“The Winds of Winter” has not yet been released, but that hasn't stopped fans from speculating what will occur in George R.R. Martin’s forthcoming sixth novel. “A Dance of Dragons,” the last novel in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series was released in July of 2011, the 1056-page book left fans with innumerable cliffhangers. Now nearly three years later, with the series more popular than ever due to the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones,” fans are growing restless. And when fans of fantasy literature grow restless, they normally begin to put together theories in an attempt to solve the cliffhanger themselves, without the help of the authors. These fan forums are entertaining to read but normally full of convoluted theories and bizarre ideas. However, one crazy fan theory has caught our attention. And considering it was revolving around one of the most mysterious characters in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” we decided it was worth further investigation.
Warning! Possible spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” and George R.R. Martin’s “The Winds of Winter.” Do not read any further if you do not want to discover fan theories regarding Daario Naharis and the next installment of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
In Season 4 of “Game of Thrones” fans discovered that a new actor, Michael Huisman, had replaced Ed Skrein, in the role of Daario Naharis. Initially when news of the HBO recast broke, many fans assumed that the show creators were going to portray the new Daario more like his character in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.” In the novels, Daario Naharis is exotic looking, with his blue bread cut in three prongs, blue curly hair and blue eyes. He also dresses in loud colors and decorates himself in bright finery, all completed with his signature golden tooth. However, in Season 3 and then in Season 4 of “Game of Thrones,” Daario’s appearance was that of a typical sellsword, unruly natural hair, and tanned skin, sporting a poor quality leather tunic. So if the show creators of “Game of Thrones” decided upon a recast, why not make Daario look more like his extravagant book counterpart? Most likely because they wanted him to look like another character we have already met in both the book and the TV series. Confused? Stick with me because the truth behind Daario Naharis’s mysterious identity may have finally been revealed once and for all.
In “A Storm of Swords,” Daario’s dyed beard and dyed hair seem to mask his true identity. George R.R. Martin is known for introducing characters in installments of “A Song of Ice and Fire” only to reveal it was already a character we had met, simply in disguise. The emergence of Daario Naharis and his quick allegiance to Daenerys Taragryen was always somewhat mysterious like the mysterious as the disappearance of Benjen Stark. Benjen Stark was the younger brother of Ned Stark, and First Ranger of the Night’s Watch. Immediately after his nephew Jon Snow arrives at the Wall, Benjen is sent North of the Wall. Benjen along with a few other brothers went into the North when Lord Commander Mormont asked him to find Ser Waymar Royce, who had not yet returned.
Benjen Stark allegedly suffers a similar fate to that of Ser Waymar Royce; and the Men of the Night’s Watch speculate that Benjen is dead. While he has not been mentioned in the subsequent books of the series since, Martin never explicitly gave a first hand account to Benjen’s death, which in his writing normally indicates the character is still alive. Due to Martin’s lack of a first hand account, fans think Benjen Stark is not frozen to death North of the Wall, instead he is in disguise as Daario Naharis.
Another piece of evidence aside from the missing death of Benjen Stark is the recast in HBO’s TV series. Benjen Stark looks like a typical Northerner, unshaven beard, black hair, and thick eyebrows. Does this sound like anyone else we know? When introduced this season, Daario Naharis had a much more natural look. Compared to the former actors exotic facial features, the new Daario has an unkempt beard, black hair and thick eyebrows, he has a rather board face. The casting of Daario may have served the purpose to make the character look more like that of Benjen Stark. For the TV series, characters in disguise are difficult but most fans would believe his Stark features in the role of Benjen was also recast with Michael Huisman.
The disguise would be successful in the books series do to physical descriptions, and Dany is the perfect victim. Ignorant to the ruling families of Westeros, Dany would not know what Benjen Stark looked like, and due to his time on the Wall nor would Jorah or Barristan. Benjen’s motives for going to the East and declaring allegiance to Dany, also make sense, typical to that of a Stark, Benjen would take his other to that of the Night’s Watch very seriously. Perhaps he also heard talk of the “Targaryen girl with 3 dragons in the East” like Tywin Lannister and realized she could save the Wall and the Realm.
He may have even encountered the White Walkers while in the North and realized the true scope of danger. As a “watcher in the night and protector of the Realm,” Benjen could have seemingly abandoned his vows while on a desperate plan to save the realm from the others, but he really would be upholding them by going after the one thing that kills White Walkers -- fire. Benjen being a Ranger knows the stories of the First Men and also know that the only thing that saved the Realm from the first attack was dragons and their fire.
Benjen Starks’s missing account of death seems to be significant. So much so that it would be plausible that it has to connect with a possible overarching ending, that Dany eliminates the impending White Walker invasion with her dragons! What do you think of this “Game of Thrones” fan theory? Is it ridiculous to think Daario Naharis could be Benjen Stark in disguise or is it brilliant?