Who Is "The Prince That Was Promised"?
This post contains spoilers from "Game Of Thrones" Season 7, Episode 2.
The A Song of Ice and Fire series is very good at couching all of its religious beliefs in historical contexts, even if those historical contexts are just as made up as the world itself. When you have something that is so solid in its own methods, you can use that as a base to go mad, and yet everything will hold together properly.
But there's one prophecy/fan theory that is currently running around the story that doesn't have a proper base: "The Prince That Was Promised" theory.
In the books, the oldest reference to the phrase, according to Melisandre, is by a Red Priestess who prophesied his coming about 5,000 years ago. This puts it as a thing based on the R'hllor religion on Essos.
But Melisandre also uses it interchangeably with the name Azor A'hai. A'hai is the name of the man who led the fight against the invasion of the White Walkers, circa 8,000 BC, during the first Long Night, back in the Age of Heroes. He was famous for wielding a sword made of flame, which he used to great effect against the enemy. So is The Prince That Was Promised A'hai reborn? And if so, why aren't we considering Beric Dondarrion as a contender?
Melisandre says the line from the prophecy is "When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt." We saw the "red star" bleed at the beginning of Season 2. Are we going to say that A'hai reborn is a toddler?
Some believe The Prince That Was Promised was Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys' older brother (who was born in the wake of the Tragedy of Summerhall, fulfilling the "smoke and salt" bit of the prophecy). The books also have Barristan Selmy mention to Dany there was a prophecy that said The Prince That Was Promised would come from the line born of the union of Mad King Aerys and his wife Rhaella. Rhaegar was their oldest.
Rhaegar is Jon Snow's father -- and in the books, in the House of the Undying, Dany sees Rhaegar in a vision where he tells her that his son is "The Prince Who Was Promised, and this is the song of ice and fire." Does that make Jon the heir to the title?
Melisandre once believed Stannis was A'hai reborn because when she asked the Lord of the Light to lead her to him, he showed her Stannis standing in Dragonstone. But now she believes that was just a means to an end. Stannis brought her in contact with Jon and then died. This is another point is the "Jon Snow is A'hai reborn" column.
But! In Seasons 5 and 6, we've seen the rest of the followers of R'hllor, all the ones in Essos, have been preaching that it's really Daenerys Targaryen who is this Prince Who Was Promised savior. So far, we've mostly seen Tyrion use it to his advantage, but an entire legion of religious followers just went into the Dany column.
Can Dany be "The Prince Who Was Promised"? High Valyrian is a genderless language that defaults to the male (because patriarchy). There's nothing saying it's couldn't be a woman... As Melisandre reminded us tonight. Those who think her a fraud would say she's looking for a new victim. But I just see her getting into line with the beliefs of the rest of her sister and brotherhood.
Maybe her vision was supposed to be of Dragonstone, not Stannis. It was just that the wrong person was in residence at the time? Could the answer really be Dany?