The penultimate season of Game of Thrones drew to a close in August 2017 and left fans reeling. Many suspicions were proven correct, several curve-balls were thrown and there was more than a little emotional battering to be had.
Still, fans are already speculating about how the show is going to wrap up. A lot of the theories surround the destiny of everyone’s favorite grumpy Night’s Watchman, Jon Snow. One suggestion in particular is currently taking the internet by storm, and the reaction online suggests that it’s more than just a crackpot fan theory.
If it turns out to be true, it could have massive implications about the ultimate fate of Jon, Daenerys and the rest of Team Dragon as well as all of Westeros. It’s all speculative, to be sure, but there’s more than enough evidence mixed in to give this theory credibility.
To understand this theory, there are a few things to keep in mind about Jon Snow. For most of the show’s run, he was thought to be the bastard offspring of Ned Stark and a mysterious woman named Wylla. She’s not mentioned much in the show, but in the novels the show is based on, Edric Dayne tells Arya that Wylla was a servant at the Dornish castle of Starfall.
In season six, though, it was revealed that Jon wasn’t Ned’s son after all. Indeed, a flashback showed Ned doing battle with Ser Arthur Dayne outside the Tower of Joy. After defeating Dayne, Ned ran into the tower to find his sister in the throes of death, having given birth to a son – Jon. She asks Ned to protect him from Robert Baratheon, with the implication being that Jon is Prince Rhaegar Targaryen’s offspring.
At the end of season seven, this was expanded on further. It was Bran who first figured that Jon had Targaryen blood, but it was Sam Tarly who filled in the last piece of the puzzle. Indeed, a book he’d found in the Citadel revealed that Rhaegar and Lyanna had actually wed in secret. This means that the bastard of Winterfell isn’t a bastard at all. No, his real name is Prince Aegon Targaryen.
For readers of the book, the Prince That Was Promised will be a familiar moniker. The red priestess, Melisandre, has referred to him a few times in the show, having first believed him to be Stannis Baratheon. In the religion of R’hllor, the Prince is the prophesied savior of the world from certain darkness.
The Prince is also known as Azor Ahai, and according to legend he’s already existed in this world once. Thousands of years before the events of the show, he forged a magic sword called Lightbringer by plunging it into the heart of his wife and absorbing her soul into the blade. Uncool as that is, it did allow him to save the world from darkness. The prophecy suggests that after a long summer, when the cold darkness came, Azor Ahai would return.
There’s no direct mention of the White Walkers or the army of the dead anywhere in the Azor Ahai prophecy, but there is another prophecy (two things are for certain in fantasy writing: prophecies and giant spiders). In both the first book and first season, Old Nan mentioned the long night when the Walkers first came. In the book, though, the story is longer. The book also makes reference to the Last Hero, the one who fought the Walkers.
Later, in the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, Sam tells Jon about an account he read concerning the long night, which mentioned the Last Hero. It states that the Last Hero fought the White Walkers with something called dragonsteel. In the show, we see Jon defeat a White Walker with Longclaw, his Valyrian steel sword.
Well, we know that obsidian, or “dragonglass,” can kill White Walkers, so it’s a fair guess that there’s some link between it and Valyrian steel. However, thus far that’s all we know. So, is Longclaw the sword that will defeat the White Walkers, and by extension, does that make it Lightbringer?
It’s a good question. We don’t really know much about Longclaw’s origin beyond the fact that it was the Mormont family blade. However, it’s unlikely that it was forged by being plunged into someone’s heart, as Lightbringer was. So it could easily be the blade described in the stories about the Last Hero, but it probably isn’t Lightbringer. But here’s the thing: for the prophecy to make sense, Lightbringer doesn’t have to be a sword.
Some fans believe that, at least in the context of Azor Ahai’s return, Lightbringer is more of a metaphorical sword. Some have suggested that the Night’s Watch collectively represent Lightbringer, while others have said that it’s Daenerys’ dragons. Now though, a new idea has emerged.
None of these theories really hold water when you consider Jon as the most likely candidate for Azor Ahai. So, with that in mind, what or who is Jon’s Lightbringer? Well, according to this new theory, Jon doesn’t have a Lightbringer at all. Why, you ask? Well, because Jon Snow is Lightbringer.
In order for this to make sense, you have to accept the idea that Rhaegar is actually Azor Ahai. We know that Azor Ahai was born “amid salt and smoke,” and Rhaegar was born on the day that Summerhall castle burned to the ground. Years later, he composed a song about the tragedy and sang of “twilight and tears and the death of kings.” Tears are salty, so both parts of that prophecy fit.
It took the original Azor Ahai three attempts to make Lightbringer, and the last took the life of his wife, Nissa Nissa. Jon was Rhaegar’s third child, and Rhaegar’s died shortly after giving birth to him. His other two children did not live. Taking this into account, the theory begins to add up.
It had already been suggested that the Night’s Watch could represent Lightbringer, but Jon was a sworn member of the military order. This meant that he had to say the oath. In the oath, he had to refer to himself as a “sword in the darkness” and “the light that brings the dawn.” Both ideas draw heavy links to the Lightbringer prophecy.
There are plenty of issues with this, however. For one thing, Azor Ahai was meant to come back and defeat the darkness. Rhaegar Targaryen, though, was killed by Robert Baratheon before the events depicted in the show. While it’s plausible that Lightbringer could get the job done solo, it’s a pretty major deviation from the original concept.
Another issue with the theory is that if you use Rhaegar’s two dead children as placeholders for the failed attempts to forge Lightbringer, there’s nothing to connect them in the same way. One of them was killed by one of the Lannister commanders, while the other was killed by The Mountain. Azor Ahai tried to first forge the sword in water, and then in the heart of a lion.
It could go either way, really, but the one thing to keep in mind is that, as the show has continued, two ideologies have proven to be right time and time again. These are the legends about the White Walkers and the religion of the Lord of Light. Both of them have implicated Jon in some way, and now we know he’s a Targaryen. All these things are connected, but we’ll just have to wait until the final season to see who was right…