‘Winds of Winter’ Spoilers: Don’t Assume There Will Even Be A Night King In The Books

game of thrones hardhome night king
The Night King knows how to make a point (Photo: Game Of Thrones)

So here’s an intriguing question about Winds of Winter. Even us book readers now have gotten used to the Night’s King, who has been established as the “big bad” of Game of Thrones. He’s the leader of the White Walkers and the first of their number, the force leading the armies of ice and death into Westeros. His revelation in Game of Thrones season 4 was the first big spoiler for Winds of Winter… or at least that’s how most of us perceived it. But the truth is, we have no idea if there will be Night’s King in Winds of Winter. He may never even be in the books at all.

Is The Night’s King In Winds Of Winter?

game of thrones hardhome night king
The Night King knows how to make a point Photo: (Photo: Game Of Thrones)

The Others in A Song of Ice and Fire are an otherworldly, unnatural and magical force. They are an elemental force—ice and evil personified, with no motivation beyond destruction, as far as we know. They do not, strictly speaking, even need a leader. And there have been no intimations of one in the books… not that we know much of them in the first place.

In an interview with Deadline, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss talked about the Night’s King. When asked an inane question about whether he would develop more of a personality, they of course answered no. He is an incarnation of darkness, not a person. They noted that he’s not like the other kings and queens. He is a representation of death itself (Here’s Weiss: “I don’t think of the Night King as a villain as much as Death”). And that made me wonder. Is the Night’s King in Game of Thrones just a focal point for the viewers, the image of an evil leader for us to focus around? Massing armies of leaderless forces work better in written form. Having a single villain makes the show feel more cohesive, but the books don’t need one.

Besides, there’s already a Night’s King in A Song of Ice and Fire books. He was a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (the thirteenth), and lord of the Nightfort, ages upon ages past. He figured in Old Nan’s scariest stories—and he fell in love with a woman of ice and cold. He betrayed humankind for ice. And he was a Stark. But we have no reason to think he’ll ever come back.

Is it just a legend? Or is it foreshadowing for the appearance of the Night’s King in Winds of Winter, as the one and only Other who chose to become one? Either one sounds plausible to me. Sooner or later Daenerys, Jon Snow and (hopefully) Book Stannis need a foe to fight—the Great Other, the Lion of Night, whom they can destroy (or not) to bring an end to the new Long Night. The Prince That Was Promised needs a foe. It could be the Night’s King, but it doesn’t have to be.

We’ll just have to wait for Winds of Winter to find out.

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