Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
northern_amnesia

A theory on The Others

Recommended Posts

A white wolf in a white wood, silent as a shadow.

 

I am going to talk about the link between the NW's Oath with the Starks and 3 legends, the Last Hero, The Night’s King and Bael’s Song.

 

I’ll try to prove that between the votes and those legends, we can understand The Long Night and The Others. And along the way, also clarify a bit about Jon’s identity.


 

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

 

The NW oath has 3 types of statements:

 

  1. I shall do/not do something 

  2. I am something 

  3. a thing that do something 

 

If we treat the oath as 3 parts, in which each one includes one of each of these statements, we will see that:

 

  • each part includes a vow (I shall do/not do)

  • A character can be identified with a statement (“I am”), I will call this the “identity statement”

  • A second element of this “identity” that doesn’t start with “I am”, which serves as context to identify the story, the thing that do something (the light that, the horn that, the shield that)

 

Let’s see each part:

 

  1. 3 vows: 

    1. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.

    2. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory

    3. I shall live and die at my post

 

  1. 3 “identity statements”:

    1. I am the sword in the darkness

    2. I am the watcher on the walls

    3. I am the fire that burns against the cold

 

  1. 3 “context statements”

    1. the light that brings the dawn

    2. the horn that wakes the sleepers

    3. the shield that guards the realms of men


 

With this logic, the oath would be re-ordered like this:

 

  1. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children

I am the sword in the darkness

the light that brings the dawn

 

  1. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory

I am the watcher on the walls

The horn that wakes the sleepers

 

  1. I shall live and die at my post

I am the fire that burns against the cold

the shield that guards the realms of men


 

Let us now examine each part.


 

  1. The Sword 

 

In the first section of the vow we can identify the Last Hero during the Long Night.

 

Vow: I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children

Identity: I am the sword in the darkness

context: the light that brings the dawn

 

In AGoT, when Old Nan tells the story of the Last Hero, we can find all the elements of the vow as “motivators” that make the hero go on his adventure: wife , lands , children.

 

"In that darkness, the Others came for the first time," she said as her needles went click click click. "They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins. They swept over holdfasts and cities and kingdoms, felled heroes and armies by the score, riding their pale dead horses and leading hosts of the slain. All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children."

 

We’ll talk more of this later on. Later, Nan tells that the hero goes "into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions" in search of the magic he needs to stop the Others.

According to Nan, the Last Hero is the sole survivor of his group, 

for which, clearly, we can consider him as The sword in the darkness, after all, apparently, it is he who finds the way to defeat the Others.

 

The last section of this part of the oath, “the light that brings the dawn” is, as I said, a "complement" of the identity of the person of whom it speaks, a context to understand the story and the purpose.

 

The LH is humanity’s last hope, he is “the light”, either because he knows the answer on how the Others can be stopped, or because he has Lightbringer, or both.

 

  1. The Watcher

 

This part of the oath, refers to the Night 's King legend.

 

Vow: I shall wear no crowns and win no glory

Identity: I am the watcher on the walls

Context: The horn that wakes the sleepers

 

The King without glory, the 13th Lord Commander, or The Night's King, is the legendary character who declared himself king.

 

Walls, plural, means more than one wall. There is a place in Westeros whose walls has some very particular “watchers”:


 

The Lords of Winterfell watched them pass. Their likenesses were carved into the stones that sealed the tombs. In long rows they sat, blind eyes staring out into eternal darkness, while great stone direwolves curled round their feet.”

 

I'll come back to this part later, but let's keep in mind the link between the "watchers" and the Starks.

 

The context of this story is clearly about the "Horn of Winter." If we remember, the 13th LC is defeated, according to legend, thanks to the alliance that is formed between the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun, of the wildlings.

 

As we have seen, this part of the oath mentions 2 demissions, "crown" and "glory". In legend, the LC is stripped of his crown and his glory (his identity and his story).

 

The LH represents only a part of the hero's path, we know that he has a mission, which is to confront The Others, but the story remains without resolution, we do not know if he completed his mission, we do not know what kind of magic he found, and above all, we do not know what was his fate.

The last time we "see" the Last Hero, his sword is broken and he is surrounded by enemies.

 

In the case of the 13th LC, we don’t know his identity and motivations, we know that at some point he falls in love with a woman, or at least that he wants her, and that for reasons that are never clearly explained, he decides to declare himself King. It is assumed that because of that, the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun caused his "downfall".

 

Bael is the only legendary character of which, we  know not only his motivations, but also its consequences. Bael has a plan, a mission, just like the LH. Bael executes his plan, kidnaps the WF maiden, proving that he is "fearless". Basically, the same crime that the 13th LC is accused of.

 

Like the LC, Bael declares himself king (although on the other side of the wall), and it is being King that his fall comes, just as it happened with the Night's King.



 

  1. The fire

 

In the last part of the oath, we are going to examine the last legendary character, Bael.

 

Vow: I shall live and die at my post

Identity: I am the fire that burns against the cold

Context: the shield that guards the realms of men


 

Unlike the other two legends, in this one we have a name, Bael, and according to the song, an origin, the bard is a wildling.

