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«Game of Thrones»: Azor Ahai and the Song of Ice and Fire

Luca Fontana
Zurich, on 22.04.2019
Whenever the inhabitants of the far off east praise Azor Ahai they sing the song of Ice and Fire. Who is Azor Ahai? And what’s all this business with the prophecy of a promised prince?

A long time ago, the world of «Game of Thrones» was in darkness. A long night covered all, lasting an entire generation. Kings and farmers alike froze in their homes. Babies were smothered in their sleep to save food, as there was never enough for everyone. This was a dark time.

«*Game of Thrones**»: the White Walkers and the Long Night
Background information

«Game of Thrones»: the White Walkers and the Long Night

This was when the White Walkers ruled the land. Riding giant ice spiders and followed by snowstorms, these monsters would raise corpses as Wights, willing slaves. But one hero would rise against this horror: Azor Ahai.

This story begins eight-thousand years ago.

Azor Ahai, forger of Lightbringer

Azor Ahai is no Westerosi hero; his deeds are only sung by the red priests of R’hllor, such as Mellisandre in the current story. They are followers of a faith that is mainly found in the eastern continent of Essos.

For the night is dark and full of terrors, according to them, but the day is bright and wonderful. There world is made up of countless opposites: black and white, hate and love, death and life – or ice and fire.

War constantly rages between these two forces. R’hllor, the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow is on the light side. The dark side is controlled by the Great Other – the Lord of Darkness, the Soul of Ice and God of Night and Fear. This is the belief central to Azor Ahai’s legend.

Melisandre and other red priests spread the Lord of Light’s faith throughout the world.
Melisandre and other red priests spread the Lord of Light’s faith throughout the world.

When the Night King, his White Walkers and their Wights invaded the world 8000 years prior, R’hllor supposedly named Azor Ahai his champion to lead the armies of First Men and Children of the Forest. To receive the strength to best the Night King, Azor Ahai had to craft Lightbringer – a mighty hero’s sword that can only be forged in living flame.

Azor Ahai fired up his furnace and got to work. For 30 days and nights he toiled before he had finished his sword, or so the legend says. But as he dipped the steel in water to temper it, the steel shattered. He began anew

The next sword required 50 days and nights. This time he killed a lion and plunged his sword into its hard to quench the flames. But the steel gave in and shattered again. Desperation spreads through Azor.

He works on his final sword with heavy heart. He has now understood what it means to forge a sword in living fire: To complete the blade, he must commit the ultimate sacrifice.

“ If the old tales are true, a terrible weapon forged with a loving wife's heart. Part of me thinks man was well rid of it, but great power requires great sacrifice. That much at least the Lord of Light is clear on. ”
Thoros of Myr, Season 3

This time the chosen Prince worked tirelessly for 100 days and nights. The sword he forged is the best he’s ever made. To cool it he summons his wife Nissa Nissa. He asks her to expose her chest. He then plunges his sword through her heart.

Nissa Nissa dies.

Azor Ahai has to forge Lightbringer in living flame: Nissa Nissa.
Azor Ahai has to forge Lightbringer in living flame: Nissa Nissa.

Legend says the moon suffered scars and boils when hearing Nissa Nissa’s screams. But her soul was bound to the sword’s steel and her fiery love immediately made the blade burst into flames. Lightbringer was complete.

With mighty Lightbringer at his side, Azor Ahai faced the Night King. In the end, he manages to push the Army of the Dead back into the north. Bran the Builder, an early Stark ancestor, commands the creation of a wall and the Night’s Watch to protect the South from the North’s horrors.

Azor Ahai uses Lightbringer to push back the Night King.
Azor Ahai uses Lightbringer to push back the Night King.
Jordi Gonzalez Escamilla

This is where Azor Ahai’s story ends. But a prophecy predicts his return: the Song of Ice and Fire.

Prince or Princess?

The prophecy itself was written 5000 years ago in High Valyrian in the old books of Asshai – a faraway place in the south-eastern regions of Essos. According to it, this is what will occur:

Asshai lies in the Far East.
Asshai lies in the Far East.

