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.
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.