From the Maester’s Desk: The True Enemy Is Here

Rise, numbers!

The article contains spoilers from ASOIAF, including a sample chapter of The Winds of Winter.


“The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.”

A ranging beyond the Wall goes downhill fast after three sworn brothers of the Night’s Watch found more than they bargained for. Tasked with tracking some wildlings, young Will stumbles upon their corpses instead. But who butchered them? It doesn’t take long for the killers to show up and slay two of the rangers with ice blades.

Will falls to his knees, dismayed, and a dark figure throws something at him. It’s the head of one of the rangers, Gared. Before the screen fades to black, we hear voices that sound like cracking ice.

White Walkers do have a language! In the TV adaptation, it’s called “Skroth” and it was created by David J. Peterson, who also helped with the Dothraki and Valyrian languages.

Sadly, Skroth was dropped entirely from the show. Says Peterson:

“Basically, they just say, ‘Try to wow me.’ And then when my stuff doesn’t make it into the show, I figure, ‘Well, I failed.’”

I think the showrunners decided that the Night King and his lieutenants would be more scary if they remained silent. It is indeed unnerving to see those unnatural blue eyes and emotionless, dead-like faces.

There are noticeable differences, however, between the novels and the television show. The name was changed from Others to White Walkers, to avoid confusion with “the Others” from ABC’s Lost (who are mysterious but human nonetheless).

Their appearances also received an extreme makeover. Martin describes them as beautiful, like fairies or elves. That’s not the case with GoT’s White Walkers, and their gaunt, mummy-like looks. Certainly no one would mistake the Night King for Legolas!

Much like their book counterparts, the White Walkers have been lurking in the background for several seasons, increasing the size of their armed forces while the noble houses of Westeros wage war between themselves, ignoring the greater threat from beyond the Wall.

Fist of the First Men

The novels have released information about them in dribs and drabs, offering only small peeks. After their appearance in the prologue of A Game of Thrones, which kick-started the plot, they were absent from A Clash of Kings, reappearing in A Storm of Swords in spectacular fashion: the fight against the wights at the Fist of the First Men.

Season 3 of the show glossed over this event because of budget constraints, but one of its most memorable elements (the undead polar bear) found its way to the TV adaptation in episode 6 of Season 7 (“Beyond the Wall”).

After the fight, when the survivors were retreating back to Castle Black, an Other attacks and it is then when Sam earned his “Slayer” moniker, stabbing the creature with a dragonglass dagger. This moment was kept in the show, albeit portrayed in a different way, at the end of episode 8 of Season 3 (“Second Sons”) when Sam prevents a White Walker from taking Gilly’s son away.

Sam slays the White Walker

The scene wasn’t only an earned display of bravery from Sam, showing that he’s willing to risk his life to protect the people he cares about, but also showed that the White Walkers are vulnerable to dragonglass. Most importantly: they can be killed.

The Others didn’t make an appearance in either A Feast for Crows or A Dance with Dragons, the only exception being some wights during the latter’s prologue chapter, from the POV of Varamyr Sixskins. On the other hand, the show has been consistent in offering glimpses of the real enemy in every season. We got to take a look at the Land of Always Winter at the end of the fourth episode of Season 4 (“Oathkeeper”). We also saw the Night King for the first time, transforming Craster’s last son into a White Walker, thus confirming a long-running theory from the books.

The first proper confrontation came in Season 5, in one of the fan-favorite episodes, “Hardhome” (episode 8). Jon Snow and his crew barely survived the skirmish, but gained new allies and the knowledge that Valyrian steel can also kill the White Walkers. Plus, a hard look at what’s at stake if the army of the dead managed to march south, past the Wall.

Problem was, of course, that the Night King also managed to get some new recruits for his undead army.

The Night King as a character doesn’t exist in the books. So far at least. There’s indeed a character called the Night’s King, and when asked about it, George R.R. Martin played coy.

Children of the Forest Night King

The confirmation that the Children of the Forest are the ones who created the White Walkers (the Night King being the first of them), shot down the theory that the two characters may be the same, or somehow related.

In the novels, the Night’s King was a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch during the Age of Heroes, according to the legends anyway. He fell in love with a woman who had ghostly-pale skin, as white as the moon and cold as ice, and shining blue eyes. Based on that description, fans theorize the woman was an Other. The Lord Commander declared himself king, and made the mysterious woman his queen, and together they ruled the Nightfort (one of the currently abandoned castles of the Night’s Watch), demanding unholy sacrifices, until Brandon Stark, lord of Winterfell, and Joramun, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, put an end to their reign.

Neither this story nor the characters have been mentioned in the show, but it is narrated by Rose Leslie in one of the “Histories & Lore” featurettes from the Season 2 Bluray, with a couple of slight variations: that the Night’s King found her lover buried in ice, and that such story was made up by the free folk.

The Night King character was probably invented as a way to give a distinguishable face to these major antagonists, to serve as a nemesis for Jon Snow, and for the audience to root against. He also gives a sense of organization and leadership to the whole thing, because otherwise it would most likely look like your run of the mill zombie invasion.

Wall - Eastwatch Breach 7x07 (29)

Season 7 closed with the army of the dead finally breaching the Wall, thanks to the Night King’s new mount, and starting to pour into the Seven Kingdoms. The Great War is finally here.

What’s going to happen in the six episodes of Season 8 is anyone’s guess. If I was a betting man, I’d say the first half of the season is going to be about the battle against the Night King and his army, and the latter half will be a final confrontation with Cersei and the aftermath of both conflicts.

