For those who haven’t read the books, you’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard of The Lord of Light, R’hllor, the Prince That Was Promised, Azor Ahai and the like.
But all these names come up in GoT from time to time, and the closer we get to the finish line, the more you need to catch up.
Who is the Lord of Light?
Also known as R’hllor, the Lord of Light is an Eastern deity described as a “fire god”. He’s also known as the Red God, the Heart of Fire and the God of Flame and Shadow. Good for him.
The faith of the Lord of Light is one of the main religions in the Free Cities, but is generally not followed inside Westeros.
People who follow this religion believe in the existence of two deities – as Melisandre (a priestess in the religion) said: “A god of light and love and joy, and a god of darkness, evil, and fear, eternally at war.”
R’hllor is the god of fire – providing light, heat and life – and he fights against darkness, cold and death, represented by the opposite deity: the Great Other.
Followers believe that R’hllor is the “one true god”, and all other gods – such as The Seven (worshipped to a great or lesser degree of fanaticism by southerners like the Lannisters and the Faith Militant) – are demons and false idols.
The religion is focused around prophecy and visions that are found through communion with flames. Melisandre has claimed to see visions of the future from the Lord of Light by staring into fire.
Followers also believe in the coming of a chosen warrior to combat the so-called coming darkness, known as the Prince That Was Promised. This Prince is thought to be the mythical hero Azor Ahai reborn, who will wield the sword Lightbringer. But more on him in a minute.
When has the Lord of Light appeared in Game of Thrones?
In season two, Stannis Baratheon converted to the Lord of Light’s religion under the influence of Red Priestess Melisandre. She believed that Stannis was the chosen servant of the Lord of Light and would be the Prince That Was Promised. He also took the Lord of Light symbol – a flaming heart – as his personal sigil.
Melisandre later seduced Stannis and became pregnant with a shadow creature who went on to murder Stannis’s brother Renly.
In season three, it was revealed that the Brotherhood Without Banners (those roving knights with Dennis Pennis and the cop from Fortitude among them) had also converted to the Lord of Light. Beric Dondarrion died six times, but each time was brought back to life by Thoros of Myr (Dennis Pennis, aka Paul Kaye), who had been praying to the Lord.
Fast forward to season five and Melisandre decided to sacrifice Stannis’s daughter Shireen to the Lord of Light, believing that the girl’s life would gain the Lord’s favour and aid them in their time of need. At first, it seemed to have worked as the snow melted enough for Stannis’s army to march to Winterfell. However, half of his forces deserted in the night and his wife hanged herself. Stannis was then defeated and killed in battle. Whoops.
In season six, Melisandre used her powers to bring Jon Snow back to life, and now believes that he is the Prince That Was Promised.
Meanwhile, Kinvara – High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis – believes that Daenerys is The Prince That Was Promised and is doing PR for her in Essos.
So who is this Prince That Was Promised?
The PTWP is a mythical figure that followers of the Lord of Light believe will be reborn “amidst salt and smoke” and combat the coming darkness. Or the White Walkers.
In the books, the PTWP is implied to be the reincarnation of a hero known as Azor Ahai. He was a legendary warrior who defeated the White Walkers thousands of years ago wielding his sword of fire, Lightbringer.
The prophecy states that the Prince would be born from the line of House Targaryen. Stannis could have applied as his grandmother was a Targaryen, while other candidates could be Daenerys or Jon Snow (providing the R+L=J theory is true).
So who the hell was Azor Ahai and what is Lightbringer?
Thousands of years ago, Azor forged the sword Lightbringer, and used it to defeat the Great Other (White Walkers to you and me). However, to use the sword’s true powers he had to plunge it into the heart of his wife, for some reason.
In making the sword, he apparently worked for 30 days and 30 nights, but when he tempered it in water, the sword broke.
Starting over, he took 50 days and 50 nights, but the sword shattered again after he captured a lion and drove the weapon into its heart.
Finally, he worked 100 days and 100 nights, and realised he had to drive his sword into his (willing, and frankly, overly generous) wife’s living heart – and her soul combined with the steel and created Lightbringer. Of course.
So the prophecy goes that the PTWP will once again lift Lightbringer and rid the world of the White Walkers. So this might mean that whoever it is will have to also kill their beloved to do so. Nice.
However, some readers have stated their belief that Azor Ahai and the PTWP come from two very different prophecies, as neither have been mentioned in the same sentence. Though, Melisandre has referenced both at different times.
Still with us?
So, in general – Melisandre and the Brotherhood Without Banners are following the Lord of Light and believe that one day a bloke (or a woman) will be the religion’s new hero and defeat all the White Walkers.
Will it be Jon Snow? Will it be Daenerys? Will it be someone else? Or is it a load of hokum? Either way, we hope that explains it all a tad.
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