Daenerys Will Burn the Others

Daenerys Targaryen was born to burn the Others with dragonfire, let it be known. By the end of the first book, we can see that it was, at the very least, her destiny to wake dragons from stone, and what are dragons good for? Burning the Others, I say – let’s not overthink this one. Using dragons to conquer other men is essentially the temptation Dany must avoid – it’s one thing to use the dragons to burn slave masters and free slaves, which I fully endorse, but it seems clear to me that using the dragons to reconquer the land of her ancestors by force is a trap and path to destruction.

But here’s the thing – Dany’s habit of using her dragons to free slaves and protect the weak is not only only one of her best qualities and a great reason why she could never become a butcher of innocent civilians, it’s also one of the key foreshadowings of her ultimate destiny, which is using her dragon power to help defeat the Others. The Others, as you may have noticed, hold the dead in eternal bondage… which you could certainly consider magical slavery. Indeed, the wights as called the “thralls” of the Others, with the implication being that some part of the dead person’s soul is trapped inside their enchanted corpse, unable to find eternal peace and perhaps even condemned to watch the horror being wrought with their own dead hands. It’s quite the abomination, a problem in search of a solution – and then along comes Daenerys Targaryen, with her dragons and her penchant for burning slave masters with dragonfire. It seems like a good match, an abolitionist dragonlord and ice demons who make the dead their slaves… and yea, i say unto thee, burning the Others and freeing the wights from icy servitude would make a most fitting climax to the strong abolitionist arc of Dany’s story. And when I took a look, I found that it’s in Dany’s most important scenes of freeing slaves and protecting the weak that we find the foreshadowing of Dany using the dragons to burn – or more likely melt – the Others. We’ll take a look at those scenes today, and you’ll see how nicely these two ideas have been woven together to foreshadow the true destiny of Daenerys Targaryen.


Let’s start with the basics. Does dragonfire melt Others? HBO says no, but that doesn’t make any sense, frankly. Their Night King was impervious to Drogon’s full furnace blast, but popped like a porcelain statue dropped from a third-story balcony the moment a small dragonglass dagger touched his icy skin… even though he already has an identical dragonglass knife lodged in his chest. So yeah, like I said, none of this shit really made sense, and without beating the dead horse any further, I’ll just say that we can’t let the things that happened on the show overly influence what we think about the books, especially where it concerns magical elements like the white walkers and the dragons, because the showrunners frankly didn’t have any appreciation or understanding of those things, by their own admission.

Returning to question of whether dragonfire might be a potent weapon against the Others, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion from Dany’s dream in ASOS, which she has aboard the ship named after Balerion the Black Dread, the dragon of Aegon the Conqueror:

That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. Some small part of her knew that she was dreaming, but another part exulted. This is how it was meant to be. The other was a nightmare, and I have only now awakened.

Enemies armored in ice are obviously meant to represent the Others, and melting them with dragonfire is “how it was meant to be.” It’s likely this dream is partially or fully implanted by Quaithe, who appears in the cabin of Balerion via glass candle astral projection the moment Dany wakes from this dream. Quaithe is consistently encouraging Dany to embrace her dragon nature, so it makes sense that Quaithe is trying to plant in Dany’s mind the notion of using her dragons to melt “enemies armored in ice,” trying to ‘warm her up’ to the idea, if you will. She’s also constantly telling Dany “to go north, you must go south,” and why would Dany need to go north? To melt Others with her dragons, presumably. It seems unlikely Quaithe would just be wrong about dragonfire being effective against the white walkers, I mean that would be kind of stupid. What would even be the point of the dragons in that case? No, I think that what’s likely to be true is that if dragonglass slays white walkers, as we’ve seen it do in the hands of “Sam the Slayer,” and if the last hero’s ‘dragonsteel’ sword slew the Others as legends say it did, then the unbelievably hot fire of a full-grown dragon should definitely do the trick. I do think the Others will have weapons to hurt the dragons, be that weapons made of magical ice or those nasty cold winds, so I’m expecting a good fight, but if the dragons can’t melt Others, there wouldn’t be a fight at all and Dany might as well save herself a lot of trouble and fly her dragons to the Summer Isles and retire.

Returning to Dany’s dream of fighting the Battle of the Trident on dragonback, it’s easy to see how the archetypal struggle against the Others would be grafted on to Rhaegar’s fateful battle with the dreaded “Usurper” at the Trident in Dany’s mind. She compares herself to Rhaegar often, especially in key moments, such as her climatic “wake the dragon” dream in AGOT:

And saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the narrow eye slit of his helm. “The last dragon,” Ser Jorah’s voice whispered faintly. “The last, the last.” Dany lifted his polished black visor. The face within was her own.

After that, for a long time, there was only the pain, the fire within her, and the whisperings of stars.

The whisperings of stars, aye? Hi Quaithe! In any case, we can see that Dany’s transformation into the “last dragon” is conceptualized as her becoming Rhaegar, as stepping into his fiery shoes and armor, so to speak. In another vision from this “wake the dragon dream,”  Dany even sprouts dragon wings and flies herself, so she’s “becoming the dragon” in every sense here. Then two books later, after having hatched the dragons, she’s dreaming of fighting Rhaegar’s famous battle, but as a dragonlord confronting enemies armored in ice. The message being sent is clear: Dany was born to wake dragons and to become the dragon specifically so she can do battle with the Others. That will be here Battle of the trident, her defining and penultimate battle.

Dany dreaming of bathing the Others in dragonfire is certainly sweet, but what’s really insightful is that she has this Rhaegar / Trident dragon dream the night before she frees the Unsullied and burns the so-called ‘Wise Masters’ of Astapor. Here are the lines leading up to the Rhaegar dream:

“I was alone for a long time, Jorah. All alone but for my brother. I was such a small scared thing. Viserys should have protected me, but instead he hurt me and scared me worse. He shouldn’t have done that. He wasn’t just my brother, he was my king. Why do the gods make kings and queens, if not to protect the ones who can’t protect themselves?”

“Some kings make themselves. Robert did.”

“He was no true king,” Dany said scornfully. “He did no justice. Justice … that’s what kings are for.” Ser Jorah had no answer. He only smiled, and touched her hair, so lightly. It was enough.

Dany is reflecting upon one of the central questions of ASOIAF, which is ‘how to do justice as a leader,’ and arrives at the answer that she must protect the weak. This is the thinking which underlies her decision to turn the Unsullied against the slave masters; it’s not enough for her to buy the Unsullied and treat them better, she decides she must end the practice entirely and deliver a death sentence to the masters, so that no young boys are ever again made to strangle puppies or kill infants in front of their mothers. I think it will be the same when she faces the Others; Dany will be going for the jugular and trying to make sure no one is ever again turned into a wight, that no women like Gilly have their sons taken from them by men like Craster and given to the Others.

So after talking of justice and defending the weak, Queen Daenerys dreams of fighting the Others on dragonback as Rhaegar, and the next day when she burns the slave masters, she once again sees herself as Rhaegar:

Dany mounted her silver. She could feel her heart thumping in her chest. She felt desperately afraid. Was this what my brother would have done? She wondered if Prince Rhaegar had been this anxious when he saw the Usurper’s host formed up across the Trident with all their banners floating on the wind.

On the way to meet the masters, Dany also thinks about having a Targaryen banner sewn, “a banner such as Rhaegar might have borne.” Then, after taking command of the Unsullied and turning to face the slave masters, she thinks “it is time to cross the Trident.” All of these quotes invite the reader to draw a comparison between Dany’s burning of the slave masters and Rhaegar’s battle of the Trident, just as Daenerys herself is doing… and more specifically, we’re being encouraged to think about Dany burning the ice armored foes in her Trident dream when she burns the Masters and frees the Unsullied.

It’s certainly easy to see the Unsullied as stand-ins for wights. Dany flat out thinks of them as “eight thousand brick eunuchs with dead eyes that never move,” which makes the Unsullied sound very wight-like. Going further, we can observe that they’ve had their names taken from them and their personality suppressed to the point of being almost erased, very like a person’s soul being trapped inside their own corpse but unable to have any agency. The Unsullied are presented as robotically obedient, with slave master Kraznys mo Nakloz saying “tell her that these have been standing here for a day and a night, with no food nor water. Tell her that they will stand until they drop if I should command it,” which is exactly what the how the wights behave, remaining completely motionless until their masters command. Kraznys goes on to call them “absolutely obedient, absolutely loyal, and utterly without fear” and says that “death means nothing to them, and maiming less than nothing.” Those descriptions could once again apply equally well to the ice wights, as you can can see.

Finally, we can never forget that the Unsullied are of course victims of unbelievable atrocity, and the same is true of the dead people turned into wights. Once again I will point out that Dany frees the Unsullied and gives them a choice to go their own way. The Unsullied also reclaim names and self-identity, which are important thematic nods to the idea of freeing the wights from bondage so that their souls can find peace.

As for the Wise Masters of Astapor, well, they aren’t armored in ice, but they do sweat profusely all through the scenes their in, so I suppose we should think about melting white walkers. I mean they are encrusted in jewelry, so we can say that they “came through drippin’ (drip drip),” but that’s neither here nor there. More importantly, we have the chilling fact that slave masters steal children to make into soldiers, just as the Others do. And finally, there’s the matter of what they were trying to get from Dany – her dragon.

And get her dragon they did:

The black dragon spread his wings and roared.

A lance of swirling dark flame took Kraznys full in the face. His eyes melted and ran down his cheeks, and the oil in his hair and beard burst so fiercely into fire that for an instant the slaver wore a burning crown twice as tall as his head. The sudden stench of charred meat overwhelmed even his perfume, and his wail seemed to drown all other sound.

You’ll note that the slaver’s eyes melt here, just as Dany melted her icy foes in her dream the night before. As for that tall fiery crown, well that’s a clear symbol of Azor Ahai, which might seem weird unless you’ve seen my videos about how Azor Ahai became the first Night’s King and created the Others with Night’s Queen. This is similar to the way the “eyes like cold blue stars” and “burning ice” language used to describe the Others gives a clue about their having been created from the seed of a fiery dragonlord, but let’s stay on topic and move on to our next group of symbolic Others trying to harass Dany and steal her fire.


Our next scene of foreshadowing brings us to the Undying Ones of Qarth, and they’re pretty easy to identify as symbolic Others. When Dany enters their inner sanctum, she addresses them as “those who have conquered death,” as their Undying monicker implies, and certainly the same is true of the Others. They’re even presented as living shadows, like the Others:

A long stone table filled this room. Above it floated a human heart, swollen and blue with corruption, yet still alive. It beat, a deep ponderous throb of sound, and each pulse sent out a wash of indigo light. The figures around the table were no more than blue shadows.

The Others are white shadows or pale shadows with blue eyes and blue swords, while the Undying are blue shadows with, well, blue everything, including their eyes. These blue shadows are gathered around a corrupt blue heart, which I think makes for a terrific symbol of the Heart of Winter. The Heart of Winter seems to serve as a focal point for the threat of the Others in Bran’s coma dream vision from AGOT, so it makes sense to see the Other-like, blue shadow Undying gathered around it.

Most tellingly, these blue shadows are in fact cold, and this line comes as her Shade of the Evening visions dissolve into a physical attack by the Undying:

But then black wings buffeted her round the head, and a scream of fury cut the indigo air, and suddenly the visions were gone, ripped away, and Dany’s gasp turned to horror. The Undying were all around her, blue and cold, whispering as they reached for her, pulling, stroking, tugging at her clothes, touching her with their dry cold hands, twining their fingers through her hair.

This all seems like pretty clear symbolism – these blue and cold undying shadows are attacking Dany and trying to steal “her fire, her life.” Fortunately Drogon is nearby once again, and he knows just what to do:

Then indigo turned to orange, and whispers turned to screams. Her heart was pounding, racing, the hands and mouths were gone, heat washed over her skin, and Dany blinked at a sudden glare. Perched above her, the dragon spread his wings and tore at the terrible dark heart, ripping the rotten flesh to ribbons, and when his head snapped forward, fire flew from his open jaws, bright and hot. She could hear the shrieks of the Undying as they burned, their high thin papery voices crying out in tongues long dead. Their flesh was crumbling parchment, their bones dry wood soaked in tallow. They danced as the flames consumed them; they staggered and writhed and spun and raised blazing hands on high, their fingers bright as torches.

It sure is fun to read this as Drogon whooping ass on the Others at the Heart of Winter, and I think we can. The Undying Ones don’t melt like Kraznys the slaver, but the description of them burning like crumbling parchment, dry wood, or candle wax or tallow, as well as staggering and dancing around while on fire, matches the description of wights catching on fire. Consider Jon’s memory of the wight he and Ghost fought in Lord Commander Mormont’s chambers in AGOT:

Truly, the gods had heard Jon’s prayer that night; the fire had caught in the dead man’s clothing and consumed him as if his flesh were candle wax and his bones old dry wood. Jon had only to close his eyes to see the thing staggering across the solar, crashing against the furniture and flailing at the flames. It was the face that haunted him most; surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw, the dead flesh melting away and sloughing off its skull to reveal the gleam of bone beneath.

Bones like old dry wood, candle wax or tallow, straw this time instead of parchment, staggering and flailing and writhing, hair blazing and hands raised. When Bran sees a wight burn in ADWD, the dancing descriptor is brought in, and there are scenes with fiery dancers that link to this idea which we don’t have time for today (but check out the Weirwood Compendium for the scoop on that). The point for now is that the burning of the Undying is meant to evoke both the idea of melting the Others and freeing the wights from bondage, because burning the Others will have the effect of freeing the wights.

Additionally, it seems like burning the wights is also a way of freeing them from bondage – that’s why they’re dancing and raising their hands! Seriously though, have a look at this scene from ASOS featuring Samwell Tarly – Sam the Slayer! – setting fire to a wighted Small Paul, his former brother of the Night’s Watch:

Sam sucked in air, and rolled feebly away. The wight was burning, hoarfrost dripping from his beard as the flesh beneath blackened. Sam heard the raven shriek, but Paul himself made no sound. When his mouth opened, only flames came out. And his eyes . . . It’s gone, the blue glow is gone.

This is especially meaningful because Small Paul was the only one who helped Sam when he was ready to give in a death by frostbite after the Fist of the First Men, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking for Sam to see him wighted – he attempts to plead with the wighted Paul for Mercy when he first appears, saying  “Small Paul. Do you know me? I’m Sam, fat Sam, Sam the Scared, you saved me in the woods. You carried me when I couldn’t walk another step. No one else could have done that, but you did.” The emotional beat is important here, because it’s showing us the human tragedy of the cold wighting phenomena, thus emphasizing the need for a fiery abolitionist like Daenerys Targaryen (and maybe Jon too, of course).

As for the idea of burning the wights to save their souls, this is also suggested by the religious beliefs of the R’hllorists, twisted as they are:

“R’hllor,” Ser Godry sang, “we give you now four evil men. With glad hearts and true, we give them to your cleansing fires, that the darkness in their souls might be burned away. Let their vile flesh be seared and blackened, that their spirits might rise free and pure to ascend into the light. Accept their blood, Oh lord, and melt the icy chains that bind your servants.”

Really interesting wording here: fire is offered as a cleansing agent, purifying the flesh and releasing the soul, and this also involves melting icy chains that bind servants. Ser Godry is referring to the winter snows as icy chains that are bogging down Stannis’s army, but the potential double-meaning makes a lot of sense when we think about the wights as the ones who need purification by fire, because they are enslaved by icy chains, so to speak.

Daenerys herself already understands magical fire to have the power to purify, because she’s undergone just such a process! This is her second “dragon dream” from AGOT:

There was only her and the dragon. Its scales were black as night, wet and slick with blood. Her blood, Dany sensed. Its eyes were pools of molten magma, and when it opened its mouth, the flame came roaring out in a hot jet. She could hear it singing to her. She opened her arms to the fire, embraced it, let it swallow her whole, let it cleanse her and temper her and scour her clean. She could feel her flesh sear and blacken and slough away, could feel her blood boil and turn to steam, and yet there was no pain. She felt strong and new and fierce.

Not only does dragonfire seem to cleanse and renew Daenerys in this dream, she actually does wake the next morning with renewed strength and spirit. This language is also echoed when Daenerys walks into the pyre to fulfill the prophecy of Azor Ahai’s rebirth and wake the dragons from their stone eggs, and I can’t help but wonder if these experiences with cleansing dragonfire might clue her in to the idea of freeing the wights from magical bondage with fire. At the very least, the reader is being presented early on with the general idea that dragonfire can purify, and even if Dany’s dragon dream is primarily poetic language, it’s only a book and a half later that we see Sam actually drive “the blue glow” from a wight’s eyes with fire.

Returning to that shady house of wine-drinking warlocks, there’s one other important way that Dany burning the Undying foreshadows her freeing the wights. Check out Dany’s very last Shade of the Evening vision before waking to the Undying’s attack:

Ten thousand slaves lifted bloodstained hands as she raced by on her silver, riding like the wind. “Mother!” they cried. “Mother, mother!” They were reaching for her, touching her, tugging at her cloak, the hem of her skirt, her foot, her leg, her breast. They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them …

This is a prophetic glimpse of her freeing the slaves in Slaver’s Bay and being recognized as Mhysa, the mother, but notice the specific language about the “ten thousand bloodstained hands” of the slaves. The wights, famously, have hands which turn black with congealed blood, which runs into the extremities upon death, thus sayeth the living wight known as Coldhands. Ergo, the slaves with bloody hands sound a lot like the wights, calling out to Dany for freedom. They need her fire to be free, and perhaps Dany’s life – and I fully expect Dany’s story to end with heroic self-sacrifice, by the way. And as you can see, Dany is fully prepared to give herself up to save those who cry out to her. That’s true in this scene and in countless other scenes which I outlined in my “True Character of Daenerys Targaryen”series.

Setting aside her death foreshadowing for now, Dany’s fire will indeed set the wights free, and immediately upon being woken from the vision by Drogon, Drogon proceeds to burn the Undying and their rotten blue heart to ashes. That’s very like the sequence of events in Astapor; once again we have the idea of melting the Others with dragonfire combined with the idea of freeing slaves who are described like wights. That’s what I call grade A foreshadowing, and it all points to the very sensible idea that Daenerys was given three dragons so that she can fight the Others.

One bonus round clue about the Undying as stand-ins for the Others: when Pyatt Pree first greets Dany, he promises to petition the Undying Ones for an audience, which he refers to as “A honor rare as summer snows.” Meeting the Undying is like getting snow in the summer – this really makes Dany’s confrontation with the Undying seem even more like her giving battle to the Others during the Long Night. It also reminds me of this famous exchange between Ned and Robert where the Others are invoked:

“Late summer snows are common enough,” Ned said. “I hope they did not trouble you. They are usually mild.”

“The Others take your mild snows,” Robert swore. “What will this place be like in winter? I shudder to think.”

The Others don’t take Summer Snows, they give them. Hopefully we have some dragonlords around by that time! I think the chances are good.


The final thing I’d like to show you is the where of Dany’s impending confrontation with the Others. Her Trident / Rhaegar dream has her fighting the Others at the Trident, but I suspect that is simply because Rhaegar fought at the Trident. If the blue heart in the House of the Undying Ones is meant to represent the Heart of Winter, that could indicate Dany journeying north – very far north. Of course the “Heart of Winter” could merely be representing “the power of the Others” here as opposed to suggesting Dany has to go to the North pole, so it’s still not clear.

But then we have this scene from A Dance with Dragons, and this is from Dany’s final chapter of that book where she wanders the Dothraki Sea after riding Drogon out of Daznak’s Pit in Meereen. She lies down to sleep by a low stone wall and has a Quaithe dream – Dany finds herself flying amongst the stars with all her cares and burdens falling away, and through a mask made of starlight, Quaithe is once more telling her that “to go north, you must journey south,” and then “remember who you are Daenerys… the dragons know, do you?” It seems that once again again Quaithe is trying to link the idea of going north to embracing the power of her dragons, and when she wakes up, we see that idea acted out in miniature:

The next morning she woke stiff and sore and aching, with ants crawling on her arms and legs and face. When she realized what they were, she kicked aside the stalks of dry brown grass that had served as her bed and blanket and struggled to her feet. She had bites all over her, little red bumps, itchy and inflamed. Where did all the ants come from? Dany brushed them from her arms and legs and belly. She ran a hand across her stubbly scalp where her hair had burned away, and felt more ants on her head, and one crawling down the back of her neck. She knocked them off and crushed them under her bare feet. There were so many …

It turned out that their anthill was on the other side of her wall. She wondered how the ants had managed to climb over it and find her. To them these tumbledown stones must loom as huge as the Wall of Westeros.

Alright, so an army comes over a wall that is like the Wall of Westeros and attacks Dany, which prompts her to cross over the Wall to their side to find their source, their home. I think this is exactly what will happen in Westeros proper; the Others will invade Westeros, but Dany and probably Jon will have to journey north – perhaps to the heart of Winter itself – to do something of critical importance to defeating or neutralizing the Others. It’s definitely promising how Dany has no problem brushing off the ants and crushing them underfoot, just as she had no problem roasting the Undying once they presented a danger to her.

Now if the ants are the Others, they Dany is like some sort of giant mech-warrior here, which is of course a little silly – I mean it would be fun to see her go supersized like  Dr. Manhattan, but that’s not going to happen. I’m pretty sure we are supposed to see Dany crushing the ants as Dany fighting the Others from dragonback, because earlier in the chapter, she remembers flying on Drogon’s back and seeing horses far below, but they look like ants to her. Ergo, when Dany’s looking down at these ant enemies pouring over the “Wall,” we should no doubt imagine her on dragonback looking down at the Others and wights somewhere near the Wall, or beyond it.

There’s another line from this chapter that points the same direction – north.

North they flew, beyond the river, Drogon gliding on torn and tattered wings through clouds that whipped by like the banners of some ghostly army.

So Dany is on her dragon and going north, and look, it’s the banners of some ghost army – I wonder who that could be. Taken together with the scene with the ants at the “Wall,” it seems this chapter is showing us quite a bit of what the “to go north” part of Quaithe’s mysterious instructions is all about – bringing fire and blood to the Others.

So there you have it my friends. Dany’s journey to the Heart of Winter to deal with the threat of the Others for once and all will be the ultimate realization of her “burn the masters and free the slaves” ethos. It’s likely that this monumental task will require her dragons, her fire, and her very life – but she’ll be both saving the world and freeing tens of thousands of souls from magical bondage. We’ve seen that Dany is always willing to commit everything she has to protecting and saving her people, always ready to lay her own life on the line for what she believes in, so I can think of no more heroic and honorable conclusion to her story than this. Think about it – by using the dragons she was given to melt the Others, she will be protecting every living AND dead soul in Westeros. It’s the perfect harmonization of her “mhysa” and “dragon” identities… and quite frankly, melting the ice demons really is the only thing to do with huge fire breathing dragons.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night’s King Azor Ahai

In Symbolism of the Others: Kingsguard, we saw how the white knights of the Kingsuard are described with the same language as the white walkers, being white shadows armored in ice and snow and ghostly moonlight and all the rest, and thereby serve as symbolic stand-ins for the Others. The first implication of this seems to be that the Others were created in part as a kind of Kingsuard for some sort of royalty, a King and / or Queen of the Others. We began our attempt to explore what this means in Origin of the Others: Night’s Queen, where I made the case that Night’s King and Queen were the ones who created the Others during the Long Night and led their invasion of Westeros. I feel pretty solid about that, and I hope you do too, lest we fall through the ice and drown, only to have our corpses hauled out of the ice lake by the Night King’s mysterious icy chains and turned into an ice dragon.

Okay, so let’s say Night’s King fathered the Others with Night’s Queen, who was some sort of magical, ice-transformed woman kind of like Melisandre, but cold. I mentioned last time that Melisandre’s shadow beings are actually shadow clones of King Stannis, and that the Others appear to be clones as well, since the six of them that we see in the AGOT prologue are all named as twins to one another. The clear implication here is that the original Others would have been shadow clones of Night’s King, made from his seed and soul which he gave to Night’s Queen, and this brings us to today’s big question: so who was Night’s King, then? Who was this person from whom the Others were cloned?

Well, let’s go back to the Kingsguard as symbolic proxies for the Others. Who created the Kingsguard? Who did the Kingsguard guard, for almost all of their history?

The answer is: dragons. (Old Nan: “it be dragons, boy”)The Other-like Kingsguard was created by the dragon kings and queens to guard the dragon kings and queens, and their dragon-spawn as well. Try to picture the throne room of the Red Keep as the people of Westeros would have seen it for nearly three centuries: a dragon king and queen, dressed in black, surrounded by white shadow knights with armor like ice and snowy cloaks swirling about them. Night’s King was said to be a man of the Night’s Watch at first, which puts him in black, and of course the very name “Night’s King” implies darkness and shadow. The picture fits pretty well, doesn’t it? Suddenly the throne room of Kings Landing looks like the Heart of Winter.

Thus we can see that one of the main purposes of our author choosing to dress the Kingsguard in the exact symbolic language of the Others may be to imply their creator, Night’s King, as a dragon king. I’ll say that another way: there’s really no way that George R. R. Martin created this vivid, detailed symbolic parallel between the Kingsguard and the Others if he didn’t want us to compare Night’s King and Queen to the dragon kings and queens who made the Kingsguard. In another video in this series, we’ll actually take a detailed look at Aegon and Visenya, the dragons they rode, and the things they did as symbolic parallels to Night’s King and Queen business, but today we are going to just start with the basic idea of the Others descending from a “blood of the dragon” person.

I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you that this dragon king who made the Others can be none other than Azor Ahai himself, and I’m not the first person to suggest this. Anyone who’s listened to my older podcasts knows I’ve held this belief for a long time, Gray Area has done a great video about this, and I remember the idea being bandied about the old Westeros.org forums in days of yore. There’s a ton of evidence for this theory, lots more than can fit in this one video (so check out the Moons of Ice and Fire podcast series), but let’s start with the Stannis and Melisandre parallel to Night’s King and Queen that we just laid out in the origins of the Others video.


It should be obvious that Stannis is playing into the Azor Ahai archetype. He may not be the “real” Azor Ahai reborn like Jon or Dany, but like Beric Dondarrion, Bloodraven, Euron, and many characters from the past such as Daemon Targaryen or the Red Kraken Dalton Greyjoy, Stannis is wearing the symbolism of Azor Ahai, he’s doing Azor Ahai things, and therefore he’s “manifesting the archetype” as I like to say, much in the way the Kingsguard are manifesting the archetype of the Others. This is one of the primary ways George uses symbolism to feed us clues about secret things, so it’s important to understand how it works. Stannis is “manifesting the Azor Ahai archetype” by waving around a flaming sword he calls Lightbringer, worshiping the god of fire, showing a willingness to commit human sacrifice to try to gain magical weapons, being concerned with defeating the Others, rallying and strengthening the Night’s Watch and manning their castles, and last but not least, by calling himself Azor Ahai reborn. Even the fiery heart on his sigil calls to mind the heart of Nissa Nissa, set on fire when Azor Ahai tempered Lightbringer in her living heart.

Crucially, Stannis is also implied as a kind of honorary dragon king: he makes his home on Dragonstone, ancestral seat of House Targaryen; he’s trying everything he can to wake a dragon from stone or anywhere else, and he and Robert kinda sorta used their Targaryen grandmother to aid their claim to the throne. Put it this way: Stannis has more dragonblood than Brown Ben Plumm, okay?

So Stannis is basically cosplaying Azor Ahai as a dragonlord, but on the Other hand… Stannis is also doing Night’s King things. It starts with him giving his seed and soul to Melisandre make magical shadow children in a process that parallels Night’s King and Queen creating the Others, as we discussed last time, but it continues with… well, this:

“The Nightfort is the largest and oldest of the castles on the Wall,” the king said. “That is where I intend to make my seat, whilst I fight this war.”

Azor Ahai, king of the Nightfort, everyone. First it was Azor Ahai, father of shadows, now it’s Azor Ahai, King of the Nightfort. Stannis is specifically a rebel king taking the Nightfort as his seat, a great match to Night’s King being a rebel king at the Nightfort. Night’s King was the Lord Commander of the Watch, and though Stannis isn’t (yet, anyway, some think he could end up that), Stannis does come to the Wall and start telling the Watch what to do and taking over and manning some of their castles as if he was the Lord Commander.

After that, he even leads his armies south to enforce his claim over Westeros, just like a Night King leading the Others down from the north to invade Westeros! Specifically, Stannis is starting that campaign by attacking Winterfell, and one thing that I think the books and show ill have in common is a major showdown with the white walkers at Winterfell, right? It probably happened in the past, and it’ll probably happen in the future. We can find another Stannis – Night’s King correlation in the part of the Night’s King legend where he was was thrown down by the combination of a Stark of Winterfell and a King Beyond the Wall, because Stannis has warred against those same two forces, first defeating the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Raydar, at the Wall, and now Stannis headed down to war against the Boltons, who have claimed the title of Lord of Winterfell. Heck, Mance is still hanging out in Winterfell, so maybe he’ll run into Stannis before it’s all said and done and they can talk symbolism.

As for using sorcery to win friends and influence people – Night’s King was said to bind his brothers to his will with stranger sorceries, remember – Stannis does do that, albeit indirectly. Stannis is well known for using the power of Melisandre’s sorcery to command fear and respect, from both his subjects and his enemies, and though he’s not exactly bewitching anyone and controlling anyone’s minds, he is sort of dazzling and mesmerizing with his use of sorcery and ritual. This is a good thematic parallel if nothing else, but it’s also possible that Night’s King didn’t hypnotize anyone either, but instead just commanded fear and respect by virtue of his demonstration of sorcery.

Now if we have a look at the symbolic language used to describe Stannis the first time we see him on page, well… just have look:

Though he was not yet five-and-thirty, only a fringe of thin black hair remained on his head, circling behind his ears like the shadow of a crown.

Hmm, okay, a shadow crown – what is he, some sort of king of shadows? King of night? The passage continues:

Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night.

A blue-black shadow, and blue eyes “as dark as a sea by night?” It’s just descriptive language, but why is George evoking so much night, darkness, and shadow when describing Stannis? His eyes are open wounds, as if he were undead, and he’s gaunt to the point of skeletal as well, having bony hollows in his cheeks, and leathery skin like steel in a line I didn’t quote. This only gets more exaggerated after he spawns a shadow or two, such as when the sight of him “shocks” Davos in ASOS:

He had never been a fleshy man, but now the bones moved beneath his skin like spears, fighting to cut free. Even his crown seemed too large for his head. His eyes were blue pits lost in deep hollows, and the shape of a skull could be seen beneath his face.

