Many of the criticisms levelled at the final HBO season focus on the growing distance between the source books and the television adaptation. However, one powerful moment at the ending of Episode Five just linked directly back to an ominous prophecy from George RR Martin’s pen. Many wondered about that white horse which miraculously (seriously, how?) survived Daenery’s razing of King’s Landing and picked up Arya along the way. It’s not just the Biblical parallels, the image is straight from Quaithe’s warning to Daenerys in the books.
Obviously, the colour of the horse made a striking visual as it stepped in slo-mo through the burning and blackened city.
It also ties in nicely with the Biblical lines about death and a pale horse.
It was also foreshadowed throughout the episode by the carved white wooden horse clutched by the little girl Arya was desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to save. She and the horse almost certainly now represent Arya’s mission to avenge all those killed by Daenerys.
Quaithe of the Shadow, the shadowbinder from Asshai, has not been seen on screen since Season 2 but she features more prominently in the books and she warned Daenerys about just this, as well as Varys and the descriptions of all those who would come for the dragon queen at the end.
Quaithe told Dany; “The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”
The glass candles are mystical dragonglass artefacts which have been reignited by the return of the dragons, but also nicely echo the burning city. The perfumed seneschal now appears to be Varys. But it is the pale mare which now seems to be the signal that the end is coming for Daenerys as her enemies gather.
Some of the book storylines referenced by this prophecy have been cut from the show. The griffin is Jon Connington and the sun’s son is Quentyn Martell. But the kraken is the Greyjoys, the lion is the Lannisters and the dark flame is a priest of R’hllor, the Lord of Light.
Will Osha Greyjoy turn on Daenerys? Will Tyrion admit his faith was misplaced? Will another priest come to anoint the Prince Who Was Promised?
Will Arya kill Daenerys? Why else has the plot brought her to King’s Landing, since, in the end, she decided to turn away from killing Cersei?6