Bran has been at the center of many theories regarding the endgame. Many people think he’s really the Night’s King (already shot down by Isaac Hempstead-Wright, and really, this bonkers theory should’ve never taken flight, considering we saw the ‘birth’, so to speak, of the Night King).

Another theory suggests Bran was the reason Aerys went mad, and that the “Burn them all” was meant as an indication of what to do with the wights. Personally, I do not buy it. The Mad King may as well have shouted “Dragonglass!”

Any way of ending the conflict by time-traveling and preventing the White Walkers from happening, doing a ‘reset’ so to speak, would be unsatisfying in my opinion. I trust these characters will find a way to deal with the problem in present time. Maybe Sam will find something important in all the material he took from the library before leaving with Gilly?

I do think it’s possible that Bran will somehow warg into undead Viserion. I’m not really sure if it’s possible to warg into reanimated dead beings, but it would be one way to force the Night King to land and fight on his feet. The other possibility would be Rhaegal and Drogon fighting and defeating their undead sibling. But if either of them (or both) die during the confrontation, what would stop the Night King from claiming them for his army? Two dragons, or even worse, three, would render him unstoppable.

My personal Bran theory goes like this: the characters strap wildfire jars to his wheelchair. Then they’ll trick the Night King into coming for Bran, only to pull an Hector Salamanca on him.

All right, that was cruel. But being serious, unless he finds an important clue in one of his visions (maybe in a flashback of how the Children and the First Men defeated the Walkers during the Long Night?), I feel the dragon-warging theory is the most likely, as to how he could help. It would also fulfill the long-running fan desire to see him “flying” in the form of something far more imposing than a raven.

All aboard the S.S. Jonaerys, whether you like it or not.

I think it’s likely that Jon will be the one who defeats the Night King, probably at the cost of his own life. If he does die during the battle, then maybe Beric Dondarrion will be able to bring him back the way he did with Catelyn in the novels. If not, then the hypothetical baby he’ll have with Daenerys will ensure the survival of House Targaryen. If Dany makes it to the end, that is- but I don’t think she’ll die. It is true that George said the ending would be “bittersweet,” but a victory for the Night King or Cersei would be a real downer. More bitter than sweet.

As to what’s in store for the Others in the books, George has promised that we are definitely going to see more of the Others. They do have to breach the Wall by the books’ end, if we consider that there’s only one more book after The Winds of Winter. Unless there’s a change of plans and an eighth book materializes.

An undead dragon (or an ice dragon) seems like a given, because I doubt the showrunners would have diverged from the story only to wink at fans who really wanted to see one. It is possible that there isn’t one in the books, but I don’t think it’s likely. Whether it is one of Dany’s dragons or not, remains to be seen. As discussed in my previous article, the Wight Hunt most likely won’t take place in the books, but that doesn’t mean the Others won’t get their hands on one of Dany’s precious fire-breathing children in some other way.

701 - King's Landing - Euron 6.

Perhaps the Greyjoys will be the ones who unintentionally make it happen, with the Dragonbinder horn. This horn, said to be made with one of the horns of a dragon, was allegedly found by Euron Greyjoy in the ruins of Valyria. Euron wins the kingsmoot with the promise that he’ll conquer Westeros by taking control of Dany’s dragons with the horn.

Whoever blows the horn dies (as we see when one of Euron’s men blows it and then collapses and dies later, with his lungs black, as if they were burnt), but the dragons will obey the horn’s master.

Victarion Greyjoy, a character that didn’t make it to the show, is currently in possession of the horn, and just reached Slaver’s Bay with the Iron Fleet, according to a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter.

If we assume there won’t be an undead dragon, that leaves us with the Horn of Winter, or Joramun’s Horn (there are lots of horns in this story, right?). It is said that this legendary horn (that hasn’t been found so far) can bring down the Wall, which turns it into a Chekhov’s Horn of sorts.

It can be only a story, or maybe the Others have it and will use it to destroy the icy barrier.

Should they have no Horn of Winter and no undead dragon, they can always climb the Wall with their ice spiders. Sadly, the spiders didn’t make it to the show, but arachnophobes around the globe sure are grateful. They sure sound cool in theory, but I can agree that the budget is better invested in the dragons and battle sequences. I mean, poor Ghost didn’t show up in the entirety of Season 7 (which is fine for me. A missing Ghost is a living Ghost. I do not want him to become a coat for the Night King).

Jon will definitely lead the charge against the Others in the novels, but his allies surely will be rather different than those in the TV adaptation. Tormund seems obvious, but the rest is more difficult to guess. Beric is dead, Thoros is with the Brotherhood and Lady Stoneheart (same for Gendry) and Davos is off trying to find Rickon Stark (this right here most likely means that the book version of “The Battle of the Bastards” will also be rather different. It is indeed interesting to realize how much ground there’s left to cover in the novels, whereas the show is about to reach the endgame). Whenever worlds collide in Martin’s story, I do not doubt it’ll be different than the screen version.

Baby White Walker

There’s much about the Others (and the White Walkers) that I doubt either the books or the show will answer, such as how their society works. Unless they only dedicate themselves to marching and killing anything that moves. How do they raise the baby Walkers? That is, Craster’s sons, after they’ve turned. Unless they grow up ridiculously fast, surely someone needs to take care of them.

I suppose they don’t need to sleep, to eat or to satisfy many other needs, but they aren’t reanimated corpses either.

Why aren’t there any female Walkers? It can be assumed that it’s because Craster only gave the boys up, so he could keep the girls, but was Craster their only provider? Is there a gender limitation to their magic, or some kind of bias? They don’t seem to be finicky when it comes to reanimated corpses for their wight army. Do they have a sense of humor, albeit a cruel one, or do they only laugh to make their victims feel nervous?

