''I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow'' — Melisandre
There are many Game of Thrones fan theories, and most of them involve the Targaryens, whether they're newfound Targaryens (like Jon Snow), dead non-show Targaryens (like Jon's daddy, Rhaegar), or out-and-proud full-blooded Targaryens (like Daenerys Stormborn).
For a long time, R+L=J has been the biggest Game of Thrones fan theory, but now it's been confirmed that Jon Snow's parents are, indeed, Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, we can get to the deepest level of Game of Thrones theorizing — the second coming of Azor Ahai. Get your tinfoil hats on, Throners, we're going in!
The Sword and the Red Comet
"Stars don't fall for men. But the comet means one thing, boy. Dragons." ―Osha
The scene in the Season 6 finale, in which Ned hears his sister's dying wish to protect her baby/Jon Snow, was super dramatic. However, at 02:40 there's one lingering detail.
The sword that Ned rests at the end of Lyanna's blood-soaked bed is Dawn, the ancestral sword of House Dayne, which was made from the ore in a fragment of a meteor that landed at Starfall, the seat of the Daynes (hence the name).
We saw Ned take the sword after he and Howland Reed killed Ser Arthur Dayne in front of the Tower of Joy (Season 6, Episode 3, 'Oathbreaker'). The lingering shot of Dawn propped up next to the bloodied sheets is symbolic: Fire and Blood... and more. Dawn is not Valyrian steel — it's something else.
All of this sword stuff is pretty cool — especially the nice nod to book readers who know that ever-honorable Ned returned Dawn to Dayne's sister after the war — but it's really symbolic of something big at the heart of Game of Thrones.
The Second Coming of Azor Ahai
Azor Ahai — he's not mentioned very often in the show, and when he is it's usually in some cultish ramblings from everyone's favorite Red Woman, Melisandre of Asshai. He is the legendary savior of men, the warrior who fought with Lightbringer, a sword blazing with pure fire, tempered by plunging the freshly forged blade into the heart of his true love, Nissa Nissa. He is prophesied to come again.
Melisandre is convinced at first that it is Stannis who is Azor Ahai reborn:
''Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai come again, the warrior of fire. In him the prophecies are fulfilled. The red comet blazed across the sky to herald his coming, and he bears Lightbringer, the red sword of heroes.'' — Melisandre
Obviously, that was all wrong as now Stannis is dead and Melisandre is grumpy. The comet, however, is real, but many fans may have forgotten about it: it blazed through the sky in Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 1, 'The North Remembers'.
Azor Ahai is prophesied to return under circumstances that sound a hell of a lot like where Game of Thrones is at right now:
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.
The world of ice and fire has just finished its long Summer and Winter has come. 'The cold breath of darkness' is the tide of White Walkers. In short, Azor Ahai is a fiery warrior dude destined to save mankind from the 'cold breath of darkness' — sound familiar?
So... How Do We Know Who Is Azor Ahai Reborn?
''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.'' — Melisandre
This is where it all gets a little more speculative, but the majority of fans agree Azor Ahai has to be reborn in either Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, or some mix of the two. There are certain criteria to his rebirth, all tinged with the poetic symbolism you'd expect from a sweeping fantasy epic. Reborn Azor Ahai will:
- Be born under the red star
- Be born in smoke and salt
- Wake dragons out of stone
- Wield Lightbringer, the flaming sword
- Probably have to make some terrible sacrifice
Despite Jon Snow having a marvelously mysterious birth and being a great warrior all set to fight off the hordes of White Walkers, Daenerys does have a better score on a point-by-point basis:
- Dany is born of the Dragonstone sea (salt) and the smoking ruins of old Valyria (smoke).
- She is reborn from the fire with her eggs, under the red star: Dany's Khalasar call the comet shierak qiya, Dothraki for 'bleeding star.'
- She LITERALLY woke dragons out of their stone eggs.
- Her husband and son died to bring forth her dragons (or maybe her really terrible sacrifice awaits!)
- Uh... I guess we'll have to see about Lightbringer...
So. While Jon Snow seems the perfect emblem of the warrior Azor Ahai, Dany seems to more accurately fulfill the prophecy... maybe Azor Ahai is more of a metaphor and therefore can be a conglomeration of the two of them*? Or maybe I should just take my tinfoil hat off.
TL;DR: The Season 6 finale used visual symbolism to hint that Jon Snow may be Azor Ahai (basically Westerosi Fire Jesus) reborn.
Who is Azor Ahai reborn?
*Of course, fans will be fans and there are Dany/Jon relationship theories, but she's his AUNTIE, and we've got enough incest on Game of Thrones already.