In the HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’, the ‘White Walkers’ are always referred to by that name. However, they actually have a few different names in the books ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ written by George R. R. Martin.

‘White Walker’ is the term that is commonly used by the wildlings and the rest of Westeros usually refers to them as “the Others.” Most who live south of the Wall, however, believe them to be nothing more than creatures of legend.

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The White Walkers in Game of Thrones are seen as the face of death and the destruction of Westeros and possibly the entire world with an army of zombies, they are ready to wipe out all the living beings.

This ancient race of formerly-human ice creatures come from the Far North of Westeros where they have remained hidden for thousands of years, they are now returning to complete what they have attempted before, to conquer Westeros.

Born of powerful and untested magic, they were created to protect the Children of the Forest from the First Men, who had waged war on them ever since they had arrived from Essos. The White Walkers eventually broke free of the Children’s control and became the most feared creatures in Westeros, posing a threat to anything living.

In the ancient War for the Dawn, the people of Westeros defeated the White Walkers and drove them back into the frozen Far North. Then with help from giants and the Children of the Forest, the Wall was raised to bar their return.

 

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“In that darkness the White Walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders big as hounds.”

― Old Nan

Their armor and weapons are made up of completely different technology/magic, something beyond the reach of humans as far as we know until now. Along with Valyrian steel, Dragonglass (Obsidian) is one of the two known substances capable of killing White Walkers.

The Night King is the master and the first of the White Walkers, having existed since the age of the First Men. The Night King also serves as the supreme leader of the Army of the Dead.

“On top of a hill overlooking Hardhome, several White Walkers mounted on undead horses observe the battle, including the Night King. Noticing them, and realizing the need for dragonglass, Jon and Loboda go to the burning townhall, only to be confronted by a White Walker warrior. While Loboda faces the threat, Jon Snow goes for the dragonglass. Loboda is quickly killed after his axe shatters immediately upon contacting the White Walker’s ice blade. Jon just manages to grab a dragonglass dagger but is tossed aside by the White Walker. Jon retrieves Longclaw and defends himself against the White Walker and both combatants are astonished to see the Valyrian steel remain intact after colliding with the White Walker’s blade. Seizing the opportunity, Jon strikes the White Walker, shattering his body into fragments of ice, confirming that Valyrian steel is just as lethal to them as dragonglass.”

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But what do the White Walkers want? George R.R. Martin has said that “We know that they have a culture, a language as well. They are beautiful.” GRRM has also pointed out that “they are not evil but different creatures”. George R. R. Martin, Assignment X Interview, 2011.

“Much as I admire Tolkien, and I do admire Tolkien — he’s been a huge influence on me, and his Lord of the Rings is the mountain that leans over every other fantasy written since and shaped all of modern fantasy — there are things about it, the whole concept of the Dark Lord, and good guys battling bad guys, Good versus Evil, while brilliantly handled in Tolkien, in the hands of many Tolkien successors, it has become kind of a cartoon. We don’t need any more Dark Lords, we don’t need anymore, ‘Here are the good guys, they’re in white, there are the bad guys, they’re in black. And also, they’re really ugly, the bad guys.”

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Considering GRRM inclination to avoid stereotypical black and white characters and narratives, it might just be that in the ultimate clash between ice and fire, ‘fire’ isn’t represented by Daenerys dragon’s fiery breath, but by Mellisandre, the worshipers of the Red God – ‘R’hllor’ – and its ‘evil’ opposite named the Great Other. The worshipers of R’hllor believe that the Great Other will usher in a never-ending era of darkness, but perhaps both extreme opposites are equally as bad? And the middle way is the only way? The last season is soon upon us and we will very soon find out.

In the clip above:

00:00
The creation of the first White Walker, The Night King.

01:49
The White Walkers are back for vengeance!

03:47
During the massacre of Hardhome, the entire fishing village was invaded and destroyed by the White Walkers and wights. Those killed during the battle were all resurrected as wights by the Night King.

12:49
Dany and her dragons Drogon and Viserion and Rhaegal attempt to rescue the group surrounded by wights, at this point the Night King takes gold and spears Vicerion under the wing.

15:09
Viserion’s corpse is heaved up from the lake by the wights and is resurrected by the Night King, becoming an Ice Dragon.

16:34
Game of Thrones season 7 ended in dramatic, ominous fashion, as, after approximately 8,000 years, the Wall was brought down by the Night King and his newfound mount the Ice Dragon version of Viserion.