass in Jon IV. So we there's a string that begins in Bran's chapter and is picked up right away by Jon and continues. 

I don't the Horn of Winter/Joramun is meant to bring down the Wall as has been speculated. It's called the Horn of Winter. I think it's supposed to warn of Winter, as in the Others and the Long night, and rally men to fight against what's coming. House Stark's words are Winter is Coming, so it makes sense to me that there is a horn of Winter. 

If the sword in the darkness exists and at this point, there's no reason to doubt it, and it's this dragonsteel blade/Lightbringer/Dawn/and whatever else, and it's supposed to help the NW in the fight against the Others, then logically speaking, the horn should do the same, and it is mentioned in the vows and now a horn has popped up in the story.

In that same vein, I don't think that Joramun was looking to bring down the Wall with the horn. I think that the wildlings are descendants of original members of the NW who remained in the north as the Wall was being built, with the mission to keep an eye on what was going on with the Others and that's why the horn was in the north.

It never computed with me that this artifact that's supposed to bring down the Wall wouldn't have just been destroyed by whoever left the dragonglass. The first thing Jon did when he finished cleaning it was try to get sound out of it. So I think that like the dragonglass, it is meant to help the NW, not the other way around. 

One thing I noticed while I was going through the books for this and an essay I wrote on Lightbringer is this. If Dawn is supposed to be Lightbringer, then these two things that are supposed to help during the Long Night are now in very very close proximity to one another another for the first in 8,000 years. Dawn is at Starfall and the old warhorn is in Oldtown and that seems like it might be important.

And the horn is where it's supposed to be, with Sam. Sam of Horn Hill. 

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15 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

I wrote an essay about the Horn of Winter that can be found here. I don't know if it answers your questions, but it does touch on some of the things that you mentioned. 

 

Nothing better than discovering an entire new trove of ASOIAF essays. 

Edited by reekreekmeek
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23 hours ago, A_upton said:

Great thread.

I think coldhands definitely put the cache by the fist of the first men, and he is being controlled or works for Bloodraven. I don’t think he can be Benjen based purely on the line from Leaf which is something along the lines of “he died long ago” for someone like Leaf who is hundreds of years old “long ago” wouldn’t be a few years. The horn that was burned fascinates me too but I think it’s some giant chiefs horn that might have a story but isn’t that important. I agree Ghost does act as a tool of the old gods all the dire wolves did and do. I don’t think the horn Sam has can be used unless it can be fixed through magic. 
 

Benjen isn't dead, if he is, Mr. Martin botched greatly. Remember Theon's feast of the dead dream, he saw many dead there, including people he had never known, in the end even Robb joined to the feast and yet Benjen wasn't there.

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22 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

In that same vein, I don't think that Joramun was looking to bring down the Wall with the horn. I think that the wildlings are descendants of original members of the NW who remained in the north as the Wall was being built, with the mission to keep an eye on what was going on with the Others and that's why the horn was in the north.

Good thing I saw this. I am of a similar idea and was going to add it to my thread. I believe the wildlings are descended from the NW, and NW vows originally did not include the take no wife etc. part. It was only added after the Night's King. How did they end up being the free folk then? Brandon the Breaker sent NW members that weren't killed during his breaking of the NK by sending them north of the wall, both as a punishment and to keep the dark secret of his NK being his black brother.

 

As for Joramun, I think he may have been a member of the watch as well. "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." Joramun was the horn that wakes the sleepers. NK(who was probably the Last Hero) may have been the sword in the dark with his sword shattering in the long night.

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I have no doubt Euron's horn dragonbinder turns a person's soul to fire. A soul set on fire has great ability but burns out. A dragon.

I would have assumed the horn of winter is ying where dragonbinder is yang, and sets a soul to ice. A soul made ice has little ability (limited control over one's actions? Limited Freedom? Can only go where it's super cold?) but persists forever. Eternal life. Others.

Fire consumes, ice preserves.

However the language around the horn of winter in the text isn't immediately compatible with this theory. Perhaps waking the sleepers simply means waking the dead and blowing the horn wakes all the dead in hearing range. Maybe it makes them the horn blower's slave. Maybe it makes the blower an Other.

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4 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Good thing I saw this. I am of a similar idea and was going to add it to my thread. I believe the wildlings are descended from the NW, and NW vows originally did not include the take no wife etc. part. It was only added after the Night's King. How did they end up being the free folk then? Brandon the Breaker sent NW members that weren't killed during his breaking of the NK by sending them north of the wall, both as a punishment and to keep the dark secret of his NK being his black brother.

Specifically to the bolded part, I think it's like anything in our own universe. People simply forget. The Night's Watch forgot its purpose and we are told that there are important things that have been forgotten at Winterfell. 

The Wall was completed by the time Joramun, NK and Brandon the Breaker were around. It's early enough for that generation to still know what happened and what the purpose of the Wall is, what the purpose of the Horn of Winter is and so on. 

My speculation is that the wildlings idea came about because the Starks and the NW wouldn't allow Joramun and the people beyond the Wall (who are also First Men) to cross south because their duty was north of it. So when Joramun tried to invade, the whole idea of wildlings was born and with time they became the boogey man instead of the Others. The people in the north don't hear about the Others, and with time they become some mere legend where no one is really sure if the Long Night actually happened but they hear about the wildlings raiding south of the Wall and stealing women, so the narrative changes and we end up with what we have in the current story. Instead of having the NW looking for the Others, their attention becomes focused on the wildlings.

