George RR Martin Accidentally Spoils The Truth About Coldhands In A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE
Fans of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire have been perturbed that a certain character has been absent from the Game of Thrones TV adaptation. Coldhands, a good-guy wight who hangs out with Bran Stark, simply never made it to HBO. This caused a big ruckus, because the prevailing fan theory is that Coldhands is none other than Benjen Stark re-animated. Benjen was Ned Stark's brother and a man of the Night's Watch who, very early in the series, went missing North of the Wall. In fact that fan theory feels so obvious that nobody was even questioning it anymore. We just all assume Coldhands is Benjen Stark.
Well, hold on to your wargs. There's a copy of the original manuscript for A Dance With Dragons at the Texas A&M Cushing Memorial Library, complete with notes from Martin's editors. These kinds of things are often very interesting for researchers and biographers, and apparently the annotated A Dance With Dragons gives a good sense of how Martin's editor works with him (she would like him to stop mentioning Davos Seaworthy's fingerbones so much. We get it, George). It also rules out that fan theory about Benjen.
On page 115 the editor scrawls a note to GRRM about Coldhands:
Is this Benjen? I think it's Benjen... And does Bran never recognize him because he never sees his face fully?
GRRM's reply, in red pen:
So there you have it, from the man himself - Coldhands isn't Benjen Stark. So what the heck happened to Benjen? And who the hell is Coldhands? He can't be anybody we really know, which is why he was left out of the TV show.