What Even Happened to the Mountain? What the Real History of Necromancy Tells Us About That Game of Thrones Fight

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones

With just one episode of Game of Thrones left to go, the show has finally delivered on the long-awaited “Cleganebowl,” between Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane — a fight to the death, or rather both deaths, if the Mountain was even alive in the first place.

That uncertainty may remain indefinitely, at least within the universe of the show, as it seems extremely unlikely that the finale will address the question of just how dead Gregor Clegane was before he became the zombie-like creature he was at the end. Was the Mountain who fought his brother a reanimated corpse or a man saved from the brink of death?

In any case, the man who would know best, Qyburn, can’t deliver the answer. He was also killed in the run-up to the fight.

Qyburn’s own past is something of a mystery too. A maester long before he became Hand to Queen Cersei, he lost his chains for conducting the very work he did on the Mountain, experiments “on dying men,” as he puts it to Jaime Lannister in Season 3. In the following season, after Gregor Clegane is wounded by a poisoned weapon during combat with Oberyn Martell, Cersei gives Qyburn permission to do whatever he must to save him; whatever it is must have been pretty extreme — his screaming is said to be particularly disturbing — and not exactly medical. In the book version of the story (which is a bit different when it comes to this story line), George R.R. Martin writes that Qyburn understands “the black arts” and at another point “black magic.”

Qyburn is also said to have lost his chain, according to rumor, for “dabbling in necromancy.” Can the use of that word tell fans what exactly was going on?

Not really, explains Richard Kieckhefer, a professor of religious studies at Northwestern and author of Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century, as the real-world history of that idea is complex.

“The basic complication here is, What on earth do we mean by necromancy? In the later middle ages and in the early modern era, there are two terms that get confused with each other or conflated,” Kieckhefer tells TIME.

In antiquity, necromancy was the practice of conjuring ghosts in order to predict the future; that’s what the

Source:: Time – Entertainment


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