A Song of Ice and Fire is nothing if not roughly symmetrical. The Others and dragons aren’t perfect equivalents, but they both essentially serve as magical incarnations of the titular elements of the series. The dragons are called “fire made flesh,” while the Others literally have flesh made of ice. The dragons and the Others are both thought extinct by the realm of men, but are similarly emerging from the far corners of the map as the story progress, clearly headed on a collision course that will engulf Westeros in a magical war of ice and fire.
That magical war will in part be fought with zombies – and once again, we find that even the undead march to the song of ice and fire. Up north, we have that growing army of cold wights – someone should really do something about that, I’m thinking – and we also have the R’hllor-powered fire wights Beric and Lady Stoneheart, and perhaps eventually Jon Snow. Again we can see that they aren’t quite the same – the fire wights still have a bit of personality left, so they’re more fun at parties, while the cold wights… well let’s just say you’re giving them the wrong address when they ask where the party’s at.
Most importantly, we have the families of ice and fire – House Stark and House Targaryen. They certainly seem roughly affiliated with the magical monsters of ice and fire – Targaryens with dragons and Starks with Others – but at first glance, these relationships aren’t parallel at all. The Targaryens and Valyrians before them (and even the Great Empire of the Dawn people before them, perhaps) are called “the blood of the dragon,” and are magically bonded to their dragons in a way which enables basic communication and some degree of control. The occasional lizard babies that Targaryens pop out, which can have features such as scales, tails, and wings, suggest that “the blood of the dragon” is a literal concept, that there has been commingling of reptilian and human DNA – presumably as a means of creating the magical “dragon bond.” The end result is that all three dragon-blooded peoples – Targaryens, Valyrians, and Great Empire of the Dawnians – used their control of dragons to conquer the largest kingdoms this world has ever seen.
The big question has long been – is there any sort of loosely equivalent connection between the Starks and the Others? Well again, at first, it doesn’t appear so, since the Starks seem to be concerned with opposing and defeating the Others, as opposed to using them to conquer empires. The Starks do magically bond with animals, but the direwolves aren’t ice spiders or some sort of ice animal (if anything, they often have burning eyes and serve as symbolic hellhounds).
But what if I told you that the idea of a Stark who is magically bonded to the Others, and who can use them to conquer, isn’t so silly? Not sure if Starks riding ice spiders is a thing, who knows, but what I do know is that there is abundant evidence that House Stark is “the blood of the Other” in much the same way as those who are “the blood of the dragon.” Understanding this potential blood tie between Starks and Others, if it exists, will surely be a key ingredient to dealing with the threat of the white walkers. To make matters worse, the origins of this blood tie may be rooted in an ancient pact between humans and white walkers, one which calls for human children to be given to the white walkers. The breaking of this pact may be part of the cause of the Others’ enmity for humankind, and unfortunately for Jon, who might be the Prince That Was Promised, this broken pact may mean that Jon is The Prince Who Was Promised to the Others.
So there’s actually two related theories here that I’m presenting to you, both of which have to do with the Night’s King of Westerosi lore, the one Old nan tells Bran about. One theory is simply that Night’s King and Queen “sacrificing to the Others” – i.e. giving their children to be made into the Others, as Craster does – was part of some sort of pact the humans made with the white walkers that involves promising to give them babies every so often. The thinking is that the humans didn’t carry up their end of the deal – I guess Craster’s sons aren’t quite enough to meet the quota – and so the only way to actually stop the Others from from killing everyone in Westeros is to sort of resurrect that pact by giving them someone important – someone like Jon Snow. This means Jon might have to become Otherized at the end of the story, a sacrifice the likes of which is truly terrifying to comprehend.
The second, related theory is the “Blood of the Other” theory, which is that the Starks descend from a child of Night’s King and Queen who was supposed to be transformed into a White Walker, thereby giving the Starks “the blood of the Other.” This compounds the notion of a pact or a promise to the Others with a magical blood tie and a specific act of theft, so at this point the white walkers are pretty stinkin mad. It also makes the Starks a better magical counterpart to the blood of the dragon, and means that Jon truly would have the bloodlines of ice and fire – of both dragons and Others – in his veins. Which seems kind of poetic and fitting of the title of the series, and a whole heck of a lot more interesting of a way for the author to use the R+L=J thing than just as a political wedge related to the Iron Throne.
The Blood of the Other theory is a little more complex and a little more dependent on some of my heretical head-cannon, so we’ll start with the more simple idea of there having been a pact between humans and Others that lies at the heart of their ancient conflict. This is very much an outflow of the notion that “defeating the white walkers,” whether in the distant past or near future, needs to involve something more complex than just chopping them with the right magic sword or burning them with dragonfire. Those things may be involved too, but it’s certainly smart to look for something a little more nuanced and more centered around the human “conflicts of the heart” that George talks so much about. Wars are often settled with pacts – marriage pacts in particular, or fostering arrangements were children are exchanged as a polite sort of hostage – so perhaps there was a magical version of this during the time of the first Long Night.
As I just alluded to, Night’s King and his Corpse Queen were “found to have been sacrificing to the Others,” and because Craster’s practice of giving his sons to the Others is referred to as “sacrificing” to them, we can extrapolate that Night’s King and Queen must have been doing something similar. If people have been giving children to the Others both in the ancient past and in the current timeline, well, that starts to sound more like a persistent cultural tradition than just a weird thing that Craster does, right? It’s also said in TWOIAF that the wildlings of the Frozen Shore worship “gods of snow and ice,” so this practice may occur in various places and times north of the Wall. Point being, we just said that pacts are often sealed by an exchange of children, so perhaps this “tradition” of giving children to the Others may have originated with a pact between humans and Others, a pact that helped end the Long Night. Because what does Craster say about he receives in return for his “offerings”? This is from a Sam chapter of ASOS:
There had been no attacks while they had been at Craster’s, neither wights nor Others. Nor would there be, Craster said. “A godly man got no cause to fear such. I said as much to that Mance Rayder once, when he come sniffing round. He never listened, no more’n you crows with your swords and your bloody fires. That won’t help you none when the white cold comes. Only the gods will help you then. You best get right with the gods.”
Gilly had spoken of the white cold as well, and she’d told them what sort of offerings Craster made to his gods.
This pretty much spells out the arrangement – the Others and wights do not attack Craster because he gives them his male children, which they use to create more Others or transform into Others, something like that (video forthcoming). Perhaps this is simple mutual self-interest – the Others are farming Craster’s sons, essentially – but it’s also struck many people in the fandom as indicative of an existing agreement between humans and Others. The Others clearly go away when you give them babies, to put it simply, so perhaps this is how we got them to go away the first time.
Some people have even taken this to mean that Night’s King might have been a hero as opposed to a villain, someone just trying to keep the Others away and honor the pact, you know! Or perhaps it’s more of a “necessary evil,” one of those bittersweet ending things we hear so much about, where humanity had to accept the Others’ blood price to end the war. Did the last hero make this pact with the Others? Was he smuggling babies through the Black Gate at the Nightfort before Night’s King did, or was he himself Night’s King? Has the watch been giving babies to the Others since its foundation? What a dark twist that would be, ay?
I can certainly see some version of these ideas turning out to be the truth of the matter, for a couple reasons. First, the Irish, Celtic, and Germanic folklore from which George Martin fashioned much of his own Others, wights, and general northern culture, is full of myths about fae creatures stealing human children or swapping in changelings for human babies, things like that. If the Others are all about stealing children in order to reproduce, it would just kind of make sense in terms of slotting them into this folkloric family tree.
Secondly, this sets up an interesting motivation for the Others in regards to what must be done to defeat / appease them, and ties in with what I believe is the true heroic ideal of ASOIAF, self-sacrifice. If Jon and other heroes must make various kinds of unbelievable sacrifices to save humanity, I think most of us would find that bittersweet, yet gratifying, and in general this just seems more consistent with ASOIAF than a climax that primarily revolves around wielding spectacular power and might and smiting the foe in glorious battle – though again, George will surely slip that in somewhere.
The reason Jon Snow would be the likely sacrifice to the Others, according to this theory, would be that it was a Stark who originally made this pact with the Others, either the last hero or Night’s King, or maybe Brandon the Builder himself, if one person by that name existed. This kind of makes sense of the “there must be a Stark in Winterfell” idea – perhaps this is an indication that responsibility for this pact falls on the Starks, like ‘there must always be a Stark in Winterfell’ in case the Others show up and demand a baby, right?
Now I suppose it could be any Stark, as opposed to Jon, so what about Bran or Rickon? Bran did go north of the Wall at the Nightfort, where Night’s King “sacrificed to the Others,” but it’s pretty much been confirmed that Bran will end up King as he did on the show, and I think his magical destiny is to become the final repository for the greenseer hive-mind, which in my opinion never belonged inside the trees. As we saw in the Lord Snow video, it’s Jon who has all the foreshadowing about ice transformation and about being given to the Others, and there’s more specific symbolic foreshadowing about this that I will show you today as well. Jon is also the one who has the mystery of Craster’s children and the Others unfold before him… as if this were important to his story arc or something.
Plus, he is the one named snow.
There may also be significance to Jon’s Targaryen heritage here as well. I’ve theorized that Azor Ahai, who would have been a dragonrider in all likelihood, became Night’s King and fathered the Others with Night’s Queen, which means that the first children transformed into white walkers would have had the blood of the dragon in their veins – albeit with the fiery nature of the dragon blood flipped over to ice via the magic of Night’s Queen. I think there’s a ton of symbolic evidence for this, especially in cold star eye imagery of the Others and the ice dragon symbolism we find lurking about up north and with the Starks – check out Symbolism of the Others: Ice Dragon along with the Night’s King Azor Ahai video for more on that – but the point for now is that unfortunately for Jon Snow, being a Targaryen-Stark might make him the perfect sacrifice to the Others. Sorry, but there’s a lot of “unfortunately for Jon Snow” the further we get into ASOIAF, isn’t there?
So that’s basically it for that part of the theory – the Others go away when you give them babies, and giving them babies may be the way the Long Night was ended, at least in part.
Stealing babies from the Others, on the other hand, may be how the Winterfell Starks began.
This theory starts with a stunningly simple observation and question – if Craster giving his sons to the white walkers to be transformed into white walkers is an echo of Night’s King and Queen doing something similar, what do we make of Sam and Gilly stealing a baby meant for the Others, the baby called Monster? They even smuggled him through the Wall at the Nightfort, the exact place where Night’s King and Queen ruled. This seems like an obvious parallel, so we have to ask – did some brave Night’s Watchmen steal one of the babies that Night’s King and Queen were giving to the Others? And if so, what happened to that kid?
Now again I want to be clear that I’m operating on the premise that Night’s King and Queen lived during the Long Night and created the first Others, the case for which I laid out in the Night’s Queen video, but even if you think they lived sometime after the Long Night, the question simply kicks back to whomever it was that first created the white walkers, the people whom Night’s King and Queen would have been imitating. We pretty much know for a fact that the white walkers need human children to procreate, so at some point, someone became the first person to use a child to work some sort of magical abomination that created the first white walker. Thus, when we see Sam and Gilly saving a child from that frosty fate and bringing him south of the Wall, we have to wonder if, in a book series where all the major plot developments seem to have echoes throughout history, there might not have been such an event in the past, where a child was stolen from the Others by the Watch.
And by the way, I hope you can see how useless and dumb it would be if Night’s King and Queen had nothing to do with the Long Night story. It’s the only story we have about Other creation, and Martin does all this work to set up Craster and his wives – Gilly in particular – as parallels to Night’s Queen and King, and I just don’t see why the author would do all that work if he wasn’t trying to show us something very important, like the origin of the Others.
Here’s the real clincher for the blood of the Other / stolen Other baby theory, at least for me: Jon Snow’s birth scene at the Tower of Joy also spells out the idea of stealing a baby from the Others. Ned is playing the role of last hero, the Kingsguard are playing the role of the Others, and Lyanna is playing the role of Night’s Queen, with Night’s King Rhaegar in absentia. Ned and his wraith warriors fight through the Other-like Kingsguard and claim a child of the symbolic Night’s Queen, with Ned then bringing the child home to Winterfell to raise as his son. The eye-popping historical parallel to this would the last hero taking a child of Night’s King and Queen home to be raised as a child of Winterfell, which would put the mojo of the white walkers into the Stark bloodline, or even back into the Stark bloodline if Night’s King or Queen was a Stark to begin with. All Starks born since may therefore carry the icy blood of the Other, making them a more perfect parallel to the Targaryens being the blood of the dragon.
So let’s back up a bit and fill in the details on these claims. As I laid in Symbolism of the Others: Kingsguard, the symbolism of the white knights of the Kingsguard is 100% white walker, 100% of the time. Armor and cloaks like snow and ice, ghost in the moonlight imagery, white sword symbolism, and above all, the shared “white shadow” monicker. This Kingsguard / White Walker parallel a big hint that the white walkers were created by a dragon king, Azor Ahai, just as the Kingsguard were created by Visenya and Aegon. Nowhere is this symbolism better spelled out than in the weirwood stump dream Jaime Lannister has of being in a watery cavern below Casterly Rock with Brienne of Tarth. They are both armed with flaming swords – they seem to the be the last hero people in this role play – when they are confronted by dead Rhaegar and his ghostly Kingsguard:
“Listen.” She put a hand on his shoulder, and he trembled at the sudden touch. She’s warm. “Something comes.” Brienne lifted her sword to point off to his left. “There.”
He peered into the gloom until he saw it too. Something was moving through the darkness, he could not quite make it out …
“A man on a horse. No, two. Two riders, side by side.”
“Down here, beneath the Rock?” It made no sense. Yet there came two riders on pale horses, men and mounts both armored. The destriers emerged from the blackness at a slow walk. They make no sound, Jaime realized. No splashing, no clink of mail nor clop of hoof. He remembered Eddard Stark, riding the length of Aerys’s throne room wrapped in silence. Only his eyes had spoken; a lord’s eyes, cold and grey and full of judgment. “Is it you, Stark?” Jaime called. “Come ahead. I never feared you living, I do not fear you dead.”
Brienne touched his arm. “There are more.”
He saw them too. They were armored all in snow, it seemed to him, and ribbons of mist swirled back from their shoulders. The visors of their helms were closed, but Jaime Lannister did not need to look upon their faces to know them.
Five had been his brothers. Oswell Whent and Jon Darry. Lewyn Martell, a prince of Dorne. The White Bull, Gerold Hightower. Ser Arthur Dayne, Sword of the Morning. And beside them, crowned in mist and grief with his long hair streaming behind him, rode Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone and rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Rhaegar’s shade later “burns with a cold light” in this dream, which is a dead ringer match for the “burning cold” descriptions of the Others and their cold star eyes. He’s leading misty, snow-armored shades riding ghostly horses that make no sound, and their swords also make no sound when they are drawn. So here you can really see the symbolic picture – Night’s King is like a ghostly, transformed dragon king, and the Others are like his Kingsguard. They ride out of the mists and darkness on the lookout for heroes with burning swords, whose flames they would like to extinguish. In fact the whole thing feels similar to the others confronting Waymar in the AGOT prologue, especially when the flames of Jaime’s sword go out and the Other-like shades rush him as he wakes.
So now picture the Tower of Joy, with those three Other-like white knights standing outside the tower, guarding baby Jon and lady Lyanna inside. The blue eyes of death are watching from the sky, as we discussed in the Lord Snow video, a symbolic representation of the Others’ interest in the goings-on here. It shouldn’t be hard to see Ned Stark as a last hero figure, and this is emphasized by his six companions being twice called “grey wraiths,” as the Night’s Watch are often described as black shadows and have all the death symbolism I discussed in the Green Zombies series. Coldhands is literally a wraith Nights Watchmen, Jon will be one too after he’s resurrected, and I believe the original last hero also became a zombie. It’s really the best way to handle the frozen dead lands, because when you’re undead you don’t need to eat, sleep, or stay warm, which are all the challenges of an arctic climate, but I digress.
All of this sets up a very nice “last hero and the Watch vs. the Others” type of duel here, with the presence of Arthur Dayne and Dawn adding an extra layer of “War for the Dawn” symbolism to the mix. I’ve made a pair of videos about the possibility that Dawn was the “dragonsteel” sword of the last hero, and thus the original “Ice” of House Stark after which they named their later swords, and here we see last hero Ned essentially taking that sword from the symbolic Others along with Jon after the fight. Don’t wont to go too far down the magic sword rabbit hole, but it certainly lends more weight to the interpretation of this exchange as a parallel to the affairs of the Long Night.
One other thing worth mentioning – both the scene here and Jaime’s weirwood stump vision involve extensive discussion of oaths and vows that have been kept and broken, which makes you think about the possibility of pacts and oaths between humans and Others, doesn’t it? Even last hero Ned makes a new oath to the dying Night’s Queen figure, Lyanna – “promise me, Ned,” her famous last words – and surely that promise involved raising Jon at Winterfell as his son. The potential parallels here leap off the page. Even the fact that the Night Queen figure is the last hero’s sister is worth pondering, perhaps another day…
Now as to that Night’s Queen Lyanna thing, let me show you why we can feel confident about that symbolic parallel. The blue winter roses are her most famous symbol of course, and the blue rose crown that Rhaegar sets in her lap with his black long lance (and yes that’s supposed to symbolize what you think it’s supposed to symbolize) is called “as blue as frost.” Frosty winter crowns go on frosty winter queens, I’m sure you’re catching my drift here (and yeah that was a snow drift joke). I’ll also add that Gilly, another Night’s Queen figure, is named for a flower, the Gillyflower. Wikipedia tells me that the Gillyflower is featured in Shakespeare’s “Winter’s Tale,” so perhaps Martin chose the name with that in mind to match Lyanna’s blue winter roses.
And in case we had any doubt equating Lyanna with Night’s Queen, Martin gave us this passage from TWOIAF describing the circumstances around Rhaegar and Lyanna’s coming together:
..with that simple garland of pale blue roses, Rhaegar Targaryen had begun the dance that would rip the Seven Kingdoms apart, bring about his death and a thousand more, and put a welcome new king on the iron throne.
The False Spring of 281 AC lasted less than two turns.
As the year drew to a close, winter returned with a vengeance. On the last day of the year, snow began to fall upon King’s Landing, and a crust of ice formed atop the Blackwater Rush. The snowfall continued off and on for the best part of a fortnight, by which time the Blackwater was hard frozen, and icicles draped the roofs and gutters of every tower in the city.
