Did ‘Game of Thrones’ Just Solve One of the Books’ Biggest Mysteries?
It's official: HBO's 'Game of Thrones' has started supplying us with information that the books have not.
For fans of the original books, it's a little terrifying to not know exactly what's going to happen next in the HBO series. After all, we've grown accustomed to sitting there smugly while our friends and families gasp at Ned Stark's execution or weep over the Red Wedding. We forgot what it's like for this world to truly pull the rug out from under us, but Sunday night's episode, "Oathkeeper," jumped ahead to information that goes beyond the most current book in the series. It not only takes us to a place we have never been in the books, it confirms a mystery over which fans have been debating and analyzing for years.
And it's a mystery show watchers won't even know exists in the first place.
SPOILER WARNING: By this point in the book series, what we're going to talk about here is common knowledge, readily available in the text. However, the characters, places and and legends we'll talk about below have not been mentioned on the show (yet), so please tread cautiously and stop here if you don't want to have an extra leg up. Consider this your one and only warning.
In 'A Storm of Swords,' the third novel in George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series, Bran Stark shares a story with Hodor, Jojen and Meera on their long trek North. He tells them the story of The Night's King, the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. To put that into chronological context, the late Jeor Mormont (Jon Snow's mentor) was the 997th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
Here's the basic gist of Bran's tale: The Night's King was a respected leader and soldier until he fell in love with a woman "with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars" and whose "skin was cold as ice." He made her his bride and took control of the Nightfort, one of the many castles built along The Wall. He declared himself a king and this mysterious, icy woman his queen. From his new fortress, he ruled with a cruel and iron fist, spreading terror throughout the North for 13 years and sacrificing people to "The Others" (who were renamed "White Walkers" in the show). It took the combined forces of the current King of the North from Winterfell and the current King Beyond the Wall to displace him. His name was wiped from history, with only legends of his atrocities still lingering in the upper half of Westeros.
So, yes, that's a story about a rogue Night's Watchman marrying a White Walker and becoming a terrifying and dangerous King before mysteriously vanishing. And here is where things get really crazy.
In HBO's official 'Game of Thrones' viewer guide synopsis, the network seemingly confirmed that the lead White Walker (shown above) seen transforming a baby into one of their own at the end of "Oathkeeper" is, in fact, The Night's King. Oh, they've modified that description since to simply read "White Walker," but the ever-on-point 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Reddit community managed to screencap it before the change could be made. (Click on the image below to take a closer look.)
One of two things happened here. HBO either made a mistake and wrote a little bit of lore into their plot synopsis, realized it was inaccurate and changed it ... or they confirmed that the legend of The Night's King is real and that he's commanding the White Walkers before he even got mentioned on the show. We're ready to believe the second option -- that lead White Walker is wearing a crown for R'hllor's sake, not to mention George R.R. Martin openly stated that he's already informed the producers of 'Game of Thrones' how he intends to end the books. Fans have been debating the identity of The Night's King and whether he's still alive and commanding the undead North of the Wall for years. The fact that the network jumped right in and seemingly confirmed this still has our jaws on the floor.
The craziness of this scene goes beyond the White Walkers transforming a baby into one of their own (a detail that's also completely new to book readers). It goes beyond our first look at the Land of Always Winter, a region that George R.R. Martin has been teasing for ages. It goes beyond the fact that there are 14 White Walkers present in this scene and 14 Fires of Valyria (which is a rabbit hole for another day, but c'mon, it's called 'A Song of Ice and Fire'!)
The biggest and most important thing that this confirms if valid is that the big bad of 'Game of Thrones' is a Stark. Yep. In his story, Bran does say that the identity of The Night's King is unknown, but he adds that he was always told that he was a Stark. And brother to the King in the North. And also named Bran.
With two books and three-four seasons remaining, is 'Game of Thrones' ultimately going to be about the "good" Lannisters defeating the "evil" Stark and his supernatural army? Call us crazy (and we are just playing the role of watchful, obsessive fans here), but we think that really could be the case. If so, the history of Westeros will rewrite the entire Stark family as the villains of this saga.
Who saw that coming?