How Hodor’s death scene will be different in the books


Every Game of Thrones fan knows what “Hold the door” means. George R.R. Martin tells us how this crucial scene will be different in his books.

One of the most celebrated scenes from Game of Thrones came in the fifth season, when we learned why Hodor was only able to say one word. It ends up, he used to be a normal boy. Then, through no fault of his own, he was rendered when Bran Stark, then training to become the Three-Eyed Raven, projected himself into the past, possessed Hodor’s body, and used him to block the exit to a cave, keeping a horde of wights at bay.

It’s a complex, beautiful, tragic scene, one of several A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin described to Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss once it became clear the show was going to outpace his own books. We’ll see Martin’s version of this scene whenever The Winds of Winter finally hits shelves, and while I hope it’ll be every bit as powerful, it won’t be quite the same.

How exactly will it be different? Martin talked about that in James Hibberd’s new Game of Thrones oral history book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon. “It’s an obscenity to go into somebody’s mind,” Martin said. “So Bran may be responsible for Hodor’s simplicity, due to going into his mind so powerfully that it rippled back through time. The explanation of Bran’s powers, the whole question of time and causality—can we affect the past? Is time a river you can only sail one way or an ocean that can be affected wherever you drop into it? These are issues I want to explore in the book, but it’s harder to explain in a show. I thought they executed it very well, but there are going to be differences in the book.”

"They did it very physical—“hold the door” with Hodor’s strength. In the book, Hodor has stolen one of the old swords from the crypt. Bran has been warging into Hodor and practicing with his body, because Bran had been trained in swordplay. So telling Hodor to “hold the door” is more like “hold this pass”—defend it when enemies are coming—and Hodor is fighting and killing them. A little different, but same idea."

Okay, so if I’m reading this right, on the page, Hodor won’t literally hold a door against an oncoming crush of wights: he’ll fight them off with a sword while Bran and Meera Reed (and maybe her brother Jojen, who’s still alive in the books) make their escape. Did I miss anything?

I also like the idea of Bran warging into Hodor’s body to practice swordplay; in A Dance with Dragons, he was already using Hodor’s body to explore the caves where the Three-Eyed Raven lives with some of the Children of the Forest, so it makes sense he’d take the next step.

Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon is available now!

Next. Game of Thrones showrunners would “definitely” do some things differently. dark

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