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hiemal

Ice and Blood: A Few Thoughts on the Others' Blood

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 "He heard a crack, like the sound ice makes when it breaks beneath a man's foot, and then a screech so shrill and sharp that he went staggering backward with his hands over his muffled ears, and fell hard on his arse.
When he opened his eyes the Other's armor was running down its legs in rivulets as pale blue blood hissed and steamed around the black dragonglass dagger in its throat. It reached down with two bone-white hands to pull out the knife, but where its fingers touched the obsidian they smoked.
Sam rolled onto his side, eyes wide as the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too." . . . ASoS
 
I've been thinking about the meaning of blue blood and beyond being alien and other it suggests a few other things. Most obviously, I think, it teases the idea that Nan has already floats- that there is by way of the Night's King, at the very least, aristocratic blood in their chill veins. Another idea I've been playing around with for awhile is that maybe the Others use copper instead of iron as the oxidizing agent in their blood, playing on the bronze vs. iron/steel/VS theme that pops up again and again. Not for nothing we know that the Thenns are mining copper and tin as close to the Land of Always Winter as we have any information on, The Others are said to be like the Sidhe, faeries who also play out this same tension with their aversion to iron.
A couple days ago an even shinier tinfoil came to me, however: what if the Others' blood is liquid oxygen? Liquid oxygen is light blue in color and is also slightly magnetic; this may not seem significant but I have few ideas about why we don't see any magnetic compasses in Westeros, I'm not a physicist but the scene above also seems a plausible description of a creature with an extreme low temperature biology simply melting and evaporating when whatever magic kept it functioning in a high-temperature environment failed.
Spitball: The Others are an alien order of life either adopted human form as a means of adaptation or had that form imposed on them in one of the magic catastrophes of history. I favor them being either created outright or made "other" than they were during the Breaking of the Seasons catastrophe and then having a human face and will put on top of that during the Lightbringer Incident/Long Night. To venture deeper into the tinfoil, I think were "created" by the Deep Ones of K'Dath as a balance to the Yeenites (Sothoryosi?) "creation" of dragons. During the Lightbringer Incident, when the first dragon-rider was created this soul bond was somehow echoed with the Others and they changed as well, acquiring either an intelligence or a will that they didn't have before. Human souls that they didn't have before? Perhaps there is a subtle difference between White Walkers and Others- all White Walkers are Others but not all Others are White Walkers?
What is the counter to "Fire and Blood"? Dragons seem to have Fire in Blood, judging from Drogon in Daznak's Pit but perhaps the answer is Ice and Flesh? Ice and Fire/Flesh and Blood? The Others have flesh of ensorcelled ice and blood of liquid oxygen?
I may well be both overthinking and overscifi-ing this but I wanted to share and see if anyone has any ideas about the true nature of the Others and their blue blood.
 

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It`s a fun thought experiment to speculate about the nature of the Others` blood but GRRM is just as likely to never explain how their blue bloods `works`.  I think I have seen an SSM where he talks about the Others being able to manipulate ice in ways inconceivable to us dull humans.  And I have read speculation that the Others may be more sympathetic in the end than they now seam in the story.  The quote you provided establishes that they have bones and blood which goes a long way to making them similar to us in at least a structural way.  If I were to describe a creature made entirely of ice I think I would also choose to make the blood blue. 

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Posted (edited)

I was just putting together the relevant quotations for this: the Others, the Daynes, and the Great Empire folk are all the same group of people--all described as having pale swords, alive with light.  That is your royal blue blood--Great Empire Blood, i.e., King's Blood, descendants of the God-on-Earth.  Given that I think much of the story is mis-remembered or embellished, I don't know how much of the Ice Giant lore is true, (whether they really are cold and what color their blood is), but I think the Others were Great Empire folk who got caught by the COTF and had Weirwood stones inserted into them as mind control devices and were released to fight against the Great Empire.  The dragonglass that kills the Others is the same oily black stone that the Great Empire invented (and built their cities out of) to repel the Others.  This tactic worked for a time, but then the Weirwoods got inside the walls through subterfuge and corrupted the Bloodstone Emperor with one of their Weirwood stones. 

This is a tangent but there is the recurring theme of "planning to fight the previous war" --Harrenhall is a direct representation of Asshai in Westeros, a huge black city that was made perfectly defensible given current known warfare techniques and equipment, but they underestimated the ingenuity of their opponents.  The Great Empire did not foresee the Weirwoods causing a civil war within their walls, and Harren did not foresee dragons, both rendering their defenses totally useless.  And in the same way I think the Weirwoods themselves have underestimated the ingenuity of Bran.