Nevertheless, it’s ok with me if we never find out the answers to these and many other questions regarding these creatures, since it adds to their mystery. When these sort of things get disassembled, and every part of them is explained, they stop being scary. Whatever makes the Night King tick (a desire for vengeance, or just an experiment gone awry?) I hope the show showrunners don’t reveal it.

I for one cannot wait for when the Night King unleashes the storm, despite it being more than a year away from our screens. I hope our beloved characters are ready for it!

50 responses

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    1. I’m sure we will have more informations about the WW in S8, but I’m also sure that there is no way to make Army of the Dead morally gray, no matter how many times Martin mocks Tolkien. They are the force of evil.

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    2. I would like if the Night King was the first Stark. It would give a very dark twist to the story. “Winter is comming” would have a much more sinister meaning.

      Maybe that’s what he wants? To reclaim his homeland. We know he was a human once. And we know he is a greenseener and a warg, just like Bran and many other Starks.

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    3. Isn’t the Night King able to sense Bran (like when he warged into the Ravens)? Wouldn’t that make it pretty near impossible to warg into the undead dragon?

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    4. hidingtazz:
      Isn’t the Night King able to sense Bran (like when he warged into the Ravens)?Wouldn’t that make it pretty near impossible to warg into the undead dragon?

      Or I guess I should say wouldn’t it be pretty near impossible to warg into the undead dragon long enough to do something useful?

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    5. FreeParking,

      Yes, they got called “white walkers” once or twice, but their ‘official name’ so to speak, is ‘The Others’. That’s the name George uses to refer to them, and the name they get in most, if not all book-related merchandise.

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    6. mau:
      I would like if the Night King was the first Stark. It would give a very dark twist to the story. “Winter is comming” would have a much more sinister meaning.

      Maybe that’s what he wants? To reclaim his homeland. We know he was a human once. And we know he is a greenseener and a warg, just like Bran and many other Starks.

      I would also like this. I can’t remember where it was, but I did read a discussion thread earlier this year about the WW and a few people seemed pretty convinced that the NK was originally a Stark.

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    7. I like the theory that the first Night King was the Last Hero/Azor Ahai, and he married an Other to end the first great war with a pact/treaty, sealed with a marriage alliance. And also the idea that it was the Others themselves who raised the wall, because they didn’t want men in their realm.

      I hope the books eventually have some attempt to communicate with the Others and discover their goals or motivations. The show seems to be taking a more boring, simplistic, “kill-the-leader-and-the-whole-army-dies” approach. I doubt the final solution in the books will be so simple.

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    8. Lot of different ways this series could go in the last season and none of them great. GOT is going to land butter-side-down but the kitchen floor will be recently swept.

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    9. Boromir,

      This is also my favorite end game theory. I’m also inclined to believe that The Others in the books have some kind of existential problem which forced them to make a move.
      For example : Jon sacrifices himself to be the new Night King (thus being fire wight and Other at the same time). Dany gets pregnant but dies in childbirth. Tyrion constructs the new governmental system.

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    10. What i want to know is why hodor isnt at the head of the wight army, afterall no one was behind to burn his or summers body at thw 3 eyes ravens cave.

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    11. If I was a betting man, I’d say the first half of the season is going to be about the battle against the Night King and his army, and the latter half will be a final confrontation with Cersei and the aftermath of both conflicts.

      Where did this come from? I’ve seen this theory advanced many times on freefolk and the other reddits recently – usually in almost exactly the same wording – even though it makes absolutely no sense given what we know what Cersei’s end is to be like. It’s as if it’s always the same person stating this.

      Much more likely, at some point Daenerys’ forces will be under pressure from both the dead (from the North) *and* Cersei’s forces (from the South), and Jaime (and the Hound) will go South to relieve them… The two conflicts will be resolved almost simultaneously.

      I think it’s likely that Jon will be the one who defeats the Night King, probably at the cost of his own life. If he does die during the battle, then maybe Beric Dondarrion will be able to bring him back the way he did with Catelyn in the novels. If not, then the hypothetical baby he’ll have with Daenerys will ensure the survival of House Targaryen.

      No, please not. I’m all for Jon dying (R’hllor has brought him back for a purpose, after all, and I doubt said purpose is boning Dany or sitting on the Iron Throne), but please, no Targ baby. Any Targ baby means someone who’d like to put it on the throne. And haven’t we learned enough in this series that child rulers are Bad and feudalism is Bad and, in general, blood inheritance of positions of power is Bad? Even if that child turns out all right (including sane), who’s to guarantee that his or her children will? Let’s allow the characters to learn some lessons from their journey! Jon and Dany should break the wheel of feudalism and remain voluntarily childfree.

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    12. If Jon is going to die fighting the Night King in the first half of the season, what was the point of making him the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne? Just that he can be sperm donor to Dany? I highly doubt it.

      If things do span out the way it’s suggested here, that the first half will involve the battle against the undead, followed by Cersei and the battle for the throne, it would almost guarantee that Jon will survive his fight against the Night King and get involved in the political aspect, otherwise his parentage reveal would be utterly pointless.

      Yaga,

      Yeah this idea seems to be fairly popular on Reddit freefolk, but I have no idea why. I would have thought both battles would take place simultaneously, complicating things for the heroes. I would be a bit disappointed if the battle for the dawn would be neatly settled first (in just 3 episodes!), while Cersei waits patiently.

      I am not too keen on the idea of a Targ baby either, but it seems almost inevitable at this point.

