Though recently vocal about the trials and tribulations of finishing his next A Song of Ice and Fire sequel, George R.R. Martin published a new video this week that revealed critical, previously unknown information about one of the most important people in Westerosi history: Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen king. While fans are waiting patiently for Martin’s new tome, the author’s more than happy to slowly drip out canon in ways that he sees fit — and when they pay off long-standing theories like this, few can resist.
Martin suggests in the video, which is mostly about Aegon’s dragon Balerion, that Aegon might have known about the upcoming war between the living and the White Walkers — which is the focus of Game of Thrones’ final season. The premonition may have played a role in his quest to unite Westeros into the Seven Kingdoms we know from A Song of Ice and Fire. Before we get into what exactly this might mean for the show’s last season and the conclusion of the story, let’s take a brief second to go over some Westerosi history.
The Long Night, which happened about 8,000 years before Game of Thrones begins (and may serve as the basis for HBO’s recently greenlit Thrones prequel), was a legendary conflict between the First Men, the Children of the Forest — the small green creatures that help Bran and Hodor in season six — and the Others, or, as the show calls them the White Walkers.
During The Long Night, the Others invaded Westeros and brought with them nearly a generation of winter and darkness, as they attempted to kill all living beings. The conflict was ultimately ended by the legendary hero Azor Ahai — occasionally called “The Last Hero” and a variety of other names — who united the forces of the First Men, traveled far to the north to The Lands of Always Winter, and drove back the Others. According to the religion of Rheillor, practiced by the Red Priestess Melisandre, Azor Ahai will be reborn on the earthly plane to once again deliver the world from darkness. This prophecy is called The Prince That Was Promised.
Technically, tales of Azor Ahai are only legend, but they’re legends that span every culture in A Song of Ice and Fire’s universe, a fact that has led several people to claim that they are the second coming of Azor Ahai and will deliver the world from its evil. The problem was, up until the events of A Song of Fire and Ice, there wasn’t really an evil to deliver the world from.
Which brings us to Aegon I Targaryen. Aegon was born around 7,500 years after The Long Night — and almost 300 years before the story of A Song of Ice and Fire is set — and was among the first of his family to settle in Westeros. Shortly after his arrival, Aegon set about conquering the seven kingdoms of Westeros, and succeeded in doing so before he turned 30, bringing them all — except Dorne, technically — under one rule.
While the reason behind his conquest has mostly been attributed to simple ambition, Martin, in his video today, suggested something new: Aegon may have been attempting to unite the kingdoms of Westeros in order to prepare them for the return of the Others. Yep, Aegon somehow appears to have been thinking almost 300 years ahead when he set about on the conquest that would earn him the name Aegon the Conqueror.
As for how, exactly, Aegon would have known that a threat could be looming, well, there are more questions here than answers in Martin’s video. On the one hand, it’s possible Aegon thought himself to be Azor Ahai reborn and that the Others could return at any time and so it was best to be prepared. On the other, maybe he assumed that if he installed himself as king, his heirs, who would go on to rule Westeros would be strong enough to defend the country themselves. And based on how the show is playing out, he may have been right.
If all this sounds a little familiar, it’s because Jon Snow did just about the same thing in Game of Thrones’ seventh season. In a much more peaceful way, Jon attempted to unite the Seven Kingdoms in a divisive time in order to fight the Others who are advancing from the north. Add on to this the fact that we’ve learned that Jon’s real name — at least in the show, as the books make this a little more complicated there — is actually Aegon Targaryen, and it seems clear that there might be a bit of a parallel being drawn.
Just like Aegon the Conqueror, Jon is uniting Westeros to help protect it, but this time he has something to protect it from. In fact, if Game of Thrones were a more traditional fantasy story, you could even say that Jon is fulfilling his destiny, by following through on this grand 300-year plan of his namesake to defeat the Others once and for all.
Aegon the Conqueror may not have been Azor Ahai reborn, but Martin’s new information seems to point more and more toward the theory that Jon Snow, named after Aegon himself, might be.