Huge green fires burned along the walls of the Red Keep for a moon’s turn. Prince Rhaegar was not in the city to observe them however. Nor could he be found in Dragonstone with Princess Elia and their young son Aegon. (. . .) Not ten leagues from Harrenhall, Rhaegar fell upon Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and carried her off, lighting a fire that would consume his house and his kin and all those he loved – and half the realm besides.
Winter returned with a vengeance, hammering Kings Landing with its “cold winds,” encasing the city in ice, and even causing the Blackwater Rush to freeze over. It was the sort of winter people tried to fight off with fire magic, folks! Fires set along the walls… gosh that sounds Melisandre burning Nightfires at the base of the Wall, as she does in ADWD. I’ll also point out a sneaky wordplay clue that Martin likes to employ whenever he talks about Night’s King stuff, which is the word “fortnight” – fort-night, Night-fort, you see – and here it’s a fortnight of falling snow and cold winds blowing. Don’t snicker, skeptics: Martin is a writer and an uber-nerd and we writerly uber-nerds love wordplay stuff like this. The key is to surround simple word puns like this or like all those “other” double entendres with actual symbolic clues we can recognize, such as the phrase “cold winds” and the idea of fighting off a vengeful winter with fire magic.
Oh yes and this winter lasted two turns – that’s two moon’s turns or two months, but it’s also a way of reminding us of the Qarthine moon-cracking myth: “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth…” and of course those moon dragons were really moon meteors, which is why this fable is really a foggy memory of the Long Night cataclysm. Those moon dragon meteors caused the terrible winter of the Long Night, and of course you’ll recall from the Lord Snow video that we’ve repeatedly seen moon-destruction language and moon meteor language surrounding Jon. At the Tower of Joy, the blue eyes of death rose petals are the moon meteors, I told you that last time, and the cracked and bleeding moon in the scene would be Lyanna, who lies atop the tower (i.e. in the sky) in her bed of blood; and indeed, we even see the blood streaked sky outside to complete that “Lyanna in the sky with bleeding stars” imagery. Thus it’s no wonder to find the “two moons” clue here in this narrative about Rhaegar and Lyanna’s love affair that sounds so very much like the Long Night.
And so, it is during this symbolically potent winter that Night’s King stand-in Rhaegar, in all his black armor, “carried off” his ice queen, just as Night’s King saw Night’s Queen and “chased her and caught her and loved her” and then “brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen.” Just as the unholy union of Night’s King and Queen was, in my opinion, the origin of the Others and thus of their invasion of Westeros, Rhaegar’s carrying off of Lyanna was an act which “ripped the seven kingdoms apart” and consumed his house and half the realm. This war only ended when a last hero type showed up at a fortress guarded by symbolic Others and rescued the child of Night’s King and Queen… and brought him home to be raised with the Starks as his own child. And although Jon is a “Snow,” he is in line to potentially become a Stark for true and the Lord of Winterfell due to Robb’s will that legitimizes Jon as a Stark. If this happened with the original “stolen other baby,” then all of the Starks born since that day would indeed be “the blood of the Other.”
So now you can really see why it has to be Jon, if there is some sort of baby-debt owed to the Others. George has used the scene of Jon’s birth to tell the story of the stolen Other baby, and then when Jon grows up, George uses his chapters to reveal the secret of Craster giving his children to the Others, which again informs us about Night’s King and Queen and the baby someone might have stolen from them.
Speaking of Jon being legitimized, there’s a quote about Stannis offering that very thing to Jon which mentions baby Monster – the actual stolen Other baby in the story – and compares him directly to Jon. If you recall, Stannis’s offer of Winterfell and the title of Stark comes along with marrying Val, the wildling princess who is, of course, another ice queen / Night’s Queen figure, as we have discussed.
I would need to steal her if I wanted her love, but she might give me children. I might someday hold a son of my own blood in my arms. A son was something Jon Snow had never dared dream of, since he decided to live his life on the Wall. I could name him Robb. Val would want to keep her sister’s son, but we could foster him at Winterfell, and Gilly’s boy as well. Sam would never need to tell his lie. We’d find a place for Gilly too, and Sam could come visit her once a year or so. Mance’s son and Craster’s would grow up brothers, as I once did with Robb.
This narrative creates a double layer of “Night’s Queen baby becomes the Lord of Winterfell” symbolism, actually. Jon is the son of a Night’s Queen and King figure, and he’s becoming Lord Stark, and his potential child with Val, another Night’s Queen figure, would then be his heir and next Lord of Winterfell. At this point you might be thinking of the story of Bael the Bard, since that’s presented as an obvious parallel to Rhaegar and Lyanna’s story; Bael is a singer and musician like Rhaegar, and he “abducts” a maiden of Winterfell associated with a blue rose as Rhaegar did. Bael’s child with the winter rose Stark maiden grows up to be Lord of Winterfell however, which repeats the symbolism yet again, as another Night’s King figure has slipped his seed into the Stark bloodline, just as Rhaegar did, and yet another Night’s Queen child becomes Lord of Winterfell.
There are more parallels between Rhaegar, Bael, and Night’s King which I detailed in the “A Baelish Bard and a Promised Prince” video, so be sure to check that out. One of my favorites is that Bael “abducted” his blue rose maiden to the crypts of Winterfell, while the Night’s King carried his queen back to the Nightfort. Both locations reek of death and underworld symbolism, and though the Tower of Joy doesn’t fit that, Lyanna’s statue is now in the crypts as well, with Robert also complaining that Rhaegar really won because he “has Lyanna,” meaning that they are together in the afterlife. All of these abductions are very much modeled after the story of Hades and Persephone, as many of you will know, so feel free to dig into that for further mythical context.
There’s also some really wild far-flung parallels such as Petyr “BAELish,” who is not a bard but employs one. This BAELish scoundrel essentially abducts Sansa Stark to the cold and dead Eyrie, which serves as a symbolic Others temple, and when Sansa gets there, she receives copious winter rose and Night’s Queen symbolism. More on that in the Baelish Bard video, for you Sansa fans, as well as in the “Signs and Portals” podcast videos. Then there’s Alannys Harlaw – Alannys being a variation of Lyanna -who’s married to BALon Greyjoy, and her baby Theon is stolen from her and… taken to Winterfell and raised with the Starks! Oy! When she finally sees Theon again, whom she calls “her baby boy,” she says that “the cold winds have worn her away.” Asha sees her “parchment-thin” skin and “long white hair” and think to herself, “is this my mother, or her ghost?” So like I said – the pattern of Night’s Queen babies being taken and raised at Winterfell is repeated many, many times.
Going back to the passage about Jon fostering baby Monster at Winterfell with Mance’s son, well, that my friends is yet another suggestion that the stolen Other baby should be raised at Winterfell! Like I said, repeated many times, the symbolic patterns are. Are you not entertained???? As for Monster and baby Aemon Battleborn growing up like brothers as Jon and Robb did, well… that simply places Jon in parallel with baby Monster, further confirming Jon’s identity as a symbolic stolen other baby. Coldhands calls himself a monster, and therefore resurrected Jon will also be a kind of monster – especially if the Others steal Jon’s body as recompense for all this baby stealing.
Let’s finish by talking about what this “Blood of the other” theory could mean. It certainly could amount to the Others wanting to steal Jon’s body because they are owed a Stark baby, but here’s another thing to consider. Set aside the idea of pacts and theft and simply consider the fact that Jon may have the the blood of the white walkers in his veins, because that’s loaded with potential. Dany’s blood is part of what allows her birth her dragons and even to dream of them before they are born, and certainly it’s part of what enables her to command and ride Drogon. So… could Jon’s blood make him capable of commanding and controlling the Others or the wights?
Bloodraven tells Bran that “your blood makes you a greenseer,” while eating the weirwood paste and tripping his little Stark nuts off will “awaken your gifts and wed you to the trees.” Bloodraven is saying that ‘in the blood lies magical potential,’ but that it must be activated and awakened, so what will happen with Jon’s latent Other blood, should the walkers try to raise him?
This is one reason why I was speculating last time that the Others may want to possess Jon’s body and make him a Night’s King in order to break the Wall or even the moon, thereby causing a new Long Night they can use to invade Westeros. We already saw Jon’s blood as magical because of his Targaryen lineage and skinchanger lineage, but it seems like he’s actually the red / green / blue trifecta of magic if he has the blood of the Other as I suggest. That’s potent stuff, right?
It’s also possible that even outside of Other possession – say if Jon’s resurrected by Melisande or Bran, or if he’s freed from Other possession and his spirit put back in his body – Jon simply being undead might allow him to “awaken his gifts” from his white walker lineage. Perhaps he’ll be able to command the wights, or even the white walkers. This would be at the very end of the story, if so – think of Jon controlling the Others in order to lead them back north and away from the lands of men, something like that. After all, the Wildlings have been used extensively to symbolize the Others, and Jon uses his connections to the Wildlings to forge peace between them and the realms of men. If you want some real master-class level mythical astronomy on this idea, check out “We Should Start Back: The Prologue of AGOT.” The idea of Jon leading the white walkers of the woods “back into the woods” is directly suggested.
This would really take the cake as far as bittersweet goes, and would be a series of interesting subversions of expectations – yes, Jon is the Prince That Was Promised, but it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Yes, Jon is a type of new Night’s King – but that turns out to be good, because it allows Jon to control the Others and save everyone. My goal with these videos, as ever, is to first point out the repeating symbolic motifs and patterns, and secondly to take a stab at interpreting them, but as always I invite you all to have your own go at all this and see what you can make of it. The clues pointing to an icy transformation for Jon are myriad, and I hope with this video and the Lord Snow video that I’ve managed to lay out some interesting possibilities for how that symbolism could play out. From Jon being possessed by the Others and leading them through the Wall to Jon using his white walker bloodline to save the realm – or possibly both, at different times – I think it’s clear that Jon’s remaining storyline is going to be a LOT more interesting than what we saw on the show. That may be a low bar to clear, but then Jon may clear it by leaping the Wall, or even pulling down the moon.
Hey there friends, Lucifer means Lightbringer here – how’ve ya been? I was thinking the other day about what topics to cover next, and it occurred to me that I’ve never made a proper video about the connection between the White Walkers and the Weirwoods. I’ve talked about this all-important connection here and there in several videos, but it seems like it’s high time to focus in on it and show why I think the white walkers of the wood, as they are known, actually white-walked their way right out of the weirwoods. White trees, white walkers, that’s how it goes apparently. The one video that I would say goes well with this one is “Symbolism of the Others: Kingsguard,” although you don’t have to watch that one first or anything. We’ll just be working with a lot of the same symbolism as in that video, but taking it in a different direction – into the woods.
Alright children, just gather round and listen to a story all about how… your buddy LmL once got 4,000 upvotes on a Reddit post. It was all the way back during Season 5 of Game of Thrones – you remember the HBO TV show bearing the same title as the first book of ASOIAF right? Anyway, S5e6, “The Children,” gave us the show-cannonical origin of the white walkers, or at least the Night King character, who in turn makes the white walkers. You all remember – the children of the forest have this poor guy, whose identity we never learn, tied to a weirwood tree, and while Bran and Bloodraven look on from the future, one of the children jams a sharp hunk of obsidian into the chest of this man in excruciatingly slow fashion. As the dragonglass goes in, we see the man’s eyes turn blue, and Bran wakes from his vision demanding to know why the children did such a thing, with the answer being that it was a desperate attempt by the children to win the war against humanity, against the First Men.
Now although I expect the book cannon to be different and more complex than the show where it regards magic and world-building, I have to say the the presence of the weirwood tree in this ritual jumped out at me, since I already had a basic theory going about the white walkers having come from the weirwoods in some sense. So, clever fellow that I am, I hopped on my computer in the middle of the episode and, using the notes on the topic I had already gathered, threw a super quick post up on Reddit right after the episode finished, just to kind of say “hey guys, I think HBO got this basic idea from the books.” Because of the timing, and the cleverness of the clues, I got tons of upvotes, and obtained fleeting Reddit fame.
Clever clues such as this line from Asha Greyjoy’s “Wayward bride” chapter of ADWD:
The wooden watchtower was the tallest thing this side of the mountains, rising twenty feet above the biggest sentinels and soldier pines in the surrounding woods. “There, Captain,” said Cromm, when she made the platform. Asha saw only trees and shadows, the moonlit hills and the snowy peaks beyond. Then she realized that trees were creeping closer. “Oho,” she laughed, “these mountain goats have cloaked themselves in pine boughs.” The woods were on the move, creeping toward the castle like a slow green tide. She thought back to a tale she had heard as a child, about the children of the forest and their battles with the First Men, when the greenseers turned the trees to warriors.
What’s this now? Greenseers turning trees into warriors to fight the First Men? That sounds a lot like what they depicted on the show, so these legends that Asha has heard about the greenseers making tree-warriors could be a reference to the creation of the Others. Otherwise, we have tree-ent sign, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s ghost is filing for copyright infringement. I kid I kid, but there are clues around this passage that we should think of the Others. When Asha looks when her soldier Cromm points, she at first saw only “trees and shadows,” moonlight and snow – but according to my theory here, the Others are snowy shadows cast by the trees that only come out in the moonlight. Then when Asha looks harder, she sees instead of trees and shadows… tree warriors. Emerging form the dark of the wood, if you will.
Furthermore, the people posing as trees here are Northmen under the leadership of Stannis, who is at this point a Night’s King figure leading a host down from the Wall. Asha calls them mountain goats, because these are northmen from the mountain clans, but that simply implies them as tree warriors with horns – horned lord and green man symbolism, in other words. This makes sense because, as we saw in the “Garth the Green Man” video, the green men seem to have been both horny, antlered folk and greenseers whose spirits reside inside the weirwood. Hence they may have something to do with making tree warriors from weirwood trees. Stannis himself, who leads this army, has all the stag man symbolism of House Baratheon as well.
Then we have this line from Cotter Pyke in ASOS, who is expressing skepticism about Samwell Tarly having killed a White Walker on the way back from the Fist of the First Men:
“Sam the Slayer!” he said, by way of greeting. “Are you sure you stabbed an Other, and not some child’s snow knight?”
Some child’s snow knight – are the Others snow knights created by children? Well, in the show, the answer is ‘yes, kinda’ – the children of the forest made the Night King, and he turns human babies into White Walkers. In book cannon, it seems to be more complicated, involving weirwoods and perhaps green men, who are greenseers and who seem to be allied with the children. But the bottom line is that the white walkers were created with the aid of greenseer magic, and might be the “trees turned into warriors” that Asha has heard legends of.
Here’s another angle to the idea of the Others as “some child’s snow knight.” Because we know the Others collect Craster’s male babies and either turn them into white walkers or somehow use them to make white walkers, we can say that they are children turned into snow knights. If it’s more a matter of sacrificing the children and using their essence to make a white walker – I favor this scenario over just touching a baby and turning its eyes blue, by the way – then we can say that the Others are the snow knights of the children sacrificed. “Some child’s snow knight,” indeed. One also recalls that bastard children born in the north are named Snow, and where does that tradition come from?
Alright, so we’ve found these clever wordplay clues suggesting the Others as tree warriors with links to the children of the forest and the greenseers… and maybe we also noticed the similarity between the language of the children of the forest being “like the song of stones in a brook, or the wind through leaves, or the rain upon the water” and the speech of the Other that speaks to Waymar being “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake.” And maybe just maybe we read TWOIAF and noticed that the Ifequevron, who are described exactly like the children of the forest, are called “the woods walkers” and that Ifequevron means “those who walk in the woods,” which is damn similar to “white walkers of the wood.”
So yes, now that we’ve picked up on some of these clever wordplay clues about the Others being trees turned to warriors, we can go back and look at the scenes with the Others and see if the idea fits, both in terms of symbolic language and in terms of thematic role. And when we do, we find that the the white walkers are spelled out as tree warriors from the very first page of the “Waymar Royce prologue” which begins AGOT.
The action in the chapter is this, essentially: three Night’s Watch brothers push deep into the Haunted Forest, despite the woods growing more haunted and menacing with every step north, and eventually they encounter the terrifying Others, who kill Waymar and drive Gared mad. In this, the white walkers read almost like icy elves, right from the beginning: they emerge from the haunted woods and eliminate the trespassers, just as forest guardians are wont to do in fairy folklore. In fact, George R. R. Martin describes the white walkers as being of the fae; he calls them “strange, beautiful… think, oh… the Sidhe made of ice, something like that… a different sort of life… inhuman, elegant, dangerous.” As I learned in the first ASOIAF YouTube video that ever blew my mind, Quinn’s Ideas video called “The True Origin of the White Walkers,” the sidhe (or aes sídhe) are a supernatural race from Irish folklore somewhat comparable to fairies or elves.
The aes sídhe are said to live underground in fairy mounds (aes sídhe means “people of the mounds”), or sometimes across the western sea or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans, which is called the otherworld. It gets worse, and here I’ll quote from wikipedia’s summary:
“The aes sídhe are seen as fierce guardians of their abodes—whether a fairy hill, a fairy ring, a special tree (often a hawthorn) or a particular loch or wood. It is believed that infringing on these spaces will cause the aes sídhe to retaliate in an effort to remove the people or objects that invaded their homes. Many of these tales contribute to the changeling myth in west European folklore, with the aes sídhe kidnapping trespassers or replacing their children with changelings as a punishment for transgressing.”
You can see the parallels to the Others spilling off the page here – the aes sídhe steal babies like the Others do, and as I was saying a moment ago, they’re known for fiercely defending their nature homes, be that burial mound, sacred tree, or haunted wood. So, returning the Waymar prologue, when we see the Others emerge after Waymar has ignored every sign to turn back – the darkness has an edge to it, the trees are clawing at Waymar as he presses through, the old rangers are nervous when they ordinarily would not be, and so on – it really does read like the Others coming out to defend their woods from trespassers, just like the icy aes sídhe they are.
This is also the setup of that Wayward Bride chapter where Asha thinks about the greenseers turning trees to warriors. The Ironborn are the unwelcome invaders in the Wolfswood; a northmen straight up tells Asha the north is “no home for squids.” Then when they refuse to leave… tree-warriors that used to be goat people materialize from the wood to slaughter them and drive them out. This kind of thematic consistency is what we are looking for when comparing scenes with similar symbolic language, it’s how we know we are on the right track.
Jumping back to the Waymar prologue, the tree symbolism of the Others appears as soon as the Others do. The fist sign of the walkers is Waymar calling out “Who goes there,” and in response it says…
The woods gave answer: the rustle of leaves, the icy rush of the stream, a distant hoot of a snow owl. The Others made no sound.
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. Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers.
