All the way back in Season 2 of Game of Thrones, Maester Luwin of Winterfell tells Bran Stark, “Maybe magic once was a mighty force in the world, but not anymore. The dragons are gone, the giants are dead, and the Children of the forest forgotten.” But so far, the late Maester has been mistaken on nearly all accounts: Daenerys’ dragons are terrorizing the skies of Meereen. Jon Snow warded of giants in the battle of Castle Black. And as we saw in this week’s Season 4 finale, the Children, while still forgotten, are still living way up in the North. It can be easy to forget after spending so much time mired in the messy human politics of King’s Landing, but magic is still the real force turning the gears of Westeros. In “The Children,” we are introduced (or re-introduced) to some of the most important magical entities in Game of Thrones. So who were all these bizarre creatures?
The Children of the Forest
First Mentioned: Season 2
In This Episode: Bran is saved from a gang of Wights (more on that later) by a fairy-grenade chucking member of the Children named Leaf.
What Are They: These diminutive, human-like creatures were the original inhabitants of Westeros, and they predate the arrival of the First Men by thousands of years. The children inhabited the great stretches of forests that made up much of Westeros before men arrived to create their own civilizations. They are believed to be the ones that carved the faces into the weirwood trees seen in different locations throughout the continent. They are also believed to have supplied the Night’s Watch with weapons made of dragonglass, a substance akin to obsidian and the only material proven able to kill a White Walker (Sam uses a dragonglass spear tip to kill the White Walker in Season 3). Over the years, the children have faded into myth and legend, but a few (such as Maester Luwin) believe that they really did exist once upon a time, but are long gone.
First Seen: Season 1
In This Episode: The Wights are the skeleton creatures that attacked Bran, Jojen, Hodor, and Meera near the big weirwood tree.
What Are They: There has been much confusion among TV watchers about the difference between White Walkers and Wights. The White Walkers are a mythological race entirely separate from humans, while the wights are the reanimated corpses of dead humans that serve as minions to the White Walkers. Wights are brought to life by White Walker magic, and any dead person is susceptible to the transformation unless his or her body is burned (which is why Jon Snow has been so burn-happy with all the dead bodies as of late). Their bodies exhibit various stages of decay that correspond roughly to how decomposed one’s corpose was when transformed. The Wights are largely mindless, but are not susceptible to dragonglass weapons like their White Walker masters.
The Three-Eyed Raven
First Mentioned: Season 1
In This Episode: The three-eyed raven is the old man seen in the cave after Bran escapes the Wight attack.
What is he: Getting into exactly who and what the three-eyed raven actually is would border on spoiler territory, but we can tell you that the raven is an entity that has been watching Bran with interest for a long time now, and that he has a very close connection with the Children of the Forest. After Bran loses the ability to walk in the first season, Much of his storyline has involved the presence of a three-eyed raven, an image that has visited him multiple times during his dreams. It was the raven that led him to the Stark family crypt right after his father died. After meeting Jojen and Meera Reed, Bran is spurred north by visions of the three-eyed raven and a giant weirwood tree, which he reaches at the end of last night’s episode. Let’s just say that the three-eyed raven has huge plans for Bran going forward.