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The books have several chapters from the point of view of these characters, and since

Lady is killed very early on

we cannot know whether Sansa would have had the warg dreams like Arya, Bran and Jon Snow. Are we meant to infer that all of the Stark children are wargs (or have the potential to be so) or is this exclusive to Arya, Bran and Jon.

We never get a chapter from the point of view of Robb or Rickon, but throughout the book there is common mention of how dissimilar Sansa and Arya are and how alike Arya and Jon are. I am wondering if this is due to the Stark (as opposed to the Tully) blood. We are constantly reminded of how similar Sansa is to her mother - at least in terms of appearance.

Are we meant to infer that it is the Stark genes that are responsible for this or is this an over simplification?

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    The fact that they are all related distantly to Brandon the Builder (who had to have had some sort of otherworldly quality to build the Wall) must play some part in their supernatural abilities. – Monty129 Jan 14 '14 at 13:31
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    Yes I think you're on the right lines. Arya reminds Ned of his sister Lyanna and whatever Jon's parentage (ahem) many have noted how much like a Stark he looks. Having said that, Ned is not known to have ever exhibited warg-like qualities so genes alone aren't enough. – TheMathemagician Jan 14 '14 at 13:49
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    @TheMathemagician Is it not true however that magic has only just recently reawakened in ASOIAF? Perhaps Ned died before realizing his potential. – John O Jan 14 '14 at 19:50
  • In the books Jon, Arya warg while sleeping. I don't remember mention of Rob or Sansa doing so. I believe this is most probably because they are more Tully than Stark (both have auburn hair) while the others don't and look more like Starks – Dom Aug 3 '17 at 22:05
19

When I read the title of this question, my first and foremost thought was: Does it matter? In the grand scheme of things, we shall see what we shall see: Bran is doing his thing, Arya her thing, Sansa her thing, and Jon his thing. What Rickon does, we do not know (yet).

My second thought was, yes, of course it did matter way back when, when I first read the series.

I've had a while to think about this, so perhaps I can review my thoughts.

In A Game of Thrones, the very first book, the very first chapter, the very first few pages, Jon Snow says to Lord Eddard Stark, regarding the direwolf pups found in the snow:

"You have five trueborn children," Jon said. "Three sons, two daughters. The direwolf is the sigil of your House. Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord."

Then we find out that there is another pup, one that is all white.

"An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die even faster than the others."

Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long, chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."

It is clear from the very start of the book that this is supposed to mean something. I believe the first person to know how special this bond is is Bran, although I cannot safely say what order this happened. But I do remember the moment when Bran woke up after his long coma dreams, scaring a serving woman to death:

When his brother Robb burst into the room, breathless from his dash up the tower steps, the direwolf was licking Bran's face. Bran looked up calmly. "His name is Summer," he said.

We get countless examples of Bran dreaming "wolf dreams", which makes it redundant to elaborate on Bran/Summer. We also know that Jon has some intense moments where he and Ghost are connected in some otherworldly way, such as when he sees the huge wildling camp at the Milkwater through Ghost's eyes.

We also know that Arya has vivid dreams of Nymeria, such as when Nymeria swims out into the river and drags Catelyn Stark's body to the shore, and the next morning, Arya knows her mother is dead.

We also see Arya in Braavos, seeing through the eyes of a cat when the kindly old man is playing tricks on her, and know that she still is having wolf dreams.

Sansa is the only one who never has any wolf dreams, or visions through her direwolf Lady. We do know that Lady, like all the other direwolves, reflected her owners personality in her own: She was well-behaved and ladylike. She was killed rather early on, through Sansa's own cowardice, so we do not know much of that. We do know, however, that Sansa tamed another large and dangerous canine: Sandor "The Hound" Clegane. Read the chapters, I am sure you will see what I am talking about.

Then there is Robb. The forlorn lord, who lost the north. We do not know what goes on in Robb's mind. But we do know that the extra sensory perception that was evident in all the wolves: The ability to sense evil or betrayal in people, the ability to sense danger, or grief, was also present in Grey Wind. But Robb pushed aside his intuition and his trust in Grey Wind, when the untrue rumour of his brothers' demise reached him.

