As Game of Thrones gets into its final stretch with just two shorter seasons left, the prophecies about this world’s ending are suddenly becoming more relevant. A new Season 7 photo shows Sam and Gilly reading up on Azor Ahai, which signifies his or her importance in the wars to come. Because Sam and Gilly are beefing up on the lore, that means the viewers should, too.
As a refresher, Azor Ahai was a legendary hero who saved the world thousands of years before the present day. Wielding an equally legendary sword called Lightbringer, he banished a previous White Walker invasion. In order to create this sword, he had to drive it through his wife’s heart — because power requires sacrifice.
People who follow the Lord of Light — like Melisandre — believe that Azor Ahai will be reborn to save the world from the impending Long Night that Jon Snow loves warning people about. This rebirth calls for specific conditions, like being born under a bleeding star amidst “smoke and salt.” Let’s examine the most likely contenders for Azor Ahai reborn, also known as The Prince That Was Promised, and beat Sam and Gilly to the punch.
5. Sandor Clegane
It might sound unlikely, but being born “amidst smoke and salt” could coincide with Sandor Clegane’s fateful childhood incident in which his brother, the Mountain, burned his face. Before it, he was Sandor Clegane; after he was reborn as “the Hound.” Plus, he was reborn again after Arya left him for dead, and Ian McShane brought him back. One fan on Reddit suggests that his brother, the Mountain, is a stand in for Nissa Nissa, Azor Ahai’s ill-fated wife.
Of course, if activating his status as the Prince that Was Promised means killing his brother, that links the Azor Ahai prophecy to another popular Game of Thrones fan theory. It would also be a bit of delicious irony for Azor Ahai reborn to be afraid of fire.
Verdict: Unlikely, but not out of the question.
4. Jaime Lannister
One fan suggested that Jaime Lannister could be a contender, with Cersei being the stand in for the wife he must kill. Because there’s already an existing prophecy about Cersei’s death that many fans attribute to Jaime — she will be killed by “the little brother” — this fits. The “smoke and salt” and “bleeding star” part are, admittedly, stretches, though Jaime was reborn as the Kingslayer among the smoke of the Mad King burning the city and the salt of the people’s tears.
Verdict: It would be random, but it’s possible.
3. Gendry Waters
Gendry Waters, who was last seen rowing in a boat at the end of Season 3, will finally return in Season 7. As Robert Baratheon’s bastard, Gendry has kingsblood and a claim to the Iron Throne. Though the “bleeding star” and “salt and smoke” conditions are presently unclear, perhaps they will manifest in a rebirth of sorts when he returns to the story after a four-season absence. As a former blacksmith, he’s also comfortable with fire and forging weapons — which involves salt and smoke.
Verdict: Slightly possible.
2. Daenerys Targaryen
Just because the prophecy prescribes a Prince That Was Promised, it doesn’t mean that prince is male. At the end of Season 1, Daenerys was reborn in fire and smoke while a comet shot through the sky — who is currently the most solid contender for that “bleeding star” Game of Thrones has presented thus far. And she was reborn from flames again in Season 6. Her narrative is essentially a “pick your poison” of rebirth through fire, which makes her arguably the most natural contender for Azor Ahai reborn.
Verdict: Extremely likely.
1. Jon Snow
Of course, the other most natural and obvious contender is Jon Snow — both because the conditions of his birth were mysterious and because he’s been reborn, aided by a woman who subscribes to the Lord of Light theology. Some fans have further theorized that the legendary sword Lightbringer is actually a person here: Jon’s loyal aid Davos. Plus, as the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon is a newly revealed prince, and his mother’s last words to Ned on her deathbed involved a promise. Jon is the neatest and most logical contender to be the Prince That Was Promised — but of course, because Game of Thrones likes to subvert expectations, that could also be why it won’t be him.
Verdict: the most likely.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres July 16 on HBO.