‘Game of Thrones’: Azor Ahai, the “Prince That Was Promised,” Explained

     July 24, 2017

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Be aware this post has spoilers through A Dance with Dragons and ‘Stormborn’.

Euron’s big surprise attack may have left Dany’s fleet in flames, but Game of Thrones dropped some even bigger bombs in “Stormborn” when Melissandre made her way to Dragonstone and we learned some key new information about the prophecy of Azor Ahai. Fans have been speculating on the identity of the prophesied savior for years, indeed, it’s one of the longest-running and most debated theories in the fandom, and the Mother of Dragons has long been considered the strongest contender. So did last night’s reveals further cement that theory, or make things even more complicated? Well, a little bit of both.

Who is Azor Ahai? Let’s do a quick recap. Thousands of years ago, The Great Others (Imagine White Walkers riding giant dead spiders) ravaged the realm until the legendary warrior Azor Ahai laid waste to their forces and saved the world from eternal winter. Legend has it that Azor Ahai became the savior of the Seven Kingdoms and led mankind to vanquish the Great Others by forging a flaming hero’s sword called Lightbringer, and in order to unleash the weapon’s full power, he had to plunge it through the heart of his beloved wife. Prophecy states that another Long Night is coming and with it, Azor Ahai will be reborn to battle the forces of darkness again once again. There’s a lot of debate as to whether that means Azor Ahai himself will be reincarnated, or if it just means a new leader will be born to save the human race, or possibly both, which means that though the term Azor Ahai and Prince Who Was Promised are sometimes used interchangeably, they may actually be two different people.

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Image via HBO

This is where last night’s big meet up between Dany and Melissandre offered a couple game-changing insights to the theory. For one, Missandei corrected Melissandre’s translation — the High Valeryian word in the prophecy is gender neutral, meaning it can be read as the Prince or Princess that was promised. This was stated by Aemon in the books, and now ithard confirmed, which means Dany very much in the running and just become the most likely candidate. The other significant moment is when Melissandre says both Daenerys and Jon Snow may factor in. “I believe you have a role to play,” Melisandre says. “As does another: the King in the North, Jon Snow.” This is a huge diversion from the standard reading of the prophecy, and the first time there’s been a clear suggestion that we might not be looking for the classic “chosen one” trope, but a more complicated reading of the prophecies.

Before we go any further, you should probably know just what those prophecies about Azor Ahai and the Prince That Was Promised say. Here are the two key pieces of text.

The first:

“There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”

The second:

“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.”

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Image via HBO

The legend of Azor Ahai is scattered throughout the books, but in the series, we’ve mostly heard of him through Melissandre, the devout priestess and servant of The Lord of Light who is extremely powerful (shadow assassin, resurrecting the dead, etc) but generally kind of gets a whole lot wrong. Melissandre first believed Stannis was Azor Ahai, hence all the horrific sacrifices (RIP Shireen), but when Stannis was soundly defeated on the battlefield, she turned her attentions to Jon Snow. Now, she has fixed her sights on Dany as well.

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