Bran Stark: the Wolf with Wings

Posted: May 16, 2017 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: , , ,

If you don’t know who Bran Stark is, then you’re not familiar with HBO’s Game of Thrones, or the book series A Song of Ice and Fire that it’s based on. I won’t forbid you from reading my article (because it’s great, yo) but it’ll end up spoiling details of the plot. I recommend you binge-watch the show and come right back.

The most recent season of Game of Thrones marked the return of Bran Stark, the little lad who climbed too high, saw things he shouldn’t have seen, yet lived to tell the tale. Well, he would have told the tale, if he didn’t have traumatic amnesia.

Ever since Season Two, Bran’s story has been taking him further and further away from the show’s alleged center-of-focus: the Iron Throne. Bran had been moving north and north, up to the Wall, past that barrier between the civilized and the wild, past Craster’s keep, far into the lands of Always-Winter to a great weirwood and a cavernous hall of learning run by the Three Eyed Raven. And his house-elves.

During the span of Season Six, Bran began to reverse that journey, being carried south from the weirwood cave back to the Wall by his undead uncle Benjen.

Meera: Your uncle didn’t leave us any food, shelter, or transportation.
Bran: Yeah, he’s always been that way. His undeath hasn’t improved that.

(Well, nearly to the Wall. Benjen’s going to make Meera Reed drag Bran the last mile or so, I guess.)

Assuming Bran is escorted into Castle Black, safe and sound, he’ll be back where the action is. After all, there’s an undead army presumably tracking him, and he might find himself the King in the North if he wanted to press some claim.

But I assume Bran has more pressing things to worry about than getting fitted for a crown. Like the undead army that’s presumably tracking him.

I’m glad Bran will be able to have some influence on these events, even though it might seem that a crippled child would have limited agency. He has power, but his faithful wolf Summer is dead as well as the giant Hodor. Both were once useful for Bran to warg into when there was a need to fight.

When planted next to a weirwood tree, Bran can access some kind of memory of the trees, to see things that are past. This carries great risks, since on one of those time-jaunts Bran apparently crippled the mind of a stableboy named Wylis, and before that, he’d fallen prey to the Night’s King, who appears to be able to interact with those on astral plane journeys.

So what help will this boy provide in the war effort, just sitting around? Possibly a great deal.

Bran is the winged wolf. He will never walk again. But he will fly. (Or so he’s been told.)

The Wolf with Wings

I’ve previously talked about what weird things Bran might accomplish with his ability to control animals, and one of those topics speculated on if Bran might be able to control a dragon. Since there’s only three dragons that we know of, just how would Daenerys feel about this? And what negative opinions might Bran have about Daenerys Targaryen, and Targaryens in general?

Bran would see controlling a dragon as an obvious asset in warfare versus the Others. Fire is one way that the wights can be killed, and dragons enjoy burninating. But I’m not sure if Bran the child would think to ask Daenerys for assistance, if he had the opportunity to control a dragon without her say-so.

Bran never thought twice about Professor X’ing the loyal, lovely-natured Hodor into being a killing machine. And he’s not likely to initially be a Daenerys fan.

Bran’s knowledge of the Targaryens can probably summed up like this:

  • A Targaryen abducted his Aunt Lyanna, which resulted in her death
  • A Targaryen killed his uncle and grandfather, and put out the call for the death of his father
  • Bran saw the Mad King in his full-on raving madness, in one of his tree-visions

News that a Targaryen is approaching Westeros, with monsters, will probably not be met with relief from the young warg.

It’s fair to bring up that Bran saw Lyanna’s last moments, where she handed over a baby to the youthful version of Ned Stark. So Bran might have pieced together the likely conclusion that Lyanna and Rhaegar were in love, and there was no abduction. And that Jon Snow is not his half-brother, but is actually his cousin.

Lyanna: *whisper whisper*
Ned: Why are you whispering?
Lyanna: For plot reasons, I don’t want that creepy kid to hear me.
Ned: What? The baby?
Lyanna: Oh Ned. You know nothing.

But it’s possible that Bran might not have understood anything from the vision…

  • “That’s weird, I wonder who that kid was? Dad never talked about that. Oh well.”
  • “Poor Aunt Lyanna! What did Rhaegar do to her? No one explains anything to me.”
  • “I wonder if I’ll ever find out who Jon’s mother is? I bet his mom was Ashara Dayne!”

So Bran stealing a dragon from Dany might appeal to him on two fronts: getting a weapon to fight up north, and depriving this evil and mad Targaryen conqueror of one of her military assets.