A blue-black, shadowy skeleton king with blue eyes of night who spawns shadows and takes the Nightfort as his seat, who leads armies down on Westeros from the north. Notice that it is specifically Stannis’s giving his seed to his witch queen that is transforming him; along the same lines, I suspect Night’s King was transformed in some way as he gave his seed and soul to the magical and icy Night’s Queen.

The stark juxtaposition of Azor Ahai and Night’s King ideas which defines Stannis symbolism also makes an appearance when Daenerys catches a glimpse of Stannis in her House of the Undying visions:

Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow.

Stannis no longer casts a shadow in this vision because he’s made so many shadow babies and his life-fires now burn low. The red sword is an unmistakable reference to Lightbringer; sunset makes sense as a reference to the Long Night, when Lightbringer, Azor Ahai, and (according to me) Night’s King existed; and the blue-eyes thing refers to… what, Stannis’s natural eye color? That’s the other detail that’s so important about Stannis that it manifests in the dream realm? No, of course not; blue eyes are the signature mark of the Others. Perhaps Stannis will be wighted and get actual blue star eyes, but I think what’s going on here is that George is giving us the picture of the joint Azor Ahai – Night’s King archetype, especially since all of Stannis’s symbolism seems dedicated to showing us an Azor Ahai person turning into a Night’s King person. A blue-eyed king with a red sword who comes out at sunset and whose shadow has been peeled away to make demon warriors – that’s our Night’s King Azor Ahai, I believe.


As I alluded to last time, Stannis isn’t the only one who combines Azor Ahai and Night’s King symbolism – Jon Snow, Euron Crowseye, Aegon the Conqueror, and several other characters do it as well. That’s the magic of using symbolic archetypes as George does – all we have to do is put all the figures corresponding to a given archetype in a pile and then compare them to one another, and the commonalities begin to emerge right away. All of our Night King Azor Ahai figures will paint a similar symbolic picture, and that’s how we can feel confident about drawing a few conclusions from such analysis.

For the remainder of this video, we shall consider Jon Snow, since he, along with Dany, is the most obvious Azor Ahai reborn person in the story. Dany has already checked all the prophetic boxes, and although Jon hasn’t yet, I expect Jon’s resurrection to complete the picture for him. Even still, we have two majors indicators that Jon is in fact Azor Ahai reborn in some real sense, completely separate and apart from his R+L=J bloodline and the Prince That Was Promised prophecy. The first one is the fact that Melisandre has begun to see Jon when she asks the flames for glimpses of Azor Ahai reborn:

“What do you see, my lady?” the boy asked, softly.
Skulls. A thousand skulls, and the bastard boy again. Jon Snow.  ( . . . )

I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow. 

The capital S snow and the reference to Jon a couple lines earlier make it clear: Mel is focusing her intent on seeing “Azor Ahai reborn” in the flames, expecting to see Stannis, but is seeing Jon Snow instead. By the time she helps resurrect Jon or helps put his spirit back in his body, she’ll have figured this out I would guess, but right now it’s still confusing her. Now if Jon does at some point become powered by R’hllor, like Beric, then he should be able to light his own sword on fire with his own blood, just like Beric does. I love pointing that out – you don’t actually need to kill anyone to make a flaming sword, you just need to be powered by R’hllor.

An Azor Ahai with the name Snow kind of hints at the the Azor Ahai Night’s King thing too, doesn’t it? He’s like a snowy, cold version of Azor Ahai or something. I’ll also point out that the name “Jon Snow” roughly translates to “Jack Frost,” since Jack is a nickname for John and frost and snow are very similar. Just to jog your memory, wikipedia describes the figure of Jack Frost as “a personification of frost, ice, snow, sleet, winter, and freezing cold. He is a variant of Old Man Winter who is held responsible for frosty weather, nipping the fingers and toes in such weather.” So Jon is somehow.. that guy… but also Azor Ahai? You see what I mean about Jon having a similar “frozen Azor Ahai” symbolism to Stannis.

Think also of Bran’s coma dream from AGOT, where he sees “his bastard brother Jon, sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.” True, life at the Wall is cold, but might not this line be foreshadowing even more cold transformation for Jon? It’s definitely foreshadowing for his becoming a cold corpse, and remember when he died, “he never felt the fourth knife, only the cold.” But I’ve also suggested many times that Jon could be temporarily resurrected by the ice magic of the Others before Melisandre gets involved – that’s the “Jon becomes a leader of the others for a time” scenario, basically – so it’s possible Jon’s body will literally be covered in ice and frost.

Then there is the fact that the other big clue about Jon being Azor Ahai reborn – his dream of defending the Wall with a burning red sword – dresses him up in ice armor, like an Other! It’s a pretty good match to that vision of Stannis as a blue-eyed king with a red sword that glows like sunset, in that it’s implying an Otherized, frozen Azor Ahai:

Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she’d appeared.

The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off.

So here it is, Jon’s big “Azor Ahai reborn” dream – his sword burns red just as Lightbringer was said to burn red, so that’s hard to miss. You’ll notice that Jon’s internalized guilt for Ygritte’s death manifests itself here in Jon’s nightmare as him killing her with his flaming red sword, which… is a clear echo of Azor Ahai killing Nissa Nissa with Lightbringer.  As I’ve pointed out, the fact that Azor Ahai murders his wife is a big clue that he isn’t a hero, even before he turned into Night’s King if that’s what he did, so check out “Azor Ahai” The Bad Guy” for more on that, but the point here is that Jon dreaming of killing Ygritte, his true love, with his burning red sword, simply nails down this sequence as a depiction of the famous deeds of Azor Ahai. Jon doesn’t kill Ygritte in real life – he’d never kill his girlfriend in real life, that’s just ridiculous, I mean – but he does feel responsible, and he does find her as she lies dying with a Night’s Watch arrow through her chest in yet another echo of Nissa Nissa’s death.

Notably, Lightbringer-wielding Jon is defending the Wall against the forces of the Others: living dead men who need to “die again” and foes who “scuttle up the ice like spiders,” a line clearly meant to evoke the idea of ice spiders scuttling up the Wall. Which, by the way, yikes. Can you even imagine? Anyway, defending the Wall against the forces of the Others is what Jon thinks Azor Ahai reborn is supposed to do, and even with my heretical idea that Azor Ahai became Night’s King, leader of the Others, I’m suggesting that his brother, son, or perhaps nephew became the last hero who lead the Watch against the Others with his own magic sword of “dragonsteel,” so it’s very much a cyclical, family affair with magic swords to go around. I’ve even referred to the Azor Ahai archetype as being split in two – the Night’s King version is villainous (think Euron), and last hero version is the heroic form of Azor Ahai.

Point being, the part of Jon’s dream that has him defending the Wall with a burning red sword, later named in the dream as the Valyrian steel sword Longclaw, correlates to the last hero version of the flaming sword hero. Another specific last hero correlation for Jon can be found in the fact that Jon starts off the dream by realizing that he’s all alone against the Others, just as the last hero’s companions all died and he was left fleeing the Others on his own. Jon’s not totally alone though, as the scarecrow knights the Watch made in the fight against the Mance Raydar make an appearance in Jon’s dream, but those scarecrow knights ended up being named after the black brothers who died in the fight, so this is just another way of implying Jon as the last hero who companions have died.

All in all, Jon is hitting both Azor Ahai and last hero beats in this dream, but he’s very conspicuously sporting that ice armor as his blade burns red, and of course ice armor is one of the defining characteristics of the Others. Talk about his body growing cold and hard. You’ll also notice that Jon kills his brother Robb with his red sword… and Night’s King was said to have been cast down, in part, by Brandon the Breaker Stark, who was Night’s King’s brother, according to some versions of the story. Think about it – Night’s King was supposedly Lord Commander of the Watch while his brother was the King of Winter / King in the North, just as Robb was King in the North right before Jon became Lord Commander, so Jon fighting Robb in this dream is a good parallel.

Getting back to Jon’s ice armor, you will notice that it is specifically black ice armor, as opposed to the white and pale look of the Others and their ice. That could be a reference to Night’s King as a black brother of the Watch who became “armored in ice,” but there’s another possibility that’s interesting too. The Stark ancestral Valyrian steel sword is called Ice, and it’s so dark grey as to look black; Ned’s ancestor Barth Blacksword got his nickname because he carried Ice, for example. Thus Ned’s sword can be thought of as black ice, and by extension, Jon’s black ice armor might represent Valyrian steel armor, which would be a good thing to have while fighting the Others with a flaming sword. Euron has a suit; maybe Jon can kill him and take it or something.

So just like Stannis is a blue eyed, shadow making king with a burning red sword, Jon Snow is combining obvious symbols of the Others and Night’s King with symbols of Azor Ahai in this dream / nightmare. He’s doing it at the Wall too, which is where Azor Ahai would have found Night’s Queen, made the Others, and declared himself Night’s King.

And I can’t help but notice… Jon is kind of a rebel Lord Commander who has broken almost all of the Night’s Watch oaths to some extent. According to wildling custom, he married Ygritte by “stealing her” and sleeping with her, which is both a sorta kinda breaking of his vows and an echo of Night’s King finding a wife beyond the Wall. Jon is named a rebel to the throne by Cersei as well, and when he decides to lead a wildling army against Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell, he becomes an actual rebel Lord Commander, clearly breaking his vow not to meddle in the affairs of the realm. Then we have this passage that comes in ASOS when he’s sent to try to kill Mance Raydar, King beyond the Wall, against his will. He’s in the iron cage that goes up and down the Wall at castle Black here:

A grim day. Jon Snow wrapped gloved hands around the bars and held tight as the wind hammered at the cage once more. When he looked straight down past his feet, the ground was lost in shadow, as if he were being lowered into some bottomless pit. Well, death is a bottomless pit of sorts, he reflected, and when this day’s work is done my name will be shadowed forever.

Bastard children were born from lust and lies, men said; their nature was wanton and treacherous. Once Jon had meant to prove them wrong, to show his lord father that he could be as good and true a son as Robb. I made a botch of that. Robb had become a hero king; if Jon was remembered at all, it would be as a turncloak, an oathbreaker, and a murderer. He was glad that Lord Eddard was not alive to see his shame.

Turncloak, oathbreaker, murderer, wanton and treacherous, name forever shadowed: this could be the Night’s King we are talking about as Jon is lowered into the abyss. Don’t forget Night’s King’s name was supposedly erased from the record, which is why we don’t have the name “Azor Ahai” in Westeros, by the way (Homer: it’s funny because it’s true).

As for Jon’s brother Robb, he’s again suggested as a Brandon the Breaker / last hero figure, being named as a hero king and King in the North. This is in contrast to Jon, who is shamed and lowered into the abyss and all that. I’ll also point out that just as Stannis emulates Night’s King by warring against a King in the North and a King Beyond the Wall, Jon is on his way to try to kill the King Beyond the Wall while thinking of Robb, whom he kills in the dream we just read. Right before he died, Jon was about to lead a force south against a different lord of Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton, and of course Jon actually commanded the defense of the Wall against Mance’s initial attack. He’s got those parallels covered, in other words.

Since we’re talking about Night’s King and Brandon the Breaker, I’ll go ahead an address the obvious timeline heresy question that arises from my theorycrafting – namely, “if Night’s King is Azor Ahai, then how is Night’s King also the brother of the Lord of Winterfell / King in the North, Brandon the Breaker?” Well, first of all, I’m think that the last hero was Brandon the Breaker – he broke the hold of the Long Night, and named his castle “Winterfell” in memory of slaying the winter, perhaps. I suspect that Azor Ahai might have had children before he transformed into Night’s King, and he probably has brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews as well, and I think it was one of these people who became the last hero / Brandon the Breaker. It’s hard to say when the name Stark came into use, or when Winterfell was founded, but having already looked at all the Azor Ahai and Night’s King and last hero parallel figures in my older podcasts, I can tell you that the relationship between Night’s King, leader of the Others, and last hero, leader of the Watch, is always suggested as father-son, uncle-nephew, or brother-brother. If it was one of these scenarios, then House Stark is either related to Night’s King or directly descended from him, and I’ve always believed something like that had to be the case, that the Starks are actually related to both Night’s King and the Others themselves.

Getting back to Jon, well, he just needs to wander north of the Wall and give his seed and soul to a moon pale, icy woman, and his journey to the dark side will be complete.

Ahem.

Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.

They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.

“Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.

But Jon’s wolf is named Ghost, so Jon is asking Val if she’s stealing his ghost! That’s next best thing to taking someone’s soul, I think. Night’s King spied his lovely Night’s Queen from atop the Wall, while Jon is standing in front of the Wall on the north side here, but he’s certainly captivated with Val’s beauty as she possess his ghost. He’ll later be accused of keeping her locked up and hidden at Castle Black, echoing Night’s King taking Night’s Queen back to the Nightfort and making her his queen. Along the same lines, when Stannis offers to make Jon Lord of Winterfell, marrying Val is part of the proposal again implying Val as Jon’s potential queen and wife. Val herself makes a great winter queen, dressed in all white with a snowbear cloak and a weirwood broach, and with her blue eyes. The scene we just quoted is Val returning from making contact with Tormund and the wildlings; and when she left on this trip two weeks earlier, the Night’s Queen symbolism is even more obvious:

When they emerged north of the Wall, through a thick door made of freshly hewn green wood, the wildling princess paused for a moment to gaze out across the snow-covered field where King Stannis had won his battle. Beyond, the haunted forest waited, dark and silent. The light of the half-moon turned Val’s honey-blond hair a pale silver and left her cheeks as white as snow. She took a deep breath. “The air tastes sweet.”

“My tongue is too numb to tell. All I can taste is cold.”

“Cold?” Val laughed lightly. “No. When it is cold it will hurt to breathe. When the Others come …”

Okay, well, blue eyes are one thing, lots of people have blue eyes, but skin as white as snow is clear Night’s Queen language. Val’s also acting as if she’s untroubled by the cold which makes Dolorous Edd so cold as to be numb, and warning about them about the Others as if she knows them. Val also has no fear of the Haunted Forest and is able to come and go as she pleases, so she really comes across as some sort of icy queen of the north in these scenes.

And she’s stealing Jon’s Ghost.

Which, by the way, is already a white shadow anyway, and this is from ADWD:

Ahead he glimpsed a pale white trunk that could only be a weirwood, crowned with a head of dark red leaves. Jon Snow reached back and pulled Longclaw from his sheath. He looked to right and left, gave Satin and Horse a nod, watched them pass it on to the men beyond. They rushed the grove together, kicking through drifts of old snow with no sound but their breathing. Ghost ran with them, a white shadow at Jon’s side.

Another less dramatic scene in ADWD also describes Ghost as “a white shadow at his side,” and a scene in ACOK describes him as “a pale shadow moving through the night.” Although Ghost has burning red eyes like two red suns and not blue star eyes, this is nevertheless disturbing. I’ve always wondered about what this means, to be honest, why George would describe Ghost with the white shadow and pale shadow language of the Others. Now it makes sense though, and I actually just put together writing this script – Jon is playing the role of Azor Ahai turned Night’s King, and he’s giving his Ghost to a Night’s Queen to make white shadows. His ghost is a white shadow! This is an absolutely fabulous confirmation of our theorizing… both of the idea that Night’s King made white shadows with Night’s Queen, and that Night’s King was Azor Ahai and a dragon person.

Indeed, Ghost’s eyes, which “shone like two red suns” in ACOK, reflect the fiery nature of Azor Ahai’s seed and soul, which was then given to Night’s Queen and used to create the Others… and in a future video, we’ll dive into how that all that temperature conversion works and what if means that the Others were potentially fathered by a dragon.

I’m almost skipping over the obvious things here – naming Ghost a white shadow at Jon’s side basically implies Jon as both a dragon king and a Night’s King, even before Val enters into it, because the white shadow term has been applied the most to the Kingsguard and the Others, by far. The kings of Westeros are well known for having white shadows at their side, and Jon is a potential candidate for King of Westeros via his Targaryen blood. If we see a white shadow at Jon’s side and think “the Others,” then Jon looks a Night’s Watch commander with an Other following him around, which can really only be an image of Night’s King.


And that, dear friends brings us full circle: Jon, like Stannis, is playing the combined role of Azor Ahai person and Night’s King person. Like Stannis, he’s implied both a dragon king and a symbolic father of the Others. At the risk of stating the obvious, I believe George did this is because someone thought of as “Azor Ahai” did in fact become the “Night’s King” of Westerosi legend.

From a thematic perspective, I don’t think it should be too hard to accept that the “hero” who slew his wife to work blood magic and broke the moon in doing so turned into the villain who created the Others. As most of you know, I have always thought that it was the moon breaking in the Azor Ahai myth which led to the Long Night, by virtue of the cracking moon shedding moon meteors that impacted on the Planetos. Thus, the man who caused the Long Night, Azor Ahai, would have become the King of the Long Night, which makes perfect sense to me. If you want the story about how Azor Ahai, who is from Asshai, came to Westeros and eventually north to the Wall, I’ll refer you to my Great Empire of the Dawn videos titled “Dragonlords of Ancient Asshai” and “Westeros,” but suffice to say there is abundant evidence that Azor Ahai did just that, and that his story does end in the north, in the frozen lands. What I am suggesting is that at some point, he became the figure known as Night’s King, the original father of the Others.

Only to have his stupid son or nephew or whatever come and spoil things, the brat. The brat hero, that’s what he should be called.

 

A New Night’s King?

The primary job of the first scene in any book is to hook the reader into the action, and the A Game of Thrones prologue certainly does the trick, dropping us right into the middle of the haunted forest only moments before three rangers of the Night’s Watch encounter the Others. It’s also well known that skilled authors usually try to use the first scene of a book to foreshadow as much as they can about the major themes and arcs of their story, and once again the AGOT prologue comes through with flying colors. Many folks have done fine analysis on this all-important chapter, and you can find a 3 hour deep-dive on the mythical symbolism therein on my channel here in the video “We Should Start Back.” But I’m here today to show you how Ser Waymar Royce’s confrontation with the Others actually spells out the beginning of the white walker endgame and sheds light on their mysterious motives.

Hey there friends and fellow myth heads, it’s LmL. I have to apologize to you all, for it seems that following the path of symbol and archetype has led us to pile heresy on top of heresy of late. That’s right, all we did was innocently follow the rabbit trail of the Kingsguard symbolizing the Others and pretty soon we are reordering the events of the Long Night and claiming to have discovered the very origins of the Others. Well, let the haters hate, because we’ve only begun exploring the ramifications of Azor Ahai the dragonlord having become Night’s King and, along with Night’s Queen, the creator of the Others, and there’s lots more to discover. If you like these videos and you want to keep the heresy rolling, please make sure you have clicked on that red subscribe button below, and I know this is asking a lot but please also click the like button, and maybe leave a comment if you’re really feeling it. You can support the program through a monthly Patreon pleadge or through a one-time donation at paypal.me/mythicalastronomy, and thanks to everyone who has already done so, you’re the reason I can make these videos.

Alright, let’s rip into the exciting notion of a new Night’s King arising to lead the Others!


Our first clue that the White Walkers are at the very least “looking for someone special” comes in the AGOT prologue, where we see six white walkers murder brave Ser Waymar Royce in cold butchery after he loses the duel to the first one. That’s actually the first part of the clue, right there, the sequence of the entire exchange. The Others almost certainly could have murdered Waymar and his company at any time, as they did the wildling party Waymar, Gared, and Will were tracking, but instead they exhibited intentional strategy and timing by killing the wildlings and then removing the bodies, luring the rangers further along to specific place where they chose to emerge and confront.

Then, one Other only stepped forward to challenge Waymar, while the other five remained standing back:

Behind him, to right, to left, all around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. Yet they made no move to interfere.

Again we see the Others refusing to simply kill Waymar as quickly as they can, so they must have some other objective, pun intended. If their goal isn’t to simply kill the Night’s Watch, what is it? Are they testing Ser Waymar and thereby the Watch for skill, just to assess their foe? Or are they perhaps testing him to see if he’s some sort of prophesied figure – someone like the dreaded Azor Ahai reborn, nemesis of the Others? Or might they, as the title of this video suggests, be looking for someone to make into a Night’s King, a new leader of the Others? After all, if the greenseers and Targaryens have prophesies about Azor Ahai and the Prince That Was Promised emerging to fight the Others, it stands to reason that the Others may be on the lookout for him too. They can certainly see that bloody red comet, you know? And if the Others are looking for a new Night’s King, that also be a matter of prophesy or of qualifications.

Whatever the case, what can observe is that the other Others continue to watch, motionless, until…

Then Royce’s parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.

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.

Ser Waymar Royce found his fury. “For Robert!” he shouted, and he came up snarling, lifting the frost-covered longsword with both hands and swinging it around in a flat sidearm slash with all his weight behind it. The Other’s parry was almost lazy.

When the blades touched, the steel shattered.

A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers.

The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.

Alright, so the five Others in the woods moved forward together, as if a signal had been given, and they did it right after the Other chose to shatter Waymar’s sword. Some have interpreted this to be about the sword – the Other did take a nice long look at Waymar’s sword right before the fight, after all, and the thinking is that when it broke, that proved it wasn’t Valyrian steel. After that, the Others no longer respected Waymar as a threat, and disposed of him with all due disrespect.

But here’s the thing – Waymar’s sword didn’t break the very first time it touched the icy Other blade, and it didn’t break at some random point in the sword-fight, and it certainly didn’t break from the vicious force of the “almost lazy” parry of the Other. Rather, it seems to me that the Other chose to break his sword because he had already dismissed Waymar as a threat. If we look closely, we can see that the real change in behavior came when Waymar took the first wound from the Other’s sword and bled on to the snow with blood droplets that “seemed red as fire.” It is at this point that the Other first speaks in his mocking tone, which implies dismissal, and then the next move is the lazy parry which breaks the sword – in other words, Waymar is being dismissed by the sword break, not after the sword break.

What’s so important about Waymar bleeding? Do the Others simply play by one-hit-kill rules? Was they icy laughter basically Otherish for “you lose” or “game over?” or perhaps… perhaps they were looking for someone who doesn’t bleed. Someone who’s undead, perhaps, like Jon Snow will be by the time he ever confronts his first Other.

Here’s the thing: I don’t hate the idea that the sword breaking was a key sign to the Others that Waymar could be easily dismissed, and actually the the sword idea might well compliment the idea that his bleeding was a key sign. After all, by the time Jon meets the Others, it will be both as an undead person and with Valyrian steel in his hand. The Others may well be lookout for an undead person with a Valyrian steel sword, in other words, because that’s who’s ultimately going to face them.

Whatever it was about Ser Waymar that caused him to fail his test with the Others, fail he did, and it’s clear that the Others rapidly shifted from giving Waymar the respect of a ritual-like, one-on-one sword duel to dispatching him with “cold butchery” and “mocking” laughter.

So here’s the question: what were they planning on doing if Waymar had measured up, or if he had been some sort of prophesied figure whom the Others were watching for? Something other than kill him, obviously, since that’s what they did when he failed. What was it? We have two choices, essentially. If the Others are looking out for a threat, then it’s possible that all the other Others would have attacked if, say, Waymar’s sword had caught fire or if he had killed the first Other, or perhaps they would call in the reinforcements of ice spiders and wights to deal with this more serious foe.

The other possibility is that the Others, as I suggest in the title of the video, are looking for someone whom they can make into a new Night’s King, a new leader of the Others. Not only does this make sense for all narrative reasons and symbolic reasons that we’ve covered in the last few videos that suggest the Others should have a king, and that that person should be some sort of frozen Azor Ahai figure… I believe George is feeding us a very nice symbolic clue about the Others wanting to make a new Night’s King in the fate of Ser Waymar, because George basically turns him into a frozen Azor Ahai Night’s King person at the end of the chapter.


To whit: let’s have a look at the horror that George has fashioned at the conclusion of the first chapter of ASOIAF:

Royce’s body lay facedown in the snow, one arm out-flung. The thick sable cloak had been slashed in a dozen places. Lying dead like that, you saw how young he was. A boy.

He found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched it up. The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon. Would Gared still be waiting with the horses? He had to hurry.

Will rose. Ser Waymar Royce stood over him.

His fine clothes were a tatter, his face a ruin. A shard from his sword transfixed the blind white pupil of his left eye.

The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.

The broken sword fell from nerveless fingers. Will closed his eyes to pray. Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat. They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold.

Alright, so I know that Waymar is in actuality just a common ice wight here, but what I want to talk about is the symbolism. Waymar is implied both specifically as a Night’s King figure and more generally as some kind of ice wizard who has transcended death and obtaining new icy magical powers… which is how we should think of someone who “becomes” a Night’s King, whether that’s the original Azor Ahai or Jon Snow or Euron or anyone else.

There are two ways in which Royce is implied as having obtained an icy version of the fire of the gods: the one-eye symbolism and the “broken tree struck by lightning symbolism.” The one-eyed symbol is easy to recognize as a call-out to the Norse god of shamanic magic, Odin, as George Martin made liberal use of Odin mythology and the related mythology of Yggdrasil, Odin’s magical tree, when he fashioned his own weirwood trees and greenseer wizards. I’ve explored this at length in the Weirwood Compendium, but the main thing to know here is having one-eye is Odin’s chief calling card; he appears in countless forms, even those of animals, but always with one eye. He lost that eye in exchange for “opening his third eye,” so to speak – he traded it for a drink from the well of Mimir, which (speaking in general terms) gave Odin increased magical knowledge and power.

Therefore, the one-eye symbol is not only Odin’s calling card, but specifically represents the concept of sacrificing your physical body or life to gain magic power. Along the same lines, the other very famous way that Odin gained magical power was by being hanged from the ash tree Yggdasil for nine days, after which he was able to transcend death and “see the runes.” Enter Bloodraven, the living tree statue, who has both symbols: he’s lost one physical eye but has pried open his third eye all the way to gain magical sight, like Odin. Bloodraven is also is “hung on the tree,” only in the root zone, quite literally tied to the weirwood by its roots and even pierced by them, just as Odin was tied to Yggdrasil and pierced to the tree with his spear. On a thematic level, Bloodraven has certainly sacrificed much to gain the power of greenseer magic, and if you think about it, the same is true of Bran and Daenerys and the Undying of Qarth and everyone else who seeks magical power in this story.

So, getting back to Waymar, we see that one of the shards of broken sword has blinded his left eye, and that his right eye now burns blue. This blue is of course literally burning with magical fire, the same magical fire that animates his resurrected body, so Waymar has kind of done the Odin trick here – he’s become one-eyed, but gained magical power, and he did this while defeating death, just as Odin is thought to have died and then transcended death when he hung from Yggdrasil. That’s why I say that Martin is implying Waymar as possessing an icy version of the fire of the gods – he’s become an Odin figure, but unlike Bloodraven, he’s coded in the language of ice.

This is confirmed by the broken sword symbol; the end of which is “splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning.” Lightning is a classic symbol of the fire and power of the gods throughout mythology, and George has specifically made use of this idea in his Grey King mythology. Check this out:

It was the Grey King who brought fire to the earth by taunting the Storm God until he lashed down with a thunderbolt, setting a tree ablaze.

This isn’t to say the Grey King has anything to do with this specifically, rather, I am showing you that Martin has used the symbol of a tree struck by lighting to embody the Promethean concept of bringing the fire of the gods from the heavens to the earth. The Others are also described as moving and striking like lightning, so this broken sword twisted like a lightning-blasted tree is specifically a symbol of the icy fire of the gods which animates the Others. Thus, we see two symbols of obtaining the fire or power of the gods appear with Waymar’s death and resurrection: Waymar is given the icy blue version of the one-eye Odin symbolism at the same time that his sword is transformed into the tree-struck-by-lightning symbol.

That’s why I say that when undead Waymar rises from the snow to kill his fellow Night’s Watch brother, Will, he’s showing us more than our first ice wight. Unpacking this symbolism allows us to see that resurrected Waymar is being presented as an ice-Odin figure, as some sort of powerful ice magic wizard. Who could this be guys, what do you think? Who is it that goes through some sort of death transformation, bleeding out in drops “red as fire” only to gain the power of icy white walker magic? This can only be our Night’s King Azor Ahai figure, right? Waymar is manifesting this archetype right after the Others gave him that test, and as I alluded to a minute ago, I think that’s a clue about who they are really seeking here: someone who can become a new Night’s King, a new ice magic wizard who has defeated death.

I’ll put it like this: in terms of the surface level plot, Waymar fails and is killed; but in terms of symbolism, the Others have transformed him into a white walker king.


As it happens, Waymar has plenty of Night’s King symbolism about him, beginning with him killing his brother Will as soon as he is resurrected. Night’s King broke his vows and turned against the realms of men, according to legend, and transformed Waymar now seems to have adopted the Others policy of snuffing out all warm-blooded life. Night’s King was also thought to bind his brothers to his will with strange sorceries, and here in this scene Waymar is binding his brother Will to him with sorcery in the sense that Waymar is making Will into a magical ice wight who now takes orders from the Others.

The entire first half of the prologue is dedicated to portraying Waymar as reckless, bold, heedless, and foolish as he insists on pressing on deeper into the haunted forest against the advice of his two seasoned ranger companions and the very woods themselves, which are written as actively hostile to Waymar. You could say Waymar is.. a man who knew no fear, and in truth we can actually say that that is Waymar’s defining characteristic, right up to his having the courage to stand and face the Other boldly before he died. If we look at this chapter in totality, we can see that it was Waymar’s fearless incursion into the woods which brought the Others down upon them, which is an echo of Night’s King quest for magical power having ended in the creation of the Others.

One thing that all Night King figures due is blot out the stars in various symbolic ways, and Waymar does this in grand style:

“Gods!” he heard behind him. A sword slashed at a branch as Ser Waymar Royce gained the ridge. He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to see.

Outlined against the stars means that his silhouette is blotting out the stars behind him, and specifically it’s his black cloak that is doing so:

His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin.

