Bran the wooden puppet boy

So, as usual, when I avoid doing any real world work I start poking around in ASOIAF world. Reality is such a silly place. I am trying to keep this main post updated with all relevant info for easy reading, but feel free to scroll through all of the posts. Thoughts? Ideas? Speculations? Do I just need more coffee :cheers:

I came across a term that I wondered about a long time ago but never asked about. We all know that the term “dance” is synonymous with “battle” or “fight”.

Arya is the Water Dancer, which is a unique style of fighting. Bran is the Wood Dancer? What does that make Sansa? The Air, or Winds, Dancer with all of her bird/flight references? She has been learning a lot on how to control people with words. And Jon? An earth dancer? Ice dancer? Jon as Snow White being the “glass flower” and all.  What about Rickon?

And yes, Martin does know and talk about Disney, as well as the original literary counterparts. He discussed Disney stories with me at Balticon in 2016 during the kaffeklatch (below), and George mentioned Disney stories in this 2015 biography he wrote for The Guardian.

Wood Dancers.

  1. Who are they?
  2. Do these “cadets” still exist?
  3. How is Bran connected to them?
  4. Is this how he will (possibly) escape the cave or will this come in to play after?
  5. How are they connected with future events? Will he be the warrior knight he always imagined?

We don’t have too much to go on so I will list what I found.The wiki doesn’t have anything on them, so this comes from the World book and the main 5:

  • A Dance with Dragons – The Wayward Bride

“To the walls,” Asha Greyjoy told her men. She turned her own steps for the watchtower, with Tris Botley right behind her.
The wooden watchtower was the tallest thing this side of the mountains, rising twenty feet above the biggest sentinels and soldier pines in the surrounding woods. “There, Captain,” said Cromm, when she made the platform. Asha saw only trees and shadows, the moonlit hills and the snowy peaks beyond. Then she realized that trees were creeping closer. “Oho,” she laughed, “these mountain goats have cloaked themselves in pine boughs.” The woods were on the move, creeping toward the castle like a slow green tide. She thought back to a tale she had heard as a child, about the children of the forest and their battles with the First Men, when the greenseers turned the trees to warriors.
  • This chapter of Asha’s is amazing and worth a re-read if you have not done so in a while. Asha, while deep within Stark territory at Deepwood Motte, notices a few things. She sees trees = Bran, shadows = Arya, moonlit hills = Sansa, and snowy peaks = Jon at the wall. The chapter finishes with Asha and her men being taken by northmen.
  • Bran’s horse that was trained to hold him as a cripple was named Dancer (RIP). I always wondered why, but again, never really asked.
  • This from Bran in Game:
    • As the First Men carved out holdfasts and farms, they cut down the faces and gave them to the fire. Horror-struck, the children went to war. The old songs say that the greenseers used dark magics to make the seas rise and sweep away the land, shattering the Arm, but it was too late to close the door. The wars went on until the earth ran red with blood of men and children both, but more children than men, for men were bigger and stronger, and wood and stone and obsidian make a poor match for bronze. Finally the wise of both races prevailed, and the chiefs and heroes of the First Men met the greenseers and wood dancers amidst the weirwood groves of a small island in the great lake called Gods Eye.
  • This one from Clash is kinda weird. Jon is definitely being linked to the Old Gods throughout the story.
    • “Jon went to cut more branches, snapping each one in two before tossing it into the flames. The tree had been dead a long time, but it seemed to live again in the fire, as fiery dancers woke within each stick of wood to whirl and spin in their glowing gowns of yellow, red, and orange.”
  • Could this line here be referring to Bran being a wood dancer and his part in the battle? Is he FINALLY going to be the action knight he always dreamed to be as a young, youngster?
    • their wood dancers—became their warriors as well,”
  • And this one from Storm, which is probably just clever wording, could this be a tie-in to Sansa in some way as well? That poor girl has got to get back with her pack, however, during this time dancing, she goes from person to person charming them with her words (are wind), but she is still learning…
    • “Thankfully, it was time to change again. Her legs had turned to wood, though, and Lord Rowan, Ser Tallad, and Elinor’s squire all must have thought her a very clumsy dancer. And then she was back with Ser Garlan once more, and soon, blessedly, the dance was over.
  • I came across this passage in the World book and wanted to add it here. Some of these beasts still exist in-world, but chances are they are sigils, meaning, it could be Bran that has a strong hand in calling together different houses to defend Westeros… or atleast the North.
    • “The hunters among the children—their wood dancers—became their warriors as well, but for all their secret arts of tree and leaf, they could only slow the First Men in their advance. The greenseers employed their arts, and tales say that they could call the beasts of marsh, forest, and air to fight on their behalf: direwolves and monstrous snowbears, cave lions and eagles, mammoths and serpents, and more. But the First Men proved too powerful, and the children are said to have been driven to a desperate act.”


