From the Prologue of A Game of Thrones, you have six Others murdering the Night’s Watch brother, Ser Waymar Royce:
And in his nightmarish vision in ASOS, Jaime's five slain KG brothers & Rhaegar are about to do the same:
Given @LmL's hypothesis that the Kingsguard symbolically represent the Others, these passages suggest a motif of six Others/kingsguard attacking a brother.
These thoughts kicked off an interesting Twitter thread involving several forum participants. I thought it worthwhile to share our discoveries with forum participants. Special thanks to Emma Smith for her contributions.
GRRM explicitly provides the motif of a dozen companions with the Last Hero, which we’ll call, for lack of a better term, “LH math”. We see this 12+1=13 formula repeated throughout the published works.
Forum contributor @ravenous reader suggests that this newly uncovered motif could represent the “naughty greenseer”, aka the Night’s King:
I’ll call 6 + 1 the NK formula. Because I can.
This post is designed to capture every instance of NK math that I can find in the main five books. I’m sure there are more in The World of Ice & Fire and the novellas, but as you can see here, I think we have more than enough evidence of its usage.
Search the term “six” or “half a dozen” in the books, and look for a relation between seven “brothers” or with an otherwise in-kind relationship, with six of them in opposition to the seventh. The pattern comes up time and time again.
Six and One
Below is a list of all I can find so far.
Here’s Robert in AGOT:
Heh. Big part.
Tyrion admonishes Joffrey:
Catelyn relates her arduous journey to the Eyrie in AGOT:
Bran gets captured by Osha and the wildlings:
Guess how long Eddard Stark lay in his fever after being attaked by the Lannisters?
Benjen Stark knows:
Two of these men came back as wights.
In AGOT, Barristan Selmy is ceremoniously slain in the Red Keep’s throne room, and requires a replacement:
Eddard dreams of Jaime receiving his white cloak:
Things don’t go well for the first slave liberated by Dany:
In ACOK, six gold cloaks confront the black-cloaked NW recruiter, Yoren:
More six-plus-one math with the gold cloaks:
This is an interesting motif we see a few times — six passageways meeting toward a vertical structure:
Bran receives a visitor for the feast of Winterfell in ACOK:
Gilly hints at the NK formula:
Not sure what these means, but six Freys also were mentioned as participants in the Hand’s Tourney in King’s Landing in AGOT:
In ACOK, even the Winterfell guard are not immune from this trend:
Jon overhears a conspiracy brewing at the Fist of the First Men:
Theon’s fate is sealed by a betrayal of six:
In ASOS, three fugitives from Riverrun have a challenge on their hands:
Check out Jon’s first meeting with Mance:
Guess how many Westerlings travelled with Robb to Riverrun?
In ASOS, Sansa gets some help with her new fashion ensemble:
Six grey beards and 12 green boys?
Arya discovers the fate of her father’s men:
Six-plus-one is even ingrained in song:
Arya runs into another survivor of the NK formula in ASOS:
Harwin relates the Battle of the Bells:
Tyrion procures some entertainment for his nephew’s wedding:
Here’s a big one from ASOS:
He is not resurrected from the seventh.Another interesting one:
In AFFC, Jaime is told that Pycelle has this NK math too:
What a crotchsniffer.Jaime then notices that there were six prisoners in the Black Cells of the Red Keep:
There’s a couple of instances of six dragons being used as payment to someone delivering another somewhere. First, the ferryman who carried Arya and the Hound across the flooded Tumblestone demanded six dragons, though the Hound stiffs him. Then Dick Crabb is promised six dragons too:
Lord Tywin heads home:
Here’s Dick Crabb again, repeating the math of six dragons with the dragon prince:
Arianne sets up six versus one:
Guess how many Lords Declarant tried Littlefinger?
