Wights are dead men or creatures raised up by the Others, seemingly when touched by the cold that accompanies them. Anyone who falls against the Others must be burned, or else the dead will rise again as their thralls. Fear of their own dead becoming wights leads the free folk to burn them.
- See also: Images of Wights
The appearance of wights depends entirely on the condition of the corpse when it is raised. Some are lifelike, while others are badly rotten although the process of decay has been halted. All are easily identified by their eyes having turned bright blue like two blue stars and their hands and feet black and swollen with pooled and congealed blood.
Wights are supposedly attracted to warm blood and will attack with surprising strength. Unlike the Others they are slow and clumsy. Wights have a queer, cold scent that can panic animals if they catch a wiff of it. It appears that wights retain at least some of their former memories.
Being dead, wights feel no pain and will continue to fight regardless of injury. Though they can be stopped by total dismemberment, their limbs will continue to move if detached from their bodies. When a wight is destroyed, the blue disappears from its eyes.
Wights appear to be able to remain in a state of stasis, such as outside the hillside entrance to the cave of the three-eyed crow. The snows have buried most of the dead men, but they remain frozen and waiting.
Wights are flammable and will be quickly consumed if set aflame. It is unknown at this time whether wights can cross the Wall on their own, although corpses brought through the Wall can apparently still reanimate as wights. Burning corpses appears to prevent them from being reanimated by the Others to become wights.
A Game of Thrones
Ser Waymar Royce rises as a wight after falling to the Others beyond the Wall and kills Will. Jon Snow rescues Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, from the wight that was Othor; the wight seemed to know where Mormont slept and who he was as it tried to kill him.
A Clash of Kings
Othor's still-moving hand is sent to King's Landing in a jar with Ser Alliser Thorne to impress on the Iron Throne the severity of the threat from beyond the Wall so that the king may send more troops to the Wall. Tyrion Lannister keeps Alliser waiting so long that Othor's hand decomposes, leaving bones, and is therefore unconvincing.
A Storm of Swords
During the fight at the Fist, the Night's Watch is unable to defend against the wights that are sent against them. In a crushing defeat, the majority of the Night's Watch who fight on the Fist are slain by the insurmountable odds. Those who survive are led by Lord Commander Mormont on a grim march back to Craster's Keep. Samwell Tarly notices that there are no attacks by the Others or the wights while they are there.
Coldhands saves Samwell, Gilly and her son when they are beset by wights, some of whom had been men of the Night's Watch. One of those wights is Small Paul, who Samwell tries to stab with a dagger made from dragonglass. The dagger shatters against Small Paul's chainmail.
A Dance with Dragons
After the Battle of Castle Black, the wildling Torwynd dies a few days later from the cold. He rises as a wight and his father Tormund is forced to slay him. Although he is in the body of a wolf, Varamyr Sixskins thinks that the wight of Thistle recognizes him.
Now Lord Commander, Jon Snow consigns some wildling corpses from a weirwood grove in the ice cells of Castle Black, hoping they can be studied when they rise up. Maester Aemon and Samwell Tarly would have understood Jon's actions, but Septon Cellador is horrified. Jon later goes down to the ice cells where they have four living men and two wildling dead men, whom he had almost forgotten. He had hoped to learn something from the bodies, but the corpses remained dead. When Jon decides to move the living men he instructs Bowen Marsh to leave the corpses. Jon thinks he will need to burn them eventually, but for the time being they are bound with iron chains inside the cells to hold them harmless.
Cotter Pyke sails towards Hardhome by the command of Lord Commander Snow. By rescuing the wildlings Jon hopes to prevent the Others from raising an enormous army of wights by killing the thousands of wildlings stranded at Hardhome and raising them as their thralls. When Cotter arrives at Hardhome he sends a report to say there are dead things in the woods and dead things in the water.
A list of individual characters that have been turned into wights over the course of the series:
We've seen the dead come back, you and me, and it’s not something I care to see again.
Samwell: Why don’t they come finish us?Samwell: Yes, but is it the cold that brings the wights, or the wights that bring the cold?
Grenn They only come when it’s cold.
Cellador: Wights are monstrous, unnatural creatures. Abominations before the eyes of the gods. You ... you cannot mean to try to talk with them?
Jon: Monsters they may be, but they were men before they died. How much remains? The one I slew was intent on killing Lord Commander Mormont. Plainly he remembered who he was and where to find him ... My lord father used to tell me that a man must know his enemies. We understand little of the wights and less about the Others. We need to learn.
References and Notes
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 52, Jon VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Prologue.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33, Samwell II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 4, Bran I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 18, Samwell I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, Bran IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI, p 404.
- A Storm of Swords, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon VII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 58, Jon XII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 70, Jon IX.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 28, Jon VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.