In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Long Night
was a dark time thousands of years ago when winter lasted a generation. It’s said that
during this time, there was no daylight, and Others, riding dead horses and monstrous spiders, came from the North to destroy all living things. We know the Long Night happened in Westeros, but it also affected the Rhoyne, and the Further East, so it was probably
worldwide. Melisandre says the Long Night is coming again, bringing an apocalyptic “night that never ends”. It’s starting to look like she might be right. Melisandre
says the only hope is a hero named Azor Ahai. People all over the world of ice and fire have stories of the hero who ended the last
Long Night. The Northerners say the “last hero” joined with the children of the forest
and won the Battle for the Dawn against the Others. Descendants of the Rhoynar say a
hero convinced their gods to bring back the day with a secret song. The YiTish say a
woman with a monkey’s tail restored the sun. The Asshai’i name this hero Azor Ahai, and prophesy their rebirth to save the world once more. The names Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser are also used. There’s also “the prince that
was promised”. Some people think the “prince that was promised” and Azor Ahai are separate figures, but there’s no good reason to think this. Melisandre, Aemon Targaryen, and George R. R. Martin himself all talk as though Azor Ahai and the “prince that was promised”
are the same thing, and no one in A Song of Ice and Fire has ever distinguished between the two. So “the prince that was promised” and Azor Ahai reborn appear to be the same person. The “stallion who mounts the world” may also be connected. He too is described as a “prince” , and is promised in prophecy. Given the blurry overlap and similarity of
these legends, it seems likely that they’re all about the same person, the hero who saved
the world from the Long Night, and is prophesied to return, to save the world once more. We’ll
call’m Azor Ahai because that’s the best known name and the easiest to say.
So what do we know about Azor Ahai? Melisandre says Azor Ahai is prophesied to be born beneath a “bleeding star”, “amidst salt and smoke”. We hear the same thing from Aemon Targaryen, from Benerro, the High red priest of Volantis, and from Marwyn the Mage, who says he doesn’t trust prophecy. Rhaegar Targaryen believed in these prophetic signs, and it seems likely that his wife Elia and some other family members did as well. We’re told many times by many people that the star, salt and smoke are signs of Azor Ahai, so
it seems almost certain that they truly are. According to Melisandre and Aemon, another sign is a red or burning sword, called Lightbringer, which also appears in several legends. Sam Tarly suggests that the sword may simply be a Valyrian steel sword. Melisandre says that Azor Ahai will draw the sword from fire. One legend about the original Lightbringer says
its creation required the sacrificial execution of Azor Ahai’s wife, Nissa Nissa. As Davos
speculates, it might be that Azor Ahai will have to make some similar sacrifice, but
that’s never said to be part of any prophecy, so it might not be important. According to
Melisandre, Aemon, and Benerro, Azor Ahai has something to do with dragons. Melisandre specifically says that Azor Ahai is prophesied “to wake dragons from stone”, which apparently
requires the sacrifice of someone with king’s blood. Since she’s the only person claiming this, and she admits that she sometimes misinterprets prophecies, it seems possible that Melisandre is wrong about the stone dragons bit. But all agree that Azor Ahai is associated with
dragons, so that at least seems pretty solid. Aemon implies that Azor Ahai must have Targaryen blood, and the Ghost of High Heart specifies the line of Aerys and Rhaella. To quickly
explain that – Ser Barristan says that Aerys and Rhaella Targaryen married because a woods
witch said that “the prince that was promised would be born of their line”. Ser Barristan’s
description of the woods witch matches the description of the Ghost of High Heart, the
mysterious old woman encountered by Arya with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Not only
are they both very short women who produce prophecies, but they are both associated with
the children of the forest, and they both were close to someone named Jenny. So they
almost certainly are the same person. And the thing is – the Ghost of High Heart has
proven the reliability of her prophecies by making a lot of really impressive accurate
predictions. Therefore, Barristan’s woods witch, the Ghost of High Heart, is almost
certainly correct in saying that Azor Ahai must have the blood of Aerys and Rhaella Targaryen.
