|Other Names||White Walker|
|Origin||A Song of Ice and Fire|
|Location/Habitat||Westeros, beyond the Land of Always Winter|
|Abilities||Creation of Wights, Frost touch, superhuman strength|
|Threat Level||Very Dangerous|
According to legend, the Others first appeared approximately eight thousand years before the beginning of the series out of the uttermost north. At this time peace reigned in Westeros due to the Pact between the Children of the Forest and the First Men, and they were unprepared for the scale of the invasion. The Others' arrival was preceded by a winter that lasted a generation and a period of darkness known as the Long Night, although it is unclear if this was a literal period of darkness lasting years or merely an artistic term.
The Others overran much of Westeros and proved to be almost unbeatable in combat, able to resurrect fallen enemies and even dead animals as wights to serve them as utterly loyal foot soldiers. The First Men and their allies were pushed back over a long and gruelling war.
Salvation only came with the discovery that obsidian, also called 'dragonglass', could slay the Others, and with the arrival of a mighty hero, known in the east as Azor Ahai, to lead the war. In the War for the Dawn Azhai led the crusade that turned back the Others and saw them banished from Westeros and back into the uttermost north. After the war was concluded, Brandon Stark built a huge wall of ice, known simply as the Wall, to prevent the Others coming south again and founded the Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch to keep guard against this eventuality. During this time, he also established the castle of Winterfell and became the first King in the North.
The children of the forest placed spells within the Wall which were said to prevent the Others from passing under or over it by any means. After the War for the Dawn was concluded, the already small numbers of children slowly declined until they had all disappeared around the time of the Andal invasion.
Over time, the threat of the Others receded and they came to be regarded as either just legends, or a real race long since rendered extinct. However, the Night's Watch remained in place, although it now considered its job to be stopping the wildlings from crossing into the Seven Kingdoms and causing mayhem there.
Starting several years before the War of the Five Kings, the northern-most wildling tribes and the rarely-seen giants of the furthermost north began to suffer attacks from an unknown force. Unable to stand against these forces, they began moving south in ever-greater numbers. The King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, began gathering these forces into one host. Once it became clear the unknown attackers were the Others, returning after millennia, Mance realised that the wildlings could only survive by taking refuge south of the Wall. Aware that the Night's Watch would not listen to reason, Mance planned a massive assault on the Wall. He had also taken possession of a device known as the Horn of Winter, which according to legend could shatter the Wall. He was unwilling to do this since it would also allow the Others to follow them into the Seven Kingdoms, but if there was no other way of breaching the Wall he was prepared to employ it.
Thanks to the efforts of a young steward named Jon Snow, Mance's plan was thwarted and his forces were delayed at the Wall long enough for King Stannis Baratheon's forces to arrive and rout his host. Stannis agreed to allow the surviving wildlings to cross the Wall, but only if they swore fealty to him and agreed to reinforce the Wall and help defend it against the Others. Backroom dealings were made and eventually, reluctantly, they agreed.
The Others are tall, slim humanoids with cold blue eyes and chalk white skin. It is unknown whether they bring the cold and darkness with them, or if they simply choose to show themselves only when it's cold and dark. They wear reflective armour, which was described in the first novel in the series, A Game of Thrones as being eerily beautiful and changing hue depending on how the light catches it, and wield thin, crystal swords.
The Others have the ability to return creatures they slay to life as wights. These wights do not appear to need food or rest and can operate with purpose and some rudimentary intelligence. Unlike the Others themselves, their wights are able to cross the Wall. Their swords and, at least according to the tv series, their touch, can freeze and shatter any object. They also possess superhuman strength.
The Watchers have so far, only appeared at night and in times of great cold. This has led to a belief that they are vulnerable to fire, in particular, extreme heat such as a dragon's breath or sunlight. However, sunlight is only a theory, as they have never been seen in the light to test it. Legends persist that they are vulnerable to "dragonsteel", which may refer to Valyrian steel blades. Currently, the only proven weakness is towards obsidian.