Beyond The Wall

How Beric's Badass Fire Sword Could Be the Key to a 'Game of Thrones' Prophecy

Beric Dondarrion fire sword game of thrones season 7
HBO
This post contains spoilers up through the first two episodes of Game of Thrones Season 8. Visit Beyond the Wall, our official Game of Thrones hub page for recaps, theories, spoilers, explainers, and the best episodes of all time.

Beric Dondarrion and his flaming sword were front and center in the trailers for Game of Thrones Season 7, and why not? It's a striking, badass bit of iconography, instantly classic for its sheer ridiculousness (I mean, just look at that image above). In the penultimate episode of Season 7, "Beyond the Wal;," we finally saw the bristly, eye-patched, preacher-of-all-things-Lord-of-the-Light wield the weapon, in the middle of a battle against the Night King's army of the undead. And he whipped it out again to set Ned Umber on fire in the Season 8 premiere, "Winterfell."

But why is Beric up in the North in the first place? And what's the actual deal with the sword? Season 7's brisk pace meant we zipped through important set-ups and nodded to essential backstory, so it was easy to miss or forget the chess moves. And Season 8 has mostly focused on the primary characters and the preparations for the war against the Night King. To boot, Beric is a character who pops up infrequently, often with whole seasons between appearances.

So let's look back at who Beric is, why he's important, and how his flaming sword might play into one of Game of Thrones key prophecies.

beric dondarrion season 3 game of thrones
HBO

Who is Beric Dondarrion?

Audiences first met Beric back in Season 1 (then played by David Michael Scott, who was later replaced by Richard Dormer) when Ned Stark sent him on a mission to execute The Mountain. Beric, head of House Dondarrion and Lord of Blackhaven, was a knight who came to King's Landing to joust in the tourney that marked Ned's arrival as Hand. After accepting the mission to track down The Mountain, he went missing and was presumed dead.

And dead he was -- but not for long. After the Mountain executed him, his travel companion, Thoros of Myr -- a red priest from Essos and an old friend of King Robert's -- used power from the Lord of Light to resurrect him. Together, Thoros and the resurrected Beric formed the Brotherhood Without Banners, an outlaw group that rejected the major warring houses in order to protect the smallfolk of Westeros.

Bringing Beric back to life gave Thoros, a mostly faithless priest who was known for boozing and sleeping around, a new outlook on the world. The Brotherhood grew, Beric died several more times (six altogether), and each time, Thoros revived him -- but at a cost. "Every time I come back... I'm a bit less. Pieces of you get chipped away," he told Arya in Season 3, when she encountered him on the road. Arya even bore witness to one of his resurrections, after the Hound struck him down in a trial by combat.

beric and jon snow game of thrones season 7 beyond the wall
HBO

Why does Beric keep coming back?

R'hollor, the Lord of Light, is a mysterious figure in both the show and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series. His words – "the night is dark and full of terrors" – sound fearsome, and his most ardent followers, like Stannis and Selyse Baratheon, wind up fanatical and mad. He is also unpredictable. How was Thoros able to wield a massive power like resurrection when he hardly believed? Melisandre, a priestess of R'hollor, was similarly disenchanted with her Lord before she brought Jon back to life.

It's not yet known exactly what purpose Beric will serve, only that he believes it's something major. In "Beyond the Wall," Jon asks him what's the point of serving a god with no clear intention. "I don't think it's our purpose to understand," he admits. "Except one thing: We're soldiers. We have to know what we're fighting for. I'm not fighting so some man or woman I barely know can sit on a throne of swords."

"So what are you fighting for?" Jon asks.

"Life," he replies. "Death is the enemy. The first enemy and the last."

Beric also tells Jon that their purpose is to defend others who can't defend themselves. That they were both chosen for that reason. Perhaps their skills as gifted warriors were handpicked by R'hollor to serve against the White Walkers. Or perhaps, together, Jon and Beric are prophetically connected.

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HBO

Is Beric's sword the legendary "Lightbringer"?

Westeros' favorite story, the legend of Azor Ahai, tells of a brave warrior who ended the first Long Night -- a generations-long war against the White Walkers -- by using a flaming sword named Lightbringer to mow down the ice zombies. Lightbringer was an average sword until Ahai used it to kill his wife, Nissa Nissa, which imbued it with a sacrificial magic powerful enough to defeat the enemy of men.

The Lord of Light's followers believe that Azor Ahai will be born anew and once again save mankind from White Walkers. This also means a reforging of Lightbringer. But as with all prophecies, interpretations vary. Some fans believe a literal Lightbringer will show up again, while others think that Daenerys's dragons might be their own kind of "flaming sword," a fire weapon that we've already seen take out an army of wights.

But if we're going the literal route, it's possible Beric fits into the prophecy. We've seen him light swords on fire before – during his duel with the Hound, he set a spear ablaze, though it was shattered in half. It's unclear how, exactly, he's able to do this. Maybe it's doused in something (in the books, Thoros is known for lighting swords with wildfire) or maybe it's a special present from the Lord of Light.

Assuming that Jon is Azor Ahai reborn, it's possible that Jon's proximity to Beric and his fire sword is a sign that he'll inherit the trick himself. Could we see a flaming Longclaw before the series is over? Crazier things have happened.

Whatever the case, Jon and Beric seem locked by fate. George Martin blew everyone's minds when he recently referred to Beric as a "fire wight," which makes Jon one as well. Will these two fire wights continue to sound off against their icy brothers? Now that Thoros is dead, they better get going while they still can, before that pesky enemy Death catches up.

Lindsey Romain is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She covers politics for Teen Vogue and has also appeared in Vulture, Birth.Movies.Death, and more. Follow her on Twitter @lindseyromain.