Who Is the Prince That Was Promised? A Game of Thrones Prophecy, Explained
The sixth season of Game of Thrones has officially kicked off with a truly exciting premiere that begins with Jon Snow's death and a seriously gnarly twist, then continues with his shocking resurrection. As we anxiously await the events of the episodes to come, we can't help but think about the big picture. Is Winter really coming? Who will take the Iron Throne? As it turns out, some of the show's biggest elements tie into a big myth — and an even bigger prophecy — from the books. Keep reading so we can break it down, then learn about the other prophecy that Cersei mentions in the premiere.
The Story of Azor Ahai
The Azor Ahai myth originates, of course, in A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that inspired the show. If you're familiar with all the religions of Westeros, it's important to note that this hero comes from the faith that follows R'hllor, the Lord of Light.
Since the beginning of time, the Lord of Light has been in a battle with a sinister god known as the Great Other, who is said to control the forces of darkness, cold, and death. His children, sometimes referred to as the Others, are commonly known as White Walkers, or wights. Thousands of years in the past, a Winter known as The Long Night swept across the lands of Westeros. The Others descended on Westeros, and the world became entrenched in death and chaos.
A hero named Azor Ahai rose to fight the darkness. He tried three times to forge a legendary sword that would help him fulfill his destiny. After two failures, he created Lightbringer. He labored for 100 days and nights and realized the only way he could properly temper the sword — and unleash its true powers — was to make a devastating sacrifice. He drove the blade into the living heart of his wife, Nissa Nissa, and the legendary weapon was born. He reclaimed the lands of Westeros from the Others, whom he drove far, far into the depths of The North.
The Arrival of "the Prince That Was Promised"
As we all know, Winter is coming in the Game of Thrones universe. It's a phrase that's been uttered more than a handful of times since the show's premiere. It's more than just a Winter, though. It is believed cold darkness will fall on the world once more, and the Others will saturate the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. We've seen indications of this bleak era on the show, most notably in the battle at Hardhome on season five, where we witnessed the rise of the legendary Night's King.
According to prophecy, Azor Ahai will also return, reborn as "the Prince That Was Promised." In this time where darkness casts its shadow on Westeros, it is said that a warrior will be born "amidst salt and smoke." At some point, he will rise and "draw from the fire a burning sword." This sword will be the Lightbringer, and the hero who wields it will become Azor Ahai incarnate. Once again, he will defeat the Others and beat back the darkness.
The Connection to Melisandre
Here's the thing: the legend of Azor Ahai and the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised are technically separate stories — that is to say, no explicit connection between the two figures has been made. Avid readers argue that Azor Ahai is a story, a myth, and the Prince That Was Promised is a prophecy. Even so, Melisandre often speaks of the prophecy and uses its prince interchangeably with Azor Ahai's namesake. What's more, they both wield Lightbringer.
In the show, Melisandre seems absolutely intent on finding the Lord of Light's chosen hero. Up until the end of season five, she believes Stannis Baratheon is the Prince That Was Promised. She continually acts in accordance with these beliefs and even forces Stannis to burn his own daughter alive as a sacrifice to R'hllor. She swears constantly that she sees Stannis's powerful future in the flames. However, he presumably dies at the end of Brienne of Tarth's blade in the season five finale, and Melisandre flees.
The Importance of Jon Snow
Could Jon Snow be the Prince That Was Promised? It's looking more and more like it. Parts of his origin story seem to fit the prophecy. The Prince is supposed to be born amidst salt and smoke. The most popular theory about Jon Snow's parents implies he was born during the battle at the Tower of Joy (smoke), covered in the tears of his mother, Lyanna Stark (salt). In season one, Jon badly burns his hand while pulling a sword from a fire and attempting to protect Jeor Mormont, the lord commander of the Night's Watch. This, again, could foreshadow Jon as the possible reincarnated Azor Ahai.
We know, we know. There's one big problem: Jon Snow is presumed dead. That's why it makes so much sense that Melisandre's hanging out at Castle Black. There's a chance she thinks he's the Prince That Was Promised and thus will bring him back to life.