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Benjen Stark

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"Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it."
―Benjen Stark to Jon Snow[src]

Benjen Stark is a recurring character in the first and sixth seasons. He is played by guest star Joseph Mawle and debuts in the series premiere. He reappears in the sixth season, in a flashback, played by Matteo Elezi. Benjen Stark is the First Ranger of the Night's Watch. He embarks on a ranging north of the Wall, and does not return. He is finally encountered again when he saves Bran Stark and Meera Reed from wights after they escape from the cave of the three-eyed raven.

Biography

Background

Benjen Stark is the youngest son of Lord Rickard Stark. Rickard was the head of House Stark and Lord Paramount of the North. The North is one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and House Stark is one of the Great Houses of the realm. House Stark rule the region from their seat of Winterfell and Rickard also held the title Lord of Winterfell.[1]

Benjen is the younger brother of Brandon, Eddard and Lyanna. Rickard, Brandon and Lyanna were all killed in the civil war known as Robert's Rebellion. Eddard inherited his father's titles and responsibilities.[2][3][4]

Benjen joined the Night's Watch, the military force which patrols the Wall and guards the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. He earned the rank of First Ranger. Benjen is a hero to Eddard's "bastard son" Jon Snow.[5]

Season 1

Benjen Stark

Eddard Stark talking to his brother in Winterfell's great hall.

Benjen travels south from the Wall to join in the feast welcoming King Robert Baratheon to Winterfell. He brings news about ill omens from beyond the Wall. Benjen tells Eddard that the young deserter he executed was a good and loyal man, a true ranger who would not desert his post lightly. He invites his nephew Jon Snow to join the Night's Watch; Jon agrees despite Benjen's warning that it is a hard life.[6] Eddard agrees to become the Hand of the King. A few days later, the royal party heads south. Benjen accompanies them to the Kingsroad and then escorts Jon and Tyrion Lannister north to Castle Black. Along the way they are joined by fresh recruits, including a rapist named Rast. Jon begins to realize that the Watch may not be the noble institution he thought it was.[7]

Jon and Benjen 1x03

Benjen says goodbye to his nephew Jon Snow atop the Wall.

Upon arriving at Castle Black Jon begins his training. Benjen tells Jon that he is going north of the Wall on a ranging. Jon asks to go with him, but Benjen tells him that he is not ready and cautions that on the Wall a man only gets what he earns, not what his birth entitles him to. Benjen says farewell to his friend Yoren, a recruiter for the Watch. He also exchanges words with Tyrion, who is about to head south with Yoren. Benjen feels that Tyrion holds the Watch in disregard despite Tyrion's protests to the contrary.[8]

Catelyn Stark takes Tyrion prisoner at the Crossroads Inn believing he attempted to kill her son, Bran.[9] Because of his friendship with Benjen, Yoren rides on to King's Landing and reports Catelyn's actions to Eddard.[10]

Benjen's horse returns to Castle Black, but there is no sign of Benjen himself.[11] Shortly afterwards, two of the rangers who accompanied Benjen, Othor and Jafer Flowers, are found dead in the forest beyond the Wall. They are brought back to Castle Black for Maester Aemon to study, but in the middle of the night they reanimate as wights. Both are killed again and their bodies are burned.[12] Lord Commander Jeor Mormont vows to take the Watch beyond the Wall in force to investigate what's going on and promises Jon that they will find Benjen alive or dead.[13]

Season 2

As the travel beyond the Wall in search, Mormont and his men stop at Craster's Keep where Mormont tells the wildling Craster that Benjen has said he planned to stop there on his way to the Frostfangs. Craster gruffly replies that he hasn't seen Benjen for three years and hasn't missed him, saying that Benjen "always treated me like scum."[14]

Season 5

Jon, who has now been elected the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, ends up alienating many of his fellow black brothers when he brings back several thousand Wildlings that were driven away from Hardhome and allows them safe passage through Castle Black. His personal steward, Olly, lures him into a trap by claiming one of the Wildlings that he brought back says he knows Benjen. As Jon walks outside to see if this is true, Alliser Thorne (who Jon has since named First Ranger in place of the missing Benjen) adds that this Wildling claims he saw Benjen at Hardhome on the last full moon. However, this is revealed to be nothing but a farce as Alliser, Olly, and four other black brothers proceed to fatally stab Jon.[15]

Season 6

YoungBenjen

A young Benjen as seen in Bran's visions.

Benjen appears in a vision experienced by Bran Stark. Benjen is shown training with Ned under a young Rodrik Cassel in the courtyard of Winterfell, though his skills are far inferior to Ned's. Lyanna appears and playfully teases Benjen about not having a sparring partner after Ned goes to the Eyrie, and suggests that Hodor, then known as Wylis, take up swordplay. Benjen almost has a match with Hodor, who is led away by Old Nan.

