Key players: Bran Stark, Jojen Reed, Theon Greyjoy, Ramsay Snow
Bran Stark of Winterfell is the fourth child of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully, and their second son. He has four siblings: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Rickon and a half-brother Jon Snow. Bran inherited the Tully side, having auburn hair and blue eyes. He dreams of becoming the knight of the Kingsguard, however, the fascination with climbing and exploring the walls of Winterfell caused him the loss of his legs.
After Jon Arryn’s death, King Robert travels North to ask Lord Eddard Stark to be his new Hand. Jaime Lannister accompanies him together with his two other siblings, Queen Cersei, his lover and their younger brother Tyrion Lannister, the Imp. While at Winterfell Jaime and Cersei are caught having sex by Bran. The boy almost falls from the tower but Jaime pulls him up only to throw him out through the window moments later. Boy survives but falls into coma. Eight days later an assassin tries to finish the job before he was killed by Bran’s direwof, Summer. Ned Stark accepts King Robert’s invitation to be Hand, and begins investigating the death of Jon Arryn. In this investigation he discovers Jaime and Cersei’s secret relationship by piecing together the fact that every time in history a Lannister wedded a Baratheon, they produced raven-haired children. Instead Cersei’s children Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are all fair-haired. Meanwhile, Catelyn captures Tyrion Lannister on suspicion of his involvement in the attempted assassination of her son. In retaliation for Tyrion’s capture, but ostensibly to create an uprising, Jaime breaks Kingsguard neutrality by leading Lannister men in an attack on Eddard Stark and his Northmen in the streets of King’s Landing, leading to numerous deaths on both sides. He then flees from King’s Landing and joins his father. Lord Lannister appoints Jaime to command half the host of the Westerlands. Jaime’s army marches against Robb Stark. However, in the Battle of Whispering Wood Ser Jaime Lannister is captured by Stark’s men. So, in a way, Bran Stark is the key piece in the chain of events that lead to the outbreak of the War of Five Kings.
During his comatose state, Bran has many visions, among them, including the three-eyed crow that tells him it could teach him to fly. Crow also tells him that he is the “winged wolf bound in chains”. With the crow’s guidance, Bran wakes up from coma. Upon discovery that his little brother will never walk again, Jon Snow asks Tyrion Lannister, who accompanied him to the Wall, to help the boy to what Tyrion complies. On his way back from the Wall Tyrion stops at Winterfell to give schematics for a saddle designed for Bran, despite the treats from Robb, acting Lord of Winterfell, and their direwolves. Later, while testing this out on a ride in the Wolfswood, Bran is ambushed by a band of wildlings and Night’s Watch deserters, but is rescued by Robb, Theon, Grey Wind and Summer. Afterwards, he begins to bond with the sole survivor of that band, Osha, due to their shared faith in the old gods. When Robb calls the Northern banners following Lord Eddard’s arrest in King’s Landing Bran becomes the acting Lord of Winterfell. Later, Bran has a dream of his father in the crypts of the castle – he ventures there with Osha, finding nothing but, almost immediately, Maester Luwin receives a raven-borne message informing Winterfell of Ned’s execution at King Joffrey’s command.
This is where things diverge from the book. In the book, during this time, Bran befriends Jojen and Meera Reed, who were sent by their father, Howland Reed, to help the Stark boys in their brother and mother’s absence. While sleeping, Bran frequently enters Summer’s mind (though he thinks he is simply dreaming) and begins to become more bestial. Jojen recognizes Bran’s ability as skinchanging and instructs him on how to use it properly. After learning of Bran’s visions, Jojen claims that if Bran goes north beyond the Wall, he can find the three-eyed crow from his dreams. Around this time Theon Grayjoy betrays Robb ceasing Winterfell as proof of his worthiness to Balon Greyjoy, his father. Bran and Rickon hide in the crypts together with Jojen, Meera, Osha, Hodor and direwolves. To hide the truth of their escape, Theon has two other children murdered and skinned by “Reek” proclaiming them to be Bran and Rickon. Series did follow this chain of events through, however, it is only after Bran and Rickon made it out of Winterfell that they “chanced upon” the Reeds. Also, in the series, the original plan was to reach the Castle Black and Jon Snow but after Jojen had a dream of Jon being surrounded by the enemies the plan changed. In the book it was always about going beyond the Wall, meeting with the three-eyed crow and mastering the skinchanging.
