Jon Snow took the cowardly Samwell Tarly under his wings at Castle Black, and now Sam is on his way to becoming the maester of the Night’s Watch. But what if there’s more to Sam Tarly than meets the eye? What if his story has more significance than simply becoming a beacon of knowledge?
Reddit user GoblinTalk seemed to be thinking along those lines when they came up with the below theory. The essence of the theory is that Sam was sent on a secret mission to restore a priceless “weapon” of sorts that can be used to aid the living in the fight against the dead.
There aren’t many Sam Tarly theories out there, but this is definitely one of the best — and one of the most likely.
Sam Tarly theory: He’s going to restore the Horn of Winter
The below is GoblinTalk’s theory:
“In A Clash of Kings [chapter Jon IV] the Night’s Watch are making camp at the Fist of the First Men, Jon’s hungry so he goes by the fire to get something to eat, some of the Night’s Watch men are talking
“What is it you smell, Dywen?” asked Grenn. The forester sucked on his spoon a moment. He had taken out his teeth. His face was leathery and wrinkled, his hands gnarled as old roots. “Seems to me like it smells… well… cold. “ “Your head’s as wooden as your teeth,” Hake told him. “There’s no smell to cold.” There is, thought Jon, remembering the night in the Lord Commander’s chambers. It smells like death.
After this conversation Jon loses his appetite and goes back to his tent to sleep but is woken up by Ghost, who leads Jon somewhere. Jon follows Ghost out of the camp before losing sight of him.
The below are a handful of quotes directly from the book — found by GoblinTalk — that relate to the theory:
A soft scrabbling noise made him turn. Jon moved toward the sound, stepping carefully among boulders and thornbushes. Behind a fallen tree, he came on Ghost again. The direwolf was digging furiously, kicking up dirt.
He knelt, jammed the torch into the ground beside him. The soil was loose, sandy. Jon pulled it out by the fistful. There were no stones, no roots. Whatever was here had been put here recently.
A length of frayed rope bound the bundle together. Jon unsheathed his dagger and cut it, groped for the edges of the cloth, and pulled. The bundle turned, and its contents spilled out onto the ground, glittering dark and bright. He saw a dozen knives, leaf-shaped spearheads, numerous arrowheads.
Beneath the dragonglass was an old warhorn, made from an auroch’s horn and banded in bronze. Jon shook the dirt from inside it, and a stream of arrowheads fell out. He let them fall, and pulled up a corner of the cloth the weapons had been wrapped in, rubbing it between his fingers. Good wool, thick, a double weave, damp but not rotted. It could not have been long in the ground.
Even before Jon stood and shook it out, he knew what he had: the black cloak of a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch.
GoblinTalk sums it up by writing: “Dywen smelled cold and it reminded Jon of the the Wight at Castle Black, he was then woken by Ghost to warn him that the dead were walking, then Jon finds a freshly buried bundle in a Night’s Watch cloak.
What character do we know that’s like a Wight and is a black brother? Coldhands.”
GoblinTalk theorizes that Ghost was being influenced by Bloodraven to lead Jon to the bundle. It’s also possible that Ghost just has some type of sixth sense. In any event, Jon seemed destined to find the bundle, which contained dragon glass and an old warhorn.
Why would Jon be led to an old warhorn, asked GoblinTalk? “[It] must be a very special [horn],” GoblinTalk wrote. “My guess is it’s the Horn of Winter.” Ultimately, the horn was given to Samwell Tarly.
The warhorn he had given to Sam. On closer examination the horn had proved cracked, and even after he had cleaned all the dirt out, Jon had been unable to get any sound from it.
As GoblinTalk pointed out: “Later, when Sam is traveling to Oldtown, he has to haggle to try and book a ship from Braavos to Oldtown, he ends up trading nearly all his possessions to pay for the ship, and it’s said:”
By the time the dealing was done, Sam was down to his boots and blacks and smallclothes, and the broken horn Jon Snow had found on the Fist of First Men..”
-A Feast for Crows, Samwell IV
Coldhands’ role in this Sam Tarly theory
GoblinTalk continued: “I think it’s also interesting to note Sam and Gilly were helped back to the wall by Coldhands, I would assume Coldhands knew he had the horn so if it wasn’t meant for Sam, he would have taken it or instructed him to give it to someone else.”
GoblinTalk summed up their theory by writing: “I’m wondering if the whole idea of Sam leaving the Wall was orchestrated by the Bloodraven and it’s actually a secret mission, we’re told it was Maester Aemons and Jon’s idea, maybe the idea was planted in their sleep (I did look for evidence of that but couldn’t find it, so it’s pure speculation).
We know Jon tried blowing the horn and nothing happened. Maybe a component is missing or it needs to be fixed and that is Sam’s true task and the reason for his travels.
TL;DR Sam has the Horn of Winter and is being guided by Bloodraven on a mission to fix it.”
But doesn’t the Horn of Winter bring down the wall? Why would Sam be led to do that?
GoblinTalk touches on this in his theory: “I don’t think Mance Rayder is right that the Horn Of Winter brings down the Wall, he seems to have a different Legend than Lord Commander Mormont.
“Aye, and long before them came the Horned Lord and the brother kings Gendel and Gorne, and in ancient days Joramun, who blew the Horn of Winter and woke giants from the earth. Each man of them broke his strength on the Wall, or was broken by the power of Winterfell on the far side…”
-A Clash of Kings, Jon III
“Jeor says the horn was blown, obviously the Wall is still standing,” wrote GoblinTalk.
Alternatively, it’s possible that the horn DOES bring down the Wall, and that Sam Tarly will fix it without realizing its powers. If he blows a fixed horn all the way in Oldtown, could it bring down the wall way up north? It’s possible. That might be how the Others get through the wall.
(That is, of course, if Bran doesn’t accidentally let them through first.)
Don’t forget: Sam Tarly is from Horn Hill
Reddit user glubnub left a comment under the original post to note: “And how fitting that he’s from Horn Hill!”
It would indeed be fitting if Sam Tarly from Horn Hill is on a secret mission to restore an ancient horn that will save the world.