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Could Lightbringer be the Night's Watch?

vows azor ahai lightbringer symbolism

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#1 Apple Martini

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:50 AM

One of the biggest guessing games for readers is trying to figure out what "weapon" will end up being Lightbringer. The Azor Ahai prophecy refers to Lightbringer as the "red sword of heroes." And we have no shortage of impressive/seemingly important swords, including Dawn, Longclaw and Oathkeeper.

But what if Lightbringer isn't a literal sword at all?

Depending on whether you believe AA is Jon or Dany, other parts of the prophecy haven't unfolded literally.

Spoiler


Many of the prophecies, including Quaithe's and the Ghost of High Heart's, deal heavily with symbolism. The only prophecy I can think of that has unfolded more or less literally is Maggy's prophecy to Cersei. Given this, why should we assume that Lightbringer, if and when it appears, will be an actual sword? We already have one fake Lightbringer that's an actual sword. Might that be a cheeky way of showing that not only is Stannis not AA, but Melisandre (who's been wrong before) is also wrong to claim that it's a physical sword?

I'm starting to think of "sword" as an interchangeable term for a "weapon." A fighting force can be a weapon. A "red sword" need only mean a weapon/force that's seen and survived combat.

Look at the Night's Watch vow:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all nights to come.


Here we have an oath that uses a sword as the metaphor for the Night's Watch. Lightbringer is supposed to give off heat; the Night's Watch burns against the cold. It is the "light that brings the dawn." The original defeat of the Others is called the Battle for the Dawn. Could this mean that Lightbringer has been staring us in the face practically the entire time? I think it might.

The Azor Ahai legend and the origin of the Night's Watch are, we're led to believe, roughly contemporary. Azor Ahai's legend has to do with defeating the Others, which is also the Night's Watch's mission. As such, the AA legend and the Night's Watch are inexorably linked. The "wielder of Lightbringer" might simply mean the person who commands the Night's Watch. For all we know, AA might himself have been the founding Lord Commander.

It also occurred to me that AA's sacrifice of Nissa Nissa might somehow tie into the Night's Watch promise to not take wives. We understand that promise to simply be putting duty before familial loyalty, but what if there's more to it? If AA did sacrifice Nissa Nissa to "forge" Lightbringer, and the Night's Watch is itself Lightbringer, then the rule against taking wives literally goes back to the first days of the Watch and has a deep symbolic meaning beyond just utility.

So that's my idea. I've seen other people make the same point, and I've long suspected that the parade of awesome swords is really just a sleight of hand, getting people to look off in Direction A to find Lightbringer when it's been in Direction B all along.

Edited by Apple Martini, 07 November 2011 - 01:55 AM.


#2 Shaggydog Stark

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:30 AM

This is a really lovely theory. It makes an awful lot of sense too. By the way, could Nissa Nissa have been used in the bloodmagic that went into the making of the Wall itself?

#3 Apple Martini

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:51 AM

This is a really lovely theory. It makes an awful lot of sense too. By the way, could Nissa Nissa have been used in the bloodmagic that went into the making of the Wall itself?


Very well could be. The Age of Heroes and especially the history of the Wall seem to be quite murky, so anything really could be the case. I think the important thing is to not take the story — either its origins or its prophecy — literally.

#4 Shaggydog Stark

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:36 AM

Very well could be. The Age of Heroes and especially the history of the Wall seem to be quite murky, so anything really could be the case. I think the important thing is to not take the story — either its origins or its prophecy — literally.


I couldn't agree more. I think Melisandre's greatest mistake is for taking the prophecies too literally and it's going to get her and Stannis into a lot of trouble. Anyway, I really like your theory, it fits in so neatly with everything and I love how you connected the NW oath to the prophecy.

#5 Ekho

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:46 AM

I think Melisandre's greatest mistake is for taking the prophecies too literally and it's going to get her and Stannis into a lot of trouble.


Agreed, but I think it's already gotten them into a lot of trouble. Even if he's not dead, Stannis doesn't seem to be in the best of ways right now, and Mel doesn't seem to know what's going on.

