'House Of The Dragon': How The Show's Version Of 'The Prince That Was Promised' Prophecy Invalidates One Of The Biggest Complaints About 'Game Of Thrones' Season Eight
The Truth of the Prince That Was Promised.
WARNING: SPOILERS for House of the Dragon 1x08, 'The Lord of the Tides'.
Episode eight of House of the Dragon gave us what is supposed to be the series final time jump, and with it, the series biggest and most significant death so far: King Viserys I Targaryen. Viserys health has been slowly declining over the course of the series, but in 'The Lord of The Tides', he manages to rally one last time to defend the rights of his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, and attend a last supper during which he manages to briefly reunite his fractured family.
While it almost seems as if a war could be avoided, a tragic misunderstanding in the episode's final moments will set the bloody civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons into motion. Earlier in 'Lord of the Tides', Rhaenyra asks a bedridden Viserys whether he truly believed in Aegon The Conqueror's prophetic dream about the Prince that was Promised. In the episode's ending, as he lay dying, Viserys, mistaking his wife, Queen Alicent, for Rhaenyra, attempts to answer the question. Alicent, unaware of the prophecy, mistakes the King's final feverish ramblings as a wish for their son, Prince Aegon, to inherit the Iron Throne.
Aside from being the cause of a mistake that results in the beginning of the end of the age of Dragons, the version of Aegon's prophecy as Viserys describes it may invalidate one of the biggest fan complaints regarding the still divisive final season of Game of Thrones.
The Prophecy of The Prince that was Promised
Throughout the Game of Thrones TV series, and the A Song of Ice and Fire novels that inspired it, there are various references to a prophecy regarding a figure known as the Prince that was Promised. Most versions of the prophecy referenced in the books have been translated from Valyrian, indicating that the tale of the Prince that was Promised likely began in Old Valyria, the ancestral home of House Targaryen.
Followers of R'hllor, also known as the Lord of Light, subscribe to a similar prophecy centering on the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, an ancient hero of their Faith. The books have made little connection aside from slight similarities between the two prophecies. However, in the later seasons of Game of Thrones, Red Priestess Melisandre, a devotee of R'hllor, begins using the terms 'Azor Ahai' and 'Prince that was Promised' interchangeably, suggesting that, in the show at least, they are intended to be the same person. In both prophecies, the central figure is believed to play a vital role in whether or not the people of Westeros will survive the Long Night, aka the attack of the Night King and his army of the dead.
The Prince's Identity
Particularly in the TV series, numerous candidates arise as to the possible identity of the Prince that was Promised. Due to both versions of the prophecy being incomplete, and the Valyrian version having differing translations, everything is wide open for interpretation.
Before the main story of Game of Thrones begins, during the events leading up to Robert's Rebellion, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen believes his second child and firstborn son, Aegon, to be the Prince that was Promised, due to a red comet that appeared on the night of the boy's conception. Aegon is believed to have been killed by Gregor Clegane during the Sack of King's Landing, although in a sub-plot seen only in the books, he may have survived.
For most of the TV series, Melisandre believes Stannis Baratheon, brother of the late king Robert Baratheon, to be Azor Ahai, champion of the Lord of Light, and dedicates herself to helping him reclaim the Throne. However, her belief in Stannis, and Faith in her God, is shaken when the sacrificial burning of Stannis's daughter, Shireen, fails to result in his victory.
Her faith is restored after she successfully raises Jon Snow from the dead, and comes to believe that he may be the Prince that was Promised, or will have a major role in battles to come. The other major 'Prince' candidate is Queen Daenerys Targaryen, who created one of the greatest possible weapons against the Night King by hatching three dragons eggs after centuries of the creatures being believed extinct. Written Valyrian is difficult to translate, or differentiate gender, so the 'Prince' that was Promised could very well be a Princess.
However, by the end of the series, it seems that, if the Prince that was Promised was in fact real, he was most likely Jon Snow. Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and, like his older half-brother, was originally named Aegon. Technically, Rhaegar was correct in believing his son was the Prince that was Promised.. he just believed in the wrong son.
Why fans were disappointed with the Prophecy's outcome in 'Game of Thrones'.
While the prophecy regarding the Prince that was Promised was incomplete and lacking in exact detail in Game of Thrones, one major point was agreed upon: That the Prince/Azor Ahai would play a vital role in the outcome of the Long Night, aka, the attack of the Night King and his army of the dead. While it was never explicitly stated, most fans took this to mean that that the Prince would be the one to actually kill the Night King.
By the time the Long Night arrives, two major Prince that was Promised candidates remain, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. While both take part in the battle, it is Arya Stark who ultimately kills the Night King, using a Valyrian Steel dagger gifted to her by her brother, Bran.
While the scene is masterfully executed, many fans were upset with Arya's big moment. They believed that not having either Jon or Daenerys kill the Night King rendered the prophecy of the Prince that was Promised pointless.
Why 'House of the Dragon' invalidates these complaints
The first episode of House of the Dragon features a more complete version of the prophecy than was ever revealed in Game of Thrones. This is because the original prophecy, born from a dream of Aegon the Conqueror and partially engraved on the Valyrian Steel dagger, was a secret passed down the Targaryen line, shared only between a King and their heir. King Viserys I reveals the prophecy to his own recently named heir, Princess Rhaenyra, explaining that a Prince born from Aegon the Conqueror's bloodline would unite the realm, ensuring their survival when the Long Night eventually arrived.
Note, the prophecy never says a word about the Prince that was Promised actually killing the Night King.. only that they will unite the realm ready to face him. At the beginning of Game of Thrones, with the War of the Five Kings soon to break out, this seems like a near impossible task. But it is one that Jon Snow, widely believed to be the promised Prince, slowly accomplishes over the course of the series.
First he brokers peace between the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings, reunites the fractured North, and brings Daenerys into the fold by convincing her of the threat the Army of the Dead poses. By the time the Long Night arrives, Jon has gathered just enough people to the cause to successfully slow the Dead’s progress until Arya killed the Night King.
Jon Snow, the Prince that was Promised, did not kill the Night King. But he did, even if briefly, unite the realm, just as Aegon’s dream said he would. Fans may still have complaints about Game of Thrones' final season, but 'The Prince that was Promised was pointless' should no longer be one of them.