What’s up, Game of Thrones theory heads. As with other posts of this nature, it is our solemn duty to warn you that massive spoilers lurk ahead. No, “lurk” is the wrong word—they are descending like dragons, ready to turn your innocent, spoiler-free flesh into the roasted, smoking meat of worldly knowledge, or something. If you’re not caught up on the TV show or the books, and you want to remain in blissful ignorance, stop now. If you are caught up, and don’t want to read a theory on how the drama in Westeros ends—a theory that is so thorough, so smart, and comes with so much corroborating evidence that I basically consider it a spoiler—stop now.
Seriously, you have been warned. Beneath this .gif of Hot Pie eating in a manner that can only be described as “delightful,” the spoilers will come at you in a fury. Reddit Game of Thrones doesn’t mess around.
(Note: Hot Pie does not figure in the content to follow. I love the guy, but we’re not f***ing crazy.)
Okay, you’re still here. This theory comes to us courtesy of Reddit user Byrd82, who wrote up a truly incredible essay on a question that has dogged even the nerdiest fans of the show: Who is “Azor Ahai,” a.k.a “The Prince that was Promised,” a.k.a lots of other names from lore. Essentially, this is the prophesied hero who will save Westeros. Most people suspect it’s one of a few heroic characters we’ve met so far—Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Brandon Stark, Arya Stark, or even Tyrion Lannister. Byrd82’s answer is quite different: Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer. And that’s not all—before it’s over, he will kill Cersei and broker peace with the White Walkers.
Before you leave, laughing yourself silly, note that this is much more than just some Internet contrarian’s hot take. Personally, as someone who has read every book twice (which actually makes me a newb in Thrones-theory world) and sought out theory blogs and Reddit posts and even podcasts, I found this to be the most compelling piece of scholarship I’ve read, at least in terms of supporting evidence. It’s the kind of theorizing that reads like truth, at least to me and thousands of Reddit readers.
I highly recommend reading the original thread in its entirety, but I sought out Byrd82 (who wishes to remain anonymous) for an interview, and s/he generously agreed. The email correspondence that follows covers the theory itself, how s/he came to discover it (others have arrived at the same conclusion, though never with the same completist presentation), and how it predicts the end of George R.R. Martin’s saga.
Paste: I’ve already implored our readers to visit your excellent thread on Reddit and digest the entire thing (I’ll implore again: If you love ASOIAF and Game of Thrones, it is more than worth your time), but for the lazy ones, can you give us a quick summary of your theory about Azor Ahai and how it’s all going to end?
So, the basic gist is that there is a seriously problematic translation error that, once cleared up, will shed light on the identity of the hero in ASOIAF. According to the Valyrian dictionary, Valyrian words for lord and light are aeksio and onos. However, Valyrian words for gold and hand are aeksion and ondos. Just as we might suspect, The Lord of Light is a farce. Jaime Lannister—Gold Hand—is the hero of legend and prophecy.
Jaime has been on a redemptive journey, from “Kingslayer” to “Jaime,” that syncs up with the Valonqar, Prince that was Promised, and Azor Ahai prophecies. This journey began when Jaime lost his hand—a potent symbol of the Kingslayer persona. Jaime’s transformation will ultimately lead to Cersei’s death at his hand. At that time, his identity as the hero will be revealed when his sword hand returns, set ablaze, as a weapon he can wield against the White Walkers. There’s plenty of detailed evidence to back this up, which you will read in the post. GRRM and the showrunners have hidden many clues, as well, that I’m discovering with every read/viewing.
Paste: One thing I enjoyed reading in the thread was how even those who really didn’t want to believe in the idea, either because they dislike Jaime or love another potential savior like Jon Snow or Daenerys, had to admit the strength of your theory. Before we get into how you came to the idea—and I promise this is the last time I’ll make you re-hash your thread—can you give our readers a primer on the three stages of the Azor Ahai prophecy, and how it so neatly plays into what we’ve seen of Jaime so far, and what we might see in the future?