Pale shapes gliding through the wood – those are the white walkers of the wood, the white shadows – and then when the Other confronts Waymar a moment later, it says, rather infamously, “a shadow emerged from the dark of the wood.” They really do seem to coming from the trees, don’t they? Waymar hears the Others, calls out, and “the woods gave answer.”
Notice the very cool symbolism thing that happens here when Will loses sight of the white walker: it says “Then it was gone. Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers,” as if a tree person has taken the place of the Other. But the Others are tree-people, if my theory is right, and this actually a great mirror to the scene with Asha in the Wolfswood, where sees at first sees only trees, shadows, and moonlight on the snow, and then the tree warriors appear, seeming to materialize out of the dark forest.
Now continuing with the description of the actual Others as they appear to Waymar and Will, up in his tree, we see that a lot of the same language that is used to describe the weirwoods.
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.
Alright, so the Other is literally reflecting the images of the trees on its mirror-like ice armor, as if it were wearing tree camouflage (and later it describes “the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood,” so this is exactly the right idea). The Other emerges from the wood with milk white flesh, which compares well to the talking weirwood face beneath the Nightfort known as the Black Gate, whose tree-flesh “glows like milk and moonlight” (and don’t forget the Others’ ice sword glow in the moonlight as well).
Most importantly, the white walker facing Waymar is described as “hard as old bone” here, and that’s a big weirwood clue, since the white bark of the weirwoods is nearly always described as bone-white, such as in ADWD, where we read that the cage Mance Raydar is burned in is made with “the bone-white fingers of the weirwoods.” When Sam stabs an Other in ASOS, we see that it has “bone-white hands,” just like the weirwoods do, almost like there’s a frozen weirwood skeleton under the ice. This also brings us back to the wooden fingers on the trees Will saw after he saw the Other, and by the way there’s a matching line in the Wayward Bride chapter about the “dark and threatening” trees of the Wolfswood having higher branches that “scratched at the face of the moon.”
Frozen trees with fingers, that’s what the Others are. Also, shoutout to the Radiohead song “Treefingers,” one of my favorites.
Did someone say frozen tree with fingers? Let us consult another chilly northern prologue chapter, this time the Varamyr Sixskins prologue of ADWD, where we find a weirwood tree dressing up as a white walker:
Outside, the night was white as death; pale thin clouds danced attendance on a silver moon, while a thousand stars watched coldly. He could see the humped shapes of other huts buried beneath drifts of snow, and beyond them the pale shadow of a weirwood armored in ice.
The Others are frequently described as pale shadows and white shadows – seven times in all, it’s their number one symbolic description – and here the weirwood is a “pale shadow.” It’s also “armored in ice,” just as the Others are armored in ice, and oh look! Up in the sky! It’s a thousand stars “watching coldly,” just as the Others watch through their cold blue star eyes. This frozen pale shadow weirwood appears moments before the army of the dead arrives; when it does arrive, the line is:
Below, the world had turned to ice. Fingers of frost crept slowly up the weirwood, reaching out for each other. The empty village was no longer empty. Blue-eyed shadows walked amongst the mounds of snow.
Now we have icy hands crawling over the bone-white bark of the weirwood – this is very evocative of the bone white, icy hands of the Others, who are pale shadows armored in ice, just like this weirwood. It’s almost like the Others are emerging from the inside the of the tree itself – from the dark of the wood, if you will – reaching out with their icy hands to pull their shadow bodies out of the trees, very like the shadow baby pulling itself from Melisandre’s womb. Melisandre’s black shadows are in many ways parallels to the white shadows called the Others, which you can find out more about in Origins of the Others: Night’s Queen, so the parallel works pretty well.
You’ll also notice the line which reinforces the the idea of the Others as icy aes sídhe; it says “blue eyed shadows walked amongst the mounds of snow.” Aes sídhe means people of the mounds, so here we have cold shadows walking out of snowy mounds. Icy people of the mounds – and emerging just as the frosty fingers are reaching out from the weirwood tree.
There’s a companion quote to this one to be found in an Asha Greyjoy chapter of ADWD, check it out:
The crofter’s village stood between two lakes, the larger dotted with small wooded islands that punched up through the ice like the frozen fists of some drowned giant. From one such island rose a weirwood gnarled and ancient, its bole and branches white as the surrounding snows.
Eight days ago Asha had walked out with Aly Mormont to have a closer look at its slitted red eyes and bloody mouth. It is only sap, she’d told herself, the red sap that flows inside these weirwoods. But her eyes were unconvinced; seeing was believing, and what they saw was frozen blood.
“You northmen brought these snows upon us,” insisted Corliss Penny. “You and your demon trees. R’hllor will save us.”
There it is, flat out – the horrible snows come from the demon trees, which are the weirwoods. R’hllor has this one right, actually, in a roundabout way. Also note the bit about Asha thinking the weirwood sap looks like frozen blood – the Others have frozen blood, of course, though it’s pale blue and not red. Still, the line “frozen blood” evokes the Others, especially since the weirwood tree itself is called white as snow, as if it were made of snow, like an Other. It’s similar to the weirwood from the last quote being “armored in ice” like an Other – it’s simply another way to get us to think about weirwood trees turning into white walkers
The wooded island the weirwood is on punches up from the iced-over lake like the frozen fists of some drowned giant, which reminds us of the icy, bone-white hands of the Others, and once again, we have the connection between icy hands and white weirwoods. Even the “drowned giant” part refers to weirwoods, because the greenseers can be thought of as swimming in or being drowned in a “green see,” an astral realm tethered to the weirwood trees, and because the Winterfell heart tree is described as “some pale giant frozen in time.” Wait, so there are pale frozen things inside the weirwoods? This can’t be good.
Kidding aside, the symbolic picture here is of something cold trying to get out of the weirwoodnet. Recall that the one time the Other speaks in the AGOT prologue, its voice is “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake” – and here is a wooded island that’s like a frozen weirwood fist, seeming to crack the ice of the winter lake as it punches up from beneath.
The icy lake symbolism is actually of the most important white walker symbols, and its origins are really cool – ice cold, in fact. It’s a reference to the Satan of Dante’s Inferno, who takes the form of a dragon trapped in a frozen lake in the ninth circle of hell. Ergo, the Others sound like the cracking of ice on a winter lake not just because that might be what icy elves sound like, and not just because emerging from the weirwoodnet is like emerging from a kind of sea, but also because the invasion of the Others is like Satan escaping from a frozen hell. Pretty cool reference if you ask me! It also pairs well with the notion of the Others coming from the weirwoods, which are “demon trees” that bring the horrible snows.
The all important icy lake symbol is also referenced right after Varamyr’s consciousness briefly inhabits that armored in ice, pale shadow weirwood tree. It says “True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake.” Going inside a frozen, Otherized weirwood is the same as plunging into an icy lake, in other words, just as Others emerging from the weirwoods is akin to something coming up out of an icy lake. This symbolism is nothing if not horribly consistent, as you can see.
While we’re in the north with Stannis’s army and talking about the Others as weirwood warriors emerging from icy lakes, check out the demise of one of Stannis’s Stormlands lords, a fellow named Harwood Fell, who fell into a frozen pond and became a popsicle man:
On the fifth day of the storm, the baggage train crossed a rippling expanse of waist-high snowdrifts that concealed a frozen pond. When the hidden ice cracked beneath the weight of the wagons, three teamsters and four horses were swallowed up by the freezing water, along with two of the men who tried to rescue them. One was Harwood Fell. His knights pulled him out before he drowned, but not before his lips turned blue and his skin as pale as milk. Nothing they did could seem to warm him afterward.
He soon died, poor Lord Harwood Fell, but not before acquiring the milk-white flesh and blue-blooded lips of a white walker. Like I said, horribly consistent. At the risk of spelling out the obvious, his name “Harwood” is one letter from “Hardwood,” implying him as a tree who fell into an icy lake and became an Other, or perhaps a tree person who became an Other, and this is reinforced by the House Fell sigil, which is a line of green trees below a night sky with a crescent moon. Green tree men transforming into Others through the medium of the icy lake, but the icy lake is code for some kind of frozen place inside the weirwoods. Tim-burrrrr.
And look I know the frostbite death of some random lord (with all respect to Lord Fell) doesn’t seem as important as, say, scenes with the actual Others, but this is how George hides his symbolism – he loves to use the stories of minor houses to complement the main symbolism in a given scenes. In this case, it runs out that House Fell is being used exclusively to tell as about the Others as tree warriors… In addition to Harwood’s frostbite death in the icy pond, we can observe that House Fell hails from Felwood in the Storm Lands, and “fel wood” is just another way of saying “evil wood,” such as the Haunted Forest from whence the Others come. Of course being sworn to House Baratheon implies the stag man and green man symbolism that goes with that House, so they are being implied as green men from an evil forest, some of whom are transformed into Others.
And I don’t just mean Harwood Fell. There’s also Ser Willis Fell, a Lord Commander of the Kingsguard who died of Winter Fever. Yikes – the Kingsguard is already dedicated to expressing the symbolism of the Others, as we know from the Kingsguard video, so George having him die of Winter Fever is really just adding insult to injury. Again, he does this layering of repeating symbols thing specifically so I have something to throw at your skeptics who come at me in the comments. There can be no doubt: House Fell is telling us about the process of becoming an Other, and it definitely has something to do with the weirwood trees.
Here’s a freebie involving another Kingsguard, Ser Preston Greenfield. House Greenfield is a First Man house who apparently have a castle called “The Bower” which is made from white weirwood! Greenfield men, living in weirwood castles, but then joining the Otherish Kingsguard. The only other named member of House Greenfield is someone named “Garth Greenfield,” hilariously, so you know we are talking about green men here, and Garth Greenfield is captured by Robb Stark’s army in “the battle of the Whispering Wood,” which itself is all weirwood symbolism – the weirwoods are literally whispering woods, since whispers on the wind is how greenseers like Bran are heard both those they try to speak to through the trees. Just to make things clear, after being captured in “the Whispering Wood,” he’s held captive at Raventree Hall, a castle named after and dominated by a dying weirwood.
So here is the capstone to all this icy lake / weirwood symbolism, I think you’re going to like this. Sometimes the deep truths are actually staring us right in the face, as in, the Isle of faces, staring us right in the face form the map itself. Raise your hand when you’ve got it, but don’t blurt out the answer.
The Gods Eye is a lake with an island in the middle – the isle of faces, an island full of weirwoods. You can see why people call it the Gods Eye; for one, the heart trees on the Isle of Faces have the eyes of the gods carved into them, so it’s the lake of Gods Eyes, right? And two, the lake looks like a big eye, with the Isle of Faces as the pupil and the blue waters of the lake as the iris.
A big blue eye! is the eye of the gods! The Old Gods, specifically. A big blue eye – and inside this eye, the weirwoods. So, I ask again- do the white walkers come from the weirwoods? Could the weirwoods the source of the cold ice magic we see in their blue eyes? And since the Isle of Faces is the home of the green men, we could also think about green men being inside the bodies of the Others – like, peer into the blue eyes of the Others, and inside is a frozen green man? That does seem to be the case. Think of the Others that Waymar saw, with their ice armor making it look like the Others are wearing tree camouflage.
So the Gods Eye is watching us with cold blue intent, and the eyes of the Old Gods in the Winterfell Godswood are watching too, and they remind Cat of the Others when Ned speaks of going beyond the Wall to deal with Mance Raydar:
“There are darker things beyond the Wall.” She glanced behind her at the heart tree, the pale bark and red eyes, watching, listening, thinking its long slow thoughts.
His smile was gentle. “You listen to too many of Old Nan’s stories. The Others are as dead as the children of the forest, gone eight thousand years. Maester Luwin will tell you they never lived at all. No living man has ever seen one.”
That’s only true because Ned has just recently killed the only living man to see a white walker – that’s his blood on the sword there that Ned is cleaning off. More importantly, this is a clear nod to the reader to associate the white walkers and weirwoods; Cat talks about darker things beyond the wall, turns around and looks behind her at the heart tree, and Ned knows she is talking about the Others.
The word “watcher” is also one to key in on. The weirwood is “watching” Catelyn when she looks at it in the last quote, and a moment later Catleyn thinks of the the weirwood’s eyes as “strangely watchful,” and then thinks that the only weirwoods found outside of the north were “on the Isle of Faces where the green men kept their silent watch.” The weirwood watches silently, like the green men, so they are both silent watchers.
And now back to the AGOT prologue….
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.
Yikes! They look like trees, and they’re silent watchers as well, just like the weirwoods and green men! The Others are called “nameless” too, and are effectively faceless, being all identical, just as Ned’s “own gods were the old ones, the nameless, faceless gods of the greenwood.” One should also note that right before the Others appeared in this scene, Will, who had just climbed a tree, utters a prayer to the “nameless gods of the wood,” presumably the same nameless weirwood gods Ned prays too. One small problem – it wasn’t the Old Gods who answered, but the cold gods! But then, perhaps they are the same folks! (hat-tip Ravenous Reader).
Then when the Others finally move in to finish Ser Waymar, it says “The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence.” So once again, the white walkers are silent watchers. Just like the weirwoods that make Catelyn think of the Others, and just like the green men who keep silent watch over the weirwoods inside a giant blue eye of the gods.
So what exactly happened here, you might be wondering? Why are the white walkers kind of like walking, frozen weirwood trees, but also like frozen green men? And if they came out of the trees, then how and why did that happen? Well, my thinking is this: the green men were some of the first greenseers to send their spirits into the trees, which became their home or their afterlife. Azor Ahai, as I have said many times in the Weirwood Compendium and elsewhere, seems to have forced his way into the weirwood realm to steal its magic, and this invasion seems to have forced the tree spirts – the spirits of the dead Old Ones greenseers – out of the trees.
The icy bodies the spirits inhabit must be like golems, I’m thinking, most likely brought to life by the sacrifice of children. In this way, the Others are like walking weirwood spirits, pissed off at being evicted from their comfy tree-home, but also like frozen green men. This would give an actual in-world explanation for why they seem like icy elves of aes sidhe, like pissed off nature guardians who walk the woods and want to kill the greenseers who are now using their trees. I think that all the greenseers coming after Azor Ahai are essentially following in his legacy of trespassing, because it seems like (and check out the Weirwood Compendium series for more on this) Azor Ahai’s invasion of the weirwoodnet permanently scarred it and emptied it out – think of him as metaphorically setting fire to the trees and burning out the old greenseer spirits, who become the Others. The emptied-out white weirwood trees then became wight trees, like corpses with most of their minds and souls removed… and in fact that’s exactly what the weirwood trees look like, with their bleeding, anguished faces, bone-white bark, and leaves like blood hands. They look like dead people; like zombie trees, like wight trees. These hollowed out zombie trees have since become a home for new hivemind of greenseers – many of whom are humans like Bloodraven and Bran, and like Azor Ahai, who I think of as the first human invader of the weirwoodnet.
This dovetails nicely with what I’ve predicted for Bran in the King Bran series, which is that Bran will have the entire weirwoodnet “hivemind” downloaded into his brain, because it needs to get out of the trees. This opens up the possibility of the Others getting their home back, which would look their icy bodies dissolving into mist, and their spirits dissolving back into the wood. We’ve been looking for a solution to the problem of the Others which is more complex than simply slaying them with fire and sword, and I believe this is it – get the greenseer hive mind out of the weirwoods, and let the Otherized hive mind which was driven out in to the cold, all those long years ago, back in.
I’ve had this approximate scenario of weirwood / Other-creation in my head for a few years now, and one of the biggest reasons why is that there is a consistent pattern of finding either dead or corrupted weirwood associated with the Others, as if the creation of the Others has something to do with the corruption of the weirwoods. And that, my friends, will the be the topic of an upcoming video, which I’m thinking of calling “the Corruption of the Weirwoods,” so make sure you subscribe to the–oops, I’m stepping on the toes of our special guest promo.
One of the biggest differences between Game of Thrones the TV show and A Song of Ice and Fire the book series is that the white walkers on the TV show are led by this charismatic fellow called the Night King, while the white walkers of the books seem to do their white walking on their own, without a discernible leader. (“I told you, we don’t have a lord, we’re an anarcho-syndichist commune…”)
The thing is, there are ample signs in the books that the ancient enemy known as the Others are in fact looking for a leader… or if not exactly a “leader,” they’re at least looking for a certain special someone who may be the key to unlocking their deepest magic, someone who allows them to white walk their way down past the Wall and into Westeros… someone that can help trigger the New Long Night which is surely coming.
As we discussed in the “A New Night’s King?” video, there are really only two choices here, and both have ample symbolic evidence to support them: Euron Crowseye and Jon Snow. Euron is the one who wants the job, but Jon Snow might be the one who gets stuck with it. I outlined the case for Euron in my videos “Night’s King Crowseye” and “Euron, King of the Apocalypse,” and today it’s time to talk about the possibility of Jon Snow becoming some sort of new Night’s King.
I can actually see two completely different ways for this to happen: first off, the Others might steal Jon’s dead body, fill it with holy blue fire of the cold gods, and use him to lead their invasion of Westeros. There’s a lot of symbolism to suggest that, as I’ll show you today, and much of it has to do with Jon’s resurrection being somehow tied to the fall of the Wall and the fall of a new Long Night, which we all know is coming. Then there’s the Prince That Was Promised to the Others theory, which is the idea that at the very end of the story, Jon might have to give himself to the white walkers to be Otherized as a means of resolving the ancient conflict of ice and fire. I’ll cover each of these intriguing – and by no means mutually exclusive – possibilities in their own video; today it’s “the Others will steal Jon’s body,” and in another video we’ll talk about Jon Snow, ice Jesus.
So hey there friends, it’s LmL, and in case you haven’t heard, I’m writing my first book! It’s going to be called “Paradise Gained: Christianity, Sacred Symbolism, and Freedom from Dogma.” It would mean a lot to me if you sign up for the Indiegogo mailing list, which you can find linked below or by searching “Paradise Gained by David Beers” on Indiegogo. My last video, “Eve Did Nothing Wrong,” is actually the seed idea from which the book is grown, so check that video out if you haven’t already to see what this is all about! Alright, let’s turn Jon Snow into a popsicle and slap and ice crown on his frozen noggin.
In my 6 years of analyzing ASOIAF, I’ve thought a lot about Jon Snow and his symbolism, as he’s one of my favorite characters and his symbolism is some of the most interesting anywhere in the books. The clues that his destiny might involve a pair of shiny blue star eyes have been apparent from the beginning – I mean we’re talking about a guy whose name is synonymous with Jack Frost, after all, since Jack is a nickname for people named Jon, for reasons of German etymology, and the words snow and frost are more or less synonymous. Jack Frost is essentially a personification of the frosty chill of winter – just as the Others are – and so no one should be shocked if a character named Jon Snow becomes some sort of frosty king of the ice people.