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    13. Rafael,

      This theory is very popular right now. The problem with it for me is that I’m not emotionally invested in the political fate of the current and future population of Westeros. I am invested most in the heroic characters that we have come to know over 7 years. Yes, I hope Tyrion lives, but it will be an empty feeling if Jon/Dany die and don’t live to see any payoff for their struggles and sacrifice.

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    14. ghost of winterfell:
      If Jon is going to die fighting the Night King in the first half of the season, what was the point of making him the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne? Just that he can be sperm donor to Dany? I highly doubt it.

      I’ll try to answer this, as someone who thinks that Jon will die (albeit not in the first half of the season, more like the last episode). Making him legitimate (not just the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, required for a prophecy, yaddada, yaddada) would, in such scenario, serve, in my opinion, two purposes:
      – First, it can be a book-story legacy thing. Book Jon has a HUGE hangup about being a bastard, and so learning that he was legitimate would be a huge thing for him personally. This has fallen a bit by the wayside on the show, because *we*, as audience, mostly *don’t* have automatic hangups about whether someone’s parents were married, and Jon *has* been making his way up in the world, so it’s pretty hard to show that he’s supposed to be disadvantaged and feel disadvantaged in the universe. Even so, the show *has* been making the attempts to put this into his storyline (such as the ‘what’s a bastard and why is that bad’ conversation with Missandei this season). So, we can expect some sort of personal resolution for Jon;
      – Second, to introduce the potential of possible conflict between Jon and Dany. I say, ‘potential’, because I don’t see Jon to be the sort of a person to say ‘hey, yeah, Dany, I know you’ve been fighting for this for six or seven season already, but I win on a technicality, so…’ – he’s pledged to her and won’t take back his word. But, having been in the fandom for years, I can well tell that there are plenty of people who, for example, hate Dany and want to see her ‘humbled’ by the ‘realisation’ and, I dunno, submit somehow to Jon One True King of Westeros. And others who think that once Tyrion or Varys learn of the fact, they will leave Dany for Jon. And others who think that because Jon is legitimate, this means that the plot will arrange itself to put him on the throne – Dany will die somehow, paving way for him. So, there –
      is – value, for the show and the books, in upping Jon’s hand right now, at the end of this season, even if they mean to resolve it with a quick ‘OK, Dany, I don’t want the job, you do, let’s burn this diary and never mention my legitimacy to anyone ever again’ scene in the very first episode of S8.

      Basically, I think it’s intended to be a personal thing, with the effect on the fandom being a secondary thing.

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    15. Adam:
      What i want to know is why hodor isnt at the head of the wight army, afterall no one was behind to burn his or summers body at thw 3 eyes ravens cave.

      If there’s a hundred thousand, why would a single undead half wit be at the head lol?

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    16. Yaga,

      I have always felt that Jon’s death at the end of the series is a possibility, even though for me it seems like a 50/50 chance (I want him to live though!). The fact that he keeps getting told that he has been brought back for a purpose might be taken as basis that his life will be forfeit once his purpose is fulfilled.
      Still, the biggest argument for his survival, for me, is the legitimacy reveal so late in the game. With just 6 episodes left and the white walker problem still to be resolved, his death would significantly reduce any impact this reveal can have on the show. It could be, as you say, that it will mostly work as a fresh source of internal conflict for him, but idk, I think it’s equally or more likely, to put him on the throne. As for any conflict with Dany, maybe they will go through some angst for a couple of episodes, but then his death would just provide a very convenient solution to the problem his legitimacy brings her. A far tougher task for them would be to stay alive and work though this.

      The preferred solution for most fans seems to be co-regency, where they rule jointly, like William of Orange and Mary or Ferdinand and Isabella. But this is still GOT, so who knows. And again, we don’t even know what Dany intends when she says she wants to break the wheel, is it something like what Tyrion was suggesting, an election similar to how it’s done in the Night’s Watch or whether she wants absolute monarchy or something else entirely, especially if she gives birth to a Targ baby. So far she’s been extremely vague about it. So it’s a bit hard to predict how it will all end.

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    17. ghost of winterfell:
      If Jon is going to die fighting the Night King in the first half of the season, what was the point of making him the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne? Just that he can be sperm donor to Dany? I highly doubt it.

      … otherwise his parentage reveal would be utterly pointless.

      Totally agree and not just because I’m a huge Jon/Aegon fan! I have mentioned before that I believe Dany wasn’t meant to play a Mundane role such as rulling Westeros and etc. Her magical abilities and her dragons, are actually a clue to what her purpose in all of this is; it’s not to plainly conquer Westeros and just sit on a throne – even if she thinks that’s her destiny.
      My theory is, that it is Dany who will give her life to save humanity. Either intentionally or not. Only if Dany dies, will Jon’s life and parentage have the gravity it’s meant to have, otherwise all that would be pointless and useless; it would serve just to create some short-term drama which would be non sense – and Jon’s arc would be non sense too.

      I’m wondering about the role Sam/Bran and Mel will play in discovering a way to kill the NK. The NK was created with magic, and his death should be connected with magic. Mel knows about blood magic. I’m not connecting any dots yet, just exploring possibilties. 🙂

      My take is that we’ll have both NK and Cercei action on the first episodes. Cercei likely dies sometime near the middle episodes. And then all attention goes to a battle for the dawn and its aftermath. At least that’s how I’d go about it! 😀

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    18. With the Ice Dragon and the javelins, I don’t know how the WW could have problems with the living (unless the tables are miraculously turned without explanation) and I don’t see a siege of Winterfell either due to Viserion. So either there is one big battle for Winterfell or they bypass it altogether and decide to visit King’s Landing first.

