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[Book & TV Spoilers] What Are the Others?

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READ FULLY BEFORE COMMENTING. This thread has changed greatly, so it is important to understand how we are far from where we started.

I just thought of a theory that there are two sides of the Children of the Forest. One side focuses of nature (the side Bran is with). This side wargs into life--plants and animals. The other side, the Others, were Children who separated from the life-based Children during the War with First Men and began focusing their warging abilities on how to control the dead to defeat the First Men. When the life-based children saw that they had begun to succeed, they allied the First Men to defeat these abominations.

The reason the Others are creatures of ice is because they abandoned the forests and the weirwoods to commit to the cold and the dead, and began to adapt. The CotF survived off of the forests and acquired a fitting appearance. If the Others survived in the cold and in ice, then they would adapt as well. There may be magic that influenced this as well. Also, perhaps their icy language is a dialect of the True Tongue.

Now, the Wall came after the Long Night. The CotF allied the First Men in the Long Night, so after defeating the Others, who better than to teach you the magic to block the Others than their "cousins." I do not recall ever seeing that the First Men had a grasp of magic, nor giants who may or may not have assisted Brandon the Builder in raising the Wall. So that leaves the Children.

I don't know if this specifically has been suggested. The search didn't bring up anything relevant. As with most of my theory posts, this is thought-provoking. I want the help of the asoiaf community in finding out if this is a possible theory.

[Added 2/6/12] The Night's King: We see a hint that maybe seeing the Others as inherently evil may just be an opinion. Perhaps this Night's King saw more in the Others than everyone else seemed to see, and found their existence worth defending. To put it in perspective, everyone used to think the wildlings were inherently evil, but Jon has enlightened us a bit. This reinforces my idea that they are just another side of the coin of the CotF.

[Added 2/17/12] Craster's sons: Craster gives his sons to the Others. His wives warn Sam that Craster's sons are coming. This seems to imply that his sons are now Others, or at least wights. It could be that these sons are taken and taught the power of warging the dead as well as been introduced to whatever ice magic the Others may infuse themselves with. I think the fact that the wights are all dead is enough to say the sons become Others. The dead do not grow, so the sons would remain babies as wights. But as Others, they can still grow.

[Added 2/21/12] Coldhands: He seems to be a wight that can talk (in an "ancient language") and is working for Bloodraven and/or the Children. He rides a great elk, like the Children were said to do. He cannot pass through the Black Gate under the Wall. Also, Bran recalls "The ranger studied his hands as if he had never noticed them before." (Thanks Valyrian Breakdancing for that addition.) All signs show to him being a wight used by the side of the CotF. Now how would the Children have an ability to control a wight like the Others do? I think Bloodraven takes the "whatever means necessary" (that was his reputation in D&E) attitude and wargs a dead black brother (whose identity may or may not be significant), breaking the boundaries that the CotF always found necessary. I think this only links the similarities between the Others and the CotF.

[Added 7/3/12] Whitetree: When investigating wildling villages, at Whitetree the Old Bear said:

The children of the forest could speak to the dead, it's said.

I am not sure if this is a hint at warging the dead, or a collective consciousness in the weirwoods (a "second life" we saw Varamyr take, but the Children put themselves in the trees when losing their true bodies) idea. Regardless, it can be interpreted to fit this theory.

Note that I am always open to ideas and, though I defend my theories, I am not blind and know that there is certainly a chance that I could be wrong. That is why you will see my theories take a surer shape as discussions and time pass. This is a building block for us to try to discover the truth with what information we have.

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bump [it was pending mod's approval so long it is now unseen :bang: ]

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I'm just not sure the physical descriptions between the two even come close.

They could have adapted to be like that after hundreds/thousands/whatever years to the cold of the Lands of Always Winter. Or perhaps they could have used some sort of magic to become on with the ice. It is pretty much a wild guess on the appearance part, since we have such little info on the uses and limitations of magic, and such little is known about the CotF.

I just added some info about the Night's King, too.