Others clues about Jon’s icy destiny which popped up right at the beginning of the story abound. As soon as he gets to castle Black, Alliser Thorne mockingly dubs him “Lord Snow,” but the name sticks (that’s a snow joke) and pretty much the entire Watch calls him Lord Snow through the rest of the books. Much like the name Jon Snow equating to Jack Frost, the title “Lord Snow” sounds like it should belong to.. well.. the king of the Others.
To make matters worse, book two has Jon journeying north of the Wall and meeting Ygritte (Jon and Ygritte are by the best love story in ASOIAF by the way, so far at least, I mean it was so good the actors playing those parts got married, right?), and Ygritte promptly tells Jon upon hearing his name that Snow “is an evil name.” That’s an understandable take on Ygritte’s part, since the wildlings live north of the Wall under constant fear of the ice wights and the Others, but consider what she’s really saying: she’s directly implying that Jon’s name evokes the evil of the Others. Lord Snow, right?
And let’s not forget he comes from the line of the Kings of Winter, who sport such white-walker-esque nicknames as “Ice Eyes” and “Snowbeard.” I’ve often speculated that there may been Starks in the ancient past who learned to use ice magic as Melisandre uses fire magic – after all, the Wall is built to keep the Others out, and yet is made of ice, so it’s always seemed possible that someone who fights for the living may have been able to wield magical ice as the Others do. This person could only have been a Stark, so if Jon gets ice-transformed, he might not even be the first of his line to do so.
Oh yeah, and Night’s King was supposedly a Stark, so there’s that.
There’s also the precedent of Coldhands, who is unquestionably an ice wight, a popsicled zombie, and yet does not have blue star eyes and fights against the Others. One wonders how that happened – was a dead man wighted by the Others, but then set free of bondage somehow, along the lines of what we saw on the TV show? That’s more or less the scenario I am talking about when I say “the Others will steal Jon’s body,” and I think Coldhands is just as much a precedent for Jon as Beric is. I went into in detail in the Sacred Order of Green Zombies series, but the bottom line is that the most logical explanation for Coldhands is that he was Otherized and then set free, and if so, that seems like an obvious foreshadowing for what could happen to Jon. Just a couple of frozen Night’s Watch zombie brothers trying to make their way in the world, ya know?
George Martin often likes to give us readers a glimpse into the true natures of his characters whenever we see them in dream or vision form, and the first time we see Jon this way is in Bran’s iconic greenseer coma dream from AGOT:
Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and 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.
Everyone gets cold at the Wall, obviously, but Jon’s just been murdered at the end of ADWD, with Jon never feeling the fourth knife stab, but “only the cold,” so it could well be that Bran is foreseeing Jon’s death, or even his cold resurrection. Skin growing pale and hard sounds a bit like the frozen skin of an ice wight, or perhaps even like Jon’s appearance in another dream vision that makes Jon sound like a white walker?
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.
Defending the Wall like Azor Ahai… yet armored in ice, like a white walker. But here’s the thing – I’ve thrown a fair amount of my ASOIAF street cred down on the idea that Azor Ahai became the figure remembered as Night’s King and created the first white walkers with Night’s Queen. Now before you brand me heretic and throw stone-like YouTube comments at me – well I am a heretic, but hold the stones – please do check out my full argument on that theory in the Night’s King Azor Ahai and Origin of the Others: Night’s Queen videos. At the very least, one has to wonder what all this business about Jon wearing ice armor or having his skin grow pale and hard as the memory of warmth fled from him is about – it sure sounds like Jon’s resurrected body is going to have something to do with ice magic. By the time he’s defending the Wall again, he will in fact be undead, it’s worth noting. He may well be a Coldhands by then.
Perhaps the funniest white walker Jon foreshadowing comes not from a dream vision, but from a prank that Arya recalls Robb and Jon playing on them. This is from the Arya chapter of AGOT where she is hiding in the dark corridors below Kings Landing and recalling the crypts of Winterfell to summon her bravery:
She’d been just a little girl the first time she saw them. Her brother Robb had taken them down, her and Sansa and baby Bran, who’d been no bigger than Rickon was now. They’d only had one candle between them, and Bran’s eyes had gotten as big as saucers as he stared at the stone faces of the Kings of Winter, with their wolves at their feet and their iron swords across their laps.
Robb took them all the way down to the end, past Grandfather and Brandon and Lyanna, to show them their own tombs. Sansa kept looking at the stubby little candle, anxious that it might go out. Old Nan had told her there were spiders down here, and rats as big as dogs. Robb smiled when she said that. “There are worse things than spiders and rats,” he whispered. “This is where the dead walk.” That was when they heard the sound, low and deep and shivery. Baby Bran had clutched at Arya’s hand.
When the spirit stepped out of the open tomb, pale white and moaning for blood, Sansa ran shrieking for the stairs, and Bran wrapped himself around Robb’s leg, sobbing. Arya stood her ground and gave the spirit a punch. It was only Jon, covered with flour. “You stupid,” she told him, “you scared the baby,” but Jon and Robb just laughed and laughed, and pretty soon Bran and Arya were laughing too.
It’s Jon, our special winter flower, covered in flour and pretending to be a pale, shivery spirit – a white walker in other words. Note the mention of spiders and rats as big as dogs to make us think of “ice spiders as big as hounds,” and yes, I’m absolutely always looking for an excuse to show off all the great ice spider artwork. Ah, here’s a nice one. And cute little fella too. Those icy mandibles can reach up to twelve inches in length.
Anywho, not only does Jon pretend to be a white walker here, we also have two ideas that tie to Jon’s death. One, this is taking place in the crypts of Winterfell, where Jon’s spirit will likely roam while his body lies cold in the snow – Jon has had the recurring crypts dream that he can never finish, and I’d bet several moon meteors that Jon will finish that dream before he is ultimately resurrected. Enter Lyanna’s ghost stage left, I’m thinking.
The second thing that ties this funny memory of Arya’s to Jon’s death is the fact that Arya, upon realizing that the spirit was Jon, “gave the spirit a punch.” Now here’s Bowen marsh, stabbing Jon in ADWD:
Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.
This is how foreshadowing works: in for a penny, in for a pound. If you’re going to hint at Jon actually becoming a cold white spirit, then you also toss in a couple of other items of death and resurrection foreshadowing, and here we have that very thing. Arya mimics his eventual murder, the crypts are where Jon’s spirit will visit at some point (and where dead spirits belong, anyway), and the walking dead will be what Jon is when he’s raised. But Jon will only be a cold undead spirit if he’s raised by the white walkers, right? None of this foreshadowing about Jon turning cold when he comes back from the dead can make any sense unless ice magic plays some part in his resurrection, and unless there’s a secret ice wizard or ice witch lurking about, the only way ice magic plays a part in Jon’s resurrection is if the Others steal Jon’s body.
As I mentioned, the clues that the Others have their eyes on Jon come at us right from the beginning of the story – and right from the beginning of Jon’s story, in fact. See if you can spot the Others here at the scene of Jon’s birth:
He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood. ( . . . )
Ned’s wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three. “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.” As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.
I’ve talked about the symbolism here many times and so I won’t belabor the point, but consider the blue rose petals that dream Ned is seeing blowing across the sky. Those are Lyanna’s trademark blue winter roses, and a storm of them is blowing across the sky. It’s a winter storm at the birth of our special snowflake, in other words, which makes sense – and then Martin drives the point home by comparing the blue rose petals in the sky to the blue eyes of death. The blue eyes of death.. are found inside the frozen heads of the Others, typically, and that’s surely what the author is intending to evoke here. Martin even places the blue rose petals that are like the eyes of the Others in the sky, where you usually find stars, so they really do seem like a symbol of the Others. What we have here in terms of symbolism is nothing less than the suggestion that the Others are watching Jon’s birth, or watching for Jon’s birth.
In fact I believe that’s exactly what’s going on, in the sense that Jon’s birth is the thing which made the Others begin to stir. That’s long been a question in the fandom, since the Others seem to have been stirring for over a decade, according to Mance Raydar and taking in to account Craster’s practice of giving his male children to the Others which seems to have been going on for a while now. Jon’s birth fits that timeline, and my theory that the Others are on the look-out for a new Night King of some sort is correct, then it figures that they might be aware of his birth. That’s also true if we simply think Jon is The Prince That Was Promised, a savior born to confront the Others – just as the R’hllorists and others have prophecies of Azor Ahai’s rebirth, many have long speculated that the Others might have some equivalent prophecy. Either way, I have believed that Jon’s birth was the signal for the Others to stir ever since I decoded this symbolism which implies the Others as watching over Jon’s birth at the Tower of Joy, and I think it makes the most sense in the context of the overall plot. Leave your comments though and tell me what you think!
Now, the same line about the storm of blue rose petals which I just said implies a snowstorm also implies a meteor shower, because the rose petals look like the eyes of the Others, which are blue stars. A storm of blue bleeding stars in other words – and don’t fail to notice that blood-streaked sky; Martin is basically spelling out the idea of a storm of bleeding stars that has something to do with the Others right here. Here, at Jon’s birth.
Why a meteor shower? Well, if you know anything about my channel you know that my first theory was about a magical moon cracking event being the cause of the original Long Night, which is when the Others came for the first time according to Old Nan. The meteor storm brought the snowstorm, in other words – the snowstorm of the Long Night and the invasion of the Others. If this theory is correct – and the leaks from the cancelled Blood Moon trailer appear to add strong confirmation, as I documented in the appropriately titled video, “Blood Moon Leaks Confirm My Theories!” – then it seems likely that the new Long Night which is surely coming might also be brought on by a moon meteor event. So whether Jon is destined to confront the Others during this new Long Night, or to become a new Night’s King – or both, at different times, as I suspect will be the case – it makes sense to see the symbols of the fall of the Long Night at his birth. And that’s what we have: Martin has painted a portrait of the Others in the sky while implying snow storms and showers of bleeding stars. I think the message is that Jon’s birth is the sign the Others have been watching for, and that Jon’s rebirth – his resurrection, that is – is somehow key to the fall of the new Long Night.
To put it even more simply: I think the Others want to possess Jon’s body in order to bring about the new Long Night. That may be the reason they haven’t yet tried to cross the Wall or summon a night without end, if they have the ability to do such – they need their Lord Snow to lead them, or to enable some sort of deep white walker magic.
Jon’s resurrection being tied to a new long Night – one connected to snow storms and moon meteor storms – is spelled out fairly clearly in a wolf dream Jon has in ADWD. I analyzed the full quote in an older podcast episode called Moons of Ice and Fire: Ice Moon Apocalypse, so I’ll summarize a bit here to keep it moving. The chapter opens with these paragraphs:
The white wolf raced through a black wood, beneath a pale cliff as tall as the sky. The moon ran with him, slipping through a tangle of bare branches overhead, across the starry sky.
“Snow,” the moon murmured. The wolf made no answer. Snow crunched beneath his paws. The wind sighed through the trees.
The wolf dream proceeds in a pattern with each subsequent paragraph repeating this last one, where it starts with moon crying “snow” and then a line about what Ghost is doing running beneath the moon, but with the moon growing more aggressive about the snow until Jon wakes. First it “murmurs “Snow,” then we read “Snow,” the moon called down again, cackling..” and then its “Snow,” the moon insisted,” and then we get this paragraph as Jon wakes:
“Snow.” An icicle tumbled from a branch. The white wolf turned and bared his teeth. “Snow!” His fur rose bristling, as the woods dissolved around him. “Snow, snow, snow!” He heard the beat of wings. Through the gloom a raven flew.
It landed on Jon Snow’s chest with a thump and a scrabbling of claws. “SNOW!” it screamed into his face.
You can see what’s happening here – Jon is having a wolf dream when the raven in his chambers starts calling his name – snow, snow. Inside the dream, it seems like the moon is talking with the raven’s voice, yelling snow down at Jon. Then as he wakes, the moon becomes that raven and quite literally lands on Jon’s chest, as if the moon had landed on top of Jon – crying snow all the way, even screaming it in his face.
Better yet, there’s a pretty direct suggestion of something hitting the Wall – presumably a piece of moon. As Jon wakes, angry at the raven, he attacks it:
Jon wriggled an arm out from under his blankets to shoo the raven off. It was a big bird, old and bold and scruffy, utterly without fear. “Snow,” it cried, flapping to his bedpost. “Snow, snow.” Jon filled his fist with a pillow and let fly, but the bird took to the air. The pillow struck the wall and burst, scattering stuffing everywhere just as Dolorous Edd Tollett poked his head through the door. “Beg pardon,” he said, ignoring the flurry of feathers, “shall I fetch m’lord some breakfast?”
Jon throws a feather pillow at the moon raven but hits the wall, and then it explodes in a “flurry” of feathers, with flurry being chosen to evoke a snowstorm – just as the raven promised. The flurry of feathers comes from the exploded feather pillow, not the feathered raven, but works to imply the moon as having blown up, since the moon was the raven a moment ago. Plus, a white pillow stuffed with feathers is more or less analogous to the white moon having a raven’s voice. Jon throws his feather pillow at a wall, obviously, which is a lot like Jon throwing the moon at the Wall.
Put it all together, and what do you have: an exploding moon, bits of moon crashing down, a snowstorm, and the destruction of the Wall. At the risk of stating the obvious – a meteor could be just the thing to smash the Wall into pieces. And somehow this has to to do with Jon.
As it happens, there’s a terrific match to this scene back in AGOT. This is near the end of the book where Jon kills the wighted Othor in Mormont’s chambers:
The hooded man lifted his pale moon face, and Jon slashed at it without hesitation. The sword laid the intruder open to the bone, taking off half his nose and opening a gash cheek to cheek under those eyes, eyes, eyes like blue stars burning.
Jon once again “destroys the moon,” as it were, and this unleashes the blue stars. Even worse are the lines that follow soon after which depict the shattered moon face hitting the earth:
Dead Othor slammed into him, knocking him off his feet. Jon’s breath went out of him as the fallen table caught him between his shoulder blades. The sword, where was the sword? He’d lost the damned sword! When he opened his mouth to scream, the wight jammed its black corpse fingers into Jon’s mouth. Gagging, he tried to shove it off, but the dead man was too heavy. Its hand forced itself farther down his throat, icy cold, choking him. Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue.
Othor’s face is like the moon, and now it’s filling the world, as if falling out of the sky. That sounds bad – it sounds like a moon meteor attack. And indeed, right after this line, Othor’s blue star eyes are described. Shooting stars that come from a broken moon will signal the attack of the Others, that’s the message here. The fact that Othor’s name is one letter from Other seems intentional, like a way to make us think about him as representing the Others as a whole.
Now the messed up thing here is that Jon seems to be the one destroying the moon! Which would bring on a new Long Night… and while I don’t see Jon himself knowing how to crack a moon, or wanting to, he might be Azor Ahai reborn, and the original Azor Ahai broke the moon when he stabbed Nissa Nissa through the heart to forge Lightbringer, according to legend. More to the point, it’s possible the Others may know something about cracking moons – not only because the Others seem to be able to use the Long Night to their advantage, but because Azor Ahai may have become Night’s King, creator of the Others, and he was, again, the original moon-breaker. If there’s any remnant of Azor Ahai’s spirit or his knowledge alive in the collective intelligence that animates the Others, they may know what is needed to crack the moon again and blot out the sun. Could Jon be some sort of new Nissa Nissa figure, whose death magic can be harnessed to break moons? Or is simply making him a new Night’s King – a new Azor Ahai reborn, but frozen – enough to enable Jon to break the moon with some sort of magic? Maybe the Others have the real Horn of Winter locked away somewhere for this purpose.
Consider the lines of one of the moon-cracking myths from the past, which actually prophesied this future moon meteor apocalypse event before I did:
“He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said. “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”
One day the ‘other’ moon will crack open too, huh? The Other moon, did you say? And if those dragons coming from the moon were actually just broken pieces of moon turned into falling objects, well then what’s being suggested here is another moon meteor apocalypse. Such an event would surely be the trigger for a new Long Night, unleashing the invasion of the Others and probably knocking down the Wall in the process.
One thing is for sure: in addition to breaking the moon, Jon thinks about breaking the Wall quite a bit, and usually in conjunction with the end of the world.
I mean, look, it’s actually really bad, Jon’s obsession with knocking down the Wall. Starts as soon as he sees the damn thing. This is from AGOT:
You could see it from miles off, a pale blue line across the northern horizon, stretching away to the east and west and vanishing in the far distance, immense and unbroken. This is the end of the world, it seemed to say.
Jon means that it’s the line that marks the end of the civilized world, but still. The Wall will be the end of the world… if it ever gets knocked over. This is from the same chapter:
It was older than the Seven Kingdoms, and when he stood beneath it and looked up, it made Jon dizzy. He could feel the great weight of all that ice pressing down on him, as if it were about to topple, and somehow Jon knew that if it fell, the world fell with it.
Right, got it. If someone knocked it over, that would be bad. I wonder who would do such a thing?
Outside, Jon looked up at the Wall shining in the sun, the melting ice creeping down its side in a hundred thin fingers. Jon’s rage was such that he would have smashed it all in an instant, and the world be damned.
To which I can only say, “whoa, settle down there Beavis.” This is the line in particular that I thinking of when I read the scene with Jon slashing Othor’s moon face, or the scene where Jon wakes from the wolf-dream and smashes his feather pillow against the wall while trying to kill the raven that was the voice of the moon. I don’t know how Jon will smash the moon, but it’s being repeatedly suggested, you know what I mean? The Othor scene and all these quotes about the Wall we’ve just read are all in the first book of the series, so it’s been on George’s mind from the outset.
This next one is from ACOK:
The Wall stretched east and west as far as the eye could see, so huge that it shrunk the timbered keeps and stone towers of the castle to insignificance. It was the end of the world.
To make matters worse, the next paragraph mentions the red comet, and of course I believe that it was a comet which was thing that actually cracked the moon open last time – Jon pantomimes this by slashing the moon-faced Othor with his sword, if you recall. This is how you make an end to the world, and the Wall.
One last one, and this one seems to use Jon’s walking through the tunnel beneath the Wall and out the other side as a metaphor for Jon dying and being resurrected – with a key line about the Wall falling coming just as he emerges on the other side. Check it out:
Jon nodded weakly. The door swung open. Pyp led them in, followed by Clydas and the lantern. It was all Jon could do to keep up with Maester Aemon. The ice pressed close around them, and he could feel the cold seeping into his bones, the weight of the Wall above his head. It felt like walking down the gullet of an ice dragon.
