Daenerys’ three dragons are, understandably, the biggest thing to happen in Westeros in centuries. Everyone thought they were good after the last of the Targaryens’ dragons died out, but Dany did the impossible, to paraphrase Jon Snow. Jon has a mythical beast of his own, his direwolf Ghost, although he never seems to bring it with him when he need it. However, dragons and direwolves aren’t the only mythical beasts in the world of Game of Thrones.
Although neither the Song of Ice and Fire books nor the HBO series has devoted much time to the other legendary beasts of Westeros and Essos, there’s still plenty of scattered details. Some of it comes in the form of Old Nan’s stories, and other info is taken straight from the World of Ice and Fire encyclopedia, which was written from the perspective of a wise maester.
Here are a few of the other animals that fill out Game of Thrones’ bestiary, though, admittedly, dragons are probably still the coolest creatures out there. Like, you all saw the Loot Train battle, right?
Manticores are one of the few fantastic beasts we’ve actually seen in Game of Thrones, aside from the dragons and direwolves. Although in Earth mythology the manticore was a fusion of a lion and a bat with a human face, the manticore of Westeros is a deadly bug. Supposedly, they’re found in Essos, living on jungle-filled islands in the Jade Sea. In Season 3, an agent with warlocks of Qarth attempted to use one of the scorpion-like creatures to assassinate Daenerys, but Jorah stepped in. More recently, Oberyn Martell coated his spear in manticore venom during his duel with the Mountain. Oberyn lost, but the manticore eventually got him the delayed, posthumous kill.
2. Giant Ice Spiders
Legends of the Long Night say that the White Walkers hunted men with packs of ice spiders that were “big as hounds,” according to Old Nan. In Season 5, the wildlings at Hardhome briefly discussed these horrible arachnids that supposedly live north of the Wall and in the Lands of Always Winter. The Thenn elder Loboda dismissed them as mere myth, but as Karsi notes, if the White Walkers are real, why not ice spiders?
House Greyjoy boasts a golden Kraken as its sigil, but there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of the giant cephalopods in recent times. In the third book, A Storm of Swords, Varys mentions that an Ibbenese whaling ship had been sunk by a Kraken off of the Fingers to the east of the Vale, but Tywin Lannister brushes him off. Still, given that there’s so much unknown about the dry-land world of Game of Thrones, one can only assume there are such horrors lurking in the ocean’s depths.
Shadowcats are perhaps the most mundane animal on this list, at least to Westerosi, but they’re still mythic beasts by our standards. They’re somewhat of a cross between tigers, mountain lions, and lynx, boasting a black coat and white stripes. Shadowcats live north of the Wall, as well as in mountains in the northern Riverlands and the Vale. Shadowcat fur is especially warm and often turned into clothing known as shadowskin.
Unicorns definitely exist in Westeros, but they’re still pretty rare. Legend says that lords on the island of Skagos, to the east of the continent, rode big, shaggy unicorns to battle in ancient time, but the books present more recent, concrete proof of their existence. One of the wildlings offered up a helmet made from a unicorn skull while passing south of the wall, and it’s implied that Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, hunted one up north.
6. Old Men of the River
These truly gigantic, horned turtles live in the massive river Rhoyne in Essos. Long, long before the time of Game of Thrones, the Rhoynar people believed these massive reptiles to be sacred and thought the Old Men of the River were consorts of Mother Rhoyne, their god. The Rhoynar were essentially wiped out by Valeriya (one of the many wars between the two civilizations actually started when the Valerians killed one of the turtles), but the Old Men of the River can still be found in the Rhoyne in the present day.
7. Sea Dragons
It’s possible that sea dragons are even more mythical than normal dragons, although they haven’t played nearly as big a part in the history of Westeros. There haven’t been any sightings in millennia, according to the Citadel, but one sea dragon in particular, Nagga, plays an important role in Ironborn history. The legendary ruler of the Iron Islands, the Grey King, supposedly slewed Nagga during the Age of Heroes with the aid of the Drowned God. Nagga was big enough to feast on whales, and the Grey King turned its bones into his great hall and throne.
8. Ice Dragons
Ice dragons, another fixture of Old Nan’s stories, aren’t just a colder version of normal dragons. Supposedly, they’re made of living ice and are significantly larger than Valeryian dragons — which, remember, can already grow to be truly massive. They’re said to live in the Shivering Sea and the White Waste — the unexplored, frigid ice and ocean to the east of Westeros and the north of Essos.