A New Game of Thrones Theory Explains What Bran and the Night King Really Are

Suddenly all the magic and religion makes sense.

Among all the killing and incest and dragons, we've also heard a lot about religion on Game of Thrones. There's The Old Gods of the Forest, The Faith of the Seven, The Lord of Light, The Many-Faced God—all of them with different powers, and prophecies, and deities, and followers. What's interesting about George R.R. Martin's fantasy world compared to others is magic is very rare. There aren't schools of magic or roaming wizards or whatever. Instead, magic itself is more rooted in religion, where followers of The Lord of Light like Melisandre can birth shadow babies or those faithful to The Many-Faced God can change their appearance like our girl Arya.

So, if all magic is tied to religion, could that explain the powers that Bran and the Night King have?

As one Reddit user points out, the faith of R'hllor, which worships The Lord of Light, notes two opposing forces in its religion:

The religion is based on a dualistic, manichean view of the world: R'hllor, the god of light, heat, and life, and R'hllor's antithesis the Great Other, the god of ice and death.

R’hllor is also called the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow. His nemesis, the Great Other, whose name may not be spoken, is known as the Lord of Darkness, the Soul of Ice, the God of Night and Terror.

The Reddit user notes that this Great Other sounds a lot like our boy the Night King.

What if the Night King is the Great Other? This would imply that the Three Eyed Raven (and in effect Bran) is R'hllor. But how does that work? How are Gods among man? The answer is: they aren't. Gods as in the religion are tales, told time and time again from person to person. Real people become legends, and magical events become God like. Let's remember Westeros is a land where people are raised from the dead, and some dude build an island wide 700 feet tall wall of ice.

In GOT, magic is subtle but real. Some are stronger than others. But maybe the Gods are not real, there are just two dudes fighting over control over the earth. The stronger growing Night King (in tales became the Great Other) and the Three Eyed Raven (in tales became R'hllor)

And how about the powers of R'hllor and all the magic he does? I think, just like in real life, people are just wrong about religion a lot. The God of Light doesn't raise people from the dead, Thoros and Melisandre do. It's a type of magic some 'normal' people posses in GOT. But maybe it's random, or not very reliable, and it is contributed wrongly towards some God. A God that, over the years, grew bigger and more influential in the tales, but in reality, it's all just people.

Which is a fascinating way to think about god and magic and religion and myth. The writer also points to a quote from George R.R. Martin about the Night King, "As for the Night's King (the form I prefer), in the books he is a legendary figure, akin to Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder, and no more likely to have survived to the present day than they have."


So, in other words, Bran and The Night King are simply two ancient conflicting forces fighting for control—or balance—in Westeros. It's also important to note that if Bran is indeed R'hllor, that would add more credence to the theory that Jon—or Daenerys—is the Prince(ss) That Was Promised.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.comMinor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for Esquire.com
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