      If Daenerys finds out that Jon is the “true heir” (I think for Jon the issue will be that Ned was only his spiritual father and could lie, not that he wants to claim the throne) this can only become an issue for her if they both survive the war of the dawn. If only one (or none) of them is present for the throne, it doesn’t matter, and they are not going to argue while the WW are approaching. The only arguing could be the Northerners objecting to JS kneeling, but once Tormund and Beric (and perhaps the lightfooted Gendry! but I guess he was in the ship) arrive out of breath in WF the Lords will quickly reconsider.

      So the only way I could see that the NK is taken out without major casualties among the protagonists (unless it involves hollywood heroism, my early bet was on Brienne and Jaime, because their swords are Ice molten) is that Bran goes back to the Children and stops them from creating the NK in the first place (Hodor could have been foreshadowing, although I think it requires too flexible handling of closed timelike loops) or, as others have suggested, that he wargs Viserion so the odds between living and dead become more even again. JS battling the NK on dragon back seems a bit cliche, especially if he has to win to create an issue for Daenerys. Unless the NK is vulnerable for fire, Daenerys seems no match for him, although Drogon and Viserion could take each other out.

      So, I would also bet on JS on the throne in the end, perhaps with Sansa (to keep the North in the fold) given that she has some reminiscence with Elizabeth I. Daenerys could die in childbirth or during the battle, but I am also happy if she survives, as long as the NK isn’t taken out by cliche.

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    19. ghost of winterfell,
      I think I’m just instinctively opposed to the whole “bastard son (actually not a bastard) of a previous ruler becomes the new ruler” thing (I won’t call it a ‘trope’ for fear of sounding negative, even though, neutrally-speaking, it’s exactly that’s what it is). It feels extremely… paternalistic, conservative and regressive, to me: ‘and so the world was set right, because a man from the right lineage was back on the throne’. That’s a conservative fairy tale, and I’m a liberal! (From what I know by reading the notablog, GRRM is one, too…)

      I’m also very instinctively opposed to the whole ‘hero who doesn’t seek power… but reluctantly accepts once it falls on his/her shoulders’ thing. Because then, of course, the plot arranges itself around that person so that they can – once again: reluctantly, of course – accept. The whole arrangement feels fundamentally dishonest to me.

      Which is why I would prefer that those two tropes be broken in the story: that someone end up ruling who *isn’t* from the Chosen Lineage (this applies to both Jon *and* Dany, although more to Jon than Dany, since he was the, y’know, ‘hidden’ child); and/or that the plot stop arranging itself around Jon so as to put him in positions of power without him actively having to want this and work for this. Right or wrong, that’s just how I am.

      I’m prepared to be disappointed.

      Only if Dany dies, will Jon’s life and parentage have the gravity it’s meant to have, otherwise all that would be pointless and useless

      I don’t understand this sentence at all. What do you mean by it?

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    20. I positively LOVED this one, Morgoth! One of your bests!!!

      Personally, I do not buy it. The Mad King may as well have shouted “Dragonglass!”

      Lol

      I think it will be the Horn that’s going to bring down the Wall. Martin did set it up and unlike show Zombie Viserion, it is said in the World of Ice and Fire that ice dragons blow frigid air, cold as ice. That won’t bring the Wall down but solidify a weeping Wall. Unless zombie dragons =/= ice dragons. Then who knows what book Zombie Viserion will blow?!

      I really thought book Bran is able to only skinchange into living things. Varymir’s prologue I think clearly showed that, so book Bran will probably skinchange a dragon but it will be a living, breathing one. Show may go the warg zombie Viserion way. However, it is worth pointing out the show link between a Walker (to use their show terminology) and the dead he raised. It will be an inside war go get into the body of Viserion. Bran will literally have to fight him inside Viserion for space, I guess LOL

      Lots of food for thought here.

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    21. Jon’s legitimacy serves the very important purpose of ensuring his heir is the key to bringing the kingdom together. Through Jon and Dany, it would have an exceptionally strong claim on both the North and South.

      I’ve heard one or two here being a bit iffy about all this rightful heir business but frankly that’s nonsense. These stories are essentially informed by European history and that history is deeply influenced by bloodlines and inheritance.

      Civil strife was brought to an end through marriage or because an individual managed to solidify their position based on a superior claim.

      Martin might be a liberal – so am I! However, this is not a ‘liberal world’ and if it ends with some sort of twenty-first century message on the virtues of democracy and the evils of monarchy, I would argue that’s been written for an American audience looking to validate republicanism, and such preaching would ruin the whole story.

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    22. SiriuslyStark,

      I don’t think Dany needs to die for Jon’ s reveal to have meaning, nor do I really think it’s going to happen tbh. Earlier I used to think she has a 50/50 chance of surviving, just like Jon. But now I feel she has a very good chance of surviving, especially if she gets pregnant and also given that the plot with Cersei and the Iron Throne is unresolved.

      Yeah, it’s a good question, what role will magic play in defeating the Night King. He was created by the CotF using the magic of the Old Gods. The R’hllor followers consider the Great Other their eternal enemy. Surely they must have some contribution to make in finding a way to defeat him. My best guess is that someone will need to find a way to remove the dragonglass lodged in his chest.

