Hey there friends! LmL here, and thanks for checking out part 3 of our End of Ice and Fire series, and if you haven’t seen the first two you will definitely want to watch those before this one. In part one we laid out the basic theory of this series – that Beric stabbing and burning the corpse spiral at Last Hearth represents the idea of an Azor Ahai figure burning the weirwood tree in the far north where the Night King was created, or even burning the weirwoodnet as a whole. The idea is that spiral shapes seem to represent that Night King tree, which has those spiral arms of standing stones, so using a Lightbringer sword to burn such a spiral struck me (and a few others) as heavy foreshadowing.
In Part 2, we began to get into examples from the books which back up the main theory – scenes which depict an Azor Ahai person burning or stabbing weirwoods or things which symbolize weirwoods, and always with the goal of defeating the White Walkers and ending the Long Night. We mostly looked at scenes with Stannis burning weirwoods and symbolic weirwoods, though we also mentioned Stannis offering to make Jon Snow an official Stark and the Lord of Winterfell, if only he will burn down the Winterfell heart tree.
Perhaps the most telling of all the examples we looked at was burning the Lord of Bones, who was glamoured up to look like Mance Raydar, in a weirwood cage at the Wall. The weirwood cage is a book-only detail, but it’s especially important because both the Lord of Bones and Mance Raydar are symbolic Night King figures, and burning the Night King in a weirwood cage is simply another way of talking about the general idea of burning the weirwoods to destroy the White Walkers. The implication is that the weirwoods can be a trap which contain and consume the Night King, and that is because, in my opinion, the power of the show-version Night King is tied to that weirwood tree where he was transformed, and in the books, we can say that all signs point to the White Walkers as a whole having been created with weirwood magic.
Now here we are, waiting for the big battle at Winterfell that’s coming in Episode 3, and look – Bran is planning to use himself as bait to lure the Night King into the godswood, where Jon and Dany hope to use their dragons to spring a trap. In other words… we will probably have, all gathered together: the Night King, Bran, a weirwood tree, and Azor Ahai people wielding lots of fire. All the ingredients of my theory are in place, save that our Azor Ahai people are armed with dragons as opposed to flaming swords, which is fine because they are both Lightbringer symbols. Another difference is that we aren’t at the Night King weirwood in the far north, but at Winterfell, but recall that the two times Bran visited the Night King tree, he did so on the astral plane, using the magic of the weirwoods. Many of us expect to see a battle where Dany and Jon fight the Night King on the physical plane while Bran does so on the astral plane at some point, and we could definitely see something like that next week, where the fight moves from Winterfell to the astral plane and thus to the now-frozen Night King home tree.
What I have for you today is another book example of Azor Ahai destroying weirwoods to kill a Night King figure. I’ve chosen this one because it’s a dragonrider vs dragonrider battle which acts as a perfect model for the eternal clash of ice and fire, and in Episode 3 we very well may see a dragon fight between Jon and Dany’s fire dragons and the Night King’s ice dragon. But before they do – whether that’s this week or in the future – I want to show you this dragonrider battle from the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons which may foreshadow what’s going to happen when ice and fire dragons collide. There are also more clues about Bran in here, as well as clues about the connection between the weirwoods and the white walkers, now is the time to have a good look at this hot, dragon-on-dragon action.
This dragonrider fight – the dragonrider fight to end all dragonrider fights, really – takes place about 200 years before the current storyline, back when the Targaryens ruled Westeros with dragons, but didn’t always get along so well with each other. The combatants in the fight are the nineteen-year old Aemond One-Eye Targaryen, who rode the mighty Vhagar, and his uncle, the forty-nine year old but still frisky Daemon Targaryen, who rode the fearsome red dragon called Caraxes, the Bloodwyrm. This one stood out right away because of the spectacular way the fight ends, and I’m just gonna read this bit from The Princess and the Queen because it’s simply too good to summarize:
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of I&F
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night & Moon Blood
IV: The Mountain vs. the Viper & the Hammer of the Waters
V: Tyrion Targaryen
VI: Lucifer means Lightbringer
We Should Start Back
I: AGOT Prologue
The attack came sudden as a thunderbolt. Caraxes dove down upon Vhagar with a piercing shriek that was heard a dozen miles away, cloaked by the glare of the setting sun on Prince Aemond’s blind side. The Blood Wyrm slammed into the older dragon with terrible force. Their roars echoed across the Gods Eye as the two grappled and tore at one another, dark against a blood red sky. So bright did their flames burn that fisherfolk below feared the clouds themselves had caught fire. Locked together, the dragons tumbled toward the lake. The Blood Wyrm’s jaws closed about Vhagar’s neck, her black teeth sinking deep into the flesh of the larger dragon. Even as Vhagar’s claws raked her belly open and Vhagar’s own teeth ripped away a wing, Caraxes bit deeper, worrying at the wound as the lake rushed up below them with terrible speed.