[Catelyn] "Any man Grey Wind mislikes is a man I do not want close to you. These wolves are more than wolves, Robb. You must know that. I think perhaps the gods sent them to us. Your father's gods, the old gods of the north. Five wolf pups, Robb, five for five Stark children."

"Six," said Robb. "There was a wolf for Jon as well. I found them, remember? I know how many there were and where they came from. I used to think the same as you, that the wolves were our guardians, our protectors, until . . . "

"Until?" she prompted.

Robb's mouth tightened. " . . . Until they told me that Theon had murdered Bran and Rickon. Small good their wolves did them. I am no longer a boy, Mother. I'm a king, and I can protect myself." He sighed. "I will find some duty for Ser Rolph, some pretext to send him away. Not because of his smell, but to ease your mind. You have suffered enough."

Robb chooses not to believe. He is a King, and he lacks the confidence to believe in supernatural things. Despite Grey Wind being almost a part of him at this time, fighting beside him in battles, he allows the Westerlings and the Freys to get between him and his wolf. When he should have trusted his wolf, he does not, and suffers for it. An event that is also shadowed in the events surrounding Jon in ADWD.

Last but not least is Rickon and Shaggydog. It is clear to me that Shaggydog is very much in touch with Rickon's feelings. Rickon is the "wild wolf" in the family, and spending all this time with Osha and the wildlings (and unicorns!), the next time we see him, it is sure to be a lively event. The most remarkable event in this context is, I think, in Bran's POV, when Bran convinces Maester Luwin to take him down into the crypts to see if Lord Eddard is, in fact, down there. And instead they find Rickon and Shaggydog, and it turns out Rickon had the same dreams as Bran.

"Shaggy," a small voice called. When Bran looked up, his little brother was standing in the mouth of Father's tomb. With one final snap at Summer's face, Shaggydog broke off and bounded to Rickon's side. "You let my father be," Rickon warned Luwin. "You let him be."

"Rickon," Bran said softly. "Father's not here."

"Yes he is. I saw him." Tears glistened on Rickon's face. "I saw him last night."

"In your dream . . . ?"

Rickon nodded. "You leave him. You leave him be. He's coming home now, like he promised. He's coming home."

So I would say, yes, all of the Stark children have some of the "wolf blood" in them. Bran the most, and Sansa the least. But Jon and Arya have strong experiences as well, and while we do not know the inner thoughts of Robb or Rickon, they do seem to share the same kind of bond with their wolves.

  • I think you are mistaken the level of need and familiarity with "wolf blood". The all have the same amount of potential for warging but some of them are more in need or pay more attention than the others. Arya has shown remarkable ability in warging, by using those cats on the street, the tavern and in the temple, without any other guidance or training. Bran is the most in need and, as we know from the books so far, he was chosen to be the Seer. However, this is obviously not a choice because of ability, but a choice because of circumstances. Being a cripple already makes him the one that is – ThunderGr Mar 10 '14 at 9:54
  • most likely to accept the confining life of the Seer. We also know that wargs have 2 lives. So, yes, it is absolutely important to know that, while their wolf is alive, they cannot die. The wolf must die as well, in order for them to die. – ThunderGr Mar 10 '14 at 9:57
  • We do not know anything about the potential of the Stark kids, we only know what we can see them doing, and Sansa has done the least, and Bran the most, therefore it makes sense to assume that Bran is strongest and Sansa weakest. Whether that is due to nature or nurture no one knows except GRRM. – TLP Mar 10 '14 at 11:05
  • Of course we know exactly what the story tells us. And this is what I presented in my comments. What the story tells us. – ThunderGr Mar 10 '14 at 20:54
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It would seem so, to some degree at least. The Stark mythos is absolutely littered with references to wolves and dire wolves in particular. Recent Stark history shows a lack of wargs however. On the other hand, dire wolves had been unseen south of the Wall for a long time. It would seem to me that incident is the combination of the fortuitous finding of the dire wolf pups by the Stark children plus some magic in their heritage, perhaps even some deeper mystical connection (the prophecies of the Song of Ice and Fire), and the coming calamity beyond the wall.