He felt the cold seeping into his bones – that sounds a lot like Bran’s vision of Jon growing pale and hard as the memory of warmth fled from him. Being swallowed by an ice dragon is an interesting metaphor, as the Wall is often compared to an ice dragon, and as Jon is an ice dragon himself, being half Targaryen yet having all this ice symbolism. Therefore any sort of wall-smashing event related to Jon’s resurrection would be kind would mirror the idea of the moon cracking to birth dragons; the Wall would be cracking open to birth Jon the ice dragon. Check out the rest of the quote, lest you have any doubt:
He needed sun then. It was too cold and dark inside the tunnel, and the stench of blood and death was suffocating. Jon gave the lantern back to Clydas, squeezed around the bodies and through the twisted bars, and walked toward the daylight to see what lay beyond the splintered door.
The huge carcass of a dead mammoth partially blocked the way. One of the beast’s tusks snagged his cloak and tore it as he edged past. Three more giants lay outside, half buried beneath stone and slush and hardened pitch. He could see where the fire had melted the Wall, where great sheets of ice had come sloughing off in the heat to shatter on the blackened ground. He looked up at where they’d come from. When you stand here it seems immense, as if it were about to crush you.
See what I mean? The cold and dark tunnel smells of blood and death, and to escape it, Jon squeezes past bodies and iron bars, which suggests Jon as escaping the prison of death as he emerges from the Wall. Then he looks up, and yeah – it feels like the Wall is about to crush you. There’s even a mention of fire having melted the Wall – the fire of a huge flaming moon meteor, that’s what I’d look out for.
Of course the entire point of knocking down the Wall, however it’s accomplished, is to let the Others through.
And when Jon lets the wildlings through the Wall in ADWD, the entire chapter turns out to be an exercise in foreshadowing Jon letting the Others through the Wall. (dun dun dun).
I saved this scene for the climax of the video, so you who have watched this far will be mightily rewarded. The first thing to note is that Jon and Val did an entire detailed Night’s King and Queen reenactment bit when they discussed this deal to let the wildlings through the Wall. I broke that down in the Night’s Queen video, but if you recall the gist of it was that it sets up Jon and Val as Night’s King and Queen figures, specifically when they arrange to let the wildlings through the Wall. The wildlings will play the role of the Others, as you’re about to see, so Jon and Val are showing us Night’s King and Queen engineering the invasion of Westeros.
First of all, the chapter opens with Jon’s Azor Ahai dream- the one we quotes earlier where his swords burns red in his fist while he defends the Wall, armored in black ice. He wakes from the dream the same way he woke from the wolf dream where the raven was screaming snow at him through the moon’s face: it says he “woke with a raven pecking at his chest. ‘Snow,’ the bird cried,” just like the other wolf dream chapter. The author is using a repeating set of symbols through Jon’s chapters in this book as a way of building up a specific line of foreshadowing, and everything is about Jon’s resurrection. Bottom line: Jon will wake from death to the sight of snow – lots and lots of snow.
A moment later the raven identifies Jon as a corn king, one of my favorite wink-and-a-nods to the clever reader anywhere in the series (and no I didn’t find this one, that credit goes to Schmendrick of R+L=Lightbringer fame):
He rose and dressed in darkness, as Mormont’s raven muttered across the room. “Corn,” the bird said, and, “King,” and, “Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow.” That was queer. The bird had never said his full name before, as best Jon could recall.
Yes well “Corn King Jon Snow” is apparently Jon’s full name, and that’s quite meaningful. As we discussed in the green zombie series, the phrase “corn king” is comparative mythology term created to describe the recurring presence of a nature god who dies and resurrects in imitation of the cycle of the seasons. That’s not to say all these “corn king” deities and figures share a common origin; just that many people have seen the cycle of nature losing its green in the Fall and getting it back in the Spring as the face of a dying and resurrecting nature god. It’s easy to see how Jon fits this mold, since he’s just now died right as winter was coming on, and since he will eventually play a role in ending the winter and getting the seasons to turn once more.
But what if he’s a reverse corn king? A King of Winter? I mean that is the title of his ancestors. What if his resurrection coincides with the full onset of the unholy winter of the Long Night? Because in this chapter, Jon is essentially signing his death warrant – sacrificing himself, like a corn king – to shelter and feed the wildlings… and the wildlings are going to symbolize the Others. The suggestion here is that Jon’s death and resurrection will made to serve the purpose of letting the Others through the Wall.
So let’s watch him act that out, shall we?
First, Jon observes the hostages – 100 boys between eight and sixteen:
The boys were going to a place that none had ever been before, to serve an order that had been the enemy of their kith and kin for thousands of years, yet Jon saw no tears, heard no wailing mothers. These are winter’s people, he reminded himself. Tears freeze upon your cheeks where they come from. Not a single hostage balked or tried to slink away when his turn came to enter that gloomy tunnel. Almost all the boys were thin, some past the point of gauntness, with spindly shanks and arms like twigs.
Alright, so winter’s people, with frozen tears and no fear. Winter’s people are gaunt, like the Others, with “spindly shanks and arms like twigs,” which is a nice clue about the weirwood origins of the white walkers of the wood, as their full name describes them. Anyway, now begins the parade of double entendres with the word “other”:
Other lads had bear- paws on their boots and walked on top of the same drifts, never sinking through the crust.
That part about not sinking through the crust of the snow is noteworthy because, according to this copy of “The Quoteable Coldhands” that I picked up in a trendy Berkley bookstore, “The white walkers go lightly on the snow, you’ll find no prints to mark their passage.” We’ll see this again in a moment.
Other hostages were named as sons of Howd Wanderer, of Brogg, of Devyn Sealskinner, Kyleg of the Wooden Ear, Morna White Mask, the Great Walrus … “The Great Walrus? Truly?”
“They have queer names along the Frozen Shore.”
The Other hostages were from the frozen shore, and TWOIAF tells us that the wildlings of the frozen shore worship “gods of snow and ice,” which sounds like white walker worship, perhaps along the lines of what we see with Craster. Thus it makes sense to label their children as ‘Others,’ just as the Craster’s wives call the Others “Craster’s sons.” Notice also that these are the sons of at least two people with names that allude to weirwoods or tree-people: Morna Whitemask, who wears a white weirwood mask, and Kyleg of the Wooden Ear, with a wooden ear kind of implying a wooden face. We actually see the rest of the folk from the Frozen Shore a moment later, and again we have an others double entendre:
After the riders came the men of the Frozen Shore. Jon watched a dozen of their big bone chariots roll past him one by one, clattering like Rattleshirt. Half still rolled as before; others had replaced their wheels with runners. They slid across the snowdrifts smoothly, where the wheeled chariots were foundering and sinking. The dogs that drew the chariots were fearsome beasts, as big as direwolves.
Once again we see it is the chariots labelled as the others which go lightly on the snow, without breaking the surface, like the Others. The implication of direwolves pulling the chariots of the Others is pretty cool, perhaps implying a link between Starks and the Others, which is like, tell me something I don’t know, right? I’ll also mention that Rattleshirt, whom the bone chariots are compared to, seems to symbolize a white walker himself – he has bone white armor, just as the Other have bone white flesh, and his outfit and “Lord ‘o’ Bones” title imply him as a lord of death.
The next Others wordplay again mentions Rattleshirt:
A few were clad in stolen steel, dinted oddments of armor looted from the corpses of fallen rangers. Others had armored themselves in bones, like Rattleshirt. All wore fur and leather.
This is all from the same chapter, let me remind you. The next one is, frankly, disturbing:
Amongst the stream of warriors were the fathers of many of Jon’s hostages. Some stared with cold dead eyes as they went by, fingering their sword hilts. Others smiled at him like long- lost kin, though a few of those smiles discomfited Jon Snow more than any glare. None knelt, but many gave him their oaths.
Weird, Jon and the Others are long-lost kin? Well, yeah, if there is any sort of connection between House Stark and the Others, then yes, Jon and the Others are like long lost kin. In fact I’d call this line a pretty good clue about the others having a blood tie to House Stark… and you can find more about that in the “Blood of the Other” podcast series, of course, since that’s literally the meaning of the title, “Blood of the Other.”
If you’re keeping count, that’s five ‘Other’ double entendres with strong supporting clues around them. Here are number 6 and 7:
By afternoon the sun had gone, and the day turned grey and gusty. “A snow sky,” Tormund announced grimly. Others had seen the same omen in those flat white clouds. It seemed to spur them on to haste. Tempers began to fray. One man was stabbed when he tried to slip in ahead of others who had been hours in the column. Toregg wrenched the knife away from his attacker, dragged both men from the press, and sent them back to the wildling camp to start again.
The second others line – One man was stabbed when he tried to slip in ahead of others – simply labels the wildlings in line as the symbolizing the Others, which we have already established anyway. The first one is especially creepy – while Jon and Tormund are looking at a “snow sky,” we are told that “Others had seen the same omen in those flat white clouds.” You bet the Others see a snow sky as a time to attack! There might be a clue about Jon’s birth triggering the awakening of the Others – they see a grey “snow sky” as an omen which spurs them on to haste. Well, relative haste. Like hasty for a glacier. Anyway. We did see them watching Jon’s birth, so again, I believe that’s the snow sky which is an omen for the Others.
Long video, huh? Well, there wasn’t a good place to chop it up, and I can’t think of anything I could have cut out. In fact, there’s one last tidbit I can’t resist doling out, since it kind of drives the point home. Cast your mind back to Jon and Qhorin Halfhand fleeing from the wildlings out of the Frostfangs Mountains. They pass through a cold waterfall into a hidden cave, spend the night, and come out the other side only to confront Rattleshirt’s band, whereupon Jon tragically slew Qhorin and joined the wildlings.
And joined the wildlings – who we just saw symbolizing the Others. Jon’s passage through the waterfall cave symbolizes his death and resurrection, just as his passing beneath the Wall and out again did in the scene we quoted a moment ago. That time, Jon emerges from the iron bars and corpses to see the Wall looming over him as if to crush him; this time Jon emerges from the symbolic cave of death and joins the symbolic Others. I mean good lord.
The big spearwife narrowed her eyes and said, “If the crow would join the free folk, let him show us his prowess and prove the truth of him.”
“I’ll do whatever you ask.” The words came hard, but Jon said them. Rattleshirt’s bone armor clattered loudly as he laughed. “Then kill the Halfhand, bastard.”
“As if he could,” said Qhorin. “Turn, Snow, and die.”
Actually, it looks like it’s going to be “die, Snow, then turn,” if Jon rises from the dead and joins the Others. In fact, the death wound Jon delivers Qhorin mimics and foreshadows Jon being sliced through the jugular vein when he is assassinated:
The ranger was leaning away, and for an instant it seemed that Jon’s slash had not touched him. Then a string of red tears appeared across the big man’s throat, bright as a ruby necklace, and the blood gushed out of him, and Qhorin Halfhand fell. Ghost’s muzzle was dripping red, but only the point of the bastard blade was stained, the last half inch.
It’s almost like George is explaining to us that even a very shallow wound to the jugular can be fatal; in fact that’s what is probably is doing, because again, this is exactly what happens to Jon. Wick Whittlestick grazes his neck with his knife, but the bloods wells immediately beneath Jon’s fingers, indicting a jugular wound. That’s why Jon collapses, unable to make his sword hand grip his sword; Qhorin even dies “lifting his maimed fingers” on his famous halfhand in yet another parallel to Jon’s death.
Jon’s next thoughts are “Who was he now? What was he?” as if he has been transformed into something different. And indeed, his transformation into symbolic Other is completed when Mance raydar gives him a sheepskin cloak upon meeting Jon – sheep are white, obviously, so this is a sneaky way to give Jon an Other-like white winter cloak, and of course Craster, who gives up his sons to create Others, always wears nothing but sheepskin (and even gives sheep to the Others when he lacks sons). There’s alos a cute “wolf in sheep’s clothing” joke here, but the point is that Jon will for a time be a wolf in Other’s clothing – though I’m sure he’ll eventually end up back on the side of the Watch, as he does after leaving the wildlings.
Ygriite names him Jon Snow to the other wildlings, and of course the wildlings do get Other double-etendres; when Ygritte tells Rattleshirt the wildlings have no reason to fear Jon’s warging ability, it says “Others shouted agreement.” Then a moment later, it says “Afterward Rattleshirt claimed some charred bones, while the others threw dice for the ranger’s gear.”
Right after that, Jon asks if they will now return to the wildling base beyond the Frostfangs from whence they came. Ygritte’s answer seems to line up with what I think Jon will do if the Others steal his body:
“No,” she said. “There’s nothing behind us.” The look she gave him was sad. “By now Mance is well down the Milkwater, marching on your Wall.”
Ah ha! So Jon joins the symbolic Others right as they’re marching on the Wall. Well there you have it folks. Jon does of course cross the Wall before the army in an advance party, so he really does lead the symbolic others over the Wall and into Westeros.. three books before he also symbolically leads the Others through the Wall and into Westeros.
And now you know why the Others will steal Jon’s body.
Hey there friends, it’s LucifermeansLightbringer, and I’m back with part 2 of our Euron extravaganza. If you haven’t watched part 1, I recommend pausing here and watching that one first, because we’re picking up right where we left off and there’s far too much to summarize in an intro here. That first video covered Euron as evil Azor Ahai reborn and aspiring king of the apocalypse, and today we are diving into the specific evidence suggesting he will become a new Night’s King figure and a leader of the Others in some capacity. I’d like to quickly say thank you to all of our patreon sponsors, and thanks to all of you watching right now for clicking the like button, subbing to the channel, leaving comments and sharing my videos. It really means a ton. All the links to support the channel are in the video description, so let’s get started!
Symbolic evidence comes in a lot of forms – sometimes it’s esoteric and complex, bouncing parallel symbols off of people’s faces and celestial objects alike while making use of abstract concepts from various world mythologies. Sometimes it’s just a mater of clever wordplay though, and I have found a few key instances of Martin using the very simple word “others” to refer to THE Others. For example, in the quote we read at the end of Euron Part 1, Tyrion asked Morqorro, “have you seen these others in your fires?” and he answers, “only their shadows, one most of all,” and then he describes Euron. Because we know the Others are often referred to as shadows, our eyebrows perk up here at seeing the words “other” and “shadow” together and wonder, is Martin trying to imply Euron as an Other, or more likely, a King of the Others?
This is hardly a counterintuitive hypothesis at this point, and of course Euron fits the symbolic archetype of Night’s King that we outlined in “A New Night’s King” – he has the blue version of one-eyed Odin wizard symbolism, and of course Euron is a kind of actual wizard, drinking warlock wine, using blood magic to control the winds, and even seeking ways to become a god-man.
As we saw in part 1, Euron is probably using the name “Urrathon Nightwalker” as his alias when he’s in Qarth playing with glass candles… and that’s like one letter away from Urrathon Whitewalker, so, you know, case closed.
And then there all of these… other quotes:
“On that we can agree.” Euron lifted two fingers to the patch that covered his left eye, and took his leave. The others followed at his heels like mongrel dogs.
Ah ha! I told you the Others should follow Euron. These mongrel dog others following him are actually his captains, and here they are again as the Others in Victarion’s internal monologue in AFFC:
Aye, he thought, a great victory for the Crow’s Eye and his wizards. The other captains would shout his brother’s name anew when the tidings reached Oakenshield.
Other captains can only sail Other ships, right?
When the Crow’s Eye took the fleet to sea Tris had simply lagged behind, changing course only when the other ships were lost to sight.
Those are Euron’s “other ships,” to be sure. Euron’s fleet is ready for war, as we know, and what kind of wars do Other captains fight with Other ships?
“The kingswood crowned his brother Euron, and the Crow’s Eye has other wars to fight.”
Yes, the Crow’s Eye has other wars to fight. Very interesting, Sounds like good material for The Winds of Winter.
It’s actually not just the captains on Euron’s ships who are the Others, check out the crew of The Silence:
On her decks a motley crew of mutes and mongrels spoke no word as the Iron Victory drew nigh. Men black as tar stared out at him, and others squat and hairy as the apes of Sothoros. Monsters, Victarion thought.
There are Others on Euron’s ship, which by now should come as no surprise. The Others came for the first time in the darkness of the Long Night, and here they are sailing a ship with a sail like a starless sky. Now the Others aren’t squat and hairy of course, but they are monsters, like the “others” on Euron’s ship, and the nickname of Gilly’s baby who was supposed to be turned into an Other is… Monster. And although the real Others aren’t quite mutes like Euron’s Others on the ship here, the Others do not break the snow when the walk and thus it is said of them that “the Others make no sound” (Will repeats these words to himself in the AGOT prologue).
Besides all these Others following Euron and sailing his ships, we also have the more obvious idea of the Ironborn warriors being called “Drowned Men” and being symbolically resurrected with the words “what is dead can never die, but rises harder and stronger.” Many have noticed that this slogan of the Drowned Men also pretty well describes the ice wights, who rise with ice-hard hands, unnatural strength, and unnatural life. In other words, Euron is leading dead people who have risen again in his conquest of Westeros, and that sounds like Night’s King business. Check out this quote from Aeron Greyjoy’s “The Prophet” chapter of AFFC as Aeron is greeted by one of the soft, mainlander Ironborn who were only ever sprinkled with a few drops of saltwater and not actually drowned and resuscitated like a real fanatic.
“Such tidings as we bear are for your ears alone, Damphair,” the Sparr said. “These are not matters I would speak of here before these others.”
“These others are my drowned men, god’s servants, just as I am. I have no secrets from them, nor from our god, beside whose holy sea I stand.”
It’s pretty great how they repeat it twice – these others are the drowned men. Now the Drowned Man credo makes them wights, and this wordplay calls them Others, but I think that’s okay – the point is that they represent the combined forces of Night’s King, the Others and their wights. There’s even more Drowned Men-as-Others wordplay in the chapter:
“You belong to the god now,” Aeron told him. The other drowned men gathered round and each gave him a punch and a kiss to welcome him to the brotherhood.
The Others are of course a brotherhood, being all male and many of them sons of the same man, be that Craster or the original Night’s King. And now we know what the white walker hazing routine is like! A punch and a kiss, that’s not too bad. A lot of people actually enjoy that kind of thing. Anyway… Just a moment before telling this newly drowned man that he belongs to the god now, Aeron thinks to himself “Another one returned,” and that “other priests lost a man from time to time,” but not Aeron of course.
Aeron himself makes a great Other priest, which makes sense because he’s the one “raising the dead,” so to speak. Check out this scene from AFFC where he walks into the cold sea to counsel with his god:
Aeron crept from his little shelter into the chill of the night. Naked he stood, pale and gaunt and tall, and naked he walked into the black salt sea. The water was icy cold, yet he did not flinch from his god’s caress.
