Does Robb Stark die twice?
One of the most infamous moments in Game of Thrones is the Red Wedding, when the King in the North Robb Stark is betrayed by Walder Frey. Robb is killed, along with his mother Catelyn, and his wife Talisa in the show, and with thousands of his men. It’s a sudden, shocking end to some of the heroes of the series. And it’s tragic for– so many reasons. Robb fights so hard to rescue his father Ned and his lost siblings, but he fails.
His independent northern kingdom falls to the treacherous Boltons. Catelyn sees her firstborn child murdered before her eyes, and she dies believing that Bran Rickon and Arya are also dead. Talisa dies along with her unborn child – though this character’s different in the books. Arya arrives at the Twins hoping to reunite with her family, but she only arrives in time for them to die.
The Mormonts, Manderlys, and many other northern families lose sons, daughters, brothers and sisters . And there’s another detail which could add yet more tragedy to this massacre – involving the death of the direwolf Grey Wind. At the beginning of Game of Thrones, the Stark family find some direwolf pups. Direwolves are like wolves but bigger, and more… mystical . They’re also on the heraldry of House Stark, so Ned lets each of his children keep a direwolf.
Robb has Grey Wind. Sansa has Lady. Arya has Nymeria. Bran has Summer. Rickon has Shaggydog. And Jon has Ghost.
As the story goes on, we learn that these direwolves are more than just pets. They develop a magical connection with the Stark kids, allowing them to feel what their wolves are feeling, even to “warg” into them – meaning they can enter the minds of their wolves, and see through their eyes . Bran does this the most, as part of his magical journey – but the other Starks have the same kind of power . Sansa doesn’t use hers, because Lady is killed in Book 1.
But Arya wargs into Nymeria, even after Arya leaves Westeros, and Nymeria becomes leader of a wolf pack. Rickon and Shaggydog we don’t know much about. They die in the show, but in the books they’re apparently alive on like a cannibal unicorn island? that we’ll hopefully see next book. Jon tends to resist his power, but he does warg Ghost sometimes , and many readers believe
That Ghost will play a role in Jon’s resurrection in the books. There’s this whole thing about how when wargs die, their mind can live on inside their wolf . The character Varamyr does this in the Prologue of Book 5 – he dies, but then lives a “second life” as his wolf. And when Jon dies at the end of Book 5, he might do the same thing – live on in his direwolf Ghost . Jon’s last word when he dies is “Ghost”, and the description of
“cold” in his death is similar to Varamyr’s . Jon won’t stay in Ghost for good – Melisandre has a vision of Jon changing from “a man” to “a wolf” to “a man again” – so maybe Jon will stay in Ghost for a while, then be resurrected as a man by Melisandre, like he is in the show. Watch this video for more on book-Jon’s resurrection. But the point is that wargs can live on in their wolves, and some readers believe that
This happens with Robb and Grey Wind. We don’t know much about Robb’s relationship with his wolf, because like Rickon, Robb is not a POV character in the books – we don’t see the story from his point of view. But Robb does seem close with Grey Wind. The wolf fights alongside Robb in battle , and growls at the Freys who later betray Robb. But in Book 3, Robb doesn’t listen to his wolf’s warnings.
He starts to distance himself from Grey Wind – as Robb gets more involved in southern politics, it becomes inconvenient to bring a man-eating wolf to his meetings. So before the Red Wedding, Grey Wind is locked up outside the feast. And this disconnection by Robb from his mystical northern Stark roots is part of what leads to his downfall. Cause when shit gets real and the Wedding gets Red, Grey Wind isn’t there to save
Robb. But, Robb may return to his wolf in the end. Robb’s last words are “Grey Wind”. Just like Jon’s last word is “Ghost”. So maybe like Jon and like Varamyr, Robb lives a second life as his direwolf Grey Wind. A very short second life.
Cause after Robb dies, the Freys also kill Grey Wind. In the books, a Stark supporter called Raynald Westerling briefly frees Grey Wind – and the wolf attacks some Freys before being shot down . So maybe that’s actually Robb living through Grey Wind, attacking his Frey betrayers before being killed again. Imagine how confused and angry and hurt Robb would have been – having his family and his men and himself murdered, then finding himself in the body of his wolf for a final
Frantic fight before dying a second and final time. After Grey Wind is killed, the Freys stitch the wolf’s head onto Robb’s corpse, which is gruesome, but there’s also a neat symmetry here – because Grey Wind’s head is on Robb’s body, just as Robb’s mind wargs into Grey Wind’s body – this might be a deliberate parallel. So there’s no proof.
But it seems very possible that Robb wargs Grey Wind and dies twice. It doesn’t really change the plot, but it does make Robb’s death even sadder. In the show, Arya sees Grey Wind die, there’s a moment of eye contact between her and the wolf. Which means if Robb wargs Grey Wind, he not only sees his mother and wife and men and himself die, he also sees his long lost sister for the last time.
He sees the fear and danger she’s in, but Robb’s unable to save her – he dies powerless, pained and confused, in a foreign body, in a foreign land. Maybe this is punishment from the old gods for a northerner who strayed too far south. Or maybe this isn’t really the end for Robb. If you wanna get tinfoil with this, we can go further. Cause this guy Raynald Westerling – after he frees Grey Wind, he gets shot with crossbows,
But escapes into a river. So it’s possible that Raynald survives . And thing is, wargs can live a second life not only in wolves, but in humans as well – in the Prologue, Varamyr tries to take over the body of a wildling called Thistle . Maybe Robb could do the same – maybe Robb is killed at the Red Wedding, then wargs into Grey Wind, and then when the wolf dies, wargs into Raynald Westerling, who escapes downriver.
King Robb could still be alive somewhere, in Raynald’s body – maybe to reunite with his zombie mother, Stoneheart – cause Catelyn is resurrected in the books. Maybe when Stoneheart leads a Red Wedding revenge, Robb, as Raynald, could stab a Frey in the heart and say ‘Robb Stark sends his regards’ – just as Roose did to Robb . But that’s just fan fiction. Robb probably doesn’t warg Raynald, there are enough resurrected Starks as it is, with
Jon and Stoneheart. But it is plausible that Robb wargs Grey Wind and dies twice in one night. Another layer of horror and pain to the travesty of the Red Wedding. This art is by Ertaç Altınöz – check out his awesome work linked in the description. And as ever, check out the Game of Thrones subreddits and forums where a lot of these cool fan theories come from in the first place.
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