Over the course of seven seasons on "Game of Thrones," the people (and frozen undead armies) of Westeros have gone to extraordinary lengths to vanquish their opponents. They've brutally murdered pregnant women, burned innocent young girls at the stake, poisoned pubescent psychopath grooms and fed bad guys to their ravenous dogs.
Reading is pretty low on the list of priorities, well below "make a pie from Walder Frey's dead sons and then feed it to him" and "capture a wight and then bring it back to Cersei in King's Landing so she'll believe us about the whole zombie thing."
But it turns out maybe all anyone needed to do was get a library card.
Consider Samwell Tarly.
During an unglamorous and seemingly uneventful stint at the Citadel this season, everyone's favorite maester-in-training has learned a good deal more than how to empty befouled chamber pots and rock a neutral linen tunic. Sam has discovered (and in one case, man-terrupted right past) many of Westeros' greatest secrets just sitting there at the library.
Are "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss trying to comment about the human tendency to resort to violence and cruelty when the true answer lies in education and literacy? Perhaps! Either that, or they're just running out of episodes and need some quick resolutions.
In any case, here are a few of the critical pieces of information available to anyone in Westeros brave enough to open a book or two:
The whereabouts of a massive dragonglass reserve
While everyone else seems interested in claiming the Iron Throne, Jon Snow has made it a priority to defeat the horde of White Walkers marching (very, very slowly) toward he Wall. If only there were a huge reserve of dragonglass, one of two substances known to kill the undead!
Oh wait, there is!
Sam finds, then steals a book at the Citadel that reveals that Dragonstone, the ancestral home of the Targaryens, sits atop a stockpile of the stuff. Well aware of the horrors beyond the Wall, Sam sends a message-carrying raven to Winterfell to alert Jon.
The remedy for greyscale
At the beginning of the season things looked pretty grim for poor old Jorah Mormont, who'd traveled to Oldtown in search of a cure for his rapidly escalating case of the usually fatal greyscale disease. Instead, he was locked up in a cell at the Citadel, deemed beyond hope of recovery and about to be deported to the Valyrian Islands to die in agony when Sam boldly picked up a copy of "Greyscale for Dummyes" and put it to use. After some truly disgusting scab-picking and the application of ointment, Jorah was cured. When asked by Archmaester Ebrose how he did it, a deadpan Sam replied, "I read the book and followed the instructions." Indeed.
The fact that Rhaegar Targaryen was probably married to Lyanna Stark
In last week's episode, "Eastwatch," Gilly was idly reading aloud from a dusty old record book that listed an annulment for someone named "Prince Ragger" (presumably Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys' brother and Jon Snow's biological father) who then remarried someone else (presumably Lyanna Stark, Jon Snow's biological mother) in a secret ceremony in Dorne. As astute "Game of Thrones" fans immediately realized, this means that Jon Snow may be the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. It's maybe the biggest reveal in the show's history. But it inspired Sam to go on a "poor me" rant about how he's stuck recording High Septon Maynard's bowel movements "while the secrets to defeating the Night King's probably sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere completely ignored." This may be true but, oh, the irony.
So what bombshells lurk in the books Sam nicked from the Citadel last week? Could a copy of "I'm Pregnant By My Twin Brother" by Cersei Lannister or "How to Train a Dragon" by Daenerys Targaryen be among them? Tune in Sunday to find out.