The Long Night

The Long Night happened about eight thousand years before Aegon’s Conquest, during the Age of Heroes, and lasted an entire generation.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

The Long Night was a time when darkness overshadowed the world. During this time, mysterious creatures called the Others came from the Land of Always Winter and caused destruction on a massive scale. It happened about eight thousand years before Aegon’s Conquest, during the Age of Heroes, and lasted an entire generation.

Westerosi Legends

According to uncited sources in Westeros, eight thousand years before the arrival of the Targaryens, a great night overcame the world. In the wake of that darkness were creatures of demonic appearance from the Land of Always Winter called the Others. They wielded swords of thin ice and marched south. As they could reanimate the dead into reanimated wights, they ravaged Westeros, killing everything in their wake. 

Though the First Men teamed with the Children of the Forest, they were no match for the ferocious ice beasts. However, hope smiled in the realm of the living as a mysterious weapon called dragonglass got discovered. With the unique ability to kill the Others at the grasp of men, a legendary hero, called the Last Hero, arose and led a faction of warriors to join the Children of the Forest and in a fierce war called the Battle for the Dawn, the Others got chased back to the Land of Always Winter. 

To prevent the Others from returning, Bran the Builder, the legendary creator of House Stark, teamed with the Children of the Forest and Giants to build a massive barrier made from ice and woven with magic. It stretched from the Gorge to the Shivering Sea and became the Wall, and the First Men who fought against the night became the brothers of the Night’s Watch.

Essosi Legends

Yi Ti

According to Yi Ti legends, the Lion of Night fathered a child with the Maiden-Made-of-Light called God-on-Earth. He ruled as the first emperor of the Great Empire of the Dawn. However, thousands of years later, the brother of the Amethyst Empress, descendants of the God-on-Earth, killed his sister and took her throne in what became the Blood Betrayal. Ashamed by the act, the Maiden-Made-of-Light turned her back on humanity, and her husband, the Lion of Night, rained his wrath on the world by inflicting a great cold night. The crisis continued until a woman with a monkey’s tale averted the terrors of the Lion of Night.


According to the Rhoynar, when the darkness came upon the world, the mighty Rhoyne River froze as far as modern-day Myr and Tyrosh. From Rhoynish legends, a single hero pleaded with Mother Rhoyne and her children, the Crab King and the Old Man of the River, to sing a song for the sun when the Long Night came upon the world. 


In the far eastern city of Asshai, the legend of the Long Night resembles that of Westerosi legends. When the night came upon the world, a great hero called Azor Ahai wielded a flaming sword called Lightbringer in the battle against the darkness. According to texts from R’hllor, the Lord of Light, the Long Night will return, and the Azor Ahai will be reborn to lead the world to victory. Many other traditions have names for the Last Hero, including Hyrkoon the Hero, Neferion, Eldric Shadowchaser, and Yin Tar.

Relevance in Adaptation

In HBO’s tv show Game of Thrones, the Long Night was an episode that dived into the forgotten history of Westeros. When Catelyn Stark leaves for King’s Landing, Old Nan sits beside Bran Stark. When he asks her to tell him a story, she calls him a sweet summer child and tells him of the great disaster called the Long Night. She narrates how the night came with creatures called the White Walkers. 

Later, when Stannis Baratheon marches for Winterfell, Melisandre of Asshai tells him to sacrifice his daughter Shireen so he can become King when the Long Night arrives. Lord Commander Jon Snow travels with Tormund to Hardhome to convince the Free Folk to leave for Castle Black, and before he departs, the White Walkers arrive, killing many wildlings. After Jon becomes King in the North, he joins Daenerys Targaryen and his sister Sansa Stark to fight against the Night King. 

As the White Walkers march on Winterfell, Melisandre tells Jorah Mormont to order the Dothraki to raise their swords as she prays. Their arakhs burst into flames as they ride out against the White Walkers. However, their chants turn into terror as they get killed. As the battle rages, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Samwell Tarly, Brienne of Tarth, Arya Stark, Lyanna Mormont, Grey Worm, and others fight at their positions. Daenerys and Jon ride their dragons, incinerating many wights. Later, Arya confronts the Night King and almost gets killed. However, she ends him with her Valyrian Steel dagger, ending the battle.

Long Night: A Time of Dread

Though the authenticity of the Long Night has never gotten proven in A Song of Ice and Fire, the event brings some clues to many mysteries of George R. R. Martin’s world. First, it is a crucial link that might likely connect the fantasy aspects of Martin’s world with the political as it seems to be the historical point where the magic began. A strong argument as to why the Long Night never got explored by Martin is that it may reoccur in the current world of A Song of Ice and Fire. If this happens, it will answer many questions regarding magic, the mythical beings of Westeros, and those with special abilities like greensight.


Did the Children of the Forest create the Others in the books?

According to the lore of the Long Night, the Others mysteriously appeared from the Land of Always Winter. No records prove the Children of the Forest created the creatures, and according to the story, the Children fought against the Others with the First Men.

Who was the Last Hero?

Known by many names in many cultures, the Last Hero was a man who took some men on a perilous journey North to find the Children of the forest and seek their help. According to legends, he wielded a special sword that killed the Others.

Did the Long Night engulf the world?

Yes. The Long Night was a global event that overshadowed the known world. Tales of its occurrence passed down for generations from Westeros to the far eastern cities of Essos.

Would the Long Night happen again?

Following the storyline of A Song of Ice and Fire, it is evident that a great night will come upon Westeros. As the cold is coming and the Others and wights are making their move in ‘A Dance with Dragons,’ another Long Night lingers on the doorsteps of the known world.

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