Fairies and ‘A Game of Thrones’


Strangehistory.net has been one of my daily reads for a long while now. The pseudonymous author, “Dr. Beachcombing”, digs deeply into the bedrock of history and folklore to find all kinds of hidden gems: Tales of Native Americans in Europe, stories of killer cats – you name it. If you like odd stuff, then this is definitely your new favorite website.

Anyway, I was surprised and very pleased to see Dr. Beachcombing tackle A Game of Thrones in a very short post Saturday. The good doctor was apparently “forced” to read the book by his students (Good job, kids!), and much to his surprise he’s enjoyed it enough to write a little bit about parallels between the AGOT’s “Children of the Forest” and the fairy myths of ancient Europe. Among other things, Beachcombing compares the Children’s arrowheads with the “elf shot” commonly attributed to fairies, as well as the popular theory that “fairies” are mythologized versions of a displaced aboriginal people. It’s definitely worth a read.

I’ve often speculated about the same links. The Irish had their myths about the Tuatha de Danann, a majestic people beloved of the pagan goddess Danu, as well as the Firbolg, the dark, hairy race of beasts driven out by the Tuatha de Danann upon their arrival in Ireland. Both are considered mythological, but their stories could easily be based on true historical events. While Ireland is associated with the ancient Celts, some historians believe that there was an aboriginal people dwelling on the island before they arrived. Could it be that they were killed (or assimilated) and forgotten over the course of thousands of years?

The comparisons between the fairies and The Children of the Forest aren’t exact, but the similarities are easy to see. I’m glad that Beachcombing has turned his attention to Martin’s great saga, and hope that he’ll continue to examine other aspects of Westerosi culture and myth.