A couple more things – both Aemon and Rhaegar in a vision say “the dragon must have three
heads”. Some people think this means Azor Ahai is three people, but that’s not what
the text suggests. What the three heads of the dragon seems to mean is that Azor Ahai should have two companions who help’m out, maybe ride dragons with them, whatever.
Aemon says that he could have been one of the three heads, if he wasn’t so old. This
means that that the three heads are not special prophesied figures, but can probably be any
Targaryen, or anyone at all. The three heads of the dragon may be a thing, but it’s not
part of any known prophecy and it does not mean three people are Azor Ahai. Finally,
Rhaegar Targaryen, in a vision, says of the “prince that was promised” that “His
is the song of ice and fire”. Again, this doesn’t seem to be part of any prophecy,
and it’s very vague, but it’s probably worth keeping in mind.
So. We’ve got seven signs of Azor Ahai. The star, the salt, the smoke, the sword,
the sacrifice, the stone dragons, and the blood. Azor Ahai is someone from the line
of Aerys and Rhaella Targaryen, someone born beneath a bleeding star, and amidst salt and
smoke. They should have a burning sword, and have something to do with dragons, maybe awakening
stone dragons. Sacrifice might be involved with the stone dragons or with the sword.
The three heads of the dragon and the “song of ice and fire” may also be involved somehow.
To find Azor Ahai, we must find the person who best fits this description.
Melisandre says that Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai, and she tries very hard to make
him fit the seven signs. Like every character alive during A Clash of Kings, Stannis is
around to see the red comet that appears in the sky and is named the “Bleeding Star”
by Dany and the Dothraki. Not long after the comet appears is the ceremony at Dragonstone where statues of the Seven are burned and Stannis is proclaimed to be Azor Ahai. So
this is a symbolic rebirth, of sorts, which happens shortly after, if not under, a “bleeding
star”. It happens amidst salt and smoke – the salt of the ocean, the smoke of the
burning gods. So Stannis has the star, smoke and salt. At the same ceremony, he draws a
sword from fire, and names it Lightbringer. But as Jon points out, the sword’s not warm or hot as Lightbringer should be. Aemon says “the sword is wrong”, and describes its light as an “empty glamor” – perhaps what magic it has is another of Melisandre’s
illusions. So as Sallador Saan says, “That sword was not Lightbringer” . As for the
sacrifice, Melisandre tries to get Stannis to sacrifice someone with king’s blood in
order to awaken stone dragons. So far, that hasn’t happened – no sacrifice, no dragons.
Stannis does have some Targaryen blood, but not from Rhaella and Aerys, so he fails there
too. That’s three out of seven signs. Stannis also has no apparent connection to the “song
of ice and fire”, or the three heads of the dragon – unless maybe you want to argue
that Stannis, Mel and Davos are three heads, whatever than means. So all things considered,
it looks like Stannis is not Azor Ahai. And y’know – it wouldn’t fit the story anyway.
Stannis may be the Mannis, but compared to people like Dany and Jon, he’s no hero – Stannis
is a harsh, bitter, unromantic man, not a save-the-world-with-a-magic-sword kinda guy.
He says as much himself. And come on, what kind of champion of R’hllor sets himself
on fire with his own burning sword? The fact that we are led to believe that Stannis is
Azor Ahai is a good reason not to believe that he is Azor Ahai – why would George
R. R. Martin create all this mystery and prophecy only to tell us the answer at the start of
the second book? As George himself has said, prophecies should not be too literal and too
easy. Melisandre has tried and failed to make Stannis literally fulfil the Azor Ahai
prophecy. As Aemon says, she has misread the signs, she is deceiving herself because she
wants to believe. The evidence strongly suggests that Stannis Baratheon is not Azor Ahai.
