There is no greater fear than what lies beyond the wall and yes, this special edition of Fantastic 13th includes creatures worthy of praise, the White Walkers! Although these creatures live solely in the fictional world north of Westeros, the White Walkers are an exceptional race that is intriguing just as much as they are terrifying. The following post contains information both from the books and the show (which fills in some gaps!) and has spoilers. You’ve been warned!
What Is It?
Jon Snow may know nothing, but we know that the White Walkers are a race of humanoid ice monsters with the unique ability of reviving the dead for the sole purpose of servitude, making them Wights. Additional to reviving corpses, these timeless villains are able to revive the corpses of animals such as horses which they ride in battle against anything in their path. The creatures are thousands of years old with blistering blue eyes, pale skin and mostly mummified appearance. Taller than the average human, and much stronger, the White Walkers are gaunt with long white hair and travel in an army numbering in the thousands.
Along with carrying swords made from ice (which they use with ease and skill), they use magic as well, particularly with ice and the freezing temperature, bringing large blizzards along with them. An interesting detail from the books are their camouflage armor which changes as they move–a highly useful tool to see everything around it. The only way to defeat this creature is with Valyrian Steel or Dragonglass. Both rare and not readily available, upon punctured with the glass, the White Walker is injured and turned to powder while the special steel shatters them into a million pieces. Like this:
The White Walkers, also referred to in the books as ‘the others’, origins began before the Age of Heroes–an era 10,000 years before the present storyline. Created with untested magic in defense to the enemy, the First Men, the creatures were created to protect the Children of the Forest as war waged in Westeros. However in The Pact, a peace period between the two, the creatures broke off, being under their own control and became more threatening than both sides combined. Legends of the White Walkers lasted, despite the threat of them fading through time until an unlucky boy, Will of the Night’s Watch, was attacked by the creatures. Unfortunately, this is not enough for a complete investigation into the sightings, not until it becomes an actual threat to the North and all in Westeros. Perhaps when the books are finished, we can learn even more or continue to expand with the show’s representation of the creatures and their origin details.
Show’s version – which is more detailed, showing the true creators as the Children of the Forest.
There is no modern use specifically (unless we’re talking fanfic) as the White Walkers are the property of George R.R. Martin and exist solely in the world of Westeros. It’s not the first time a story finds it created something that could precede its creator – in fact, it’s a perfect beginning to a science fiction novel. Whether this turning on its master is because the creation believes its superior, feels the master is at harm with himself and must cleanse the world, or simply feels trapped from its creator and break free, it’s a great way to introduce a threat. With the White Walkers, there’s an added allure because much of what Martin has written has been vague and mysterious – exactly how we want our characters’ greatest threat to be.
I enjoy a beast that has human-like features but embodies so much more, utilizing magic as a weapon. The White Walkers are cold, heartless and hardly speak so there is no drawn out ‘villain speech’ to bore readers/watchers. What’s unique about GOT is the many villains in the story but in the end, this great frozen horde that can defeat all. This is something to take not only from the story but writing in general–the villains can be mysterious and a massive threat with numbers.
White Walkers are also a great example of how to create your own dastardly creature. Take elements of other monsters and combine or change them to create a new horror that’ll give your story a unique feel.