For seven seasons, Game Of Thrones has been marching towards the ultimate showdown: the Great War between the living and the dead. The fate of mankind might come down to whether or not the warring factions of the Seven Kingdoms can put aside their differences and unite against their common enemy.
However, this is not the first time the White Walkers have threatened Westeros. Thousands and thousands of years ago, long before recorded history, two other groups had to join together in order to defeat the blue-eyed enemy of the frozen north.
The First Men and the Children of the Forest were the first to stand side-by-side to send the White Walkers back to the lands of snow and ice.
Though, like the Great Houses of today, there was once a time when the thought of them working together seemed impossible. Before the dark and cold Long Night descended on the realm, the two sides fought their own deadly war against each other.
So, what can the people of Westeros today learn from the two groups who defeated the White Walkers long ago? Who were they and where did they come from? This might be the key to winning the Great War once more.
Ready your scroll, because here are the 15 Things You NEED To Know About The Children Of The Forest And First Men.
15 Before the First Men arrived, the Children of the Forest lived in Westeros
Long before men came to Westeros-- about 12,000 years before the start of Game Of Thrones-- the land was the domain of the Children of the Forest and the Giants.
In a time known as the Dawn Age, the two races lived side-by-side, though no one knows where either came from. How long the two groups were there before men is also lost to time, but there’s no proof they ever lived in Dorne or the Iron Islands.
In the ancient language knows as the True Tongue, the Giants called the Children “woh dak nag gram,” which translates to “little squirrel people.” The Children referred to themselves as “those who sing the song of earth,” and they lived entirely off the land.
The two races seemed to have co-existed together in relative peace, though there is some evidence that the Children and Giants didn’t always get along. A Giant burial mound was found with dragonglass arrowheads in it, which might have been used as weapons by the Children against the Giants.
14 The Children in the books are far stranger looking than on the show
With their nut-brown skin, small spots like those on a deer, and their overall unusual appearance, the Children on Game Of Thrones are very different looking than men. However, they aren’t nearly as strange looking as they are in the books.
Both versions are the size of human children, but in the novels the Children only have three fingers and a thumb, and instead of nails they have sharp, black claws.
They also have over-sized ears that allow them to hear sounds that men cannot. While they also have large eyes like those seen on HBO, in the books they are gold and green, and slitted like a cat. Although those with red and gold eyes have the power of greensight, like Bran Stark.
Combined with their quick and graceful movements, they were a tricky and difficult enemy to pin down or capture, but they lack the strength of men and are far fewer in numbers.
13 The Children helped build the Wall with their magic.
The legendary Northern hero Bran the Builder was determined to make sure that the living were never again unprepared for an invasion from the White Walkers. So, to help the Night’s Watch defend Westeros against the army of the dead, he constructed the Wall. The First Men were aided in building the wall by the Children and the Giants.
The 300-foot-wide Wall stands 700 feet tall, an imposing barrier for any race. However, it is also protected by magical spells that were built into it. It is said those charms make it so the dead cannot pass by (though we say this very thing happen in the season 7 finale).
The Children, with their supernatural powers, might have been responsible for the magic that helped to protect the realms of men for centuries, long after they themselves retreated beyond its protections.
In terms of defense, a massive wall of ice couldn’t stand on its own against the White Walkers, so without the magic of the Children, it likely never could have been built.
12 The “old gods” of the North were the Children’s gods
The Pact ended the Dawn Age and began the Age of Heroes, which was when legendary figures like Bran the Builder and Lann the Clever were said to have lived. For four thousand years, the Children and the First Men lived peacefully together as friends, with the First Men adopting many of the Children’s ways.
This included putting aside their own gods and accepting the Children’s secret gods of the wood. These were nameless gods of streams, stone, and of the forests themselves. These gods were faceless, except for the ones carved into weirwoods.
The First Men came to follow these gods, and the most houses of the North today still keep them, though now they are referred to as the "old gods". The Faith of the Seven, which would come to Westeros thousands of years after the Pact, are the new gods of the Seven Kingdoms.
So, whenever someone prays to the old gods, they are praying to the same deities that the Children of the Forest worshipped.
11 The Children can live for thousands of years and have greensight
On Game Of Thrones, Leaf was present in one of Bran’s visions from a millennia ago. When he returned to the present, Leaf was there to explain her actions.
This means Leaf lived for thousands of years before dying during the White Walker attack on the Three-Eyed Raven. Their long lives appear to be another one of their supernatural powers.
