As we embark on season 7 of Game of Thrones, it’s time to take a look at one of the clouds looming over the journey to the battle against the White Walkers: What is Azor Ahai and who could it be?
If you’re like me and you haven’t read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice (the official name of the book series) tomes, then you may not have even heard of Azor Ahai or know why it’s important, so let’s start there: What is Azor Ahai?
Azor Ahai is part of the R’hllor, Lord of Light lore. This individual was around thousands of years ago and forged a sword called Lightbringer, which they used to defeat the darkness of the Great Other (aka White Walkers). So, basically we’re talking about a tale of when darkness took over the world and Azor Ahai was the chosen one to defeat it — a battle that sounds particularly striking to what’s been teased in the upcoming seventh season — and he forged Lightbringer (a flaming sword) to do so.
Now, who could this person be?
According to prophecy, Azor Ahai will be (has been?) reborn to take on the darkness once again after cold and darkness descends on the world after a long summer — aka what’s been going on the last six seasons. Melisandre once stated she believed Stannis to be the Azor Ahai, but, of course, we know this is not true. But still, her words ring true of another one:
“When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone. The bleeding star has come and gone, and Dragonstone is the place of smoke and salt.”
That sounds a lot like our Queen of Dragons.
There’s also The Prince That Was Promised, a phrase that often substitutes for Azor Ahai (though some fans will argue they’re two different things). In this prophecy, it is said the Prince would be born from House Targaryen. It’s also worth noting Maester Aemon — the Targaryen who refused the throne and became a maester for The Night’s Watch — has said in High Valyrian (the language the prophecy is in) the word “prince” is actually gender neutral.
In the book A Feast for Crows, Maester Aemon’s dying words confirms the translation mistake and that he believed, with his dying breath, that Daenerys was The Prince That Was Promised:
“No one ever looked for a girl,” he said. “It was a prince that was promised, not a princess… The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it.”
Both Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister have been suggested as The Prince Who Was Promised and are probably the next most likely candidates to take the title if not Daenerys. Jon Snow has done the rebirthed thing and so has Tyrion, though his rebirth is a little more vague; we’re pretty confident in Jon being part Targaryan (J= L+R) but have less proof for Tyrion other than he looks nothing like his siblings (dwarfism aside) and Tywin was adamant until his dying breath he was “no son of [his]” — plus, it should be mentioned he is described as having nearly silver hair, like Daenerys, in the books. The biggest piece of evidence not left to interpretation of Tyrion being the chosen one is the fact that he killed the woman he loved most, something that’s apparently a qualifier to save the world. It could be argued that by training Olly to fight, Jon helped kill Ygritte, the only woman he’s ever loved, but what about Daenerys? She did technically kill Drogo in season one, but the only woman of any significance to her is Missandei, so could it be that she will inadvertently kill her best friend and most trusted adviser? If that doesn’t scream G.R.R.M. then I’m not sure what does.
Like Melisandre, who has a horrible track record so far of being right, many people believe the Azor Ahai is Jon Snow. I know Dany is the obvious choice, and it would be like George R. R. Martin to make someone else (like Tyrion Lannister or Jamie Lannister or even The Hound) the unlikely hero, but perhaps that is the greatest trick of all: deceive the audience so much with tricks and lies that when the answer is right in front of them, they refuse to believe it.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones premieres Sunday, July 16 at 9pm ET on HBO.