Aemon and Benerro both say that Daenerys Targaryen is Azor Ahai . In the final chapter of Book
1, Daenerys sees the “Bleeding Star” appear, walks into flames and, amidst smoke, is
reborn as the mother of dragons, “stone dragons” which she wakes from eggs. So straight
away that perfectly fits the star, smoke and stone dragons. The salt probably comes from
salty smoky Dragonstone, where Dany was literally born, if not from tears or sweat at the pyre.
What about Lightbringer? You can argue that Dany’s dragons are her fiery weapon. This
is supported by Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ description of Dany’s dragons as a “flaming sword”. And when you think about it, Azor Ahai saving the world with dragons is a lot more believable
than saving the world with one flaming sword – right? Aemon says translation errors are
a problem with this prophecy – thinking that Lightbringer is a literal sword might be one
of them. The awakening of the stone dragons, the creation of Dany’s burning sword, requires
two sacrifices – of Dany’s love, Drogo, and of her stillborn son, Rhaego, who has
the blood of Targaryen kings through Dany. We know these deaths are related to birth
of Dany’s dragons because, as Dany reminds us in the same chapter, “Only death can pay
for life”. So this satisfies both kinds of sacrifice – of a loved one, for a burning
sword, like Nissa Nissa, and of king’s blood, to awaken stone dragons, as Mel prophesies.
So we’ve got the sacrifice, the sword, the stone dragons, the star, the smoke, the salt,
and we’ve got the blood, because Daenerys is the daughter of Aerys and Rhaella Targaryen.
That’s all seven signs, only the sword is really questionable. The three heads of the
dragon might relate to Dany’s three dragons – three dragon-riders, maybe. She has no
clear connection to the “song of ice and fire”, but again the song and heads are
vague and not part of prophecy anyway, so Daenerys Targaryen fits everything we reliably know
about Azor Ahai, and has both Aemon and Benerro backing her. It also fits the story for Dany
to be Azor Ahai. I mean, come on, she is “Daenerys Stormborn”, “the widow of a Dothraki khal,
a mother of dragons and a sacker of cities”, she is “the Unburnt”, she is the “Breaker
of Chains”, the “Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the
First Men”, “Lord of the Seven Kingdoms”, “The fairest woman in the world” , she
is “strong”, she is “fierce” , “the fire is [hers]”… Don’t know how to put
this, but she’s “kind of a big deal”. George R. R. Martin has hyped up Dany all
series, so if anyone’s gonna be the prophesied saviour of the world, it’ll be her. She
has the signs, it fits the story, Dany is probably Azor Ahai.
But there’s another strong candidate. Jon Snow might be Azor Ahai. Of course, last we heard from him he’d been stabbed four times, but he could be resurrected by Melisandre
– we know red priests can do this from Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. There’s evidence
that Jon might warg into his direwolf Ghost before returning to his body. We know wargs
can do this, and that Jon is unknowingly a powerful warg, from the Dance with Dragons Prologue. The idea is supported by a vision that Melisandre has of Jon, in which he changes from a man, to a wolf, to a man again. Further, Jon’s last word after being stabbed is “Ghost”. All this suggests that Jon will warg into Ghost, then be reborn – a man once more.
Now look at the passage where Jon is stabbed – Jon’s wound is smoking, Bowen Marsh
is crying salty tears, and Ser Patrick, whose “distinctive” heraldry features stars, is bleeding.
A lot. Each of these things is emphasised right at Jon’s stabbing. The star, the smoke, the salt. And Jon brings up the “promised prince, born in smoke and salt” in the same
chapter as the stabbing. The star is a bit dodgy, but can this really be a coincidence?