A thick, sinful black cloak which “billows” out and blots out the stars: this is a little bit mythical astronomy here, because (according to my grand theory) it was the clouds of smoke, ash and debris billowing out from the meteor impacts which blotted out the sun and stars. Thus Night King figures tend to have these black cloaks or some other equivalent symbol – Euron has an identical black sable cloak to Waymar’s and a ship with black sails; Stannis sets fire to King’s Landing and fills the sky with smoke that blots out the stars; Darkstar… is called Darkstar, and in one scene he stands outlined against a dying sun in a similarly grandiose fashion as Ser Waymar on the ridge here; Jon Snow of course wears a black cloak of the Night’s Watch and wears black ice armor in his dream, and we see “night black” armor on Jon’s daddy Rhaegar as well as Aemond One Eye Targaryen.

Waymar’s star-blotting sable cloak, all important symbol of the darkness of the Long Night, is named as his crowning glory here. This is simply a way of telling us that he’s a night king figure; sinful darkness is his crown. That’s not too hard to understand as far as symbolism goes, right? The golden crown kings have worn all throughout history symbolize the sun’s rays and the divine favor of the sun god thought to be conferred on the king. Inverting that golden crown symbol into a black crown is therefore a perfect symbol for someone who is king of the Long Night, a time when the sun’s face was darkened. Stannis was described as looking like he wore a shadow crown in the first scene we saw him as covered last video; Euron wears a black iron crown, and Aemond One Eye wore the black crown of Aegon the Conqueror, who is himself another Night’s King Azor Ahai figure. Even the Stark Kings of Winter have a black crown – which makes sense because the Starks seem to have a connection to both Night’s King and the Others, and because the title “King of Winter” is similar to the idea of a “King of Night.” The Long Night was also a Long Winter, and either way we’re talking about the idea of someone who is king when the sun is weakened or gone – hence the black crown symbol. Regarding Waymar, his version of the black crown symbol is specifically a sinful cloak of billowing darkness, which seems easy to interpret as a symbol of the Long Night.


So as you can see, I’m not haphazardly slapping the Night’s King label on Waymar just because he looks like undead ice Odin. He fits very well, and he has the same symbolism as other Night’s King figures. So why does George Martin have Waymar manifest this Night’s King ice wizard archetype here at the end of this chapter? I think the answer is that he’s trying to foreshadow where the story arc of the Others is going by showing us that the Others are waiting for someone special, someone who can pass their test and not get laughed out of the room, so to speak. Someone who fits this one-eyed ice wizard, king of night archetype.

And there’s really only two choices: Euron or Jon Snow. Euron already has the blue one eye symbolism: he famously has one “blood eye” which he keeps hidden under an eye patch and one blue “smiling eye.” Euron is actively seeking magic of all kinds and talks openly of becoming a god and bringing on the apocalypse, so this really isn’t some sort of wild counter-intuitive notion here. It’s backed up by specific Night’s King symbolism though too, and we will do a dedicated Night’s King Euron symbolism video very soon, perhaps next in this series. Euron is currently a long way from the north, but I think he’s going to be around for awhile, and he’s very intent on riding a dragon, so I think the idea of Euron’s story tying him in to the final events in the north makes a lot of sense. He’s certainly shaping up to be the final villain in a narrative sense, and it would be hard for him to do that if he has nothing to do with the Others.

As for Jon, well. He too is going to get his own video in this series solely dedicated to showing the foreshadowing for his becoming a new Night’s King and leader of the Others, but I can give you a brief run-down of what it involves before we call it a wrap here.

First, Jon compares well to Waymar, physically – from an ancient First Man house, dark hair, long face, grey eyes, and moleskin gloves (Jon and Waymar are the only two people to ever wear those in the series). This is actually important because it could explain why the Others might have thought Waymar was Jon – because of the Moleskin glove prophecy— no I’m kidding, it’s because Waymar literally looked like Jon and was about the same age. There have even been several somewhat recent Stark – Royce intermarriages, so Jon and Waymar are actually very distant relatives.

The second thing foreshadowing Night’s King Jon is that the Starks may be related Night’s King, according to Old Nan, so it may be that the Others need a Stark for their king in the way that Azor Ahai reborn should be a dragonrider and a Targaryen. The first Stark kings were called Kings of Winter as we just mentioned, and those kings bore nicknames like “ice eyes” and “snowbeard” in addition to the black iron crown of swords.

Then there is the possibility that the Others may be owed a Stark baby by some ancient, unholy pact – this is “Prince That Was promised to the Others” theory, which is the idea that a child of Night’s King and Queen was somehow not turned into an Other but was stolen and raised as a Stark, just as Gilly and Sam stole baby Monster from Craster before he could give him to the Others and brought him south of the Wall. If the Starks do descend from such a child, then it’s possible Jon must be “given” back to the Others as part of pacifying their ancient enmity for mankind.

And then there is the symbolic foreshadowing, like Jon’s ice armor, Bran seeing him growing hard and cold at the Wall, and the implied presence of the Others at the Tower of Joy scene. This is all topped off by the absolute avalanche of symbolism tying Jon to the fall of the Wall, which figures to be a key element of the fall of the new Long Night and the invasion of the Others.

As for that one-eye Odin symbolism, Jon has it too, in sneaky fashion. It comes in ACOK when Orell’s eagle attacks Jon, clawing his face around one of his eyes:

Half his world was black. “My eye,” he said in sudden panic, raising a hand to his face.

Jon ultimately ends up with a scar running across his eye, but as you can see he is initially blinded by the wound. The lines are also written to match the eye-wounding scene at the end of the Waymar prologue, tying Jon to these ideas about defeating death and obtaining the frozen fire of the gods. Jon’s chapter says this:

The blood kept running down into his right eye, and his cheek was a blaze of pain. When he touched it his black gloves came away stained with red.

Those are Jon’s black moleskin gloves stained with red blood, to be exact, so now check out Waymar checking out his first wound against the Other:

Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.

It’s almost the same line: “his black gloves came away stained with red” vs. “His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.” And then here’s the end of Waymar’s chapter as he strangles Will:

Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat. They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold.

Jon touches his own cheek, staining his gloves red, and here Waymar’s bloody gloves touches Will’s cheek. I hope the reason why Martin would create parallels between these two eye-wounding scenes is obvious by now: it implies that Jon should be in the Waymar role, that he is destined to acquire the icy fire of the Others as Waymar and Night’s King did.

There are several ways that could manifest in the story though, and we’ll cover all that in the Night’s King Jon video, so start getting pumped for that. The same goes for Night’s King Euron – there are a couple of different ways it could play out, I’ll make a video about that, and you should be getting pumped like Arnold for that too. You can also get a head start by diving into the podcast playlists titled Moons of Ice and Fire and Blood of the Other which you can find under the playlist tab on this YT channel, as I’ve talked about some of this there.

 

Euron King of the Apocalypse

Hey there friends! It’s LmL, and it’s time for the good stuff. That’s right, it’s a special occasion and we’re breaking out the rare vintage! We left off last time talking about the the idea of the Others looking for a new Night’s King, and today we are going to talk about that person being Euron Greyjoy, “the Crowseye.” Sounds straightforward, right? Well it’s not! Euron’s face is full of esoteric symbolism, and when you clicked this video, the needed dose of shade of the evening for you to understand all this sh*t was secreted from your mouse or trackpad or phone case and onto your hands, and now it’s about to get real weird. If you haven’t read the Winds of Winter early release chapter “The Forsaken,” then heads up, because we are going to discuss it in depth here, as it’s key to understanding Euron’s coming role as “King of the Apocalypse.” I’d also recommend watching my last few videos to lead up to this one (I would say that, right) as they propose a series of exciting premises which build upon one another.

These exciting premises are based on a combination of symbolic / archetypal analysis and good old fashioned logic, and they include such heresies as: I think Night’s King and Queen lived at the beginning of the Long Night and created the first Others. I think Azor Azor Ahai became the Night’s King, and that it was his seed and soul taken by Night’s Queen and used to make the Others. And in my last video, “A New Night’s King,” I proposed that the Others are currently looking for someone to lead them, to make into a new Night’s King. Based on the symbolism contained in the AGOT prologue and elsewhere, it seems that in archetypal terms, this person should be a one-eyed, Odin-like ice wizard who seeks to or has transcended death, who seeks to or has attained an icy version of the “fire of the gods.” Some kind of icy cross between Bloodraven and Azor Ahai, in other words – that’s the kind of person the Others seem to be looking for.

I left off suggesting that our two main candidates to become such a “A New Night’s King” figure are Euron and Jon Snow, for different reasons and with different implications. For example, if Jon plays a Night King role, it will be either because the Others have stolen and animated his corpse, likely in an attempt to use it to help them cross the Wall or something like that, or because the very end game of the story may require Jon to become Otherized as part of pacifying the Others and their ancient enmity. Night’s King Jon Snow will have to wait for his own video though, because today it’s time to talk about Night’s King Crowseye, Euron of the Graves and Charnel Pits. If Euron becomes a new Night’s King, it will be because he seriously wants to fck sht up, or because he opened one magical door too many without knowing what the f— he was doing.

Behold Aeron Damphair’s shade of the evening-induced nightmare form that Forsaken chapter:

“The bleeding star bespoke the end,” he said to Aeron. “These are the last days, when the world shall be broken and remade. A new god shall be born from the graves and charnel pits.”

Then Euron lifted a great horn to his lips and blew, and dragons and krakens and sphinxes came at his command and bowed before him. “Kneel, brother,” the Crow’s Eye commanded. “I am your king, I am your god. Worship me, and I will raise you up to be my priest.”

The basic case for Euron as a new Night’s King figure is actually pretty straightforward – he’s someone who’s quite literally thrilled about the idea of the world being destroyed, and he thinks this presents him with the opportunity to become some sort of god-on-earth. He sees himself as a god-king “born from the graves and charnel pits” after the “bleeding star” has signaled “the end” and “the last days” – or, said another way, he wants to become a god of death who rules over the new Long Night. He wants to be the Beast from Revelations, the King of the Apocalypse. Not only does this cast Euron as the third-act villain of ASOIAF, it also lines up very well with my interpretation of Azor Ahai as someone who first causes the Long Night by breaking the moon and killing Nissa Nissa in a blood magic ritual, comes to power during the Long Night, and eventually comes to Westeros and becomes Night’s King, creator and leader of the Others. Euron is actually going to show us every step of that path, all the way from Asshai to the cozy saddle of an ice dragon. We’ll start with the Azor Ahai / Asshai end of things and work our way west and north to Night’s King territory. We will however be splitting this expedition in two – what started as one Euron script got over an hour in length, so today we are actually going to talk about Euron as an evil version of Azor Ahai reborn – or even a Bloodstone Emperor reborn, perhaps – and in part two we will look at his specific Night’s King symbolism.

Let me quickly say thank you to all of you watching, liking and commenting on my videos lately, and thanks especially to everyone subscribing to the channel via the red button below. The channel is growing rapidly towards our next goal of 30,000 subs and it’s all thanks to you! Thanks to everyone who has joined our Patreon campaign which you can find out more about at Lucifermeanslightbringer.com, and thanks to everyone sending in one-time donations at Paypal.me – and don’t forget that you can ask a question with your Paypal! Alright, let’s down some shade of the evening and get to having some nightmares of the apocalypse!


As you just saw, Euron believes the red comet was the herald of his apotheosis (and thanks for that 10 dollar word, Quinn’s Ideas). Now it’s true that everyone in ASOIAF did kinda think the red comet was meant for them, but it’s also true that the prophecy of Azor Ahai’s rebirth says that he will appear when the cold darkness gathers and the bleeding star streaks through the sky. The bleeding star has come and gone, the winds of winter are getting set to blow, and… here is Euron, reaching as high and as hard as he can for any kind of fire of the gods he can put his hands on. Azor Ahai reborn is supposed to be a hero of course, and I fully expect Jon and Dany to fulfill that role, but as I’ve said many times, there’s abundant evidence that the original Azor Ahai was a villainous figure who caused the Long Night – he did murder his wife in a horrific blood magic ritual, after all, and it’s said that he cracked the moon when he did so. Cracking the moon… seems bad in general, and in particular, it’s exactly the sort of thing that could cause a Long Night event, because any sort of lunar catastrophe along these lines would result in pieces of moon raining down on ye old Planetos as “moon meteors” whose impacts might be sufficient to cause an impact winter, a cloaking of the skies with dust, ash, and debris that can last several years.

Indeed, that is of course exactly what I think happened – I believe the moon cracking recorded in both the Azor Ahai myth and the Qarthine “origin of dragons” myth refers to a celestial catastrophe involving moon meteors which created a magical version of an impact winter. Thus, the Azor Ahai myth begins to read more like the tale of man who committed blood sacrifice to gain magical power, but caused great damage to the world when he did so… and that sounds a damn like like Euron’s future, doesn’t it?

In other words, the idea that one manifestation of Azor Ahai reborn might actually be a heinous villain who seeks to gain power through the death and chaos of a new Long Night – or even seeks to bring about that new Long Night – isn’t so strange. In fact, I think Euron will ultimately prove to be the “third head of the dragon,” though obviously he’ll be an evil dragon head and will likely end up opposing Dany and Jon in some sort of epic dragon battle. In fact when we look at the TV show events, where the Night King stole Viserion and fought Dany and Jon on dragonback, it’s pretty easy to see that we need something similar to happen in the book so we can have a good old fashioned dragon fight – one of the dragons must get turned against team Dany somehow. I think it’s similarly easy to see that that “steal Viserion and oppose Jon and Dany” role played by the TV show Night King will be almost certainly played by Euron in the books. If Euron is to both ride a dragon and become the most powerful villain of the new Long Night, then he will rightfully be seen as both an Azor Ahai person and a Night’s King person. That’s certainly how Euron sees himself, and how he wants to be seen.

Euron has of course (according to him anyway) been to both Valyria and Asshai, the two places in the world which are stated to be places where dragons come from – and  the two places most strongly associated with Azor Ahai. Asshai is where the Azor Ahai myth comes from, and as you all probably know, I think the ancient Asshai texts about a pre-Valyrian dragonlord culture existing in Asshai are accurate:

In Asshai, the tales are many and confused, but certain texts—all impossibly ancient—claim that dragons first came from the Shadow, a place where all of our learning fails us. These Asshai’i histories say that a people so ancient they had no name first tamed dragons in the Shadow and brought them to Valyria, teaching the Valyrians their arts before departing from the annals.

I think this ancient Asshai dragonlord kingdom was actually the one remembered as the Great Empire of the Dawn, and it seems that Euron very much wants to cast himself in their image – more on this in a moment. The point for now, and really the entire point of figuring out that there were ancient dragonlords in Asshai, is that Azor Ahai himself was almost certainly a dragonlord of their lineage. Thus when we think of Azor Ahai coming to Westeros from Asshai during the Long Night, we should think of a dragonlord – quite possibly an evil dragonlord. Like Euron will be.

As for Doomed Valyria, to which Euron claims to have sailed, they were of course a dragonlord empire whose magic is rooted in fire and blood. In fact, all of their magic seems taken straight from the Azor Ahai mythology- they make magic swords with blood magic and human sacrifice, they ride dragons, they use fire magic, and they possess all the weapons needed to defeat the Others, from dragonglass to Valyrian steel to dragons themselves. According to some prophecies, Azor Ahai reborn should come from the blood of Valyria by way of House Targaryen, and if Valyria does in fact descend from the ancient Asshai dragonlords of the Great Empire of the Dawn, then there may be a continuous bloodline from Azor Ahai to, say, Jon and Dany.

Euron may not have Valyrian blood, but he’s sure trying to dress up like a Valyrian! This is from the Forsaken Winds of Winter chapter:

Euron Crow’s Eye stood upon the deck of Silence, clad in a suit of black scale armor like nothing Aeron had ever seen before. Dark as smoke it was, but Euron wore it as easily as if it was the thinnest silk. The scales were edged in red gold, and gleamed and shimmered when they moved. Patterns could be seen within the metal, whorls and glyphs and arcane symbols folded into the steel.

Valyrian steel, the Damphair knew. His armor is Valyrian steel. In all the Seven Kingdoms, no man owned a suit of Valyrian steel. Such things had been known 400 years ago, in the days before the Doom, but even then, they would’ve cost a kingdom.

Euron did not lie. He has been to Valyria. No wonder he was mad.

We don’t really know for sure where Euron got that Valyrian steel suit of armor – if not from Valyria, it would have to have been some place like Qarth or Asshai – but that’s kind of beside the point in the context of interpreting Euron’s archetype. He’s presenting himself as a Valyrian warrior and sorcerer, and he’s even suggesting he can survive that which the Valyrians could not by claiming to have sailed into Doomed Valyria and back out again, something nobody else has apparently ever done.

So he’s wearing Valyrian armor, he’s claiming the comet as his herald – but Azor Ahai reborn is most famous for his flaming sword and his dragons, and Euron has neither of those things. However it’s no secret he has plans to acquire a dragon, and the magical talisman he’s going to use to do it is described in very strong Lightbringer terminology. I am of course talking about the Valyrian dragonbinder horn:

Sharp as a swordthrust, the sound of a horn split the air. Bright and baneful was its voice, a shivering hot scream that made a man’s bones seem to thrum within him. The cry lingered in the damp sea air: aaaaRREEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

The sound of the horn is as “sharp as a swordthrust” and “splits” the air, suggesting the horn’s sound as a sword, and the phrase “shivering hot” gives the idea of it being a flaming sword, or perhaps a “sword of ice and fire,” you might say. The horn itself actually burns as it is blown, with its glyphs glowing redly at first and then finally burning and shimmering with white fire. The horn compares very well to a Valyrian steel sword physically – it’s a horn from an actual dragon, it’s black and pointy, and it’s even banded in Valyrian steel. And again, it lights up with magical fire and is described as a burning sword here, author’s words, not mine.

Now when Nissa Nissa was stabbed with Lightbringer, she famously let loose with a cry of agony and ecstasy which left a crack across the face of the moon, and that idea is clearly and deliberately evoked when dragonbinder is blown. The horn’s sound, besides being described as a sword thrust, also sounds like a person’s ultimate cry of pain and suffering; it’s described as a “scream,” a “cry,” a “shriek,” a “baneful voice,” and “a wail of pain and fury that burns the ears,” and this terrible screaming sound went “on and on and on until it filled the whole wet world.” And again, it’s not just that this sounds like the sort of scream that could crack a moon open – the thing causing this scream is described as a burning dragon sword! Heck, even the idea of the horn calling dragons alludes to the moon cracking, since Nissa Nissa’s cry summoned moon meteor dragons, so to speak.

We can also observe that according to the Valyrian glyphs etched on the bands of the horn, it seems to operate on the same magic principle that powered Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer: “blood for fire, fire for blood.” Nissa Nissa’s blood is what set Lightbringer on fire, while here it is the hornblower’s life that is demanded in payment fo the horn’s use – he bled as he blew the horn, and his lungs were found to have been burnt black after he died, which he did shortly after tooting on the hellhorn.

So in summation, the Valyrian dragon horn is described like a flaming sword, sounds like Nissa Nissa’s cry that broke the moon, uses the same magical mechanics as Lightbringer, and is supposed to bind to Euron’s will the dragons that will certify him as Azor Ahai reborn. For now, this is Euron’s Lightbringer symbol, though I wouldn’t rule out his whipping out a Valyrian steel sword at some point, especially since two of his Ironborn subjects currently posses one. House Harlaw has one called Nightfall, House Drumm has Red Rain –  and oh wouldn’t you know it, those are both good Lightbringer / Long Night sword names, since it was a magical Nightfall caused by a red rain of bleeding stars which were remembered as dragons and flaming swords when they fell to earth.

Bonus round entry for Euron as a pseudo-Valyrian: he might be using glass candles already. In Qarth in ACOK, Xaro Xhoan Daxos tells Daenerys about several odd things that have started happening around Qarth lately, one of which sounds like Euron using an alias:

“It is said that the glass candles are burning in the house of Urrathon Night-Walker, that have not burned in a hundred years.”

There are some who think that Urrathon Night-Walker is just the name Euron uses when he stays in Qarth, which certainly wouldn’t be far-fetched. There’s an Ironborn king whom Euron may parallel named Urrathon Goodbrother, nicknamed “badbrother” for his evil deeds. He’s thrown down in favor of Torgon the Latecomer, who appears to be foreshadowing for the Theon the Latecomer theory which speculates on Theon being king of the Iron Islands at the end after not having been present for Euron’s kingsmoot, as Torgon was not present for Urrathon Badbrother’s. If Urrathon Night-Walker is Euron’s alias – and certainly the Night’Walker part makes a ton of sense for Euron – then Euron has been playing with glass candles. He’s been to Asshai and maybe Valyria, so again this wouldn’t be far-fetched in the slightest.

Extra bonus Euron dragonlord clue: a possible parallel to the first and last “Emperor of Valyria”:

The histories of Qohor likewise claim that a visiting dragonlord, Aurion, raised forces from the Qohorik colonists and proclaimed himself the first Emperor of Valyria. He flew away on the back of his great dragon, with thirty thousand men following behind afoot, to lay claim to what remained of Valyria and to reestablish the Freehold. But neither Emperor Aurion nor his host were ever seen again.

The name Aurion sounds like Euron, and like Aurion, Euron is attempting to lay claim to the mantle of the Doomed Valyrians. Aurion did this in the immediate aftermath of the Doom, and Euron will be doing so during a new Long Night, so they are both attempting to level up in the wake of great destruction. Finally, I think Euron’s end could parallel Aurion’s to the common memory of Westeros, only Euron would be flying north to the heart of Winter on his great dragon, only to never be seen again. We the reader will get to see his epic dragon-fight with Jon and Dany, but to the histories… Euron may end up being known as the first and last God-Emperor of Westeros who flew north on the back of his great dragon and was never seen again. It could be coincidence that some of that lines up, but there’s enough there to make worth mentioning.


Alright, so that covers Euron the pseudo-Valyrian, but like I said, he’s also been to Asshai-by-the-Shadow, home of Azor Ahai. He introduces himself at the Kingsmoot by saying that “only one has sailed to Asshai by the Shadow, and seen wonders and terrors beyond imagining,” and word about this has spread rapidly, with Robb Stark receiving this report from a fisherman who fled the Iron Isles right after Euron arrived:

“Euron. Crow’s Eye, they call him, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail. He’s been gone for years, but Lord Balon was no sooner cold than there he was, sailing into Lordsport in his Silence. Black sails and a red hull, and crewed by mutes. He’d been to Asshai and back, I heard.” 

If Euron has been to Asshai – and I see no reason to doubt him, as people do sail there with regularity – then he certainly will have seen wonders and terrors beyond imagining. Actually, they’re not quite beyond our imagining, because we do have an inkling of what kind of knowledge Euron might have acquired there – he probably learned about the Great Empire of the Dawn and Azor Ahai. I used the phrase “god-on-earth” a minute ago to describe Euron’s ambitions, and that’s no accident – “The God-on-Earth” is the title of the mythical first ruler of the Great Empire of the Dawn, and it is in this most ancient sense that Euron sees himself as a “god-king.” There are several clues about this.

First of all, recall that the rulers who came after the God-on-Earth had titles based on gemstones – Opal Emperor, Amethyst Empress, etc – and when Dany sees a vision of them as ghosts in her “wake the dragon” dream, they appear with gemstones in their eyes. The line there was

Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade.

So now listen to Euron brag about his exploits around the world:

“As it happens I have oft sat upon the Seastone Chair of late. It raises no objections.” His smiling eye was glittering. “Who knows more of gods than I? Horse gods and fire gods, gods made of gold with gemstone eyes, gods carved of cedar wood, gods chiseled into mountains, gods of empty air . . . I know them all.”

Golden statues with gemstone eyes – sounds like he’s seen some leftover idols of the God-Emperors of the Great Empire of the Dawn, either in Yi Ti or Asshai. Euron’s blue smiling eye is  “glittering” in this passage, which suggests Euron’s eye as a blue gem or a blue star – thereby drawing a similarity between Euron and those gemstone-eyed “god-emperors.” Later in this quote, Euron also calls himself “the godliest man ever to raise sail,” because he makes everyone pray in fear of him. Euron is the god, in other words; he’s the godliest man in that he seeks to be a god-on-earth.

Similarly, Euron seems to be the only one besides me and my friend Durran Durrandon who sees Daenerys as the Amethyst Empress reborn:

“The last of her line. They say she is the fairest woman in the world. Her hair is silver-gold, and her eyes are amethysts . . .”

Now you don’t have to be a rocket-scientist or a greenseer wizard to predict that Euron doesn’t want to just marry Dany and feed her figs and wine – well, he might give her some “wine,” but the point is his intentions are likely to steer closer to blood magic sacrifice than wedded bliss. Dany is the strongest modern version of both the Amethyst Empress and Nissa Nissa, and they both met a similar end. Nissa Nissa was murdered by Azor Ahai to forge Lightbringer, and the original Amethyst Empress was murdered by her brother, the usurping Bloodstone Emperor. According to legend, this Bloodstone Emperor fellow murdering the Amethyst Empress was an act so heinous that it caused the Long Night and — wait. A blood magic murder that caused the Long Night? Gosh, that sounds like Azor Ahai causing the Long Night by cracking open the moon with Nissa Nissa’s murder. And indeed that’s exactly what I have proposed many times of course, that the Bloodstone Emperor was Azor Ahai, and Nissa Nissa the Amethyst Empress. That’s why Daenerys echoes both Nissa Nissa and the Amethyst Empress, for example, and it seems clear that Euron is very much a Bloodstone Emperor type of Azor Ahai figure – someone who cause the Long Night and then takes power. Indeed, I would expect that Euron’s plan for Daenerys involves using her to work dark magic, just as the Bloodstone Emperor and Azor Ahai both did with their female counterparts. There’s hope for Daenerys though, more on this in a moment.

Other Euron – Bloodstone Emperor parallels: Euron murdered his sibling, who was the rightful monarch, and usurped their throne, just like the Bloodstone Emperor did to his sister. The Bloodstone Emperor worshiped a black stone that fell from the sky, and Euron sits the oily black stone Seastone Chair, which reads very like a Lovecraftian black meteorite itself. The Bloodstone Emperor is also potentially tied to the fused stone fortress and Oldtown, and there are clues that he launched an invasion of Westeros from there. Euron is of course about to attack Oldtown, and from there, the rest of Westeros. I even think the ancient legend of a pirate lord setting up shop on the Isle of ravens at Oldtown may be a foggy memory of the Bloodstone Emperor, who would have sailed to Westeros as a “pirate from Asshai,” so to speak. A lot of Azor Ahai people are pirates or sea captains actually – Stannis, Daemon Targaryen who ruled from Bloodstone Island in the Stepstones, Dalton Greyjoy the Red Kraken, and of course Euron.

Getting back to the idea of Euron wanting to murder Dany as his version of the Amethyst Empress and Nissa Nissa, we see that he’s already planning to do this with poor Falia Flowers, a bastard daughter of Lord Hewitt, who’s castle Euron has taken. Euron wined her and dined for hot second, but then at the end of the Forsaken chapter, we see that’s she’s been tied to the prow of the ship alongside the Damphair, with both of them seemingly intended as a blood sacrifice to power Euron’s dark magic in the coming battle with Oldtown. In that sense both Aeron Damphair and Falia Flowers are playing the Nissa Nissa role here. Here’s the first part:

This time, the mutes did not drag him below. Instead, they lashed him to the prow of the Silence, beside her figurehead, a naked maiden slim and strong with outstretched arms and windblown hair … but no mouth below her nose.

Aeron’s blood is desired by Euron for what abomination he’s going to work because Aeron is a priest, and therefore is thought to have “holy blood” – Euron says to Aeron “No, I’ll not kill you tonight. A holy man with holy blood. I may have need of that that blood … later.” Euron has also been imprisoning priests of other religions to use in this same ritual as well – three septons, a red priest, a two warlocks -so it’s clearly a big part of his plan.

As for Falia, she is placed in the Nissa Nissa role by virtue of being Euron’s wife, and it turns out… and this gets pretty dark, let me just warn you, that Falia is pregnant with Euron’s child:

He beckoned, and two of his bastard sons dragged the woman forward and bound her to the prow on the other side of the figurehead. Naked as the mouthless maiden, her smooth belly just beginning to swell with the child she was carrying, her cheeks red with tears, she did not struggle as the boys tightened her bonds. Her hair hung down in front of her face, but Aeron knew her all the same.

Falia’s tongue has actually been torn out, making her a grisly symbolic match to the mouthless maiden on Euron’s ship, for whom “The Silence” is named. That’s important because the iron maiden of the Silence is actually Euron’s primary Nissa Nissa symbol, as she essentially represents all of the sacrificed people tied to the prow of Euron’s ships. Together with the blood ship Silence which follows behind, the Iron Maiden is telling Nissa Nissa’s story, which means we’re about to dissect the lyrics to The Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” — no no, I’m kidding, I’m kidding, although the Forsaken chapter does open with the line “It was always midnight in the belly of the beast,” referring to the hold of the Silence where is held captive. No, when I compare the Silence and its iron maiden to Nissa Nissa, what I mean is that we’re about to go full mythical astronomy analysis. I’ve been trying to keep the mythical astronomy stuff limited in these recent videos about the Others to sort of ease some of you new myth heads into things, but that’s all going out the window now, because Euron’s symbolism is pure Long Night moon-meteor apocalypse all the way. So buckle up and down some more Shade of the Evening, and we’ll swim in the oceans of blood and darkness inside Euron’s twisted mind.


So like I said, the women and holy men Euron murders and the iron maiden on the prow of the Silence are symbols of murdered Nissa Nissa and her celestial analog, the cracked moon, and indeed, Nissa Nissa’s tragic tale – and the moon’s tragic tale – is told through the waves of blood and night symbolism of the ship. The idea here is the one I mentioned with Red Rain and Nightfall; the Long Night darkness was caused by a shower of moon meteors, a rainfall of bleeding stars. It’s very much an “as above, so below” type of symbolism – on the ground, Nissa Nissa’s blood consecrates Lightbringer, and in the sky, the moon’s “moon blood” of bleeding stars become the flaming sword meteors which bring the fall of the Long Night.

Now look at Euron’s ship. On the front is the sacrificed maiden made of black iron, whose eyes are mother of pearl, with pearls being universally regarded as moon symbols throughout world mythology. She’s a symbol of both dead Nissa Nissa and the pieces of dead moon which became bleeding stars, in other words, and trailing behind her is a ship stained red as blood, like the fiery, blood red tail of a “bleeding star.” Euron is perceived in multiple visions as sailing on a sea of blood, or even sailing on a burning and boiling sea of blood, so you can pretty much picture Euron surfing the sky on the back of the red comet if you want – or you can say that evil Azor Ahai rides to power on the back of Nissa Nissa’s blood sacrifice when the stars bleed.