#6 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:57 AM

This is definitely very interesting. There was something that appeared on another thread about blood sacrifices that went into building the Wall, and that post said that once/if the Wall comes down, those who had been sacrificed would rise again, etc. So, running with that and this, could Nissa Nissa could be one of those?
And the NW being "the horn that wakes the sleepers" will do just that, literally. Horn of Winter?
Also, I don't recall this, is there any mention regarding the 'where and when' of the whole AA/Nissa Nissa/Lightbringer business?

#7 Ghost Rider

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 05:05 AM

Apple Martini: The NW as Lightbringer seems to be a compelling idea when you look at the vow.

But there seem be various detractors to the theory and I'd be interested how you get around them:

1) The NW isn't what it was anymore, it degraded to a rather useless bunch of criminals and low life, just when AA (or the LC) would need it at the utmost strength to fight the supernatural threat of the Others. So you could probably say that if the NW is Lightbringer, it's about time to sharpen that sword. And there are no indications whatsoever that's gonna happen.

2) The NW just killed their second LC in a row. This point is certainly connected to the first one, since they seem to think that they're not bound to obey their LC whenever they think he doesn't act the way they want him too. So how could the LC (AA) wield this weapon when it's shown to be rather unwilling?

3) The NW doesn't seem to care too much about the threat of the Others, they seem more concerned with the Wildlings and with the politics of the Realm (and that they're not party to it whichh is ridiculous when they're drawn into it whether they will it or not). They all but forgot the true meaning of their vow. There's this scene in ADWD where Jon recites the vow and argues against the very narrow interpretation of the NW raison d'etre against Bowen Marsh.

4) The NW don't know how to fight the Others. This really connects again to the third point. They are ignorant and they also don't learn.

So, taken all that into account I think - if the NW is lightbringer, then Westeros is doomed and the Others can already prepare for their victory.

#8 Apple Martini

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:33 AM

To kind of wrap everything up in one package, I'll just say that the series isn't over yet and it's possible that the Night's Watch might surprise you. Kind of a pat answer, I know, but I don't think it's fair to make a judgment call when the most critical part of the story is still to come. There's no way to predict what the implications will be after the, uh, incident in ADWD, and depending on the aftermath of that, the Night's Watch might look very different. I'll also suggest that given what's happened, there's nowhere for the Night's Watch to go now but up — they've already hit rock bottom. Remember that it took AA three tries to get Lightbringer "right." So it stands to reason that Lightbringer, in whatever modern shape that it takes, won't be "perfect" out of the gate.

It's also possible that Lightbringer is symbolic in a normative sense, and that the Night's Watch must remember its purpose before it can truly become Lightbringer. In that case, it'd be about the Watch fulfilling its potential. Being Lightbringer isn't just about what something is, it's also about what it does.

Edited by Apple Martini, 07 November 2011 - 06:37 AM.


#9 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:52 AM

To kind of wrap everything up in one package, I'll just say that the series isn't over yet and it's possible that the Night's Watch might surprise you. Kind of a pat answer, I know, but I don't think it's fair to make a judgment call when the most critical part of the story is still to come. There's no way to predict what the implications will be after the, uh, incident in ADWD, and depending on the aftermath of that, the Night's Watch might look very different. I'll also suggest that given what's happened, there's nowhere for the Night's Watch to go now but up — they've already hit rock bottom. Remember that it took AA three tries to get Lightbringer "right." So it stands to reason that Lightbringer, in whatever modern shape that it takes, won't be "perfect" out of the gate.

It's also possible that Lightbringer is symbolic in a normative sense, and that the Night's Watch must remember its purpose before it can truly become Lightbringer. In that case, it'd be about the Watch fulfilling its potential. Being Lightbringer isn't just about what something is, it's also about what it does.


Yes, I agree. I’ll add that it would make sense to hit rock bottom at this stage in order to rise again. To use a pop culture example, it’s similar to Star Wars in the sense that the middle of the story - The Empire Strikes Back, and here AFfC and ADwD – is the moment when characters are faced with the direst situations. And that this serves a purpose: it’s the moment when they will learn and grow in order to be able to deal with the threats in the next instalment.

#10 Rapsie

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:52 AM

Could Lightbringer be the Night's Watch?

Well I'd like to see Bowen Marsh on fire.

