This post will be talking about Game of Thrones, and therefore if you are not up to date on the show — spoilers abound.
Spoiler alert, I’ll be talking about the weather.
Winter is Coming, or so the Starks insist
A clock that’s five minutes fast is always wrong, but a broken clock is right twice a day. (Depending on how exactly the clock is broken, of course.) So if the Starks continue to say “Winter is coming” long enough, eventually it will come true.
We haven’t recently seen a white raven from the Citadel on the show, which would signify the change of seasons (we saw the white raven a few seasons ago, officially ushering in Fall) but with snow falling so hard in the North that armies were unable to move, and the ancient and fiendish Others on the march converting living Wildlings into undead wights, I think it’s reasonable to say that Winter has arrived.
And it’ll be the Big Winter. Wildlings have lived north of the Wall for hundreds of years, and therefore have survived many, many winters, so it’s not like the Others are prowling around all the time. But this time the Wildlings knew to get south.
Unfortunately, the south doesn’t seem like it’ll be that much safer.
Summer is the Time for Squabbles
The White Walkers could not have chosen a better time to make their move. The Night’s Watch, who are the first line of defense against the Others, are dangerously depleted in numbers and riddled with conflict. The Watch’s biggest supporter, the ancient kingdom of the North, is currently under new and unpleasant management, and might have troubles organizing the North to do anything cooperatively.
The Bolton’s might also be wary of assisting the Night’s Watch, an organization that had elected the previous (and beloved) Warden of the North’s bastard son to be the Lord Commander. (Even if a faction of the crows assassinated him.)
So if the Wall can’t keep the White Walkers out and the North won’t be able to set aside their summery squabbles to deal with the greatest threat of the age, what will happen next?
The North is really big, so it would take the White Walkers and their shambling horde some time to travel southward. Since we don’t know what the Others’ agenda is, we don’t know if they’ll be staying up north, trying to amass as large an army of the dead as they can, or if they’ll make their own rush for the Iron Throne (maybe they’ve also bought into the idea that the metal chair is important.) Or if they’ll do something else.
The Second Line of Defense: the Twins
The next kingdom below the North is the Riverlands, currently controlled by that infamously-inhospitable geezer, Walder Frey. I’m sure he would greet the White Walkers with the same warm welcome he gave Robb Stark and family.
The Twins might seem an excellent place to slow the White Walker advance, provided the wights can’t swim, but if the Wall couldn’t keep them out, the Lord of the Crossings’ keep probably won’t do so as well.
But I bet we’d get a great Hardhome-esque battle sequence.
It seems ironic that Roose Bolton and Walder Frey, two characters who so gravely violated generally accepted oaths (loyalty to one’s king and the observance of guest-rites, respectively) would be given the initial defense of the realms of men if the Others got south of the Wall. It’s almost like the White Walkers are a divine punishment for the two of them. (If so, the gods are being extremely imprecise in who they are punishing.)
If Stannis were still around, Melisandre would tell him that it’s the North and the Riverlands’ fault for not supporting him as the rightful king from the beginning. I don’t know if I’d argue with Melisandre on that. If the North and the Riverlands had backed Stannis, a lot of bad stuff might have been sidestepped.
Do They Know It’s Wintertime in Dorne?
Assuming that the White Walker advance is restricted to the climate, just how far south could they go? Winter is definitely a big deal in the North, and since we saw a small council meeting discussing food reserves (which felt like them addressing it as a local problem, rather than a realm-sized problem, as in they weren’t bothering with anyone outside of the Crownlands) we can assume that crop production hiatuses happens down to at least the Blackwater.
Does Highgarden get snow in their fancy flowery lands?
Every winter, do the Dornish rename the Water Gardens the Ice Gardens during this time and there’s less swimming and more ice-skating? It doesn’t seem the usual situation.
Is the climate change local only to Westeros? There doesn’t seem to be the same kind of concerns over in Essos. Braavos is pretty far north, do they experience the same type of winter?
Maybe we’ll find out.
If the south isn’t hit too hard by the weather, it’ll certainly be hit hard with a stream of refugees heading that direction, to escape the White Walkers. Dorne seems like a place that can’t afford to support a large population, so it’ll be rough and desperate along the Dornish marches.
Daenerys, the Snow Queen
The chaos and issues brought on by Winter and the White Walkers might play into Daenerys Targaryen’s monarchical aspirations. We know that fire is a useful weapon for combating the wights of the Others, it seems like a handful of dragons would be of great value in halting their advance.
Dany might use that to gain quick support among the starving, desperate masses who would be more happy to be alive and ruled by a Targaryen Queen than serve for eternity as a skeletal soldier in the Night King’s army.
One of the prophetic visions Dany saw in the House of the Undying was the Iron Throne covered in snow.
That could mean totally anything, because that’s how visions are, but it could mean that winter is her key to obtaining the throne.
Of course, once the White Walkers are repelled (assuming they are) Dany would have a broken, starving kingdom to manage. Dragons might assist in compelling the Tyrells to feed everyone, or force the Ironborn to donate their ships to facilitate relief missions.
(Or the dragons could eat anyone who is complaining, reducing the number of mouths to be fed.)
Spring is around the corner?
The showrunners can certainly do their own thing, but my hope is that both they and George RR Martin are working from the same outline. GRRM’s next book is The Winds of Winter, but his alleged final book in A Song of Ice and Fire will be titled A Dream of Spring.
I’m hoping that this means that the forces of winter will be repelled, and rather quickly. Unless Book Six covers a period of years.
I can see the first line of Book Seven: FIVE YEARS LATER…
If that happens, at least Bran in the books will have caught up physically with Bran in the show.
Here in the real world, Winter has finally come as well. 2016 is just around the corner, and with it season six of Game of Thrones. I’d say I can’t wait, but I’ve waited this long.
Happy New Year, everyone.
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Images are from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.
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