I’m not super-invested in this, but let’s keep it on the table. I think it might be interesting that while the Snow King in the North might be attempting diplomacy (look, we all know Jon and Dany are going to have some face time this season, that’s just science, yo) the Witch-King in the North will be causing problems.

Daenerys: You’re convinced that I should treat with this “King in the North”? The Starks and Targaryens have unresolved bad blood between us.
Tyrion: Well, you did say that the various kingdoms could at least ask you about independence. And we might do well to have more allies and fewer foes.
Daenerys: Hmmm.
Tyrion: But to be honest, I wanted to see this for myself. To imagine the lad I left at the Wall is now a king. When I last saw Jon Snow, I’d just finished pissing off the edge of the world. True fact! He’s my eye-witness!

Daenerys: Hmmm?
Tyrion: The context is important for understanding …
Daenerys: I’m changing the subject. Has anyone seen Drogon?
Tyrion: Not for several days, no.
Daenerys: It’s not the first time he went off hunting for weeks. I do wish he’d check in occasionally. A mother never stops worrying.
Tyrion: The youth of today.
Daenerys: Ah, here’s your piss-watching friend now.
Jon Snow: Your grace.
Daenerys: Your grace.
Grey Worm: My queen! Drogon returned and set fire to our ships!
Daenerys: WHAT?
Grey Worm: Riding on his back was a boy. He kept shouting “Suck on this, Targaryens! House Stark! The North remembers!”
Tyrion: Err, Jon. You wouldn’t happen to know –
Jon Snow: I know nothing about this.
Daenerys: Nothing?
Jon Snow: Look, ask anybody.

So, is there a reason whu Bran would bother to ride a captured dragon, rather than just inhabiting its mind while leaving his body in a coma, lying around somewhere?

I’ll admit that I just like the idea of Bran and the dragon together.

Tyrion designed a saddle for Bran, since the boys crippled legs would not be able to assist in either maintaining a stable ride or in being able to guide a horse along via spurs.

The same kind of saddle that Tyrion designed for Bran might lead to a dragon-saddle solution. (If Bran and Dany end up on good terms, she might get a better and more comfortable ride situation out of this as well.)

In battle, it might be best for Bran not to be physically on the dragon’s back but it would be useful to have a dragon steed take him from point to point. After all, we don’t know the range of his warging abilities so he’d always want to be somewhat near the dragon.

I’m kind of not paying too much attention to the fact that when Bran was in his direwolf Summer, he was really in Summer. His body was slack, his eyes had that funky “no one’s home” look. But there were moments when he had calmed Hodor with just a touch of his warging power. I think with practice and power growth, Bran might be able to be on the back of a dragon, guiding it but not investing his full consciousness in it.

I mean, the dragons of old did take direction without direct mind control.


The Dragon Has Three Heads

So Dany has three dragons. She can obviously ride a dragon, and Bran might be able to ride a dragon. Who’s going to be on the third dragon? Well, I’ve never insisted that every dragon needs a passenger. There’s much speculation, and of course Jon Snow is a Targaryen, so maybe he’ll be number three. (Look, I know all about rumored secret Targaryens, we don’t need to rehash that too much.)

In my perfect novel world, with Bran and Dany at odds because that’s dramatic, I’d want the third dragon to be somehow taken by a third party who is antagonistic to both the Stark cause and the Targaryen cause. But I doubt the show will be able to pull something like that off, there’s not much time. But it just seems like a fun and complicated situation.

(I’d be thrilled if Cersei was a dragon-rider. Seven Hells! For Cersei to maintain her bizarre but continuous upward trajectory of power, in spite of herself… I’d be pleasantly amazed.)

Okay, that’s enough conjecture. But I do expect something important from Bran. Too hardy to be killed by a fall, blessed by the Old Gods, tapping into power… it’d be a shame if his potential just fizzled out.

Bran: Fizzling potential? Nice Blog.
Me: Touche.

Anyone else expecting some cool surprises from the last male Stark? Let me know.

(No need to bring up any Bran-changing-the-timeline expectations, or that we’ll discover he drove Aerys mad, or any other Doctor Whodor nonsense. That’s right, I said it.)

(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)

Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.) Well most of them. Google provided me that beautiful artwork of Bran, and I’m not sure who created the original image. The pic of Aegon on top of Balerion the Dread by Jordi Gonzales (artwork from The World of Ice and Fire) was found online at the ASOIAF wiki:

I make no claim to the images, but some claims to the text. So there.