#11 Unhit

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:53 AM

I really like your ideas, Applemartini. When reading Ghost Rider's post, a small alteration came to my mind though: what if the NW is not LB, but AA (and the Wall then LB)? Then, its "rebirth" to former glory would still be ahead...at least maybe this could explain the huge difference between their current situation and the hypothetical glorious former state.

Edited by Unhit, 07 November 2011 - 06:58 AM.


#12 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:30 AM

Going a bit off-topic... I was going through bits of ADwD looking for something else but came across this and found it interesting (Bran I – chapter 5):

“Bran found himself remembering the tales Old Nan had told him when he was a babe. Beyond the Wall the monsters live, the giants and the ghouls, the stalking shadows and the dead that walk, she would say, tucking him in beneath his scratchy woollen blanket, but they cannot pass so long as the Wall stands strong and the men of the Night’s Watch are true.

Since stabbing your LC(s) probably doesn’t qualify as ‘being true’, could this have an impact on how the Others become able to come south of the Wall?

#13 ghost the direwolf

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:42 AM

One of the biggest guessing games for readers is trying to figure out what "weapon" will end up being Lightbringer. The Azor Ahai prophecy refers to Lightbringer as the "red sword of heroes." And we have no shortage of impressive/seemingly important swords, including Dawn, Longclaw and Oathkeeper.

But what if Lightbringer isn't a literal sword at all?

Depending on whether you believe AA is Jon or Dany, other parts of the prophecy haven't unfolded literally.

Spoiler


Many of the prophecies, including Quaithe's and the Ghost of High Heart's, deal heavily with symbolism. The only prophecy I can think of that has unfolded more or less literally is Maggy's prophecy to Cersei. Given this, why should we assume that Lightbringer, if and when it appears, will be an actual sword? We already have one fake Lightbringer that's an actual sword. Might that be a cheeky way of showing that not only is Stannis not AA, but Melisandre (who's been wrong before) is also wrong to claim that it's a physical sword?

I'm starting to think of "sword" as an interchangeable term for a "weapon." A fighting force can be a weapon. A "red sword" need only mean a weapon/force that's seen and survived combat.

Look at the Night's Watch vow:



Here we have an oath that uses a sword as the metaphor for the Night's Watch. Lightbringer is supposed to give off heat; the Night's Watch burns against the cold. It is the "light that brings the dawn." The original defeat of the Others is called the Battle for the Dawn. Could this mean that Lightbringer has been staring us in the face practically the entire time? I think it might.

The Azor Ahai legend and the origin of the Night's Watch are, we're led to believe, roughly contemporary. Azor Ahai's legend has to do with defeating the Others, which is also the Night's Watch's mission. As such, the AA legend and the Night's Watch are inexorably linked. The "wielder of Lightbringer" might simply mean the person who commands the Night's Watch. For all we know, AA might himself have been the founding Lord Commander.

It also occurred to me that AA's sacrifice of Nissa Nissa might somehow tie into the Night's Watch promise to not take wives. We understand that promise to simply be putting duty before familial loyalty, but what if there's more to it? If AA did sacrifice Nissa Nissa to "forge" Lightbringer, and the Night's Watch is itself Lightbringer, then the rule against taking wives literally goes back to the first days of the Watch and has a deep symbolic meaning beyond just utility.

So that's my idea. I've seen other people make the same point, and I've long suspected that the parade of awesome swords is really just a sleight of hand, getting people to look off in Direction A to find Lightbringer when it's been in Direction B all along.


I really like your interpretation of lightbringer. And I hope it will turn out to be true. Good work!

#14 Eyron-san、最初の

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:39 AM

To kind of wrap everything up in one package, I'll just say that the series isn't over yet and it's possible that the Night's Watch might surprise you. Kind of a pat answer, I know, but I don't think it's fair to make a judgment call when the most critical part of the story is still to come. There's no way to predict what the implications will be after the, uh, incident in ADWD, and depending on the aftermath of that, the Night's Watch might look very different. I'll also suggest that given what's happened, there's nowhere for the Night's Watch to go now but up — they've already hit rock bottom. Remember that it took AA three tries to get Lightbringer "right." So it stands to reason that Lightbringer, in whatever modern shape that it takes, won't be "perfect" out of the gate.

