TL;DR: Sandor Clegane — the Hound — is still alive, living as a novice on the Quiet Isle.
This theory about Sandor Clegane is among the most popular Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice And Fire theories out there. The site awoiaf.westeros.org rounds up the key points of the theory, which, if true, means the Hound is still alive and could play a role in the coming books.
“Most were boys near Podrick’s age, or younger, but there were grown men as well, amongst them the big gravedigger they had encountered on the hill, who walked with the awkward lurching gait of one half-crippled.”
–A Feast for Crows, Brienne VI
When speaking with Brienne in A Feast for Crows, the Quiet Isle monastery Elder Brother “seems to know an awful lot about the mind and soul of Sandor Clegane,” notes awoiaf.westereos.org. “Perhaps too much for having only briefly spoken to him as he died.”
This would imply that the Elder Brother knows more than he lets on. He says that he personally buried the Hound and that he can “tell [Brienne] where his grave lies.” He added, “I covered him with stones to keep the carrier eaters from digging up his flesh.”
This could, of course, be metaphorical — as things so often are in the asoiaf series by George R. R. Martin. Perhaps the Elder Brother helped the Hound “bury” his past life.
The notion that this is a metaphor is supported by the fact that the Elder Brother said he “died in the Battle of the Trident,” which he obviously did not.
We also know that Brienne is extremely large, and that the gravedigger is bigger than her.
The Hound and the gravedigger are both injured
Additionally, several times throughout the Brienne VI chapter in A Feast for Crows, the gravedigger is referred to as crippled in some way. For example:
- “From the way he moved, it was plain to see that he was lame.”
- “[He] walked with the awkward lurching gait of one half-crippled.”
Last we saw the Hound — and knew it was actually him — he was grievously injured.
“The Hound was still weak, every movement slow and clumsy. He slumped in the saddle, and sweated, and his ear began to bleed through the bandage. He needed all his strength just to keep from falling off Stranger.”
-A Storm of Swords, Arya XIII
The Hound’s horse is on the Quiet Isle
Additionally, Sandor Clegane’s horse Stranger was located on the Quiet Isle, and while one could infer from the text that only Clegane could handle, lead or ride Stranger — who is a beast of a horse — there is an example, in Arya XIII of A Storm of Swords, of Arya leading Stranger to the stables. In any event, Stranger’s presence on the Quiet Isle lends credence to the “the Hound is the gravedigger” theory.
The Hound and the Dog
This is perhaps the strongest clue that the Hound is the gravedigger.
“The gravedigger lowered his head. When Dog went to sniff him he dropped his spade and scratched his ear.”
–A Storm of Swords, Arya XIII
Sandor Clegane is called “the Hound,” and the Clegane family crest features three black dogs. A connection between Sandor Clegane and dogs is well established throughout the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series and Game of Thrones show.
Having this mysterious, Sandor Clegane-sized and Sandor Clegane-like-injured gravedigger share a moment with a dog — named “Dog” — is surely more than a random occurrence.