Curled Finger Posted March 9 Share Posted March 9 One of the most hotly debated mysteries of ASOIAF is the location and state of Benjen Stark. All we really know for certain is that he is not Coldhands as many suspected until editorial notes were released in the form of a marginal q & a wherein GRRM answered NO when asked. We learned in AGOT that Benjen was a skilled and trusted First Ranger. He embarked upon a ranging expedition to the Haunted Forest in search of Waymar Royce or some evidence of his fate. "He said he'd be back by my name day," he admitted. His name day had come and gone, unremarked, a fortnight past. "They were looking for Ser Waymar Royce, his father is bannerman to Lord Arryn. Uncle Benjen said they might search as far as the Shadow Tower. That's all the way up in the mountains." "I hear that a good many rangers have vanished of late," Lannister said as they mounted the steps to the common hall. He grinned and pulled open the door. "Perhaps the grumkins are hungry this year." AGOT Jon III The Shadow Tower is pretty far out of the way of the Haunted Forest, clear on the other side of The Wall, but this ranging does seem to be a pretty important one to LC Mormont. Along the way (sort of) Benjen would have happened upon Craster’s Keep. "I've not seen Benjen Stark for three years," he was telling Mormont. "And if truth be told, I never once missed him." A half-dozen black puppies and the odd pig or two skulked among the benches, while women in ragged deerskins passed horns of beer, stirred the fire, and chopped carrots and onions into a kettle. "He ought to have passed here last year," said Thoren Smallwood. ACOK Jon III Still, Jon does find a curious package thanks to Ghost at the Fist of the First Men even further northwest from Craster’s Keep, far from Benjen’s supposed target of The Haunted Forest. While the source of the package is uncertain, it is not impossible that as Jon supposes, Benjen himself left it there. Sam came puffing up as Jon crossed the camp. Under the black hood his face was as pale and round as the moon. "I heard the horn. Has your uncle come back?" "It's only the men from the Shadow Tower." It was growing harder to cling to the hope of Benjen Stark's safe return. The cloak he had found beneath the Fist could well have belonged to his uncle or one of his men, even the Old Bear admitted as much, though why they would have buried it there, wrapped around the cache of dragonglass, no one could say. ACOK Jon V The long asked question is how could Benjen survive this long? A Storm of Swords offers two very interesting possibilities for Benjen’s whereabouts if not his condition, which I surmise is injured in either case. Jon's eyes widened in disbelief. "That can't be so." "It was. When your father learned the king was coming, he sent word to his brother Benjen on the Wall, so he might come down for the feast. There is more commerce between the black brothers and the free folk than you know, and soon enough word came to my ears as well. It was too choice a chance to resist.” ASOS Jon I Mance later tells Jon a story about being attacked by a shadow cat and taking shelter with a couple of Wildling women who give him succor and repair his black coat with red silk thread. While Benjen may not have been as fortunate as the sympathetic and charismatic bard, he may well be a hostage in an ice cave or something like that. A notion that only became apparent during this research and wouldn’t until one reads A Dance With Dragons is option B which is uncovered when Bran recalls a conversation he had with Uncle Benjen… "There are abandoned castles along the Wall, I've heard," Jojen answered. "Fortresses built by the Night's Watch but now left empty. One of them may give us our way through. "The ghost castles, Old Nan had called them. Maester Luwin had once made Bran learn the names of every one of the forts along the Wall. That had been hard; there were nineteen of them all told, though no more than seventeen had ever been manned at any one time. At the feast in honor of King Robert's visit to Winterfell, Bran had recited the names for his uncle Benjen, east to west and then west to east. Benjen Stark had laughed and said, "You know them better than I do, Bran. Perhaps you should be First Ranger. I'll stay here in your place." That was before Bran fell, though. Before he was broken. By the time he'd woken crippled from his sleep, his uncle had gone back to Castle Black. ASOS Bran III While Benjen may well be dead or semi dead or something entirely different I think it’s foolish to write him off entirely without evidence of his demise. I’ve no doubt overlooked many places he may be hidden, but hope this little bit of text incites you to look yourself for Benjen alive and breathing and ready to help! Bendric Dayne, Sandy Clegg, Ser Arthurs Dawn and 2 others 5 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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