I agree that Jaime has one of the more compelling stories. In my opinion, we’ve seen Jaime grow more than any other character. Martin has been so clear about his views on ambiguous heroes, and Jaime seems to represent this better than anyone. This is precisely the reason I began to consider Jaime as fitting the hero prophecies.
So, yes, Azor Ahai. The prophecy of Azor Ahai predicts the arrival of a hero that will defeat The Others with his fiery sword, Lightbringer. When we consider the three-part Azor Ahai prophecy, Jaime’s narrative fits with stunning accuracy. The key to the narrative is to approach the “forging of a hero’s sword” from a metaphorical perspective. That is, Jaime is forging his hero persona, shifting from Kingslayer to Jaime. Each time, however, he is corrupted by his love for, and devotion to, Cersei.
Part I: He labored for thirty days and thirty nights until it was done. However, when he went to temper it in water, the sword broke. He was not one to give up easily, so he started over.
After Jaime loses his hand, he attempts, for the first time, to shed the “Kingslayer” in the bath at Harrenhal. He does so by sharing the origin of the Kingslayer with Brienne. Some interesting wording that is found in ASOS and GoT hints at what is about to occur. As Jaime first enters the bath, he warns Brienne, “Not so hard, you’ll rub the skin off.” I believe this is a subtle reference to this first act of change, shedding his skin.
Subsequently, we hear Jaime’s recounting of the Aerys story to Brienne. He is tempering/testing “Jaime” in water. In ASOS, after Jaime finishes his story, “The water had grown cool. When Jaime opened his eyes, he found himself staring at the stump of his sword hand. The hand that made me Kingslayer. The goat had robbed him of his glory and his shame, both at once. Leaving what? Who am I now?” (ASOS, Jaime, Ch. 37)
Maybe my favorite piece of evidence from this scene, though, is when Jaime passes out in the bath. Brienne calls out for help, “The Kingslayer!” but he replies, “My name is Jaime!”
Ultimately, though, Jaime is corrupted by his exposure to Cersei. Not until he reviews the History of the Kingsguard with Joffrey does he decide to “forge his sword” once again.
Part II: The second time he took fifty days and fifty nights to make the sword, even better than the first. To temper it this time, he captured a lion and drove the sword into its heart, but once more the steel shattered.
Jaime again attempts to shed the Kingslayer persona when he defies Tywin and frees Tyrion from the cells after Joffrey’s death. Recall that Tyrion immediately kills Tywin in a scene that is loaded with lion imagery.
Even though Jaime did not pull the trigger, Cersei directly blames Jaime’s moral “stupidity” for Tywin’s death, fulfilling our second aspect of the prophecy.
Cersei exerts her influence once again, however, shattering Jaime’s blade.
Setting the stage for the final act, Jaime faces Edmure and Walder Frey at the end of season 6. Both men disparage his character; Frey even compares himself to Jaime—both Kingslayers. This sets the stage for Jaime’s return to King’s Landing…
Part III: The third time, with a heavy heart, for he knew beforehand what he must do to finish the blade, he worked for a hundred days and nights until it was finished. This time, he called for his wife, Nissa Nissa, and asked her to bare her breast.
Now, this is where predictions begin. Jaime returns to King’s Landing and sees Cersei has taken power. He sees that she has burned The Sept. He knows he must kill her. He knows he must remove her influence permanently if he will successfully “finish his blade.”
Jaime will kill Cersei. In my opinion, he has already made that decision; it’s simply a matter of time. Whenever it does happen, though, is the point at which Jaime will be revealed as the hero. With Cersei as Nissa Nissa, her death will reveal Lightbringer—Jaime’s sword hand will return, this time set ablaze. What was once Jaime’s corruption embodied is reborn, the mark of a prophesized hero.
One piece of evidence that seems to seal the deal for many is this scene with Meera and Jojen. Meera asks Jojen, “When will we know it’s the end?” and Jojen replies...
For me, there is no doubt Jaime is the hero. It’s important to remember that GRRM hates war; he was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. GRRM consistently sets out to show the grim aspects of battle. This story will not end with war as the answer. If we compare Battle of the Bastards and Dragon’s Bay conflicts with the relatively peaceful resolution to Riverrun, who would GRRM believe to be the best leader? Who may be able to broker a peace with The Others?