 

Quote

It was alive with moonlight, translucent

The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

The weight of him tore the strange pale sword from the Other's grip

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.

With dawn he tapped him on the shoulder; the pale blade was so sharp that even that light touch cut through Jaime's tunic,

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

 

Also, I think the 13th Lord Commander's Night's Queen was probably just a Great Empire woman with silver hair and bright blue eyes and white skin, who was also kind of bitchy (ice queen).  That parallels Jon and Daenerys.

Edited by By Odin's Beard

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26 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

I was just putting together the relevant quotations for this: the Others, the Daynes, and the Great Empire folk are all the same group of people--all described as having pale swords, alive with light.  That is your royal blue blood--Great Empire Blood, i.e., King's Blood, descendants of the God-on-Earth.  Given that I think much of the story is mis-remembered or embellished, I don't know how much of the Ice Giant lore is true, (whether they really are cold and what color their blood is), but I think the Others were Great Empire folk who got caught by the COTF and had Weirwood stones inserted into them as mind control devices and were released to fight against the Great Empire.  The dragonglass that kills the Others is the same oily black stone that the Great Empire invented (and built their cities out of) to repel the Others.  This tactic worked for a time, but then the Weirwoods got inside the walls through subterfuge and corrupted the Bloodstone Emperor with one of their Weirwood stones.

This is a tangent but there is the recurring theme of "planning to fight the previous war" --Harrenhall is a direct representation of Asshai in Westeros, a huge black city that was made perfectly defensible given current known warfare techniques and equipment, but they underestimated the ingenuity of their opponents.  The Great Empire did not foresee the Weirwoods causing a civil war within their walls, and Harren did not foresee dragons, both rendering their defenses totally useless.  And in the same way I think the Weirwoods themselves have underestimated the ingenuity of Bran.

Also, I think the 13th Lord Commander's Night's Queen was probably just a Great Empire woman with silver hair and bright blue eyes and white skin, who was also kind of bitchy (ice queen).  That parallels Jon and Daenerys.

That's an interesting take on the fall of the Great Empire and origin of the Others. The former is an old favorite of mine, this thread is more or less the closest to anything really tackling the nature of the Others aside from speculating that they embody this world's cycles of glaciation and periodic mini-ice ages, magically embodied. I think that might be covered in the Pounding the Planet.

I can see civil war being an attractive tool for an immobile sentient species like weirwoods.

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As usual, your timing is impeccable @hiemal!  The blue blood cannot be happenstance.   This could in fact be the origin of the of the importance of King's Blood in blood magic.   Honestly, I've always thought the Others were alien and probably the 1st inhabitants of Westeros if not the planet.   We all know how my thinking something rarely makes it true, so let's assume I'm wrong here.   If not of another world or natives what could the Others be?   Made creatures?  Learned race like the Valyrians?   Do we know for certain that the Valyrians were not made?   I think not.   Too much reference to the mixing of human and bestial blood in that backstory.   You've done some homework on the things that could make blood blue.   What causes red blood to appear red or even black as we read so often?  The NW makes much of their "black blood"--something of an elitist statement, but perhaps telling?   I've been playing with the similarities between the COTF/Others and the Ibbinese/Ifequevron lately and see clear parallels.   The Ibbinese still exist though the Ifequevron seem to have disappeared--not unlike the COTF of Westeros only the readers and a very few characters actually know exist.   Could it be that the COTF and Ifequevron are the warring factions and each had a hand in the design of their monsters--The Others and The Valyrians?   Not in the way HBO puts forth, but in combining different creatures to create exotic races or species to do their fighting for them?   Their educations would be similar but very different having access to different types of particular magic perhaps inhernet to the lands of Westeros and Essos?  Are the Ibbinese the 1st and failed product of this tinkering?  Is the peculiar reproduction of The Others a result of something gone wrong as seen in the Ibbinese?  

This is really fascinating stuff, heimal.  Are you willing to take anything suggested above and apply it to the obvious meaning of blue blood--royalty?  

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Posted (edited)

46 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

As usual, your timing is impeccable @hiemal!  The blue blood cannot be happenstance.   This could in fact be the origin of the of the importance of King's Blood in blood magic.   Honestly, I've always thought the Others were alien and probably the 1st inhabitants of Westeros if not the planet.   We all know how my thinking something rarely makes it true, so let's assume I'm wrong here.   If not of another world or natives what could the Others be?   Made creatures?