The legendary Azor Ahai shall return as R’hllor’s champion. He will be reborn amid salt and smoke to awaken the dragons of stone. This will happen after a long summer, when the long night again covers the world and the red star bleeds. The promised prince will again wield Lightbringer. If he fails, the world will fall with him. His is the Song of Ice and Fire.

The prophecy is dangerous, easily misinterpreted. For the High Valyrian word «prince» is gender-neutral. To be completely accurate, the prophecy has to include the words «prince or princess». Additionally, it’s unclear with what degree of seriousness you can consider hints towards the identity of the promised prince or princess.

The connection between Azor Ahai and Targaryens

The words «prince or princess» might point towards royal blood. The power to wake dragons from stone is a strong link to the Targaryens, an ancient family from the dragon-riding folk of Valyria. For a long time, Rhaegar Targaryen, Mad King Aeris’ eldest son, was seen as a returned Azor Ahai.

Rhaegar Targaryen, the Mad King’s eldest son.
Rhaegar Targaryen, the Mad King’s eldest son.
Karla Ortiz

Rhaegar was burn during the fire at Castle Summerhall. A tragedy so deadly – it killed Rhaegar’s grandfather – and horrifying that many survivors could only remember the events while crying heavily. The smoke from the prophecy was ascribed to the fire while the salt was in reference to the victims’ tears.

Later, Rhaegar was killed during Robert’s rebellion by the aforementioned revolutionary. This not only ended the Targaryen reign of Westeros but also the belief in Rhaegar’s as a messiah. Rhaegar himself thought that his first-born son, not he, was the returning Azor Ahai. After all, a comet was seen over King’s Landing at his birth – the prophecy’s bleeding star.

“ Aegon. What better name for a king? He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire. ”
Rhaegar Targaryen to his wife Elia Martell, Book 2: A Clash of Kings
A comet looks like a bleeding star to many inhabitants of Westeros and Essos.
A comet looks like a bleeding star to many inhabitants of Westeros and Essos.

During Robert Baratheon’s storm on King’s Landing, Rhaegar’s infant son is gruesomely killed at the hand of Gregor Clegane, a henchman of the mighty Lannister family. And with him the prophecy died. Or so it seems.

Suddenly, stories of a young blonde woman start emerging. She supposedly hatched three dragon eggs – dragons from stone. Apparently, she entered a raging bonfire with her eggs and emerged unscathed. It was built to burn her husband’s corpse and the alive but crying healer Mirri Maz Duur – a symbolic rebirth amid salt and smoke. At the same time, a second cometh crossed Westeros – the bleeding star.

Is Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaegar Targaryen’s youngest and long-lost sister the returned Azor Ahai?

Daenerys Targaryen could be the promised one.
Daenerys Targaryen could be the promised one.

There is one more suitable candidate: Jon Snow, Ned Stark’s bastard son.

For in truth, Jon isn’t actually a bastard, but a secret Targaryen. His true father is Rhaegar Targaryen, once presumed to be the prophesised prince. His real mother, who died giving birth, was Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark’s sister. While Jon is being born, a legendary sword is next to the bed: Dawn, forged from the metal of a fallen star. Could the blood-soaked sword of heroes be the prophecy’s bleeding star?

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Jon after all unites Stark blood, which comes from the First Men and supposedly Azor Ahai’s people, with dragon-awaking Targaryen blood.

Is Jon the promised prince?
Is Jon the promised prince?

If he is the prince that was foretold, then his would truly be the Song of Ice and Fire.

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Luca Fontana
Luca Fontana
Editor, Zurich
I'm an outdoorsy guy and enjoy sports that push me to the limit – now that’s what I call comfort zone! But I'm also about curling up in an armchair with books about ugly intrigue and sinister kingkillers. Being an avid cinema-goer, I’ve been known to rave about film scores for hours on end. I’ve always wanted to say: «I am Groot.»

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