      Yaga,

      I get why people would feel this way, even though I don’t particularly have a problem with it. The thing is, in the books, even though Jon isn’t working towards gaining power, he is still involved in performing administrative duties/ politicking/ handling people rather than fighting or being a warrior. So in a way he is getting trained to be a ruler,even though he isn’t trying to be one (GRRM has already mentioned that he wanted to explore the challenges of ruling through Jon and Dany’s arc). In fact everything that Sansa has done this season on the show, which makes people appreciate her as an effective ruler, book Jon has done the exact same things during his stint as LC, that is ensuring that there are enough food supplies to feed his people during winter and rebuilding what has been destroyed by the wars. I am also willing to bet that unlike the show, book Jon is not going to abandon his post up North to meet Dany, immediately on being made king. He will spend some time getting involved in more politics and dealings with his people. So if he ends up as king, it will feel earned. The show however has entirely cut his ruling arc to turn him into a warrior, so it is understandable if people question his ability to rule, based on the show alone. So for the show, my hope is that if he survives and if he is meant to rule, then he is chosen to rule, not just because of his blood right, but because he will have actively done what the erstwhile rulers have styled themselves as, i.e., protector of the realm, that his actions in uniting the people and protecting them will get him chosen as a ruler. And similarly with Dany, if she becomes the ruler, it will be because of what she has to offer and not just her blood right.

      Besides, if we were to search for a potential ruler, who has worked towards getting power (as opposed to conveniently falling into their lap) and at the same time has the ability to do so, not based on their blood right, I can’t think of a single suitable candidate. So who should rule, if not Jon or Dany? Tyrion? He himself has said that he is not a ruler, he functions best as an advisor.

      Having said that, I really don’t mind if Jon, at the end of it says, fuck it I don’t want to rule and goes on a world tour with Ghost. 🙂 .

      I did not make the comment you are asking about 🙂 .

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    23. Benioff and Weiss have already stated (first time before season 3 I believe) that George told them who winds up on the Iron Throne. George himself has been quoted as saying there will be a few people on it. Based on these statements, unless Benioff and Weiss are preparing a significant change to the ending of the story from what George plans, I don’t see any evidence for a western style democracy.

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    24. When re-reading the prophecies on the internet, I found something interesting. Apparently, there is a mention in the book that there is another dragon egg hidden in Winterfell. In spite of one of the dragons being dead, could it be possible we will still have three dragons on the ‘good side’. There will be a problem of age though (since the dragon would be much younger) but this could be solved by taking another many years before the WhiteWalker cross the wall.

      And with Jon and Daenarys being two of the three Dragons, the mention by Rhaegar that there must be three dragons, and the fact everything point toward Gendry being Azor Azhai (and the Baratheon have ‘Targaryen blood in their genealogy).

      As for Bran, Hodor story is meant to be a cue for another huge story. Warging in the past will come again. I don’t think Bran IS the Night King. But I do believe the story he will warg into the first Walker and he will discover that he has power over the Night King the same way the latter has power (to disrupt Bran’s warging) over Bran. I think in the final combat, there will be a battle from the inside (between Bran and TNK) and the outside (Jon and TNK) at the same time. Perhaps even we will discover than Bran’s sacrifice is necessary to kill him.

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    25. What is the liklihood that the scripts or plots for S8 will leak as they did with S7?

      I mean, they must have learned from their mistakes now, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep these things water tight.

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    26. There’s one twist that might have some promise — Gilly’s baby. Although not the same as in the books, this baby carries a very unique bit of stuff in his DNA. He is related by blood to all of the Others made from Craster’s sons. And those sons were precious enough for an Other to hunt down Sam and Gilly in pursuit of the baby. If Craster has a relationship with the Others, an assumption that is kindof obvious considering his actions, and the Others aren’t making new Others with any other wildling kids (we have no indication here that Craster was alone in serving the NK. But the non Craster kids just end up as murderous Wights so far) then something is SPECIAL in Craster’s blood and Craster’s sons. So Gilly’s baby is something “OTHER” than what he seems to be in the story. Dave and Dan have carted that toddler all over Westeros without having something bad happen or the kid end up at the Tarley’s. Which means they have plans for Samwell Jr.

      I think all of this might lead one to assume that the NK/Other reveal will emerge more from the Keep and Craster, than from Winterfell and Bran Stark.

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    27. I’m having a hard time reading this page because a Walgreens video ad keeps loading. Even when I refresh, it’s there again. Can mods do anything?

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    28. Yaga:

      I don’t understand this sentence at all. What do you mean by it?

      If you take it out of the context of what i wrote before that sentence, indeed it doesn’t make much sense 🙂 But I will try to further clarify what I mean with my scattered thoughts on the matter.

      The possibility of Jon fighting against Dany for the throne, is not a real possibility as his character arc would not make sense if that happened. And we should, I hope, agree that Cercei will be killed off one way or another next season.

      Let’s suppose that Dany lives and all her dragons and magic abilities were just meant to save Jon and Co and maybe to have a few fights more with the WW in the great war/Cercei and nothing more than that. So, her arc would be diminished to her playing a totally mundane role.

      Let’s suppose that Jon lives too, because if he dies, then the reveal of his parentage at this point would not make sense (it would make sense for him to die only if they had revealed many seasons ago, not now).
      Unless Jon’s arc was created only to father Dany’s child. In which case they keep him around for a few episodes and then the kill him off – but his child will live on etc etc (I hope not because that would be a completely dissapointing arc). That would create additional problems in the plot as to the why his parentage had any significance in the first place. He could have left her pregnant without him being the legitimate heir to the throne; and Dany’s baby would be heir to the throne regardless who its father would be.

      Let’s suppose that they kill Cercei.
      Then Jon says oh I don’t want the throne, you take it Dany. The end.
      Or Jon dies, Dany takes the throne and the end.
      Or Dany kills Jon, to take the throne: hmm that would plausible, though a great dissapointment to Dany’s arc until now – if not against her arc.
      Or Jon dies, Dany’s pregnant so she takes the throne and she has an heir ready too. The end.

