- "For soldiers, He is Bakkalon the Pale Child."
- ―Jaqen H'ghar
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, little is said of Bakkalon other than that his statue stands in the House of Black and White, and that he is favored by soldiers. It hasn't been mentioned where the cult originated, how popular it is, or where it is most popular.
The mention of Bakkalon in the novels is an inside reference to "The Thousand Worlds", a science fiction universe also created by George R.R. Martin. Bakkalon is a key figure in his 1975 short story "And Seven Times Never Kill Man!"
Centuries in the future, humanity had spread to colonies on hundreds of different planets and lived in relative peace, but was then invaded by the Hranga, a malevolent alien race which used psychic powers to enslave hordes of other subject races - such as the Fyndii - which they unleashed upon humanity. Human-controlled space was devastated: many planets were destroyed, and others were cut off and reverted to Bronze Age levels of technology. The core human territories eventually managed to turn the tide against the Hranga, and through centuries of horrific warfare drove them to extinction.
This vast destruction visited on humanity left many people embittered and heavily militarized. As a result, they developed a pervasive survivalist mindset and a pathological hatred of all alien races. These groups shunned past religions (specifically Christianity) which were more charitable and tolerant, and went on to develop their own hyper-militaristic and aggressive religion centered around "Bakkalon, the Pale Child". Bakkalon's religion is sort of a warped inverse of Christianity: instead of the peaceful image of the infant Christ, the infant Bakkalon is depicted holding a sword; instead of toleration, Bakkalon's religion openly considers all non-humans to be "soulless", and not just suggests but directly commands its followers to openly commit genocide against every intelligent alien race they come into contact with. Bakkalon is associated with wolves, in self-conscious contrast to the Lamb imagery often used with Christ, and the followers of Bakkalon now see themselves as on a holy crusade to eradicate all non-human sentient species in the universe-the irony, of course, being that this makes them exactly like the Hranga, which they either don't realize or simply don't care about.
A lengthy excerpt from one of Bakkalon's holy texts gives an admittedly skewed version of historical events:
- "In those days much evil had come upon the seed of Earth, for the children of Bakkalon had abandoned Him to bow to softer gods. So their skies grew dark and upon them from above came the Sons of Hranga with red eyes and demon teeth, and upon them from below came the vast Horde of Fyndii like a cloud of locusts that blotted out the stars. And the worlds flamed, and the children cried out, 'Save us! Save us!'
- "And the pale child came and stood before them, with His great sword in His hand, and in a voice like thunder He rebuked them. 'You have been weak children,' He told them, 'for you have disobeyed. Where are your swords? Did I not set swords in your hands?'
- "And the children cried out, 'We have beaten them into plowshares, oh Bakkalon!'
- "And He was sore angry. 'With plowshares, then, shall you face the Sons of Hranga! With plowshares shall you slay the Horde of Fyndii!' And He left them, and heard no more their weeping, for the Heart of Bakkalon is a Heart of Fire.
- "But then one among the seed of Earth dried his tears, for the skies did burn so bright that they ran scalding on his cheeks. And the bloodlust rose in him and he beat his plowshare back into a sword, and charged the Sons of Hranga, slaying as he went. Then others saw, and followed, and a great battle-cry rang across the worlds.
- "And the pale child heard, and came again, for the sound of battle is more pleasing to his ears than the sound of wails. And when He saw, He smiled. 'Now you are my children again,' He said to the seed of Earth. 'For you had turned against me to worship a god who calls himself a Lamb, but did you not know that lambs go only to the slaughter? Yet now your eyes have cleared, and again you are the Wolves of God!'
- "And Bakkalon gave them all swords again, all His children and all the seed of Earth, and He lifted his great black blade, the Demon-Reaver that slays the soulless, and swung it. And the Sons of Hranga fell before His might, and the great Horde that was the Fyndii burned beneath His gaze. And the children of Bakkalon swept across the worlds."
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