So the sea from which the Drowned Men are reborn is icy cold, which makes you think of all the icy lake symbolism of the Others, such as their voices being like the cracking of ice on a winter lake or Milton’s notion of Lucifer the dragon being imprisoned in a frozen lake in the ninth circle of hell from Paradise Lost which Martin seems to be making good use of. Aeron himself is “pale and gaunt and tall,” which are all words used to describe the Others in the AGOT prologue, and then after emerging from the sea he is with his body steaming in the cold night air, like an Other with icy mists pouring off of him. The moment of his divine insight in the ocean comes with this line:
That man is drowned, and the god has made me strong. The cold salt sea surrounded him, embraced him, reached down through his weak man’s flesh and touched his bones. Bones, he thought. The bones of the soul.
The cold touch of Aeron’s god is reaching into his body and touching Aeron’s bones and soul as he is reborn – doesn’t this sound like an icy, Otherish transformation here? Now that’s he’s an icy Other priest, he can set about raising the dead into an army… only for Euron to sail in from Asshai and take control over it.
Euron steals control of the Drowned Men at the Kingsmoot of course, and check out the passage where the Damphair, standing beneath the arch of Nagga’s Bones, issues the summons for the Kingsmoot:
The drowned men took up their driftwood cudgels and began to beat them one against the other as they walked back down the hill. Others joined them, and the clangor spread along the strand. Such a fearful clacking and a clattering it made, as if a hundred trees were pummeling one another with their limbs.
Three uses of the word “other,” and the weirwood origins of the Others are even suggested as the Other-like drowned men’s clacking of their wooden cudgels is compared to trees – not just trees actually, trees that are “pummeling one another” as if they were tree warriors fighting. I’ll remind you again that there is an entire weirwood side of the symbolism of the “White Walkers of the Wood,” as they are known, which we will explore in a video very soon, but let’s stick to Euron’s Night’s King and Otherish symbolism for now.
In case the skeptically-minded amongst you are wondering if you can find this sort of pregnant use of the word “other” anywhere and use it to construe a theory about the Others if you smoke enough cannabis, the answer is no. There are only a small handful of scenes which repeatedly use the word other like this, and those scenes have a context in which the wordplay makes sense, as it does here to see the people following and serving Euron being suggested as Others. One of the next videos will be the Jon Snow Night’s King video, and he has a chapter at the Wall where the term is use no less than seven times alongside copious white walker symbolism of all kinds, and it’s going to make a damn lot of sense when I show it you, I promise. Those of you who watched my recent livestream called “Journey to the Heart of Winter” also saw the same wordplay trick used at Daznak’s pit to symbolically imply Dany and Drogon as fighting Others and wights instead of the slave masters of Meereen.
Another way in which Euron is suggested as an icy white walker king is through his Warlock and Shade of the Evening symbolism. Shade of the Evening is a third-eye-opening, psychotropic brew, so just like the weirwood paste, we can see this substance as a trigger for an Odin-like expansion of magical sight and consciousness – but one associated with darkness and nightfall, as implied by the name “shade of the evening.” That fits very well with the core of Euron’s character as expressed in the quote we opened the Euron part 1 video with – Euron sees himself as a god-king rising from the graves here at the end of days, and he’s opening his third eye with liquid darkness.
Better still, there are specific ice associations that come with this dark blue “warlock wine.” It leaves those who drink it with blue lips – and blue lips are normally seen on people who are extremely cold, who have caught frotbite. More specific is Dany’s nightmare of Hizdahr zo Lorak turning into a warlock:
Beneath her coverlets she tossed and turned, dreaming that Hizdahr was kissing her … but his lips were blue and bruised, and when he thrust himself inside her, his manhood was cold as ice. She sat up with her hair disheveled and the bedclothes atangle.
Yikes! Naughty bits are one thing, icy bits quite another (see what I did there). This may also be foreshadowing for Dany and Euron… ah.. well.. participating in a scene that will make us all very uncomfortable, let’s just leave it at that. We will talk about Dany’s relationship to Euron a different time, but as you can see here, this nightmare at the very least creates an association between blue-lipped people and… icy body parts.
As we discussed in the “Born to Burn the Others” video, the actual Undying Ones themselves seem like dead ringers for symbolic white walker stand-ins and they became this way by drinking the Shade of the Evening, which Euron is now basically doing kegstands with. I don’t want to cite all the quotes at length since we already did that, but you will recall that the Undying Ones are referred to as “no more than blue shadows” and “blue and cold” with blue skin, hair, and eyes, and “dry cold hands.” They gather around a floating corrupt blue heart, which I take as a symbol for the Heart of Winter and a reference to the Shade of the Evening trees as a kind of corrupted weirwood heart tree (and check out “Journey to the Heart of Winter for more on the Shade trees). Pyatt Pree even describes a meeting with the Undying as an honor “as rare as summer snows.”
That scene also describes the Undying Ones needing Dany’s fire and life, hinting at a desire to give Dany a cold transformation. If these Undying are representing the Others as they seem to be, then it could imply the Others would like to possess Dany, that they want to make Dany a Night’s Queen (video forthcoming) or perhaps just suck off of her life away like icy vampires. One of cold Undying shadows is even is even sucking or biting at one of Dany’s eyes, hinting at the idea of Odin-like magical transformation, but of course this would be the cold kind.
Needless to say, all of this could certainly end up dovetailing with Euron’s desire to marry / possess Dany as Euron draws closer to actual Night’s King status. Of course Drogon turns the blue shadows and the blue heart into kindling, and Dany is not possessed, which I’d also like to think is some kind of more hopeful foreshadowing.
So as you can see, the warlock / shade of the evening line of symbolism runs towards the icy end of things, and thus Euron drinking the warlock wine and acquiring blue lips casts him as an icy wizard who draws power from darkness. A new Night’s King to lead the Others and those can never die, having died already.
Now when we talk about the Undying wanting to take Dany’s life and fire, and how that foreshadows Euron and / or the Others wanting to do this, we have to talk about hands of white fire lady. Namely, I mean this shadow figure that appears alongside Euron in Damphair’s nightmare vision of enthroned Euron, the one where his face turns into a writhing mass of tentacles that we just read:
Beside him stood a shadow in woman’s form, long and tall and terrible, her hands alive with pale white fire. Dwarves capered for their amusement, male and female, naked and misshapen, locked in carnal embrace, biting and tearing at each other as Euron and his mate laughed and laughed and laughed …
There has been much speculation over the identity of this shadow lady with hands of white fire, and I’m honestly not sure who it will be – perhaps Melisandre or Dany, or maybe Cersei, or perhaps even Malora Hightower. Ba’al the Bard thinks the shadow may even represent Viserion, whose fires are described as pale, and who has some amount of ice dragon symbolism (we’ll cover that when we discuss Visenya & Vhagar, actually) and therefore seems like the one Euron will get, assuming he gets a dragon.
For the purposes of archetypal analysis however, hands of white fire lady – who is a tall shadow – sounds kinda like a Night’s Queen figure, doesn’t she? Perhaps a fiery woman like Melisandre or Daenerys becoming frozen, or turned into a shadow? Or perhaps it means this magical woman is a mother of shadows, like Melisandre and Night’s Queen. The white fire is the kind which could be revealed as the cold fire of the Others, so this shadow lady really could be just about anyone, ice or fire. One thing is clear though – she wields magical fire and has something to do with shadows, and the vision suggests her as Euron’s queen of the apocalypse. That pretty much makes her some kind of Night’s Queen figure, at the very least, so we will have to keep out eyes out for this person.
One person to keep an eye on is Cersei – even granted that there are huge differences between the show and the books where it concerns Euron and Cersei, it’s still pretty easy to see how she could rise to a level of villainy becoming of Euron’s mate. Cersei’s symbolism is a topic too big to open up here, but even at a quick glance, she appears to have some Night’s Queen clues – Jon sees her at WInterfell in AGOT and thinks “the queen seemed as cold as an ice sculpture,” for example, and she does a lot of ice transformation symbolism while imprisoned in the Sept of Baelor. She’s associated with green fire as opposed to white fire, but the potential for her to blow stuff up with wildfire in Kings Landing does seem high.
I might also mention that the name Euron seems drawn from Europa, which is an ice-covered moon of Jupiter and a Greek moon goddess. That reminds us of Night’s Queen, whose skin is as pale as the moon and as cold as ice. Euron is Night’s Queen confirmed – no no, of course the implication here is that Euron is a Night’s King who needs an icy, moon pale Night’s Queen standing at his side. The only question is who.
We can also find more clues about Euron becoming a new Night’s King when we look at his sigil again in the context of Night’s King ideas. We’ve already discussed the black crown as a Night’s King / king of a darkened sun symbol, but consider the fact that on Euron’s sigil, the black crown above the blood eye is held up by two crows – and Night’s King was supposedly a black crow of the Night’s Watch who declared himself king. A King Crow, in other words, and the wildlings to this day even refer to the Lord Commander of the Watch as “Lord Crow.” Of course it’s not just the crows holding aloft Euron’s black crown that says he’s a Crow King – his nickname is Crowseye, and after becoming King, he’s called “King Crowseye.” He’s already dressing all in black, although I’m definitely waiting for him to wear the Blacktyde sable cloak along with the Valyrian steel armor and the black iron sharkstooth crown to really cut a distinctive figure.
Crows are also eaters of the dead, and this is the sense in which Martin employs the word in the title “A Feast for Crows,” a book which chronicles the fallout of the War of the Five Kings. That certainly fits Euron as a king rising from the graves and charnel pits during a time of death and destruction, or even Euron as an avatar of the god of death. The crows who feast on the dead hold up Euron’s crown – thematically, this is clear enough. Euron is the King Crow, the blackest of the crows who’s feasting on the dead and growing fat more than any other.
As a matter of fact, the line in A Feast for Crows that spells out the meaning of the title actually refers to Euron:
“Carrion crows make their feasts upon the carcasses of the dead and dying,” said Grand Maester Pycelle. “They do not descend upon hale and healthy animals. Lord Euron will gorge himself on gold and plunder, aye, but as soon as we move against him he will back to Pyke, as Lord Dagon was wont to do in his day.”
“You are wrong,” said Margaery Tyrell. “Reavers do not come in such strength. A thousand ships! Lord Hewett and Lord Chester are slain, as well as Lord Serry’s son and heir. Serry has fled to Highgarden with what few ships remain him, and Lord Grimm is a prisoner in his own castle. Willas says that the iron king has raised up four lords of his own in their places.”
Indeed, Margarey is right – Pycelle is underestimating Euron here, clearly. Euron won’t be content to feed off of scraps, because ultimately, he’s no mere reaver, no common crow. Euron has much bigger ambitions – a dragon, all of Westeros, and maybe just maybe… and army of the undead.
I’ve said a few times now that Euron is very like an alt-Bloodraven, with both of them taking after Odin, but with Bloodraven having fiery red symbolism and aligning with the Night’s Watch and the armies of the living and Euron having the icy blue symbolism and aligning with the Others and the army of the dead. Bloodraven is the “three-eyed crow,” and Euron is a three-eyed crow too, since he’s called Crow’s Eye and is opening his third eye, like Odin. Euron opens his third eye with the Shade of the Evening trees, and Bloodraven with the weirwoods, so you can see that in all ways, they are similar, but inverted archetypes. I went into this idea at length in the “Feast for Krackens” livestream, where I talked about the potential for Euron to have a transcendent, obtaining-the-fire-of-the-gods seen at the top of the Hightower which parallels Bran’s experience climbing the tower of Winterfell and opening his third eye inside the coma dream, and I might come back to Euron’s alt-greenseer symbolism in the future.
We should have no doubt that some sort of actual magical transformation scene is coming for Euron, and I’d guess this should coincide with the fall of the Long Night. Old Nan says Night’s King “was only a man by light of day, but the night was his to rule,” which I’ve always taken as a clue about Night’s King transforming himself into something more than a man when the Long Night fell – and indeed, that’s exactly what Euron is set to do, likely near the conclusion of The Winds of Winter. I expect Euron to take Oldtown and declare himself king there, and probably set up shop for while, so he could well be atop the Hightower when the Long Night falls, which Is have to think will happen before the end of Winds.
There’s yet another Night King implication to be drawn from Euron’s one-eye sigil and the idea of his having a black “crow’s eye” which Theon thinks of as “a black eye shining with malice,” as well as Moqorro seeing Euron in his flame visions as “a tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms.” Namely, Melisandre thinks of the Great Other as having one black eye in this passage from ACOK. Davos is arguing theology with Melisandre – who is a red priest like Moqorro – and making the point that it was darkness hiding them from detection as they rowed beneath Storm’s End, saying:
The god of darkness protects us now, my lady. Even you.”
The flames of her eyes seemed to burn a little brighter at that. “Speak not that name, ser. Lest you draw his black eye upon us. He protects no man, I promise you. He is the enemy of all that lives.
Euron Crowseye, enemy of all that lives: yep, that checks out. The main point is that according to the R’hllorists, Euron just might be the Great Other, or perhaps an avatar of the Great Other.
So the final question is how: how can Euron become an actual Night’s King? How does he come to lead the Others? Well it could be that he doesn’t actually lead the Others, but that he’s simply the one to trigger the Long Night and the invasion of the white walkers by blowing his horn one too many times or performing some other powerful magic. Euron may be intending to bring about the apocalypse with such an action, or he could be simply trying to do something else and screw everything up accidentally, but either way he’s one of the few human beings capable of wielding apocalypse-level sorcery. But there are two general ways he could actually lead the army of the dead that I can see – and leave your ideas in the comments below, by all means.
First, it may be that some remnant of Night’s King / Azor Ahai’s spirit is alive somewhere on the ethereal plane, or inside the weirwoodnet, and that this spirit will take over Euron’s mind and effectively steal his body. Euron is fearless and heedless in his quest to become a god-man, and quite often in classic mythology, such figures usually get more than they bargained for. In particular, the works of H. P. Lovecraft often have ambitious people like this end up doormats and temporary host bodies for incomprehensible entities like the Great Old Ones. This “Night’s King snatches Euron’s body” idea would also be a very close parallel to what happens to Inneluki, the Azor Ahai / Night’s King figure of Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, who reemerges from the ethereal plane after being dead for centuries to become the villain of the story. I’ll again refer you both to Gray Area MS&T / ASOIAF playlist and a Between Two Weirwoods video I did with Gray on my channel for more on that, but the point is that George has named Tad Williams and MS&T as being highly influential on ASOIAF, so this potential parallel is something to keep an eye on.
Another thing to consider about Euron contacting the spirit of a dead person that’s trapped in the weirwoodnet or anywhere else is that in ASOIAF, there only seems to be one astral plane, no mater what magic is used to access it. Melisandre gazes into the flames and sees Bloodraven and Bran because they can project their spirits out of their bodies and on to the astral plane, even though they’re using weirwood magic and Melisandre fire magic. You saw in the passage we quoted earlier that Moqorro can see all kinds of important folks in shadow form when he looks into the fires, and I don’t doubt Bloodraven can see other magic users in a similar fashion if he puts his mind to it.
In other words, if Euron is using shade of the evening, glass candles, and whatever else, there’s no telling what kinds of spirit entities he could run into and interact with. They might give him power and knowledge, and they may well be seeking to use him for their own agenda. The most likely candidate would be the spirit of dead Azor Ahai-turned-Night’s King, which also be the entity people perceive as the great Other in my opinion. Perhaps Euron will open one door too many and zap – dead Azor Ahai takes over his mind like Bran takes over Hodor. This would be Azor Ahai reborn in a more literal sense, which would actually, at this point in the story, be a huge subversion of what we all expect that to mean.
But what about Night’s Queen? Might she still exist inside the weirwoodnet or on some sort of ethereal plane? Maybe that’s who ‘hands of white fire lady’ is; perhaps Night’s Queen has been tutoring Euron in the nether-realm this whole time in preparation to transform him into a new Night’s King. Probably not, but who knows – ‘hands of white fire lady’ is hard to figure out with what we know now. This would almost be like a weird version of the “alien spirit entity girlfriend” trope, and doesn’t Euron seem like the type..
The second option for Euron as an actual leader of the Others is kind of a more literal variation on the last idea, and basically I’m thinking, what if Euron sees the ice magic of the Others as a power he can grasp and directly attempts to do so? For example, there’s a theory out there that Jon blowing on the cracked horn he found at the Fist of the First Men actually called the Others to the Fist. If the dragonbinder horn makes dragons obey you, perhaps the “Horn of Winter” does the same with the Others or the wights. Sam has that horn in Oldtown, where Euron is attacking right now, so he could well get his hands on it.
Euron has also been gathering all manner of arcane knowledge, so it’s actually possible Euron knows more about the Others at this moment than we do. With or without Sam’s potential “horn of Winter,” Euron may think he has a way of controlling the Others through sorcery. Although I’ve never heard anyone suggest this, I think it’s possible that Euron may find a way to directly access ice magic and transform himself – just as Melisandre is in the process of transforming herself into an entity sustained by fire magic through her use of fire magic. It may be that he needs to go to the north to do this, or perhaps not – we don’t know if you have to live any specific place to worship R’hllor and access fire magic, for example. It’s worth noting that Melisandre calls the Wall a “hinge of the world” and says that it will amplify her fire and shadow magic, even though the Wall is made of ice and is in the north, so it may be that at a certain level magic is magic and the location doesn’t determine how a user may channel that magic.
In any case, it’s not impossible that Euron will literally replay the Waymar prologue of A Game of Thrones in some fashion, that he will physically journey north and attempt to confront the Others in a clearing of the Haunter Forest, but with more magical resources and bona fides than Waymar could ever dream of. Heck, riding a dragon is probably the fastest way to get north, so, maybe we will see the idea of Night’s King Euron and ice dragon Viserion all come together at once. It could even be that part of his wanting to acquire a dragon has to do with his ideas about commanding the Others.
So there you have it, several ways in which all of this Night’s King Euron symbolism could play out at the conclusion of the story. Again, I’d love to hear your ideas on this in the comments below – my main job is to point at and decode the symbolism and present it to you guys; drawing conclusions from the symbolism is a fun activity for all of us.