Quite possibly. A hybrid of alien and native life like I suspect the CotF of being, the surrogates of the weirwoods. As for being the primal intelligence- also possible. What if Planetos were originally a much colder world that later settlers began terraforming until a conflict arose and the current broken system emerged? Perhaps the original lifeforms began adapting in order to survive, fusing with the newcomers and wearing their shapes?

Frankly, though, I can make an argument for any of the races on Planetos being alien in origin. The Others' biology is exotic, the weirwoods seem to defy time, the GEotDawnites could be interstellar travellers, and the Deep Ones interdimensional invaders,

46 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

Learned race like the Valyrians?   Do we know for certain that the Valyrians were not made?   I think not.   Too much reference to the mixing of human and bestial blood in that backstory.  

I think they were made by the Bloodstone Emperor by means of the Lightbringer Incident, which was the culmination of genetic and magical experimentation.

46 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

 You've done some homework on the things that could make blood blue.   What causes red blood to appear red or even black as we read so often?  The NW makes much of their "black blood"--something of an elitist statement, but perhaps telling?   I've been playing with the similarities between the COTF/Others and the Ibbinese/Ifequevron lately and see clear parallels.   T

Red is from iron, black is from... something else. Black seems to be complicated- it is corruption on the one hand and the promise of new growth on the other. Fire that destroys and renews? Black fire, black blood- a little something extra in the mix.

46 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

 I've been playing with the similarities between the COTF/Others and the Ibbinese/Ifequevron lately and see clear parallels.   The Ibbinese still exist though the Ifequevron seem to have disappeared--not unlike the COTF of Westeros only the readers and a very few characters actually know exist.   Could it be that the COTF and Ifequevron are the warring factions and each had a hand in the design of their monsters--The Others and The Valyrians? 

That's a new idea for me. The Ibbenese I think are basically neandrethals. Lovecraft mentioned the Hairy Men of Ib in Call of Cthulhu and I think GRRM is playing around with the idea of broken time here- we have cavemen (human like the Wildlings who paint their faces and other like the Ibbenese) as well as mammoths (and dinosaurs). On the CotF and the ifequevron, I haven't pondered them being in opposition, I will do that, but for now I will mention that my own tinfoils have them as simply a branch off of the same weirwood tree as their westerosi cousins who were wiped out when their weirwoods were destroyed in the lightbringer incident or that Essos represents its own world entirely and its own experiment. The Five Black Forts in Essos and their proximity to K'Dath, which I believe to be an older Land of Always Winter before catastrophe destroyed it, leads me to believe that it could be the origin of the Others.

46 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

Not in the way HBO puts forth, but in combining different creatures to create exotic races or species to do their fighting for them?   Their educations would be similar but very different having access to different types of particular magic perhaps inhernet to the lands of Westeros and Essos?  Are the Ibbinese the 1st and failed product of this tinkering?  Is the peculiar reproduction of The Others a result of something gone wrong as seen in the Ibbinese?  

 

And what about the Brindled Men of Sothoryos? They seem more hybridized than the Ibbenese to me.

46 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

 

This is really fascinating stuff, heimal.  Are you willing to take anything suggested above and apply it to the obvious meaning of blue blood--royalty?  

Well, my tinfoil about the Amethyst Empress/Nissa Nissa being Night's Queen springs to mind.

Edited by hiemal

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40 minutes ago, hiemal said:

Quite possibly. A hybrid of alien and native life like I suspect the CotF of being, the surrogates of the weirwoods. As for being the primal intelligence- also possible. What if Planetos were originally a much colder world that later settlers began terraforming until a conflict arose and the current broken system emerged? Perhaps the original lifeforms began adapting in order to survive, fusing with the newcomers and wearing their shapes?

Frankly, though, I can make an argument for any of the races on Planetos being alien in origin. The Others' biology is exotic, the weirwoods seem to defy time, the GEotDawnites could be interstellar travellers, and the Deep Ones interdimensional invaders,

I think they were made by the Bloodstone Emperor by means of the Lightbringer Incident, which was the culmination of genetic and magical experimentation.

Red is from iron, black is from... something else. Black seems to be complicated- it is corruption on the one hand and the promise of new growth on the other. Fire that destroys and renews? Black fire, black blood- a little something extra in the mix.

