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I have been watching the TV Show and read a couple books years (decades?) ago so my memory is hazy, and I've been wondering: what sort of undead are wights?

We know they can be killed by fire, but can they also be killed, zombie-like, by breaking their skull or other relevant body parts?

Also, the show often presents mostly-bones undeads, which should "mechanically" be unable to move much, do those appear in the books too?

If any body remnant can be made undead anyway, is there any point in fighting them without specialized instruments (e.g. flaming swords or arrows)?

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    The tv-show has deviated from how the books describe wights. There are no skeleton-wights in the books, and all the wights move slowly and are clumsy. – TLP Jun 5 '15 at 10:44
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    How do Wights work? Very well, thank you. – Paul D. Waite Jun 22 '15 at 23:30
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No corpses so far. Wights in the books are described as having pale flesh, pale blue eyes, black hands. They greatly differ from classic Romero type zombies. A headless wight or wight's severed arm still poses a threat. So there are no other way to kill the wight, except the fire.

ADWD, chapter 13, Bran. This chapter is a good source, it has all the answers for your questions.

All around him, wights were rising from beneath the snow. Two, three, four. Bran lost count. They surged up violently amidst sudden clouds of snow. Some wore black cloaks, some ragged skins, some nothing. All of them had pale flesh and black hands. Their eyes glowed like pale blue starts.

...

Bran filled a fist with snow and threw it, but the wight did bot so much as blink. A black hand fumbled at his face, another at his belly. Its fingers felt like iron. He's going to pull my guts out. But suddenly Summer was between them. Bran glimpsed skin tear like cheap cloth, heard the splintering of bone. He saw a hand and wrist rip loose, pale fingers wriggling, the sleeve faded black roughspun. Black, he thought, he's wearing black, he was one of the Watch. Summer flung the arm aside, twisted, and sank his teeth into the dead man;s neck under the chin. When the big grey wolf wrenched free, he took most of the creature's throat out in an explosion of pale rotten meat. The severed hand was still moving. Bran rolled away from it

...

"Hoooodor" came whimper, from somewhere down below. And suddenly he was not Bran, the broken boy crawling through the snow, suddenly he was Hodor halfway down the hill, with the wight raking at his eyes. Roaring, he came lurching to his feet, throwing the thing violently aside. It went to one knee, began to rise again. Bran ripped Hodor's longsword from his belt. Deep inside he could hear poor Hodor whimpering still, but outside he was seven feet of fury with old iron in his hand. He raised the sword and brought it down upon the dead man, grunting as the blade sheared through wet wool and rusted mail and rotted leather, biting deep into the bones and flesh beneath. "Hodor!" he bellowed, and slashed again. This time he took the wight's head off at the nek, and for a half moment he exulted... until a pair of dead hands came groping blindly for his throat.

  • The show is inconsistent even within itself - during the Hardhome battle, some wights were taken down with only the stab of a sword. Others shrugged off blades left & right. Either way, though, it's obvious that they're animated by magic and not muscle. – Omegacron Jun 5 '15 at 18:28
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    @Omegacron: You could argue that those hits were slowing them down, rather than killing them, and the obvious goal was to buy some time for the mass of wildlings to evacuate rather than to somehow "win" that fight. – user46271 Jun 6 '15 at 7:46
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    It looked like, the less decayed the corpse when it was raised, the harder it was to slow down - the mostly skeletal ones seemed pretty easy to knock down while the fresh and fleshy ones seemed to keep on coming (I'm being very charitable here though...) – user568458 Jun 7 '15 at 8:16
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As of yet we only know of 5 sure fire(pun intended) ways to kill a wight:

  • Fire: Burning them will kill them, first seen in Season 1 Episode 8, "The Pointy End", when one attacks Lord Commander Mormont.

  • Dragonglass: Stabbing them with Dragonglass seems to do the trick, this is pointed(pun intended) out by Jon to Cersei and the group when showing them the wight.

    We can destroy them by burning them. And we can destroy them with dragonglass.
    Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 7, "The Dragon and the Wolf"

  • Valyrian Steel: Shown in various locations with Jon stabbing wights with his sword Longclaw.

  • Killing the White Walker who turned them: Shown in Season 7 Episode 7, "Beyond the Wall", when the merry men capture a wight.

    When you killed the white walker, almost all the dead that followed it fell. Why?
    Maybe he was the one who turned them.
    Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 6, "Beyond the Wall"

  • Dragonfire: Shown in Season 7 Episode 7, "Beyond the Wall", when Dany shows up to save the merry men:

As for is there any point fighting the wights with ordinary means well it appears the answer is no. In the first linked clip the wight attacking Jon manages to survive being stabbed a few times, the stabbing only slows it down. Also in Season 7 Episode 7, "The Dragon and the Wolf", the wight has it's hand chopped off, which still appears to move, and is chopped in half yet still moves. It is only finally killed when stabbed with Dragonglass.

As for how they work, well they appear to be normal wight type creatures, reanimated flesh who are ruled by the bidding of those that turned them. They do seem to have some sort of memory and decision making skills of their own though.

Lastly, as for how they are created well it seems via magic. We see at Hardhome the Night King turn lots of dead all at once.

  • Most of your vids are dead – Jenayah Apr 22 at 17:24

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