*Note: Enjoy your tangents and lack of commas, because I’m lazy. Also, SPOILERS. Seriously, a LOT of SPOILERS. SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!
I have had a pet theory for awhile that “Ice and Fire” was Arya and Gendry. A girl from the north and a blacksmith. It called all the way back to the very start of the story and the desire for the Baratheons and the Starks to combine their households. The parallel was too perfect. However, since I have seen some of the backlash to Sunday’s episode I have been stuck on the Azor Ahai prophecy. I originally started this dive to see if Arya fulfilled the prophecy, and I came to a conclusion. However, to get to it I need to take you on the journey.
First, there is already a huge assumption that the Prince that was Promised and the Azor Ahai are one in the same. This is a basic cyclical prophecy. What has happened will happen again. Azor was simply the last person to fulfill it. Prophecies normally aren’t that clear. The beats match, but the steps may be a bit different. Lightbringer was used before, but the current Prince doesn’t have to use Lightbringer itself to kill the Night King. That was just the sword Azor made. Per Thoros “According to prophecy, our champion will be reborn to wake dragons from stone and reforge the great sword Lightbringer that defeated the darkness those thousands of years ago. If the old tales are true, a terrible weapon forged with a loving wife’s heart. Part of me thinks man was well rid of it, but great power requires great sacrifice. That much at least the Lord of Light is clear on.”
Let’s start with a look at the weapons.
Lightbringer was forged by using the blood of Nissa Nissa, but what about Cat’s Paw? What do we know? Cat’s Paw is a Valyrian Steel dagger with a dragonbone hilt adorned with a single red gem. What is Valyrian Steel? Nobody really knows since the art of it is lost, but it is believed to have been forged by Dragonfire and Dark Magic…or more specifically Blood Magic. The only survivors of the Doom were the Targaryens who chose the house words “Fire and Blood.” It is possible Lightbringer may have just been the first sword formed by those methods. If you can make one what is to stop others from making more. He discovered the method to create a material to take down the Night King. This could mean that literally any Valyrian steel weapon satisfies this part of the prophecy. Now the only reason I mentioned the gem is because at another point Lightbringer was called the red sword of heroes. I’m not sure that matters and I don’t think the gem was ever mentioned in the books.
Now there is the other prophecy. “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.”
There seems to be a popular idea that this is quite literal and refers to an actual birth, but that may not be the case. It can be someone reborn. I remember a theory awhile back that even Tyrion had a claim since he was born into the man he is now during the Battle of Blackwater. When was Arya really born? When did she become who she is? The first point that came to mind was when she became no one and then chose to be Arya. This moment happened when she killed the Waif. She did this in Braavos, a large harbor that is ruled by the Sealords and contains a place referred to as Salty Town. Check goes to salt. What really caught my attention was how Arya defeated the Waif. She used the skills she learned while she was blind, something the Waif could not do. She won by extinguishing a candle. Smoke.
So, at that point my only sticking point was “wake dragons out of stone.” However, it was 1 AM and I was tired. I decided to sleep on it. I knew that I should be cautious about assuming that the prophecy meant literal dragons, because that just isn’t how these things necessarily work.
The prophecy itself was based on the religion of Rheillor. We have seen in this show that many gods may be lurking. We have Melisandre and the Band Brothers setting things on fire and bringing people back to life, we have Bran warging into animals and peeping all along the time line, and we have the faceless men turning into duplicates of other people. I am assuming that involves more than just ripping off someone’s face and wearing it (although that creates some hilarious imagery for the Walder Frey dinner party). Who is to say that the Darkness is destroyed by a prophet of Light every time? It is possible it is different due to the fact that Arya follows the God of Death.
Here is where things started to get weird for me. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about prophecies themselves. How many times in stories are prophecies self-fulfilling. Humans build lore and religion around things we do not understand, and really there may be no/half truth to it. The old tales and prophecy could simply be how Valyrian Steel was created, and that is really all anyone needs. Arya just happened to be the one that Beric (a man with a literal flaming sword) died protecting which made Melisandre change her mind (again), so she gave Arya the speech that she needed to find her own personal courage. I mean old George himself has said that he wanted to avoid prophecies that are too literal or too easily solved.
These prophecies were spoken by people. When Theron brought it up he even said “if the old tales are true.” The only thing he knew for sure is that sacrifice would be required. The other bit was from the Red Woman, a religious zealot who thought everyone she met was the Price that was Promised. Is she really a credible source?
Martin has never been shy about the type of book he was writing. I feel like we viewers/reader are the Red Woman. We are constantly changing, guessing, and bending our theories based on the newest bit of info. Now the red woman is dead and we have to go back to the part of the story that was started, human’s bickering over power. A tyrannical ruler can be many measures worse than a snowy apocalypse. At least in the apocalypse you are probably just dead. This is only going to go more insane now that there is no great threat to bind all of these groups. George loves his parallels and he has made his stance on prophecy pretty clear.
After mulling all of this over I came to an interesting conclusion: The Prince that was Promised is Valyrian Steel in general or possibly Cat’s Paw itself if you still want to stay all lore filled. Forged with Dragonfire and Blood Magic on a Peninsula in the Summer Sea. After the Doom the place fell apart and is now separated by the Smoking Sea. We do not know the origin of Cat’s Paw, and that may be the key. What we do know is that of all the Valyrian Steel swords made several are unaccounted for. Cat’s Paw could have been forged from one of them. We know for a fact that Brightroar was lost when the King of the Rock sailed out on a failed quest to raid the remains of the city once ruled by dragonlords, and we also know that there have been attempts to reclaim it. Tywin was also desperate to buy a replacement until he finally acquired Ice.
I have seen some people saying Arya was fan service, lazy story telling, and not real, but they have been setting this up since season three. Every step she made in the background led to this moment. This style of Anti-Fantasy is really common in Martin’s writing.
It also might be something to note that nobody ever said that the Darkness was the Wights. It was assumed, but plenty of people of assumed they were fighting the Darkness before. The Night King character wasn’t even a really big thing in the books. There was a Night’s King, but that is a completely different story with a different origin. Keep in mind, we still have three movie lengths of show left. A lot can still happen. Maybe the Night King warged into Cersei before he died, or maybe his death will lead to a mad king (or queen) going mad. Burn them All. Hold the Door. Maybe the true darkness is in King’s Landing. Perhaps Dany is going to pull a flaming sword out of Drogon’s mouth, run Jon through with it, and strike down the Mountain. However, it is also possible that this is a story of political intrigue in a world that happens to have magic. Now that the combined threat is gone, how will our player’s react? Will Dany betray Jon and go mad with power like the Mad King before her? Will Cersei set the other half of King’s Landing on fire? Is there still a snake in the dungeon? Clegane Bowl? Can a King of the North really throw back host ten times the size of their own at Moat Cailin? Something tells me that this battle will not be the end all be all of the series, and there is plenty more spilled blood to come.