In the latest Send the Ravens column, we talk about the origin of Night’s King and answer your Game of Thrones questions…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There was an interesting twist on the latest episode of Game of Thrones that not too many people have been talking about just yet.
During one of Bran’s visions, he witnesses one of the Children of the Forest plunge a dagger made of dragon glass into the heart of a man tied to a tree just before his eyes turned a cold, pale blue. This was the creation of the first White Walker — a monster built by the Children of the Forest in their ongoing war against the First Men, who invaded Westeros and began taking over every inch of land on the continent.
According to Leaf — the member of the Children of the Forest we meet on the show — the White Walkers were made as a weapon to use against the First Men, but they eventually turned on their creators and became an evil force of nature that nearly destroyed the world several thousand years ago.
The twist to this whole story is that the first White Walker was actually the Night’s King — the icy, crown-wearing leader of the army of the undead. This origin story deviates greatly from the source material where the Night’s King is actually the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
As the story goes, the Night’s King — his actual name was stricken from the history books after all the evil he perpetrated — was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch before he fell in love with a woman described as “pale as a corpse” with skin that looked like the moon and eyes as blue as stars.
Does that description sound familiar?
According to history, the Night’s King fell in love with his corpse bride, gave her his seed and his soul before declaring himself a king over the Nightfort for the next 13 years, committing any number of atrocities including sacrificing children to the White Walkers (the same way Craster did for years). He was finally defeated by Brandon the Breaker and Joramun, the King Beyond the Wall and his reign of terror came to an end.
His legend has lived on for centuries although the real story behind the Night’s King is really just one of Northern lore.
But if this new twist is true — and based on the photos from Game of Thrones that confirm the actor who was tied to that tree is the same man behind the Night’s King on the show — the tales about the icy Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch may have been nothing more than a story — a tale told to children before going to sleep.
With that said, let’s get to your Game of Thrones questions for this week:
Does the Night King have some kind of teleportation abilities? They seemed to get to the tree pretty quickly. #SendtheRavens
— Alex (@bigal_baker) May 23, 2016
Well travel seems to have sped up on this season of Game of Thrones for everybody.
When Petyr Baelish rallies the Knights of the Vale and takes his garrison north to reunite with Sansa Stark at Mole’s Town, that trip should have easily taken him weeks but in episode time it was quickly resolved from one scene to the next. Back in season one, King Robert Baratheon’s trip from King’s Landing to Winterfell supposedly took at least a month to complete.
Obviously we’d have to assume that a large group of troops moving with a purpose would travel from the Vale to the North in much quicker fashion that a royal troupe trotting along at a much slower pace. Still, navigating through the mountains of the moon to get to the north, would take some time so those knights should have been traveling for at least a couple of weeks, even at a break neck speed.
So to answer your question — the Night’s King and his army of the dead got to the Weirwood tree where the Three-Eyed Raven was hiding so quickly because that’s what needed to happen for the story to be told in one episode. Of course who knows how close or how far the White Walker army was when Bran made the mistake of going into his vision and allowing the Night’s King to find them, but it still seems unlikely he’d appear quite so fast.
Still, it made for a compelling end of the episode and that’s really why it had to happen in record time.
Was it Bloodraven who was whispering in the Mad King's ear about wildfire and burning them all?
— GrandstandFan (@GrandstandFan) May 23, 2016
“Bloodraven” is a nickname for Brynden Rivers aka The Three-Eyed Raven, who was actually a legitimized bastard of King Aegon IV Targaryen. His story began more than a hundred years before Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne and ended the reign of the Targaryen dynasty.
Brynden was actually a major player after his father died because Aegon IV was not only a horrible king, but he also managed to sire a huge list of children that he legitimized on his death bed. Following his death, King Aegon’s children scrambled for control of the Iron Throne, which led to a number of uprisings known as the Blackfyre Rebellions. Brynden fought in all three of those while also serving as Hand of the King at one point as well.
Finally years later, Brynden was banished after he promised Aenys Blackfyre safe passage to King’s Landing for a Great Council meeting that was to determine the real successor to the Iron Throne. When Aenys arrived, Brynden had him thrown into the Red Keep and later beheaded. For his actions, Brynden was ordered to be executed but was later offered the chance to take the black and move north to become a member of the Night’s Watch, which he gladly accepted. Brynden ended up becoming Lord Commander before he led a ranger party north of the Wall and never returned. That’s when he became the Three-Eyed Raven.
As far as the whole “burn them all” thing — King Aerys II Targaryen aka The Mad King was actually a fairly decent ruler in the start of his reign until he was driven into madness and paranoia that everybody was out to get him. It started after Aerys was taken prisoner by Lord Denys Darklyn of Duskendale and held captive for half a year. He was later rescued by Ser Barristan Selmy, but after his return to King’s Landing, Aerys was already losing his mind and he ended up barricading himself inside the Red Keep for the next four years.
