Game of Thrones prequel The Long Night can answer some burning questions that have never been answered on the show or in A Song of Ice & Fire books. A spinoff to Game of Thrones has long been planned at HBO, and now it's beginning to move forward.
Producers and writers George R.R. Martin and Jane Goldman have confirmed the series will take place during the Age of Heroes, roughly 8000 years before the events of Game of Thrones and ASOIAF. The title that Martin announced - The Long Night - would seem to indicate that the plot will center around the first conflict with the White Walkers, commonly referred to as “the Long Night” in both the books and on the show.
Because this period in Westerosi history is largely shrouded in myth, there are a lot of questions surrounding elements from Game of Thrones that were in existence or sprang out the era of The Long Night. The Wall, the White Walkers, Winterfell, certain prophecies, etc. all grew out of that time, and as such, have very foggy backgrounds. A decent amount of about those elements has been divulged in Game of Thrones, but there are still huge gaps when it comes to their origins. While The Long Night, which began production in October, will no doubt want to explore parts of the larger ASOIAF world (or even add to it), there’s also a great deal of content it could further explain or flesh out.
- This Page: The White Walkers & The Wall
- Page 2: Azor Ahai & The Long Night(s)
What Is The Real Purpose of the White Walkers?
During Game of Thrones season 6, Bran discovered that the Children of the Forest had created the White Walkers from humans in an attempt to raise an army that could defeat the First Men. But the question remains as to exactly how and why they rose up against their makers. Was it a Skynet situation and they fought back against masters that would’ve destroyed them once their purpose had been fulfilled? Or did the Children of the Forest just abandon them to their own devices and as their society developed, as did their desire to expand?
One thing can be said for certain – the White Walkers want to rid the world of anything warm blooded and alive and dominate in its place. Their goal seems to be the utter destruction of man, but why that’s their goal is a little unclear. It could be that The Long Night will shed more light on their hunger for conquest and their hatred for the world of the living.
Who Built The Wall (And How)?
While we know a great deal about the Wall already thanks to Game of Thrones, that knowledge rests on some pretty big mysteries. According to canon, the Wall runs for three hundred miles and stands 700 feet tall. It was constructed to protect Westeros from enemies to the north, which in that time would’ve been the White Walkers. To that end, it was also protected with magical spells that forbade certain magic or magical creatures to pass beyond it, most likely cast or worked by the Children of the Forest. They united with their previous enemies, the First Men and beat back the White Walkers during the first Long Night, and according to mythology, assisted Bran the Builder in raising the Wall.
Despite those of specifics regarding the ancient barrier, there are still some pretty big questions The Long Night could answer. First, who actually built the Wall? Legend attributes it to Brandon the Builder, the supposed founder of House Stark who is also credited with constructing Winterfell. But unless Bran the Builder lived for several centuries, there’s no way he could’ve finished either project in a single lifetime, much less both. According to George R.R. Martin, the Wall took several hundred years to raise and additional millennia to reach the height it’s at in Game of Thrones.
The Long Night could potentially provide additional details regarding the Wall in its infant stages – who enacted the plan to build it and who stewarded its construction over the centuries? Was there even a Bran the Builder at all? Martin has compared him to Noah or Gilgamesh from Abrahamic traditions, and has pointed out that like many other figures in the Age of Heroes, the first Stark is so steeped in myth that he might not have existed at all.
Then there’s the issue of the magic used to protect the Wall on a supernatural level. According to Westerosi legend, this was where the Children of the Forest came in. After aiding their allies in the fight against the White Walkers, they lent their skills to the construction of the Wall, and inlaid it with spells that prevented "magic" from going over, under or through. We see this on the show when Benjen explains why he can’t accompany Bran to Winterfell and in the books when Coldhands faces the same problem issue.
But while those protection spells were effective at keeping out undead creatures, the rules don’t appear to apply to all people or things touched by magic. Jon Snow and Beric Dondarrion both pass back and forth through the Wall with no issues, despite both being magically undead. It’s worth wondering if there were other magical beings or factions that aided in the Wall’s construction if the Age of Heroes was indeed a magic-heavy era in Westerosi history. Considering the Essos religions that brought back Snow and Dondarrion has its own legends about the Long Night, it’s possible the Children of the Forest weren’t the only magical ally involved in the first battle against the White Walkers.