That's a new idea for me. The Ibbenese I think are basically neandrethals. Lovecraft mentioned the Hairy Men of Ib in Call of Cthulhu and I think GRRM is playing around with the idea of broken time here- we have cavemen (human like the Wildlings who paint their faces and other like the Ibbenese) as well as mammoths (and dinosaurs). On the CotF and the ifequevron, I haven't pondered them being in opposition, I will do that, but for now I will mention that my own tinfoils have them as simply a branch off of the same weirwood tree as their westerosi cousins who were wiped out when their weirwoods were destroyed in the lightbringer incident or that Essos represents its own world entirely and its own experiment. The Five Black Forts in Essos and their proximity to K'Dath, which I believe to be an older Land of Always Winter before catastrophe destroyed it, leads me to believe that it could be the origin of the Others.

And what about the Brindled Men of Sothoryos? They seem more hybridized than the Ibbenese to me.

Well, my tinfoil about the Amethyst Empress/Nissa Nissa being Night's Queen springs to mind.

Well, now that my day of chores and shopping is completely ruined by this discussion, let's settle in for some chewing of fat.  You've given me much to consider over the years, my friend and I'm very pleased to come up with something you have not given much thought to in the Ifequevron/COTF thing.   I've just finished reading in the Wiki about Asshai and Mel.  There is no life in Asshai.  The Asshaii are dark and solemn.  There are no children or animals, yet dragons are seen in Bran's vision just as Dany's eggs are said to have originated in Asshai.  Do we have some very bad information about Asshai?  It seems there are humans who do survive there as well as a thriving economy and free will, not to mention dragons and dragon eggs.   Surely dragons and blind fish count as animals of a sort?  Could Asshai have carefully cultivated tourist/conqueror dissuading propaganda like the Skaggosi?  I cannot think of the glory days of YiTi without considering Asshai.  Aeromancers are listed among the prominent citizens of Asshai.  Interesting.  You are far more knowledgeable about the Dawn Age than I.  Is Asshai a remnant or warning about the type of power the Bloodstone Emperor held?  

The oily black stone of the 5 Forts is said to have fallen from the sky and was worshiped by the BSE.  The material is found in far flung reaches of this planet, but is represented on each "continent" that we know of.   This falling from the sky was a world event, I take it.   The 5 Forts were fashioned into guard shacks that could house 10,000 men each I think.  Isn't that a curious coincidence with the Nights Watch with their 10,000 members at the time of Aegon's conquest?  The forts were supposed to have held opposing forces or darkness at bay, so it's not difficult to draw a comparison between the 5 Forts and Wall.  Whatever The Others are, they've been a world threat at least once, not bound to Westeros by any means.   I think this is why there are so many regional heroes equated with Azor Ahai and The Last Hero.   The Others were everywhere.  As you are fond of saying, the Lightbringer Incident may have set all the strangeness into motion.   And it may have.  I just want to understand the incident better.   

Hybridization isn't so much where I was going with the Ibbinese as their very specific reproductive nature.  Ibbinese men can impregnate other women, but if often results in stillbirth and monsters (abominations, any one?).  Ibbinese women can only produce viable offspring with Ibbinese men.   This is extinction restrictive by the laws of natural reproduction.  I don't know how the Others reproduce, but the NQ was said to have taken the NK's soul with his seed.  If NQ is a female Other, was she capable of drinking the human NK's soul?   There of course may be no connection to the reproductive nature of the Ibbinese and Others.  Just a curious thing to be explained in a history book, that's all.   I hoped there might be some "tell" in this.   

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Posted (edited)

48 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

Well, now that my day of chores and shopping is completely ruined by this discussion, let's settle in for some chewing of fat.  You've given me much to consider over the years, my friend and I'm very pleased to come up with something you have not given much thought to in the Ifequevron/COTF thing.   I've just finished reading in the Wiki about Asshai and Mel.  There is no life in Asshai.  The Asshaii are dark and solemn.  There are no children or animals, yet dragons are seen in Bran's vision just as Dany's eggs are said to have originated in Asshai.  Do we have some very bad information about Asshai?  It seems there are humans who do survive there as well as a thriving economy and free will, not to mention dragons and dragon eggs.   Surely dragons and blind fish count as animals of a sort?  Could Asshai have carefully cultivated tourist/conqueror dissuading propaganda like the Skaggosi?  I cannot think of the glory days of YiTi without considering Asshai.  Aeromancers are listed among the prominent citizens of Asshai.  Interesting.  You are far more knowledgeable about the Dawn Age than I.  Is Asshai a remnant or warning about the type of power the Bloodstone Emperor held? 

