Where Did We Leave Off With The White Walkers On Game Of Thrones?

There's something unquiet on the Northern front. Something unfeeling. Something undead. No, we're not talking about Melisandre. We're talking about the White Walkers, who are certainly going to play a bigger role in Season 7 of Game of Thrones than they ever have before.
To understand most of the conflicts on Game of Thrones, you need a handle on geopolitics, alliances, and family trees. Not so with the White Walkers, that ancient race of ice creatures that threatens utter annihilation (and zombiedom) to the humans of Westeros. The White Walkers were forged from mystical forces found in the land. As the increasingly rational Westerosi veered away from magic, the White Walkers became a fixture of mythology, and not a real threat.
To understand — and defeat — White Walkers, the armies of Westeros will have to accept another body of mystical knowledge. Here's the history of the White Walkers, and what damage we predict they'll cause in the season to come.
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In Season 6, Bran may have opened the floodgates for the White Walkers.

So far, the White Walkers haven’t made too much progress in crossing over to the South. Even though they’d taken some northern territory — Craster’s Keep, Hardhome — the Wall was still protected by magic. But Bran may have opened the door.

In Season 6, Bran was in Warg School in a cave, where the three-eyed raven taught him the limitlessness of his psychic potential. During one lesson, Bran sees the origin of White Walkers. Startled, he touches the heart of the Weirwood and reenters his vision. He ends up in a field of White Walkers.

Though Bran is usually invisible in these visions, the Night King sees Bran. He touches the psychic Stark, and effectively breaks whatever magic seal there was protecting the cave. Then, the White Walkers storm the cave, and kill Hodor, Leaf, and the Three-Eyed Raven. Only Bran and Meera are left alive.

Bran’s little stunt may have destroyed the magic of the Wall, too.
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So, what’s next?

We’ve been able to scrape some details from the trailers for Season 7 of Game of Thrones. So far, it seems the White Walkers and Night King are still firmly north of the wall. In one trailer, after Jon Snow says, “The enemy is real,” we see a sword burst into flames.

Interestingly, Daenerys appears to be in her ancestral home of Dragonstone, which is where most of the world’s dragonglass, an essential ingredient in any good battle against White Walkers, is found. Perhaps Daenerys really is the bringer of light. At the very least, she might be the bringer of dragonglass.
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And now for some history: White Walkers have ravaged Westeros before.

You know how everyone is always whispering about winter coming? Winter, in Westeros, is a much bigger deal than it is here (though New Yorkers in January will tell you otherwise). Not only can winter potentially last two decades, but it paves the way for White Walkers to slide southward into Westeros.

Eight thousand years before six of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros were unified under House Targaryen, the most severe winter in history fell upon Westeros, lasting an entire generation. The cold temperatures and icy conditions made it possible for the White Walkers to descend southward in Westeros, where they killed entire towns and then raised the dead into wights to further their armies. This period is known as the Long Night.
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How were the White Walkers defeated?

At this point in pre-history, the First Men were engaged in constant warfare with the Children of the Forest. In fact, the White Walkers were created by the Children of the Forest as weapons to use against the men.

The White Walkers were only defeated once the First Men and the Children of the Forest teamed up during the War for the Dawn. The White Walkers were defeated and brought back to the north.
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And that, children, is how we got the Wall.

The Wall was constructed to ensure the White Walkers could never cross down to the south side of the tracks. The Children of the Forest fortified the Wall with spells, giving the Wall the same protection from White Walkers that Bran’s cave in Season 6 had.

Though in recent history the Night’s Watch spent their days throwing slurs at wildlings, the ancient order was formed to protect the Wall should the icy army ever gear up for an invasion — like they’re doing now.
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The Lightbringer is prophesied to defeat the White Walkers, should they return.

Despite the Children of the Forest's protection, one prophecy claimed that the White Walkers would inevitably return.

The religion of the Lord of Light predicts that one person, the Prince that was Promised, would come to lead the war against the Walkers. The Prince is a reincarnation of Azor Ahai, a legendary warrior who wielded a sword called Lightbringer and liberated Westeros from darkness.

We're not sure who the individual sent to save Westeros from darkness is quite yet. Melisandre thinks the Prince is Jon Snow; another priestess in Volantis believes the Lord of Light to be Daenerys.
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Up until this point, the White Walkers were but a children’s story.

Think back to the first episode of Game of Thrones, when Ned Stark captures Will, a brother who ran away from the Night’s Watch. Petrified with fear, Will raves about how White Walkers killed his entire patrol, and a village of wildlings. Ned doesn’t believe his story and executes Will as a deserter.

Throughout Season 1, mentions of White Walkers from people like Osha or fearful brothers of the Night’s Watch are largely discounted. Only Lord Commander Mormont recognizes that war in the South pales in comparison to the threat that White Walkers pose — and will pose in the seasons to come, as we’ll see.
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The White Walker’s kryptonite.

The White Walkers are virtually impossible to kill. Like Snow Miser, they freeze anything they touch. They have superhuman strength, and forge swords from ice crystals. They are resistant to flames. Perhaps most useful for them, and most dangerous for the rest of Westeros, is their ability to revive dead mammals as wights.

Against this hefty stack of powers is one big weakness: White Walkers instantly freeze and shatter upon being struck with dragonglass (a.k.a. obsidian) or Valyrian steel. Any Westerosi looking to make a buck off the incoming war should start buying stock in obsidian mines.
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An aside: Wights vs. White Walkers

Think of wights as the zombie servant class. Raised from the dead, these corpses exist to serve their masters. They can only be killed by fire, or by breaking them apart. So far, only the Night King is able to turn humans straight into White Walkers.

Whereas all wights are alike, White Walkers have have two classes. The elite White Walkers wear black armor, and are ruled by the Night King. It’s unclear whether these elites have increased powers.
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