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Game Of Thrones: How Hodor’s Death Will Be Different In The Winds of Winter

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Hodor's death is one of Game of Thrones' most brutal moments, but it'll play out differently in George R.R. Martin's upcoming sixth A Song of Ice and Fire book, The Winds of Winter. Hodor, portrayed by Kristian Nairn in the HBO show, was a loveable giant defined by the fact that he could only say the word "Hodor", which was long used as his name. There was no explanation given to why Hodor was capable of just a single word, but it was largely accepted by everyone around him in-universe and the viewers too.

However, Game of Thrones unexpectedly decided to reveal Hodor's backstory in season 6, episode 5, "The Door". As Hodor, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) attempted to flee from the wights and White Walkers who had infiltrated the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, Hodor is charged with holding the door against the battering of the dead. As that happens, the scene intercuts with the past of a young Hodor - real name Wylis. Bran accidentally wargs into young Wylis, connecting the past to the present: Wylis starts to have a seizure and hears Meera's shouts to "hold the door" while also bearing witness to his own death, damaging his mind to the point where"hold the door" eventually becomes "Hodor".

The time loop was one of Game of Thrones' most complex deaths, but also among its most devastating. Hodor was one of the few purely good people in Westeros, and given one of the most tragic endings imaginable. It had previously been confirmed that this was one of three shocking "holy s**t" moments Martin had told Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss back in 2013, when they met to plot out the TV show knowing it would overtake the books. But while the "hold the door" twist is from the books, the TV version is much more literal than what Martin has planned. In James Hibberd's book Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon: Game of Thrones and the Official Untold Story of an Epic Series, Martin reveals:
"I thought they executed it very well, but there are going to be differences in the book. They did it very physical - "hold the door" with Hodor's strength. In the book, Hodor has stolen one of the old swords from the crypt. Bran has been warging into Hodor and practicing with his body, because Bran had been trained in swordplay. So telling Hodor to "hold the door is more like "hold this pass" - defend it when enemies are coming - and Hodor is fighting and killing them. A little different, but same idea."

It'll be fascinating to see exactly what happens in The Winds of Winter, which is presumably where Hodor's death will occur based on the current timeline of events, but Martin's comments already make clear some major changes. Aside from being less literal, the comments could also hint that Bran is warging into Hodor at that moment and using him to fight, rather than simply being commanded to do so, which further adds to the weight of Bran's tinkering with Hodor's mind and the horrible consequences of it. Using a sword also makes more sense for the books, because Martin has set up this aspect of Hodor's character. A Storm of Swords discusses the swords taken from the crypts, one of which Hodor uses to hack at trees, but the most intriguing passage comes when there's a lightning storm: "The lightning flashed again, and this time the thunder came at six. "Hodor!" Hodor yelled again. "HODOR! HODOR!" He snatched up his sword, as if to fight the storm."

Martin has set it up so that Hodor not only uses the sword, but is clearly far more courageous with it than without. That means when he's facing the wights and using the sword, he is following on from the bravery he previously exhibited with it, which might contradict the idea of Bran controlling him to do so, but would be arguably a more powerful option, allowing Hodor to make be the hero on his own terms. With no constraints on time or budget, The Winds of Winter will also be able to go deeper into the machinations of Bran's meddling with time and how it all works - concepts Game of Thrones understandably didn't go too deep into. In Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, Martin says:
"It's an obscenity to go into somebody's mind. So Bran mau be responsible for Hodor's simplicity, due to going into his mind so powerfully that it rippled back through time. The explanation of Bran's powers, the whole question of time and causality - can we affect the past? ... These are issues I want to explore in the book, but it's harder to explain in a show."
With Bran a point-of-view character in the books, that means readers will likely experience what happens to Hodor from his perspective when The Winds of Winter releases, giving even deeper insights into exactly what he does and what happens, and how Wylis comes to be Hodor. The net result will be the same as it was in Game of Thrones, but this way suggests it'll not only be more complicated a process, but hit even harder as well.
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