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2017 Some Rights Reserved

  1. writingjems says:

    I never considered Bran warging into a dragon. That would be amazing. While the dragons could attack the White Walkers on Dany’s orders without Bran’s help, some direct control over one might be useful in handling the Night’s King himself. Plus, while the dragons can be guaranteed to wreak havoc, they might not do so strategically. Having Bran coordinate them to where they’re needed (maybe a particular part of the Wall is being overrun, or the army is being flanked) could prove very useful.

    I’m not actually sure that Dany and Jon will get face-time this season. I think it depends on A) how quickly Cersei is dealt with by Dany’s forces, and B) if Jon decides to focus his efforts north or south. I am looking forward to it, whenever it does happen though. I wonder if the truth of their familial relation will ever come to light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having Bran do multiple dragon coordination is a pretty cool idea.

      Ah, so you’re predicting Cersei will be quickly dealt with? I am assuming she’ll (against all odds) stick around for awhile.

      Liked by 1 person

      • writingjems says:

        I anticipate that she’ll be around till the end of this season. The “episode 9 equivalent” for this season will probably be Dany’s attack on King’s Landing (during which I predict she’ll attempt to recreate the Mad King’s downfall, starring herself and Jaime), and the last episode will be dealing with the aftermath and looking toward the Wall.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I think Bran will have to face his top decision, wheter he cross the wall or not. Why? Uncle Ben told him the Wall has magic, and Im almost sure its the same kind of magic the cave of the 3 eye raven had. So if Bran figure this out by himself, he´ll have to put to balance crossing and warning all south or stayin and making sure The Wall do what its meant to do (keeping freezing zombies away). Saying that, I dont think he will have any kind of trouble getting to The Wall, I believe the Nights King knows this, so he´s letting him go so the dumb kid can break the spell.

    On Bran warging into a dragon I dont think its an easy task. I remember Varamyr Sixskins saying that its easy to warg into a docile being (a dog, a wolf, a bird, a braindamage half giant). Varamyr had troubles warging into his polar bear, saying it always make a fight agains it. So if this guy with tons of experience had troubles controlling a polar bear, I dont see this little brat doing it for a Dragon.

    Anyway, great post again, im becoming a fan of the dialogues

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thumbs up on bringing in Varamyr Sixskins!

      I am really wondering what Bran is going to do about the Wall. It’s either cross through and risk violating the Wall’s defenses, or die from pursuing wights/exposure/starvation.

      Your point on Bran unlikely to be able to warg a dragon is valid – but I want it to happen SO MUCH!


      • I would love to see Bran riding a dragon, but love more the idea of a third party, antagonist to the “heroes” manipulate at least one of them, even for a period of time. Having 3 dragons on your side its too much for westeros, it need to be balance so we can enjoy a good war

        Liked by 1 person

  3. joanna says:

    ok, so a lot to talk about. Things that were already on my mind but you brought them up 🙂

    1. Bran’s reaction to Dany
    2. Bran on a dragon – or not – as the case may be
    3. How the hell Bran gets through the Wall without breaking the “White Walkers Not Welcome” spell
    4. 1,2,3 dragon riders
    5. What is Bran’s actual purpose
    6. A tinfoil tophat

    Let’s begin

    1. Bran’s reaction to Dany: This is something I hadn’t considered at all – possible hostility. That said, surely as the new Three Eyed Raven, Bran would have attained a higher knowledge above and beyond the negative childhood bias he grew up with, his “education” almost complete.

    As a consequence the old way of thinking becomes redundant – even as a Targ, she is not the true foe. Something akin to Jon Snow saving the Free Folk for the common good. Also [on the show] did you notice in Bran’s visions we never saw Dany? Is this significant? I have no idea.

    2. Bran on a dragon: “You won’t walk again but you Will fly”. Been thinking about that one. Special saddle or warging? Right now Dany can more or less guide Drogon at will. Something like riding a horse, invisible commands via legs and hand pressure, but I also suspect it’s a meeting of minds.

    As Tyrion said, some maesters believed that dragons are more intelligent than men. So Drogon “knows” what Dany wants instinctively. With that in mind, it’s entirely possible for Bran to “warg” and successfully control one of the others. But it would be cooler if he rode one. But how would he mount? “Rhaegal lifts Bran up gently in mouth nestled among razor sharp fangs”? Or they bring a crane? 🙂

    3. Getting through the Wall: I feel pretty sure Bran will pass through with Meera. I can’t imagine he’d be lounging around outside – in the freezing cold – for the next 2 seasons. But wouldn’t this, as you said, break the spell? That would seem a little too obvious. Wall = HUGE = stronger spell. Benjen couldn’t pass. Ok, Benjen can’t compare with WW magic. But still. Dead is dead. Something else will happen ..

