Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

King Tyrion VIII

A Wolf Pup In The Frozen Wilderness: The Whereabouts of Benjen Stark

Recommended Posts

A Wolf Pup In The Frozen Wilderness: The Whereabouts of Benjen Stark

One of the big mysteries in the series, for those of us who believe he is alive, is where is Benjen Stark and what has he been up to this whole time.

I remain unconvinced that Benjen is Coldhands or the HM in Winterfell. Please allow me to attempt an alternative, and in my opinion, much more exciting theory. That Benjen Stark is alive and undead in the Land of Always Winter.

BENJEN HASN'T HAD TO SURVIVE ON HIS OWN!

I've just come to the realization that Benjen having to survive alone is actually not true. He began the ranging leading 6 other men. Only 2 have turned up dead, Othor and Flowers. Therefore as far as we know he is still leading a party of 4 other men.

Great summary by butterbumps on Benjen's ranging party and possibly having a different motive for the ranging.

(I wrote this in another thread, but it's applicable here, so I'm reposting)

I actually don't think Benjen is dead. Only Othor and Flowers returned from Benjen's party of 7; Benjen and 4 other riders are still missing.

On Othor and Flowers, I don't believe they died anywhere near the Wall; I think they were killed much farther away and walked to the Wall themselves. They were discovered in the daytime, and I think we're given more than a few hints that the dead only rise at night (which is the only time the Others emerge as well). It seems like daylight is the factor that made it appear these wights were dead when they were found.

Benjen's party had originally been sent out to find Waymar Royce's party from the Prologue. We know that the 3 in Royce's party has passed through Craster's, but Craster tell us that he hasn't seen Benjen in over 3 years as of aCoK. We know that from Craster's Keep the Royce party was in the haunted forest, 8-9 days out (I estimate 400-450 miles out from the Wall based on a pace of 50 miles/ day). It strikes me as odd that Benjen would not have made a stop at Craster's if he was truly seeking Royce's party, considering this was the main outpost for NW members. I think Benjen had a different purpose in mind from the outset and that chasing down the Royce party was a cover of sorts.

We get something interesting from Mance in aSoS. Mance tells Jon about his last trip to Winterfell when Robert showed up. He says: "I wanted to see this Robert with my own eyes, king to king, and get the measure of your uncle Benjen as well. He was First Ranger by then, and the bane of all my people. So I saddled my fleetest horse, and rode.” I think Mance has more knowledge of the winter situation than he lets on, and I think it's possible that Mance may have spoken with Benjen more directly than he lets on to Jon. Mance and Tormund take the position of there being a common enemy to both wildlings and the NW, and I find it plausible that Mance could have approached Benjen about something.

One more issue that may support the idea that Benjen may have been on a covert OPs from the get-go (under the cover of searching for Royce's party), is the fact that Gared was beheaded by Ned for deserting just prior to Benjen's visit. Benjen may not have needed to stop at Craster's to inquire about Royce's party, because there's a chance Benjen already knew where to look from Ned, who had questioned Gared before executing him (in Bran's POV, Bran notes that questions were asked and answered, but that he doesn't recall what was said).

In the Jon reread project, we discussed the possibility that Benjen may have actually found the NW camped at the Fist and quickly buried those blades for Jon to find while Ghost led Jon on a weird goose chase through the forest (Ghost leads Jon away from the Fist, only to bring him back around to the Fist where the obsidian is stored). If Benjen had other business left, it makes sense that he'd not want Jon or the rest of the Watchmen to see him, and would also help explain Ghost's really bizarre behavior throughout that chapter (Jon IV, aCoK).

Anyway, I find it plausible that he's alive up North somewhere on an extended ranging up the Milkwater without being revealed in one of the CotF's caves or anything like that.

Has Benjen been helped by COTF?

In the extreme conditions north of the Wall, especially all the way up in LOAW, it would be more plausible for Benjen and his remaining party to survive if he had help. Perhaps they have sent guides with party or told them locations of COTF caves where they can shelter, rest and eat.

Possible foreshadowing of COTF helping Benjen:

But when Robb asked for news of their uncle Benjen, the black brothers grew ominously quiet.

“What is it?” Bran asked.

Yoren wiped his fingers on his vest. “There’s hard news, m’lords, and a cruel way to pay you for your meat and mead, but the man as asks the question must bear the answer. Stark’s gone.”

One of the other men said, “The Old Bear sent him out to look for Waymar Royce, and he’s late returning, my lord.”

“Too long,” Yoren said. “Most like he’s dead.”

“My uncle is not dead,” Robb Stark said loudly, anger in his tones. He rose from the bench and laid his hand on the hilt of his sword. “Do you hear me? My uncle is not dead!” His voice rang against the stone walls, and Bran was suddenly afraid.

Old sour-smelling Yoren looked up at Robb, unimpressed. “Whatever you say, m’lord,” he said. He sucked at a piece of meat between his teeth.

The youngest of the black brothers shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “There’s not a man on the Wall knows the haunted forest better than Benjen Stark. He’ll find his way back.”