      So, if that’s how it’s played out, what was the purpose of the reveal of his parentage? Where’s the pay off for all that he’s been through and the pay off for the reveal of his parentage that supposedly ‘changes everything’ and on which they’ve invested so much dramatic gravity until now? Did it occur only to create some short term drama in the series? Because if things play out that way, his parentage doesn’t change anything, or mean anything except the fact that he’ll know that he is not a bastard.

      And again, Dany’s arc, dragons and magic ablities and all she’s been through would be diminished to her sitting on an earthly throne. Next thing you know, she locks up Drogon in the basement because KL is not a place for dragons and she marries a Lord – whoever is still alive… and the end. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Dany’s a dragon not a kitten. Dany’s a warrior, a conqueror, a wild free creature like her dragons, not a political being meant to be chained on a throne.

      All that said, if both Jon and Dany live, we assume that the NK goes down without some kind of a sacrifice of our main players, who are Dany and Jon. Hmmmm as much as I would love that, I think it rather impossible.

      And that said, I believe that the one who will need to be sacrificed is Dany: if she dies, and Jon lives, his parentage can play an essential role in the plot and where that goes.
      If Dany lives and Jon dies, then the reveal of his parentage doesn’t play any practical role, because it doesn’t affect or change anything in the Game. He could sacrifice his life, even if he was Ned’s bastard, or even a Targ bastard. He could still father Dany’s child even if he was a bastard. It wouldn’t matter if Lyanna willingly followed Rhaegar, or no, if they were married or not and ‘Robert’s rebellion’ being ‘based on a lie’ wouldn’t mean anything either.

      One can argue of course, that Jon is the Prince T.W.P. and therefore his sacrifice will end the NK. If so, it still wouldn’t matter if he was a legitimate heir to the throne or not.

      I like watching mystery films. When they show a gun, you know that sooner or later someone will use it.
      In the same way they go through all this fuss showing us all the details of Jon’s parentage, and how he’s the legitimate heir to the throne. That cannot be just to create some soap opera drama between Jon and Dany for a few episodes until they kill him off. His parentage reveal would be useful – and have dramatic use – for instance, if Dany died and he was forced to demonstrate his whatever Targ abilities riding dragons; or if he fights to change the system – break the wheel – like Dany would have wanted, using his birthright.

      I hope I made my point a bit clearer this time – I’m still thinking about many things on next season and thoughts can sometimes come out a bit blurry. 🙂


      ghost of winterfell

      Thank you for your answer. Your take on the magical aspect of taking NK down is close to my views 🙂

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    29. mau,

      but I’m also sure that there is no way to make Army of the Dead morally gray, no matter how many times Martin mocks Tolkien. They are the force of evil.

      Are humans morally evil? Nothing Others have done thus far is worse then what was humanity doing.

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    30. Kent:
      There’s one twist that might have some promise — Gilly’s baby.Although not the same as in the books, this baby carries a very unique bit of stuff in his DNA.He is related by blood to all of the Others made from Craster’s sons.And those sons were precious enough for an Other to hunt down Sam and Gilly in pursuit of the baby.If Craster has a relationship with the Others, an assumption that is kindof obvious considering his actions, and the Others aren’t making new Others with any other wildling kids (we have no indication here that Craster was alone in serving the NK.But the non Craster kids just end up as murderous Wights so far) then something is SPECIAL in Craster’s blood and Craster’s sons.So Gilly’s baby is something “OTHER” than what he seems to be in the story.Dave and Dan have carted that toddler all over Westeros without having something bad happen or the kid end up at the Tarley’s.Which means they have plans for Samwell Jr.

      I think all of this might lead one to assume that the NK/Other reveal will emerge more from the Keep and Craster, than from Winterfell and Bran Stark.

      Thank you, Kent, for bringing this up. It’s an intriguing idea.

      I’m not sure the show will explore this, maybe baby (well, now toddler) Sam is there just to flesh out Sam’s “happy family” story? IDK. Was the purpose of keeping Gilly around to have her meet Sam’s family (demonstrating Randyll’s xenophobia, which comes into play in S7; standing up for Sam, telling about his bravery etc.) and to have her read about “Prince Ragger’s” ann-null-ment? And if you keep Gilly, you keep the kid.

      In the books, it’s far more complicated.

      Jon, as LC, quite heartlessly forces a baby swap on Gilly. Mance’s wife Dalla gave birth (and died) during Stannis’s attack on the Wildlings, Gilly is nursing both her own son and Mance’s son. Mel and Stannis seem to be looking for “king’s blood” sacrifices to burn, so Jon decides to send Mance’s baby and Maester Aemon (also of “king’s blood”) south to protect them, with Sam, who’s to train as a maester (Jon’s idea, Sam doesn’t want it).

      So, in the books, Gilly’s son (the brother of White Walkers…) is still at Castle Black

      There are so many interesting possibilities but I don’t think the show will explore them all, they’re now concentrating hard on the end game. Side plots that are not crucial to the main story ending have been streamlined.

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    31. SiriuslyStark,
      Oh, so we are simply radically opposed to each other. As I wrote above, I so abhor the Arthur/Aragorn ‘rightful king of the right blood’ trope that I am looking for each and every way for the story to break through and out of this trope – Jon’s had enough falling upward, in my opinion, it’s time to finally suffer some consequences of his mistakes! (And no, the death in S5 meant very little if he was resurrected within an episode.)

      I really hope he dies in S8 once he fulfils R’hllor’s mission, and that his legitimacy is just a huge misdirection.