A skinchanger or warg is a person with the ability to enter the mind of an animal and control its actions. It is much easier for a skinchanger to do so if a bond exists between the two parties. Skinchanger usually enters the body of an animal, however, there has been one known skinchanger entering another human’s mind – Bran Stark entering the mind of Hodor. This event is both morally and ethically problematic even in the case of a simple-mind, such as Hodor, whom Bran is using only as a vessel.
An untrained skinchanger may unconsciously enter the mind of an animal (as seen in the first season), especially while sleeping, particularly if a bond exists. It is extremely traumatic if an animal is killed while its mind is inhabited by a skinchanger. On the other hand, if a skinchanger is killed while inhabiting a creature, a part of his consciousness will remain in the creature. People have the tendency to mistake skinchangers for shape shifters, however, these are two separate things. A skinchanger can experience many deaths while in another body. It is only when the person’s human body dies that the “True death” occurs. It is possible for the warg to live a type of second life, a much simpler life inside the mind of an animal he controls. In the second life, the skin changer’s memory slowly fades until nothing of the man is left and only the beast remains.
Being a skinchanger entails certain rules that must be followed. For example, whilst in the animal a skinchanger is not suppose to eat the human meat, skinchanger is not to mate as wolf with wolf, a skinchanger is not to seize the body of another man. As for the animals skinchangers can enter, dogs are the easiest ones to bond with; they are trusting and much like humans. Wolves are much harder, unless a skinchanger has a lasting bond with his wolf, like in the case of Stark children and their direwolves. Also, Bran is not the only Stark with this ability. It is believed that Arya and Jon experienced similar things with their direwolves but are untrained and therefor, unaware of what is happening to them. Furthermore, Arya released Nymeria somewhere on the Kingsroad during their journey to the King’s Landing, in fear that Joffrey would kill her. As a consequence, the longer they are a part, the weaker their bond gets. So far, Jon has entered Ghost couple of times, but he still believes these were only dreams. As for the birds, they are very tempting, but there is a threat that a warg would sooner or later loose contact to earth and whish only to fly. Cats are cruel, vain and cant be easily controlled and as far as elk and deer goes, it seems that even the bravest man who skinchange them become cowards.
Most notable skinchangers: Bran Stark, Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Orell, Varamyr Sixskins
It is said the greatest of the skinchangers were the greenseers, who amongst many other things could also warg. The greatest amongst them could wear the skin of any animal. One man in a thousand is born a skinchanger, and one skinchanger in a thousand could be a greenseer. Being a greenseer and having the greensight are different things. Greenseers are the wise men of the Children of the Forest. The First Men believed they were the ones responsible for carving the faces into the weirwood trees. There is only one greenseer left in the world – the Last Greenseer. Greensight is the ability to have prophetic dreams like in the case of Jojen Reed.
The Children of the Forest
The Children of the Forest are a mysterious non-human race that originally inhabited Westeros continent, long before the arrival of the First Men more than 12,000 years ago. Not much is known about them. Tales describe them as diminutive humanoid creatures, dark and beautiful, at their tallest no larger than a human child. They lived off the land and male and female were treated as equals. They were also long lived. They had no paper, no ink, no books and no written language. They were deeply connected to the land and besides the greensight they had power over all animals. Upon their death they become part of the weirwood trees. They fought the White Walkers. It is believed they are extinct.
Jojen Reed is the only son of Howland Reed, Eddard Stark’s close friend who was saved by the Knight of the Laughing Tree at the Tourney of Harrenhal. Howland Reed is also the only survivor of the Tower of Joy events that took place after the Battle of Trident resulting in the deaths of Lyanna Stark, Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswald Whent and Lord Commande of the Kingsguard Gerold Hightower among others. In his childhood Jojen nearly died of greywater fever. While he was near death, he was visited by a Three-eyed crow that gave him the gift of greensight, causing him to experience prophetic dreams. One such dream involved a chained wolf that the three-eyed crow was trying to free from a chain. When Jojen told his father about the dream, Lord Howland sent him and his sister Meera to help the Stark boys. Without spoiling anyone I can only say that his greatest purpose is to teach “the powerful” Bran Stark how to control and advance his abilities.
P.S. I will not speak about the Three-eyed crow for now because it would just be too much revealing, however, I strongly suggest you pay extra attention to this entity.
Current location: Somewhere between the Nightfort, the abandoned Night’s Watch castle and Queenscrown, and abandoned holdfast. South side of the Wall.
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