That covers the blood side of the “Red Rain and Nightfall” symbolism, and the darkness is found in the sail, which is “black as a starless sky.” That’s unmistakable “blotting out the stars” language,” and thus the Long Night sequence is complete: Euron’s ship shows us a celestial moon maiden turning into waves of bleeding stars which brought the darkness. This is Euron’s chariot, because he’s evil Azor Ahai reborn.

This waves of bleeding stars and darkness symbolism is by no means confined to the Silence; it’s actually Euron’s defining symbolism. We see it all over his physical appearance; for example, we see the darkness of the black iron maiden and the “black as a starless sky” sails also depicted by Euron’s black iron crown, symbol of the darkened sun, as well as his black sable cloak. You’ll remember from the last video that Waymar Royce’s identical black sable cloak did the “blotting out the stars” routine in the scene where he was about to become a symbolic Night King, so Euron’s cloak is one that can cover the sky. Euron stole that black sable cloak from Baelor Blacktyde, whom he killed, and the phrase “black tide” suggests an ocean of darkness – think of the cosmic ocean of the sky, but robbed of its stars, like his black sail. Euron’s black hair is an ocean of darkness too – it’s called “black as a midnight sea” in a Victarion chapter. Then we have the Valyrian steel suit of armor he wears, which is called “dark as smoke,” evoking the smoke from impacts of the meteor dragons which created the starless sky of the Long Night.

That’s a lot of darkness, and we should be sure that it is symbolically implied as flowing from the moon, because Euron’s face is compared to the moon by Aeron Damphair in the Forsaken. He recalls in one scene that “he had seen the moon floating on a black wine sea with a leering face that reminded him of Euron,” which is both terrible and fantastic. Aeron is either describing the moon’s reflection seeming to float on a black ocean or he’s simply referring to a black sky around the moon as a sea, but either way it’s the same ‘sea of darkness’ symbolism surrounding the Euron-like moon face here that we see in Euron’s “black tide” cloak, starless sky black sails, or his “black as a midnight sea” hair. Think about the mythical astronomy picture of Euron’s face here – it’s a moon face surrounded by hair, crown, armor, and cloak made of smoke and darkness, which matches Aeron’s vision of a moon face floating on a black wine sea.

A black wine sea alludes to the Shade of the Evening that Euron pours into his moon face, and indeed, all of this symbolism portrays the moon as essentially drowning in a sea of darkness. The shade of the long night came from the moon, friends, I don’t know how many ways you want the author to show us that.

Actually, George Martin did in fact come up with an even cooler way of showing us that in the Forsaken chapter: have Euron’s face explode in tentacles of inky darkness.

He saw the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood-red sea. He saw his brother on the Iron Throne again, but Euron was no longer human. He seemed more squid than man, a monster fathered by a kraken of the deep, his face a mass of writhing tentacles.

Euron’s moon face has become a mass of writhing tentacles, and of course squids shoot out jets of black ink as a defense mechanism, so it seems that the tentacles are yet another depiction of clouds of darkness emanating from the moon explosion. Alongside Euron’s squid-face, we see the burning sea of blood symbol to suggest waves of burning and bleeding stars, so once again we have the entire “Red Rain and Nightfall” moon disaster symbolism present.


Look, I know standing close to creepy Euron is uncomfortable, especially when he’s wearing the sable cloak and the eyepatch and nothing else like in that one Victarion scene where Vic tells him to jump out a window, but we actually do have to look even closer at Euron’s moon face to find the ultimate blood and night symbolism. I’m talking about Euron’s blood eye, both his actual eye and his blood eye sigil, and they’re spewing forth waves of blood and darkness too, just like his face. The eye itself is suggested as blood red by the name blood eye, and in Aeron’s shade of the evening nightmare vision of Euron talking about the bleeding star signaling the end times, it says “He showed the world his blood eye now, dark and terrible,” associating his blood eye with the apocalypse and the bleeding star. The blood eye is also implied as black though; Theon thinks of it as “black and full of malice,” and calling it a crow’s eye suggests it as black as well. Euron wears two kinds of patches over his eye – one of blood red leather, and one black, of course.

The blood eye on Euron’s sigil is blood red with a black pupil, and above it is the black crown darkened sun symbol – so again, the blood eye is suggested a symbol of the apocalypse. Indeed, the blood eye of the sigil is actually a detailed visual depiction of the Long Night disaster, and it’s one of my very favorite symbols, so check this out. The Qarthine myth seems to describe a solar eclipse alignment at the moment of the moon cracking; it says that the second moon “wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat.” The only way you can see a moon when it’s close to the sun in the sky is during a solar eclipse, when they are superimposed; so picture the black pupil of the Blood Eye sigil as the moon, and the surrounding red eye as the ring of the eclipsed sun. Seeing the sun and moon as the eyes of god is a classic mythical notion, and in the sky above Planetos, this sun-moon eclipse alignment might well have been perceived as a great eye of doom, or a one-eyed god.

To help us put all this together, Martin has given us the lake called “The Gods Eye” which has a pupil-like island in the middle of it. He then describes the lake as appearing to be on fire and shining like the sun a few times so that we know to associate it with the sun, and an island full of weirwood trees naturally correlates to the moon, because weirwood faces are associated with the moon in several key places – the weirwood face black gate which glows with milk and moonlight; the weirwood moon door int he Eyrie, and the half-weirwood doors of the House of Black and White, which have a giant moon face carved in them. Additionally, the moon has always been seen as having a face inside of it, and many people in ASOIAF, including Euron, have moon faces. Ergo, when we look at the Gods Eye and the Isle of Faces, we can see it as a reflection of the sky on the ground – it’s a moon pupil island on a lake of fire, oh yeah. The fire of the gods, of course, since the trees on the Isle of Faces literally have the eyes of the Old Gods on them.

Sorry to blast you with symbolism like that, but I did warn you. I hope you’re having a good time! Here’s the point – the sun / moon alignment in the sky is like the celestial eye of god, and the thing that kicks off the Long Night is a giant comet sword poking out and blinding that gods eye by crashing into the moon while it stands in front of the sun. Think of Waymar’s eye being stabbed by the rain of needle-like sword shards; that depicts this celestial gods eye-poking, and then right after, his other eye lights up blue to symbolize the rise of Night’s King and the Others during the Long Night. Euron’s face is the same – one eye is full of blood and darkness, and the other one is blue and shining. He shows the world his blood eye when the red comet comes and the apocalypse is at hand, because the blood eye represents the moon destruction.

Then we have Aemond One-Eye Targaryen, who like Euron is a one-eyed dragonriding Night’s King figure. One of his eyes was blinded with a knife when he claimed his dragon, but he replaced it with a blue star sapphire, so again we have an eye blinding, the acquiring of magical power, and a blue star eye opening.  Then one day Aemond One Eye got on his dragon, battled with Daemon Targaryen, and had a Valyrian steel sword shoved through his blue star eye, only to have both dragons and riders plunge down into the Gods Eye lake for yet another “dragon comets pierce the Gods Eye” symbol. We’ll return to this epic aerial dragon fight soon to break it down in full, don’t you worry.

So think about the awesome symbolic synergy Martin has created with the combined one-eye symbol – when the gods eye is blinded in the sky, the wizard known as Azor Ahai / Night’s King does an Odin-like transformation, transcending death and gaining great magic. That’s pretty great stuff, and you can further exploration of all of this symbolism in my older podcasts, but what it boils down to is that Euron is a walking symbol of the Long Night moon disaster and the waves of bleeding stars and oceans of darkness which filled the sky thereafter. His ship, his face, his eyes, his hair, his cape, his armor and his dragonhorn, they all tell the story of fire, blood, and darkness emanating from this great celestial eye.

Here’s a gnarly Euron quote that shows his blood eye in action, and it’s similar to the one where his moon face turns into squid tentacles.This one from ADWD where Tyrion is asking Moqorro about what he sees in his fires:

“Have you seen these others in your fires?” he asked, warily.

“Only their shadows,” Moqorro said. “One most of all. A tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood.”

Euron’s black “blood eye” eye represents the blinding of the celestial gods eye sun/moon alignment, and those black arms are reaching out from it, just as they did from Euron’s moon face in Aeron’s vision. Once again we see the sea of blood to complete the picture, and once again we see Euron sailing on it to power like he was surfing the sky on the red comet. Feel free to draw that, anyone. 

As you can see, the Red Rain and Nightfall symbolism is very consistent with Euron and the picture it paints is a dark one – it’s the Long Night moon disaster, spelled step by step. The blood magic human sacrifice, the symbols of Lightbringer’s forging, the bleeding stars and waves of darkness, and a magical wizard king of the apocalypse who seems like the darkest, twisted form of Azor Ahai imaginable.

Euron isn’t just an aspiring King of the Long Night though – he’s also specifically a Night’s King figure too. Originally I had planned to cover his Night’s King symbolism in the same episode as all this evil Azor Ahai stuff we just went over, but I think all that symbolism may have splatted a few brains out there, so we’ll go ahead and call this part 1 and wrap it here. We’ll pick up right where we left off next time, and the evidence for Euron as a leader of the Others is going to come hot and heavy. So like this video and give it a share, and make sure you’re subscribed to the channel here – a lot of you watching aren’t subscribed yet, but I have seen it in the flames that you will be very soon, so just give in to fate and go with it. Thanks for watching everyone, and thanks most of all to our patreon sponsors who fuel the fires around here…

Shamanic Thunder Horse

Hey there friends, patrons, and myth heads of the land, it’s Lucifer means Lightbringer, and today is a big day. We’re going to resurrect the Weirwood Compendium, which we haven’t added to since late 2018! If you’re watching this live, I hope that you’ve ether watched the Weirwoods: Magic and Lore stream from a couple days ago or listened to the original Weirwood Compendium podcasts, as things will make a lot more sense that way.

The majority of the series so far has essentially revolved around the connection between Azor Ahai and the weirwoods. More specifically, we’ve been looking at the symbolism which seems to be showing us Azor Ahai breaking into the weirwoodnet through his magical sacrifice of Nissa Nissa, who seems to be some sort of elf woman with a magical connection to the weirwoods, probably a human – child of the forest hybrid. The implication, from the first, is that weirwood magic was involved in the cause of the Long Night – Azor Ahai was trying to harness that weirwood magic when he broke the moon, and Nissa Nissa, whose death coincides with the moon cracking, was a weirwood woman, chosen for that very reason. I’ve talked about how nicely this overlays with the Hammer of the Waters legend, one version of which has the blood sacrifice of children of the forest on the Isle of Faces as the thing that causes the Hammer of the Waters to fall – but all the evidence points to the Hammer event being a mythicized memory of a moon meteor impact, so we are left with the idea that ritual sacrifice of children of the forest called down moon meteors… somehow.

It’s a little like the underpants gnomes, who know that phase 1 is collecting underpants and that phase 3 is collecting profits, but have no idea what comes between. In our case, we know that Azor Ahai kills Nissa Nissa in an act of blood magic, and somehow, the moon gets struck with a comet, cracks off some meteors, and causes the Long Night. What we do’t understand is what killing Nissa Nissa or invading the weirwoodnet has to do with comets crashing into moons. Today, we’re going to try to shed light on that by talking about the primary function of the weirwood trees, which is astral projection – the ability of the spirit to leave the body for a period of time and then return to it.

We’ve touched on this before, but today we are going to spread our wings and fly. I mean, not literally, this isn’t some sort of hypnosis tape or something, you’re totally safe driving motor vehicles while listening. The other thing this episode will about is horses – yes, more horses! Horses were the topic of the last Weirwood Compendium episode as you may recall – we talked about all the amazing greenseer symbolism of Dany’s silver “sea-horse” which gallops around the green Dothraki Sea, the idea of ships as winged horses that ride on water, and the idea of the stars as fiery steads of the dead Dothraki warriors. The thing is, the idea of using “riding horses” as a metaphor for astral travel is really all about Odin, Yggdrasil, and Sleipnir, and in that last episode I actually went to great lengths to show all the ways Martin is using riding horses as a metaphor for greenseeing without mentioning any of that Odin stuff just so we could save that for today, and so I could show you the internal ASOIAF horse symbolism before revealing the Norse mythology origin for the basic concept. That way you had the chance to see that Martin is definitely, definitely using the silver and grey horse to talk about greenseeing and flying and weirwood stuff without even dipping your toe in Norse mythology parallels, which kind of hog the spotlight once they are introduced. That being done, we can now mount our astral projection horse and fly amongst the stars – but again, in a safe, non-Aleister Crowley kind of way.


Before we go into horses and astral travel, let’s briefly look at the first clues we got that the weirwood and greenseers were the ones to pull down the moon. It was at the Nightfort, for example, where Bran saw this:

Pale moonlight slanted down through the hole in the dome, painting the branches of the weirwood as they strained up toward the roof. It looked as if the tree was trying to catch the moon and drag it down into the well. Old gods, Bran prayed, if you hear me, don’t send a dream tonight. Or if you do, make it a good dream. The gods made no answer.

The weirwood is attacking the moon, trying to pull it for the very sky – right as Bran is praying to the Old Gods careful Bran, praying to the Old Gods is how you mess with the moon… oh.  And all this at the Nightfort, home of Night’s King. Earlier in the day, the same weirwood was “reaching for the sun,” and I’ll go ahead and say that it was with bad intent. Bran is on his way to see Bloodraven here, and wouldn’t you know it, the weirwood tree at his ancestral home of Raventree Hall has up-jumped ideas about reaching into the heavens too:

Inside the castle walls, however, a bit of the forest still remained. House Blackwood kept the old gods, and worshiped as the First Men had in the days before the Andals came to Westeros. Some of the trees in their godswood were said to be as old as Raventree’s square towers, especially the heart tree, a weirwood of colossal size whose upper branches could be seen from leagues away, like bony fingers scratching at the sky.

Scratching the sky, reaching for the sun, pulling down the moon – these weirwoods really seem to think they reach all the way to the heavens, but then Yggdrasil spans all nine realms, so this makes a certain amount of sense.

Another place we saw trees attacking the moon was when Asha Greyjoy took Deepwood Motte in the Wolfswood:

Tall soldier pines and gnarled old oaks closed in around them. Deepwood was aptly named. The trees were huge and dark, somehow threatening. Their limbs wove through one another and creaked with every breath of wind, and their higher branches scratched at the face of the moon. The sooner we are shut of here, the better I will like it, Asha thought. The trees hate us all, deep in their wooden hearts.

So these aren’t weirwoods – although there are weirwoods in the Wolfswood – but they are symbolizes as weirwoods by having “wooden hearts” and by being described as sentient. They’re dark and threatening, and trying to scratch at the face of the moon, or we might say threatening to make everything dark by pulling down the moon and blotting out the sun. And those same Wolfswood trees do have it in for the sun as well, and this line is form the same chapter:

The sun was sinking behind the tall pines of the wolfswood as Asha climbed the wooden steps to the bedchamber that had once been Galbart Glover’s. 

While this quote might seem innocuous on its own, I see these trees swallowing the sun and remember that they are also the same trees trying to scratch up the face of the moon. To start a Long Night, you need to swallow both the sun and moon with darkness, and of course many of you Norse mythology fans will know that it is the wolves Skol and Hati who swallow the sun and moon at the beginning of Ragnarok – and the name of this forest of hostile forest of trees swallowing the sun and trying to scratch the face of the moon is… the Wolfswood. Martin uses the same Skol and Hati ideas at the Nightfort, where Bran the wolf watched the weirwood tree reach for both sun and moon. It seems the ASOIAF version of these wolves eating the sun and moon is the weirwoods being used to cause the Long Night… again, somehow. Somehow, there’s a way to reach through the weirwoods to the stars, it seems like.

The Nightfort weirwood reaching for the moon is actually mentioned a second time in Bran’s chapter after Sam comes out of the well and tells them about Coldhands, and the quote is full of ominous foreboding about what should happen if the moon is blotted from the sky:

“The Wall. The Wall is more than just ice and stone, he said. There are spells woven into it . . . old ones, and strong. He cannot pass beyond the Wall.”

It grew very quiet in the castle kitchen then. Bran could hear the soft crackle of the flames, the wind stirring the leaves in the night, the creak of the skinny weirwood reaching for the moon. Beyond the gates the monsters live, and the giants and the ghouls, he remembered Old Nan saying, but they cannot pass so long as the Wall stands strong.

The flow of the writing here is great:

  • there are spells in the Wall to stop the monsters and dead things
  • look, a weirwood reaching for the moon
  • we are totally safe from monsters as long as the Wall is standing

When the Wall falls and the monsters and dead things invade, that will be when the new Long Night falls – and making a Long Nights seems to involve reaching into the heavens with weirwood magic.

Last quote along these lines comes from Sam’s scene where he and Gilly are rescued by Coldhands from a pack of wights, who have backed them up against a weirwood tree like sacrificial victims. Then this happens:

 He heard the dark red leaves of the weirwood rustling, whispering to one another in a tongue he did not know. The starlight itself seemed to stir, and all around them the trees groaned and creaked. Sam Tarly turned the color of curdled milk, and his eyes went wide as plates. Ravens! They were in the weirwood, hundreds of them, thousands, perched on the bone-white branches, peering between the leaves. He saw their beaks open as they screamed, saw them spread their black wings. Shrieking, flapping, they descended on the wights in angry clouds. They swarmed round Chett’s face and pecked at his blue eyes, they covered the Sisterman like flies, they plucked gobbets from inside Hake’s shattered head. There were so many that when Sam looked up, he could not see the moon.

So first the weirwoods rustle, and the starlight stirs. Then we see clouds of ravens blot out the moon – and since we know that ravens are the tools of greenseers, it seems like the trees have reached into the stars and blotted out the moon with dark clouds in this scene. The black ravens also work as meteor symbols, since the meteor symbols are always black, the ravens descend from the sky and attack in a swarm, and then blot out the sky with the spreading black wings, just like Drogon is wont to do with his black wings. Thus the greenseers are implied as calling down the swarm of black meteors, just as they are implied as attacking the moon and sun in all these other scenes – and just as the greenseers called down the Hammer of the Waters.

Recalling that the sacrifice of either humans or children of the forest was required to drop the Hammer,  take note of the child sacrifice theme in both the Bran Nightfort scene, where Bran is being given to the Old Gods and Gilly babe saved from the cold gods, and the scene with Gilly and Sam rescued by Coldhands from the wights, who were coming for Gilly’s baby. In the Wayward Bride chapter where Asha sees the Wolfswood attacking the moon, Asha is the sacrifice, as she ends the chapter getting knocked out cold while backed up against a tree, just like Gilly and Sam were. The title of the chapter – Wayward Bride – seems a wordplay reference to the idea of “weirwood bride,” who is of course Nissa Nissa. Oh yes, and one other thing – the man striking her the final blow is dressed up like a tree. So yeah – weirwood trees seem to have a way to inflict harm on the moon, given the blood sacrifice of the right people.


Flying. It’s presented to us as the expected culmination of Bran’s arc – his coma dream is all about learning to fly, which is equated with harnessing his budding greenseer powers and opening his third eye. When Bran finally meets “the wizard” and asks if he is going to heal is legs so he can walk again, Bloodraven answers “no, but you will fly.” Bran won’t be able to walk and ride like a knight, but as a greenseer, he will fly through the cosmos. Bran seems to have caught a glimpse of this power during his coma dream, where he was first falling and then flying high above the earth itself, and we will take a closer look at that dream later in this episode.

Now it’s actually a misconception that greenseers can only see through the eyes of the weirwoods, as Lord Bloodraven tells us, and this is a key point:

“Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood.  The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use… but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves.”

What Bloodraven is talking about here is astral projection: the ability to cast your spirit out of your body and travel elsewhere.  Skinchanging itself is a kind of astral travel, limited to the perceptions of the person and the animal familiar, but it seems that a greenseer can do something much more powerful, having the ability to cast his awareness across time and space, and this could certainly be thought of as flying. It does seem to be a part of what Bloodraven is talking about when he promises Bran he will fly. This is kind of an under-appreciated detail – the greenseers can actually see anything, anywhere, anytime. Not just the things that happen in front of heart trees, though those seem to be important.

As we know, Odin can do something like this by riding his gallows tree-horse known as Yggdrasil through the cosmos. The most common translation of Yggdrasil is “Odin’s horse,” because Ygg is a name for Odin and drasil means horse, and you’ll remember that the gallows tree was known as the horse of the hanged, and Odin was hanged upon Yggdrasil to gain the power of the runes, thus making it his tree and his horse. However there’s also a hint about spirit-walking in the etymology of Yggdrasil as well.  Drasil, in addition to meaning “horse,” can also mean “walk” or “to pioneer.”  Accordingly, Yggdrasil can also be translated as “Odinwalker,” as in spirit walking, the term often used for shamanic astral projection. The mythical world tree concept is usually seen as a kind of Jacob’s ladder – a stairway to heaven if you will, very like the fiery ladder in Qarth – and riding this tree horse gives one the run of the cosmos. Yggdrasil is like the skeleton of the universe which all nine realms of Norse cosmology connect with, so it’s essentially a vehicle which enables spirit walking, just like the weirwood trees.

But Odin has another horse, one more strictly used for astral projection, and this is where shit gets a little weird. That other horse is the eight-legged grey steed called Sleipnir, the “best of all horses,” and instead of a tree that is called a horse, Sleipnir is actually depicted as a horse, but he too is “not really a horse.” To put it simply, Sleipnir is a powerful vehicle for astral projection, and here I will quote from “Norse Mythology for Smart People,” nose-mythology.org:

The eight-legged horse as a means of transportation used by shamans in their ecstatic travels throughout the cosmos is a motif that can be found in a staggering number of indigenous traditions from all over the world. Sleipnir is “the shamanic horse par excellence,”[1] just as Odin is the shamanic god par excellence.

Odin rides Sleipnir to move between the nine worlds of the Norse cosmos, which are loosely divided between the three levels of Yggdrasil as I mentioned, even allowing him to ride into the heavens or the pit of hell and back out again. It’s an astral-projection horse, I don’t know what else to call it. I know this sounds strange, but here’s how it makes sense. The drums used in shamanic rituals are a central tool that the shaman uses to alter his consciousness and pry open his third eye. This hypnotizing beat is likened to the thunder of horses’ hooves, and thus we get the idea of a thunderous horse which conveys the rider through time and space – the astral projection horse that is not a horse. A horse is a horse, a horse of course, unless of course, the name of that horse is the famous Mr. Sleipnir. Jokes aside, I recommend Mircea Eliade’s authoritative (though controversial) work titled “Shamanism” for further reading about this.

The eight legs of Sleipnir are thought to represent both the unusual gate of Icelandic horses (something called Flying Pace,’ which is a ‘2-beat lateral gait used for racing’) which make them looks as though they have eight legs. There’s another explanation, too, one which piques our interest. According to some (and there is dispute about this), this is a reference to the eight legs of the four pallbearers that carry a coffin, with a coffin being Odin’s true means of astral projection because he dies in order to gain magic power when he hangs on Yggdrasil. Odin is the Lord of the Gallows and the Lord of the Dead, something like Hades, so it makes sense to see the coffin as his vehicle of transformation. However, the Vikings didn’t use coffins, so this idea is highly disputed… however as I mentioned, the shamanic horse idea is very old and is spread throughout Europe, in places where coffins are used, so this could be an older association.

Whether this is what was intended by the original authors of Norse myth is almost beside the point in terms of looking for things that Martin may have drawn inspiration from; as a student of Norse myth, Martin would be familiar with the legend, and it sure seems like he is using it. The weirwoods are sacred trees which are very like coffins for greenseers and also vehicles for astral projection, so you can see how they tie in nicely to several layers of Odin horse mythology.

We are about to break down three scenes with pounding drums and weirwood symbolism that demonstrate the concept of the shamanic horse very well, but we saw one already at the Battle of the Blackwater. It’s especially tasty because it brings in the symbol of the winged sea horse. I’ll read part of it again for you:

A hundred blades dipped down into the water as the oarmaster’s drum began to boom. The sound was like the beating of a great slow heart, and the oars moved at every stroke, a hundred men pulling as one.

Wooden wings had sprouted from the Wraith and Lady Marya as well.

We mentioned this quote last time to point out the wooden sea dragons and seahorse ships sprouting wooden wings in time with the great wooden heartbeat. Seahorse ships and sea dragon ships are both well-established as weirwood symbols, and when they sprout wooden wings shortly before burning with green fire, we can sure that the subject matter is greenseeing, i.e. flying through the weirwoods. The fire of the green gods. The wooden heartbeat that makes all the oars pull as one seems a good representation of the hive mind behind the heart trees – and it comes from a great booming drum. This a representation of the wooden heartbeat of the weirwoods, which is also the hoofbeat of the shamanic horse.

That these drumbeats are also hoofbeats is spelled out by the seahorse symbolism; Pride of Driftmark  and Seahorse are two of the ships in the fleet, and we know that all of Dany’s silver seahorse symbolism bounces of Velaryon symbolism. Velaryon’s ship is also painted silver, an approximate match for Sleipnir’s grey (recall Dany’s horse has both silver and grey). The wooden seahorse ships sprouting wooden wings in this scene are a direct call-out to Dany speaking to Drogo of “wooden horses with a hundred legs, that fly across the sea on wings full of wind,” so of course these boats can have have hoofbeats. The point I really want to hammer home today is that George is specifically associating all these greenseer metaphors with flying by having the ships sprout wooden wings. Winged ships, winged horses, winged wooden horses as a name for ships… it’s all talking about greenseeing as flying, and about the weirwood being a wooden vessel, horse, or ship that the greenseer uses to fly… via astral projection. With drumming at the heart of it.

One of the very best scenes where Martin lays shamanic drumming symbolism over use of the weirwood tree comes from A Theon chapter of ADWD. This happens as he wanders into the godswood at Winterfell at the hour of the wolf:

And in the heart of the wood the weirwood waited with its knowing red eyes. Theon stopped by the edge of the pool and bowed his head before its carved red face. Even here he could hear the drumming, boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM. Like distant thunder, the sound seemed to come from everywhere at once. The night was windless, the snow drifting straight down out of a cold black sky, yet the leaves of the heart tree were rustling his name. “Theon,” they seemed to whisper, “Theon.”

The old gods, he thought. They know me. They know my name.

Theon pleads with the weirwood tree, and then it says

A leaf drifted down from above, brushed his brow, and landed in the pool. It floated on the water, red, five-fingered, like a bloody hand. “… Bran,” the tree murmured.

They know. The gods know. They saw what I did. And for one strange moment it seemed as if it were Bran’s face carved into the pale trunk of the weirwood, staring down at him with eyes red and wise and sad.

I love how George uses the bloody red hand symbolism of the weirwood leaves to point out Theon as being caught “red-handed” and guilty. It’s very funny, but more important is the apparent fact that Bran is using the weirwood to speak to Theon here. Bran is, at this very moment, mounting the astral projection horse of the weirwoods to communicate with and see Theon. We hear thunder, and it is literally the thunder of drums booming outside Winterfell, but it seems to come from everywhere at once, which sort of dislocates from physical space and makes it omnipresent. In another line from this chapter it says “the drumming seemed to be coming from the wolfswood beyond the Hunter’s Gate,” which implies the drumming as coming from the wood itself.

To put it simply, the thunderous drumming leads directly into Bran’s speaking through the rustling weirwood leaves, a major clue to associate the thunder drums with using the weirwood. There’s also a nice tie to the Grey King myth of the thunderbolt setting the tree ablaze, as basically all the elements of the myth are present: the burning tree is represented by the weirwood, there’s thunder coming from the wood and the air itself, and Bran is accessing the fire of the gods to reach Theon.

The person beating the drums and blowing horns in the woods is none other than Mors Crowfood Umber and his crew of “green boys!” Mors’s green boys are mentioned three times, just to make sure we notice, and of course green boys make us think of the children of the forest. The children play a facilitator role for the greenseer as the drummers do for a shaman entering a trance; they both do things to aid the magician’s entrance into the astral plane, be that serving up weirwood paste and strange advice or playing the drums for hours on end. Here we have green boys playing drums and blowing horns, and far away in a cave, little green ‘children’ are helping Bran use the weirwood trees to fly, so this all makes a lot of sense.

As for Mors himself, well, we have to mention him. He is introduced to us in ACOK with the Odin makeover, and more horn blowing:

The blast of horns woke him. Bran pushed himself onto his side, grateful for the reprieve. He heard horses and boisterous shouting. More guests have come, and half-drunk by the noise of them. Grasping his bars he pulled himself from the bed and over to the window seat. On their banner was a giant in shattered chains that told him that these were Umber men, down from the northlands beyond the Last River.

The next day two of them came together to audience; the Greatjon’s uncles, blustery men in the winter of their days with beards as white as the bearskin cloaks they wore. A crow had once taken Mors for dead and pecked out his eye, so he wore a chunk of dragonglass in its stead. As Old Nan told the tale, he’d grabbed the crow in his fist and bitten its head off, so they named him Crowfood.

That’s right, the man blowing horns outside Winterfell in ADWD and beating drums to make thunder seem to come from the black air of the godswood as Bran accesses the weirwoodnet is a one-eyed man associated with dragonglass and waking giants in the earth (the Umber sigil).  The crows pecked out his eye, which calls out to the tale of the bad little boy who climbed to high and was struck by lightning, with the crows eating his eyes out afterward. That story is meant as a companion to Bran’s own climb and fall and essentially combines the lightning striking the tower or tree motifs with the Odin-esque idea of losing an eye to open your third eye. This gives Mors what you might call redundant layers of Odin symbolism which nicely parallels that of Bran and Bloodraven. Indeed, he’s almost like an avatar of Bloodraven with his dragonglass eye. Think about that – a dragonglass eye implies the concept of seeing through a glass candle, as a Valyrian sorcerer would, and combined with all of Mors’s greenseer symbolism, it really gives you the same “dragons and greenseeing” combination that is Bloodraven.