“Well,” said Yoren, “maybe he will and maybe he won’t. Good men have gone into those woods before, and never come out.”

All Bran could think of was Old Nan’s story of the Others and the last hero, hounded through the white woods by dead men and spiders big as hounds. He was afraid for a moment, until he remembered how that story ended. “The children will help him,” he blurted, “the children of the forest!”

Theon Greyjoy sniggered, and Maester Luwin said, “Bran, the children of the forest have been dead and gone for thousands of years. All that is left of them are the faces in the trees.”

“Down here, might be that’s true, Maester,” Yoren said, “but up past the Wall, who’s to say? Up there, a man can’t always tell what’s alive and what’s dead.”

If the cache that Ghost led Jon to in ACOK was left by Benjen

"A length of frayed rope bound the bundle together. Jon unsheathed his dagger and cut it, groped for the edges of the cloth, and pulled. The bundle turned, and its contents spilled out onto the ground, glittering dark and bright. He saw a dozen knives, leaf-shaped spearheads, numerous arrowheads. Jon picked up a dagger blade, featherlight and shiny black, hiltless. Torchlight ran along its edge, a thin orange line that spoke of razor sharpness. Dragonglass. What the maesters call obsidian. Had Ghost uncovered some ancient cache of the children of the forest, buried here for thousands of years? The Fist of the First Men was an old place, only . . .

Beneath the dragonglass was an old warhorn, made from an auroch's horn and banded in bronze. Jon shook the dirt from inside it, and a stream of arrowheads fell out. He let them fall, and pulled up a corner of the cloth the weapons had been wrapped in, rubbing it between his fingers. Good wool, thick, a double weave, damp but not rotted. It could not have been long in the ground. And it was dark. He seized a handful and pulled it close to the torch. Not dark. Black.

then we have a connection between him and the COTF since they are the likely source of the dragonglass.

“I found mention of dragonglass. The children of the forest used to give the Night’s Watch a hundred obsidian daggers every year, during the Age of Heroes.

Why the Land of Always Winter?

GRRM has stated we will see LOAW in the last two books:

And what lies really north in my books—we haven't explored that yet, but we will in the last two books.

So we need some character to be there. Who better than the person who has been missing long enough to be there by now?

Something isn't quite right with the supposed purpose of Benjen's ranging. Logically he would have stopped by Craster's on his way, yet Craster said he hasn't seen him. No wildlings ever mention seeing him, alive or dead.

Perhaps he set out to find the Heart of Winter instead. I believe we will see Benjen as the prologue in TWOW and he will give us an up close and personal look at the Other's home.

Benjen showing up in LOAW explains how he can reappear after being gone so long. It could conceivably take the 2+ years he's been missing to make the journey.

Due to there being so little to go on, and perhaps I'm missing some things as well, I do consider this to be incomplete. If anyone has any thoughts, quotes, foreshadowing, etc to share it would be greatly appreciated.

I've been meaning to make this for a long time for the A Compendium of Theories thread that is now pinned. It would be great if we can find a way to flesh this theory out further.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

also, Mance tells John that he went to winterfell because he wanted to see Robert or something and appearently he actually talked to Benjen.

I totally agree that he is in the Land of always winter gathering information on the others to take back to the wall with him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm broadly in agreement with this.I don't think Benjen is Coldhands,nor is he the HM in Winterfell.

His brief was to track Waymar Royce,and I think that's what he's trying to do,even if it takes him ever north to the LOAW.Can't flesh this out atm,but I will return to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

also, Mance tells John that he went to winterfell because he wanted to see Robert or something and appearently he actually talked to Benjen.

I totally agree that he is in the Land of always winter gathering information on the others to take back to the wall with him.

And keeping with the tradition of something always going wrong Benjen will die before bringing the info back. But we the readers will learn a good bit of info.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think he's going to die, 'there must always be a stark in winterfell' I think if anyone can round up the Stark children and take them home its Benjen and I think because clearly John Snow is out of the NW benjen will eventually become the next LC. but like everything its just speculation with a little bit of hope :idea:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think he's going to die, 'there must always be a stark in winterfell' I think if anyone can round up the Stark children and take them home its Benjen and I think because clearly John Snow is out of the NW benjen will eventually become the next LC. but like everything its just speculation with a little bit of hope :idea:

Come now, no one is rounding up the stark children and taking them home. It's not that kind of a story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Come now, no one is rounding up the stark children and taking them home. It's not that kind of a story.

I agree. It's possible Benjen will survive but I imagine him going out like a pimp Boromir style against the Others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never believed the Benjen = Coldhands theory. Besides the "he's been dead a long time" quote, why would he be riding an elk? He's not Ashitaka. He's almost certainly alive. We never even got to hear why he joined the Night's Watch. LOAW sounds right on the money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think thats too hopeful at all Jesica Rogers There are a few hints that they will reunite.

The origional title for the final book was "A time for wolves"

the line "The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives." from The Ned

& "Sometimes different roads lead to the same castle." from Jon Snow.