I was at a kaffeeklatch (coffee talk) with GRRM and only 8 other people on Monday, May 30, 2016 for about an hour and a half and I had a chance to ask GRRM about this theory. He first replied, “interesting”, and talked with me about it, but he never said NO. Something I , and others, have noticed he doesn’t do when he doesn’t want to deny a theory. He prefers to change the subject. He then asked if I had read the books or seen the movie. He told me the Disney Pinocchio movie was his favorite because of how “dark, disturbing and scary it is.” He said he never read the books, but then proceeded to give me details about the events in the books, specifically the fact that Pinocchio smashes the cricket because the cricket represents his conscience and Pinocchio doesn’t want to listen to a conscience. See my comparison to Meera and Jojen below. I do have this session on audio recording and therefore anything I put “” around means they are GRRM’s direct words.


  1. Pinocchio– the name a variant of common “pinolo” (pine seed)
    • Created as a wooden puppet. Bran as we know him was created when he was pushed from the tower. We know “Dance” is a synonym for fight in this ASOIAF series.
      • Just a quick interjection: Bloodraven is a Norse- Odin figure. One of the early ways to spell and pronounce Odin is Woden/Woden. So, Bran is the Woden/wooden puppet of Odin-Bloodraven.
    • Dreamed of becoming a real boy. Bran dreams of becoming a knight… a real knight as he says.
    • A character who is prone to telling lies and fabricating stories for various reasons. Bran has been known to tell little lies like not climbing the tower anymore (right before he falls) and lies in the caves when he wargs Hodor and tries to fool the others while doing so. He has also been shown to be rebellious at various points in the story.
    • Collodi chastises Pinocchio for his lack of moral fiber and his persistent rejection of responsibility and desire for fun. Bran does this many times when he wargs Hodor, which is an abomination for warg’s to do (take another human). But he likes to do it and does it enough that Hodor starts to recoil to a dark spot in his own mind.
    • He is a marionette that is manipulated with wires. Bran is manipulated by Bloodraven by way of “telepathic” wires.
    • After struggling and weeping over his deformed nose, the Blue Fairy (Meera) summons woodpeckers to peck it back to normal. Bran cries to Meera about his current state and she comforts him.
    • Often thought of as a hero and cautionary tale, Pinocchio descends into hell; he also experiences rebirth through metamorphosis, a common motif in fantasy literature. Bran… this is Bran’s storyline in ASOIAF.
    • IN THE END The main imperatives demanded of Pinocchio are to work, be good, and study. For Bran it is to learn to be a greenseer.
    • Pinocchio’s willingness to provide for his “father” (to open his third eye) and devote himself to these things transforms him into a real boy with modern comforts. He becomes the knight he always wanted to be. a WOOD DANCER.
      • This is also a connection to the Norse mythology that GRRM uses heavily throughout ASOIAF. Bran is the squirrel known as Ratatosk. Eddard identifies Bran as a climbing squirrel back in AGOT.
  2. Geppetto– Is thought of as Pinocchio’s second/surrogate father… and is Bloodraven. I will say here that this part sorta kinda helps me in my theory that Bloodraven is NOT a good guy. I won’t detail why here just to keep to this topic. Basically, Bloodraven is working Bran like a puppet.
    • Geppetto is introduced when carpenter Mister Antonio finds a talking block of pinewood which he was about to carve into a leg for his table.
    • Antonio gives the block of wood to Geppetto signifying the transference of greenseer knowledge from the preceeding greenseer to Bloodraven.
    • Towns people say that Geppetto dislikes children, the carabiniere assumes that Pinocchio has been treated poorly and imprisons Geppetto. Bloodraven, in life, was thought by everyone to be a “sinister sorcerer” and was sent to the wall by King Aegon.
    • Geppetto is released from jail and finds that Pinocchio’s feet have burnt off, and replaces them. Bloodraven in the books did this part on purpose.
    • Geppetto is a major villain in the Fables comic series. I have read these graphic novels and they are amazing.
    • “Geppetto” is a diminutive form of Giuseppe (Joseph). Bloodraven is the diminutive nickname for Brynden Rivers.
      • Mangiafuoco  in English; literally “Fire-Eater” – Mangiafuoco could also be Bloodraven, or, the Black Gate at Nightfort. Mangiafuoco is the wealthy director of the Great Marionette Theater. He has red eyes and a black beard which reaches to the floor, and his mouth is “as wide as an oven [with] teeth like yellow fangs”. Despite his appearances however, Mangiafuoco (which the story says is his given name) is not evil.
  3. Fairy with Turquoise Hair– is Meera. Maybe a little of Jojen as well.Both are described as basically elfish in the books as well.
    • She repeatedly appears at critical moments in Pinocchio‘s wanderings to admonish the little wooden puppet to avoid bad or risky behavior.
    • Although the naïvely willful marionette initially resists her good advice, he later comes to follow her instruction.
    • She in turn protects him, and later enables his assumption of human form, contrary to the prior wooden form.
    • The Fairy cryptically responds that all inhabitants of the house, including herself, are dead, and that she (Jojen) is waiting for her coffin to arrive. We read about Jojen and him being able to foresee his death throughout the story.
      • “Jojen, up the tree.”… “There’s no need. Today is not the day I die.”
    • The Fairy (Meera) informs him (Pinicchio/ BRAN that he is free to consider her an elder sister.
  4. Jiminy Cricket-  Is Jojen, for sure. The Talking Cricket (Italian: Il Grillo Parlante), a fictional character created by Carlo Collodi for his children’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio
    • Originally an unnamed, minor character in Collodi’s novel, he was transformed in the Disney version into a comical and wise partner who accompanies Pinocchio on his adventures, having been appointed by the Blue Fairy (known in the book as The Fairy with Turquoise Hair)
    • Jiminy Cricket is a small, anthropomorphic cricket and the deuteragonist of the 1940 Disney animated feature film, Pinocchio. Serving as the official conscience to the film’s protagonist, Pinocchio, Jiminy is tasked with keeping the wooden boy in line, teaching him valuable life morals and the dangers of temptation.
    • The character’s name is a play on the exclamation “Jiminy Cricket!”, a minced oath for “Jesus Christ
      • This makes you think of the oath that Jojen and Meera swear to Bran
        • “To Winterfell we pledge the faith of Greywater,” they said together. “Hearth and heart and harvest we yield up to you, my lord. Our swords and spears and arrows are yours to command. Grant mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we shall never fail you.”
          “I swear it by earth and water,” said the boy in green.
          “I swear it by bronze and iron,” his sister said.

