13

In Game of Thrones, Old Nan recounts the story of the last hero, which mentions the Others had ice spiders:

And the Others smelled the hot blood in him and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds

As of A Dance With Dragons, we have not seen any of these spiders yet. But presumably we will see one eventually (?) as Sam mentions reading about them a few times, and I believe Jon has a dream about defending the Wall against foes scampering up the side.

Up to this point in the story, what do we know about these creatures, and what evidence (or foreshadowing) do we have for their existence?

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    Personally, I can't remember reading anything about ice spiders beyond what you have already mentioned. – TLP May 21 '14 at 15:44
  • And AWOIAF has no other accounts either. – System Down May 21 '14 at 18:28
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    Sam also mentions to Jon (a feast for Crows) that he read about the Others and their Ice-Spiders, but all he knew about them was that they existed... – Möoz May 26 '14 at 3:03
  • As for what foreshadowing do we have, I think you included it all in your question – childcat15 Jun 17 '15 at 16:23
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There is a mention of them on The World of Ice and Fire, where we learn that there were tales (hard to credit) about creatures known as the Others. Some of those tales claim that they rode ice spiders.

The exact quote:

Yet there are other tales - harder to credit and yet more central to the old histories - about creatures known as the Others. According to these tales, they came from the frozen Land of Always Winter, bringing the cold and darkness with them as they sought out to extinguish all light and warmth. The tales go on to say they rode monstrous ice spiders and the horses of the dead, resurrected to serve them, just as they resurrected dead men to fight on their behalf.

-- page 11

There is also this picture:

enter image description here

There is another mention of the ice spiders, on the TV Show (still only rumor). On episode S05E09 - Hardhome. It is said that legends said that dragonglass can kill the White Walkers, but Loboda says that the same legends say that the White Walkers also had Ice Spiders.

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2

We don't really know anything of them, or even if they ever existed; like the Others they are a legend in modern day Westeros. Apart from the quote you mention from Old Nan, other people have told similar tales of the ice spiders.

The white walkers of the wood, the cold shadows, the monsters of the tales that made him squeak and tremble as a boy, riding their giant ice-spiders, hungry for blood...
A Storm of Swords, Samwell I

The one that killed Small Paul was riding a dead horse, so that part's plainly true. Some accounts speak of giant ice spiders too. I don't know what those are.
A Feast for Crows, Samwell I

The tales go on to say they rode monstrous ice spiders and the horses of the dead, resurrected to serve them, just as they resurrected dead men to fight on their behalf.
The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Long Night

Other than that from Old Nan's tales we hear that they are as "big as hounds" which Bran later recounts.

All Bran could think of was Old Nan's story of the Others and the last hero, hounded through the white woods by dead men and spiders big as hounds.
A Game of Thrones, Bran IV

As for if there is any foreshadowing for this event, in the dream you mention that Jon has he mentions people climbing the ice like spiders.

Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. "Snow," an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she'd appeared.
A Dance with Dragons, Jon XII

This one is quite a leap and is probably just nothing but it could be a very subtle hint for the ice spiders.

"I had been given to understand that those castles were ruins. Dismal places, bleak and cold, hardly more than heaps of rubble. At Eastwatch we heard talk of rats and spiders."
The cold will have killed the spiders by now, thought Jon, and the rats may be a useful source of meat come winter. "All true, Your Grace … but even ruins offer some shelter. And the Wall will stand between them and the Others."
A Dance with Dragons, Jon XI

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(A show based answer, don't know if the S6E5 revelation will happen in the 6th book)

Giants and Children of the Forest were known to exist long before the White Walkers appeared, but in every quote I could find it is always said that the Spiders came with the Walkers.

In that darkness the White Walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders big as hounds. [S1E3, Old Nan to Bran]

And the quote in the answer provided by Shevliaskovic.

Since we now know that [S6E5 spoiler]

the Walkers were created by Children of The Forest

it would make no sense for the Spiders to suddenly pop up. Unless they were created for/by Walkers, which would be a task of too much effort, since they can already resurrect horses for riding and wights already give huge advantage in warfare (every lost man becomes wight).

They are either exaggerated stories created by George Martin, or it's possible that the tales are true - they could have been made for some important unknown purposes, or the spiders revealing their existence at the time of Walkers is one of those timing coincidences that always happen in the show:

[Season 6 spoilers]

Jorah encountering Tyrion in a brothel of Volantis; Jaime and Bron rescuing Myrcella just as Oberin's daughters attack; Arya and Brienne meeting in wilderness; Brienne rescuing Sansa from attackers; Arya stumbling onto Meryn Trant in Bravos

If they still exist, they must come up with a good reason for the Walkers not using them earlier. A theory is that they could be used to climb the Wall.

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    The question is tagged with a-song-of-ice-and-fire. ASOIAF and Show are two completely different things now. – Aegon Jun 3 '16 at 10:16
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    @Aegon is correct: the question concerns the book series aSoIaF, but this answer is only about the TV series GoT. I suggest you edit this answer, either to make it more book-based or to say "in the TV show, [...]" with some evidence that the same may be true in the books. Welcome to SFF, by the way :-) – Rand al'Thor Jun 3 '16 at 10:45
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Ice dragons are described as having translucent wings and being massive. I reckon their wings would look like spider legs with the wing membrane being translucent. My hunch is that the giant ice spiders are actually ice dragons.

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    The image from the novel in the accepted answer clearly shows that it is a spider, and not a dragon. – Simpleton Jun 30 '18 at 4:14
  • The images are based on just a few mentions of them. The books are all about misinterpretation of legends. – Davos Johnsno Jun 30 '18 at 7:49
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Could The Others being turning Craster's sons into "ice spiders"? That would be quite creepy. I'm sure many others sacrificed to the White Walkers in the past. I mean in the show The Night King turned one of the babies into a blue-eyed something. Can't be a baby White Walker or wight. Based on the show, three White Walkers have been killed; one by Samwell, one by Jon, and one by Meera. Their numbers are dwindling...if they were turning Craster's into Others, wouldn't there be quite the number of WW. Those sons are being magically changed into something.

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    Do you have any support for this? – Adamant Dec 22 '16 at 18:41
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    The show made the origin of the White Walkers very clear. This, along with the Night King / baby scene strongly implies Craster's sons were being changed into White Walkers. Not wights or ice spiders. – Justin Ethier Dec 22 '16 at 18:53

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