 

Bael's is by far the most interesting legend in this story, and I think the most misunderstood. It is Bael's song that will allow us to better understand our characters and their legends.

 

South of the wall, Bael is barely remembered as another failed invader, among the wildlings though, he is remembered for what he knew how to do best, deceive.

 

Bael arrives at Winterfell one winter's night with a made-up identity, (he calls himself Sygerrik, that means deceiver) and with no weapons other than his cunning. The bard's motivation is to get revenge on Lord Stark who called him a "craven who preyed only on the weak."

 

Bael is so talented that he not only spends the night at Lord Stark's house, eating at his own table, but also gets him to offer whatever reward he wants. Bael asks for a flower:

 

“All I ask is a flower,' Bael answered, 'the fairest flower that blooms in the gardens o' Winterfell.'"

 

The Lord obviously agrees, but as we know, that's not what Bael really wanted. That night, the bard takes Lord Stark's daughter, and in her place, he leaves the winter rose (which he had received as payment) on the maiden's pillow "where her head had lain."

 

Bael leaves the flower so that Lord Stark knows it was him.

 

A desperate Lord Brandon sends the NW to look for his only daughter. After months of searching for her to no avail, it turns out that Bael and the maiden had never left Winterfell:

 

They had been in Winterfell all the time, hiding with the dead beneath the castle.”

 

Let's have a look at the interesting part of the legend. The part that is not explicitly told.

 

The song never clearly explains why Lord Stark allowed the bastard son of a wildling of dubious reputation to grow up and become Lord of Winterfell, especially considering that the maiden survived childbirth and could have had legitimate children. 

 

Until we carefully read this:

 

They had been in Winterfell all the time

 

The only thing that's been to Winterfell all the time besides the Starks, are the wolves.

 

“The Lords of Winterfell watched them pass. Their likenesses were carved into the stones that sealed the tombs. In long rows they sat, blind eyes staring out into eternal darkness, while great stone direwolves curled round their feet.”

 

When Will raises Waymar's sword in the prologue after he is brutally murdered, he thinks the following: "The broken sword would be his proof."

 

The proof that Bael was the one who took the maiden is the rose on the bed. Bael wants the Lord to know that it was him.

 

The "winter rose" is the "sword in the darkness", is Bael backstabbing Lord Stark. It 's the treason. The "light that brings the dawn" is Lord Stark realizing he was fooled.


 

Bael is a wolf, one of the “watchers on the walls”, he is a Stark. 

 

The son he has with the maiden is "the horn that awakens the sleepers." It is when the baby is born that Lord Stark wakes up in the bed he laid, waiting to die.

 

This is what happened to Rhaegar and Lyanna. The "sword in the darkness" is Brandon coming to KL and crying out for Rhaegar to come out and die, that is, accusing him of kidnapping his sister in front of hundreds of people. The "winter rose" on the pillow is Rhaegar crowning Lyanna in Harrenhal. The Starks took it upon themselves to very publicly accuse Rhaegar of Lyanna's disappearance and subsequent death.

 

This is the moment when the legend of the Night's King, and Bael's song overlap, because Bael IS the Night's King.

 

“For thirteen years they had ruled, Night's King and his corpse queen.

 

In the legend, the queen is called the “corpse queen”, which clearly refers to this detail from the song:

 

They had been in Winterfell all the time, hiding with the dead beneath the castle.”

 

The return of the "Others" has to do with the new "corpse queen" of the crypt, Lyanna and her Night's King, Brandon Stark as we will see shortly.

 

Let's see again what Old Nan says about the long night:


 

"In that darkness, the Others came for the first time," she said as her needles went click click click. "They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins.”

 

The "cold, dead things" are the Starks causing the long night on the dragons, extinguishing them. It is during the Long Night that the Others come and the Long Night has already begun, only they called it "Robert's Rebellion."

 

By ancient custom an iron longsword had been laid across the lap of each who had been Lord of Winterfell, to keep the vengeful spirits in their crypts.

 

Unlike dragons who are conquerors, the Starks are quiet but vengeful people, and as the wolves they are, they bid their time taking revenge at the appropriate moment, when no one sees them coming.

 

“A white wolf in a white wood, silent as a shadow. They will never know he's coming.” Jon VII ADwD

 

We know that the Others are different, special, like the Targaryens but made of ice. The Targ’s kept their "magic" thanks to incest. The Others, the Starks, too. 


 

“You know nothing, Jon Snow. A true man steals a woman from afar, t' strengthen the clan. Women who bed brothers or fathers or clan kin offend the gods, and are cursed with weak and sickly children. Even monsters."


 

Despite what Craster and his wives believe, "The Others" are not Craster's children. I’ll talk about this in the next point.


 

I must be a warrior

 

The last character we need to understand is the Last Hero, the hero in search of magic.

 

“Until one day Prince Rhaegar found something in his scrolls that changed him. No one knows what it might have been, only that the boy suddenly appeared early one morning in the yard as the knights were donning their steel. He walked up to Ser Willem Darry, the master-at-arms, and said, 'I will require sword and armor. It seems I must be a warrior.'"


