game of thrones the queen's justice 3

I tend to be skeptical of Game of Thrones theories, not because they’re not fun, but because the world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire seemingly goes out of its way to crush them. Fan theories, like prophecies, tend to fall victim to cold, hard reality in Westeros. Martin’s writing has always felt a kinship with actual history in this way – things often go the way you don’t expect because history is generally unpleasant, unpredictable, and totally out of line with what everyone expected.

So when I write a headline saying “this is a really good Game of Thrones theory and you should read it,” know that I’m taking this quite seriously, thank you very much. Season 7 spoilers, for both past episodes and possibly upcoming episodes, follow.

This theory originated on Reddit via user matttwee (although I tip my hat in the direction of Mashable for bringing it to my attention) and it involves the true identity of “the prince who was promised.”

For the viewers who need to be reminded of the finer details (Hi, Mom), this refers to the prophecy stating that the legendary hero Azor Ahai will “be born again amidst smoke and salt” to stop the Long Night and save Westeros from certain doom. Melisandre, the red priestess of R’hllor, has been going on about this prophecy since season 2, when she was convinced that Stannis Baratheon would fit the bill. She backed the wrong horse, to say the least.

Since then, other candidates have emerged. There’s Jon Snow, the noble bastard and newly minted King in the North who was resurrected by the Lord of Light. There’s Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, the tragic monster whose identity was forged through a horrific act of (fiery) violence and is now seeing mysterious visions in the flames. And most notably, there’s Daenerys Targaryen, whose dragons were born after she emerged unburnt from her husband’s funeral pyre.

But matttwee is convinced that Daenerys is the chosen one and that the first three episodes of season 7 have just about proven it. First, he brings up another part of the prophecy:

In the books, the legend states that Azor Ahai was working to forge a hero’s sword. On his first attempt, he tried to temper the steel in water, but it shattered. On his second attempt, he tried to temper the steel by thrusting the sword into the heart of a lion, but it too shattered. On the third and final attempt, he thrust the sword into his wife’s heart, and became successful in creating his sword Lightbringer.

With that knowledge in mind, let’s take a look at the state of the war so far, which Team Targaryen is definitively losing:

Let’s look at the two battles that involved Daenerys’ armies in each episode the past two weeks. The first, Yara/Dorne vs. Euron’s naval battle. Euron crushed their forces, taking their ships as well as Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene as prisoners. This attempt was a failure for Daenerys. The second, Unsullied vs. Casterly Rock. While Daenerys comes out with a victory in the battle itself, Cersei outsmarts her here. Only a fraction of the Lannister army is defeated, and Euron burned her fleet. The Unsullied have to march across Westeros to return to Dragonstone, where Lannister forces will most likely be waiting for them. Another failure for Daenerys.

The location of Daenerys’ failures is the key here. The first, in water. The second, Casterly Rock, the seat of House Lannister, whose sigil is a lion. And if we’re thinking figuratively you could say Casterly Rock is the heart of the lion.

So if Azor Ahai had to fail twice before forging the legendary sword Lightbringer, maybe Daenerys has to fail twice before stepping into her role as the prince who was promised (as this season has made clear, “prince” is gender neutral in this context). But if the first failure involves a stunning naval defeat and the second involves Casterly Rock, what could fulfill the final part of the prophecy? You know, the part about plunging a sword into a spouse’s heart?

There are two potential candidates. First, there’s Jorah Mormont, cured of his greyscale and presumably setting out to reunite with his queen. Second, there’s Drogon, the biggest of Dany’s dragons and the one named after her late husband, the Dothraki warrior, Khal Drogo. Could one of them have to die for Daenerys to claim power and save the seven kingdoms from the Night King?

Of course, knowing Game of Thrones, we’re all waaay off.

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