We know Game of Thrones Season 7 will find Jon Snow on a thrilling expedition in the far North. At one point, he’s standing on a cliff overlooking an army of White Walkers, joined by a truly all-star gang that includes Tormund, The Hound, and the fire sword-wielding Beric Dondarrion. Clearly, epic shit is going down … but hold your dragonglass. It might not be good news for Jon and his group.
See, Jon’s journey North of the Wall echoes an ancient Westerosi legend known as the Last Hero. Nobody has agreed whether the Last Hero is the same person as Azor Ahai — a legendary savior from long ago who will supposedly be reborn to save the world from darkness — or if they are two different ancient heroes who saved the world. But we know nothing is simple on Game of Thrones.
Thanks to a photo of Sam and Gilly reading about Azor Ahai at the Citadel, we know that he will play a role in Season 7 and in the wars to come. But thanks to the new trailer, we now know that the Last Hero will, too.
In the story, the Last Hero traveled North with his twelve companions during the Long Night thousands of years before Jon’s time. They were searching for the Children of the Forest — the mysterious humanoid creatures who Season 6 revealed created the White Walkers.
With their help, the Last Hero won the War for the Dawn and formed the Night’s Watch. The catch? His twelve companions didn’t make it, and nobody knows his fate, either. To rub salt in the wound, his horse, dog, and sword also didn’t make it.
Old Nan tells Bran Stark the tale in A Game of Thrones. She says,
The last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. For years he searched until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities. One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it.
Now, check out this aerial shot of Jon’s expedition North from the Season 7 trailer. It’s a bit hard to tell with the snow obscuring them, but there are exactly twelve people. It helps that they’re arranged like a clock.
There’s also a shot of Jon all alone on his horse, implying that something has happened to his companions. Perhaps something will also happen to his horse after this scene.
So, what do all these nods to the Last Hero mean? There are several possibilities. The most ominous is that the journey North is a suicide mission for all involved. The most intriguing is that if the Last Hero and Azor Ahai are two different people, the role of the latter will fall to someone else. Common consensus is that Jon Snow is the most likely contender to be Azor Ahai reborn.
But if he’s busy fulfilling a different ancient legend, it frees Daenerys or Jaime Lannister to be Azor Ahai.
At the very least, it means that if your favorite character is Sandor Clegane or Tormund Giantsbane — or if Brienne and Podrick are in the North, too, as the trailer doesn’t reveal the other ten members of their party — you should be worried.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres July 16 on HBO.