Thursday, August 22, 2013

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire: History of Westeros-Part 1: The Dawn Age

Many people love Game of Thrones. Many people love A Song of Ice and Fire. Many love both. But there are those who only watch the show or simply don’t feel compelled to research the history before the events they love reading so much about. The history of George R. R. Martin’s universe is extremely long, but terribly fascinating, so I will break it down into the different ages of the world for those who don’t know anything about it. We’ll start off with the Dawn Age…

*Years in Westeros are relative to Aegon’s Landing (AL standing for After Landing), which is treated as the year 0 and all events prior are simply negative numbers*

A greenseer singing the song of the earth
Westeros has been around for a long time. Men were living on Essos while Westeros was still “uninhabited”. In these times, Westeros was populated by different races of magical creatures, most notably giants and the children of the forest. The childern called themselves "those who sing the song of the earth" in the Old Tongue. No historical records were kept by these races, so they became the stuff of legends told by septons and maids. The children of the forest have since disappeared from Westeros, leading the people to believe they were wiped out by the First Men. Nobody knows where they came from or how they got to Westeros. The children worshipped the gods of forest, stream and stone. They relied on the land in order to live. The children carved faces on the weirwood trees in order to have them watch over the land for the children. They had many magical powers, such as having power over animals in the woods, the ability to warg into other creatures (like what Bran Stark can do), the ability to create beautiful music, and greensight, which is having prophetic dreams.

Around -12,000 AL, the First Men came from Essos to Westeros. They crossed a land bridge from the eastern continent into Dorne, called the Arm of Dorne. They wrote their history on runes and spoke the Old Tongue. They came under the leadership of the First King and were said to have found the Seastone Chair, the throne of the Iron Islands, on the shores of Old Wyk. The First Men were the ones who began calling the children of the forest by this name. The Men came into Westeros riding horses and bearing bronze swords and leather shields and their own religion. In order to create room to build for themselves, the First Men burned and cut down forests, including the weirwood trees. This angered the children of the forest so much that they supposedly used their magic to shatter the Arm of Dorne and turn it into a chain of islands now known as the Stepstones.

The Men were much more technologically advanced and numerous then the children of the forest, putting them at a disadvantage. It is said that wars between the two races went on for around 2,000 years and each act of war brought the Men to cut down a weirwood tree. They believed that the greenseers could see through the carved faces on the trees and the Men wanted to take out any spies that the children could use against them. They were absolutely correct about this and it severely cut off the children’s access to their forests.

The largest battle of these wars was the fight that ruined Moat Cailin. In about -10,000 AL, the First Men raised Moat Cailin, which is now the southern-most Northern settlement. At some point, the
Runes of Moat Cailin
children of the forest took over at least part of the hold, probably the Children’s Tower, if not any others. From the top of this tower, the children called upon their gods to send down a terrible rainstorm (known in myths as the “hammer of waters”) to break Westeros at the neck, forming two separate northern and southern continents. The children failed, however, only calling enough rain to flood the Neck and create many bogs and swamps. This act must have impressed the First Men, who were winning the war at the time, and could have been the reason that peace negotiations began shortly after.

Weirwood trees on the Isle of Faces
The First Men and children of the forest both sent wise leaders to the Isle of Faces to attempt to create a peaceful coexistence. Called The Pact, the leaders agreed that the forests would remain the homes of the children, while the Men could claim the rest of Westeros, under the condition that they not cut down any more weirwood trees. The Isle of faces got its name due to the faces carved on every tree. These were carved in order for the gods to see recognize the pact, as the First Men had chosen to accept the religion of the children and worship the same nameless gods (with the exception of the Drowned God on the Iron Islands). The Green Men were established to remain on the island and look over the carved tree. This treaty ended the Dawn Age and established 4,000 years of friendship between the Men and children.

The Pact

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