 

The “Last Hero” is supposed to be the hero responsible for ending the long night, and at first glance, the legend never explains how he does it.

 

Except that legend explains it, so does the NW Oath and Winterfell’s Crypt.

 

Let's have a look at the legend first:


 

“One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him, and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds”

 

Let's see now, the last part of the oath, as we rearranged it:

 

I am the fire that burns against the cold

the shield that guards the realms of men

 

Wolves have a very particular way of hunting large and strong prey, which is to stalk it, surrounding it (what we saw in Waymar’s duel basically) .Once cornered, it has little chance of escaping, since wolves are extremely fast and agile.

 

The Starks were very patient. They waited, and surely helped, until one by one, the dragon's allies "died" or what is the same, left them alone.

 

The legend says: “One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog. The horse is obviously about dragons, the "mount" of the dragon kings. The dog is the last strong ally of the Targaryens, Tywin Lannister, known among the deposed royal family as the "usurper 's dog" because of his lion's banner.

It was the dragons, as is clearly stated in the oath, which functioned as a "shield" in the revenge planned by the Starks. No slightly intelligent person faces those monsters if he can help it, and the Starks are very intelligent, the proof is that they caused not one, but two Long Nights and nobody noticed.

 

But fire is also, as we shall see, the Stark's own shield in more than one way. When Brandon goes to KL and yells "fire", that is, accuses Rhaegar of Lyanna's kidnapping, the Starks are laying the cornerstone of their strategy, the perfect alibi they need for everyone to watch the fire while “the magic” is happening elsewhere .

 

The legend continues: 

 

“his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him, and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds”

 

When the legend says that“The Others smelled the hot blood in him, and came silent on his trail” is talking about how the wolves came on Rhaegar, not the other way around. Lyanna's disappearance was a trap, a cobweb (“pale white spiders”) that Rhaegar fell into and couldn't get out of.

 

Is Jon Rhaegar's son? Of course not, "the blade snapped", he couldn’t use it, but there is enough circumstantial evidence that he is. If necessary, should a dragon dares to come back, the wolves will give one last and definitive blow.

 

The legend of the "Last Hero" is the legend of the "last dragon" , the tragedy of the hero who does not achieve a victory.

 

The antagonist, the one who defeats him, has no name, he is an "Other" and it is not that he doesn’t have a name, it is that he chooses to have his name erased from history, like the Night's King. That is the last secret that the Winterfell’s crypt keeps.

 

On the surface, the castle is hot, but down below, where the kings of winter, the “vengeful spirits” rest, it’s always cold. "I shall wear no crowns and win no glory".

 

The Others, the ones on the other side of the wall, the frozen ones, are the Starks true face. Those south of the wall are just "their likenesses". The cold ones on the other side are literally "werewolves."

 

“A white wolf in a white wood, silent as a shadow. They will never know he's coming.” Jon VII ADwD 

 

Bael's song also explains how The Others are defeated, and it doesn't require any magic sword, just for Jon to continue not knowing anything.

 

When his son, already being Lord Stark, confronts Bael in battle, Bael cannot kill him because he knows that he is his son, which the Stark kid ignores, so he kills his father and wins the battle.


 

The prove that Jon is Bael’s son and the one that will end the Long Night is on his first dream of the Crypts:

 

“And then I find myself in front of the door to the crypts.(..) Somehow, I know I have to go down there, but I don’t want to. I’m afraid of what might be waiting for me. (...). I scream that I’m not a Stark, that this isn’t my place, but it’s no good, I have to go anyway, so I start down, feeling the walls as I descend, with no torch to light the way. It gets darker and darker, until I want to scream.”

 

The one that kills Bael (the Night’s King), the vengeful spirit in the north, is his own son, Lord Stark. That is his place, ending the Long Night, ending his reign. “No torch to light the way” is a reference to the Last Hero, the hero that doesn’t save the day because he is dead, there is no magical sword and no way to win this without sacrificing what he always looked for, his identity. There are no happy endings. 

 

The “I want to scream'' is a reference to the horn of winter, that we saw is about Bael’s identity, and therefore, Jon’s. There’s nothing that Jon wants more that being a Stark, and tragically, he is. 




 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do have to wonder if GRRM thinks this far ahead; it's most likely that while he is quite adept at using foreshadowing and hinting at things, it's more probable that he doesn't, well, always do that and sometimes his foreshadowing could quite simply mean anything. Well, I don't want to be too off-topic so I'll just say that the parallelisms you cited are interesting. I think that this could be a case of GRRM simply using his motifs at this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon is the return of the Night’s King.  He is the lord commander who will cause trouble at the wall.  Zombified Jon will come back, slaughter the crows, and freak out the wildlings. He will do that which is most important to him, rescue Arya. The armies of ice that Dany melted on the Trident will be Jon’s army.  But that won’t happen until far into the future. The Starks will use their talent to control the wights.  They will wipe out all resistance in the north.  They will be kings of the north for a while.  Darkness will reign until the dragons and the light return.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...