Think about it like this: we have interpreted people with one blue eye to be Night’s King figures: Aemond One Eye, Euron Crows Eye, and Waymar Royce. Bloodraven, meanwhile, works against the Others and has the blood of the dragon, and he has a fiery red eye. If we could describe Bloodraven’s archetype – call it the Three-Eyed Crow, I suppose – we can say that the Three Eyed Crow is aligned with the Night’s Watch and stands directly against the Night’s King and the Others. To the extent we have been speaking of a frozen half of the green see inhabited by the Others and a “hot underworld” portion of the weirwoodnet inhabited by the greenseers, the Three Eyed Crow is like the King of the living half of the weirwoodnet, as opposed to the Night’s King or Great Other figure, if such a being actually exists. Accordingly, “A Burning Brandon’s” symbolism is all fiery, as we have seen, and he’s going to be taking the place of Bloodraven. Bran means both raven and burning brand, so I’ve joked that he will be Burnraven to Bran’s Bloodraven, so that they can keep all the monogrammed bath towels the same down in the cave.

Beric is the same type of figure, combining a ton of greenseer symbolism that mirrors Bloodraven with all the Azor Ahai / resurrected by fire magic stuff. These figures always need to be either very old or resurrected, as you can see. Heck even Ghost the direwolf fits, since he’s a walking ghost with fiery eyes who looks like a weirwood… but again I think Ghost is a walking picture of what Jon will be when he comes back as the wolf-man with white hair and red eyes, fingers crossed.

These two figures  – the Greenseer King and the Night’s King – are like the two opposite versions of what Azor Ahai can end up like. Some Azor Ahai figures end up a Night’s King after resurrection, and some end up like a Beric or Bloodraven or Mors. Mors may be a good hint about Jon, too, if Jon comes back to life with snow white hair as I predict. Crowfood may have a dragonglass eye, but Jon’s eyes are “a grey so dark they seemed almost black,” which matches not dragonglass, but Valyrian steel: “most Valyrian steel was a grey so dark it looked almost black,” as we read elsewhere. Valyrian steel is symbolically very similar to dragonglass, so perhaps this is good foreshadowing for Jon that he won’t end up as the new Night’s King. I’d like to see him with snow white hair like Mors Umber here though, or like Elric of Melnibone.

All of which is to say, Mors Crowfood of the dragonglass eye is clearly aligned with Bran and Bloodraven and our other fiery Three-Eyed Crow figures. So now you can see the whole picture – Mors, a Bloodraven / Beric type, leads green boys who symbolize children of the forest, and then are credited with waking sleepers with horns and beating the drums which aid Bran to mount his weirwood tree stallion.

A couple of last notes on the Umbers which pertain to Odin that I have to mention: this bit from ACOK where Bran is woken by a horn blast also introduces the Umbers as coming down from ‘beyond the Last River,’ a good euphemism for coming back from death. Odin is a psychopomp figure who defeats death himself. And speaking of horns, Mors Crowfood is notoriously drunk (“Mors Crowfood is a drunken brute” according to Lady Hornwood) and enters Winterfell half drunk. Odin is often depicted drinking from a horn while riding Sleipnir; he’s drinking the mead of poetry which is of course another way to gain magical knowledge.

Those “boom-DOOM” drums turn out to be a good thing to key in on if we are looking for shamanic drumming. We find them in two other places, the first of which is the Red Wedding. Yikes! That is Catelyn’s weirwood stigmata scene, where she dies and symbolically merges with and becomes the weirwood tree, acquiring bloody tears, bloody red hands, and mouth full of blood, and even a “red smile” throat cutting, mimicking both the bloody carved smile of the weirwoods and the silence of the weirwoods.  The shamanic boom DOOM drums are woven all through the Red Wedding, occurring no less than four separate times. We won’t quote it all, but here’s the first occurrence:

Then the tabletop that the Smalljon had flung over Robb shifted, and her son struggled to his knees. He had an arrow in his side, a second in his leg, a third through his chest. Lord Walder raised a hand, and the music stopped, all but one drum. Catelyn heard the crash of distant battle, and closer the wild howling of a wolf. Grey Wind, she remembered too late. “Heh,” Lord Walder cackled at Robb, “the King in the North arises. Seems we killed some of your men, Your Grace. Oh, but I’ll make you an apology, that will mend them all again, heh.”

Catelyn grabbed a handful of Jinglebell Frey’s long grey hair and dragged him out of his hiding place. “Lord Walder!” she shouted. “LORD WALDER!” The drum beat slow and sonorous, doom boom doom. “Enough,” said Catelyn. “Enough, I say. You have repaid betrayal with betrayal, let it end.” When she pressed her dagger to Jinglebell’s throat, the memory of Bran’s sickroom came back to her, with the feel of steel at her own throat. The drum went boom doom boom doom boom doom. 

Catleyn is the weirwood goddess figure, and her son Robb is like a dying last hero figure, sprouting quarrels like a tree sprouting limbs. The give-away line is Walder offering to apologize and mend Robb’s dead men, just as the green zombie theory calls for the last hero’s dozen dead companions to be ritually killed and resurrected. The booming drums add to that feel here – people are being sacrificed, Catleyn is becoming the weirwood tree, and the drums boom away. Bran’s near-sacrifice at the hand of the catspaw assassin is recalled, which happened while Bran was flying around in his coma dream.

Last hero Robb’s resurrection is represented by the macabre act of mounting Grey Wind’s head on Robb’s body, I would say. Dark as it is, it’s an image of the undead wolf-man, which is exactly what I think resurrected Jon will be like after his spirit hypothetically merges with that of Ghost, his wolf. The Freys, as “Lords of the Crossing,” have obvious psychopomp symbolism, and they make wolfman Robb, so there you go.

The other three occurrences of the repeated “boom doom” at the Red Wedding come interspersed with the dialogue as Cat offers to trade Aegon Jinglebell’s life for Robb’s, Walder says no, Roose kills Robb with a sword through the heart, and Cat gives Jinglebell a red smile of his own. The last one comes right as Cat gives and receives stigmata, beginning with her cutting the fool’s throat:

 Blood ran hot over her fingers. His little bells were ringing, ringing, ringing, and the drum went boom doom boom.

Finally someone took the knife away from her. The tears burned like vinegar as they ran down her cheeks. Ten fierce ravens were raking her face with sharp talons and tearing off strips of flesh, leaving deep furrows that ran red with blood. She could taste it on her lips.

These are ritualistic sacrifices – Cat is becoming the weirwood goddess, getting all of her stigmata; a Stark King of Winter / last hero figure, Robb, gets a Nissa Nissa-like sword to the heart, and a fool named Aegon gets sliced across the throat like a weirwood sacrifice. The booming drums during this scene simply add to the dark blood ritual vibe, certainly, but the idea of shamanic drumming fits with the meaning of all this death symbolism, which has to do with these Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa figures entering the weirwoodnet. Robb and Aegon Jinglebell are presented as parallel figures at the beginning of the scene, with Catelyn regarding the fool’s crown Aegon Jinglebell wears as a mockery of Robb’s crown. Martin is inviting us to consider Robb’s foolishness in thinking he could cheat “The Lord of the Crossing,” i.e. the Lord of Death, and he’s giving us Robb and Aegon dying simultaneously.  What’s funny is that you put Robb and Jinglebell Aegon’s names together to get “Aegon Stark,” which might end up being Jon Snow’s name by the time all is said and done. That makes sense, because Jon is the actual green zombie that we will get in the story for sure.

Although there are no horses inside the Red Wedding, George works them in via Arya’s perspective from outside the wedding:

It was only then that she heard the riders pouring out the castle gate in a river of steel and fire, the thunder of their destriers crossing the drawbridge almost lost beneath the drumming from the castles.

That’s a nice merging of the thunderous hoofbeats and the drumming, and the fact that the drumming from the castles is almost loud enough to cover up horses’ hoofbeats outside really drives home the point about how loud they were. These horses are “pouring out of the castle in a river of steel and fire,” and fiery horses make you think of the Dothraki and their beliefs that the stars above are a celestial khalasar of fiery horses, and a river of fiery horses and steel pouring out of a place where Nissa Nissa is being sacrificed makes you think of the exploding moon – the waves of night and blood which was a storm of swords and a shower of bleeding stars. Needless to say, “The Twins” is a two moons clue in my book, but we will have to do a total Frey symbolism blowout another time.

When you think about it, there are some serious Hammer of the Waters vibes going on here. Thousands of captive men are slaughtered, and Catelyn the weirwood goddess has her face carved and gets the entire stigmata. This is when the moon should be broken and the hammer dropped, and indeed we get the river of fiery horses and steel pouring out and the giant burning tents, covered in oil, to simulate the burning skin of the moon. We also see the last hero killed, but the suggestion of mending the dead men is made and Robb is symbolically resurrected as the wolf-man – and all the while, the drums boom and the horses’s hooves pound.

The last boom DOOMing comes… in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream! Yes, that’s right, and this is the opening of this ADWD Jon chapter:

That night he dreamt of wildlings howling from the woods, advancing to the moan of warhorns and the roll of drums. Boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM came the sound, a thousand hearts with a single beat. Some had spears and some had bows and some had axes. Others rode on chariots made of bones, drawn by teams of dogs as big as ponies. Giants lumbered amongst them, forty feet tall, with mauls the size of oak trees.

“Stand fast,” Jon Snow called. “Throw them back.” He stood atop the Wall, alone. “Flame,” he cried, “feed them flame,” but there was no one to pay heed.

As we know, these wildling attackers will eventually transform, in the manner of dreams, into the army of the undead and invading ice spiders, scuttling up the ice. Jon will meet them with armor made of black ice and a blade that burns red in his fist, even though he defends the lands of the living alone. This is Jon as Azor Ahai and the last hero – and amidst it all, we find the drums rolling like “a thousand hearts with a single beat.”

That may end up being a clue that this is no ordinary dream Jon is having, but either what you might call a green dream or one straight up implanted or shared with him by Bloodraven. The dream ends with a mysterious “gnarled hand” seizing Jon by the shoulder and waking him up, which many speculate is the hand of Bloodraven, since gnarled is a word often used to describe trees and roots and Bloodraven kind of makes sense as the one to be reaching Jon in this dream.

If we think about the fact that it is the Other-like wildlings playing the booming drums in this scene, it could imply that the Others can attack via the weirwoodnet, via astral travel. The HBO show already depicted Night’s King as being able to confront Bran on the astral plane, and I suspect there is some related truth in the books waiting to be discovered.

Or it may be that we are not meant to think about who is playing the drums in Jon’s dream, since the dream doesn’t actually say who is playing them, but renders them as a disembodied booming like Theon’s scene in the Winterfell godswood. In this case the message may that the last hero must be aided in his battle by the power of the weirwoods – the greenseers and children of the forest, that is. That jibes with the story of the original last hero seeking and receiving help from the children of the forest. It could be that we are supposed to see Jon as a last hero who has to journey to the astral plane to do battle against the true enemy, though I would think that would be Bran’s job. I think it is more likely that Jon will be the physical avatar of the weirwoods, while Bran is their champion on the astral plane, with Jon needing the support of Bran and the weirwoodnet to win, and possibly to be resurrected in the first place.


One of the most tightly packed examples of this line of symbolism comes to us in the form of our friend Ser Duncan the Tall, who has a certain kind of Odin symbolism.  As a hedge knight, he’s someone who lives under bushes, which are like small trees, just as a greenseer lives under a tree.  He also refers to the elm tree under which he makes his camp at the beginning of the tournament as his pavilion, enhancing the symbolism.  At the end of the Novella, Dunk has a conversation with Maekar Targaryen under the elm tree about talking to the trees: Dunk says he asks the tree why he lived, Maekar says “what answer does your tree give you?” and then speaks the High Septon saying that no man can understand the gods, but that maybe the High Septon should try sleeping under a tree – that way he’d better understand the gods, right?  This is all talking about greenseers living and dreaming under weirwood trees.

In the Sword Sword, Dunk carries a shield with “a hanged man swinging grim and gray beneath a gallows tree,” and in the Mystery Knight, Dunk enters the tourney as “The Gallows Knight.”  So, he lives under a tree, and he rides the gallows tree.  His horse, if you recall, is named Thunder – a thundering shamanic horse for the hanged man on the gallows tree.  That’s terrific – pretty clear references to Sleipnir alongside the gallows tree.  This demonstrates that George is well familiar with the idea of a the gallows tree being a thunder horse, and as we’ll see, he’s riding it for all he’s got.

Dunk eventually paints over the gallows knight sigil with a new one: a falling star and elm tree on a field of sunset, giving us a terrific portrait of the thunderbolt meteor which set fire to the tree.  It’s kind of like the moment before the falling star hits the tree, and appropriately, it’s happening as the sun is about to disappear (on a field of sunset).

In the Hedge Knight, the story takes place at the Tourney of Ashford meadow, and Dunk is the ash tree in the meadow, so to speak.  It starts with a dream Daeron the Drunkard Targaryen had about Dunk’s deeds at Ashford:

My dreams are not like yours, Ser Duncan. Mine are true. They frighten me. You frighten me. I dreamed of you and a dead dragon, you see. A great beast, huge, with wings so large they could cover this meadow. It had fallen on top of you, but you were alive and the dragon was dead.”

The dead dragon is Baelor Targaryen, who tragically dies from a blow he took during the tourney, but in terms of mythical astronomy, that dead dragon is of course a black moon meteor, and Dunk, as the Odin figure, is the tree set ablaze by the thunderbolt meteor.  This is reinforced when Dunk is squaring off lance-to-lance against Aerion Brightflame Targaryen at the trial of the seven held here to decide Dunk’s fate, where Aerion’s shield and Morningstar will play the role of the falling dragon and Dunk will be described in wooden, tree-person language.

Dunk is riding Thunder and repeating to himself,

I am Thunder and Thunder is me, we are one beast, we are joined, we are one.  

He’s wedding the thunder tree, in other words, becoming the tree, and a moment later, it’s:

My lance is part of my arm. It’s my finger, a wooden finger. All I need do is touch him with my long wooden finger. 

Dunk symbolizes a greenseer hooked up to the tree, mounted on the thunder horse, so wanting to reach out and touch the dragon with a wooden finger is very, very like the scene at the Nightfort where the twisted weirwood reaches out with bone white branches to drag the moon down into the well.  Dragons come from the moon, when the greenseer reaches out to touch it, something he does with the astral projection tree horse.

Dunk reaches out with his wooden finger and does indeed touch the three headed dragon on Aerion’s shield, which as a circular shape containing three dragons, is a great symbol of the moon which gives birth to dragons.  Dunk takes a wound as he does so to symbolize the death transformation of Azor Ahai the naughty greenseer, and it’s no ordinary wound – he gets impaled by Aerion’s lance.  That’s right, it’s a similar lance wound to the one Beric suffers, except it pierces Dunk a little closer to his side than his heart and doesn’t kill him.  He’s a hanged man, and now he is pierced while riding the thunder horse.  The one eye wound is coming too, fear not.  George doesn’t hold back with these things, because he doesn’t want us to be mired in doubt and confusion.  This is about Odin, and he wants us to know it.

This is also about Jesus, I suppose I should mention – Jesus was of course hung on the cross, which is a gallows tree, and was also pierced to it.  Jesus’s body, still hanging on the cross, was stabbed in the side by a centurion’s spear, and Dunk’s wound here seems to suggest that as well.  Jesus’s hanging on the cross is of course a death and resurrection story, with Jesus rising stronger from the grave.  I mean, don’t you remember that verse in Matthew Chapter 9 where it talks about Jesus seeing the runes?  I kid, but it is a very similar image, Jesus on the cross and Odin on Yggdrasil.  These and other similarities between norse myth and Christianity helped to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the Vikings.  The preachers of the new religion were talking about a guy being hung on a cross who transcended death, and the Vikings were all like “oh yeah, I totally get that. Makes perfect sense! We’re supposed to drink his blood?  Of course, how else to become like gods?”  Or they might have just said, “so you guys call Odin what now?  Jay-zeus?”

Returning to the impaled Ser Duncan, he pulls the lance out of his side and blood flows and it says “the world swam and he almost fell.”  That’s a nice reference to global floods brought on by the moon meteor impacts.  He tosses his star and elm shield to the ground, giving us the idea of planting a tree in the ground alongside a star falling to the earth, Dunk’s sigil come to life.  He looks around for Aerion, having lost sight of him, and it says “the sound of drumming hooves behind him made Dunk turn his head sharply.”  Aerion is personifying the dragon meteors themselves, so his coming can also include the shamanic horse drumming as well, and I have to say, if you had any doubt – the thunder of the horses hooves is indeed drumming, George is all about it. Also, Sleipnir is a grey horse, so Aerion’s drumming horse is even the right color.

Aerion knocks Dunk off his thunder horse properly this time, and Dunk’s longsword goes spinning from his grasp, giving us a flying sword symbol.  There’s a bruising impact that jars Dunk’s bones and leaves him unable to breathe, reinforcing the strangulation symbolism, and pain stabs through him to give us another impalement idea. He also can’t see, because of the mud in his visor, giving us a hint of Odin’s eye being torn out, to be followed up on shortly. Dunk wipes the mud from his eyeslit, and..

Through his fingers, he glimpsed a dragon flying, and a spiked morningstar whirling on the end of a chain.

Through his wooden fingers – his tree fingers – he can glimpse the flying dragon and a morningstar, or maybe a flying morningstar dragon.  That’s a clue about using the trees to see into space, I think. It’s also where I got the idea for the logo of the Weirwood Compendium videos: it’s staring upwards through a canopy of tree branches to a huge fireball falling to earth. 🙂 The action continues:

Then his head seemed to burst to pieces.

When his eyes opened he was on the ground again, sprawled on his back. The mud had all been knocked from his helm, but now one eye was closed by blood. Above was nothing but dark grey sky.

The Morningstar strikes Dunk and his head burst to pieces – this is a big clue that Dunk is also symbolizing the moon as well as the tree set on fire with the moon meteor.  That’s what all Dunk’s crashing to earth is about, as well as his head bursting.  The weirwood doors seem consistently moon-associated, so I think it’s safe to draw a general link between weirwoods and the moon, and thus it makes sense to see some people symbolize the moon and the weirwood struck by the moon meteor.

So Dunk’s exploding head suggests the moon, but it’s also the tree being struck by a morningstar dragon, a thunderbolt.  As a tree-man riding the thunder horse who is knocked to earth by a flying dragon, we can see Dunk as the naughty boy who climbs too high and is struck down by lightning, the role that Bran plays.  Sure enough, one of Dunk’s eyes is closed by blood – he’s had the Odin makeover.  He’s pulled down the moon on top of his head and paid the price of possessing the fire of the gods.  The closed eye represents the moon eye that torn out in the original Lightbringer forging, so these are good old ‘waves of moon blood’ flowing from the wounded moon eye.

And above, nothing but dark grey sky.  

The sun is hidden.  Waves of night too! A moment later…

The dragon appeared over him. Three heads it had, and wings bright as flame, red and yellow and orange. It was laughing. “Are you dead yet, hedge knight?” it asked. “Cry for quarter and admit your guilt, and perhaps I’ll only claim a hand and a foot. Oh, and those teeth, but what are a few teeth? A man like you can live years on pease porridge.” The dragon laughed again. “No? Eat this, then.” The spiked ball whirled round and round the sky, and fell toward his head as fast as a shooting star.

There’s our final confirmation that the flying dragon morningstar is indeed a falling star.  I told you the Dunk and Egg symbolism is some of the best!  Anyway, we see the implication of the naughtiness of the naughty greenseers as Dunk is told to declare his guilt.  Aerion will only claim and hand and a foot, with the hand being an obvious call-out to the idea of the exploding moon as a fiery hand, as realized in the form of the weirwood leaves that look like bloody or burning hands, as well as hand wounds for many of our Azor Ahai reborn figures (Jaime’s amputated hand, Jon’s burned hand, Davos’s shortened fingers, and so on).  The foot wound idea may be a nod to Bran’s crippled legs, but I don’t have a lockdown on foot symbolism yet so I am not sure.  If Dunk had his teeth pulled as Aerion suggests, he would have a bloody, yet toothless mouth – just like a weirwood tree.  He already has a bloody eye, something like the bloody, weeping eyes of the weirwoods, so what we are seeing is the “making you into a weirwood tree” part of the Odin makeover.

Finally, Aerion tells Dunk that a man like him could live for years on porridge, and I probably don’t have to tell you that this is an allusion to… come on, you got it… that’s right, the weirwood paste. You can live for years on that stuff! Dunk is the tree struck by the falling star, the Odin-esque greenseer.  Of course he should eat paste and live for years.

The battle finishes with Dunk reaching up with his fist – just like Gregor at the Oberyn fight – and pulling down the Brightflame dragon into the mud.  This rising fist is the “Fist of the First Men” symbol, and represents the rising smoke and ash that blots out the sun.  That’s who Brightflame is, the sun – it’s his shield, bearing the three-headed red dragon on black sigil, that represents the moon.  Aerion himself is a bright dragon, and thus a solar Azor Ahai figure who turns the moon into his weapon, into his dragons, just as the exploding moon is like the hand or weapon of the sun, which appears to stand behind the moon (remember the moon as a sock puppet animated by the sun analogy). So, Dunk’s rising fist is indeed pulling down the sun, after the moon shield has already fallen to pieces like a rain of morningstar dragons.

Dunk rolls on top of Aerion and thinks, “let him swing his bloody morningstar now,” giving us the bleeding star idea yet again.  Just to demonstrate the idea of the moon having its revenge on the sun by darkening its face withe moon meteor smoke, Dunk takes Aerion’s three headed moon dragon shield and proceeds to bash his dragon helm in with it.  Again, it’s very like Gregor bashing Oberyn’s solar face in after having fallen to the ground.  By the end, “the Bright Prince was as brown as a privy.”

Just to cap things off, Dunk finally has Aerion at his mercy and..

His eyes were purple and full of terror.  Dunk had a sudden urge to grab one and pop it like a grape between two steel fingers, but that would not be knightly.

Two Odin makeovers for the price of one, what a bargain.  It emphasizes that the falling meteor dragon and the tree it strikes become one, and that sun and moon become one.

A couple of the people fighting on team Dunk are worth noting: Lyonel Baratheon, the laughing storm – a bonafide stag man horned lord storm king.  Robin Rhysling, who has one eye missing (seriously, there are more one-eyed people in ASOIAF than you remember).  There’s also a version of the summer king / winter king myth that uses a robin and a wren which I don’t have time to explain, but suffice it to say the name Robin can be used as a green man allusion.

The other notable member of Team Dunk was the dead dragon from Daeron’s dream, Baelor Breakspear.  He wore the black armor and was the dragon who “fell on Dunk” and died, so he’s a falling moon dragon figure.  Baelor took a blow from his brother’s mace, but didn’t die until he removed his helm and part of his skull fell out, a grisly depiction of the moon losing its shell.  Right before that, he’s feeling dizzy, and says his fingers “feel like wood,” bringing us full circle back to Dunk’s wooden finger and showing us again that both Dunk the tree man and the dragon that falls on him become one in the same, the burning tree, and thus both can show burning tree symbolism. Dunk sees “red blood and pale bone” on the side of Baelor’s head, a bit of weirwood coloring applied to the dying dragon.  As he dies, it says “a queer troubled look passed across Baelor Breakspear’s face, like a cloud passing before a sun,” reinforcing the idea of blotting out the sun by pulling down a dragon.  There’s an initially strange-sounding line at the end which might make sense now, and this is right after Baelor starts to fall:

Dunk caught him. “Up,” they say he said, just as he had with Thunder in the melee, “up, up.” But he never remembered that afterward, and the prince did not rise.

In case you needed another clue about the falling dragon being the same as the thunderbolt…  there you go.  Also implied is the idea of raising fallen Azor Ahai from the dead.

Alright, so the moral of the story is, if you’re a naughty greenseer and you mount the thunder horse tree to pull down the moon, you’re going to set yourself hit on the head with a Morningstar dragon.  This kind of gets back to a fundamental question that has been lingering for a while – how exactly does a greenseer pull down a moon?  If it didn’t just happen by accident, we need a way for human sorcerers to reach up into the heavens.  The idea of the weirwoods as a vehicle for astral projection seems like the beginning of an answer to this vexing question.  We’ve seen the weirwoods reaching into the heavens and scratching at the moon, trying to pull it down, and we are being told they are a vehicle to enable your spirit to fly.   Is there a connection?

Origin of the Others: Night’s Queen

 

One of the biggest differences between Game of Thrones the HBO show and A Song of Ice and Fire the book series by George R. R. Martin is the presence of a leader of the Others. Despite his disappointing death by knife-wielding trampoline assassin girl, the Night King was for a while a terrifying force leading the white walkers and the army of the living dead down from the north to snuff out all life in Westeros. For me, he was at his most terrifying when he was able to perceive Bran inside of Bran’s weirwoodnet vision and leave that ice mark on his arm… anything that can haunt your dreams is a different level of scary. Again, he went out like a chump – after showing himself impervious to raw dragonfire, he’s going to be shattered by a piece of obsidian? – but the simple fact of his presence on the show highlights the glaring absence of any sort of equivalent character in the books. There is of course an ancient tale of a “Night’s King” in Westerosi legend, which we’ll discuss, but he was supposedly a man who lived and died long ago, and no has seen any sign of him since.

Yes, the white walkers of the woods of Westeros that George Martin has written about appear to have no leader – but I’m here today to tell you that that was not always the case. Not only was there once a King and Queen of the Others, I believe that the first Night’s King and Queen were in fact the creators of the Others. Later in this video series, I’ll tell you who the original Night’s King was, and who might emerge as new Night’s King, a new “leader of the others.” So strap in and let’s dive back into the symbolism of the Others to find their origins.

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Alright, now at the end of Symbolism of the Others: the Kingsguard – which you’ve hopefully watched – I left you with a cliffhanger. After spending twenty minutes convincing you beyond the white shadow of a doubt that the white knights of the Kingsguard are serving as symbolic proxies for the Others, dressed in all the same descriptive icy language, I asked the question “why did George do this” and then ended the video. You all seem to have liked that; I got a ton of great comments and theories on what George is saying. Many of you zeroed in on the fact that the Kingsguard were created to guard the king, which implies the Others should have a king, just like they do on the show, or maybe even a queen, or both! I think the Others did have both a king and queen in the past, and will have one or both again soon. Of course we have to start with the original, the OG Night’s King and Queen.

Bran hears the legend of Night’s King from Old Nan of course, and he relays it to the reader in ASOS. It’s a slightly longer quote, but one of the best, and I’ve brought in a talented pinch voice actor:

The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan’s stories, the tale of Night’s King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night’s Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. “And that was the fault in him,” she would add, “for all men must know fear.” A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.

He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night’s King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night’s King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.

The first thing that I want point out here is that “sacrificing to the Others” almost certainly means “making Others,” or more specifically, giving up your male children to be transformed into Others. Up north beyond the Wall, we meet a nasty old wildling named Craster who also “sacrifices to the Others,” which Jon describes as “giving his sons to the wood,” meaning the “white walkers of the wood.” Gilly, afraid for her own son, tells Jon that “he gives his boys to the gods,” going on to elaborate that she means “The cold gods, the ones in the night. The white shadows.”

Then, after Gilly asks Sam to help her escape with her son, saying “If you don’t take him, they will,” Sam asks who “they” are…

“The boy’s brothers,” said the old woman on the left. “Craster’s sons. The white cold’s rising out there, crow. I can feel it in my bones. These poor old bones don’t lie.”

As you can see, it’s pretty clear that sacrificing to the Others means giving your sons to be transformed into Others. We may not know what that transformation process entails, but we can see that Craster’s wives all think of the white walkers as Craster’s sons, as brothers to Gilly’s son and to one another. We can see a nice parallel to the Kingsguard here; the Kingsguard are a brotherhood of celibate knights, and so are the Others, since they are all male, with many of them being literal brothers, and the fact they require male babies from their worshippers implies that they cannot reproduce on their own.

Ergo, when we read about Night’s King and Queen “sacrificing to the Others,” we can assume they were creating sons to be turned into Others. But there’s one key difference from what Night’s King and Queen were doing and what Craster was doing with Gilly and his other “wives”: Night’s King’s “corpse queen” was not a mortal woman like Gilly and the other women at Craster’s Keep, but a magical woman. She had “skin as white as the moon” that was “as cold as ice,” and most tellingly, she has the signature “eyes like blue stars” which signifies her as a being animated by the cold ice magic of the Others. A child born by such a woman might already come out of the womb with an icy nature, perhaps already having begun the transformation into an Other. Honestly, a mortal human baby could never gestate in a womb “cold as ice,” so I think we have to assume the babies were magical entities themselves, animated by ice magic just like their mother.

Her “corpse queen” description is probably not literal, as it’s hard to imagine an undead being in this universe giving birth. But as my esteemed colleague Durran Durrandon points out, we have seen a magical woman who has far outlived her mortal span taking someone’s seed and soul to birth magical shadow entities before… it’s just that everything was coded in the language of fire instead of ice, and the shadows were the wrong color.


As I was saying, it is an established fact in this universe that magical women can take the seed of a mortal man and give birth to magical shadow entities:

 “You are the mother of darkness. I saw that under Storm’s End, when you gave birth before my eyes.”

“Is the brave Ser Onions so frightened of a passing shadow? Take heart, then. Shadows only live when given birth by light, and the king’s fires burn so low I dare not draw off any more to make another son. It might well kill him.” Melisandre moved closer. “With another man, though . . . a man whose flames still burn hot and high . . . if you truly wish to serve your king’s cause, come to my chamber one night. I could give you pleasure such as you have never known, and with your life-fire I could make . . .”

“. . . a horror.” Davos retreated from her. “I want no part of you, my lady. Or your god. May the Seven protect me.”

Melisandre and Davos are of course referring to the “shadowbaby” that Mel birthed beneath Storm’s End, a shadow which Davos immediately recognized as Stannis. Stannis experiences the killing of Renly while dreaming, which was also done by shadowbaby, so we know that he remains linked to his shadow son and that it is made of his essence, his “life-fires” and Mel puts it.

This is more or less a perfect, temperature-inverted parallel here: Night’s Queen, a being animated by ice magic, the takes the seed and soul of Night’s King and creates magical white shadow beings, while Melisandre, animated by fire magic, draws from the life-fires of Stannis to make magical black shadow beings. These shadows do appear to be somewhat similar in nature though, as they are both created to kill and both are susceptible to magical wards – Mel says she has to birth the shadowbaby inside the walls of Storm’s End because

…this Storm’s End is an old place. There are spells woven into the stones. Dark walls that no shadow can pass—ancient, forgotten, yet still in place.”

