Tower of the Hand

Why the Others are Destined to Become Extinct

Published:
Sep 3, 2015, 9:00 AM ET

Editor's note: Gil Kidron and Itamar Harel have founded Game of Thrones Academy, a series of YouTube videos that look at A Song of Ice and Fire through the lens of real history and real political processes. Each video is also capped with a bold prediction based on history. Below is a new video from them, followed by a guest essay penned for Tower of the Hand briefly summarizing why they believe the White Walkers will become extinct.

We know very little about the Others. Most of what we do know is told to us by people who never saw them but heard plenty of stories that have been circulating from the last time they were seen, some measly 8,000 years ago.

Basically, this is the gist of it: there was a Long Night 8,000 years ago, some kinds of mysterious monsters came down from the north and tried to destroy the human race. The children of the forest and the First Men failed to stop them, until some kind of magical warrior (Azor Ahai, the prince that was promised, the last hero) drove the night away. Then the children and humans built a magic wall to prevent them from attacking again.

The problem with this story is that no one knows if it's true. Humans fought these Others and then talked smack about them for thousands of years and made them look like evil monsters that are out to destroy the human civilization.

In Game of Thrones they look like Eddie, the Iron Maiden monster, with wrinkly bluish skin and a shrieking voice.

In the books, though, they are translucent, shiny colors brim over their thin and elegant bodies. They are strangely beautiful, do not scream and their language sounds like ice cracking. In the prologue of the very first book, they mock a Night's Watch ranger, toy with him and then kill him. That suggests they have a sense of humor. Basically, they have a culture and civilization of their own which we know nothing about.

What the humans' stories about the Others also mention, but ignore the significance of, is that once upon a time a lord commander of the Night's Watch fell in love with a female Other and became the Night's King, which suggests the Others can be loved by humans and love them back.

So, as many readers have pointed out, the Others are not 100% evil. Because there is no such thing in this world. Or is there?

If we look at human history on Planetos and on Earth, we see that there basically is no end to human conquest or to the subjugation of the world and its non-human inhabitants. In ASOIAF, the human race has reached almost the four corners of the world and pushed the Others, Children, giants, humanoid Ibbenese and the like to the brink of extinction. In our world the non-Homo-sapiens are all gone, probably with a little help from their friends - us. Animals are considered as property which we can abuse as we like, because we like the way they taste.

As of now, there is only one land in Planetos the humans have not managed to put under their control - the Lands of Always Winter. Because there is a large and impenetrable wall between it and the vast majority of the human population in Westeros. And the humans who used to live behind that wall have moved south of the wall.

If this story was told from the point of view of the Others (and we could well get such a POV through un-dead Jon or half-life Bran), the story would go on about the endless human conquests and attacks on non-humans and humans alike. If we were Others we too would stay behind that wall and if the need be we would raise an army to protect ourselves.

But, unfortunately for the Others, it seems they stand no chance against us. We have always persevered and found a way to kill 'em all, take everything and make it our own. We dig into the ground and go into space, so what could a handful of these mythical individuals do against the juggernaut that is human progress? By the end of the story it seems that GRRM's world will move into some kind of Early Modern period, the time that ignited the whole concept of never-ending progress.

So don't be surprised if 500 years from now, human expeditions will discover oil underneath the Lands of Always Winter (all these giants and mammoth carcasses), dig wells, lay pipelines, build roads, and then erect malls and commercial centers. The stories about the monsters that came out during some Long Night will be considered as fairy tales told by simple people who lived in darkness.

Because we know monsters do not exist and are not hiding under our beds or behind so-called magic wall. But from the point of view of all the non-humans, monsters do exist, and we can see them every time we look in the mirror.


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