It's also possible that Lightbringer is symbolic in a normative sense, and that the Night's Watch must remember its purpose before it can truly become Lightbringer. In that case, it'd be about the Watch fulfilling its potential. Being Lightbringer isn't just about what something is, it's also about what it does.

Your theory is very interesting. There are a few things that I have trouble with for it to fit but I will let it rest for the moment, and try to find the aspects that make it work first!

Maybe it will take three attempts to forge this lightbringer too.
I would say Jon have had one try so far, do you think he will get back on his feet and try again, and then again? Or do you think that the AAR is anyone who gets command when Jon is incapacitated and they get the second try?

Jon was the 998 LC, so the LC that steps in at this point trying to salvage the NW will most likely fail given how things stand at the Wall. Whoever takes command after that will be the 1000 LC, and it could result in the third try to shape up the NW.
So at this point I would like to see Jon return and save what is left, he would then be the 1000 LC and the one that forges the Lightbringer (NW) back to it's former glory. Symmetrical and nice /smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />
His vision of himself armored in ice and wielding a red sword would point to this (I had always considered that a bit of a red herring to be honest).
Of course that LC could be Cotter Pyke, Stannis or Patchface for all I know... That would just... urk. Please no one mention Melisandre in this context, that would be the worst of all.

Was not part of the AAR prophecy also that the one who pulls Lightbringer from the fire is the one who is the AAR? I wonder what fire that may be. I remember that the CotF (and/or Coldhands) said to Bran that the wights find them if they light fires. This could of course mean just that they see the smoke of the pyre and go there, but it could also mean something else. Like a heat detector sense. To pull the NW from the warmth of the castles at the Wall could be an interpretation, meaning they must go north and find the enemy.
Oh also ditch Melisandre and her fire-obsession.

To add: I just realised that LC Mormont could have made the first attempt to "forge" the NW, Making Jon the second, and possibly the third (I hope)

Edited by Eira, 07 November 2011 - 11:41 AM.


#15 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:19 PM

I have a question... Is there any mention to what happened to the original Lightbringer? I've been looking for info on this but I can't find much. I've found sources placing Azor Ahai 8,000 and 5,000 years before Aegon's Landing; either way, it was thousands of years before AL. Still, isn't it possible that the actual sword is still around?
And another question: I have found this (http://awoiaf.wester...zor_Ahai#note-0 /smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />

"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."

Does anyone know if that's an actual quote?

It is a quote, just found it. ACoK, chapter 10, Davos. It's Melisandre speaking.

Edited by Kissdbyfire, 07 November 2011 - 01:24 PM.


#16 Apple Martini

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:43 PM

I have a question... Is there any mention to what happened to the original Lightbringer? I've been looking for info on this but I can't find much. I've found sources placing Azor Ahai 8,000 and 5,000 years before Aegon's Landing; either way, it was thousands of years before AL. Still, isn't it possible that the actual sword is still around?
And another question: I have found this (http://awoiaf.wester...zor_Ahai#note-0 /smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />

"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."

Does anyone know if that's an actual quote?

It is a quote, just found it. ACoK, chapter 10, Davos. It's Melisandre speaking.


What if the symbolism goes all the way back to the beginning, and it's always been the Night's Watch, and was never a sword at all?

Edited by Apple Martini, 07 November 2011 - 06:44 PM.


#17 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:58 PM

What if the symbolism goes all the way back to the beginning, and it's always been the Night's Watch, and was never a sword at all?

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Night%27s_Watch

Very intersting... The timeline fits. The quote in my previous post is something Melisandre said, so I think it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. I'm searching for other references to Lightbringer and AA.


#18 moey reed

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:03 PM

i like this theory a lot!!! especially considering the oath of the NW.

#19 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:03 PM

What if the symbolism goes all the way back to the beginning, and it's always been the Night's Watch, and was never a sword at all?

Can't edit previous post, sorry. But this idea fits quite well with the bit up thread where Bran remembers what Old Nan told him about the Wall and the NW.

#20 kissdbyfire

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 08:13 PM

I've been thinking about this, and I've remembered maester Aemon questioning Stannis' sword being Lightbringer because there is no heat. This made me think about his knowledge of this prophecy coming from, among other things, the Citadel. And I think this might just be one of the most important things we will learn from Samwell's POVs in the next books.



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