Benjen is seen later in another of Bran's visions saying goodbye to Ned shortly before the latter heads off to the Vale.[16]

606 Benjen Stark Promo

Benjen reveals himself to be alive to Bran Stark

Beyond the Wall, when Bran and Meera Reed are being chased by an army of wights, a hooded figure with a concealed face arrives atop a horse, wielding a flaming chain, to burn the wights and rescue the pair. When the wights become too numerous to fight off, he pulls Bran and Meera onto his horse and rides away. The next day, the hooded man feeds Bran the blood of a dead rabbit, and says he arrived to help because the three-eyed raven requested it. When questioned on his identity, he pulls down his scarf and hood, revealing himself as Benjen Stark. Benjen explains that, during his fateful ranging beyond the wall, he was attacked by White Walkers, one of whom shoved an ice sword into his gut and left him for dead. He was discovered by the Children of the Forest, who saved him and stopped him from becoming a wight by shoving a piece of dragonglass into his chest.[17]

Benjen S6E10

Benjen bids farewell to Bran and Meera by the wall.

Benjen escort Bran and Meera to the Weirwood Tree near the Wall and told them that "this is where I leave you". When asked by Meera why he was not coming with them, Benjen told them that "The Wall is not just Ice and Stone. Ancient Spells were carved into its foundation. Strong Magic, to protect men from what lies beyond. While it stands, the dead cannot. I cannot pass.". Benjen tells them that he still fights for the living and will continue to fight against the White Walkers for as long as he can and wishes them good fortune before riding away.

Appearances

Season One appearances
Winter is Coming The Kingsroad Lord Snow Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things The Wolf and the Lion
A Golden Crown You Win or You Die The Pointy End Baelor Fire and Blood
Season Six appearances
The Red Woman Home * Oathbreaker Book of the Stranger The Door *
Blood of My Blood The Broken Man No One Battle of the Bastards The Winds of Winter

*Bran's vision

Gallery

Family tree

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire ​novels, Benjen is the First Ranger of the Night's Watch, a position of high honor and achievement. It is rumored he took the black to escape from Winterfell because his home reminded him of his lost family (Rickard, Brandon, and Lyanna). He is a noted tracker and fighter. Benjen attends King Robert Baratheon's visit to Winterfell and Jon approaches him at the feast about joining the Night's Watch. Benjen tries to talk him out of making such a permanent decision at such a young age, but Jon's mind is made up. Benjen later tells Maester Luwin of Jon's decision, who in turn notifies Ned and Catelyn.

As with the TV series, Benjen goes on a mission to assess the situation in the Haunted Forest, but disappears and is never heard from again. The Great Ranging led by Lord Commander Jeor Mormont is organized partly in response to Benjen's disappearance.

Benjen has also taken over the role of "Coldhands", a mysterious character aligned with the three-eyed crow, whom GRRM has confirmed as not being Benjen Stark, debunking fan theories indicating otherwise. Coldhands aides Sam and Gilly reach the Wall after their escape from Craster's Keep, kills the Betrayers, and later aides Bran and his companions reach the cave of the three-eyed crow, which he cannot enger due to the magic warding it. Like the show version of Benjen, Coldhands is an undead former member of the Night's Watch, but is said by Leaf to be centuries old. He also rides an elk instead of a horse and is constantly followed by a flock of ravens.

According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Benjen" is pronounced "BEN-jin", as opposed to "Ben-JENN" (the second syllable is short and not stressed).

See also

References

v  d  e
Lord: King Jon Snow Heir:
House-Stark-Main-Shield
Seat: Winterfell Lands: The North
Title(s): King in the North · Lord of Winterfell · Lord Paramount of the North (under the Iron Throne) · Warden of the North (under the Iron Throne)
Ancestors:Brandon the Builder · Brandon the Breaker · Dorren Stark · Rodrik Stark · Karlon Stark · Osric Stark · Torrhen Stark · Cregan Stark
Current members:Sansa Stark · Arya Stark · Bran Stark · Benjen Stark
Deceased members:Rickard Stark · Brandon Stark · Lyanna Stark · Eddard Stark · King Robb Stark · Talisa Stark · Catelyn Stark · Rickon Stark
Household:{Ser Rodrik Cassel} · {Maester Luwin} · {Jory Cassel} · {Vayon Poole} · {Septa Mordane} · Brienne of Tarth · Jeyne Poole · {Osha} · Hodor · Farlen · {Old Nan} · Mikken

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