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In season one, Jon kills a wight by throwing a lantern at it.

If wights are this easy to kill, why would they be a problem? Wouldn't an army of archers with flaming arrows take care of them?

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Was it the fire or was it the valarian sword? –  Liath Jun 29 at 10:57
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@Liath - He didn't have the Valyrian sword at that stage. And besides, the wight shrugged off being stabbed. –  dwjohnston Jun 29 at 11:02
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I think an army of zombies is quite a threat to the realm, no matter how easily they are defeated :P –  Shevliaskovic Jun 29 at 11:45
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Human armys can also be killed by fire, or in fact by arrows. They still manage to be quite dangerous –  user20310 Jun 29 at 13:43
    
Do you mind answers from the books? –  Mooz Jun 29 at 20:14
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3 Answers 3

The wights aren't really the problem; as you've noted, they can be defeated. The problem, and the reason for the Wall's existence, is the Others (White Walkers in the TV series), who create the wights. They are not so easily killed.

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This is covered better and in more detail by the books. Tormund explains the problem in Chapter 58 of ADWD:

Every nightfall we'd ring our camps with fire. The don't like fire much, and no mistake. When the snows came though... snow and sleet and freezing rain, it's bloody hard to find dry wood to get your kindling lit, and the cold... some nights our fires just seemed to shrivel up and die. Nights like that you always find some dead come the morning. 'Less they find you first.

So yes, fire will kill wights and keep the Others away. If you can even light a fire and manage to keep it going.

Also, keep in mind that

In the book the Night's Watch used flaming arrows against the wights at the Fist of the First Men, and it was not enough. They still needed to make a desperate retreat from the wights.

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Wights come with the harshest winters, when even the fireplaces freeze. When you experience a wight attack, chances are that you will have hard time keeping any fire alive and mobile.

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