          “We swear it by ice and fire,” they finished together.
          Bran groped for words. Was he supposed to swear something back to them? Their oath was not one he had been taught. “May your winters be short and your summers bountiful,” he said. That was usually a good thing to say. “Rise. I’m Brandon Stark.”
    • The Fairy also  says that his “father” Mister Geppetto (Howland Reed) is on his way to fetch him. Could this mean we see Howland Reed leaving Greywater Watch and coming north in the next book (TWOW)?
    • And probably most importantly, the way GRRM himself describes the relationship between Pinocchio and Jiminy: “specifically the fact that Pinocchio smashes the cricket because the cricket represents his conscience and Pinocchio doesn’t want to listen to a conscience.”
      • but the Reeds had stayed to become Bran’s constant companions. Jojen was so solemn that Old Nan called him “little grandfather,”
      • “You were gone too long.” Jojen Reed was thirteen, only four years older than Bran. Jojen wasn’t much bigger either, no more than two inches or maybe three, but he had a solemn way of talking that made him seem older and wiser than he really was. At Winterfell, Old Nan had dubbed him “little grandfather.” Bran frowned at him. “I wanted to eat.”
      • “No.” Bran knew the voice of his direwolf.
        “Are you certain?” said the little grandfather.
        “Certain.” Summer had wandered far afield today, and would not be back till dawn. Maybe Jojen dreams green, but he can’t tell a wolf from a direwolf. He wondered why they all listened to Jojen so much. He was not a prince like Bran, nor big and strong like Hodor, nor as good a hunter as Meera, yet somehow it was always Jojen telling them what to do. “We should steal horses like Meera wants,” Bran said, “and ride to the Umbers up at Last Hearth.” He thought a moment. “Or we could steal a boat and sail down the White Knife to White Harbor town. That fat Lord Manderly rules there, he was friendly at the harvest feast. He wanted to build ships. Maybe he built some, and we could sail to Riverrun and bring Robb home with all his army. Then it wouldn’t matter who knew I was alive. Robb wouldn’t let anyone hurt us.”
      • “Hodor!” burped Hodor. “Hodor, hodor.”
        He was the only one who liked Bran’s plan, though. Meera just smiled at him and Jojen frowned. They never listened to what he wanted, even though Bran was a Stark and a prince besides, and the Reeds of the Neck were Stark bannermen.
  5. Candlewick- Is, I think, more the Jojen. Candlewick is introduced in chapter XXX. His real name is Romeo, though he is given his nickname on account of his slender, polished build. He is described as the most unruly of Pinocchio’s class, though he is the puppet’s best friend. Pinocchio and Candlewick meet again in chapter XXXVI, where it is revealed that Candlewick is dying from exhaustion (Sounds familiar= Jojen).
  6. The Coachman- Coldhands. The coachman’s name is never revealed. He drives to Busy Bee Island (the cave in ASOIAF) on a coach pulled by twenty four donkeys (The great elk in ASOIAF) which mysteriously wear white shoes on their hooves (Coldhands mysteriously wears the face coverings). By the time he arrives to take Pinocchio and Candlewick to the Land of Toys (again, the cave), his carriage is completely packed, leaving Candlewick to sit in front with him and Pinocchio to ride one of the donkeys. The donkey throws Pinocchio off, and is reproached by the coachman, who bites half its right ear off (We have references to cannibalism in the trek north with Coldhands). When Pinocchio remounts the donkey, the animal begins to weep like a human (Hodor), and warns Pinocchio of the impending danger he faces. The coachman again reproaches the animal by biting off half its other ear. The coachman proceeds to kidnap the innocent children to the Land of Toys, whilst singing to himself: “All night they sleep, And I never sleep…”. Meera describes Coldhands as, ” Who is he? What is he? Anyone can put on a black cloak. Anyone, or any thing. He does not eat, he never drinks, he does not seem to feel the cold.”
  7. The fox and the cat– Theon is the cat and Reek/Ramsay is the fox
    • Both are depicted as con-men, who lead Pinocchio astray and unsuccessfully attempt to murder him.
    • The pair pretend to sport disabilities; the Fox lameness (Reek/Ramsay) and the Cat blindness. (Theon)
    • The Fox is depicted as the more intelligent of the two, with the Cat (Theon) usually limiting itself to repeating the Fox’s words.
    • The pair catches and hangs Pinocchio from a tree. Theon and Reek hang the miller’s boys from Winterfell.