Here's a break down of the Stark children:

  1. Robb (Wolf: Grey Wind): As a non POV character all we get to see is how other people see him. Grey Wind shadows Robb everywhere and rides into battle with him where he has proven to be a devastating weapon. But the most telling part that distinguishes the bond between Robb and Grey Wind than that of a normal boy and his wolf/dog is Robb's parting speech with Cleos Frey. Grey Wind punctuated Robb's threats with a howl without any signal between the two.

  2. Jon Snow (Wolf: Ghost): Definite warg.

  3. Sansa (Wolf: Lady): She seems to be the exception that proves the rule. Then again, Sansa only had Lady for a short while before the pup was killed. Which is an incident hinted to be part of Sansa being alienated from the rest of the Starks.

  4. Arya (Wolf: Nymeria): Like Sansa she only had Nymeria for a short while. Unlike Lady, Nymeria lives and seems to have become the leader of a fearsome pack of feral wolves. From time to time, Arya gets wolf dreams of Nymeria hinting that she too has the ability. However, the ability doesn't have time to manifest more as Arya moved farther and farther away from Westeros.

  5. Bran (Wolf: Summer): The other confirmed warg, and powerful enough in his ability that he's more of a skin changer.

  6. Rickon (Wolf: Shaggydog): Another non-POV character. However, the link between him and his wolf is unmistakable. The wolf is wild and immature when compared to his litter mates, mirroring Rickon's own place among his siblings. Perhaps when he gets older his warging abilities will manifest themselves stronger.

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    Sansa has another "canine" close by, who she tames and becomes her good friend. – TLP Jan 14 '14 at 17:06
  • @TLP - I'm a crazed SanSan shipper. Believe me, you do not want me to elucidate on the subject LOL. – System Down Jan 14 '14 at 17:31
  • I totally had to google twice to decode that statement. :P Sandor's story is quite interesting, I hope it doesn't end on Quiet Isle. – TLP Jan 14 '14 at 17:58
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    Just add Arya sees through cats eyes in Bravos, so she's probably a warg/skin changer. – Nick Jan 16 '14 at 17:15
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    @ash_k29 Found it. It's the prologue. This passage: "The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it." – System Down Jun 4 '14 at 17:58
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George R.R. Martin has confirmed in an interview that all the Stark children are wargs.

Q: Are all the Stark children wargs/skin changers with their wolves?

A: To a greater or lesser degree, yes, but the amount of control varies widely.

Correspondence with the fans - GRRM - Citadel SSM Entry for February 1, 2001

  • Welcome to SF&F:SE. You'll get a lot more kudos and credibility if you back up assertions with quotes or references. – Valorum Feb 14 '14 at 23:43
  • This is actually the correct answer – Aegon Sep 1 '16 at 11:45
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According to this thread, yes and its confirmed by the author.

To add my personal opinion on this, there has to be a reason that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell and that the banner of the Starks have the direwolf. I think we can safely assume that all Starks since the time of the last fight against the white walkers and the Great Winter are wargs.

1

I don't think being a Stark1 is the main reason for their warging abilities, I believe it's because the Starks carry the blood of the first men in their veins.

If it was just being a Stark1 that gave them the abilities there wouldn't be any other wargs outside of the Starks and Stark descendants.

But there are Wildling Wargs2 north of the wall so that proves that being a Stark is not necessary to be a warg.


1. In other words, having the "wolf blood"
2. Wildlings also carry the blood of the first men

0

Minor clarification, but it's not that Sansa is or isn't a warg, it's that Lady was killed before any of the real chaos started. I'd blame Sansa's lack of Stark-ish toughness less on her Tully blood and more on the loss of her direwolf.

Plus, a note on Arya: she can most definitely warg, she's just far removed from Nymeria. She uses cats to see the kindly man attack her in Braavos.

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