That paranoia and madness led to King Aerys ordering the Alchemist’s Guild to making hundreds of pots filled with Wildfire that were stashed around the city in case an attack ever happened. King Aerys basically said if he can’t have King’s Landing then no one will so if it appeared he was going to be overthrown, he would ignite the Wildfire and watch the entire city burn to the ground.
King Aerys even made Rossart — a pyromancer and Grand Maester of the Alchemist’s Guild — his Hand of the King for a very brief time before Robert Baratheon showed up and ended the Targaryen dynasty.
So to answer your question, no one was telling King Aerys to burn them all — he was telling himself that because he was as crazy as a shit house rat.
with the cropping up of old characters like the Blackfish, will we see Benjen save Bran next episode?
— Handsomely Masked (@Vorpality) May 23, 2016
That’s an interesting theory and a plausible possibility given the loss of both Hodor and Summer as Bran’s protectors.
For those who may have forgotten, Benjen Stark was uncle to the Stark children and the younger brother of Ned Stark, who was a member of the Night’s Watch that later disappeared while ranging north of the Wall back in season one. In the book, Benjen is lost in the same exact way on the show but there are popular theories that he came back as a figure known as Coldhands.
Coldhands first appears in A Storm of Swords, when he helps rescue Samwell Tarly and Gilly from a White Walker attack. He ends up saving them and leading them back through the Black Gate of the Nightfort. Later, Coldhands intercepts Bran Stark and his traveling party and he helps lead them to the Weirwood tree that serves as the home of the Three-Eyed Raven. There, Coldhands battles the wights but can’t enter the tree himself.
You see Coldhands is dressed like a member of the Night’s Watch and even calls Sam “brother” when they meet, but his skin is as cold as ice and his eyes are as black as coal. In other words, Coldhands is dead — but still alive and not a White Walker. So the theory goes that Coldhands might actually be Benjen Stark, but there’s no actual proof to it.
So it’s certainly possible that Coldhands makes an appearance now — even though his parts in the books have already taken place on the show. As far as Benjen Stark goes, if he’s not Coldhands, chances are he’s dead.
and lastly, is Baelish really on Sansa's side? He did sell her to Ramsay. Is he lying about the Blackfish?
— Handsomely Masked (@Vorpality) May 23, 2016
There’s definitely something suspicious about Littlefinger mentioning to Sansa that her uncle the Blackfish has taken back Riverrun and that’s where she should go for support if she needs it.
In the books, Brynden Tully aka The Blackfish does manage to hold Riverrun after the events of the Red Wedding where his niece Catelyn Stark and his great nephew Robb Stark were butchered. Brynden fights off the Lannister and Frey forces for as long as he can, but eventually he’s forced to sit down with Jamie Lannister to discuss a surrender.
Brynden is given the option to take the black and serve at the Night’s Watch, but after learning that Jon Snow is Lord Commander, he no longer wants that choice. See, Brynden heard his niece Catelyn talk about how untrustworthy Jon Snow has been and he’s convinced that the Lord Commander might be in the Lannister’s pockets. So instead of traveling to the Wall, Brynden escapes Riverrun before being declared an outlaw.
So it’s hard to say what direction the show will go with the Blackfish.
Maybe he really did re-take Riverrun and he’s waiting there with a garrison of soldiers who could help Sansa and Jon fight to reclaim the North. Then again, something tells me Littlefinger is up to no good and when Brienne travels to Riverrun, she might have something much different awaiting her arrival.
We do know that the Blackfish will appear during season six so he will show up one way or another. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen.
does Bran need the tree and greenseer guy to see the past? Or can he do it on his own? Otherwise we'll never know if R+L=J!
— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) May 24, 2016
Greenseers — those with powers to receive prophetic visions of the past, present and future — started out as the wise men of the Children of the Forest.
The greenseers also had the ability to control animals — which is also known as “warging” into creatures. But the greenseers had long been believed to be extinct along with the Children of the Forest, who had not been seen in thousands of years after their war with the First Men as well as their battle during the Long Night where they teamed up with the First Men to defeat the White Walker army coming from the north.
The last greenseer alive was the Three-Eyed Raven — until Bran Stark came along.
Now to answer your question, a greenseer just has the ability. The key is being able to harness it and knowing how to use it. That’s what the Three-Eyed Raven was teaching Bran when they were working together inside the Weirwood tree. His lessons got cut short obviously, but before the Night’s King made it inside the tree, the Three-Eyed Raven attempted to “download” all of his knowledge into Bran during one last trip to the past — the trip that eventually led to the “hold the door” message being passed along to Wyllis before he became “Hodor”.
One other note — the Weirwood tree is actually a mythical symbol first created by the Children of the Forest, who carved faces into the trees starting thousands upon thousands of years ago. According to legend, the greenseers could actually see into the past or future through the eyes of a Weirwood tree. During the war with the First Men, hundreds of trees were chopped down because they were known as a source of power for the Children of the Forest.
In this day and age, the Weirwood tree is still a religious symbol used primarily in the north and beyond the Wall. When Jon Snow takes his vows of the Night’s Watch, he does so in front of a Weirwood tree while making his pledge before the “old gods”, which is what that tree symbolizes.