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Yeah, I agree with the physical descriptions part. It seems more likely to me that the Others were originally human, maybe Starks, and were corrupted by magics they had learned from the CotF. Read the "Heresy" threads if you haven't already, soooooooo much tasty stuff in there.

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I just thought--the CotF call themselves those who sing the songs of the earth in the true tongue. That seems oddly specific unless in true tongue there was a different "song" such as ice.

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I just thought--the CotF call themselves those who sing the songs of the earth in the true tongue. That seems oddly specific unless in true tongue there was a different "song" such as ice.

Well that doesn't neccesarily mean they are related to Others. But it would be pretty cool if in the true tongue Others were "those that sing the song of ice" and dragons were "those that sing the song of fire". So what would an undead dragon be?

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It seems more likely to me that the Others were originally human, maybe Starks, and were corrupted by magics they had learned from the CotF.

I don't like this theory at all. The Starks are a dynasty of powerful human lords. Obviously the heroes of the story, I think it would be just too much to also make them the supernatural villains.

"Corrupted by ice magic". I just have to imagine Bran fighting one of them, then the Other telling him: "Bran... I am your grand grand grand grand...father."

Wouldn't like that, but still everything is possible.

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I like this idea, and I agree that after thousands of years they could have become physically different from the CotF. Actually, reading it reminded of H.G. Wells's Morlocks and Eloi, in The Time Machine. They were all humans in the past, and time and circumstances made them change from one another. The only difference here would be that, well, the CotF really resemble the Eloi, but unlike them they live underground. And the Others, who would be like the Morlocks, actually live free in nature, but only come out at night, like the latter.

I don't think Martin is a socialist, though, so their difference is probably a metaphor for something else lol

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[...]it reminded of H.G. Wells's Morlocks and Eloi, in The Time Machine.

This so much! I am certainly compelled by your theory, Shadow Fox, and it would definitely be an explanation for the connections between the two mystery peoples. The successful use of warging abilities on a dead body would lend itself very nicely to the current situation with Jon Snow, though, as yet, we have only Varamyr's assurance that this isn't possible. Having said that, the CotF have magic in a broader sense it seems, and I have no difficulty considering that this would facilitate the completion of this transition from living body to dead one.

If this is the case, I don't know how much evolution would be necessary in making the CotF taller: they would be warging the dead bodies of humans, who are less vertically challenged, and the rest of the changes might take place with the assistance of magic, or simply time (which brings me in a circle back to evolution I guess, lol).

Is there any information on who inhabited the lands "Beyond the Wall" prior to the Wall being built? It seems to me that people who were historically based in the Land of Always Winter would already have taken on physical forms of adaptive significance in that climate, and they would pose an easy warg for CotF in that region.

***

Playing on the idea of the Others being corrupted Starks, I wonder if we can't make a connection to the Winterfell crypts? There is the legend that removing the swords from the tombs will release the ghost of the person buried there... Would it be too big of a leap to suggest that the swords act as a kind of deterrent to the CotF turning those dead Starks into wights, or warging them fully and turning them into full-fledged White Walkers?

It would be an interesting correspondence to vampire folklore, which proposes that a blade or weapon be placed over the corpse to deter evil spirits from possessing the body and to stop the corpse from manifesting any desire to rise from their grave. Removal of the weapon allows for the vampire to rise.

The simple fact that the Starks have warging abilities, and are known to rise from the dead in some capacity (even if it is just "ghosts") makes me wonder if the connection between the Starks and the Others is not even more intimate than a strictly oppositional one. There is speculation that the Night King was a Stark and that his lover was one of the Others or a wight.

Regardless, I remain very interested in seeing how this side of the story plays out.

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I know we've seen very little of the White Walkers, but it seems there aren't an awful lot of them around. Wights on the other hand are much more abundant. I don't think an individual (human, CotF) can skinchange into more than one body (animal, human) simultaneously. This suggests neither the WW nor the CotF (not too many of them around either) are skinchanging into the corpses...

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(cont) Suppose the Others are CotF that were angry with their contemporaries for signing the truce with the First Men in the Dawn Age?