Similarly, Samwell tells Bran what Coldhands told him about the Wall: it’s “more than just ice and stone,” and that “There are spells woven into it … old ones, and strong” that prevents Coldhands from passing. Presumably these spells are the ones which keep the Others out, and so we are left with Mel’s shadows and the white shadows of the north both being kept out by magical wards, and therefore similar types of entities on some level.

The primary difference, besides color and ice vs. fire, is that the shadowbabies Mel and Stannis make do not stick around like the Others do. However it’s easy to imagine that there might be some further sorcery involved in getting such a shadow child to have a semi-permanent body as the Others do. Some sort of shadow-binding perhaps, or further human sacrifice, or the involvement of weirwood magic, which also seems to be a part of the process of creating the Others (and I’ll have a “symbolism of the Others: the Weirwoods” video coming soon to talk about that).

“Sacrificing to the Others,” then, is essentially a euphemism; what Night’s King and Queen created at the Nightfort was a white shadow factory. They were creating their own Kingsguard of snowy white knights in ice armor. Their own white swords.


So that’s pretty cool, right? George is showing us a big secret about the creation of the Others by using Mel and Stannis’s shadowbaby creation as a symbolic proxy, just like the Kingsguard serve as symbolic proxies for the Others. George is showing us that a magical woman can, under the right circumstances, co-opt the normal human birthing process to create magical shadow entities, and all we have to do is flip fire for ice and we have a pretty viable method for creating the Others. We playfully call Mel and Stannis’s shadow child a “shadowbaby,” but it’s actually a full grown shadow clone of Stannis, so it stands to reason Night’s Queen was actually giving birth to full-grown Others. One thinks of the five Others in the prologue who emerged from the woods to support the one Waymar was fighting being named as “twins to the first.” They are shadow clones as well – and just as Mel’s shadows are clones of King Stannis, Night’s Queen’s white shadows would have been clones of Night’s King, from whose seed and soul she drew off of to make them.

All of this makes it likely that this is indeed the origin of the white walkers, that Night’s King and Queen made the first Others. Craster and Gilly can’t make them directly, because Gilly isn’t animated by blue star eye magic and her womb isn’t “cold as ice,” but Night’s King and Queen could have. They didn’t need white walkers to have already existed to make more, and what’s the point of showing us this if not to show us the origin of the first Others?

It’s important to understand that Melisandre is more than a magical woman; she’s a human being who has traded in her mortality to become fully “powered by R’hllor.” That means she no longer needs to eat to survive and barely needs to sleep, saying instead that “R’hllor provided her with all the nourishment her body needed,” but that that was something “best concealed from mortal men,” I guess because that would like freak everyone out or something to know she eats fire for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Davos and Jon both notice that Mel’s skin is hot to the touch and that warmth pours off of her like she was a human furnace, and that’s pretty comparable to the Night Queen having “skin as cold as ice.” And just as Night’s Queen’s “eyes like blue stars” are a tip-off that she is powered by ice magic, Melisandre has eyes like “two red stars shining in the dark.” Heck, George even had a blue and green version of a Melisandre table-top gaming piece commissioned… looks like Night’s Queen to me!

The point here is that if a mortal woman can somehow transform herself into a fire entity capable of birthing magical shadow beings, then the same must be true of ice magic, and indeed, my friend Durran Durrandon suggests that’s exactly what Night’s Queen was, some sort of ice priestess. This is another clue that Night’s Queen was the origin of the Others, because we can see the order of the process that’s implied: first, a human woman transforms themselves over time via ice or fire magic, and then at some point they become capable of birthing magical shadow clones via that ice or fire magic. Between Craster and his white walker sons and Stannis and Melisandre’s shadow children, we’ve been handed every step of the process to make a white walker – save for the weirwood magic element, which we have to save for another video – and thus Night’s King and Queen are revealed as the father and mother of the Others.


And now it’s time for timeline heresy!

Accordingly, I also tend to believe that Night’s King and Queen ruled during the Long Night, when all the white walkers attacked, not shortly after as is implied by the line about Night’s King being “the thirteenth man to lead the Watch.” There are so many ways around that line though – it’s about as solid as Ned Stark’s paper shield in the throne room of the Red Keep. Start with the fact that we are talking about 5,000 – 10,000 year-old history that wasn’t written down until thousands of years later, none of the details of which should be definitively taken as literal and factual. For example, the number thirteen may be symbolic – after all, Night’s King was also said to have ruled for thirteen years, and I suppose maybe it’s just a coincidence that he was the 13th Lord Commander who ruled for thirteen years… but then we have the last hero story, which occurs roughly in the same time and place and involves one guy with twelve companions for yet another thirteen. Some have speculated that the last hero and his dozen companions could have become Night’s King and the first Others, or it could be that Night’s King and Queen made twelve Others for their “Kingsguard.” For what it’s worth, the HBO show did give us twelve white walkers flanking the Night King when they took Craster’s son to the White Walker temple for transformation. Of course neither George nor HBO would be the first to make a weird version of Christ and the twelve disciples, and thus when I see all these thirteens in the Night’s King and last hero story, they strike me as a number chosen for symbolism more than anything else.

Consider also the part of the Night’s King myth where Old Nan says that “Night’s King was only a man by light of day, but the night was his to rule.” Is he some sort of werewolf or something? Did he transform into a powerful wizard at night only? Seems like you’d just go fight him in the day then. More likely, the night that he ruled was the Long Night, it seems to me. Night’s King… ruled the Long Night… think about it. It’s not that crazy, really. For what it’s worth, thirteen years seems like about the right length of time for the Long Night to me.

Here’s a good question: why would there be white walkers lurking close to the Nightfort to give babies to if the white walkers had just been defeated in the War for the Dawn fairly recently? If they’re back prowling again only a hundred years after they were defeated, I’d think we’d have been hearing about white walkers attacks all through Westerosi history – but instead, we hear about nothing about any white walker activity in between the Long Night and their recent stirrings gearing up for the new Long Night that is surely coming.

Then we have the fact that the Night’s Watch supposedly received gifts of dragonglass knives during the Age of Heroes, but the Age of heroes supposedly comes before the Long Night, when the Watch was supposedly established. Similarly, Bran the Builder supposedly built the Wall, but is thought of as having lived in the Age of Heroes too, before the Long Night. This type of mixed-up chronology is just what we should expect from 8,000 year-old word-of mouth history about magical events of course, and is intentional on the part of the author. Can’t truss it!

We also have to wonder about the part of the original Night’s Watch oath that talks about “I am the watcher on the walls” – note the ‘walls’ plural – because ever since the creation of the Wall, they would have been “the Watchers on the Wall,” really. This may mean nothing, or may indicate that the Night’s Watch may have been formed from a previous fighting force which guarded “walls,” plural, like the walls of a fortress, perhaps even before the Wall was made. If there was such a previous fighting force, perhaps they had twelve commanders, with Night’s King being the rebellious thirteenth.

Then we have the Nightfort, the place where Night’s King and Queen created their white shadows. It’s said to be the oldest castle on the Wall, which I think is true, but I think it may actually be older than the Wall, for two reasons. One, if any humans were involved in building the Wall – which is a big if, granted – they would have first needed a base of operations to work from. Perhaps it was some long-vanished ringfort or something, but if the Nightfort dates back thousands of years to the beginning of the Watch anyway, it may well have been that first human stronghold in the area.

The second reason I think the Nightfort may have come before the Wall is the highly unique weirwood organism we find there. Some fifty feet or more underground, Sam and Bran and company encounter the Black Gate, the peculiar talking weirwood face which guards a secret tunnel beneath the Wall and only opens for a Night’s Watchmen reciting his vows… but then on the surface above, we see a young weirwood sapling pushing up through the flagstones and growing towards the whole in the ceiling. Judging by the size, extent, and depth of the weirwood roots at Bloodraven’s cave, it seems that weirwood trees are better thought of a fungus-like organisms which exist primarily underground and occasionally sprout trees above ground. Thus it’s almost certain that the talking weirwood gate below the Nightfort and the young weirwood above are part of the same weirwood orgamism, which would make it extremely large, and therefore very old and very sacred to the children of the forest and those who worship the Old Gods.

Moreover, the talking weirwood face itself is possibly the weirdest and most unique magical thing we’ve seen anywhere in Westeros – it’s the only talking weirwood of any kind that we’ve ever seen! Chekov’s silent tree face finally spoke! Therefore it seems likely that the Nightfort would have been built around this special weirwood organism, which would have been here first… just as Winterfell was built around the heart tree and probably the crypts.

At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. “The heart tree,” Ned called it. The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle’s granite walls rise around them. 

It’s my belief that all the first First Men castles were built around weirwoods, not just Winterfell, as by the time these castles were built, the First Men would have been worshipping them, fully in awe of the power of the greenseers and weirwood trees. This is clearly the case for the warg family known as the Starks, and with something as old and unique as the talking weirwood face organism, it seems logical that the Nightfort would have been built around it. The same logic applies to the location of the Wall – if the weirwood organism is older than the Wall, then it’s likely the location of the Wall was dictated by the location of the Nightfort weirwood… thing.

So the order of events I am picturing is this: the Nightfort is built around the weirwood organism there for some magical reason, either by Night’s King or by someone before; at some point around the beginning of the Long Night, Night’s King takes the Nightfort as his seat and creates the white walkers with Night’s Queen (with the weirwood magic likely playing a role). They invade Westeros, the War for the Dawn is fought and won by the good guys, and the Wall was likely built soon after to keep the Others out like most people think, or perhaps repaired or rebuilt if some form of the Wall existed before the white walker invasion.

So what we have here is a bunch of fog of history, because our “history” has essentially become legend. The symbolism, however, all points towards the Night’s King and Queen being the creators of the Others who lived during the Long Night, as you’ve just seen. The white walker symbolism of the Kingsguard implies that the king and queen of the white walkers is an important thing, and it implies that the Others were created by Night’s King and Queen to guard Night’s Queen and King, just as the Kinguard was created by Visenya and Aegon to guard the royal family. Then, Stannis, Melisandre, and Craster show us how these implications translate in actual magical acts that can happen in this universe, how an ice priestess like Night’s Queen could potentially create the Others from scratch.

As I’ll explain in the next couple of videos, “Night’s King” is just as much an important ASOIAF archetype as Azor Ahai is, with multiple figures playing the symbolic role of Night’s King at various times, and Night’s King is always implied as a leader – and father – of the Others. King Stannis, for example, who does the shadow creation routine with Mel that mirrors Other creation, takes up residence at the Nightfort, where Night’s King lived. Tons more on Night King Stannis coming in the next video, don’t you fear (Night’s King was a man who knew no fear, and neither should you).

The same is true of Night’s Queen: it’s an archetype played by multiple people, and those people always do symbolic things that represent the creation of the Others. One of the reasons why the Moons of Ice and Fire podcast series is so may hours long is because I follow all of the Night’s King and Queen parallel characters, and there are a nice handful of them. I’m doing a more condensed thing here, but check out Moons of Ice and Fire if you like this topic and want to see how, say, Val, Gilly, Jeyne Pool, Alys Karstark, Sansa, or Lyanna play the Night’s Queen role. Lyanna’s the important one, she gives birth to the Prince That Was Promised to the Others, Jon Snow, who dreams of wearing ice armor and oh gosh I’m giving away a future video in this series.

Even more important than the symbolism – I know, I know, HERESY! – is the valley of the shadow of narrative sense through which all theories must pass. If the role of “Night’s King” really is to be some sort of “King of the White Walkers,” then it makes far more narrative sense for him to have existed during the Long Night, when the white walkers invaded Westeros for the one and only time in history. And if we are to see a new Night’s King rise to lead the Others – and believe is there ever a lot of foreshadowing for that – then it stands to reason that a Night’s King led their invasion of Westeros the first time around.


 

Symbolism of the Others: the Kingsguard

One of my favorite things about ASOIAF is the way that George R. R. Martin uses symbolism to give us clues about secret things. Take the Others for example, the mysterious white walkers of the woods. We only see them on-page twice in the entire series: we see six of them in the prologue of AGOT, and Sam kills one with a dragonglass knife in ASOS. That really is amazing when you consider the long, pale shadow they cast over the entire story.

This is good writing on Martin’s part – he likes his magic to remain mysterious, and things like Asshai-by-the-Shadow or the Others would loose some of their mystique if we saw too much of them. Luckily for us though, Martin is quite the clever writer and has thoughtfully hidden clues about the Others in the story. One of the ways he does this is through the use of a symbolic proxy, which in this case would be the Kingsguard.

By using the same descriptive language for both the Others and the White Knights of the Kingsguard, our author is creating an intentional symbolic parallel which encourages us to think about the Kingsguard as stand-ins for the Others. First we’ll take a take a look at the basic set of descriptions of the Others, and then compare those to the Kingsguard and you will quickly see what I mean.


The AGOT prologue is where we get most of our descriptions of the Others, and here is the very first one:

Will saw movement from the corner of his eye. Pale shapes gliding through the wood. He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone.

The term “white shadow” is the most common description of the Others, and sometimes it’s “cold shadow” or just “shadow.” For example, Lord Commander Mormont speaks of “white shadows in the woods” to describe the rising threat of the Others, and when Gilly speaks with Jon about saving her baby from being given to the Others, they both use the “white shadow” moniker. In AFFC, Sam reports that  “Maester Aemon’s woken up and wants to hear about these dragons. He’s talking about bleeding stars and white shadows and dreams…”, and clearly Aemon is catching visions of the end times here, so these white shadows can only be the white walkers.

Sam thinks of the Others as “The white walkers of the wood, the cold shadows”, and Tormund uses similar language to describe them, calling them “shadows with teeth,” and shadows that “never go away” but are always “clinging to your heels” – think about the way your shadow on the sidewalk appears to cling to your heels, but imagine that shadow is a white walker… and now you know how Tormund was feeling.

The basic meaning of the term ‘white shadow’ seems apparent: the Others are shades in some sense, some sort of icy ghost-like entity. It’s also a delightful sort of marriage of opposites: shadows are usually thought of as dark, but these shadows are white and pale.

The second glimpse of the Others in the prologue reinforces all of these ideas:

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.

These white shadows from the woods have pale, milk white flesh and reflective ice armor, and they’re compared to old bones, which are also white. When we see Sam stab one ASOS, we catch sight of the actual bones of the Others, which are “like milkglass, pale and shiny,” and it also has “bone white hands” in that scene.  Again we see the same set of words – milk-pale, bone white, snow white. Only a moment earlier, when the Other dismounted its dead horse to face Sam, we got this line:

The Other slid gracefully from the saddle to stand upon the snow. Sword-slim it was, and milky white.

In a manner of speaking, the Others are like milky white ice people, and the sword symbolism: their bones look like milkglass, which reminds us of Dawn, a shiny white sword, and now the Others themselves are milky white and sword slim. The swords of the Others themselves are called “pale swords” as well, among other things, so we can say that the Others are milky white sword people who wield pale swords and have bones that look like pale swords. Combine all of that with the persistent ‘white shadow’ moniker and the idea of armor made of ice – and those cold blue star eyes, of course – and we have a good basic idea of the language used to bring the Others to life.


And now let’s have a look at those magnificent white knights in the Kingsguard, whose sterling honor is beyond reproach, as we all know. Here’s Tyrion observing Joffrey in ACOK:

Joffrey was galloping at his side, whey-faced, with Ser Mandon Moore a white shadow on his left.

Oh my! What’s a white shadow doing so close to the king? Someone better warn him! Now, recalling that George describes the Others as ‘beautiful’ in interviews, check out Tyrion looking at Joffrey in ACOK:

His two white shadows were always with him; Balon Swann and Mandon Moore, beautiful in their pale plate.

This is terrible – the white shadows have him surrounded! Beautiful they may be, but I wouldn’t trust them. Then at the Battle of the Blackwater, on the bridge of ships, a fallen Tyrion looks up at Ser Mandon:

Finally he rolled over the side and lay breathless and exhausted, flat on his back. Balls of green and orange flame crackled overhead, leaving streaks between the stars. He had a moment to think how pretty it was before Ser Mandon blocked out the view. The knight was a white steel shadow, his eyes shining darkly behind his helm.

I’d love to talk about the meteor-like fiery streaks between the stars, but that’s a different video I’m afraid. Our attention turns to yet another white shadow Kingsguard, and this one certainly has bad intent. This is becoming a theme.

In AFFC, a paranoid Cersei Lannister runs a small council meeting and perceives “shadows closing in around her” as she sees treason lurking everywhere. One of those treasonous shadows is the Kingsguard knight Ser Loras Tyrell, who is standing “behind his little sister, a pale shadow with a longsword on his hip.” Cersei may be paranoid and a bit mad, she’s probably right not to trust Loras, lurking like a pale shadow as he is.

Even when the Kingsguard is looking glorious in the daylight, they manage to look like they are impersonating the Others. This is Sansa’s view of the Hand’s Tourney at Kings Landing during AGOT.

They watched the heroes of a hundred songs ride forth, each more fabulous than the last. The seven knights of the Kingsguard took the field, all but Jaime Lannister in scaled armor the color of milk, their cloaks as white as fresh-fallen snow.

In the AGOT, the ice armor of the Other reflects their surroundings, and in places looks like “as white as new fallen snow,” while here the Kingsguard knights “take the field” with cloaks “as white as fresh-fallen snow.” And when we first meet Ser Barristan Selmy in AGOT, his white enameled scale armor is “as brilliant as a field of new-fallen snow.” Snowy cloaks and snowy armor, I’m telling you, something is up with those white shadow Kingsguard. Also, take notice of the fact that Kingsguard here at the tourney have “scaled armor the color of milk,” which reminds us of the flesh of the Others, which is “as pale as milk.”


Speaking of milky white things, another component of Other’s symbolism is of course the moon. The real Others only come out in the moonlight, and thus we see that the shifting patterns on their ice armor “ran like moonlight on water” and that their pale swords are “alive with moonlight.” We might even think of Night’s King’s corpse queen of legend, who had blue star eyes like the Others and “skin as white as the moon.” With all that in mind, let’s continue looking at descriptions of the Kingsguard. This is Sansa in ACOK:

Below, she could see a short knight in moon-pale armor and a heavy white cloak pacing the drawbridge. From his height, it could only be Ser Preston Greenfield.

Ser Greenfield is wearing the same cloak that was just described as “white as a new-fallen field of snow,” so I guess he’s a whitefield now? But check out that moon-pale armor! That’s the kind of stuff the Others would like to wear, I’m thinking. Now back in AGOT, Ned sees a Kingsguard on that same bridge and the description again fits the Others, but in a slightly different way:

Ser Boros Blount guarded the far end of the bridge, white steel armor ghostly in the moonlight.

Just a moment ago I said that the Others are like white swords themselves, being milky white sword-slim creatures with milkglass-like bones, and the same is true of the knights of the Kingsguard, who are called “the White Swords.” That’s cool, but what’s even cooler is that Boros Blount the white sword has ghostly moonlight playing about him in this scene. And haven’t we seen a pale sword with ghost light and moonlight playing about it?

The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.

It’s a pale sword looking ghostly in the moonlight, just as Ser Boros is a white sword looking ghostly in the moonlight. Boros is lacking only the faint blue shimmer!

You may recall Jaime Lannister’s weirwood stump dream from ASOS, where he sees not one ghostly white swords, but five.

They were armored all in snow, it seemed to him, and ribbons of mist swirled back from their shoulders.

It’s the snow armor motif again! Now they really sound like white walkers – ghostly white knights armored in snow, with mist swirling from their shoulders? It’s even mentioned that they make no sound when they walk, just as “the Others make no sound.” I mean this is really on the nose. George clearly wants us to think about the Others when we see the Kingsguard.

It’s like one of those “there are two answers” things:

“I’m a milk-pale, ice-armored white shadow, looking ghostly and beautiful in the moonlight. Who am I? There are two answers.”

It could be Others or the Kingsguard!

And we’ve barely even begun to talk about Barristan Selmy!


Let us turn our attention to the last living legend of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy. For whatever reason, Barristan has by far the most clues about the Kingsguard working as symbolic stand-ins for the Others. First, his white shadow street cred, and this is from ADWD:

Dany glimpsed Ser Barristan sliding closer, a white shadow at her side.

SO there’s Barry the white shadow, and then when Barristan meets with Skahaz the Shavepate in the dark corridors of the Great Pyramid of Meereen, the text describes them as “A pale shadow and a dark,” with Barristan being the pale shadow. You can take the Kingsguard out of Kings Landing, but he’s still a white shadow, it would seem. Ser Barristan is basically a model example of how to look like an Other, from AGOT through ADWD. Here’s the rest of that quote about Barry’s snow-white armor when Sansa meets him on the road to King’s Landing:

One knight wore an intricate suit of white enameled scales, brilliant as a field of new-fallen snow, with silver chasings and clasps that glittered in the sun. When he removed his helm, Sansa saw that he was an old man with hair as pale as his armor, yet he seemed strong and graceful for all that. From his shoulders hung the pure white cloak of the Kingsguard.

That is one snowy dude! His armor is like a field of new-fallen snow, and his hair matches. Sure sounds like a white walker to me! He’s even graceful, like the Other Sam faced who slid gracefully from its saddle. And did I mention Barry has blue eyes? It’s true. Sweet baby blues to go along with his snowy hair and armor.

Later he grows his beard out and takes the false name “Arstan Whitebeard,” and that thing is made of snow too:

His name was Arstan, but Strong Belwas had named him Whitebeard for his pale whiskers, and most everyone called him that now. He was taller than Ser Jorah, though not so muscular; his eyes were a pale blue, his long beard as white as snow and as fine as silk.

Let me put it this way – if Barristan wanted to dress up as a white walker for Halloween, he’d barely have to do anything at all. Give the man an ice spear and a wee bit of face paint and he’s all set.

When Dany meets him as Whitebeard in ACOK, he’s introduced as an Otherish type of guy:

The other man wore a traveler’s cloak of undyed wool, the hood thrown back. Long white hair fell to his shoulders, and a silky white beard covered the lower half of his face.

The Other man! Ah ha! That explains the snowy hair, beard, and armor. Barristan the ‘other man’ also has a cloak of undyed wool – meaning whitish or milky-white wool – and his white hair and beard are highlighted. The white wool cloak seems a clue that Arstan used to wear a white cloak of the Kingsguard, and indeed, Barry steps right into his classic role and introduces himself to Dany by saving her from the basilisk that the Sorrowful Man was trying kill her with. Later in ADWD, Barristan again saves her life, this time from the warlord Mero, and it’s pretty awesome. Mero has emerged from the crowd of freed slaves to menace Dany, with no protection in sight, untill…

Dany was dimly aware of Missandei shouting for help. A freedman edged forward, but only a step. One quick slash, and he was on his knees, blood running down his face. Mero wiped his sword on his breeches. “Who’s next?”

“I am.” Arstan Whitebeard leapt from his horse and stood over her, the salt wind riffling through his snowy hair, both hands on his tall hardwood staff.

This is Barristan’s big Hollywood moment here, complete with authoritative one-liner and hair blowing gloriously in the wind. It’s snowy white hair, which is cool, but what’s even better is that the way he ends the fight with Mero is a close match to the way the white walker finished off Waymar in the AGOT prologue. If you recall, when the Other shattered Waymar’s sword and wounded his eye, it said that “The Other’s parry was almost lazy,” and after that, the Others waiting in the woods advanced and all stabbed Waymar in “cold butchery.” Now here’s the fight with Barristan and Mero:

Whitebeard put Dany behind him. Mero slashed at his face. The old man jerked back, cat-quick. The staff thumped Mero’s ribs, sending him reeling. Arstan splashed sideways, parried a looping cut, danced away from a second, checked a third mid-swing. The moves were so fast she could hardly follow. Missandei was pulling Dany to her feet when she heard a crack. She thought Arstan’s staff had snapped until she saw the jagged bone jutting from Mero’s calf. As he fell, the Titan’s Bastard twisted and lunged, sending his point straight at the old man’s chest. Whitebeard swept the blade aside almost contemptuously and smashed the other end of his staff against the big man’s temple. Mero went sprawling, blood bubbling from his mouth as the waves washed over him. A moment later the freedmen washed over him too, knives and stones and angry fists rising and falling in a frenzy.

Barristan is “dancing” away from Mero’s strikes, as the Others danced with Ser Waymar. Barristan “thumps” Mero in the ribs before delivering the killing blow, just as the Other first stabs Waymar’s side before shattering his sword and killing him. Mero dies gushing blood from his ruined face, just as Waymar does. Most obviously, the almost contemptuous parry that finishes Mero is followed by the freedmen rushing in to stab him, just as the almost lazy parry of the Other that finished Waymar was followed by the other Others rushing in to stab Waymar. The “knives and stones and angry fists” of the mob are “rising in falling in a frenzy,” which compares very well to the rising and falling swords of Waymar’s cold butchery:

The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. 

Ser Barristan not only looks like a white walker, he’s even reenacting one of their famous battles in exquisite detail! And for this deed and other find service, Dany rewards with a suit of ice armor. First he’ll need to scrub off that pesky flesh though:

The water, when it came, was only lukewarm, but Selmy lingered in the bath until it had grown cold and scrubbed his skin till it was raw. Clean as he had ever been, he rose, dried himself, and clad himself in whites. Stockings, smallclothes, silken tunic, padded jerkin, all fresh-washed and bleached. Over that he donned the armor that the queen had given him as a token of her esteem. The mail was gilded, finely wrought, the links as supple as good leather, the plate enameled, hard as ice and bright as new-fallen snow.

So, he scrubs off his skin in the cold bath, leaving him a cold skeleton, then suits up into his snow-white ice armor. Once again I say that this is pretty on the nose, since the Others quite literally wear armor made of ice that reflects “as white as new-fallen snow.” Barristan has snow white armor in book one, and here he is in book five with armor “hard as ice and bright as new-fallen snow.”

Hopefully it should be clear by now that the Kingsguard are symbolic parallels to the Others. Barristan shows it the most clearly, but all of these white shadows are consistently wearing some sort of Others symbolism, as you can see. The big question is… what does it mean?

Well, we’ve already made a mockery of the idea of a thirteen minute time limit, so you will have to wait for part 2 for my answer, or you can check out the full theory in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, which you can find in the mythical Astronomy Podcast feed and on my YouTube page. In the meantime, I’d invite you to speculate on what you think this Others / Kingsguard parallel means, because that’s part of the fun! Then join me next time and see what you think of my analysis!

Dawn is the Original Ice: the Pale Sword

In part one, we discussed the basic theory that the sword now known as Dawn, the giant white ancestral sword of House Dayne, was once wielded by a Stark and was once called Ice. The theory goes that the sword now known as Dawn was once the “dragonsteel” sword of the last hero, who may have been a Stark. The ancient Stark tradition of calling their ancestral swords “Ice” would have been done in remembrance of the time when a Stark last hero carried a big, shiny white sword in battle against the Others and ended the Long Night, bringing the dawn once again. For one reason or another, they sent their white sword south to Starfall for safe-keeping after the War for the Dawn was over, but continued to call their swords Ice thereafter.

That’s the theory anyway, or at least the basics of it. To bolster the idea of a Stark wielding Dawn, we took a look at the strange tendency of Stark swords to be described as running or shining with morning light, specially when the Starks holding them are doing especially Starky things, like Robb posing as a King of Winter statue with his wolf at his side and his sword in his lap, or Jon when he is executing a rogue Night’s Watchmen like his father before him. Today we are going to add more evidence for the theory by taking a look at the symbolism of Dawn, House Dayne, House Stark, and the Others – specifically, the symbolism relating to those things that suggests that Dawn is the original Ice of House Stark.

So let’s get to it!


Everyone recalls the famous and consistent description of Dawn; it’s “pale as milkglass, alive with light.” Real milkglass is a type of opaque or semi-opaque white glass which is very shiny, and almost wet-looking. When Martin describes Dawn as alive with light, he may be saying that it glows, or he may just be referring to the way milkglass is shiny and reflective. I’d lean towards it having a faint magical glow, but either way you can pretty well picture it: it’s a giant, shiny white sword that either plays with reflected light or even glows a little bit.

Apart from the way it looks, the maesters say that it is identical to Valyrian steel – ultra light and unbreakable. It should be noted that the appearance of Dawn an Valyrian steel really are total opposites; where Dawn is “alive with light,” Valyrian steel is often described as “smoke dark” or “a grey so dark it’s almost black,” and when Tobho Mott attempts to color Ned’s Ice a nice Lannister Crimson, he reports back that “the color would darken, as if the blade was drinking the sun from it.” The dark swords drink the sunlight, and the white sword is alive with light, in other words.

The dark swords – the Valyrian steel ones – are associated with fire and dragons, so it possible the white sword, Dawn, is associated with ice and the Others? Well, I wouldn’t base a theory on something so simple as that, though the symmetry is attractive. Here’s the thing though: the language used to describe Dawn is, for whatever reason, also used to describe the Others.

Here’s what I mean. Dawn is pale as milkglass, right? Well, so are the bones of the Others. This is from ASOS, right after Sam stabs the Other and it begins to melt:

In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too.

I want to be clear – neither the bones of the Others nor the white steel of Dawn is actually made of milkglass, but are simply pale and shiny and so are compared to milkglass. Real, conventional milkglass does make a couple of appearances in ASOIAF, but Dawn and the Others are both magical things, with magical compositions: the bones of the Others are surely made of ice, and Dawn is seemingly made of some kind of magical meteoric steel. That said, you do have to wonder at the fact that Martin uses the same language to describe Dawn and the bones of the Others, especially if you have a theory about Dawn being the original Ice of House Stark.

At the very least, we can say that in Martin’s mind, icy Other bones and the sword Dawn basically look the same, and can be described with the same words. Thus you can see the logic of a character in Martin’s world seeing a big, shiny white sword that resembles milkglass and thinking that it looks like a sword made of unbreakable ice.

So Dawn probably isn’t made from the shinbone of an Other, but it does look like one. Similarly, I’m pretty certain that Dawn is not the same thing as the sword of an Other, but they sure are described with a lot of the same language:

The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge- on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost- light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.

