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By what power, is resurrection granted?

Known resurrections:

  • Thoros of Myr has resurrected Beric Dondarrion, no less than 6 times, but only after he lost his faith, indicating friendship is the key factor.

  • Qyburn raised The Mountain. He's speculated to be undead, rather than alive, but he's walking and sentient, none the less. Qyburn is an ex-maester, and by no means religious.

  • In Season 6 of the TV show but not the books (not up to A Dance With Dragons):

  • Melisandre resurrects Jon Snow; she repeats the spell over and over, but nothing happens, until she utters the word "Please!", indicating she beseeched Jon to raise himself rather than asking her god.
  • Benjen Stark was resurrected by the Children of the Forest and maintains his sentience and ability to speak

  • In the books but not the TV show (not up to episode 9 of Season 6):

Beric Dondarrion passed his life force to Lady Stoneheart while the red preist Thorros watched

So, do gods really play a role in resurrecting people? If not, what does?

An even more extreme example is how wights can be raised. In Season 5 of the TV show but not the books (not up to A Dance With Dragons):

the Night King (maybe all White Walkers) can raise an entire battle field as wights, just by waving his hand...

  • 1
    Your question is 90% about show and it includes events which never happened in books such as Jon's resurrection or "Night's King" raising armies of dead. So what is the purpose of the Books tag in the post? – Aegon Jun 23 '16 at 7:35
  • I've added a couple of missing examples from both the books and TV show, and I've put things that are in one but not the other in spoiler tags so that people who've only followed one of the books or TV show don't see spoilers from the other. – user568458 Jun 23 '16 at 10:04
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The answer is: We do not know yet for sure because this enigma has neither been disclosed in books yet nor has it been been disclosed in Show. Aye that's the worst sort of answer but It is what it is. We gotta wait till new episodes and books to find the answer for sure (For both book and show canons)


Show

Jon's Resurrection: You are assuming that she was asking Jon to come to life, instead of asking her God. There is no evidence for your claim here. If she were to ask Jon, why bother with very long prayer and ritual? If on a cold morning my car does not start and I say "Please start", does it mean that I am asking the car to start on its own accord? It was just a way of expressing her dismay when it did not work as she had planned. Besides, Mel has already confirmed that she does not have the power to do it whenever she wants, R'hllor grants it to her if he wants to.

Night's King Raising Armies of Dead: We do not know much about the others. According to Melisandre, they are spawns of the Great other, the god of darkness whose name must not be uttered. If R'hllor (Lord of light) can grant this gift of resurrection to his followers, I suppose his rival god, Lord of darkness, can bestow a similar gift on his followers.


Books

The two events mentioned above never happened in books. But following two did.

Dondarrion's resurrection: Thoros of Myr did not lose his faith in his god. He never had much faith to begin with. He just followed a ritual following Beric's first death, which he had learnt as a red priest. To his own surprise, Lord of Light gave Beric back. Thoros also agrees he does not have the power, only his God decides who still has some work to do for him and thus sends the dead back.

From A Storm of Swords, Chapter 39, Arya's POV:

“Could you bring back a man without a head?” Arya asked. “Just the once, not six times. Could you?”

I have no magic, child. Only prayers. That first time, his lordship had a hole right through him and blood in his mouth, I knew there was no hope. So when his poor torn chest stopped moving, I gave him the good god’s own kiss to send him on his way. I filled my mouth with fire and breathed the flames inside him, down his throat to lungs and heart and soul. The last kiss it is called, and many a time I saw the old priests bestow it on the Lord’s servants as they died. I had given it a time or two myself, as all priests must. But never before had I felt a dead man shudder as the fire filled him, nor seen his eyes come open. It was not me who raised him, my lady. It was the Lord. R’hllor is not done with him yet. Life is warmth, and warmth is fire, and fire is God’s and God’s alone.”

Mountain's resurrection: Qyburn was stripped of his chain because he dabbled in study of necromancy and vivisection. But Qyburn learnt enough of the art to reanimate The Mountain. Qyburn's knowledge appears to be a combination of both magic and science. We can not say if the Mountain ever died in the first place. Qyburn might have found a way to keep him alive even after his head was sent to Dorne. Cersei noted that even at that time Qyburn was still experimenting and some foul thing was screaming in his chambers.

There are different sorts of magic in World of Ice and Fire. The Red Priests have their own magic, Children of Forest have their own magic, Valyrians had their own blood magic, Warlocks have their own magic etc etc. All these different types do not necessarily lead to one common source. We do not even know if gods are real in WOIAF or not but one thing is clear; the powers are real enough.

  • IIRC the mountain never died. Sure, they cut off his head and sent it to Dorne, but when the Mountain was handed over to Qyburn he was still alive, wasn't he. So we don't know for certain if Mountain ever died. The more interesting questions would be when and how he died. Did the poison ever finish its work? Was he killed when his head was cut off? Has his body, at any point in time, ever had two heads simultaneously? Qyburns doings are very unique compared to everything we ever enounter in ASOIAF, I think. Is he a pure scientist, or some dark wizard? Is he who he pretends to be? – user1129682 Jun 23 '16 at 12:19
  • @user1129682 Precisely which is why I noted that We do not know if Mountain died in the first place. Qyburn does talk about magic (while discussing Prophecy of Maege and poison used by Oberyn) and super natural beliefs such as in spirits, but we do not know enough about his procedures to make an assumption. – Aegon Jun 23 '16 at 12:21

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