Cersei brushes off the Iron Bank:
There’s something particular to do with men-at-arms:
The Elder Brother on the Quiet Isle mentions another possible hint at NK math:
Uh oh, Brienne is in trouble at the Inn at the Crossroads:
Jon Arryn’s sister does her part for her house:
In the Prologue to ADWD, Varamyr Six Skins gets six skins:
Tyrion spies a standoff between some trees and a little statue in Pentos:
Jon Snow notices the money bequeathed to the NW by their fallen brother:
Quentyn Martell gets into the action:
Daenerys needs some convincing to reopen the Meereenese fighting pits:
Dany’s dragon Rhaegal gets a bit testy:
Jon Snow takes some new recruits at the weirwood north of the Wall:
There are 18 in the party:
Not nine, but six:
Then, during the induction ceremony:
Wyman Manderly eats his enemies:
Theon takes poor fArya on her bedding:
Stannis tallies his ironborn assets:
Six nasty pieces of military tech face off against the Dragon Queen:
Lord Manderly is wounded at Winterfell, but his men aren’t much better off:
Abel’s washerwoman Squirrel takes one last climb:
Tormund sets the bar pretty high for his fighters:
Jon receives word that Hardhome, cursed for six hundred years, is still a shithole:
Guess how many ships landed in the Stormlands with fAegon?
Stannis and Arya receive some visitors:
Ser Barristan potentially has some new knight companions:
Later in the same chapter, Selmy conspires:
Selmy encounters some kids in Dany’s chambers playing a telling game:
There are other conspicuous mentions of the term “six” that I haven’t included, but should be considered. There are many references to “six years” or “six hundred years” or “six feet” or “six yards.” There are also many instances of six wayns or baggage carts making up shipments of goods.
And Varamyr Six Skins tries to take his seventh in the ADWD Prologue.
Half Dozen of the Others
In AGOT, Mya Stone gets some exercise on her mules:
Theon has some friends with him:
Jon Snow also has some friends:
In ACOK, Lord Mormont notes that Maester Aemon could have been king at one point:
Same number as Oberyn Martell before he left the Citadel.
Robb’s direwolf is a Ghost-faced killer:
Craster has his own hellhounds:
Fishermen don’t do too well when Stannis is nearby:
Qhorin Halfhand likes this math:
In ASOS, Brienne’s little boat is attacked by Riverrun archers:
Jaime’s restraining chain meets the wrath of Brienne:
Lord Rickard Karstark loses his seventh and final battle:
Before Dany, the Targaryens tried and failed to restore their glory multiple times, as Stannis recalls:
The Magnar of Thenn attacks the NW:
Joffrey shows us the full extent of his appreciation of literature and education:
Iron weapons are no match for a juggler at Joff’s wedding:
Big hot pie coming through!
Petyr’s ancestral home has NK math too:
Six of mantels try and fail to reach the Wall’s gate before the willings figure it out.
Arya threatens a woman, but thinks again:
Melissandre has her own cadre of NK folk just before the Night’s Watch chooses its Lord Commander:
And right after the choosing:
In AFFC, the drowned god’s prophet encounters the motif:
Jamie spies a confrontation of six on one under the Red Keep:
Even Podrick Paine gets in on the action:
Arianne Martell grows weary of her numerous suitors. Perhaps the seventh will be more to her liking:
Methinks Prince Doran has another suitor in mind for her.
Manly man Victarion scares away some ships:
A Strange encounter on the Quiet Isle:
The Boltons gain the loyalty of the North, though we cannot be sure of one of them:
Bearded men, ahoy!
Jaime is a slow learner:
Oldtown delivers this motif:
And if that weren’t enough, we get more:
Once again, in Meereen:
Bran has his ravens:
On the Rhoyne:
Here’s six Thenns surrounding a stair:
Jon gets some companions:
The Merman and his kin:
Theon goes into action with Abel’s six spearwives. Look at who he meets:
Then Frenya gets into a fight:
Even floors are involved:
Clashing at Griffin’s Roost:
Tyrion fights his temptation to take on swords:
Finally, Kevan Lannister meets his makers:
There are likely many more example of this math in the books that I haven’t uncovered. For instance, Aenys II Targaryen had seven children. Did you know that? Only one survives to this day, that being the Mother of Dragons.
Again, this is just from the five main published books. What have I missed?
What does this mean?
Not sure. The Night's King Formula exists in the text, that we can be sure of. But what?
One of my hypotheses is that we will see this math play out in the aftermath of Jon Snow's assassination. We only count Wick Whittlestick and Bowen Marsh there, and Jon receives at least four wounds from daggers. I'll put money down that there were six assassins in all, and they will include at least Other Yarwyck, Left Hand Lew and Alf of Runnymudd.
But there may also be a reveal of the grand proto-myth narrative, where possibly a brother of the Night's Watch, or someone to do with Azor Ahai, in which a greenseer hero will be assassinated before being brought back to life in some horrific manner.
Please share your findings below. I'm looking forward to what you can find.