From hereon, I will tackle the issue that prompted me to start this series of essays: readers claiming that a certain character will be the true Night’s King reborn over every other characters with Night’s King arcs which are relegated to be red herrings, or alternatively that the Others will make a certain character their new Otherized Night’s King.
So, far I argued that the conflation of Long Night events and the Night’s King leads to the erroneous expectations that the Others must have a human Night’s King to lead their hivemind. With my timeline stuff essay, I tried to show that history itself shows that the Others can do fine without a Night’s King leading them: there was no Night’s King in Westeros during the Long Night, and so no (Otherized) man led the Others during that event.
Once we had our timeline stuff sorted out, it becomes far more apparent what the real use of a Night’s King was to the Others, and in particular to the corpse queen. I have shown in detail in the essay What Use is a Night’s King that the historical Night’s King served three purposes:
- Smuggling beyond a shadow warding barrier
- Binding or recruiting
These roles become only apparent, once we recognize that after the defeat of the Others at the Battle for the Dawn, their numbers needed to be rebuilt, and the Others had to solve the issue of the Wall as a barrier. And in doing so, it becomes quite apparent that the corpse queen is actually the figure who creates and leads the Others as well as the one using magic or sorcery to accomplish her goals. It means that when we think of a leader of the Others, we must have a sorceress Night’s Queen in mind rather than a Night’s King.
It thus becomes very important to understand the conceptual nature of this Night’s Queen. I made the case that the corpse queen as a concept is majorly a reworked maw from George’s novelette Sandkings in From Sandkings to Nightqueens: a monstrous man-eating spider maw with telepathic and sorcerous abilities to glamor herself. We then comprehend that
- the sacrifice serves as food, delivered alive and warm blooded.
- the binding to the hivemind happens through deceptive manipulations of prophetic vision sharing.
- living human recruits function as allies to take the maw to a location where she desires to be and to enlarge her army or as an amplifying host of her hivemind.
We discovered that the corpse queen is unlikely to be the sole man-eating spider maw: we have Shade from Qarth who used to have a body and was known as the spider goddess of Lyber, a spotted queen at Yeen who has almost absolute dominion over Sothoryos, and one or two striped ones tied to Leng and K’Dath. All of this is antithetical to the theory of monomyth or rebirth-copy idea. If there never was one singular maw, then each resorted at some point in history to using a male Night’s King figure (Bloodstone Emperor, potentially Hugor of the Hill, Night’s King) to acquire food, relocation and dominion. And each time and at each location humanity needed to rally and unite behind a hero (last hero, Azor Ahai, Hyrkoon, Huzhor Amai) who helped defeat, kill or halt the threat that specific maw, her brood and her ghouls posed. And just like the Others, these threats did not exclusively surface during the Long Night. And as each maw evolved differently due to environment and experience, this explains why none of the legends about the Long Night in Essos mention ice spiders or Others. Hence, we have various historical villains who were similar tools to their respective Night’s Queens and various similar heroes to humanity who defeated them (except in Sothoryos).
It thus becomes impossible to cling to a reader’s “hunt” for both a singular reborn hero (Azor Ahai) or villain (Night’s King), not even against one maw such as the corpse queen of the Others. No current villain with Night’s King elements in his arc is a truer current Night’s King than the other. None of them will ever serve the Others’ or their corpse queen for all three uses. Some may not even end up serving the same Night’s Queen maw at all, but a rivaling maw such as Shade or a stand-in maw such as Mel. Moreover, the more a current Night’s King figure checks the boxes of the distorted legend, the less they are like the factual historical one. One reader can claim that Craster is the truest Night’s King, for he sacrificed his seed and made sure more Others were born, although he never wed the corpse queen, did not bring her to the Wall, etc. And another reader can claim Euron is the truest Night’s King because he matches the legend of a sorcerer king, although his queen will never be the mother of the Others. Both readers are both right and wrong all at once, all depending on what angle you use to check the boxes.
So, to me all these characters in the current story are in a way a Night’s King for some maw, whether corpse queen, Shade or a stand-in such as Mel, … And we can then make certain predictions on what is still to occur in their arc that has not yet been published. In some cases it may directly serve the actual corpse queen and her Others.
The essays will be divided according to the following characters and pairs:
- Craster and His Wives
- Craster’s and Gilly’s son (in progress)
- Stannis and Melisandre
- Euron and Shade
- What about Samwell?