And it was then, the tales tell us, that Prince Daemon Targaryen swung a leg over his saddle and leapt from one dragon to the other. In his hand was Dark Sister, the sword of Queen Visenya. As Aemond One-Eye looked up in terror, fumbling with the chains that bound him to his saddle, Daemon ripped off his nephew’s helm and drove the sword down into his blind eye, so hard the point came out the back of the young prince’s throat. Half a heartbeat later, the dragons struck the lake, sending up a gout of water so high that it was said to have been as tall as Kingspyre Tower.
Neither man nor dragon could have survived such an impact, the fisherfolk who saw it said, nor did they.
Perhaps the most single badass, action-hero type of thing anyone has done in ASOIAF. True, Daemon died anyway, but hey, he leaped from one dragon to the other in mid-air, and that sounds pretty hard.
There’s a lot of symbolism here to unpack, and let’s start with the fact that the battle took place over the lake of the Gods Eye, which contains the Isle of Faces. In the books, the Isle of Faces is the closest thing to a hub of the weirwoodnet that exists. For instance, it’s very possible that the book equivalent to “burning the Night King tree” may turn out to be burning the weirwoods on the Isle of Faces, and shout-out to Smokescreen who’s been talking about that very thing for a while now in his series “A Dragon Raised by Wolves.” It’s notable, then, that as Daemon Targaryen waited at Harrenhal before the battle, he made a habit out of stabbing weirwood trees, and this is from Fire and Blood:
Daemon Targaryen walked the cavernous halls of Harren’s seat alone, with no companion but his dragon. Each night at dusk he slashed the heart tree in the godswood to mark the passing of another day. Thirteen marks can be seen upon that weirwood still; old wounds, deep and dark, yet the lords who have ruled Harrenhal since Daemon’s day say they bleed afresh every spring.
Annnnd we’ve got some weirwood tree stabbing, here in the Harrenhal godswood by the Gods Eye and the Isle of Faces. Daemon’s sword is not a flaming sword, but it is made from Valyrian steel, making it a “magic sword” and a “dragon sword” and thus a great stand-in for Lightbringer. And what is he doing with it? Stabbing the weirwood tree, which is what TV show Beric is symbolically doing when he stabs the corpse spiral diagram of Night King’s frozen tree. That’s a clue that Daemon will be the Azor Ahai figure in this fight, as that’s who stabs and burns the weirwoods in these types of scenes, and as I mentioned, Daemon rode a red dragon, Caraxes the Bloodwyrm. Lightbringer was said to be a blood-red sword associated with dragons and the red comet, so Caraxes the red dragon serves well as a symbol of Lightbringer, especially when taken together with Daemon’s Valyrian steel sword.
Daemon stabbed the Harrenhal weirwood, which stands in for the Night King tree, thirteen times, and isn’t that interesting. Thirteen is a number strongly tied to the book legend of “Night’s King,” which, although different from TV show Night King, was definitely something that Dave and Dan drew on to create their own character of a similar name. “Night’s King” from the books was said to be the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and was said to rule from the Nightfort for thirteen years. Even in the TV show, in the scene where one of Craster’s sons transformed at the strange White Walker ice temple thing, we did once see a dozen White Walkers, with the Night King to make thirteen. Ergo… Daemon stabbing the weirwood tree thirteen times is very, very suggestive – it’s almost like he’s labeling this tree as a Night King tree, or perhaps trying to summon Night King to come fight.
…which is actually just what happens next! That’s right, after thirteen days of weirwood stabbing, Daemon’s foe, a symbolic Night King figure, descends from the sky on a dragon. I’ve talked about this fight in lots of detail in several podcasts if you want the full breakdown, but here are the key points: at the age of ten, Aemond lost one of his eyes in a quarrel based around his claiming of the dragon Vhagar, and he replaced the missing eye with a blue star sapphire. As clues go, that’s not very subtle – it’s a blue star eye, an obvious nod to the blue star eyes of the White Walkers. Now take a look at the paragraph that comes after the one about Daemon slashing the heart tree thirteen times:
On the fourteenth day of the prince’s vigil, a shadow swept over the castle, blacker than any passing cloud. All the birds in the godswood took to the air in fright, and a hot wind whipped the fallen leaves across the yard. Vhagar had come at last, and on her back rode the one-eyed Prince Aemond Targaryen, clad in nightblack armor chased with gold.
