From day one of the HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s, ‘A Song of Ice & Fire,’ Game of Thrones viewers have been enthralled by the emerging presence of the series ultimate foes, the White Walkers. Moreover, the reason viewers have been so enthralled is simple. Unlike other fictional nemeses like Tolkien’s Sauron, the Walking Dead’s zombies and even the ’Others’ in J.J. Abrams Lost, the White Walkers have benefited from what can only be described as the most excruciating series build up of all time.
For almost four full seasons, the ever enigmatic White Walkers rarely appeared for more than merely snapshot scenes at the start and end of each season, scenes which usually left viewers with more questions than answers. However, up until recently, those who couldn’t wait for the return of Game of Thrones after season endings and episode cliffhangers have been able to learn more about White Walkers by turning to the original George R.R. Martin book series. The only problem? Things aren’t exactly that easy anymore.
With George R.R. Martin’s, ‘The Winds of Winter & A Dream of Spring’ still pending release, Game of Thrones fans are now having piece together who the White Walkers are and what their motives are all for themselves. The only question is, how much do we actually know already?
Who & What Are The White Walkers Really?
As Game of Thrones advanced into it’s fourth season with a typical side relish of gore and Westeros-based political intrigue, we actually managed to learn quite a lot about the still semi-mythic White Walkers.
From what we know of Game of Thrones legend and folklore, the original Nights King, leader of the White Walkers, was himself (possibly) the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Commanding during the so-called Age of Hero’s, it was this Lord Commander who apparently fell for a pale, cold, blue-eyed beauty, who for all intensive purposes has so far been described as a female White Walker herself.
Later married, the Nightfort subsequently descended into chaos with the thirteenth Lord Commander declaring himself and his new bride King & Queen of the North, before also going on to commit a string of atrocities ranging from the worship of false gods to full-scale human sacrifice.
Appalled, the Lord Commanders own brother, the true King of the North, united with the King Beyond the Wall against the Nightfort and freed the imprisoned Nights Watch. The Lord Commanders name was then erased from history. However, how this episode relates to the motivations of White Walkers at the present time is still something of a mystery.
The White Walker King
Is the White Walker King actually the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch? Many speculate that the fall of the Nightfort under the thirteenth Lord Commander might have seen him flee further north into White Walker territory. If true, the Lord Commander can presumably be credited as having brought order to the White Walkers before mobilizing the semi-supernatural beings into the force that they are today.
White Walkers & Wights in Game of Thrones
However, many enigmatic questions are still posed by the very existence of White Walkers in the first place. If after all, White Walkers have always been able to create subservient Wights by reanimating dead human cadavers, and if their only weakness really are Valyrian Steel and Dragon Glass, how have the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings beyond the wall been able to suppress the White Walkers for so long?
Sadly, these are questions which only ‘The Winds of Winter & A Dream of Spring’ will be able to answer. The biggest question in this regard, is, therefore, will George R.R. Martin’s latest masterpiece be ready on time and if not, how exactly will HBO attempt to develop the ongoing saga in its absence?