Basically, Bran will become fearful of Bloodraven, who is wonderfully shady to begin with, and Bran will find a way to leave the tree and be the knight he always wanted to be.

  1. The Land of Toys, or,- This part of the Pinocchio story is absolutely integral to the morality theme of the entire piece.
    • As TyrionTLannister points out in a Page 2 post to read more. Basically, it’s a location in “The Adventures of Pinocchio” that serves as a haven for wayward boys and girls, allowing them them to act as they please without recrimination. However, its truer and more sinister purpose is eventually revealed as it begins to physically transform the boys and girls into donkeys, apparently by means of a curse.
    • The description of the Land of Toys mentions this part, “To its unsuspecting visitors, it appears to be a fantastic place where boys and girls can do whatever they want with no consequences or law. However, its real use is for a slave trade.”, and to me, that is why I stubbornly think Bloodraven could be up to no good. My Page 2 post talks about it more.
    • adding 2/26/17: Check out the part of the thread where Bran is already turning into a tree while in his “land of toys”. Page three in this thread. More to come on this as well.


Arya connections:

  • I believe that, in keeping with the fairytales theme, George used the original story of The Little Mermaid for Arya’s main, over-reaching story. Almost every element of TLM is in Arya’s story, and you can see how her arc could progress on page going forward. I will do a comparison one day (fingers crossed for time)
  • GloubieBoulgafound a great text link to the donkey/mule Land of Toys connection. Page 2 post to read.

BONUS- Patchface:

The term Humpty Dumpty is actually a phrase used to describe a drunk person. Humpty Dumpty was not ever an egg until later versions where the riddle was turned into a child’s nursery rhyme. It was a riddle first about a drunk man who falls down and the idea that you can never help a lackwit such as that…. and isn’t this how most people treat Patchface?!?!?!! In Through the Looking Glass, HD provides riddles and speaks “backwards” by celebrating his un-birthday.

  • Chapter Six – Humpty Dumpty: After crossing yet another brook into the sixth rank, Alice immediately encounters Humpty Dumpty, who, besides celebrating his unbirthday, provides his own translation of the strange terms in “Jabberwocky”. In the process, he introduces Alice (and the reader) to the concept of portmanteau words, before his inevitable fall.

Two of the earlier HD riddles are:

  1. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    Four-score Men and Four-score more,

    Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.

  2. Humpty Dumpty lay in a beck.
    With all his sinews around his neck;
    Forty Doctors and forty wrights
    Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty to rights!

    • A beck is a small creek or waterside. Hmmm, where was Patcface found, and wasn’t he drunk/drowned in sea water???


Originally discussed in the forum in the Pinocchio thread found here.

Credit to Feather Crystal for her essay on the Through the Looking Glass/Jabberwocky connections. Take some time to read what FC has to say… it’s good stuff! LINKED HERE


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