Dawn is alive with light, while the Other’s sword is alive with moonlight and shimmers with ghost-light. No human metal went into the forging of the Other’s sword, and the same is true of Dawn if it was made from a meteor. Dawn is made from a pale stone of magic powers, and at Starfall, the main tower is called “The Palestone Sword” – meanwhile, the swords of the Others are “pale swords” and “pale blades” that “dance with pale blue light.”

So while they don’t seem to be the same thing exactly, both Dawn and the swords of the Others are “pale blades” that are “alive with light.” Dawn lacks the blue shimmer of the Others’ swords and seems to look more like opaque milkglass than translucent ice crystal, but Dawn does look like the bones of the Others, which are made of ice.

The comparison continues with the wielders of these two types of pale swords, both of whom mirror the swords they carry. Dawn is only wielded by a knight of Starfall who is declared “the Sword of the Morning,” a title which draws its name from the sword itself.  The word “dawn” is more or less synonymous with “morning” – so both the sword and the wielder are the “sword of the morning.”

The most famous Sword of the Morning, Arthur Dayne, took the idea of being a white sword person carrying a white sword one step further when he became a white knight of the Kingsguard, who are themselves called “the white swords” and who often wear white steel armor. He was a white sword person twice over, in other words, and in both Starfall and Kings Landing, he also lived in a tower named for a white sword – the Palestone Sword Tower at Starfall, and the White Sword Tower in Kings Landing that all Kingsguard live in.

The important message is that the wielder of Dawn the milky white sword is a white sword himself. The same is true of the Others, who wield pale swords but are described as if they were milky white swords themselves, and this is from a Sam chapter of ASOS:

The Other slid gracefully from the saddle to stand upon the snow. Sword-slim it was, and milky white.

The Other is like a milky white sword, and it’s “sliding” from its saddle like a sword sliding from its scabbard. Milky white swords have to make us think of Dawn, the white sword that looks like milkglass. And we know what’s inside of this milky-white, sword-slim Other – bones as pale as milkglass! And in the AGOT prologue, the flesh of the Other is called “as pale as milk,” which just needs a -glass tagged on the end of it to become “as pale as milkglass.”

It gets worse when you consider Arthur Dayne again, the white sword person who carries a white sword and always lives in a tower named for a white sword. Because the cloaks and armor of the Kingsguard are consistently described as being as white as snow or even as hard as ice, Arthur Dayne becoming a white sword of the Kingsguard is actually akin to him becoming a symbolic white ice sword! That’s exactly what I am proposing Dawn is, a white sword that used to be called Ice, whose origin may have some connection to ice magic that is tied to the Others and the Starks. The Sword of the Morning is like a white ice sword person wielding a white ice sword, the way I see it.

So as you can see, Dawn and the Others are dressed in the same symbolic language. Well, I found one other very conspicuous thing which uses all of the same language, pretty much word for word. It’s of ice and magic, but looks a lot like Dawn. Can you guess what it is?

It’s the Wall. That’s right, the giant, 700-foot tall Wall of ice is described in language which is interchangeable with the descriptions of the Others and of Dawn.


The Wall is not made of milkglass, and it is not a sword. However once again we look to the descriptive language applied to it to see what messages Martin is sending us.

The first quote of note is the one that describes it as a snake sword, and this is from a Jon chapter of AGOT:

He had once heard his uncle Benjen say that the Wall was a sword east of Castle Black, but a snake to the west. It was true.

Benjen is talking about how the Wall runs straight over level ground to the east, but has to bend and snake around the “knife edge” of many hills to the west. But in terms of symbolism, Benjen just equated the Wall with a snake sword, a phrase which makes us think of “dragon steel,” since dragons are like winged snakes, and swords are made of steel.

Unless they are made of ice, that is:

The sun had broken through the clouds. He turned his back on it and lifted his eyes to the Wall, blazing blue and crystalline in the sunlight. Even after all these weeks, the sight of it still gave him the shivers. Centuries of windblown dirt had pocked and scoured it, covering it like a film, and it often seemed a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky … but when the sun caught it fair on a bright day, it shone, alive with light, a colossal blue-white cliff that filled up half the sky.

Ok, so now the Wall is like a snake sword that shines “alive with light” in the sun. That makes us think of Dawn, obviously, but of course the Wall is made of ice, like the swords of the Others are. The Wall blazes blue and crystalline in this quote, and in another quote, the Wall is “shining like blue crystal,” both of which remind us of how the swords of the Others are described as “a shard of crystal” with a “faint blue shimmer.” So like I said, the Wall matches both Dawn and the swords of the Others. It’s like a giant icy crystal sword with a blue shimmer, but it’s also like a sun-blazing snake sword, alive with light.

Consider also that the Wall is manned by the Night’s Watch as a bulwark against the Others, because the Night’s Watch declare themselves “the sword in the darkness” and “the light that brings the dawn,” both of which sounds like the things that the Sword of the Morning might say.

In other words, the people who are uniquely dedicated to fighting the Others and ending any potential Long Nights are sitting on a huge symbol of an alive-with-light ice sword. This might be a clue that the real sword in the darkness that the Night’s Watch needs to wield is a magical ice sword that is alive with light. Jon is the leader of the Watch, and in many ways an echo of the last hero, and as a Stark, he may well be the man to wield the original magical ice sword, the one that is alive with light.

In fact, it’s almost like our author hangs a giant sign about Jon’s future in the sky when he’s north of the Wall and observing the dawn:

The eastern sky was pink near the horizon and pale grey higher up. The Sword of the Morning still hung in the south, the bright white star in its hilt blazing like a diamond in the dawn, but the blacks and greys of the darkling forest were turning once again to greens and golds, reds and russets. And above the soldier pines and oaks and ash and sentinels stood the Wall, the ice pale and glimmering beneath the dust and dirt that pocked its surface.

There’s the Sword of the Morning constellation hanging in the dawn sky; a celestial star sword to match the earthly star-sword known as Dawn. It’s hanging right above the pale and glimmering ice of the Wall, and they may well be intended as parallel symbols, given all the symbolism they share. The bright white star in the hilt of the Sword of the Morning constellation blazes like a diamond in the dawn, just to make sure we get think of Dawn and flaming star swords. We even have to wonder if Dawn might be able to blaze with white fire, like this blazing white star in its celestial counterpart, or like the alive-with-light ice sword that is the Wall will blazes in the sunlight. Now we are like Bran after he’s heard the story of Ser Arthur Dayne and Dawn, who “went to sleep with his head full of knights in gleaming armor, fighting with swords that shone like starfire.”

Starfire is where we end this, because it’s the one thing Dawn and the Others have in common that we haven’t discussed. That’s right, think about it  – Dawn was supposedly made from a pale meteorite stone, the heart of a fallen star. The Others and their wights, more than anything else, are known by their blue star eyes! Recall that the Others themselves are milky white and sword slim, and have bones like milkglass, so… we can call them icy milkglass sword people with cold stars in their eyes. Dawn is a sword as pale as milkglass, made from a falling star. To put it bluntly, that’s a lot of pale, icy star sword symbolism shared between Dawn and the Others…. for whatever reason. Perhaps the answer is that Dawn is in some sense an ice sword with a connection to the Others.

What about the fire part of “star-fire?” Not only do tales of Dawn fill Bran’s head with dreams of swords shining like starfire, there’s also a Samwell “Starfire” Dayne in the history books to make us wonder if Dawn can catch on fire. If Dawn is Lightbringer, then it should be able to catch on fire – but if it is the original Ice, and if it has an actual tie to ice magic and the Others, then it can’t burn with regular fire, right? Well, have another look at those blue star eyes of the Others – Gilly says they burn as bright and cold as blue stars, so maybe cold starfire is the ticket. Right in the AGOT prologue, we are first warned by Gared that “nothing burns like the cold” shortly before getting a glimpse of the eyes of the Others which were “a blue that burned like ice.” Perhaps that’s what we will see if Dawn catches fire – a pale or white flame or maybe even a silvery-blue flame, one that burns like the cold. After all, we just saw that the Wall parallels Dawn as an alive with light sword, and the Wall blazes blue and crystalline in the sunlight, as if it were lit up with cold blue sun fire.

You’ve heard of fighting fire with fire – well, perhaps you have to fight the burning cold with the burning cold. We know that dragonglass, called frozen fire, can kill the Others, and that kind of sends the same message – fire that is turned cold or frozen is a potent weapon. And after all, nothing burns like the cold. Nothing burns like Ice, on fire.

Dawn is the Original Ice: the Last Hero

Hey guys, LmL here with the thirteen minute version of why ancestral sword of House Dayne, known as Dawn, might actually be the original “Ice” of House Stark. It’s a possibility that occurred to me when I first began analyzing ASOIAF in earnest, and I soon discovered that it’s actually a very old idea which has been floating around on the margins of the fandom for along time. It’s a fun theory and worth exploring, so let’s do it.

Let’s start by explaining what I mean when I say “the original Ice of House Stark.” This is from the second chapter of Game of Thrones, when Catelyn comes upon Ned cleaning Ice in the godswood.

Catelyn had no love for swords, but she could not deny that Ice had its own beauty. It had been forged in Valyria, before the Doom had come to the old Freehold, when the ironsmiths had worked their metal with spells as well as hammers. Four hundred years old it was, and as sharp as the day it was forged. The name it bore was older still, a legacy from the age of heroes, when the Starks were Kings in the North.

In other words, the Valyrian steel sword named Ice that Ned carries is about four hundred years old, but the tradition of the Starks naming a sword Ice is actually thousands of years old, dating to back to the “age of heroes.” The age of heroes is a term that the maesters and the people of Westeros use to refer to the centuries and millennia leading up to the Long Night, a time marked by stories of legendary heroes such as Lann the Clever, Garth the Green, Durran Godsgrief, and of course Bran the Builder. Thus we can infer that the tradition of Starks naming their sword Ice pretty much goes back to the origins of House Stark, or at the very least, to the time before the Long Night.

All of this begs the question: how did this tradition begin? Why do the Starks name their swords Ice? Did they once wield swords of actual ice, like the Others? What was the original Ice, and what happened to it?

Well, there is good reason to think it somehow ended up down at Starfall, renamed Dawn and placed there for safekeeping. Dawn is a huge white sword after all, what better name for it than Ice?

The theory goes like this: the last hero is said to have won the War for the Dawn by “slaying Others with a blade of dragonsteel” which they supposedly could not stand against. That sword may have been Dawn or Lightbringer or even both – either name would make perfect sense as the name for a sword that helped to end the Long Night, which amounts to bringing the dawn and bringing the light. Now, who was the last hero? Well, the most likely answer is that he was a Stark, right? There are other possibilities, sure, but I think most would agree that’s the likely answer.

In other words, there is a very plausible scenario where the Long Night was ended by a Stark last hero wielding Dawn. But it may not have been named Dawn yet – the oldest northern myth of the last hero names his sword as dragonsteel, though that seems more like a description than a name. It’s possible that the Stark last hero named this huge, magical white sword Ice, and assuming they had some reason to give it up to the Daynes after the War for the Dawn was over, it would make sense if the Starks began a tradition of naming their primary sword “Ice” in remembrance of the original Ice… which is now called Dawn.

Think of Aragorn of Lord of the Rings, who is destined to wield Narsil, the reforged sword of his ancestors which had been out of their possession ever since the last big battle with the great evil thousands of years in the past. Similarly, it may be that Dawn was originally a Stark sword and is destined to be once again wielded by a Stark for the last battle. It makes a certain amount of sense.

So, let’s back up and take this one step at a time.

The legend of the last hero slaying the Others with a blade of “dragonsteel” comes from the oldest records Sam can find at Castle Black. Jon and Sam wonder if the term dragonsteel might mean Valyrian steel, but all the information we have indicates that Valyria only arose after the Long Night, and thus did not exist to provide the last hero with any of their prized steel. Dawn, however, is said  be very similar to Valyrian steel, and it is also said to be old enough to have been the last hero’s sword. This is from TWOIAF:

The Daynes of Starfall are one of the most ancient houses in the Seven Kingdoms, though their fame largely rests on their ancestral sword, called Dawn, and the men who wielded it. Its origins are lost to legend, but it seems likely that the Daynes have carried it for thousands of years. Those who have had the honor of examining it say it looks like no Valyrian steel they know, being pale as milkglass but in all other respects it seems to share the properties of Valyrian blades, being incredibly strong and sharp.

Dawn is like white Valyrian steel, as best as the maesters can tell, so it would potentially make sense as a sword that could stand against the Others in the way that dragonglass can and Valyrian steel probably can (show canon says yes, book canon says probably yes, but not proven yet). Dawn may well have been around at the time of the Long Night, too – here it says that the Daynes are an ancient First Men house, one of the oldest in the Seven Kingdoms, and in AFFC Gerold Darkstar Dayne says that “my House goes back ten thousand years, unto the dawn of days.”

Not only do the Daynes supposedly go back to the dawn of days – the sword does too, according to legend. This is again from TWOIAF:

At the mouth of the Torrentine, House Dayne raised its castle on an island where that roaring, tumultuous river broadens to meet the sea. Legend says the first Dayne was led to the site when he followed the track of a falling star and there found a stone of magical powers. His descendants ruled over the western mountains for centuries thereafter as Kings of the Torrentine and Lords of Starfall.

Now we have no way of knowing how much of this tale is true of course, but the point is that the legend of House Dayne ties the creation of this magic sword to the origins of their house and places these events in the most remote ancient history.

It even makes sense to describe Dawn as “dragonsteel,” because it is believed to have been forged from a meteorite. Throughout real world history, meteors and comets, burning brightly in the sky with their long tails, have been remembered in myth as dragons or flying, fire-breathing serpents, and George R. R. Martin makes use of this comets / dragons analogy many times in ASOIAF. Therefore, the idea of describing a sword made from a meteor as ‘dragonsteel’ actually makes a ton of sense – if meteors can be dragons, then meteorite steel would be dragon-steel.

So, Dawn is probably old enough to be the sword of the last hero, and it seems to be the kind of unbreakable magic sword that might be able to slay the Others. The term “dragonsteel” could describe Dawn, and the names “Dawn” and “Sword of the Morning” sound like names that might have origins in the ending of the Long Night. And as we said a moment ago, if you ran a fandom poll asking people what bloodline the last hero was a member of, House Stark would surely win in a landslide. Therefore the idea of a Stark last hero wielding Dawn is not far-fetched in the slightest – I’m simply alleging that it wasn’t called Dawn yet, and that the ancient Stark tradition of naming their swords Ice dates back to this one crucial time when a Stark hero wielded a giant shiny white sword that looked as though it is made of unbreakable ice.

Unfortunately, Dawn, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, has always been kept at Starfall, which is about as far away from Winterfell as you can possible get inside of Westeros, and there are no overt clues that Dawn originally belonged to the Starks. Still, a lot of people think Dawn might have been the last hero’s sword, and if so, it would have had to go north and come back south again somehow. I think it’s safe to assume that “The Sword of Destiny,” whatever and wherever it was, managed to find a way to show up at the last battle.

Here, however, the trail sort of runs cold (no pun intended), at least as far as direct evidence and logic goes. It’s a bunch of maybes and probablys and this might make sense if. It’s not bad as theories go, but I crave more evidence – and it’s there to be found, though to find it we have to analyze the symbolism surrounding Dawn and House Dayne, House Stark, and the Others, and we have to look for potential parallels to the War for the Dawn in other historical events. That’s exactly the sort of analysis we do around here, so this is actually where this theory begins, not where it ends.

“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.” 

No, now it begins.


The first thing I want to tell you is that I don’t know if we will see anyone wielding Dawn against the Others at the conclusion of the story. What I do know is that if someone is going to swing that thing at the Others, Jon Snow is by far the most likely candidate. The Daynes we know of won’t work – Darkstar is too evil and vein, and young Edric, though valiant, is only 13 and not large enough or strong enough to wield Dawn. Both of them are also fairly minor characters, and would not make sense as a focal point of the last battle. I do think one or both of these characters will be involved in bringing Dawn out of Starfall – Darkstar seems primed to steal it, for one thing – but neither are fit to wield it in a meaningful way against the Others.

Jon, however, would be a great candidate to wield Dawn, except that he’s not a Dayne. He does have some Dayne blood, actually – assuming he is the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna, his Targaryen half has a not-insignificant amount of Dayne blood going back a few generations to Maekar Targaryen and Dyanna Dayne. I’d be surprised if this lineage is used to name Jon the Sword of the Morning in the usual fashion though, as he’s not in any sense “a knight of House Dayne.”

But here’s the thing – Jon doesn’t need to be a Dayne to wield Dawn, not if Dawn is the original Ice of House Stark. The real “sword of the morning” is the person who actually brings the dawn, right? The person who ends the Long Night? And if there is one person who will play the warrior role against the Others, it’s most certainly Jon. If Dawn is the sword that needs to be wielded against the Others… it seems like Jon will wield it, one way or the other.

As it happens, there is specific foreshadowing of the idea of a Stark wielding Dawn through some thinly-disguised wordplay. Four times in the published novels, Martin describes a sword as running, glimmering, or shimmering with “morning light” – i.e. dawn light – and all four times, it is tied to the Starks. Three of the four occurrences have a Stark holding the sword, and the one time it isn’t a Stark swordsman, it’s a Stark sword.

The settings we get these morning light swords in are amazing too. Robb Stark is the first one to wield morning light, and it occurs during the only time we see Robb enthroned as the King in the North. He’s actually doing a very detailed impression of the stone statues of the Kings of Winter from the Winterfell crypts – he has his direwolf at his side, and his sword across his lap, “a threat plain for all to see.” Catelyn observes her boy transforming into the icy King in the North and it says

Her son’s voice was not as icy as his father’s would have been, but he did not sound a boy of fifteen either. War had made a man of him before his time. Morning light glimmered faintly against the edge of the steel across his knees.

As you can see, Robb is specifically enthroned in the archetypal manner of the Stark Kings of old, and it is then that the author paints the edge of his sword with morning light. He’s actually demanding the return of his father’s sword, Ice, which has unfortunately been melted down and reforged as two swords, Oathkeeper and Widows Wail. Funny thing about Widow’s Wail though..

The ballroom fell silent as Joffrey unsheathed the blade and thrust the sword above his head. Red and black ripples in the steel shimmered in the morning light.

Joffrey is unfit to wield Stark steel, and indeed, he dies later that day at his own wedding feast. But those Stark swords, they sure do seem to glimmer and shimmer with morning light.

The other two times it happens, the swordsman is none other than our boy Jon Snow. It happens twice in one chapter actually, and it’s the chapter from ADWD where Jon imitates his father Ned as the lord who passes the sentence and swings the sword. The first time, he’s even thinking about the way Ned taught his sons to care for their swords:

Half the morning passed before Lord Janos reported as commanded. Jon was cleaning Longclaw. Some men would have given that task to a steward or a squire, but Lord Eddard had taught his sons to care for their own weapons. When Kegs and Dolorous Edd arrived with Slynt, Jon thanked them and bid Lord Janos sit.

That he did, albeit with poor grace, crossing his arms, scowling, and ignoring the naked steel in his lord commander’s hands. Jon slid the oilcloth down his bastard sword, watching the play of morning light across the ripples, thinking how easily the blade would slide through skin and fat and sinew to part Slynt’s ugly head from his body. 

Saying that the morning light is playing across the ripples is almost as good as saying it’s alive with light, and it’s morning light. Jon goes on to think about how this man killed his father, and at the end of the chapter, he does of course end up executing Janos in the famous “Ed, fetch me a block” scene. And once again, his sword runs with morning light:

The pale morning sunlight ran up and down his blade as Jon clasped the hilt of the bastard sword with both hands and raised it high.

The morning light is even pale, like Dawn is as pale as milkglass and alive with light. Jon is executing a renegade Night’s Watchmen, just as Ned did to open the story, and thinking about doing things the way Ned did. And when he does, his sword runs with morning light, the light of dawn.

Why? Because a Stark named Jon Snow may be destined to wield Dawn as the sword in the darkness, bringing the light of morning to the land once again with the ancient Ice sword of his ancestors.

If you liked this one, be sure to watch part 2, where we examine the symbolic evidence that Dawn was once called Ice.

 

Great Empire of the Dawn: Westeros

In Great Empire of the Dawn: Dragonlords of Ancient Asshai – which you all seem to have liked, thanks so much for all the great comments – we made the case that the Great Empire of the Dawn is really just another name for the ancient, pre-Valyrian dragonlord civilization that many of us, including Septon Barth himself, have long suspected once existed in Asshai. Seemingly with the use of their dragons, the Great Empire of the Dawn ruled pretty much all of Far Eastern Essos, an empire as big as Valyria – but they apparently weren’t content to stop there. A Song of Ice and Fire is a story about Westeros, and for the millennia-old events in Asshai and Eastern Essos to be more than just fun trivia, they need to have a connection to ancient Westeros. I’m here today to show you that not only did the ancient dragonlords of the Great Empire of the Dawn make contact with Westeros, they had a hand in shaping some of the most important events related to Azor Ahai, Lightbringer, the last hero, and the Long Night.


Hello there friends, it’s LmL and I am back with part 2 of my revamped Great Empire of the Dawn theory, which me and my friend Durran Durrandon came up with 5 years ago before anyone else blah blah blah blah. If you like these Mythical Astronomy video essays, please like and share them, subscribe to the channel, and if you have the means, consider tossing a coin to you dragon via our patreon campaign, which you can find at lucifermeanslightbringer.com. Thanks to all our patrons, and be sure to check out our Patreon Appreciation music video that I made on our YouTube channel if you haven’t already.


Let’s start with the hard evidence, as we did last time. One of the best, most-concrete clues about the great Empire of the Dawn being a dragonlord civilization was the fused stone that was used to build the enormous walls of the Five Forts. The Five Forts are pretty firmly dated to “before the Long Night,” while Valyria is firmly dated to “after the Long Night,” and the Five Forts are in the Far East, where Valyria was never known to come, so they are pretty much smoking-gun evidence that history has lost track of an empire of dragonlords that existed before the Long Night. Rather, history didn’t lose track of them – they are remembered as the Great Empire of the Dawn in Yi Tish history – but the historians lost track of the fact that they were dragonlords. They also failed to link them to the long-vanished people who built Asshai – the ones Septon Barth talks about reading of in an ancient Asshai text, which states that..

…a people so ancient they had no name first tamed dragons in the Shadow and brought them to Valyria, teaching the Valyrians their arts before departing from the annals.

It’s hard to say if Septon Barth knew about the existence of the Five Forts when he wrote this, but they sure do bolster his case for an Asshai race of dragonlords who came before Valyria. Nearly a thousand vertical feet of fused stone fortress wall, rendered in the form of five separate monstrous “forts,” the Five Forts have stood “undisturbed by time” for thousands of years, as only fused stone can. They can only have been built by dragonlords with a purpose, and we think we’ve found those dragonlords.

Even more exciting is the fact that we find something similar in Westeros – a fused stone fortress which can be reliably dated to “before the Long Night.” Though not nearly as large and imposing as the Five Forts, it is, like the Forts, hard evidence which sends a clear message that “dragonlords were here.” In Westeros. In the Dawn Age. Making fortresses.

So where is this mysterious fused stone fortress of Westeros? Well, it’s in Oldtown, right under the High Tower:

The stony island where the Hightower stands is known as Battle Isle even in our oldest records, but why? What battle was fought there? When? Between which lords, which kings, which races? Even the singers are largely silent on these matters.

Even more enigmatic to scholars and historians is the great square fortress of black stone that dominates that isle. For most of recorded history, this monumental edifice has served as the foundation and lowest level of the Hightower, yet we know for a certainty that it predates the upper levels of the tower by thousands of years.

Alright, so the famous High Tower of Oldtown stands on a little island in the Whispering Sound, which is where the Honeywine River meets the sea, and there’s a fortress at the base of the tower – literally underneath of it – which is made of black stone and predates even the oldest version of the High Tower (of which there were said to have been five). What kind of black stone was it, you ask? Here’s the next paragraph from TWOIAF:

Who built it? When? Why? Most maesters accept the common wisdom that declares it to be of Valyrian construction, for its massive walls and labyrinthine interiors are all of solid rock, with no hint of joins or mortar, no chisel marks of any kind, a type of construction that is seen elsewhere, most notably in the dragonroads of the Freehold of Valyria, and the Black Walls that protect the heart of Old Volantis. The dragonlords of Valryia, as is well-known, possessed the art of turning stone to liquid with dragonflame, shaping it as they would, then fusing it harder than iron, steel, or granite.

Okay, so it’s the fused stone that is the hallmark of the dragonlords, which is why the maesters think it could be Valyrian. There are timeline issues with that however – more on this in a moment – and the style doesn’t seem to match either, which is why the maesters go on to consider the possibility that the fortress is not Valyrian:

More troubling, and more worthy of consideration, are the arguments put forth by those who claim that the first fortress is not Valyrian at all.

The fused black stone of which it is made suggests Valyria, but the plain, unadorned style of architecture does not, for the dragonlords loved little more than twisting stone into strange, fanciful, and ornate shapes. Within, the narrow, twisting, windowless passages strike many as being tunnels rather than halls; it is very easy to get lost amongst their turnings. Mayhaps this is no more than a defensive measure designed to confound attackers, but it too is singularly un-Valyrian. 

The plain, unadorned style of fused stone construction might be a match for the Five Forts, which are described as having straight slabs of fused stone and are not described as having ornamentation (though we can certainly all forgive a bit of artist interpretation with all the amazing Five Forts artwork from Martin H. Matthes that we’ve been featuring in these episodes). That’s by no means a conclusive match, but as I mentioned, the timeline suggests this Battle Isle fortress is too old to be Valyrian, so it’s not surprising the style doesn’t match theirs.

As to those tunnels, well, they can’t have been carved by men, because, well, you can’t carve fused stone – that’s kind of the whole point of it being magically indestructible. Tunnels carved by men is also the boring explanation here; it’s far more likely those tunnels were made by the same dragons! (which is the Grandpa Simpson “now we’re talking!” explanation). We know that dragons can bore into rock to some extent like their fire wyrm brethren, as we see Viserion carve out a hollow in the brick of the Meereenese pyramid where he is confined: “Viserion had dug himself a hole in them with flame and claw, a hole big enough to sleep in.” If a young dragon like Viserion can do that, then it’s possible that the more extensive tunnels in the Battle Isle fortress could have been made by dragons – and after all, the fortress itself can only have been made by dragons, so it’s probable that those same dragons created the tunnels.

Incredibly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, there are actually rumors that dragons did once roost on this fused stone fortress:

How old is Oldtown, truly? Many a maester has pondered that question, but we simply do not know. The origins of the city are lost in the mists of time and clouded by legend. Some ignorant septons claim that the Seven themselves laid out its boundaries, other men that dragons once roosted on the Battle Isle until the first Hightower put an end to them.

This is a case of the rumors being pretty much dead accurate, I believe. It’s made of fused stone, which requires dragons and dragonlords, and, accordingly, there is a hazy memory of dragons literally chilling on the walls of the fortress. This brings us to our next question: did the ancestors of the Hightowers slay those dragons, as this passage suggests… or did they perhaps ride them and use them to make their fortress?


The maesters tell us that “men have lived at the mouth of the Honeywine since the Dawn Age” and suggest that “the first settlement at the top of Whispering Sound may have began as a trading post” for seafaring traders. Seafaring traders – you mean people who came to Westeros by ship? …in the Dawn Age? …and they may be the ones who built a fused stone fortress, which requires dragonfire and sorcery? Sounds like the Great Empire of the Dawn to me!

And the Hightowers might descend from these people?

The reasons for the abandonment of the fortress and the fate of its builders, whoever they might have been, are likewise lost to us, but at some point we know that Battle Isle and its great stronghold came into the possession of the ancestors of House Hightower. Were they First Men, as most scholars believe today? Or did they mayhaps descend from the seafarers and traders who had settled at the top of Whispering Sound in earlier epochs, the men who came before the First Men? We cannot know.

Men who came before the First Men? That is way before the Long Night, and way, way before the 14 Flames of Valyria were even a glimmer in a shepherd’s fire. These folks came by sea, and built with fused stone – if we were starting our exploration with this mystery, we would have the same question arise that we did with the Five Forts; there seems to be a missing, pre-Long Night dragonlord culture that we need to find. We already found it though, in the far east, and the fact that the maesters are so convinced that “seafaring traders” who came “before the First Men” were a part of the origins of Oldtown gives us the clue we need to understand that the dragonlords who built here came from far away, by sea.

The bit about “maybe the Hightowers descend from these seafaring folk, who knows” indicates they may be descended from dragonlords, as outrageous as that may seem. Here is the next part of that passage:

When first glimpsed in the pages of history, the Hightowers are already kings, ruling Oldtown from Battle Isle. The first “high tower,” the chroniclers tell us, was made of wood and rose some fifty feet above the ancient fortress that was its foundation. Neither it, nor the taller timber towers that followed in the centuries to come, were meant to be a dwelling; they were purely beacon towers, built to light a path for trading ships up the fog-shrouded waters of Whispering Sound. The early Hightowers lived amidst the gloomy halls, vaults, and chambers of the strange stone below. It was only with the building of the fifth tower, the first to be made entirely of stone, that the Hightower became a seat worthy of a great house. That tower, we are told, rose two hundred feet above the harbor. Some say it was designed by Brandon the Builder, whilst others name his son, another Brandon; the king who demanded it, and paid for it, is remembered as Uthor of the High Tower.

Once again I will point out the timeline – if the fifth iteration of the tower is still dated to the time of Brandon the Builder and Uthor Hightower – two figures from the Age of Heroes / Dawn Age – then we are indeed talking ‘before the Long Night’ and ‘before Valyria.’

Now it’s kind of strange that the first Hightowers would live on Battle Isle in the gloomy halls and chambers of the fused stone fortress… although it would certainly make more sense if they were related to the dragonlords who built it. That would also explain why they would be accepted as kings by the first First Men, and why they would have started off wealthy.

There’s also a slick naming clue being fed to us here with Uthor Hightower’s name. Uther Pendragon was the father of King Arthur, and the word “Pendragon” means “head dragon.” The word dragon also implies “warrior” here, so Uther was being called a figurative dragon and a warrior chief. The coolest part is that, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae, Uther acquired the “Pendragon” epithet when he witnessed a portentous dragon-shaped comet, which inspired him to use dragons on his standards. Yikes! And this is the name George chose for the first named Hightower? A name associated with comets, dragons, kings, and even shining swords like Arthur’s Excalibur? These clues make a ton of sense if the Hightowers are descended from the the dragonlords of the Great Empire.