Let’s look at the other signs. Jon does have a pretty sweet sword, a Valyrian steel sword, but hardly Lightbringer. You could argue that the Night’s Watch is his fiery weapon – their
vow says “I am the sword in the darkness”, and they’re a weapon against the Others,
and Jon kinda sacrificed his love Ygritte for them. So, maybe. But, again, it may be
that the sign of the sword is a mistranslation or misinterpretation of the sign of the dragons,
in which case Jon might need one of Dany’s dragons. Alternatively, Jon might wake a dragon from stone by discovering his Targaryen parentage in the Winterfell
crypts – there are some cool theories about Rhaegar’s harp that could help here. Another is waking a dragon from within the Wall. But both of these are just future speculation. For now, Jon has no dragon, probably no sword, and probably no sacrifice, but these are things
that could happen later. We’ve still got two books coming. Now, if R+L=J is true, and
it very probably is, Jon has the blood. That would also literally make him the “prince
that was promised” and would make him of ice and fire. So Jon satisfies most of the
signs of Azor Ahai. Less than Dany. But there’s strong additional evidence that Jon is Azor
Ahai. Melisandre says that when she tries to see Azor Ahai in her flames, R’hllor
shows her Snow, as in Jon Snow. This happens repeatedly. Must be pretty frustrating for
R’hllor, that Melisandre never makes the connection, right? Also, Jon has a dream in
which he wields a burning red sword against the Others, at the Wall. He shouts about fire,
and even slays the woman he loves with the red sword. These are some pretty strong hints, right? So there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai. And it would make
narrative sense too. Jon clearly is someone special, as indicated by his white direwolf
and even his bastardy, which has always marked him as someone who is different. He’s a
heroic figure, brave, honourable, determined to do what’s right. And he’s already
fighting the Others, which is what Azor Ahai does. It makes a lot of sense for Jon
to be Azor Ahai. So. Stannis is probably not Azor Ahai. The evidence
points to Dany… and also to Jon. Looks like they’re both Azor Ahai. The “song of ice
and fire”, right? But let’s look at other possibilities. Could there be a third Azor Ahai? Aegon, if he really is Aegon, has the blood, and apparently
the star. Rhaegar also had the blood, and was born amidst salt and smoke. Victarion
has a burned, smoking hand. Davos was reborn amidst salt and smoke. The Lightning Lord
has a burning sword, Brienne has a red sword. Tyrion makes a nice trio with Dany and Jon.
Ramsay has the name Snow. Jamie could Nissa Nissa Cersei, J-bear could Nissa Nissa Dany,
Hot Pie bakes salty pies in smoky ovens, and Pretty Pig is- is ham. You can find some connections
and possibilities for almost any character, but only Dany and Jon are strongly supported
by evidence. Only Dany and Jon have important signs like the blood, the star,
salt and smoke. Only Dany and Jon have heaps of foreshadowing, hints and visions. It would
be bad storytelling to spend the whole series focussing on Dany and Jon before going ‘heyy, by the way, this guy- this guy Aegon, or this guy, fuckin’, Ramsay Snow, he’s also a saviour of the
world!’ It would also ruin the nice little Song of Ice and Fire we’ve got going with
Jon and Dany. So a third Azor Ahai is not impossible, but it seems unlikely and there’s really no good reason to believe it. Another argument you can make is that no one
is Azor Ahai. The prophecy is wrong or irrelevant. But it would be even worse than a third Azor
Ahai to build up all this foreshadowing, all these visions and hints, and then throw’em away and say they mean nothing. Azor Ahai doesn’t have to be a perfect fairy tale
hero who makes everything better. We know prophecy’s a bitch, we know things are complicated
– but with all this evidence, Azor Ahai has to mean something.
There are other objections and convoluted complications that you could raise. But everything
we currently know about Azor Ahai points to two people – Jon and Dany. Dany fits the
prophecy almost perfectly, Jon fits most of it and has extra hints on top. Jon and Dany
are the two main characters, together representing ice and fire, the title of the series. Based
on what we now know, the most reasonable conclusion to come to is that Dany and Jon are Azor Ahai,
and are prophesied to save the world from a night that never ends. Thanks for watching. Subscribe if you’d like to see more.