Legend says that the Children could control animals like snow bears and direwolves, and inhabit their skin the way wargs like Bran do.
Those who had the greensight were said to be able to speak to the dead, and all of them could look over the land through the faces they carved in weirwood trees. The trees were their gods, and they believed that when they died they became a part of the weirwoods.
Some maesters also believe that the Children were able to communicate over great distances with ravens, a skill they would one day teach a new race in Westeros. However, before that day, the Children would turn to dark magic to create floods against their new enemy.
10 The First Men originally crossed into Westeros in Dorne 12,000 years before Game of Thrones
On the eastern coast of Dorne sit a series of islands known as the Stepstones. Over 12,000 years ago this was a land bridge between Essos and Westeros known as the Arm of Dorne.
It was there where the First Men crossed into what is now the Seven Kingdoms. Maesters think that the First Men might have come from as far east as the Dothraki Sea (which could explain their predominantly dark hair and skin).
Their presence continues, to this day, throughout all of Westeros, mainly in the North where many of its great houses trace their roots back to the First Men, including the Starks. Northeners believe the First Men were led into Westeros by the First King, though those in the Reach think it was the legendary hero Garth Greenhand himself.
The First Men rode horses, and they had bronze weapons and leather shields. They were much more powerful and had greater numbers than the Children of the Forest.
As for the Arm of Dorne, the Children flooded it using dark magic, turning it into the Stepstones. They were trying to prevent any other men from crossing over, but it was too late. Men were there to stay.
9 They fought a violent war against each other for 2,000 years
The Children had always lived off the land, but the First Men began to build homes, which required cutting down trees. When they began chopping down weirwoods the Children went to war to protect their gods and the ancestors they believed lived in them.
The war was deadly for both sides. The First Men eventually realized the Children were spying on them through the weirwoods, so they cut down more. Despite their powers, the strength and advanced weaponry of the First Men threatened to destroy the Children entirely.
This led to a second ”hammer of the waters” by the Children after the Arm of Dorne. This time, they flooded Moat Cailin, which might have been an attempt by the Children to cut Westeros into two lands-- with each race on one side.
Legends say that the dark magic they used required the Children to sacrifice 1,000 human captives, but it didn’t work (although the swampy Neck of Moat Cailin remains a choke point of the realm to this day).
However, it was such an incredible display of magic that it may have helped to persuade the men to agree to the peace treaty that ended the 2,000-year-old war.
8 They signed the pact on the mysterious Isle of Faces
When the First Men and Children finally agreed to end their war, they met on a small island in the middle of a lake known as the Gods Eye. The treaty they signed is known as the Pact.
The Pact was agreed to by the Children’s greenseers and wood dancers, as well as by the chiefs and heroes of the First Men. The Children were giving the remaining forests of Westeros, with the First Men getting the rest of the lands, with an agreement not to cut down any more weirwoods.
They cut faces into the weirwoods on the island so the gods could serve as witness to the Pact. This is where the island got its name the Isle of Faces.
A protective order known as the Green Men were established to look over the land, and are said to still live there today. The Isle of Faces is still sacred in Westeros, and is one of the few places in the south with weirwoods. Tales say the Green Men still serve there, and they have green skin and horns.
7 They fought the White Walkers together during the first Long Night
Four thousand years of peace came to an end when the White Walkers invaded Westeros from the icy reaches of the north, from the Lands of Always Winter. During the First Long night (8,000 years before Game Of Thrones), darkness and cold came to the realm for a generation.
The White Walkers, with their weapons of ice and giant ice spiders, pushed the Children and the First Men south. However, once it was learned that White Walkers could be killed by the Children's weapons of obsidian (also known as dragonglass), the Children and First men began pushing back.
The White Walkers were defeated when the last hero, Azor Ahai, and his flaming sword led the First Men and Children to a final victory at the Battle for the Dawn. If the Children and First Men had not worked together then darkness would have consumed the world forever.
6 The Children gave the Night’s Watch 100 dragonglass daggers every year
The construction of the Wall was not the end of the Children’s help in order to make sure that the First Men would be prepared for the White Walkers if they ever came again. Every year after the Long Night, the Children of the Forest would give the Night’s Watch 100 dragonglass daggers.
Dragonglass was the only known way to kill White Walkers during the Age of Heroes. Valyrian steel, the other known weapon that works on them, wouldn’t come to Westeros for thousands of years.