Alright, so Aemond of the blue star eye has night black armor, that’s cool, and his dragon creates a dramatically black shadow, which taken together, implies Aemond as a blue star eyed guy who is bringing the darkness of the Long Night with him. The final clue tying Aemond One Eye to the White Walkers and ice magic in general is his resemblance to the constellation known as the Ice Dragon when he rides Vhagar. The Ice Dragon seems to be a modified version of our of constellation Draco, which sort of wraps around the pole star, or “north star,” Polaris. In ASOIAF, the north star is a bright blue star which is perceived as the eye of the rider of the Ice Dragon. So when Aemond of the one blue star sapphire eye rides a dragon… he’s creating the image of the ice dragon constellation, which, again, is thought to be ridden by a dude with a blue star eye.
Vhagar is also implied as an ice dragon by the name Vhagar, because the star Vega is bright, blue-white northern star that has been our pole star in the past (and will again in the future, because earth’s axial tilt means the pole star shifts slowly over time). That makes two references to the northern pole star when Aemond rides Vhagar, in ASOIAF, the pole star is part of the ice dragon. That’s exactly the sort of dragon you’d expect a Night King figure to ride, and indeed, the show has now given us the Night King riding a wighted dragon or white walker dragon, however you want to say it. Aemond One-Eye here did it first though, through all this heavy Night King and ice dragon symbolism, and I’ve been thinking of him and this fight since the day HBO gave Night King his dragon.
And in case you’re wondering why I am saying that characters from the books are “Night King figures” when there is no Night King in the current book storyline that we know of, well, two things. One, I believe odds are good that in the books, something like Night King does exist inside the weirwoodnet, and that we will get that reveal in the next book and realize the show is closer to the books than we think. And two, although the ancient legend of Night’s King from the books has him living sometime shortly after the Long Night, I believe this is a fog of history thing and that there was in fact an original Night’s King who created the White Walkers during the original Long Night. One of the reasons I believe these things is because I keep finding people like Aemond One Eye who are wearing all the Night King symbolism like a cheap suit, people like Euron Greyjoy, Varamyr Sixskins, Mance Raydar, the Lord of Bones, a few others. People in the fandom have been finding these Night King parallel figures even before HBO gave us a Night King, just to give you an idea. George R. R. Martin likes to create archetypes like Azor Ahai, Nissa Nissa, Last Hero, or Night’s King, which many characters seem to step into – that’s why Jon and Daenerys can both be Azor Ahai reborn, and why Jaime and many other characters might seem like Azor Ahai once in a while too. In this way, George hides clues about these all important issues in far-flung places like dragonrider fights from two-hundred year old Targaryen history.
Indeed, when we step back and look at what’s going on here at the Gods Eye with Daemon and Aemond One Eye in terms of symbolism, we see an Azor Ahai figure stabbing the weirwood, and then having a dragon fight with a Night King figure. We can observe that Azor Ahai “wins,” so to speak, in that Daemon leaps over to Vhagar and stabs Aemond right in his blue star eye before all the dragons plunge into the lake. Since the blue star eyes what signify the magic of the white walkers, Daemon stabbing Aemond right in his blue star eye seems like a symbol of defeating the power of the white walkers.
But really, what we see is ice and fire cancelling each other out, with everyone dying, including the Night King and Azor Ahai figures and the dragons – and that’s more or less what we should expect from the ending, I believe. This is another layer of potential meaning to the Last Hearth corpse spiral, which resembles a Targaryen three-headed dragon sigil when it goes up in flames: you can see this is a dragon symbol made of corpses… in other words, a corpse dragon. A dead dragon, burning in the same fire that consumes Night’s King. That’s in line with what he fandom has come to expect – you can’t kill all the White Walkers and leave the dragons. Either both will survive or neither, it seems, or else the Song of Ice and Fire has no balance.
The capstone of all this symbolism is the double blue-eye-stabbing symbolism happening here. It’s simple, yet elegant: first, Aemond is stabbed in his blue eye with a dragon sword, and only seconds later, the blue Gods Eye lake is stabbed with falling dragons. Either way, a blue eye is stabbed with a dragon! That certainly suggests using dragons or dragon swords to defeat the Night King, which, I know, duh, but think about the weirwood component. Since the Gods Eye lake contains an island full of weirwoods, it’s easy to see the idea of “stabbing the gods eye with dragons” as similar to stabbing a weirwood tree with a Lightbringer sword, or roasting it with dragonfire. And again, this follows right on the heels of Daemon stabbing an actual weirwood tree thirteen times with his own dragon sword.
