«Game of Thrones»: The Night King’s real identity
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«Game of Thrones»: The Night King’s real identity

Luca Fontana
Zurich, on 11.04.2019
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
The Night King is invading Westeros. We don’t know much about his origin or goals. But everyone fears him. Who is behind those shimmering blue eyes. This is our theory.

What if «Game of Thrones’» Night King isn’t even the first Night King in Westerosi history?

A question without many leads or any possible end. But if we really think on it and combine the question with the prophecy of a prince, everything will seem a lot clearer.

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Azor Ahai is the Night King.

It almost needs to be this way. This edgy-headed blue-eyed creature leading legions of undead in battle against Westeros is simultaneously the figurehead of an entire religion. A faith which teaches its young to fear the Night King. This is clear if we take one idea absolutely factually: there must always be a Night King.

Who is the Night King?

The first time the Night King opened his icy blue eyes was ten-thousand years ago, when the Children of the Forest created him. Bran Stark learns this at the beginning of «Game of Thrones’» sixth season. Back then, the Children living in Westeros, little wood-dwelling humanoids, were being threatened by the First Men. Lacking in both numbers and technology, they beg the Old Gods for help.

They answer. They either send or give the Children the knowledge to create White Walkers themselves. Then White Walkers possess the power of raising corpses as mindless Wights. For every Westerosi that falls, a Wight takes their place on the opposing force. This would certainly be useful in evening the playing field against the First Men.

One being controls this horde: the Night King. Once a man of flesh and blood, the Children of the Forest rammed an obsidian dagger into his heart. He lost his free will, his rosy complexion and his voice. He closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they’re blue. The Night King was born.

Control – this could be the most essential point. Not just during wartime. But also in peace. White Walkers must be led, the Wights’ thirst for blood controlled. Forever. What if, without the Night King to guide them, the Armies of the Dead ravaged the land of the living with an even stronger malice, destroying the creations of the Old Gods?

Therefore, there must always be a Night King.

The first account of a Night King and White Walker attack dates back about eight-thousand years. It took two-thousand years from the Night King’s creation to his first attack.

Two-thousand. Why didn’t he attack earlier?

Azor Ahai’s role

The children must have used an ugly and imprecise magic. Maybe even a slowly corrupting kind – like a curse. They could have also made a mistake during the ritual. It can’t have gone any other way. The Children had managed to broker a peace with the First Men – shortly after creating the Night King, but long before his icy speer taught humanity fear and let their blood flow.

White Walkers weren’t necessary anymore. The Children probably commanded the Night King to bring his Army of the Dead north and stay there. Forever.

For two-thousand years the Children’s curse tortures the Night King. A few years before he begins the Long Night the last bit of humanity inside him disappears. Maybe he’s even forgotten that he once used to be a man. Led by the curse he goes to destroy entire kingdoms, to cover the world in an eternal winter.

Then comes Azor Ahai a legendary warrior chosen by the Lord of Light to banish the darkness. Wielding his sword Lightbringer he led the armies of First Men and Children of the Forest.

Azor Ahai and his blade, Lightbringer
Azor Ahai and his blade, Lightbringer
Jordi Gonzalez Escamilla

He manages to push the Night King and his White Walkers back to the North, allowing humanity to construct the Wall. It gets enchanted by the magical abilities of the Children of the Forest, to protect the realm of the living from the grey North. This is what legends say at least. Azor Ahai is never mentioned again. He could’ve died of old age. Or fallen in battle. I believe there’s a reason why the old scholars never wrote about him again:

he was not with the living anymore. But he didn’t fall either.

If there always must be a Night King, then his death didn’t stop the invaders. On the contrary, it only fully unleashed their frigid doom. A catastrophe. To stop them, a new Night King is needed. A hero, willing to sacrifice himself for Westeros. One who has nothing left to lose.

Azor Ahai.

To forge Lightbringer, he had to murder his beloved Nissa Nissa: as he plunged its blade through her heart, her fiery soul was bound to the steel. This gave Lightbringer the power to kill the Night King. But now his foe is dead, Azor Ahai has nothing waiting for him anymore.

Azor Ahai has to forge Lightbringer in living flame: Nissa Nissa.
Azor Ahai has to forge Lightbringer in living flame: Nissa Nissa.

What if he wanted to end his suffering with an obsidian blade obtained from the Children of the Forest? His warmth was replaced by cold, his eyes passing from brown to blue. Maybe Azor Ahai disappeared due to claiming the Night King’s throne. The Wights and White Walkers would have bent the knee. Under his control.

I’ll continue down this rabbit hole. Eight-thousand years after the first attack of the White Walkers: the curse or ill-fated ritual of the Children of the Forest has consumed the last thing tethering Azor Ahai to his humanity. Azor Ahai is no longer a warrior of Light, but a soldier of darkness.

Azor Ahai is the new Night King.

The cave painting from «Game of Thrones’» seventh season point to this. Jon Snow shows them to the Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen. In a cave on Dragonstone, an island next to Westeros, that is made up almost exclusively of obsidian. Here the Children of the Forest painted the Night King as he first appeared to them eight-thousand years ago. White Walkers by his side. What’s interesting is that the Night King’s image doesn’t resemble the creature that is currently wreaking death and havoc. This new Night King doesn’t have a beard.

The Night King back then (bearded).
The Night King back then (bearded).
The Night King today.
The Night King today.

The differing display could be sheer coincidence. Nevertheless: it could just as well not be.

The prince that was promised

About five-thousand years ago, a prophecy was written in the archives of Asshai. It tells of the darkness returning, and that Azor Ahai will be reborn as a promised prince. His will be the Song of Ice and Fire.

This fits.

If we believe the Night King is controlled by a curse, then this could mean that he commands the Dead until this curse has completely consumed his humanity. His soul is then freed from the ice, but it needs a new body: Azor Ahai will be reborn through a prince that was promised. In the mean time the soulless Night King creates an Army of the dead.

When this happens, a new Night King must keep control of the Wights and White Walkers. There must always be a Night King. And it must always be the prince that was promised. He will vanquish the current Night King and take his place. But just like Azor Ahai, he too will be corrupted by the curse. His soul will also be freed and reborn in a new warrior taking his place: a warrior of fire, to be transformed into a soldier of ice. An eternal cursed circle.

The Song of Ice and Fire.

A symbol of duality that still remains singular. Suddenly the name of the series of novels «Game of Thrones» is based on – «A Song of Ice and Fire» – has a completely new meaning.

What does this mean for season eight?

Jon Snow could be our promising candidate for the promised prince. Be this due to his origin, combining Targaryen and Stark blood: ice and fire. Again a singular duality. It would be up to him to defeat the Night King and take his place. A tragic end for Jon Snow’s character.

If Daenerys Targaryen simultaneously takes the Iron Throne, however, it would solve the main conflict of Westeros. A bittersweet ending that fits «Game of Thrones» like a glove. After all, George R. R. Martin himself, author of the series, promised us a bittersweet end to the Song of Ice and Fire.

You can watch season eight from 14/4/2019 on RTS 1. One episode will be shown per week, always on Monday morning at 3 a.m. In English, of course, with French subtitles.

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Luca Fontana
Luca Fontana
Editor, Zurich
I'm an outdoorsy guy and enjoy sports that push me to the limit – now that’s what I call comfort zone! But I'm also about curling up in an armchair with books about ugly intrigue and sinister kingkillers. Being an avid cinema-goer, I’ve been known to rave about film scores for hours on end. I’ve always wanted to say: «I am Groot.»

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