I think here it may be useful to draw a distinction between Asshai and the Shadow that lies beyond it. There are things that thrive in the Shadow, but not normal things. Whatever the Lightbringer Incident actually was it left the land and water around Stygai, ground zero I suspect, tainted- radioactive, perhaps, or magically poisoned in way that is close. I believe we see the same taint around Mantarys, the City of Monsters and in Yeen and possibly the Green Hell. Asshai sits at the mouth of this river Styx but is still less unwholesome than the Shadow proper, where only masked shadowbinders go. Do the masks serve as some kind of protection, I wonder? I'm absolutely sure the Asshaii use propaganda, they have a world-spanning reputation as the go-to place for lost knowledge and abominations but I also have the feeling there is something real behind it. 

I noticed the aeromancers as well- we have few mentions of air magic, though I suspect the Ghiscari Empire may have practiced it- a harpy with a thunderbolt as their sign.

48 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

 

The oily black stone of the 5 Forts is said to have fallen from the sky and was worshiped by the BSE.  The material is found in far flung reaches of this planet, but is represented on each "continent" that we know of.   This falling from the sky was a world event, I take it.   The 5 Forts were fashioned into guard shacks that could house 10,000 men each I think.  Isn't that a curious coincidence with the Nights Watch with their 10,000 members at the time of Aegon's conquest?  The forts were supposed to have held opposing forces or darkness at bay, so it's not difficult to draw a comparison between the 5 Forts and Wall.  Whatever The Others are, they've been a world threat at least once, not bound to Westeros by any means.   I think this is why there are so many regional heroes equated with Azor Ahai and The Last Hero.   The Others were everywhere.  As you are fond of saying, the Lightbringer Incident may have set all the strangeness into motion.   And it may have.  I just want to understand the incident better.  

Exactly! I really wish we knew if the Forts were contemporaneous with the Wall.

48 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

Hybridization isn't so much where I was going with the Ibbinese as their very specific reproductive nature.  Ibbinese men can impregnate other women, but if often results in stillbirth and monsters (abominations, any one?).  Ibbinese women can only produce viable offspring with Ibbinese men.   This is extinction restrictive by the laws of natural reproduction.  I don't know how the Others reproduce, but the NQ was said to have taken the NK's soul with his seed. 

I think Ibbenese crossbreeding is like breeding mules from donkeys and horses or possibly like the zorses the Jhogos Nhai favor if they are the sterile offspring of horses and zebras. And again, like neandrathals, who managed to interbreed with humans enough to still leave lingering traces in our DNA. Brown Ben Plumm claims to have Ibbenese blood so all of the offspring might not be infertile or perhaps two half-breeds can breed with each other and eventually produce someone who can produce fertile offspring with a human partner.

48 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

  If NQ is a female Other, was she capable of drinking the human NK's soul?   There of course may be no connection to the reproductive nature of the Ibbinese and Others.  Just a curious thing to be explained in a history book, that's all.   I hoped there might be some "tell" in this.   

I suspect her sword might be able to drink a human soul, if the ice blades of the Others' are the counterpart to VS that I believe they are.

Edited by hiemal

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Truly fascinating to speculate on the nature of the others.I have often wondered about the "do they come with winter or do they bring the winter?" conundrum.  Anyway, I am greatly enjoying this thread.

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"Othor," announced Ser Jaremy Rykker, "beyond a doubt. And this one was Jafer Flowers." He turned the corpse over with his foot, and the dead white face stared up at the overcast sky with blue, blue eyes...
Othor had been a big ugly man, and he made a big ugly corpse. No axe was in evidence. Jon remembered Othor; he had been the one bellowing the bawdy song as the rangers rode out. His singing days were done. His flesh was blanched white as milk, everywhere but his hands. His hands were black like Jafer's. Blossoms of hard cracked blood decorated the mortal wounds that covered him like a rash, breast and groin and throat. Yet his eyes were still open. They stared up at the sky, blue as sapphires...
"And might be I'm a fool, but I don't know that Othor never had no blue eyes afore."
Ser Jaremy looked startled. "Neither did Flowers," he blurted, turning to stare at the dead man.". . . AGoT
"The longhall was spinning around him when he saw the wisp of smoke rising from between Paul's broken teeth. Then the dead man's face burst into flame, and the hands were gone.
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."... ASoS
 
There are probably some differences in the "biology" or "metabolism" of the Others and their undead minions but I think it is interesting that ther eyes change color before they become active (or Othor and Jafer are shamming which implies direct control by an Other even when the corpses are beyond the Wall which seems impossible). Perhaps there is an incubation period during which whatever magic agent has infected them increases and replaces the blood with something else (I'm still going with LOX based on Paul burning from the inside-out like that but some magical substitute is just as likely) which when it becomes sufficient to power the wight activates- they were on a delayed switch and simply woke when they were ready?

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