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    32. As to the importance of Jon’s parentage…

      I used to be of the mind that R+L=J was important for prophetic reasons. The Prince that was Promised, Azor Ahai Reborn, the Last Hero, what have you, the bloody saviour in the War for the Dawn and all that :-D, no matter if anybody knew about it or no matter if he was legitimate. (And I used to be in the camp that thought maybe R & L weren’t married.) Also, lest any Dany fans have fit, I think Dany is the other half of the Prince that was Promised, Azor Ahai Reborn, the Last Hero etc. Nobody can do it alone, they have to do it together.

      The show has now very expicitly stated that R + L were legitimately married, therefore Jon is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. So this changes things. It seems to point to Jon maybe surviving the Dawn War…

      But… Come on, the guy was already dead once, he was brought back for a purpose… And the only purpose weighty enough that I can think of is sacraficing himself to save the world. Sitting on a silly iron chair afterwards doesn’t somehow seem important after that. (Plus, being dead and rezzed, he’s on borrowed time.)

      I don’t know, and I love it how I don’t know!

      PS. About dead and rezzed characters = Beric. If he didn’t die when the Wall fell, I think his “purpose” is somehow tied to Jon.

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    33. Kent,

      Thats an interesting idea, I have wondered when or if they are going to make any connection to Gilly’s son with the other walkers..

      BTW thinking about Cersei b eing pregnant, and possibly Dany as well. Be interesting if at the end, the two were hiers to the kingdom, together, connecting all of the families Stark, Lannister and Targaryn anyway. I know the ending is supposed to be bittersweet so this might not work but it would be a way for the wheel finally to be broken. Eh I dunno – its late and I’ll see this in the morning asking myself what was I talking about! Good night

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    34. talvikorppi,
      In case you are still reading this (it’s been several days!), consider this idea on Beric: He could have been retained in the plot specifically for that conversation with Jon in E6 that gave Jon renewed purpose in his actions (“we die so that others may live”/”death is the last enemy”).

      I’m assuming that one of the first, if not the first, scene in S8 will be the aftermath of the Fall. Tormund will live, but Beric will die, and he’ll be the first casualty of the season. (Watch me eat my words in a year or so!)

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    35. Really great article. I’m expecting the first five episodes of the final season to focus on the white walkers and the final episode to tie everything up including the iron throne, presumably that will be Jon with Jamie killing Cersei.

      So perhaps we get something like this:
      Episode 1: General catch up with our main characters arriving at Winterfell, a brief catch up with Cersei, the aftermath of the wall coming down and maybe an attack on the Last Hearth.
      Episode 2: Here is where I feel we will get a big victory for the Nights King likely wiping out Castle Black and the Last Hearth. Some conflict between Dany and Jon that doesn’t stretch beyond an episode or two.
      Episode 3: Some more slaughter and the White Walkers getting close to Winterfell, a sense of desperation from the humans.
      Episode 4/5: A huge battle, Dany potentially dying and Jon killing the Nights Kings with the help of Bran.
      Episode 6: Either Jamie or Arya taking out Cersei and Euron. Jon begrudgingly taking the Iron Throne.

      Depending how much time they dedicate to the above I don’t see too much scope for Whitewalker history unless it’s coming from Bran and helping set-up the Jon/Night King confrontration which seems nailed on for either episode 4 or 5.

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    36. fdr,

      You raise some great points there, I feel Jon is the most likely person to sit on the throne at the end but I wouldn’t rule out his death either.

      At the moment my POV death probability predictions would look like this:
      Cersei (100%)
      Euron (100%)
      Yara/Asha (90%)
      Jamie (80%)
      Dany (70%)
      Theon (60%)
      Jon (40%)
      Arya (30%)
      Sansa (20%)
      Tyrion (10%)
      Sam (1%)

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    37. Violator: What is the liklihood that the scripts or plots for S8 will leak as they did with S7?
      I mean, they must have learned from their mistakes now, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep these things water tight.

      S7 was the only time full scripts/storyboards leaked out to my knowledge. I’d be hopeful that was an exception but if it happens it will surely come out over the next month or two but even then we don’t know if they are true until we get filming spoilers from sites like Watchers.

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    38. Kent,

      interesting! Chekhov’s Baby. Good points you raised, eg why cart Craster’s last son all over the place unless that “gun” is fired at the end? Especially if (all of?) the White Walkers are his brothers.

      Hmmmm….

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    39. I feel the opposite. I’d like to know more about at least the NK’s motives. Outside Cersei, we’ve lost all our best villains. We still have Euron and the Mountain but they are more like cartoons.

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    40. Yaga:
      ghost of winterfell,

      I’m also very instinctively opposed to the whole ‘hero who doesn’t seek power… but reluctantly accepts once it falls on his/her shoulders’ thing. Because then, of course, the plot arranges itself around that person so that they can – once again: reluctantly, of course – accept. The whole arrangement feels fundamentally dishonest to me.

      Which is why I would prefer that those two tropes be broken in the story: that someone end up ruling who *isn’t* from the Chosen Lineage (this applies to both Jon *and* Dany, although more to Jon than Dany, since he was the, y’know, ‘hidden’ child); and/or that the plot stop arranging itself around Jon so as to put him in positions of power without him actively having to want this and work for this. Right or wrong, that’s just how I am.

      I’m prepared to be disappointed.

      I don’t understand this sentence at all. What do you mean by it?

      Perhaps they will make Hot Pie do it. Because he never gave up on the gravy and was clever enough to brown the butter. He becomes an even better cook and makes everyone in King’s Landing attend his feasts on pain of death where he holds forth on kitchen lore and everyone naps after meals.

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