Monday, 23 March 2015
[Game of Thrones] The Night's King wasn't a villain and the White Walkers aren't evil
So we all know the story of the Night's King. An evil Lord Commander of the Night's Watch became enraptured with a mysterious white woman and took her as his bride, proclaiming himself to be the Night's King and committed 'horrible atrocities' before he was defeated by the King in the North and the King Beyond the Wall, freeing the Night's Watch from his terrible clutches.
But, you know, history is written by the winners.
For example, here's another story of a black-hearted Lord Commander:
He was the bastard son of a vile traitor to the throne who tried to overthrow the rightful king. On arriving at the Wall, this bastard self-styled himself 'Lord Snow' and bewitched the Lord Commander, stealing away his magic Valaryian sword and recasting it in his own image. He then had his men murder the Lord Commander and take his place. He revealed himself to be a warg, always followed by his supernaturally powered direwolf that would kill anyone who stood in his way. As Lord Commander, he allied himself with the evil Pretender King Stannis, and invited him to join his forces on the Wall. He also threw open the gates of the Wall to allow the Wildling hordes in, joining them to his mighty army. Consorting with evil sorcerers, he burned his enemies in sacrifice to his unholy god, until the brave men of the Night's Watch rose up and overcame him, ending his evil reign!
Yeah, Jon Snow, you're worse than the Night's King!
Was the Night's King really a black hat wearing villain, motivated by being villainous and wanting evil for evil's sake? Probably not. Everyone has real human needs and motivations. Was the entire Night's Watch somehow controlled by the Night's King's evil, or did most of them think his rule was reasonable enough to go along with?
Certainly, if the Others are simply evil incarnate then there's no reasoning with them, but somehow a human man actually fell in love with one enough to want to marry. That indicates that there is more to them than just wanting to annihilate mankind under an unending winter.
And what was the nature of these 'terrible sacrifices'? I'd postulate that it was like Crastor's sacrifices, ie handing them babies. There's nothing more terrible than that, after all. But (if we take the tv show as canon), the babies are not killed, simply changed into Others.
What do the Others do that are so evil? Well, they kill Rangers, and they've killed Wildlings, yes. But Rangers kill Wildlings and Wildlings kill rangers, and they're not irredeemably evil. They follow the Wildlings on their march, but they don't wipe them out, even though having a practically invincible army of wights might make it simplicity itself to wipe out a ragged train of Wildlings.
I'm pretty sure we've only seen them kill armed men (correct me if I'm wrong here) who trudge out into the north (their land) with weapons, looking to fight. That sounds almost reasonable, doesn't it? I mean, that's what the Night's Watch do, after all.
I would postulate the following:
That the Others are the opposites and equals of the Targaryans. Humans who grew up with ice magic rather than fire magic. Like the Targaryans, their land is now barren/dying, hence they move south into Westeros.
The Night's King story proves they are not unreasoning monsters, but perhaps just people like you and me.
Perhaps the marriage of the Night's King was an alliance, as is a popular practice in the world. Perhaps his actions were just as reasonable as Jon Snow's, after all, he got the Night's Watch to go along with his plans.
They potentially have powerful warging magic to control the dead (in A Dance With Dragons we see a skinchanger who can simultaneously control several creatures, so one Other could control a host of wights) but there may not be that many of them.
It doesn’t mean they’re evil. They have ice zombies, sure. But this is a Song of Ice and Fire. We also have people resurrected by fire, such as Beric Dondarrion and Lady Stoneheart. They can be classed as 'fire zombies', and they're not evil!
The Others can no longer reproduce / need to magically convert others to their kind. They are 'Human + magic' rather than a completely different species.
The Targaryans only invaded Westeros once the Doom came to Valarya. Perhaps a similar Doom has come to the Lands of Always Winter? Perhaps in 300 years, men will tell tales of Xarxes the Conqueror, and children will want to be him riding on his mighty ice spider steed? Maybe they're not so weird and alien after all.