Put it together, and we see the familiar message – stab Night King with Lightbringer, yes, but also stab the weirwoods at the same time. Burn them all, if you will. As much as I have talked about this fight, I’ve never fully understood the meaning, but after episode one of Season 8… I think we can see that the TV show and the books are both leading to the same general answer – to stop the white walkers, the weirwoodnet must be burned.
Looking at the fight between Aemond and Daemon more simply, we can observe that the ice and fire dragonlords are battling “over” the Gods Eye – think about them fighting over, as in contesting for, the weirwoodnet. The gods’ eyes are the weirwood’s eyes, the ones the Old Gods see out, and thus I believe the contestants here are meant to be seen as fighting over the use of these eyes. In the show, the Three-Eyed Crow, aided by his dragonlords, and Night King, aided by his ice dragon, white walkers, and wights, seem to be doing just that – fighting for possession and dominance over the weirwoods, which are almost certainly the most powerful source of magic around. Bran and the Night King seem to have their showdown inside the weirwoodnet, which is emblematic of the ground they are fighting over.
Consider also that Daemon is waiting in the Godswood for the Night King figure to show up – exactly as Bran will be waiting in the Winterfell godswood as bait for the Night King in Episode 3. Daemon was using himself as bait, just like Bran – he planted himself at Harrenhal because he knew eventually Aemond and Vhagar would come find him, and they did. It’s the same with Bran, who declares in Episode 2 that the Night King knows where he is and will come for him. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Bran’s plan is to lure the Night King into the godswood so he can pull some maneuver where he sacrifices himself to defeat the Night King, just as Daemon gave up his own life to take down Aemond One Eye.
Keeping in mind the idea that the Gods Eye lake represents the weirwoods, the trees with the eyes of the Old Gods, consider that in Daemon’s fight, both riders and dragons plunged into the Gods Eye lake, dying instantly or moments later. The parallel here would be Bran and the Night King essentially killing each other inside the weirwoodnet, which is where I think this is headed.
Not only do the dragons and riders die in the Gods lake (or on the lake shore in the case of Caraxes), Daemon’s dragon sword stays stuck in Aemond’s eye, as years later Vhagar’s corpse is found at the bottom of the lake, where “Prince Aemond’s armored bones remained chained to her saddle, with Dark Sister thrust hilt-deep through his eye socket.” Lightbringer and Night King, united forever at the bottom of the sea, if you will, and this to me reads like one of our heroes, who themselves can play the role of Lightbringer, self-sacrificing to trap the Night King in the underworld for all time, even though it means they will be trapped there as well.
This sounds like Bran to me, and remember that Bran’s name may be taken from the Norse word brandr, which means “burning brand” and “flaming sword.” He might be the symbolic flaming sword that sets fire to the weirwoodnet from the inside, much like Bran’s cauldron from Welsh mythology, which eventually has to be destroyed from the inside by a self-sacrificing hero because – get this – the cauldron raises the dead, which eventually gets out of hand. The parallels here are unbelievable, with the weirwood magic being used by Night King to raise the dead as the parallel to Bran’s cauldron. This is another reason why the myth-friendly portion of the fandom has actually been entertaining the idea of a weirwoodnet shutdown for years.
Speaking of Bran in the godswood waiting for Night King, it’s interesting to note that the plan is to have Theon and his ironborn there to protect him, in addition to the dragons. Why? Well, when Theon was in the Winterfell godswood at dawn in ACOK, the heart tree looked to him as though it were already on fire: “The red leaves of the weirwood were a blaze of flame among the green.” Usually the red leaves are always described as blood red, but nothing goes together like blood and fire… and weirwoods, apparently, which are well known for drinking blood and will soon be known for burning brightly, what with all these dragons and Targaryens and burning Brandons lurking about.
So with all of these examples I’ve given you so far in this series (and believe me, there are many more), you can see that not only does Azor Ahai need to face the Night King and the White Walkers with lightbringer, he’s got to deal with the Night King’s connection to the weirwoods. The Night King’s power seems rooted to that tree where he was created, and time and time again in these book examples, we see that the burning of the weirwoods is tied to the defeat of the long night and the White Walkers. This is exactly what I believe is implied by Beric stabbing the spiral corpse mandala at Last Hearth with his flaming sword.
So having established that the weirwoods must burn, in part 4 we will examine Daenery and the House of the Undying, which will begin to explain the connection between the White Walkers and the weirwoods and which will reveal the dark plans the White Walkers have for our Azor Ahai heroes.
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