Among the pile of semi-fulfilled predictions in the world of Game of Thrones, one of the chief ones is that of Azor Ahai, the Prince That Was Promised.
You can read a full explanation of who Azor Ahai is here, but if you’re up to speed already, then you know that he was a mythical hero in the religion of R’hllor the Red God, lived thousands of years ago and defeated the forces of The Great Other. He is prophesied to return, wielding his fiery sword Lightbringer, and the Red Priests in particular are keen to track him down and encourage him.
A century or so ago, a woods witch prophesied to King Jaeherys (don’t bother) that the PTWP would be reborn in the line of his son, Aerys (later the Mad King), so we’re looking for a Targaryen. Probably.
In episode 2 of series 7, Missandei corrected the phrasing of the translation to “the Prince or Princess that was promised” (tut tut, it should be “who” but never mind about that right now), which leaves the field wide open: the returning warrior-Messiah could be pretty much anyone.
Let’s look at the runners and riders:
FOR: Given that she’s the Targaryen embodiment of flame, is actually fireproof, controls three dragons and is poised to conquer Westeros, Daenerys is a strong contender to be the hero who stands against the darkness.
The Red Priests and Priestesses of Meereen and greater Essos certainly think she’s the one, and she was born amid “salt and smoke” as per the prophecy, having been born during a storm on Dragonstone at the end of the war of Robert’s Rebellion. She also “woke dragons from stone”.
AGAINST: Azor Ahai had a legendary sword that he forged and tempered three times: in water (it broke), in a lion’s heart (it broke) and in his beloved and willing wife’s heart. Daenerys has never even wielded a sword to our knowledge, let alone made one.
It could be a metaphor, but for what?
FOR: He’s pretty heroic, no? And heroically pretty for that matter. He’s basically the guy you’d expect to be The Guy: handsome, brave, noble, all that. Plus: Targaryen, though he doesn’t know it.
He’s been the main man so far when it comes to standing against the forces of the Great Other, if we’re going to assume that’s what the White Walkers are. He’s also got a Valyrian steel sword, which, while not Lightbringer, is still a step up on Daenerys’ no-sword-at-all.
Red Priestess Melisandre thinks he is the Prince That Was Promised and has thrown her weight behind him, not least by resurrecting his corpse.
AGAINST: Melisandre also thought Stannis was the PTWP, and look how that turned out.
Also, “salt and smoke”? He was born in the Tower of Joy shortly before Ned Stark rocked up with Howland Reed and battled Ser Arthur Deyne. No salt, no smoke. And “Waking dragons from stone”? Not that we noticed.
FOR: By now most avid fans have heard of the theory about Tyrion’s parentage. It doesn’t necessarily put him any more in the frame to be Azor Ahai, but it does suggest he’s closer to the centre of metaphysical action than he appears. Also, it would be pleasing in story terms for the majestic hero to take the unlikely form of a publicly vilified dwarf.
AGAINST: Salt, smoke, dragons from stone, Lightbringer – he doesn’t tick any of the boxes in the prophecy.
FOR: He looks the part (apart from the amputated hand, which makes swordplay more of a challenge). There’s also a (very sketchy) theory that he and Cersei are the bastard children of Aerys the Mad King, which would make them Targaryens, and therefore a bit more in the magical arena than previously thought.
The theory goes that Cersei, and not the White Walkers, is the force of evil that the prophecy refers to, and that Jaime will stand against her at the end and defeat her.
AGAINST: Major anticlimax. Killing Cersei would be heroic, but not messianic. And the White Walkers would still be comin’ through the snow.
FOR: Not obvious, we’ll grant you. He’s a self-avowed coward. But he was the first person on the show to kill a White Walker, and he has “woken dragons from stone” in the sense of discovering the uses and location of dragonglass.
AGAINST: Salt and smoke? Fiery sword?
FOR: He’s the only person we know who could actually forge his own sword, and he has royal blood.
AGAINST: Oh come off it. Same goes for Arya, Varys, The Hound, Thoros of Myr, Hot Pie and all the other crackpot suggestions.
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