|The title of this article is conjecture based on information revealed in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels or related material and may be subject to change.
- "According to prophecy, our champion will be reborn to wake dragons from stone and reforge the great sword Lightbringer that defeated the darkness those thousands of years ago. If the old tales are true, a terrible weapon forged with a loving wife's heart. Part of me thinks man was well rid of it, but great power requires great sacrifice. That much at least the Lord of Light is clear on."
- ―Thoros of Myr
Azor Ahai is a legendary figure in the faith of R'hllor, the Lord of Light. Thousands of years ago, he forged the sword Lightbringer which he used to defeat the darkness of the Great Other. This came at a price, however, as in order to unleash the sword's true powers he had to plunge it into the heart of his loving wife, Nissa Nissa. A prophecy foretells that he will be reborn as The Prince That Was Promised.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Azor Ahai was a legendary hero who lived approximately eight thousand years before Aegon's Landing. Stories of the Long Night, or a similar cataclysmic event, are also common across Essos: According to one version, a great darkness lay over the world, and Azor Ahai was the hero chosen to fight against it.
To fight the darkness, Azor Ahai needed to forge a hero's sword. He labored for thirty days and thirty nights until it was done. However, when he went to temper it in water, the sword broke. He was not one to give up easily, so he started over.
The second time he took fifty days and fifty nights to make the sword, even better than the first. To temper it this time, he captured a lion and drove the sword into its heart, but once more the steel shattered.
The third time, with a heavy heart, for he knew beforehand what he must do to finish the blade, he worked for a hundred days and nights until it was finished. This time, he called for his wife, Nissa Nissa, and asked her to bare her breast. He drove his sword into her living heart, her soul combining with the steel of the sword, creating the weapon known as Lightbringer.
According to ancient prophecies that were written down in Asshai over five thousand years ago, Azor Ahai is to be reborn and destined to defeat the darkness once again. Following a long summer, an evil, cold darkness will descend upon the world. Wielding Lightbringer once again, Azor Ahai will stand against it, and if he fails, the world fails with him.
"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."
Some readers believe that Azor Ahai reborn is the same hero as The Prince That Was Promised, while others believe that is erroneous and that they come from two distinct prophecies. Azor Ahai and The Prince That Was Promised have thus far never been mentioned in the same sentence, although Melisandre has mentioned the prince that was promised and Azor Ahai interchangeably; however, she tends to use the name Azor Ahai far more often.
The World of Ice & Fire sourcebook (2014) clarifies that there are several mythological or legendary characters similar to Azor Ahai, and that both the maesters and the scholars of Yi Ti believe them to all be the same figure (much as all there stories of the Long Night itself are understood to refer to the same event). Other Azor Ahai figures referred to east of the Bone Mountains are Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser.
In the third and fifth novels, Melisandre states "When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone. The bleeding star has come and gone, and Dragonstone is the place of smoke and salt. Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai reborn!". While Dragonstone (a volcanic island) can indeed be considered as place of "smoke and salt", Stannis was not born there but in Storm's End, and so far has not woken any dragons from stone; Daenerys, on the other hand, was born on Dragonstone, and has hatched fossilized dragon eggs into live dragons, in a miraculous ritual under the red comet at the pyre of her late husband Drogo. Apparently Melisandre is unaware that Daenerys is more likely to be Azor Ahai than Stannis, based on her own words.