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose
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4 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

Specifically to the bolded part, I think it's like anything in our own universe. People simply forget. The Night's Watch forgot its purpose and we are told that there are important things that have been forgotten at Winterfell. 

The Wall was completed by the time Joramun, NK and Brandon the Breaker were around. It's early enough for that generation to still know what happened and what the purpose of the Wall is, what the purpose of the Horn of Winter is and so on. 

My speculation is that the wildlings idea came about because the Starks and the NW wouldn't allow Joramun and the people beyond the Wall (who are also First Men) to cross south because their duty was north of it. So when Joramun tried to invade, the whole idea of wildlings was born and with time they became the boogey man instead of the Others. The people in the north don't hear about the Others, and with time they become some mere legend where no one is really sure if the Long Night actually happened but they hear about the wildlings raiding south of the Wall and stealing women, so the narrative changes and we end up with what we have in the current story. Instead of having the NW looking for the Others, their attention becomes focused on the wildlings.

 

 

I agree they weren't let south of the wall but why the so sudden decay that Joramun tries to "invade"? Why want to go south in the first place? That's why I believe their duty wasn't North of the Wall, but they were condemned to live north of it after the NK incident. Sure they would have duties on the North, much like a Ranger's duty being north of the Wall. NW may have had outposts they manned beyond the Wall, perhaps Hardhome beginned as one such place, but I don't think they were bound to that posts forever with no access to the southern side.

 

I also think these guys weren't generations apart but contemporaries, LH and NK even being the same person.

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6 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

I agree they weren't let south of the wall but why the so sudden decay that Joramun tries to "invade"? Why want to go south in the first place? That's why I believe their duty wasn't North of the Wall, but they were condemned to live north of it after the NK incident. Sure they would have duties on the North, much like a Ranger's duty being north of the Wall. NW may have had outposts they manned beyond the Wall, perhaps Hardhome beginned as one such place, but I don't think they were bound to that posts forever with no access to the southern side.

I think it has to do with the Others. I think that a new King-Beyond-the-Wall is a direct response to activity of the Others. Mance becoming King-Beyond-the-Wall has to do with the Others.

The Night's King was sacrificing to the Others for 13 years, IIRC. And if these sacrifices are the sacrifices that Craster was making to the Others, then the NK was reinforcing the ranks of the Others for a while. 

Old Nan says that Joramun, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, joined with Brandon the Breaker to put an end to the NK, but was Joramun king at that point, or did he become king after?

I know there are others who agree with you that the NK and the last hero are one and the same, and I get the reasoning behind it. But the NK was the 13th lord commander of the NW. So I'm not sure that they're the same, but he could very easily be a grandson or a great grandson of his. 

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I would question if Joramun was human.

And would suggest that he may have been a giant, perhaps even king of the giants.

"Giants have no kings, no more'n mammoths do, nor snow bears, nor the great whales o' the grey sea. That was Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg. Mag the Mighty. You can kneel to him if you like, he won't mind. I know your kneeler's knees must be itching, for want of some king to bend to. Watch out he don't step on you, though. Giants have bad eyes, and might be he wouldn't see some little crow all the way down there by his feet."

Giants have no kings, now.. but did they once? I would suggest it's possible that the giants of Nan's tales might not just be bedtime stories after all, and the giants we have seen so far may just be what's left, and not the "great mountain giants" at all.

Ooooooh, I am the last of the giants,
my people are gone from the earth.
The last of the great mountain giants,
who ruled all the world at my birth.
Oh the smallfolk have stolen my forests,
they’ve stolen my rivers and hills.
And the’ve built a great wall through my valleys,
and fished all the fish from my rills.
In stone halls they burn their great fires,
in stone halls they forge their sharp spears.
Whilst I walk alone in the mountains,
with no true companion but tears.
They hunt me with dogs in the daylight,
they hunt me with torches by night.
For these men who are small can never stand tall,
whilst giants still walk in the light.
Oooooooh, I am the LAST of the giants,
so learn well the words of my song.
For when I am gone the singing will fade,
and the silence shall last long and long.

Given the many parallels to Norse Mythology, and the giant wall made of ice said to be built with the help of giants, and the reference to "halls of stone" in the song, I might suggest that the Giant's built their castles from ice, which is why we do not see evidence of them remaining. A huge sword named Ice, does ring some bells too...

In Old Nan's stories, giants were outsized men who lived in colossal castles, fought with huge swords, and walked about in boots a boy could hide in. These were something else, more bearlike than human, and as wooly as the mammoths they rode.

The Giants in castles from the stories seem to be from the same period where Others were around.

She remembered a story Old Nan had told once, about a man imprisoned in a dark castle by evil giants. He was very brave and smart and he tricked the giants and escaped . . . but no sooner was he outside the castle than the Others took him, and drank his hot red blood.

I think that it's even possible that the Barrow of the First King is that of Joramun, king of the giants.

Edited by Mourning Star
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3 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

I know there are others who agree with you that the NK and the last hero are one and the same, and I get the reasoning behind it. But the NK was the 13th lord commander of the NW.

Being the sole survivor of the original 13 that set out, which would eventually become the NW or perhaps was NW to begin with, would make him the 13th in a sense. GRRM likes to break/twist tropes so the hero not remaining the eternal champion but turning evil would probably be trope breaking of sorts in early 1990s(not nowadays, we've stuff like that at least in games).

Edited by Corvo the Crow
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