Hey guys it’s LmL and I’m back to squeeze in Weirwood Compendium 10 before the end of the month! Real life has kept me away from you for the last two weeks, but I got up early on West Coast time to make you guys some myth head breakfast. Thanks to all of our patreon supporters and to everyone who likes and shares the videos, and I’d like to welcome those of you who have subscribed to the channel recently. This is Weirwood Compendium 10, and we’re picking up where we left on in WC9, so make sure you watch that video and probably the “Weirwood Magic and Lore” video from a couple weeks back if you haven’t done the whole Weirwood Compendium or forget what it was about. That said, it’s time for our trippiest episode yet, perhaps, although there was that 3 hour Rhymes and Riddles of Patchface the Fool halloween livestream form a couple years ago…
By now I have gotten to know a few of you listeners and patreon supporters, and I know you all are a clever bunch. When you hear me talking about a horse which allows the rider to travel the universe, you might be thinking of the phrase “the Stallion Who Mounts the World.” If you were, give yourself a big pat on the back and wear that smile of self-satisfaction, because you got that one exactly right – at least, I think so. To the extent that the weirwood functions as an astral projection horse like Yggdrasil, it is a horse which mounts the world and the cosmos. This is what Bloodraven alludes to when he tells Bran that he will fly, and that is the meaning of all of Bran’s dreams of flying – his ultimate flight will be through the use of the weirwoods.
Of course the tree-horse and the rider are one, and the greenseer mounts the cosmos by becoming the weirwood, by slipping into its skin. The greenseer becomes part of the horse that ‘mounts’ or ‘rides’ the world, and this is one of the ways in which I believe Azor Ahai’s group of naughty greenseers brought down the moon – I mean it starts with them having some mechanism for effecting the course of celestial bodies, does it not? Some way to go up to the stars? Riding the astral projection horse could be part of it, and mounting the world seems like the right idea too.
We saw a clue about this is Drogo’s funeral pyre, which we’ve talked about the last several episodes – Dany perceives Drogo as seeming to mount a grey stallion made of smoke and fire which he rides up to the stars, at which time time he exchanges the grey horse for his celestial mount, the red comet, which is seen as a fiery horse. That’s not one but two horses which seem to help Drogo to “mount the world.” The grey stallion is a call-out to Sleipnir and thus to astral travel, while the column of smoke and ash the horse is made of is expressing the ash tree and burning tree weirwood symbolism, and thus more astral travel. Are the weirwoods a way to “ride the comet,” as Drogo seems to do? We’ll come back to this scene later in the podcast, but it seems as though something along these lines is true.
Now lest I confuse anyone too badly too early in the program, let me say that it seems also certain that the most direct fulfillment of the Stallion Who Mounts prophecy will turn out to be Dany riding Drogon, high above the world – I’m certainly a believer in this. So which is it? Is the Stallion Who Mounts a greenseer mounting the weirwood – meaning Bran – or is it Dany and Drogon? Well, think about it this way. The original Stallion Who Mounted the World was Azor Ahai breaking into and stealing the power of the weirwoods – a dragonlord-turned-greenseer, essentially – and our modern incarnations are each showing us one half of that picture. Bran is the greenseer, Dany the dragonlord, and I have a feeling that Martin is implying that their arcs will intersect at some key moment of high magic near the conclusion of the story.
Dany and Bran have parallel arcs in many ways – they’re both separated form the rest of the story, with Bran sojourning in the coldest outskirts of the land and Dany the hottest, and they’re the two POV characters most heavily associated with magic. They’re both classic fantasy tropes, with their arcs clearly aimed at magical climaxes, and of course many have noticed that Dany’s House of the Undying / Shade of the Evening experience has many parallels to Bran’s greenseer cave / weirwood paste scenes. Dany and Bran are both a couple of young trippers, in other words, and most importantly, they are the two characters who consistently seem to think about flying in the sky and even touching heavenly bodies. Dany has already flown literally, and Bran astrally, so one wonders if their powers might be combined for some key moment.. I’m going to lay out the Stallion Who Mounts symbolism as best I can, and then we’ll have a discussion session to talk about what it might mean – and as always, leave your comments below and tell me what you think!
Alright. So like I said, we have to think about the “Stallion Who Mounts” as referring to both the general idea of a dragon greenseer like Azor Ahai as well as an archetypal role which will be manifested by Dany and Bran. Dany and Drogon will be the more literal fullfillment of the Stallion Who Mounts prophecy, but we’ll find tons of clues about greenseer things that probably apply to Bran when we look at Dany’s scenes that in any way involve the Stallion Who Mounts ideas. We’ve already seen a ton of horse greenseer symbolism in Dany’s arc, of course – the silver sea horse stuff which incorporates the idea of Sleipnir as a great grey stallion as well as the “ships as winged horses” symbolism – and the Stallion Who Mounts set of ideas will follow this pattern as well.
Now originally it was believed that the Stallion Who Mounts would be Rhaego, Dany and Drogo’s unborn child, and we already know that Rhaego is the vehicle for a lot of dragon greenseer symbolism / Azor Ahai the greeneer symbolism. The vision Dany has of a grown Rhaego has him being consumed by ash, of course this is invoking the dual symbolism of the weirwood as a burning, ashy tree and the weirwood as a stand-in for the ash tree Yggdrasil. Beric is resurrected by fire in both a weirwood cave and a grove of ash trees at different times, Dany hatches her dragons and is reborn “covered in ash” and “amidst the ashes,” and of course Azor Ahai waiting to be reborn is called “an ember in the ashes” by Melisandre. Dany named Rhaego after Rhaegar, and there are several instances of Rhaegar being said to be “reborn from the ashes,” naturally. Rhaegar also has a lot dragon greenseer symbolism, if you recall – he dies “on the green banks of the River Trident,” but then is symbolically reborn as the people Dany names after him – not only Rhaego, but also later Rhaegal, the green dragon who is more or less entirely fashioned of dragon-greenseer symbolism. I don’t want to recap all of Weirwood Compendium 6, but the point is baby Rhaego leads to all the greenseer dragon symbolism of Rhaegal and Rhaegar, before we even consider the idea of a stallion who can mount the entire earth.
When we think of Rhaego as a merging of the animal mascots of his parents, horse and dragon, that also says dragon greenseer; think of Bloodraven the dragon merging with the weirwood, which is his astral projection horse. All the stuff about Rhaego riding in the Stallion Who Mounts prophecy… think of a dragon riding a horse, but the horse is a weirwood. Azor Ahai mounts the weirwoodnet.
So like I said a moment ago, we now think the stallion prophecy will be fulfilled by Dany riding Drogon, and Drogon, like Rhaego, is Dany’s child. So the idea here is that Dany is the mother of the Stallion, the mother of Rhaego and Drogon, but she herself can also be the Stallion because she becomes reborn in the funeral pyre, which we can see as her dying to give birth to a new self. She’s the mother of herself, just as Odin sacrificed himself to himself. It’s the same for Drogo – he would have been the father of Rhaego the Stallion Who Mounts, but when he dies, he seems to transcend death by riding stallions who mount the world by flying in space. Even Rhaego seems to be burnt and consumed by ash in Dany’s vision, so you can see that there’s always a “death and rebirth through the weirwoods” message with any incarnation of our dragon-stallion who mounts.
In the last episode, I explained how the rhythmic beating of the shaman’s drums which enable the trance-like state came to be thought of as the hoofbeats of an unseen horse which the shaman rides into the spirit world, and that this is what is behind the idea of Odin riding Sleipnir the eight legged stallion or Odin riding Yggdrasil like a horse by being hung upon it and using it for astral projection. We saw Martin uses this metaphor in several weirwood scenes, but we saved the best for today, because the invisible-yet-thundering shamanic horse makes a strong appearance at the scene where the prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts is given, as you might expect.
Here’s the setup for the scene: Daenerys the moon maiden has just eaten the bloody heart of a wild stallion as a part of a Dothraki ritual to foretell the virility of her unborn child. There layers of symbolism here, and the first is classic mythical astronomy: this is a depiction of the moon (Dany) ingesting the Lightbringer comet (the bloody heart) right before giving birth to a version of Azor Ahai reborn and his dragons. Think about the horse heart as a symbol – we’ve seen that comets are bleeding stars and that meteors can be the hearts of fallen stars, so a bloody heart already works well as a comet or meteor symbol. But it’s not just a heart, it’s a horse heart, and we know that the Dothraki believe that the stars are fiery horses and that Dany equates the bleeding red comet with Drogo mounted on his fiery stallion. Ergo, a bloody stallion heart being eaten by a moon maiden works very well as a symbol of the moon ingesting a red Lightbringer comet. It’s very similar to the scene from Weirwood Compendium 9, Shamanic Thunder Horse, where we saw Aerion Targaryen telling Dunk to “eat this” and then hitting him with the bloody morningstar.
The other thing going on, symbolically, as Dany eats the horse heart is that she is getting heavy-duty weirwood stigmata: “Warm blood filled her mouth and ran down over her chin,” “..her face smeared with the heartsblood that sometimes seemed to explode against her lips,” and then “Her cheeks and fingers were sticky as she forced down the last of it.” Dany is like weirwood tree, with blood red hands and mouth, and the Prince inside her is like the greenseer inside the tree:
“Khalakka dothrae mr’anha!” she proclaimed in her best Dothraki. A prince rides inside me! She had practiced the phrase for days with her handmaid Jhiqui.
The oldest of the crones, a bent and shriveled stick of a woman with a single black eye, raised her arms on high. “Khalakka dothrae!” She shrieked. The prince is riding!
Okay, so we have a one eyed seer – a seeress in this case – and that is a sure sign of Odin symbolism at play. Calling her a shriveled old stick of a woman makes us think of Bloodraven, a shriveled old stick of a man, and wicker men and tree-people in general.
The prince is riding, riding inside Dany – this is a great visualization of the dragon greenseer riding inside the weirwood tree. It’s also a picture of the moon dragons waiting to be born inside the moon, and it echoes a line from the Hedge Knight, right before the trial of the seven, where Dunk is looking for a seventh man for his side:
Dunk left them there, feeling as relieved as he was guilty. We are still one short, he thought as Egg held Thunder for him. Where will I find another man?
“As egg held Thunder” – that’s a pretty nice one. Astronomy -wise, the moon-egg held thunderous dragon meteors, just as Dany “gives birth” to dragons whose eggs crack like thunder. But also consider that the “Thunder” young Egg Targaryen is holding is a horse – it’s just like Dany as a moon figure holding the Stallion Who Mounts, a prince who is riding the world like a horse. Dunk does find a seventh man of course, and he turns out to be a greenseer dragon symbol who looks like he hatched from a moon egg – I’m talking about Baelor Targaryen, dressed in black dragon armor and riding on a horse. Yes, a dragon riding a horse, just like Rhaego’s symbolism, and just like Drogon being considered as the Stallion Who Mounts. You’ll even recall Dunk telling a dying Baelor to rise with the command “UP!”, just as he had to Thunder in the melee… “Rise like Thunder, oh Azor Ahai,” lol.
The scene in Vaes Dothrak continues:
“He is riding!” the other women answered. “Rakh! Rakh! Rakh haj!” they proclaimed. A boy, a boy, a strong boy. Bells rang, a sudden clangor of bronze birds. A deep-throated warhorn sounded its long low note.
Hold everything. A deep throated warhorn? That is exactly the sort of thing to wake whatever is sleeping inside the moon, they should really be careful. The bells sound like bronze birds, and bronze birds sounds like meteors – flying metal objects that make noise. My pal Lady Evolett of the Blue Winter Roses blog thinks the gold, silver, and bronze bells worn in the Dothraki’s night-black hair represent stars, which make sense to me. The paragraph continues:
The old women began to chant. Underneath their painted leather vests, their withered dugs swayed back and forth, shiny with oil and sweat. The eunuchs who served them threw bundles of dried grasses into a great bronze brazier, and clouds of fragrant smoke rose up toward the moon and the stars. The Dothraki believed the stars were horses made of fire, a great herd that galloped across the sky by night.
The herd galloping across the sky sounds a lot like the wild hunt, which is sometimes seen as a sky-procession (again, think Santa Claus and his comet, lightning, and thunder reindeer). The fact that it is a procession of horses flying through the stars, deeeehhfinitely makes us think of the astral projection horse – and that is the one which the prince is riding. We definitely notice the all important symbol of the rising smoke column – that represents the burning ash tree, which is the weirwood, and it is rising up to the moon and stars, just as with Drogo’s bonfire, where the column of smoke and ash became a horse that he rode up to the stars. Martin is showing us that the weirwood, which can be pictured as a column of smoke and ash or a grey horse, can convey the rider to the stars, and he’s showing that this becomes possible because of the sacrifice of Nissa Nissa.
To put it really simply, we can observe that Dany with her stigmata represents a weirwood tree, and right next to her is a column of smoke rising to heaven, which can also represent the weirwood tree. Dany’s baby is riding inside her, and Drogo was riding inside the smoke column coming from his pyre.
Returning to the one-eyed crone giving the Stallion Who Mounts prophecy, notice how the chanting really drives home the shamanistic vibe of this whole ceremony. Horse sacrifice was a very common occurrence among shamans in northeast Asia, which is where the specific word shaman originates from (the Tungus people to be specific).
As the smoke ascended, the chanting died away and the ancient crone closed her single eye, the better to peer into the future.
That’s very consistent with the concept of Odin’s sacrifice of his eye – cutting off physical sight to aid in third eye sight. Peering into the future is specifically what the runes are about – they even give Odin the power to see and even alter the future. The well of Urd where he sees the runes is also where the three Norns weave the fates of all mankind, and the crones here might remind us a bit of them.
The silence that fell was complete. Dany could hear the distant call of night birds, the hiss and crackle of the torches, the gentle lapping of water from the lake. The Dothraki stared at her with eyes of night, waiting.
The lapping of the lake is a nice inclusion, as it gives us the watery element of the well, and actually I should clarify that a “well” in Norse myth really refers to the spring itself, whether or not there is an actual well there. This is important because the well in the Nightfort is not the only dark, bottomless body of water which is meant to parallel the idea of a Norse well such as the well of Mimir or Urd. The other ones, which are both black bodies of water said to be bottomless, are the cold black pond under the heart tree in the Winterfell godswood, the Womb of the World whose cool black waters we can hear lapping in this scene, and that black river in Bloodraven’s cave. Honorable mention goes to the pool of deadly liquid Arya serves people from in the House of Black and White when they are ready to set their burdens down.
Picking up right where we left off, we come to the important part:
Finally the crone opened her eye and lifted her arms. “I have seen his face, and heard the thunder of his hooves,” she proclaimed in a thin, wavery voice.
“The thunder of his hooves!” the others chorused.
We have a one-eyed seer, in a trance, hearing the thunder of hooves where there are no horses – this is the shamanic horse, the astral projection horse. It’s the one the prince – Azor Ahai reborn – is riding.
“As swift as the wind he rides, and behind him his khalasar covers the earth, men without number, with arakhs shining in their hands like blades of razor grass. Fierce as a storm this prince will be. His enemies will tremble before him, and their wives will weep tears of blood and rend their flesh in grief. The bells in his hair will sing his coming, and the milk men in the stone tents will fear his name.” The old woman trembled and looked at Dany almost as if she were afraid. “The prince is riding, and he shall be the stallion who mounts the world.”
Fierce as a storm he will be, and like the wind he will ride – here we think of the Baratheon Storm Lords and Durrandon Storm Kings of Westeros, with all their horned lord and green man symbolism. We also think of the Grey King myth of the Storm God’s thunderbolt which set a tree ablaze, especially since that burning tree represents the weirwood tree, which is a horse that a greenseer can mount to fly over the world.
The other implication of the Prince riding like a storm is that he’s a summoner of moon meteors. The Storm God’s ‘thunderbolt’ is probably a moon meteor, and all of Robert’s hammer symbolism seems to point to moon meteors as an explanation for the Hammer of the Waters. Dany is the Stormborn, and of course her death and rebirth is accompanied by a firestorm… with both events symbolizing the explosion of the moon to make moon meteor dragons. We know one of the symbolic motifs George likes to use for the moon meteors is the “storm of swords,” and that sounds a lot like what the seeress is talking about when she speaks of the khalasar of this thunderous stallion who mounts the world covering the earth and wielding shining arakhs.
Arakhs are curved blades, like the lunar crescent, so the notion of shining arakhs covering the world makes me think of think of fiery pieces of crescent moon covering the world. When Dany hatched the dragons, the first egg cracked open and “a chunk of curved rock, pale and veined with gold, broken and smoking” landed at her feet, just to give you an example of George using a crescent shaped thing to symbolize a moon meteor. Setting aside the curved part, shining blades are a pretty basic moon meteor symbol as it is. On top of that, the Dothraki believe the stars are a fiery khalasar in the sky, so again a khalasar that covers the earth with shining blades sounds a lot like a storm of falling stars, which the Dothraki would perceive as a fiery host of ancestors riding out of the sky and down to earth in fury and terror… covering the world with their shining blades and making everyone tremble, if you will. The Stallion Who Mounts being inside Dany is akin to the moon meteors waiting to be born inside the moon, so of course the coming of the Stallion would be accompanied by a khalasar of bleeding stars.
This is all starting to come together in an interesting way: the Stallion Who Mounts also seems to be Azor Ahai reborn; the Stallion Who Mounts is foretold to bring down what sounds like a moon meteor storm, and we’ve long believed that Azor Ahai called down the moon meteor shower the first time around. We’ve longed believed that Azor Ahai ‘mounts the world’ by using the weirwoodnet, and that seems to be the implication of surrounding the Stallion Who Mounts the World with all of this greenseer symbolism, that in one sense, when Martin talks about a stallion that can mount the world, he’s talking about the weirwood trees and the greenseer who use them to fly.
I say to you: this form of Azor Ahai reborn who rides the world like a stallion and brings with him a thundering herd of bleeding stars is none other than the horned lord riding the astral projection horse, weir-drasil. The big clue about this actually come back in Westeros, from ASOS. It’s the familiar passage where Jon is doing his astronomy review, talking about how he knows the twelve houses of heaven (the zodiac) and recognizes constellations such as the Ice Dragon, Shadowcat, Moonmaid, and Sword of the Morning. Then we get this curious line:
We look up at the same stars, and see such different things. The King’s Crown was the Cradle, to hear her tell it; the Stallion was the Horned Lord; the red wanderer that septons preached was sacred to their Smith up here was called the Thief. And when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, that was a propitious time for a man to steal a woman, Ygritte insisted.