Sansa building Snow Winterfell Seems to indicate she will re build the family seat.

Arya keeping Needle indicates she will never let go of her true identity and is a Stark to the bone.

Ditto her killing Daeron the NW deserter. She was doing her duty as a Stark.

As for Benjen Yes I do think he is alive and kicking in the LOAW. I think he has a huge knowledge of the terain having been a NW Ranger for what 17 years now. He knows the land, he knows the people he knows the resources, shelter etc.

I think his party came across something which made them abandon the initial ranging for Waymar Royce and head deep into the LOAW. They lost Joffer & Flowers who may well have been sent back to CB to inform LC Mormont of what they had discovered and where they where headed.

I would like for us to get a Benjen POV in TWOW, I'd prefer that to a Prologue as I don't want him to die.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the idea of him as a prologue, sad as it would be. But, I don't see him being a POV other than that. GRRM said there will be no new characters, and it seems a lot of the forum is split on whether that means we can have POVs of character that were previously introduced or not.

And keeping with the tradition of something always going wrong Benjen will die before bringing the info back. But we the readers will learn a good bit of info.

Benjen being a prologue POV, this sort of thinking makes sense in GRRM's world. So this is what I'm going with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coldhands = Night's King

Benjen is alive and his range mission was probably more than it's looks like, he left with more than two companions, right?

two of them were found dead, so I don't believe he is alone

I believe he found the Children of the Forest and he went further north to investigate the others, that's why he didn't want to bring Jon with him, he knows it was dangerous and it would take a long time, it was no comon range

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What would really be cool is if Benjen followed standard ranging protocol, and while looking for Royce, went to Craster's like rangers typically do. Unlike every sojourn to Craster's, this time, Craster was no where to be found, instead Benjen found footprints, traces Benjen followed until he came upon a meeting between Craster and The Others, where a son of Craster was offered freely and taken without hesitation. From that point on, Benjen decides to track The Others. Remember, Craster hasn't seen Benjen, but that doesn't mean Benjen could not have seen Craster.

I don't know how plausible this is, I seem to remember that the rangers who went with Benjen were one by one discovered dead, so they were probably ambushed early on in their search for Royce. Which maybe caused Benjen, and whatever survivors (if there were any) to go to Craster's on a whim.

I believe...(judges ruling) Yes, this is my first crackpot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coldhands = Night's King

Benjen is alive and his range mission was probably more than it's looks like, he left with more than two companions, right?

two of them were found dead, so I don't believe he is alone

I believe he found the Children of the Forest and he went further north to investigate the others, that's why he didn't want to bring Jon with him, he knows it was dangerous and it would take a long time, it was no comon range

Thats right! Only 2 were found. How large was his party? 6? That would leave 4 to accompany him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What would really be cool is if Benjen followed standard ranging protocol, and while looking for Royce, went to Craster's like rangers typically do. Unlike every sojourn to Craster's, this time, Craster was no where to be found, instead Benjen found footprints, traces Benjen followed until he came upon a meeting between Craster and The Others, where a son of Craster was offered freely and taken without hesitation. From that point on, Benjen decides to track The Others. Remember, Craster hasn't seen Benjen, but that doesn't mean Benjen could not have seen Craster.

I don't know how plausible this is, I seem to remember that the rangers who went with Benjen were one by one discovered dead, so they were probably ambushed early on in their search for Royce. Which maybe caused Benjen, and whatever survivors (if there were any) to go to Craster's on a whim.

I believe...(judges ruling) Yes, this is my first crackpot.

I think his ranging was different from the start than what we are told. I believe LC Mormont knew Benjen's real mission. Someone broke it down once, but I cant find it. Might have been in the Heresy threads.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think his ranging was different from the start than what we are told. I believe LC Mormont knew Benjen's real mission. Someone broke it down once, but I cant find it. Might have been in the Heresy threads.

I think you are correct, seems like it was early on this summer, in May or June.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we might see Benjen in Bran's POVs rather than the Prolouge, through weirwoods or warging.

I would be very surprised if there is no closure to his vanishing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice one. I'm glad to see somebody saying something i utterly agree with.

I expected Mance Rayder to turn out to be Benjen, until Jon actually met him. But i think i remember Mance telling Jon that Benjen had worked alongside the Wildlings (i'm not sure where, i may have imagined it). Then i thought that the stuff Sam and co find at the Fist of the First Men was left by Benjen and he'd turn up shortly or somebody could track him using it. Then to come back with Val and Tormund... I've been expecting him to return any minute ever since he left.

I agree, i think he's up in the far north somewhere, doing something that will help defeat the Others. I'm not sure about reuniting the Stark children, but i think he could be instrumental in Bran's story and i think Bran's story is possibly the most important of all. But he ain't Coldhands. As to how he's survived out there, people do, look at the Wildlings, and the Starks are pretty hardy folk. They've got to be at least as cold-proof as the Targaryens are "fire-proof", if you believe that stuff... and i think there's a possibility that he's a skinchanger. I bet he comes back with his Direwolf called Fluffy... :ack:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×