As the title of the show fittingly suggests, the relentlessly exhausting and bloody battle for the Iron Throne has been the bedrock of Game of Thrones, and the underlying motivation for many depraved, murderous acts.
But while the finale of Season 6 ushered in a chilling new morally bankrupt monarch, Queen Cersei Lannister, all the sovereign squabbles (if you can call cold-blooded murder a "squabble") will disintegrate into nothingness when faced with a higher threat: The White Walkers are on their way, and they mean business.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones and speculates on future events.
The Prophecy Of Azor Ahai
Cometh the hour, cometh the need for something, or someone, to put an end to the biggest threat of all. That someone is known as Azor Ahai, as told by an ancient prophecy and constantly hinted at by Red Priestess Melisandre (seriously, sometimes I feel that's all she talks about).
Those of you unfamiliar with Azor Ahai — alternatively known as the Prince That Was Promised — can get the full lowdown here and watch the video above.
Legend has it that 5,000 years ago, winter fell for a generation and a lone figure referred to as Azor put an end to the darkness. Melisandre discusses the prophecy as follows in A Clash of Kings. She said:
"There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him."
A Potential Sacrifice
A note on the Lightbringer: This is a crucial aspect to the whole prophecy, the fabled sword that was cast of living fire. Azor took three attempts to create the sword, with the successful attempt coming when he sacrificed his own wife, thus merging the sword with her soul. Although it is always referred to as a sword, many believe it instead to be a metaphor.
Melisandre originally identified Stannis Baratheon as Azor Ahai, before awkwardly realizing that she was wrong. So, that means that the Prince That Was Promised is still out there and, considering the direction the show is going, will be one of the most important characters toward the end of the show.
But who could it be? Let's take a look below:
1. Daenerys Targaryen
Disclaimer: Although Azor is referred to as a "Prince," in High Valyrian the word is gender neutral, so the chosen one could be male or female.
Dany is Game of Thrones's most obvious choice. The entire show has been viewed through a pro-Dany gaze, and all suggestions point toward her: She is the Mother of Dragons, she was reborn amid smoke and salt, plus she has pure Targaryen blood running through her veins.
Let's speculate that Dany is the chosen one. Now she is on her way to King's Landing, many are speculating the "love" she is looking for could be the new King of the North, Jon Snow. If this is the case, and the pair fall in (incestuous) love, could Dany end up sacrificing Jon?
2. Jon Snow
Following Jon Snow's resurrection at the hands of Melisandre, many would be forgiven for believing he is the chosen one. Add in the season finale confirmation of the R + L = J theory, proving he has Targaryen blood, and he is an outstanding candidate.
On the flipside of the above theory, if Dany and Jon do become an item, Jon may be the one who has to sacrifice Dany in order to save humanity.
3. Jaime Lannister
As an outside choice, Jaime could turn out to be the Prince That Was Promised. In some respects, he is one of the only remaining characters who is intoxicated by the kind of love that is required to make the magic work. A Reddit theory speculated that, should Valyrian steel be forged with some kind of blood magic, Jaime could end up stabbing Cersei to prevent her evil reign.
Interestingly, there could even be the slightest glimmer of foreshadowing to this theory, when Tywin tells Jaime to "become the man [he was] always meant to be."
4. The Hound
Sandor Clegane is an unlikely choice, although some things do point toward him being the chosen one, with the most obvious being his disfigurement at the hands of his brother, Gregor, who burnt his face in fire. Plus, during his return in Episode 7 of the sixth season, the reformed warrior Brother Ray, expressed that the Gods weren't done with him.
Also, the long speculated Cleganebowl could link in with the Hound "killing" the Mountain, producing the Lightbringer as a result of the brotherly love he still has inside of him.
5. Davos Seaworth
Davos is stoic and reliable, and stood by Jon's side even in death. Yet some believe there is more to him than meets the eye. During the Battle of Blackwater, Davos emerged from salt and smoke, while the "bleeding star" was in the sky.
A more believable theory is that Davos is in fact the mythical Lightbringer — and Jon Snow Azor Ahai by association — based around this comment in A Storm of Swords:
"When Davos left the window his shadow went before him, tall and thin, and fell across the Painted Table like a sword."
6. Jorah Mormont
Something has to eventually go right for poor Jorah. Loyal to the woman he loves, Daenerys, Jorah has suffered heartbreak after heartbreak, leading to his journey to find a cure for greyscale. At the beginning of Game of Thrones Season 7, he's at the Citadel, covered from head to toe in the agonizing skin disease.
Considering the stakes at play, Jorah is still getting a significant chunk of the narrative dedicated to him, which must mean he has a big role in the events ahead, more than a reunion with Dany. Could it be Jorah is an outside bet to be the Prince That Was Promised?
Who do you think will be revealed as Azor Ahai?