Saayyyyyy what?? The Stallion is the Horned Lord? You don’t f—in’ say. That makes perfect sense – the Stallion Who Mounts the World is the horned lord Azor Ahai hooked up to the weirwoodnet. That’s also the same fellow who is a thieving red wanderer, a stealer of moon maidens. The Horned Lord is a celestial stallion, a constellation that gallops across the sky, or you might say the horned lord rides the celestial stallion, just as the greenseer both rides the weirwood tree and becomes the weirwood tree. There’s a similar quote to this one which we examined in the scarecrow section of the Green Zombie series:
The west had gone the color of a blood bruise, but the sky above was cobalt blue, deepening to purple, and the stars were coming out. Jon sat between two merlons with only a scarecrow for company and watched the Stallion gallop up the sky. Or was it the Horned Lord?
The sky is bruised, the stars are ‘coming out’ (kind of like the Sam scene where the stars were coming out and they might get a bit of moon), Jon the King of Winter sits with his scarecrow brothers preparing for a fight… and the Horned Lord is galloping up the sky like a celestial stallion mounting the world. Notice that it’s galloping ‘up’ the sky – it’s rising. It’s flying upwards into space.
Now think of Drogo and the fact that Daenerys perceives the red comet as Drogo mounted on his fiery steed, galloping up the sky and riding into the Nightlands. Reborn Drogo is of course a manifestation of Azor Ahai reborn.. and he’s riding a horse.. into space. Repeat: Azor Ahai reborn is riding a fiery horse into space, whereupon he is seen to mount the red comet as his fiery steed. This takes place when the moon wanders too close to the fire of the sun and gives birth to dragons, just like Dany declares that “a prince is riding” inside her after reenacting the moon eating the comet with her horse heart ritual.
In case you haven’t noticed, we are sneaking up to the answer to how a magician might provoke a moon disaster, intentionally or unintentionally – they need to use the power of the weirwoodnet. After all, right after Drogo mounts the smokey stallion in the pyre, we get the first moon destruction symbol:
Now, she thought, now, and for an instant she glimpsed Khal Drogo before her, mounted on his smoky stallion, a flaming lash in his hand. He smiled, and the whip snaked down at the pyre, hissing.
She heard a crack, the sound of shattering stone. The platform of wood and brush and grass began to shift and collapse in upon itself. Bits of burning wood slid down at her, and Dany was showered with ash and cinders.
As Dany is covered in ash, implying her as a dying Nissa Nissa entering the sacred ash tree, we see that fiery spirit Drogo literally hops on the grey horse and then promptly cracks the first dragon egg open with his comet-like fiery lash. To me this seems like a picture of Azor Ahai mounting the weirwoodnet in order to steer the comet into the moon. It’s the same thing was just saw implied by the idea of the Stallion Who Mounts covering the world in moon-meteor-like shining arakhs – using the weirwoodnet to bring down the moon meteors. Think back to Dunk, mounted on his thunder horse and thinking about his lance as his long wooden finger with which he can touch the dragons on Aerion’s shield- he does indeed touch those dragons, and in doing so brings them crashing down on his head.
And here we go one more time back to Bran at the Nightfort:
Outside the wind was sending armies of dead leaves marching across the courtyards to scratch faintly at the doors and windows. The sounds made him think of Old Nan’s stories. He could almost hear the ghostly sentinels calling to each other atop the Wall and winding their ghostly warhorns. 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.
There’s the horn again, and there is the weirwood tree trying to pull down the moon. Praying to the old gods might have been part of how it happened, and the same goes for horns. Think also of Asha’s Wayward Bride chapter, which is full of moon-drowning ideas, where we get this passage:
Asha was not ready to die, not here, not yet. “A living man can find the sea more easily than a dead one. Let the wolves keep their gloomy woods. We are making for the ships.”
She wondered who was in command of her foes. If it were me, I would take the strand and put our longships to the torch before attacking Deepwood. The wolves would not find that easy, though, not without longships of their own. Asha never beached more than half her ships. The other half stood safely off to sea, with orders to raise sail and make for Sea Dragon Point if the northmen took the strand. “Hagen, blow your horn and make the forest shake. Tris, don some mail, it’s time you tried out that sweet sword of yours.” When she saw how pale he was, she pinched his cheek.
“Splash some blood upon the moon with me, and I promise you a kiss for every kill.”
Alright, so they’re trying to find the see by running through the woods – and by blowing a horn that makes the forest shake and splashing blood on the moon. There’s talk of Sea Dragon Point, a place dedicated to greenseer dragon symbolism, as well as burning ships, which are symbols of weirwoods as burning trees that sail the green see and the river of time. This is of course also the chapter where the branches of the threatening trees of the Wolfswood “scratched at the face of the moon” and Asha the “weirwood” bride is almost killed by a lightning-like blow while she’s pinned against a tree and tangled in its roots.
Jumping back to Dany’s chapter in Vaes Dothrak, we see that the idea of drowning the moon is also depicted there. Right after the crone gives the Stallion Who Mounts prophecy, they proceed to the Womb of the World where this happens:
They rode to the lake the Dothraki called the Womb of the World, surrounded by a fringe of reeds, its water still and calm. A thousand thousand years ago, Jhiqui told her, the first man had emerged from its depths, riding upon the back of the first horse.
The procession waited on the grassy shore as Dany stripped and let her soiled clothing fall to the ground. Naked, she stepped gingerly into the water. Irri said the lake had no bottom, but Dany felt soft mud squishing between her toes as she pushed through the tall reeds. The moon floated on the still black waters, shattering and re-forming as her ripples washed over it. Goose pimples rose on her pale skin as the coldness crept up her thighs and kissed her lower lips. The stallion’s blood had dried on her hands and around her mouth.
So the Stallion Who Mounts is riding, Dany has the weirwood stigmata, and the moon is shattering and drowning in the supposedly bottomless lake as Dany the moon maiden immerses herself. The moon is also reforming, and Dany reemerges from the lake, reborn. Thus we can see that once again, the weirwood stallion is implied as a way to reach, shatter, and drown the moon.
To touch the moon with a comet, you need to be able to first steer the comet – to be able to touch it, in other words. In ACOK, Daenerys and her small khalasar wander in the red waste, following the red comet. She is musing that she should perhaps wear her hair in a braid like the Khals do to “remind them that Drogo’s strength lives within me now,” indicating that Daenerys is a moon maiden who has received the fire of the sun and is now transformed into Azor Ahai reborn. Then we get this:
Across the tent, Rhaegal unfolded green wings to flap and flutter a half foot before thumping to the carpet. When he landed, his tail lashed back and forth in fury, and he raised his head and screamed. If I had wings, I would want to fly too, Dany thought. The Targaryens of old had ridden upon dragonback when they went to war. She tried to imagine what it would feel like, to straddle a dragon’s neck and soar high into the air. It would be like standing on a mountaintop, only better. The whole world would be spread out below. If I flew high enough, I could even see the Seven Kingdoms, and reach up and touch the comet.
You see how well Rhaegal works as a symbol now, showing us that a dragon person can use greenseer magic to fly and touch comets. Once again I will remind you that it was Rhaegal’s egg which hatched with a crack “as loud and sharp as thunder,” like the thunderous boom DOOM drums we’ve seen in all those scenes from the last episode and like the thunderous hooves of the Stallion Who Mounts. Rhaegal makes Dany want to mount the world and reach up into the stars, because Rhaegal’s symbolic purpose is to tell us about dragon using greenseer magic to fly.
Now is probably the right time to point out that when Dany rides Drogon at the end of ADWD – when they become the Stallion Who Mounts the World together – she thinks about touching the moon. Pay attention to the wording which makes it sound as though she is walking with the clouds and above the clouds:
Memories walked with her. Clouds seen from above. Horses small as ants thundering through the grass. A silver moon, almost close enough to touch. Rivers running bright and blue below, glimmering in the sun. Will I ever see such sights again? On Drogon’s back she felt whole. Up in the sky the woes of this world could not touch her. How could she abandon that?
Did you catch the cloud walking? It said, “memories walked with her, clouds seen from above” – it’s like the clouds are walking with her, implying Dany as sky walking. Inded, Dany is physically walking through the green grass sea, but seeing all her memories of flight in her mind’s eye – having dreams of flying in the green see, in other words. It’s great how Martin slips in the thunderous horses while Dany recalls flying up so high she could almost touch the moon, just to be consistent and continue his interweaving of Sleipnir flying hose symbolism and dragon symbolism. He wants us to know that yes, Dany is actually flying on her dragon, but that’s not how you touch moons and comets – that is done through the wooden thunder horse that is the weirwood tree.
Just to reinforce the idea of her touching the moon, we get this rather poetic line later in the chapter:
Once I dreamt of flying, she thought, and now I’ve flown, and dream of stealing eggs.
Egads. Flying and stealing eggs? Who would do such a thing? The Stallion Who Mounts the World, of course, flying into space to steal the moon dragons by cracking open the moon egg.
As Dany walks with her memories of dragonriding, her thoughts turn to the flight from Daznak’s pit, a scene which symbolizes the the landing of a moon meteor (Drogon in this instance). The fact that Dany takes flight from this spot of blood, fire, and carnage makes this a mirror of Drogo appearing to take flight from his funeral pyre on his own world-mounting stallion. Here are the highlights: she loses her veils and tokar, a clue about the moon losing its covering or crust, and there are two references to Dany wearing rags or looking like a “ragged thing.” As she recalls looking down at some of the people engulfed by Drogon’s black flame at Daznak’s, we see the fiery dancers which signify the rebirth of Azor Ahai as a tree sorcerer that we’ve seen so many times:
Below, she saw men whirling, wreathed in flame, hands up in the air as if caught in the throws of some mad dance.
Then it says
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.
Whoa! What’s that now? Seems like forshadowing of Dany flying north to fight a ghostly army, right? Going “beyond the river” works a s a metaphor for going beyond death as well as going north of the Wall, so this is really does seem like foreshadowing of Dany’s endgame. That’s a good way for her and Bran’s plot to intersect, right?
Now there are reslly some great clues about Drogon being the Stallion Who Mounts in this chapter, and they all come with greenseer symbolism. Dany learns that Drogon has built a lair in a rocky bluff rising from the Dothraki Sea, which reminds Daenerys of her favorite rocky bluff that rises from the Narrow Sea, and so she names it dragonstone. It says that “the air smelled of ash, every rock and tree in sight was burned and blackened.” Very cool, very cool – the black dragon’s island in the green sea is a monument to weirwood symbols – burning trees and ash. This is mirrored in the line about Dany glimpsing “places where the grass was burned and ashen. Drogon has come this way before, she realized. Like a chain of grey islands, the marks of his hunting dotted the green grass sea.” Also, this new Dragonstone gets the rising fist description which alludes to the mushroom cloud / burning tree symbolism, as it is said to rise “above the grasslands like a clenched fist.” All of this sends the same message – the “Stallion Who Mounts the World” is a black dragon making a home in the green see, inside the weirwoods.
Drogon’s stallion status is further reinforced by the bowing grass, a motif which appears thrice in rapid succession in this chapter. First, as Dany is growing famished, sick, and delirious, we get this:
If I stay here, I will die. I may be dying now . Would the horse god of the Dothraki part the grass and claim her for his starry khalasar , so she might ride the nightlands with Khal Drogo? In Westeros the dead of House Targaryen were given to the flames, but who would light her pyre here? My flesh will feed the wolves and carrion crows , she thought sadly, and worms will burrow through my womb.
So, the Dothraki Horse God parts the grass and carries Dany to the Nightlands – this role was played at the Alchemical Wedding first by Drogo’s smoky stallion in the bonfire, and then by the red comet. Shortly after Dany has this thought about her death and the Horse God parting the grass, the grass starts acting funny. Specifically, it’s swaying mysteriously, very like the rustling of the weirwood leaves that constitutes greenseer communication:
The wind, she told herself, the wind shakes the stalks and makes them sway . Only no wind was blowing. The sun was overhead, the world still and hot. Midges swarmed in the air, and a dragonfly floated over the stream, darting here and there. And the grass was moving when it had no cause to move.
Compare that to this line which comes from one of Theon’s chapters in Winterfell in ADWD, which is actually the line that comes right after the doom BOOM drums make it sound like distant thunder was coming from the black air of the godswood:
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 rustling leaves and thunder in the Godswood announced the coming of Bran the lightning struck greenseer, and the grass here in Dany’s chapter announces the coming of a Dothraki riding a horse who is given a very grand entrance:
From the corner of her eye Dany saw the grass move again, off to her right. The grass swayed and bowed low, as if before a king, but no king appeared to her.
No king appeared, just a rider. But then the grass bows low a third time, and we can see the pattern:
The dragon was a mile off, and yet the scout stood frozen until his stallion began to whicker in fear. Then he woke as if from a dream, wheeled his mount about, and raced off through the tall grass at a gallop. Dany watched him go. When the sound of his hooves had faded away to silence, she began to shout. She called until her voice was hoarse … and Drogon came, snorting plumes of smoke. The grass bowed down before him. Dany leapt onto his back. She stank of blood and sweat and fear, but none of that mattered. “To go forward I must go back,” she said. Her bare legs tightened around the dragon’s neck. She kicked him, and Drogon threw himself into the sky.
Three things parting the grass and making it bow low: the Dothraki Horse God, a dreaming rider who stands frozen in place, and finally, the Drogon that mounts the world. Again I say they are all meant to tell a story together about flying horses and dragons – the horse god is tied to the grey stallion and the red comet, and then we have the dreaming rider to parallel the grey stallion and King Drogon to parallel the red comet. The chapter closes with her and Drogon picking off one of the horses in the herd for Drogon to roast, because as Dany notes, “as swift as they were, they could not fly.” No of course not! Who ever heard of a flying horse! Drogon sets the horse ablaze, which leads to a horse which is still running even as it burns, just so we have all the symbolism. Drogon lands on it, breaking its back, but really that’s just a slightly comical way of literally depicting a dragon riding a horse.
Would you believe there’s a well in this chapter too? Yep, it’s true. While walking through the grass back towards the Skahazadan River and Meereen, Dany comes across the ruins of a low stone wall, a well, and the remnants of eight huts. You will recall that at the octagon-shaped Nightfort kitchen, there were eight hearths around the well. We hadn’t talked about Sleipnir yet last time, so I didn’t say anything about the number eight, but now we can see that these are call-outs to eight legged Sleipnir. We found a weirwood reaching for the moon by one eight legged well, and by this one, Daenerys dreams of flying:
She dreamed. All her cares fell away from her, and all her pains as well, and she seemed to float upward into the sky. She was flying once again, spinning, laughing, dancing, as the stars wheeled around her and whispered secrets in her ear.
Picture the stars wheeling around Dany – she is acting as a cosmic axis, as a cosmic world tree around which the heavens turn. She’s receiving the wisdom of the cosmos – the starry wisdom, if you will – as she flies in her dreams. By a well. Surrounded by eight ruined huts. This is the scene where she wakes up to find the ants biting her, says that the little stone Wall the ants climbed over to get her must seem like the Wall of Westeros to them, and then proceeds to crush them with enthusiasm. This reads as an easy foreshadowing of her inevitable conflict with the Others of course, and best of all, she recalls Viserys telling her tales of “knights so poor they had to sleep beneath the ancient hedges the grew along the byways of the Seven Kingdoms,” and then remarks that she would have given much and more for a nice thick hedge to sleep under.
Let’s see, sleeping under trees and dreaming of flying, where have we…
“Go,” Bran whispered to his own horse. He touched her neck lightly, and the small chestnut filly started forward. Bran had named her Dancer. She was two years old, and Joseth said she was smarter than any horse had a right to be. They had trained her special, to respond to rein and voice and touch. Up to now, Bran had only ridden her around the yard. At first Joseth or Hodor would lead her, while Bran sat strapped to her back in the oversize saddle the Imp had drawn up for him, but for the past fortnight he had been riding her on his own, trotting her round and round, and growing bolder with every circuit.
Robb smiled. “As you will.” He sent his gelding into a trot. The wolves raced after him. Bran snapped the reins sharply, and Dancer picked up her pace. He heard a shout from Theon Greyjoy, and the hoofbeats of the other horses behind him.
Bran’s cloak billowed out, rippling in the wind, and the snow seemed to rush at his face. Robb was well ahead, glancing back over his shoulder from time to time to make sure Bran and the others were following. He snapped the reins again. Smooth as silk, Dancer slid into a gallop. The distance closed. By the time he caught Robb on the edge of the wolfswood, two miles beyond the winter town, they had left the others well behind. “I can ride!” Bran shouted, grinning. It felt almost as good as flying.
The stream was running high and fast. Robb dismounted and led his gelding across the ford. In the deepest part of the crossing, the water came up to midthigh. He tied his horse to a tree on the far side, and waded back across for Bran and Dancer. The current foamed around rock and root, and Bran could feel the spray on his face as Robb led him over. It made him smile. For a moment he felt strong again, and whole. He looked up at the trees and dreamed of climbing them, right up to the very top, with the whole forest spread out beneath him.
They were on the far side when they heard the howl, a long rising wail that moved through the trees like a cold wind. Bran raised his head to listen. “Summer,” he said. No sooner had he spoken than a second voice joined the first.
“Put down your steel now, and I promise you shall have a quick and painless death,” Robb called out.
Bran looked up in desperate hope, and there he was. The strength of the words were undercut by the way his voice cracked with strain. He was mounted, the bloody carcass of an elk slung across the back of his horse, his sword in a gloved hand.
“The brother,” said the man with the grey stubbly face.
Hodor hummed tunelessly as he went down hand under hand, Bran bouncing against his back in the wicker seat that Maester Luwin had fashioned for him. Luwin had gotten the idea from the baskets the women used to carry firewood on their backs; after that it had been a simple matter of cutting legholes and attaching some new straps to spread Bran’s weight more evenly. It was not as good as riding Dancer, but there were places Dancer could not go, and this did not shame Bran the way it did when Hodor carried him in his arms like a baby. Hodor seemed to like it too, though with Hodor it was hard to tell. The only tricky part was doors. Sometimes Hodor forgot that he had Bran on his back, and that could be painful when he went through a door.
For near a fortnight there had been so many comings and goings that Robb ordered both portcullises kept up and the drawbridge down between them, even in the dead of night.
Little Walder cast his splintered lance aside, spied Bran, and reined up. “Now there’s an ugly horse,” he said of Hodor.
“Hodor’s no horse,” Bran said.
“Hodor,” said Hodor.
It took the rest of the morning to make a slow circuit of the castle. The great granite walls remained, blackened here and there by fire but otherwise untouched. But within, all was death and destruction. The doors of the Great Hall were charred and smoldering, and inside the rafters had given way and the whole roof had crashed down onto the floor. The green and yellow panes of the glass gardens were all in shards, the trees and fruits and flowers torn up or left exposed to die. Of the stables, made of wood and thatch, nothing remained but ashes, embers, and dead horses. Bran thought of his Dancer, and wanted to weep
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…