What is Gilly reading in this photo from Game of Thrones season 7? Find out

Yesterday, HBO dropped a slew of photos from Game of Thrones season 7 on us, and we devoured them all. While most of the photos are pretty self-explanatory, some reward closer looks, including the one of Sam and Gilly pouring over tomes at the Citadel, above. What, you may have wondered, is Gilly reading?

The folks on Reddit wondered that, too, and Redditor itsjayrr revealed the page she’s holding is lifted almost word for word from The World of Ice and Fire, a history of Westeros written by George R.R. Martin, Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson. The original text is as follows:

It is also written that there are annals in Asshai of such a darkness, and of a hero who fought against it with a red sword. His deeds are said to have been performed before the rise of Valyria, in the earliest age when Old Ghis was first forming its empire. This legend has spread west from Asshai, and the followers of R’hllor claim that this hero was named Azor Ahai, and prophesy his return. In the Jade Compendium, Colloquo Votar recounts a curious legend from Yi Ti, which states that the sun hid its face from the earth for a lifetime, ashamed at something none could discover, and that disaster was averted only by the deeds of a woman with a monkey’s tail.

The only major difference between the original text and the one Gilly is reading appears to be substituting “the Lord of Light” for “R’hllor.” In the Song of Ice and Fire novels, R’hllor is another name for the Lord of Light. However, it’s never been mentioned in the show, which probably accounts for the slight rewrite.

This may be the first reference to “Azor Ahai” on the show, though. Azor Ahai is is legendary figure mentioned in the novels, one who saved the world from a great darkness thousands of years before the series begins and who is prophesied to return when the world is again facing calamity (like if it’s about to be invaded by zombies, for instance). Melisandre has made passing reference to the legend — she’s called Stannis “the Lord’s Chosen” and named Jon “the Prince Who Was Promised” — but the name “Azor Ahai” hasn’t come up.

Has Azor Ahai been reborn already? Have we already met him or her? That’s the pertinent question.

Jon Snow is a good candidate. He’s been brought back from the dead, after all, which doesn’t happen to everyone, and Melisandre seems to think he’s special. Daenerys is another good pick. Not everyone is a mother to dragons, and recall that Kinvara the Red Priestess called her “the one who was promised” in season 6 — the followers of the Lord of Light seem especially keyed into this legend, and both Jon and Daenerys have one of their number in their corner.

Could Gilly or Sam make the connection between the legend of Azor Ahai and Jon or Daenerys? Did the show send them to the Citadel to uncover crucial information and deliver it to the people who can do something about it? Will Gilly’s budding literacy blow this story wide open?

Or maybe the show just needed something for Gilly to read in this scene and snuck in a little easter egg for the fans. We’ll find out more when Game of Thrones returns on July 16.

Other little clarifiers:

  • Valyria is an ancient empire ruled over by Daenerys’ ancestors. Jorah and Tyrion sailed through the ruins of its capital city in season 5.

  • Before Valyria was around, there was Old Ghis. That empire eventually turned into the network of slaver cities Daenerys has been dealing with for the past three seasons.
  • Asshai is Melisandre’s hometown, located in the far east of Essos.
  • The Jade Compendium is a collection of stories about Essos, written by Volantene adventurer Colloquo Votar.
  • Yi Ti is yet another empire on Essos. We’ve never gone there, not in the books or on the show, but descriptions make it sound like it’s modeled after ancient China.