    4. Like you, I’m really not caught up by “will there be 3 riders, and who are they”. It’s anybody’s guess and we shall see.

    5. Bran’s actual purpose: this is the one I can’t seem to figure out. Why is he important. And how will he actually help, apart from ride – warging one dragon. I’m still puzzled about this.

    6. Jon’s true identity will be confirmed for all to see when he first meets the Dragons. Because they will flock to him, kneel, maybe snuggle up in dragon fashion, prostrate themselves, something like that. Anyway, the Dragons will “know” who Jon is and act accordingly “a wonder to behold”. Yes? No? HAH!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your “dragons react to Jon” theory (as well as the image of Bran being placed atop a dragon’s back by a dragon’s jaws – badass!)

      The Meera-Bran-Wall thing is a problem, if bringing Bran through breaks the spell. I’ll need to think about that. (I have a post in July planned for wights, wards, and the Wall)

      You are correct that Bran, of all people, would appreciate that stopping the Others is more important than any grudge with the Targaryens. I just couldn’t help myself though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • joanna says:

        Yeah, Jon and the Dragons. I don’t really believe we’ll see that but hope we do. It would make for an amaaazing scene:

        “Dragons acknowledge Jon as the Prince that was promised”

        Dany’s WTF expression:

        “He stole my dragons!”, “I’m the Dragon whiz, me, me, me”

        About Bran in retrospect: if he rode a dragon, a bit of warging may be necessary as he’s paralyzed from the waist down.

        Yup totally agree – Meera – Bran – Wall thing = mega problem. Is your post programmed for before the 16th or after?

        Something to think about: Last year in the Braavos Hall of Faces teaser, Bran’s face wasn’t there. Or at least it wasn’t shown to us. Did you notice that?

        Liked by 1 person

        • My post about the Wall will be out the first week of July, so it’ll be before the season starts up. Once the season starts up, I won’t be blogging about the show, at least not the way I do now, when I pick some topic and try to write an entertaining article about it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • joanna says:

            Trivia – Kit Harington and Rose Leslie were in my “home town”, Santorini, a few days ago. They were staying in another village so I didn’t happen to see them. An acquaintance did, they were staying at the hotel she works at

            Liked by 1 person

      • joanna says:

        I’ve considered an additional scenario – one of the Dragons is felled by the Others. Rises up as an Ice Dragon. Ridden by the Night King. All hell breaks loose. In the ensuing battle all dragons die? A bit hazy on that. I’m in love with Drogon so heartbreak and tears would follow.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Awww. That’s so sweet that you’re in love with Drogon. (Viserion and Rhaegal are feeling left out now, though.)

          There’s reasonable fears that the Night’s King will get a dragon from Dany, or will raise up an Ice Dragon who is either slumbering in the Wall or under the heart tree pool at Winterfell. (These are pretty out-there theories.)

          Liked by 1 person

          • joanna says:

            Don’t laugh but I actually cried when Dany locked Viserion and Rhaegal in the catacombs of Meereen. Their cries ripped ma ‘lil heart out. Amazing how you can get attached to a computer generated fantastical creature. Yup, I’ve seen various thingos about Ice Dragon(s)

            Buuuutttt, what about ice spiders? 🙂 Bran’s [ex] favourite bedtime story courtesy of Old Nan

            Liked by 1 person

            • The locking up of the dragons in Meereen was pretty rough, emotionally, I will not laugh at you.

              Yeah, Ice Spiders! I once read something that was written before Hardhome, predicting that we’d see giant arachnids deployed by the Others, but the author was suggesting that the twist would be this: they’d be Ice Crabs! (There are a lot of references to the books about crabs, just not in relation to the Others.)

              But yes, I want to see more of old Nan’s stories come to life.


  4. I’m very interested to see how the Jon/Bran relationship plays out. Bran knows Jon is a Targaryen, but will he tell him? They’d have difficulty proving it. And you might be right that Bran might not even realize exactly what it is he saw. I suppose Howland Reed might be the key to putting it all together. I haven’t read all the books just yet, but I assume Howland Reed is just kind of holed up in his swamp.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Howland Reed is this mysterious figure in the books. Often talked about, but not seen. I believe he’s still holed up in Greywater Watch, but for all I know, he’s been Bronn this entire time or something.

      (I don’t think he’s Bronn.)

      Liked by 1 person

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