Samwell Tarly found a satchel of dragonglass daggers on a hill north of the Wall known as the Fist of the First Men. He thought the First Men left it there so someone would find it.
This was likely one of the satchels given as a gift from the Children thousands of years ago. Since Sam used one of the daggers to kill a White Walker, the Children helped save Sam and Gilly from certain death.
5 They fought the Andals together when they came to Westeros
Somewhere between two and four thousand years before Game Of Thrones, the Children and First Men both went to war together again against another group of men who came to Westeros.
The Andals from western Essos, who followed the Faith of the Seven, had superior weapons made of steel. However, the First Men had far greater numbers. Over hundreds of years, the Andals conquered some of the kingdoms of the First Men, and married into many of their families. Many of the First Men came to adopt the religion and ways of the Andals.
Only the Northern Kings were able to stop the Andal invasion at the Neck at Moat Cailin, thanks to the great flood that the Children had brought their long before. It hadn’t worked for the Children against the First Men, but it worked for First Men against the Andals.
While the two factions of mankind eventually became one, the Andal invasion was disastrous for the Children. However, it did mark the beginning of recorded history in Westeros.
4 The Children were almost wiped out by the Andals, so they retreated far beyond the Wall
Like the First Men had long before, the Andals began cutting down and burning the Children’s weirwood trees. This included all 31 weirwoods at a place known as High Heart, a hill sacred to the Children. (They say the magic and ghosts of the children still haunt it to this day.)
The Children sent wolves after the Andals, and they fought against them with the First Men. That included a partnership with the King of the Stormlands known as the Weirwood Alliance.
The First Men and Children managed to win some battles against the Andals, but the Children, with their vastly inferior numbers, were ultimately no match-- especially once the Andals began marrying into the kingdoms of the First Men.
Despite the First Men holding the North, the Children fled beyond the Wall. Some think that they still live on the Isle of Faces or in the swamps of the Neck (maybe even having intermarried with the crannogmen who live there, like House Reed of Jojen and Meera).
For the most part, they disappeared from the Seven Kingdoms forever, like the Giants had before them.
3 The First Men held on to the North, but many families intermarried with Andals
The freefolk beyond the Wall are descendants of the First Men, the same way the members of House Stark and many other great houses of the North are. However, despite the Andal invasion, many other houses throughout Westeros can trace their blood back to the First Men as well.
Either after failed invasions, or because the kings of the First Men were trying to avoid bloodshed, the Andals married with the kings of Westeros. This included in the Stormlands, with the Lannisters of the Westerlands, and many families in the Reach. They also married into a family on the Iron Islands, though the Faith of the Seven never managed to usurp that of the Drowned God.
Even the North wasn’t immune For example, even House Mormont are descendants of the Andals. This is why Jorah was knighted Ser Jorah Mormont, even though the Andal tradition of knighthood never took root in the North.
2 The Children became a myth in Westeros
Following the end of the Andal invasion and their integration with the First Men, the race of men were left with all of Westeros to themselves, while the Children fled north. After thousands of years living far north of the Wall, the Children were thought to be extinct. That’s if they ever were real at all, as they became a legend for many, the same way Giants and White Walkers did.
However, not everyone forgot about them or believed them to be gone forever. The North, who still hold the old gods of the Children, still tell tales about them. Even the wildings know that the Children never truly disappeared.
This could help make the difference in saving the living from the dead. The Children helped defeat the White Walkers once when they stood next to the First Men during the Long Night-- could this happen again?
There may be no greater ally against the army of the dead, especially since the Children created them.
1 The Children made the White Walkers from men to defeat mankind
One of the biggest revelations from Game Of Thrones is that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers from men themselves. Using their magical powers, they took a piece of dragonglass and inserted it into the heart of a man to make the first White Walker.
Leaf told Bran that they were in danger of being wiped out entirely in their war against the First Men, which was why they needed something more powerful to help them stave off extinction.
However, they eventually lost control of the White Walkers, which forced them to unite with the First Men to fight them. The lack of a recorded history before the Andals makes it difficult to know the exact timeline of these events.
What we do know is that it took the Children of the Forest and the First Men working together to save the living from the dead. This is a lesson the warring factions of today might want to remember if they ever hope to stop the Night King.
What do you think? Are the Children of the Forest Westeros' only hope? Do you know any other interesting facts about Game of Thrones' magical creatures? Let us know in the comment section!