Warning: do not read on if you have not completed the entire “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. This post is full of spoilers.
Earlier this week at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin sent fan forums into a frenzy when he acknowledged that some readers had figured out the ending to the series.
“So many readers were reading the books with so much attention that they were throwing up some theories, and while some of those theories were amusing bulls— and creative, some of the theories are right,” Martin said, according to The Telegraph. “At least one or two readers had put together the extremely subtle and obscure clues that I’d planted in the books and came to the right solution.”
Our best guess lies with a well-written analysis by Reddit user c_forrester_thorne, which outlines the motivation of the mysterious Others, the deadly cold humanoid creatures also known as White Walkers, and the bittersweet ending that Martin is likely headed toward. This theory draws upon the fact that Martin, though a huge fan of Tolkien’s, is aiming for a narrative that transcends the “cartoon” trope of pure good versus pure evil that was seen in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. As he said back in 2011, “a villain is a hero of the other side … and I think there’s a great deal of truth to that, and that’s the interesting thing.”
In the five published books so far, we haven’t seen a nuanced version of the Others; just a lot of killing and horror. But there must be more to it, if Martin is holding onto his values of writing complex, “grey-area” characters.
This is what c_forrester_thorne helps explain through the theory, which is now the top post of all time on the r/asoiaf subreddit. Here’s what it says:
In the books, characters tell legends about The Long Night, a winter that lasted a generation and brought the Others from the north. They advanced south, killing and laying waste to the land, only to be stopped by the Last Hero. Then the great Wall was built, keeping the Others out of the realm of Westeros. Until now.
But here’s the thing: We never hear exactly how this hero won the war. The theory presented is that this Last Hero was a diplomat, not a warrior, and bargained a peace with the Others by marrying the Queen of the Others — which merges the Last Hero with the story of the Night’s King. And then it was the Others themselves who built the Wall as a territorial marker, and they fulfilled their side of the agreement by staying in the far north and leaving men alone.
It was men who did not hold up their end of the bargain. Wildlings have settled north of the Wall, and the Night’s Watch rangers regularly ride in this marked territory, and they engage in “fire-magic” (Daenerys in particular, with her dragons that are threatening to destabilize the world). This has sparked the re-invasion of the Others, not because they are ruthlessly evil mystical beings, but because they have been threatened by the actions of men. They no longer trust that men can be left to their own devices without endangering everyone.
So how will the conflict play out? The hero of this age will be Jon Snow, whose parents have long been theorized to be Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Jon is the Song of Ice and Fire, a combination of Stark (northern lords, possibly descended from the Night’s King himself) and Targaryen (dragon lords, whose motto is “Fire and Blood”). Rhaegar notably believed in several prophecies; he seemed to understand that a balance between Ice and Fire was the key to preserving the human race.
So it stands that Jon could become King on the Wall and restore peace, maybe even by taking an Other as a bride just like the legendary Last Hero/Night’s King. Daenerys, often thought to be the answer to defeating the icy cold Others with her fire-breathing dragons, could very well be on her way to a tragic demise. As her ambition and dragons grow more unstable and dangerous, Jon Snow will rise as the only one who can truly rule Westoros and bring peace.
This conclusion follows with Martin’s intentions of avoiding clear-cut lines between good and evil. Dany isn’t the fire-wielding hero that we think, and the Others have a more practical motivation for moving south and attacking the kingdoms of men. Jon will not sit the Iron Throne or ride on the back of a dragon, as so many have envisioned, but instead remain on the Wall to uphold the truce.
To read the full theory on r/asoiaf, click here.
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