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I know we've seen very little of the White Walkers, but it seems there aren't an awful lot of them around. Wights on the other hand are much more abundant. I don't think an individual (human, CotF) can skinchange into more than one body (animal, human) simultaneously. This suggests neither the WW nor the CotF (not too many of them around either) are skinchanging into the corpses...

The CotF have not shown that they cannot warg multiple things. We see Coldhands with plenty of ravens that assist him, many believe BR controls Mormont's raven and has spies all of Westeros (like cats in KL and all the weirwoods). What tells us he only looks through one at a time? It is unknown at this point, but we certainly are not proven that warging is restricted to one being at a time.

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I know we've seen very little of the White Walkers, but it seems there aren't an awful lot of them around. Wights on the other hand are much more abundant. I don't think an individual (human, CotF) can skinchange into more than one body (animal, human) simultaneously. This suggests neither the WW nor the CotF (not too many of them around either) are skinchanging into the corpses...

As I've just been discussing on the Heresy thread I think the difference is straightforward enough in that warging is accomplished by projecting consciousness (or the soul if you prefer) into a different body, while Wights are just dead things that have been jump-started but not actually taken over.

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As I've just been discussing on the Heresy thread I think the difference is straightforward enough in that warging is accomplished by projecting consciousness (or the soul if you prefer) into a different body, while Wights are just dead things that have been jump-started but not actually taken over.

Do we know that though? We know so little of the Others and the CotF that I don't think we can rule this out, nor can we rule out your Heresy theory (which I have read and consider a definite possibility). I am not saying "Hey I know what the Others are!" I am just saying that this should be considered until we know more that can rule it out.

(cont) Suppose the Others are CotF that were angry with their contemporaries for signing the truce with the First Men in the Dawn Age?

This could very likely be true. Perhaps some CotF wanted peace, while others (a minority) wanted war. Seeing how they could not fight the First Men and the Children (who opposed their wish to extend warging into the dead) at the same time, they retreated North, as far from the First Men as possible. Roughly two thousand years later, the Long Night occurs.

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As I've just been discussing on the Heresy thread I think the difference is straightforward enough in that warging is accomplished by projecting consciousness (or the soul if you prefer) into a different body, while Wights are just dead things that have been jump-started but not actually taken over.

Yeah I agree with you here for the most part, however there must be a little more than to it than just jump starting them; as the wights can obviously be given instructions and act according to the whims of the others.

It seems in the post death revival process they become subject to the will of some other force, even if they are not under its direct control at all times. Whether that is direction is provided by an individual white walker, or "the Great Other" itself, (who I assume is their God or at least some force of nature in oppostion to Rholler) remains to be seen.

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The biggest problem I have with the idea that the Others and the Children are related, is obsidian. When Sam stabs a Walker with dragonglass the Walker dissolves, despite the fact that it's a minor wound. Now if the Others and Children share a common ancestry then they share this weakness, no amount of evolution is going to fix that. We haven't seen or heard of this happening but we also haven't seen or heard of any Children dying (as far as I know) so that's a moot point. However the Children gave humans obsidian and/or taught them how effective it was against the others. Maybe I'm just paranoid but I can't see how handing humanity (particularly the savage First Men) a weapon that can turn you into a puddle with a scratch is a good idea. Nor can I see the Children possessing such weapons themselves (one little slip and then you're just a puddle, waiting for the next guy to step in you and slip).

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I don't think the Children and the Others are the same race, but two distinctly different races neither of which is or was human. On the other hand I DO believe that there are both Children and Others that would be considered good, some that would be considered neutral, and some that would be considered downright evil. It would only make sense that not all of them would be of precisely the same allignment of good or evil, both races probably have the human equivelant of Saints and Psychopaths.

As to what the proportion is between good and bad in these two groups I couldn't begin to fathom, but it should be noted that what one race considers good, the others may not. An Other that is thought of as saintly by his own people might be considered pure evil by the Children and Humans, where as an Other that is friendly to Humans or Children my be totally reviled by his own people and thought of as most despicable.

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