The White Walkers in A Song of Ice and Fire are an extremely mysterious enemy. They are used in an interesting way in the stories because the audience knows and recognizes the horror that could be happening, but not many other people do. At the same time while the audience knows they exist and knows that they are going to do bad things we do not know their motivation. There seems to be a force driving them forward, but is there a larger evil or is it just a general lust for destruction. It does create a sense of mystery in the show and a lot of tension because as all these things are happening on one side we know something big is brewing on the other side.
Myth and Stories
The story of the White Walkers is that they are from the time of the First Men and the Children of the Forest, eight thousand years before where we are now in the story. It is no wonder that stories of the White Walkers have vanished into fairy tales. No one has seen one in thousand of years and they live in a time where the mystical and magic does not really exist. Of course recently dragons have returned to the world, so who knows what could happen. As well as the fact that recently the Night’s Watch has been seeing the White Walkers wandering around, even if they have forgotten. Most in the Night’s Watch does not know the reason that the wall was built in the first place and, until recently, none have heard the signal for White Walkers. We often pass down history by telling stories, but as time passes and the evidence of the stories fade away they move into myth and legend. Until they reach a point that they are just fairy tales told to children, and that is when the return can cause the most trouble.
Winter is Coming
The fact that the White Walkers do best in the cold and dark means that winter is the best time for them to make their move. Westeros has just finished with a long summer and that means that most likely it will be a long winter, which means the perfect opportunity for White Walkers to spread. The interesting part is that we as the audience know it is coming, we do not know when, but we see things stir and everything is moving forward. For the most part people are more worried about the Iron Throne and who is calling themselves King then about the fact that it is the beginning of the end of everything. If the White Walkers make it beyond the wall there is not enough Valyrian Steel left to stop them.
So far the only person who has come to help defend the wall is Stannis and that is due to Davos, as well as Melisandre. At the same time Stannis is not Azor Ahai, who seems to be the one that can battle the darkness. There are prophecies that seem to indicate that Azor Ahai is the chosen by the Lord of Light to fight the darkness. There are definite indications that seem to say the darkness is the White Walkers, although we do not know if there is something more to the White Walkers then just the mindless destruction and creation of wights (basically zombies). One thing that David and I have often said is that what really needs to happen is that Daenerys needs to get to the wall with her dragons because we are pretty sure that in a fight between Dragons and White Walklers the dragons will win.