Paste: Since you submitted your theory to the hive mind of Reddit, have any of the comments made you re-think any part of your theory? One idea I found compelling was that Cersei’s death will actually be the second part of the prophecy (plunging the sword into the lion) and that someone else, possibly Brienne, would fulfill the third part (Nissa Nissa).
Most of the posts in disagreement have been about who Nissa Nissa might be. To me, it must be Cersei. There’s no one else.
I have read some comments that suggest Brienne as being more important. I don’t think Brienne will factor in more than being a catalyst or role model for Jaime. Remember, she was the only one to value the honor of his word. Brienne made Jaime want to be a better person. I think calling their relationship a loving one would be a bit too much. It seems like mutual respect or admiration to me. Especially since the relationship between Cersei and Jaime has been the focal point of most of the series, to replace it with a short-term friendship would seem cheap.
I also think it’s important that the third part of the AA prophecy also fulfills the Valonqar prophecy. The “ecstasy” of Nissa Nissa’s scream will be caused by Cersei’s understanding of the fulfillment of the Maggy the Frog prophecy. She’s battled with her role in the death of her children. In a way, she would feel joy if the prophecy was true, since she would feel relieved of any responsibility in the deaths of her children. I mean, how cool would it be to see Jaime kill Cersei with Widow’s Wail as she “screams in agony and ecstasy”?!
Cersei is such an established character, the longest-running villain, and I think she deserves a pretty epic death. To have Azor Ahai reborn with the death of a side character would seem strange. The magic of Jaime killing his twin, lover and greatest love seems far more appropriate.
Transitioning slightly, what’s your history with ASOIAF, and how did you come to develop this theory? I’ve noticed that it’s been argued before, though never so thoroughly, and I’m curious when and how it first occurred to you that Jaime might be Azor Ahai.
I think my belief in Jaime has been a slow progression. I was initially Team Dany, but given her lust for power, she seems less and less a hero to me. When I began to notice the continuous use of hand imagery and references in ASOIAF, I decided there must be more to it.
It started when my husband decided he wanted to join in the fun and watch the series. I was happy to watch with him. The first real clue was, on the second viewing, the scene with Jojen and Meera. The a-ha moment was that the source of Lightbringer’s red glow and flame might not be the sword itself, but the wielder. If you read the prophecy, it supports that theory; whatever sword is being wielded by Azor Ahai will be Lightbringer. Why does it need to be Valyrian steel? Maybe just the heat of Azor Ahai’s grip. There is no specific, dedicated sword to be discovered. I believe Jojen was telling us Azor Ahai will have a flaming hand like Jojen’s in the scene.
Simply based on the fact that Jaime is missing a hand, I re-read his chapters. It was Jaime’s weirwood dream that left me questioning if he could be Azor Ahai. Weirwood dreams are generally pretty accurate, and Jaime dreamt of wielding a fiery blade. Qyburn’s use of the word “corruption” when referring to Jaime’s hand also caught my attention. It never quite made sense for the AA prophecies to be literal, so that’s the point that things began to cement.
One of the last really meaningful pieces of evidence I found was the Valyrian translation. Aemon hints that we should look out for mistranslations in the series and the books. So, I visited dothraki.org and reviewed words for the other components of the prophecy. I noticed the words for lord and gold were listed one after another. Same with light and hand. That was a “whoa” moment. Certainly, after this, I was pretty convinced.
To be honest, I was sure this theory was already out there in its entirety. I searched… and searched. I read theories that touch on bits and pieces, but never the whole. So, after sitting on it for nearly a year, I decided to finally write it down and share.
Paste: Finally, perhaps it’s just the newness of your theory, but you have me utterly convinced that you’ve cracked the code of how the saga will end. And yet, Martin is obviously a master of misdirection and surprise, so I want to pose the question to you—how sure are you of your theory, and how much would it shock you if GRRM went in a totally different direction?
I’m convinced my theory makes sense, but I would not be shocked at all if the series or the books went another way. GRRM is a genius. I’m a keyboard warrior that had a Sunday afternoon free.