[Warning: this article contains Game of Thrones season 6 spoilers]
Jon Snow’s resurrection has brought new credence to the long-held theory that the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is Azor Ahai reborn.
For those of you who have forgotten, Azor Ahai is a legendary and messianic figure in Asshai lore. It is said that thousands of years ago he defeated the Great Other (the god of darkness) with his great sword Lightbringer, which ushered in an era of light and peace. He is prophesied to return and save the world from the darkness once more.
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. – Melisandre, “A Clash of Kings”
We’ve garnered many clues as to who Azor Ahai may be from Melisandre, who has said that the hero will be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone. She believed Stannis Baratheon to be that hero (and tried her best to make it a reality), yet curiously enough, when she would ask the Lord of Light to show her a vision of Azor Ahai, he nearly always would show her something to do with Jon Snow.
I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only snow – Melisandre, “A Dance With Dragons”
If Jon Snow is Azor Ahai, then he needs to be able to meet three qualifications: he must be born amidst smoke and salt, be able to wake dragons out of stone, and he must be able to wield Lightbringer.
Let’s take a look at his newly updated resume and see if he meets any of these qualifications…
1. Must be born amidst smoke and salt
We can’t speak for the elements present during Jon Snow’s birth, but we can speak for those present during his rebirth.
There is no doubt that smoke was present during Jon’s resurrection (Melisandre threw clippings of Jon’s hair into the flames), but what about the salt?
It’s extremely possible that Melisandre had washed Jon’s body with a mixture of salt and water during the resurrection ceremony, which would have served purposes both practical and mystical.
Salt was used in ancient times by the Romans and Egyptians as an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, something a newly revived Jon Snow desperately needs considering the fact that he’s ridden with stab wounds. And as far as the mystical arts are concerned, salt is commonly used by witches and mystic healers for purification, and many mystics prepare for their ceremonies by taking a salt bath.
If Melisandre did in fact use salt during the resurrection ceremony, then Jon Snow would have been literally reborn amidst smoke and salt.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that all water, fresh or not, contains traces of good ol’ sodium chloride… but this might be getting a little too technical for Game of Thrones.
2. Must be able to wake dragons out of stone
This qualification has Daenerys Targaryen’s name written all over it, but it’s possible that it may also apply to Jon Snow.
It is implied (but not explicitly stated) that Azor Ahai must have the blood of the dragon, so if the R+L=J theory is to be believed, then Jon Snow does in fact have that fiery blood within his veins.
The prophecy states that Azor Ahai will wake dragons out of stone after he is reborn, so if Jon is to fulfill this part of the prophecy, then we haven’t seen it yet.
Previews of season 6 episode 3 appear to show a young Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy (a central landmark in the R+L=J theory), so Jon may learn the true identity of his parents sooner rather than later. If that happens, then the dragon (Jon) may awaken on a spiritual level.
3. Must be able to wield Lightbringer
Jon Snow once had a dream where he fought the Others with a burning red sword, but he does not currently wield Lightbringer.
Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. – “A Dance with Dragons”
However, one could make the argument that Longclaw is Lightbringer, as the battle of Hardhome did seem to mirror the Azor Ahai prophecy.
Whilst trying to rescue a bag full of dragon glass from a hut engulfed in flames, Jon Snow was attacked and disarmed by a White Walker. He managed to find a sword to defend himself, but the weapon turned to dust as soon as it met the White Walker’s ice blade. He found and drew Longclaw from the burning hut and, to both of their surprise, the blade did not shatter upon meeting the White Walker’s weapon.
Sam and Jon theorized that the blade held up due to the fact that it’s made with Valyrian steel, a substance as mysterious as it is rare. Legend says that it was forged with dragon’s fire and magic, so it is entirely possible that Lightbringer is made of this steel.
This is assuming, of course, that Lightbringer is a literal sword.
If Lightbringer is a symbolic sword, and Jon Snow is indeed Azor Ahai, then the Night’s Watch may be that sword. It’s not exactly a far stretch: the Night’s Watch and Lightbringer were both forged to protect the realms from the White Walkers.
This is a complicated theory that relies more on speculation than actual facts.
If we ignore the speculation, then Jon definitely fails the Azor Ahai test. He was not born amidst salt and smoke (that we know of), he has not awakened dragons from stone, and he most certainly does not have a sword made of fire.
Daenerys, by contrast, does meet all of these qualifications (if you consider her dragons to be her fiery sword), but that doesn’t necessarily make her Azor Ahai.
Remember, Azor Ahai will be reborn for one purpose, and one purpose only: to defeat the Great Other and vanquish the darkness.
Daenerys is a sweet girl with a warm heart, but like many of the characters on Game of Thrones, her main interests and concerns are politically charged. She is a player in the fight for the Iron Throne, not a player in the fight against the White Walkers.
Jon Snow, on the other hand, is the only main character who is actively fighting against the White Walkers. If we were to proclaim a character to be Azor Ahai based on intent alone, then he’s hands down our hero.
So is Jon Snow Azor Ahai?
Well, it’s impossible to know for sure this early in the story, but let’s just say you wouldn’t be a fool to put your money on the brother in black.