It’s really not as crazy as it sounds. The Hightowers have a long tradition of magic and interest in the occult, as Quinn and I discussed at length in our Winds of Winter predictions video about The Hightower, and that tower itself just reeks of Sauroman / Orthanc / Palantir symbolism. There are even signs that the Church of Starry Wisdom – which was founded by the Bloodstone Emperor and is known to operate in port cities around the world – may have some strange dockside temples in Oldtown. Those are those ones visited by Marwyn the Mage, an Archmaester of the Citadel who has been to Asshai and likes to play with glass candles. I plan on doing a full video about the on the potential rising influence of Starry Wisdom Cult in A Song of Ice and Fire, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Another reason it’s not crazy to think the Hightowers descend from Great Empire of the Dawn people are their looks. We don’t get a glimpse of many Hightowers in the books to judge their appearance, but we do get a couple clues that they may have dragonlord features. Alicent Hightower married King Viserys Targaryen and gave him four children, all of whom had the trademark Valyrian look, and we have seen many times that darker haired genetics tend to overrun the silver-and-gold haired blood-of-the-dragon genetics. That means Alicent was at least fair haired and blue eyed, else her children would have some darker looks and eyes other than purple or blue. As a young girl, Alicent was the nursemaid for the old King Jaehaerys, and in Fire and Blood we read that “it is said that, at times, the king thought her to be one of his own daughters.” That would only happen if she looked like one of his daughters – meaning, if she looked Valyrian or at least close to it.

Alerie Hightower, meanwhile, who is between age 36 and 43 at the time of the main story, is twice described as having silver hair – in one place she’s called “silver-haired and handsome” and another time it says her “long silvery braid was bound with jeweled rings.” Now some people do get silver hair early in life, but the description of long silver hair implies it’s fully silver and has been that that way for at least the couple years it takes to grow hair that long. It might not be the silver of age, but of genetics.

Finally, we have Jorah comparing Lynesse Hightower, Alerie’s sister, to Daenerys, saying “Why, she looked a bit like you, Daenerys,” when asked. That’s interesting, right? Jorah’s Aunt, Lady Maege Mormont, says that “She had hair like spun gold, that Lynesse. Skin like cream.” Valyrians are known for hair of silver and gold and platinum white, so this is a potential match – and she looks a bit like Daenerys. The explanation may be that House Hightower has a bit of latent dragonlord blood in their veins. Heck, Lynesse’s father, Lord Leyton Hightower, may be in on the secret, having given two of his children dragon names, Baelor and Alysanne. I’ll also mention that Alicent Hightower wasn’t the only Hightower to marry a Targaryen; Garmund Hightower married Rhaena Targaryen (Rhaena of Pentos, rider of Morning, the last Targaryen dragon before Dany hatched her three).

While none of these three examples are conclusive, I do expect to see more from House Hightower in The Winds of Winter, what with Sam and Euron both at Oldtown, so perhaps we’ll get an answer on this. Personally, I find the Uthor Hightower / Uther Pendragon clue pretty convincing, but here’s the thing: whether or not the Hightowers are descended from the Great Empire of the Dawn is an interesting question, but it’s secondary to my main point in this section, which is that the presence of the fused stone fortress reliably dated to before the Long Night indicates that a pre-Valyrian dragonlord culture came to ancient Westeros and founded the first settlements at Oldtown, Westeros’s oldest city. That can only have been the Great Empire of the Dawn.

Why did they come? What did they do? Is this where the name of Battle Isle comes from, which is as old as anyone can remember? Well, to the last question, yes, I do believe the Battle Isle name must stem from some ancient conflict where native Westerosi resisted the dragonlords – after all, the dragonlords didn’t conquer Westeros at this time, and whatever mark they left has been obscured by history. As to why they came and what they did, I think we can find some big clues with the Westerosi House that is most obviously descended from the Great Empire of the Dawn… say it with me now… “House Dayne.”


The Daynes of Starfall are one of the most ancient houses in the Seven Kingdoms, though their fame largely rests on their ancestral sword, called Dawn, and the men who wielded it. Its origins are lost to legend, but it seems likely that the Daynes have carried it for thousands of years. Those who have had the honor of examining it say it looks like no Valyrian steel they know, being pale as milkglass but in all other respects it seems to share the properties of Valyrian blades, being incredibly strong and sharp.

Yes, where did they get that sword? It’s almost too easy to say “they got the sword Dawn from the Great Empire of the Dawn,” but yeah, it does make a certain amount of sense. Dawn is basically white Valyrian steel, and something that advanced has absolutely no business being in ancient Westeros thousands of years ago, which was firmly stuck in the Bronze Age at that time. The Daynes are counted First Men, and in AFFC Gerold Darkstar Dayne says that “My House goes back ten thousand years, unto the dawn of days,” so we are indeed talking remote Westerosi history, almost certainly well before the Long Night.

Not only was the raw steel-working needed to make Dawn beyond the skill of the First Men at that time, Dawn is clearly an unbreakable magic sword along the lines of Valyrian steel which presumably required powerful sorcery to fashion. If anyone around in the time before the Long Night had the know-how and magical ability to make some kind of forerunner to Valyrian steel from a magical meteorite, wouldn’t it be the Great Empire of the Dawn? We don’t know if Dawn was made with dragonfire, but Valyrian steel is, so if Dawn was too then it would have been something only the dragonlords of the Great Empire could have made.

Consider again those kingly ghosts with gemstone eyes that Daenerys sees in her “wake the dragon” dream: they were holding swords of pale fire. We don’t know if the sword Dawn can catch on fire, but it is described as pale as milkglass and as being made from a pale stone, so pale fire is what you’d expect if it were to blaze up. Dawn does glow a bit, and the fire seems to be implied; when Ned tells Bran the story of Arthur Dayne and Dawn, afterword it says that Bran “went to sleep with his head full of knights in gleaming armor, fighting with swords that shone like starfire.”

None of this stuff about Dawn is conclusive, but a Great Empire of the Dawn origin for it does fit everything we known about Dawn pretty well. Obviously the symbolism of Dawn suggests Lightbringer; “son of the morning” and “light-bringer” are both translations of the Latin word for Venus, which is Lucifer. Although Venus is a planet, it appears to us on earth as the largest star in the sky, and it’s called the Morningstar because it rises just before the dawn during half of its celestial cycle. In other words, the ASOIAF terms “Lightbringer,” “Sword of the Morning,” and “Dawn” all derive from the same Venus-based mythology. I don’t know if Dawn is “the” Lightbringer, or if perhaps any flaming sword is considered a Lightbringer, but there does seem to be a strong link between the sword Dawn, which resides at Starfall in Westeros, and Lightbringer, a myth from Asshai and the far east.

Gee, how could a magic sword myth from the far east be connected to a magic sword in Westeros, I wonder… they’re so far away, what could possibly link them togeth– okay I’ll stop. You get the picture. The presence of the Great Empire of the Dawn at nearby Oldtown (nearby relatively speaking) makes it very plausible that either the sword Dawn itself or the knowledge and technology needed to make it came to Westeros via the Great Empire, and the mythology and symbolism of Dawn and Lightbringer suggest a link. People have always wondered if Dawn might not be Lightbringer, but there’s always been that huge gap between Asshai, where the Azor Ahai / Lightbringer myth comes from, and Starfall, where House Dayne lives. The Great Empire of the Dawn theory, as promised, solves that puzzle.

Even the symbolism of House Hightower fits in this family: their sigil is a white lighthouse crowned with red flame, and their words are “we light the way.” I mean, compare: a white glowing sword or flaming red sword which brings the dawn and the morning vs a white lighthouse tower which lights the way with a crown of flame (and a book of spells, ha ha). The flaming lighthouse tower is even set on a field of grey smoke… just like the meteor-induced smoke, ash, and debris that caused the darkness of the Long Night. Whatever the Dayne house words turn out to be, they will no doubt be complementary to “we light the way” and the link between Dayne and Hightower will be even more obvious.

Like the first Hightowers living and building on Battle Isle, an island at the mouth of a river (the Honeywine), so too did the first Daynes, who built Starfall on an island at the mouth of the Torrentine River. The Hightowers are thought to descend from ancient mariners who came to Westeros in ancient day, and the first Daynes do indeed sound like they too migrated to Starfall:

At the mouth of the Torrentine, House Dayne raised its castle on an island where that roaring, tumultuous river broadens to meet the sea. Legend says the first Dayne was led to the site when he followed the track of a falling star and there found a stone of magical powers. His descendants ruled over the western mountains for centuries thereafter as Kings of the Torrentine and Lords of Starfall.

It doesn’t say where the Daynes came from, but they seem to have come here by following signs in the heavens, driven by the need to make a magical meteor sword. Lightbringer is associated with comets, and the Bloodstone Emperor worshipped that black meteorite, so we are seeing a familiar set of idea here.

We’re also seeing some familiar dragonlord looks amongst the members of House Dayne, even more so than House Hightower…


Everyone remembers the tall and fair Ashara Dayne’s famous “haunting violet eyes,” which we hear of early on in AGOT, but even more telling are Barristan’s words in ADWD:

Even after all these years, Ser Barristan could still recall Ashara’s smile, the sound of her laughter. He had only to close his eyes to see her, with her long dark hair tumbling about her shoulders and those haunting purple eyes. Daenerys has the same eyes. Sometimes when the queen looked at him, he felt as if he were looking at Ashara’s daughter…

That’s quite the resemblance, no? Ashara has dark hair instead of light, but her eyes and features are enough that Daenerys reminds Barristan of Ashara. It’s very like Dany reminding Jorah of Lynesse… the reason Lynesse Hightower and Ashara Dayne remind people of Dany may be that they have an ancient common ancestor, and because in ASOIAF these kinds of magical bloodline traits persist far longer than they should.

And it’s not just Ashara by any means. Gerold Darkstar Dayne is even easier to spot:

Arianne watched him warily. He is highborn enough to make a worthy consort, she thought. Father would question my good sense, but our children would be as beautiful as dragonlords. If there was a handsomer man in Dorne, she did not know him. Ser Gerold Dayne had an aquiline nose, high cheekbones, a strong jaw. He kept his face clean- shaven, but his thick hair fell to his collar like a silver glacier, divided by a streak of midnight black. He has a cruel mouth, though, and a crueler tongue. His eyes seemed black as he sat outlined against the dying sun, sharpening his steel, but she had looked at them from a closer vantage and she knew that they were purple. Dark purple. Dark and angry.

Purple eyes and silver hair would be obvious enough, but then Arianne flat out compares his look to that of dragonlords. Okay, message received. Something is up here with House Dayne.

In case you’re wondering if some Targaryen may have married into House Dayne in the past, there is no record of such anywhere, I checked. Dyanna Dayne married Maeker Targaryen, but no Targaryen has married into House Dayne that we have been told of. George has also said the Daynes are not related to the Targaryens, and the Daynes are not named among the Westerosi houses descended from Valyria (which are Targaryen, Velaryon, and Celtigar). I believe the answer is instead that House Dayne shares a common ancestor with Valyria, which is of course the Great Empire of the Dayne–I mean Dawn.

So far we are two for two with Daynes whose physical descriptions have been given having some sort of dragonlord look with Ashara and Darkstar Dayne (we unfortunately never get a description of Arthur Dayne). There’s one more Dayne that gets a physical description, and a closer look at him brings us to three for three:

She had always heard that Dornishmen were small and swarthy, with black hair and small black eyes, but Ned had big blue eyes, so dark that they looked almost purple. And his hair was a pale blond, more ash than honey.

Alright, so this one isn’t as obvious, but remember that Targaryens have eyes that range from purple to blue, in both light and dark shades, and their silver and gold hair can run to blonde and ash, which is like a pale, metallic straw color. Valar Targaryen, for example, had “cool blue eyes,” and fAegon / Young Griff (who is likely a Blackfyre) has eyes which are dark blue in daylight, purple by light of dusk, and black in lamplight (and lashes as long as any woman, according to Tyrion, for what it’s worth). Egg of Dunk and Egg has eyes very similar to Young Griff; they’re described as large eyes which are dark blue, almost purple in one passage, and in another Dunk thinks “In the dimness of the lamplit cellar they looked black, but in better light their true color could be seen: deep and dark and purple. Valyrian eyes, thought Dunk.”

Ned Dayne compares very well to Egg and fAegon, and I can’t help but notice that George arranged to make him the squire of Beric Dondarrion, who famously wields a magical flaming sword that reminds us of Lightbringer. Ned ended up Beric’s quire because his aunt Allyria Dayne (who I like to call Allyria Valyria) was engaged to Beric, and I can’t help but think it’s a nod from the author to think of Lightbringer together with House Dayne.

Speaking of Allyria Dayne, I noticed a couple of naming crossovers between Dayne and Hightower; Allyria Dayne and Alerie Hightower, Gerold Dayne and Gerold Hightower, and perhaps even Vorian Dayne and Dorian Hightower. Oh, and of course there’s Uthor Hightower and Arthur Dayne, haha, might want to mention that one, since that represents the author connecting both House Dayne and House Hightower to King Arthur and Excalibur, an obvious influence on Lightbringer.

I mentioned a moment ago that that Egg’s father Maekar Targaryen married Dyanna Dayne, and though we are not given Dyanna’ physical description, there are reasons to think she had dragonlord looks. Even though Maekar’s mother was Mariah Martell, who passed on her dark-haired genetics to some of Maekar’s siblings like Baelor Breakspear, all of Maekar and Dyanna Dayne’s children came out with standard Valyrian looks, save for one who has sandy brown hair (Daeron the Drunkard). Daeron’s hair is no doubt a legacy of his grandmother Mariah Martell, but the point is that if she had had dark looks, her and Maekar’s children wouldn’t have come out almost completely Valyrian-looking. Instead, it seems like Dyanna may have injected a fresh batch of dragonlord looks into the line, giving Maekar a batch of mostly Valyrian looking kids. Egg later married the dark-haired Black Betha Blackwood, and their kids had incest for two generations leading up to Aerys and Rhaella, who look prototypically Valyrian, and their kids, Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys, who also all look Valyrian. This means that Dyanna almost certainly had some silver hair and purple / blue eye genetics in her veins – and in fact, that would actually be a potential reason for Maekar, a prince of the blood royal, to marry a woman from a relatively obscure house like Dayne, since the Targaryens are always trying to maintain their signature look. (Hat-tip to Aziz from History of Westeros for that analysis)

By the way, because Dyanna’s Dayne blood was only watered down once by Egg’s marriage to the Blackwoods (it was all incest from there to Aerys and Rhaella), both Jon and Dany have a significant amount of Dayne blood.

Just in case, you know, someone heroic needed to wield Dawn for the last battle. Ned Dayne is too young and Darkstar unworthy, so Jon or Dany’s Dayne lineage could actually be relevant at some point.


Speaking of Azor Ahai and last hero matters, you may recall that in the first Great Empire video, I mentioned that out of the five given names for Azor Ahai, we can trace four of them to places in the east (Neferion to Nefer, Hyrkoon the Hero to Hyrkoon, and Yin Tar to Yi Ti, and Azor Ahai to Asshai), but that Eldric Shadowchaser was kind of an oddball. It has no matches in the east, but it does find derivatives in both House Dayne and House Stark… which are the two houses most likely to be associated with last hero; the Daynes because of Dawn and their symbolism, and the Starks because, well, they’re the Starks, and the Others seem to be mainly their problem.

Alright, so first off we can observe that “shadow-chaser” is a great title for someone who fights the Others, who are called white shadows, pale shadows, cold shadows, shadows with teeth, and so on. The name Eldric is a nod to Michael Morcock’s Elric of Melnibone, who wields a magical (and cursed) black sword called Stormbringer and basically looks like a young Bloodraven. He has a ton of parallels to Bloodraven, Jon Snow, and Azor Ahai, and George has cited this series and author as a big influence of his many times. The name Hyrkoon is also from Elric of Melnibone; Elric’s cousin Yrkoon wields a magic sword called the “Mournblade,” which, I know – Sword of the Morning, Galladon of Morne and his magic sword, yes sir. Finally, the name Eldrick itself is German and means “sage ruler,” making it a good name for an Azor Ahai or Elric of Melnibone-type figure.

So back over at House Dayne, we have the tale of an Ulrick Dayne, who was of course a Sword of the Morning and was considered one of the greatest knights of his time. We just mentioned young Ned Dayne – his full name is Edric. Edric “Shadowchaser” Dayne, squire of Beric “don’t call me Azor Ahai” Dondarrion. The thing is, Edric Dayne is considered to be named after Eddard Stark – hence the shared Ned nickname – which demonstrates that in Westeros (as in the real world), you can honor a naming tradition with slight variations. That’s exactly what we find with House Stark, which serves up two Edric Starks – one Edric with a ‘c’ and an Edrick Snowbeard Stark with a ‘ck.’ If Edric is a variant of Eddard, then that means Eddard can be a variant of Edric, so we have to count all the Eddard and  Edwyle and Edwyn Starks, and even the uber-fantasy sounding Edderion Stark. Then we have Ned’s great great great grandfather, Elric Stark, who I like to call Elric of Winterfellnibone.

I’ll give you a second to recover from that, apologies. But there’s also an Alaric Stark – the one who may have had a thing with Good Queen Alysanne Targaryen, which is why I call him Fly Alaric. (groan) Bad jokes aside, you can see what I am pointing at here with all this Eldric / Elric / Edric stuff: Eldric Shadowchaser may have been the Westerosi name for Azor Ahai or the last hero, who may or may not have been the same person, and if so, it makes sense to see the two houses associated with last hero ideas carrying on an Eldric naming tradition. In the case of the Daynes, it may be basically the same story as the other four Azor Ahai names: a people formerly part of the Great Empire of the Dawn who fled the destruction of its downfall, started a new kingdom, and retained their own version of the flaming sword hero myth. The Daynes just went farther, perhaps following the established route to Westeros which we know existed due to the fused stone fortress at Oldtown, and the surround evidence regarding it.

Another of George’s big influences is of course J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and its surrounding lore (George has definitely read the Silmarillion, let me tell you). Remember how I called the Great Empire of the Dawn like finding a long lost Numenor? That’s more true than you may realize. For any who do not know, Numenor was absolutely Tolkien’s Atlantis; it’s a once-glorious and now-vanished star shaped island in the middle of the ‘Atlantic Sea equivalent’ in Tolkien’s world from which the most fabled race of men came from. You may recall Aragorn saying that the blood of Numenor flows in his veins; that’s what we’re talking about. Aragorn’s ancestor’ Elendil and Isildur, who combined to defeat Sauron in his physical form, are also of this line – Elendil was the one who led his people away from Numenor for Middle Earth in the nick of time (Numenor, as an Atlantis parallel, grew prideful and corrupt and met a violent and sudden end, naturally).

So the name of Aragorn and Isildur’s ancestors? On Numenor, they were called the Edain, and in Middle Earth, the Dunedain. Edain, Dunedain, Dayne, yes that’s right. And it gets worse: you may recall that Aragorn was given a reforged sword by the elves called Narsil, which was the one Isildur used to cut the one ring from Sauron’s hand. Narsil means “red and white flame” in the elvish language, so now our eyebrows are raised right off our foreheads. Dawn is a glowing white sword, and Lightbringer was said to burn red, so these correlations are very strong. If the Daynes fled the Great Empire of the Dawn and came to Westeros with the sword Dawn, then they’d be mirroring the Edain and Dunedain quite closely. Given that Dawn seems like a “last battle” kind of sword, and given that Jon Snow – who has Dayne blood even assuming RLJ is true – has very strong Aragorn vibes, this all makes a ton of sense.

George also seems to have transferred some of the Dunedain lore on to House Hightower, which is a nice piece of evidence for our theory. So check this out – when those Dunedain fled Numenor and came to Middle Earth, it turns out they built some stuff. One thing they built was the Orthanc, the Tower of Isenguard which you may remember from the Lord of the Rings as Saruman’s tower – the one at which Gandalf is held captive and then rescued from by eagles, and later Orthanc is surrounded by tree ents and flooded. The notable thing about Orthanc being built by the Dunedain is that

“it seemed a thing not made by the craft of Men, but riven from the bones of the earth in the ancient torment of the hills. A peak and isle of rock it was, black and gleaming hard: four mighty piers of many-sided stone were welded into one…”

In other words, it sounds a lot like fused black stone, such as we find at Battle Isle! Dunedain coming to a new land and building a fused black stone tower sounds a lot like the Daynes and their fellow Hightower refugees from the Great Empire building the fused black stone fortress which would become the base of the Hightower. Orthanc and the Hightower also compare well to one another because atop Orthanc, Saruman sits in isolation, watching the world through the palantir stone, and atop the Hightower, from which you can supposedly see clear to the Wall, we find Lord Leyton Hightower and his daughter Malora Hightower, the Mad Maid, “consulting books of spells.” Euron’s goal may be to perform dark magic atop the Hightower, some have speculated, which would be an even better correlation.

Well I hope you enjoyed that little dose of Lord of the Rings – thanks to my friend Blue Tiger for picking up on those clues ages ago, and check out his blog for more Tolkien / ASOIAF parallels. I think we can be fairly confident that House Dayne and House Hightower descend from the people of the Great Empire of the Dawn just based on the ASOIAF evidence – which is why I presented those first – but the parallels to the Dunedain of LOTR and Uther Pendragon of Arthurian myth are the sort of clever literary clues that seal the deal of authorial intent for me. They’re a nice cherry on top of an already strong theory.

And heck, here’s another cherry that takes the form of a literary clue. Think about the Tower of Joy scene, the place where baby Jon Snow was born. Who’s there outside the tower, fighting Ned and his six grey wraiths (as his 6 companions appeared to him in his fever dream)? Why it’s Arthur Dayne and Gerold Hightower… come to witness the birth of the promised prince, who may be the culmination of whatever business the Great Empire was up to when it first came to Westeros – business that probably involves both Dawn and the Others.


So let’s see if we can’t pull this all together. At some point before the Long Night, the Great Empire of the Dawn, who counted dragonlords among their number, used their arcane arts to raise a fused stone fortress on Battle Isle, most likely with the purpose of establishing trade with the children of the forest and / or the first First Men. They don’t seem to have had a large presence, as we have not found fused stone anywhere else as of yet and there are only a few tales of dragons to be found in Westeros, almost all tied to Oldtown (with the others being a couple one-off tales of dragon-slayers like Davos Dragonslayer, Serwyn of the Mirror Shield, or Galladon of Morne). The Great Empire of the Dawn did however leave a small genetic fingerprint on the land that would become the Seven Kingdoms in the form of House Dayne and House Hightower, at the very least, and they may have left one of their magic swords behind.

That’s actually the heart of the matter: Lightbringer, Dawn, Azor Ahai, the last hero, and the idea of beating back the Others during the first Long Night. Many people have connected the Asshai’i tale of Azor Ahai defeating the forces of darkness to end the Long Night with the Westerosi tale of the last hero slaying the Others with an unbreakable sword of “dragonsteel,” which makes a lot of sense – both heroes are using a magic sword associated with dragons to defeat the minions of the Long Night and thereby the Long Night itself. Many people have also looked at Dawn, an unbreakable, glowing magic sword called “the sword of the morning” and thought “perhaps this is the magic sword which ended the long night and brought the morning,” and again I say this is both logical and intuitive. Dawn could be thought of as “dragonsteel” simply based on its meteoric origin, since we know comets and meteors can be seen as dragons in both the real world and within ASOIAF mythology, and if it is Lightbringer, then it’s even more strongly associated with dragons, since Azor Ahai reborn is prophesied to wake dragons from stone.

So now in light of the Great Empire of the Dawn theory, we can sort of fill in these gaps: the sword Dawn was most likely the “dragonsteel” sword the last hero used to defeat the Others, and it was most likely similar in nature to whatever magic sword was used by the various ‘flaming sword heroes’ of the further east (Azor Ahai, Neferion, Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar). We don’t know whether there was only one flaming sword, only one “Lightbringer,” or whether this was more of a technology that could be duplicated, but I think we can say that Dawn is either the Lightbringer or at the very least, a Lightbringer. I tend to think Dany’s vision of the Gemstone Emperor ghosts each holding swords of pale fire is a strong clue that it’s the latter, but the important thing is simply to connect Lightbringer, Dawn, and the last hero’s dragonsteel, and realize that the origin for all of this magical flaming sword business was the Great Empire of the Dawn.

Further corroboration lies in comparing the Night’s Watch oaths to the symbolism of Dawn, House Dayne, and Lightbringer. Remember how “Sword of the Morning” is taken from “son of the morning,” a translation of Lucifer, the Latin word for Venus, while another translation of Lucifer is “light-bringer?” Surely you do. Venus is called the son of the morning and the light-bringer because as the Morningstar, it rises just before the sun, heralding the dawn. So now, those Night’s Watch vows: I am the light that brings the dawn…? The sword in the darkness…? Yes, it’s more Venus symbolism, and it’s also obvious Lightbringer talk when we toss in “I am the fire that burns against the cold.” A warrior who is a flaming sword that brings the dawn? Does anyone know that guy?

In other words, the Nights Watch oaths, the names Dawn and Sword of the Morning, and everything related to Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer all come from the same Venus mythology, and I have to think this is done to reinforce the basic conclusion the reader wants to intuit: these things are all related to one another. Somehow, Dawn was Lightbringer and the last hero’s dragonsteel.

Here’s one final bit of proof that this was the case, and here I’m drawing from another video of mine called “Dawn is the Original Ice: the Last Hero.” The first time we see Ned Stark polishing his Valyrian steel greatsword, Ice, in the Winterfell godswood, we see it through Catelyn’s eyes, and she informs the reader that although that sword is 400 years old and forged in Valyria before the Doom, “The name it bore was older still, a legacy from the age of heroes.” In other words, the Starks have been naming their ancestral swords “Ice” for thousands of years, long before they acquired the current Valyrian steel sword called “Ice.” Where could this tradition have started, I ask you?

Well, the answer is surprisingly easy to come to. We just established that the last hero probably wielded Dawn against the Others. Setting aside the fact that Dawn is thought of as belonging to House Dayne, who do you think the last hero was? Probably a Stark, right? This story of ice and fire has two poles: the Starks and the Others on one end, and the Targaryens and the dragons on the other. The Others are obviously tied to the Starks, and the last hero myth is a northern myth, one we first hear told to Bran early on in AGOT. Thus most people have always assumed the last hero was be a Stark, and the two characters who seem to be echoing the last hero in the current story are Starks (Bran and Jon).

So where does that leave us? With a Stark last hero, wielding Dawn and leading the Night’s Watch into battle against the Others in the Battle for the …Dawn. Ah. There’s that word again. Try to picture it in your mind – a Stark last hero, leading the Night’s Watch against the white walkers, and in his hand, a big white sword that can withstand the cold of the Others. A big. White. Sword.

So where did the Stark tradition of calling their most important sword “Ice” come from?

Yes, that’s right, it can only have come from the last hero’s use of Dawn, a big unbreakable white sword. It isn’t made of ice, but it kinda looks like it is – “as pale as milkglass” is the description of both the sword Dawn as well as the bones of the melting white walker that Sam kills in ASOS. I go into further detail on all the symbolism linking Dawn to the Starks and the idea of an “ice sword” in the “Dawn is the Original Ice” videos, but here’s the important part: this mythical memory of a Stark wielding a sword of “ice” is actually just a corroboration of the hypothesis that the last hero, almost certainly a Stark, wielded Dawn, the unbreakable big white sword.

As to why Dawn ended up residing in Starfall with House Dayne, the answer now suggests itself: because it belonged to them in the first place; because the sword Dawn was Great Empire of the Dawn technology that came to Westeros in the hands of the ancestors of House Dayne. They must have loaned it to the Starks, or perhaps some other circumstances arose to put Dawn in the hands of the last hero at the right time. Heck, perhaps the Stark last hero killed a Dayne and took Dawn – after all, we see Ned do that at the tower of Joy: killing a Dayne, taking Dawn, and then after a great war is over, Ned returns Dawn to Starfall. Could this be an echo of history here, with a Stark having used Dawn for a short time and then returned it to Starfall after the Battle for the Dawn was over? However it happened that the last hero got his hands on Dawn, we’ve said from the first that the Great Empire of the Dawn is really the only plausible source for the technology needed to forge Dawn at that time, which was long before the rise of Valyria or even the arrival of the Andals, who brought the art of making steel to Westeros. Thus it makes sense to find it in the hands of the Daynes, who are the most obvious descendants of the Great Empire of the Dawn.

Here’s the best part: all of this may happen again. The Daynes may once again loan out their magic sword to a Stark last hero, which would of course be Johnny boy, the special snowflake. Or perhaps it won’t be a loan – perhaps Darkstar will have stolen it by then and someone will straight up kill him and take it, again echoing the tower of Joy where Dawn was taken from Arthur Dayne after he was slain. There is actually ample symbolic foreshadowing for Jon Snow to wield Dawn, so check out the Dawn is Original ice videos for more on that. Assuming R+L=J will be true in the books, as I do, I really like how all this could come together, with Jon echoing the Stark last hero and leading the Night’s Watch against the Others with Dawn in his hands, but with Jon having the bloodlines of Stark, Targaryen, and Dayne in his veins.

Daenerys, the other major incarnation of “Azor Ahai reborn,” will be right there with him, throwing her dragons into the fight, and she’ll be bringing with her not only the blood of Targaryen and Dayne, but the the secret knowledge of the Great Empire of the Dawn that waits for her in Asshai. With Marwyn the Mage almost certainly bringing Daenerys a glass candle, and with further contact with Quaithe the Shadowbinder seeming inevitable, Dany will no doubt learn whatever truth there is to be gleaned about these Dawn Age dragonlords from Asshai, and it’s probably going to be one of the key pieces of information which leads Daenerys to make her all-important, arc-defining choice to turn away from her quest for the Iron Throne to confront the Others. Whenever she meets Jon and hears about the Others and the threat of a new Long Night, she’ll be putting that together with the prophetic words of Quaithe and the Undying, as well as whatever she learns about the Great Empire of the Dawn and why they came to Westeros at the time of the first Long Night. As the final scions of the morning, it will be up to Jon and Dany put the pieces together and right the wrongs of the past, bringing this long chapter of Ice and Fire to a close – a chapter which started in Asshai, in a little old kingdom called the Great Empire of the Dawn.