What Will "The Winds Of Winter" Bring For Bran Stark?
Warning: Spoilers Lie Ahead
The Winds of Winter is the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This article will take a look back at the previous five installments as well as make predictions on the sixth chapter in the series. The read has been warned that spoilers lie ahead.
A Promising Professional Climbing Career Cut Tragically Short
Brandon Stark, nicknamed Bran, is the second youngest child of Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell. He is introduced right at the start of the series and shown as a caring young boy who loves to explore and climb the walls of his father's northern castle.
Loved by all of his siblings, he is very early on taken to see an execution performed by his father which he is shown to prepare him for duty. Bran dreams of becoming a fabled knight because his older brother Robb will be the next Lord of Winterfell. As the book opens, he is returning from the execution when the family finds a pack of direwolves, the family's sigil. These wolves haven't been seen this far south in some time and Lord Eddard knows that things are beginning to change, which he foretells with his famous, "Winter is Coming" catchphrase. Bran takes a pup as a pet and names the wolf Summer.
As events begin to unfold, King Robert arrives for an impromptu visit to ask his childhood friend Eddard to be his new Hand of the King after the former died mysteriously. Eddard accepts and before they can set off back to the capitol, King's Landing, Bran decides to go out for his life changing castle climb after promising his mother he wouldn't.
As he climbs to the peak of the castle he hears the moans and groans that can only be incestuous canoodling. Bran climbs in on King Robert's queen, Cersei, making gross love to her twin brother, Jaime Lannister. The love struck siblings catch the boy and Jaime throws him from the high window where he lands broken and crippled.
The confusion that ensues doesn't immediately place blame on the Lannisters as it is generally believed Bran slipped and fell as he lays asleep after his fall. Lord Eddard must leave and when Bran awakens he remembers nothing of the fall or the incest he stumbled upon.
Bran no longer has the ability to walk and must be carried around by his slow, gentle giant man servant Hodor. Rails are built into the walls around the castle for him to pull himself along and the boy's dreams of being a knight are crushed. The drama of it all intensifies as a hired killer attempts to kill the boy in his bed before he can remember what he saw that knight, leading to his mother, Catelyn, putting the pieces together (with some help from a descriptive letter from her sister) that the Lannisters are behind it all.
Obviously, she rushes off across the land to warn her husband of what awaits him with the Queen and Jaime, leaving Bran in the care of his older brother Robb. Bran is more of a hindrance than an asset, however. They build the boy a special saddle so he can still ride his horse but alas, that goes wrong when he is attacked by murderous Wildlings, which makes the reader think: Why would you let the crippled boy go out and explore the murderer filled forest? Bran survives the attack, though, and gets a new servant in Osha, one of the Wildling women who attacked him. The two form a bond between them and teach each other random things about life.
The famous, three eyed crow, begins to appear in Bran's dreams which leads him to believe there is a way he will be able to walk again. As these dreams begin to ramp up in intensity he has a viewing of his father's tomb and awakens to find out Lord Eddard has been beheaded in King's Landing for treason.
Robb rushes off to avenge his father and Bran becomes the "sitting", no pun intended, Lord of Winterfell. He must reside over tedious bickering between the lower Lords sworn to him and learn how to be a respectable leader.
He continues to dream of the crow but wolf dreams are now mixed in, yes wolf dreams. Have I lost you yet? Bran begins to see things in his dreams through his direwolf Summer's eyes. Magically, as the questions of these wolf dreams begin to well up to young children Bran's age show up with answers to all of his questions. Jojen and Meera Reed, children to Howland Reed who is one of Lord Eddard's bannermen, arrive and befriend the young Lord. Jojen explains he is a "green seer" with the ability to foresee future events and that Bran can do it too. Jojen also explains that Bran is a "skin changer" meaning he can transplant his mind into other living things, which he is doing through dreams with Summer.
The Reed's explain that the three eyed crow is instructing Bran to go north, farther north than The Wall, the monstrous boundary separating the Seven Kingdoms from the evil of what lies North. Before Bran can make his decision he has his castle taken from him by Theon Greyjoy, his father's ward who has returned to steal his castle. Anyone new to the A Song of Ice and Fire franchise should understand how big this story truly is and how many characters are involved (read my Theon Greyjoy article after to make more sense). Bran is now a captive in his own castle and much watch his people be made slaves to Theon and his men.
Bran, the Reeds, his young brother Rickon, Hodor and Osha escape and in doing so throw Theon into a rage. When he cannot find them he kills and burns to young boys bodies and masquerades them as the Stark children, leading to everyone thinking the pair of noble boys are dead. In reality they are hidden in the crypts and resurface once Winterfell has been burned to the ground by a traitor in Theon's ranks. With their castle burned the boys must be split up so at least one Stark will survive. Osha takes Rickon and Bran leaves with the Reeds and Hodor to find this three eyed crow north of the Wall.
They spend the next book traveling north in secret, so as not to be caught. Hodor carries Bran and the Reeds spend their time teaching him to control his dreams and skinchanging. Bran cannot walk but finds salvation when his mind is in Summer's body. He can run and kill and finds it harder and harder to pull himself back to his human mind. He even succeeds in entering Hodor's mind which makes him a pretty imposing force.
Once they arrive at the Wall, they are assisted by one of the Night's Watch members, Samwell Tarly, who lets them through the Wall and out into the other side where they are approached by an enigmatic, mysterious figure simply named Coldhands. They do not know his allegiance and he appears to have been frozen but he says he will lead them to where they need to go.
Their journey leads them all to the brink of death through both starvation and attacks but zombie-like creatures known as "wights". Bran feasts on human flesh while inside Summer to keep himself fed.
Coldhands leads the children to a cave which he cannot enter and they fight their way in. They come to find that the fabled Children of the Forest, characters of stories from long before their time, are still alive and live down beneath the surface north of the wall. The find some of these Children as well as the three eyed crow. With the crows help, Bran develops his mental abilities and is shown how he can transplant his mind into trees to see through their eyes into the past and present. He is able to affect one of Theon's decisions by talking to him from hundreds of miles away through the tree.
Bran, the crippled Lord, begins to mold into the roots of the tree and his place seems to be there, pulling the strings through his mental abilities for eternity.
What Will The Winds Bring?
For my money, I see Bran being a very influential part of the story once all is said and told. I do not expect him to have any relationship back to Winterfell, which I believe Rickon will come to control. Bran will be bigger than the one castle. I think he will further develop his abilities to heights that even the Children of the Forest hadn't been sure he could and he will be able to speak directly to those he needs to through the trees.
Bran will become this omniscient force that sees and knows all, he will be the chess player who puts the pieces of good where they are needed. Bran will come to realize what Danaerys is doing across the sea and speak to her, bringing the exiled queen back to the Seven Kingdoms while he positions her with Jon Snow, who will be resurrected. Bran will be the mastermind behind all of the moves, the main player in the Game of Thrones and will grow to be the godlike, omniscient character that George R. R.Martin has positioned him to be. Of course, we can never guess what Martin will do so it is very possible that the Children of the Forest are in fact cannibals that will make a feast of Bran and the Reeds and revolt against the Iron Throne, win the war and place Hodor on the throne as King. Actually, I like that ending more than most I've thought of. The final words in the series can be, "Hodor... HOODOOORRR... hodor...", who would guess that, huh?