Game of Thrones theory corner: Is the Hound the true Prince That Was Promised?


He’s big, dirty, mean and fond of pig’s feet, but the Hound may be the savior meant to ultimately defeat the White Walkers: The Prince that was Promised.

That’s the tinfoil theory, anyway. To start, who is the Prince that was Promised, also known as Azor Ahai? He is an ancient hero known to the followers of R’hllor (the Lord of Light) prophesied to reappear and save the world from a great darkness. Melisandre and the Red Priestesses believes this savior is already here, and identifies him according to religious lore. “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt,” she says in season 2’s “Garden of Bones.” The hero is also said to carry a flaming sword named Lightbringer.

The arrival of the red comet (“The North Remembers,”  S2/Ep1) combined with Melisandre’s suspect fire-reading talents led her to believe that Stannis Baratheon was the Prince that was Promised, but his death in battle made her reevaluate her position. Stannis was not the one, Melisandre says after his death, “but somebody has to be.” (“Book of the Stranger,” S6/Ep3.)

Melisandre currently believes that Jon Snow is the Prince that was Promised, and given that he’s died and come back to life, he certainly has an air of mysticism about him. Daenerys Targaryen, with her dragons and imperviousness to fire, may also be a contender.

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However, there are other choices out there. One of the underdog contenders is Sandor “the Hound” Clegane.

The Hound, you say? The Hound? With his roasted head, murderous proclivities and malleable sense of morality? Yes. Let’s make the case for Sandor Clegane as the Prince that was Promised.

Born of Fire: We can state with confidence that the man who became Sandor Clegane was born of fire. As a boy, his older brother Gregor pressed Sandor’s head into an open flame, leaving him both physically and emotionally scarred. The event transformed him into the brutal and bitter creature he is today. The Lord of Light is all about fire, and fire has touched Sandor as intimately as it can without killing him.

Died and Resurrected: When the Hound fell off a cliff while fighting Brienne of Tarth in season 4’s “The Children,” he knew his wounds were fatal. Arya abandoned him to his doom, and we assumed he died offscreen. Then, in season 6, he reappeared in the company of Septon Ray. Ray apparently saved the Hound from death, although how he did so is unknown.

Journey to Redemption: Although Sandor’s time with Septon Ray was brief, it gave the Hound a newfound sense of perspective — although as gruff as ever, he’s now capable of seeing the world as a place where life has meaning and sinners can be redeemed.

It’s interesting to contemplate the religious aspects of that perspective. Septon Ray followed the Faith of the Seven, the most popular religion in Westeros. In “The Broken Man,” Ray and his flock are slaughtered by three rogue members of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who worship the Lord of Light. This act sends the Hound on an axe-wielding revenge quest.

If Sandor does indeed have a messianic destiny, and if you believe that any of the gods on Game of Thrones are real within the world of the story, then it could be argued that the massacre of Septon Ray and his followers was initiated by the Lord of Light. For one thing, it eliminates competition for Sandor by the Faith of the Seven, and it eventually leads to Sandor joining the ranks of the Brotherhood Without Banners, all of whom worship the Lord of Light. In other words, the Lord of Light is channeling Sandor Clegane towards his destiny.

True, that would mean the Lord of Light thinks little of killing a settlement full of innocents to achieve His goals, but it’s been clear for a while that the Lord isn’t a particularly benevolent god — just ask Shireen Baratheon.

The Transformation: Journeying north with Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr and the rest of the Brotherhood, the Hound returns to the scene of one of his earlier misdeeds: brutalizing and robbing a man and his daughter who had given him and Arya Stark shelter. The Hound’s rationalization for robbing them had been they wouldn’t survive the winter, and this turned out to be true — the Brotherhood find their skeletal remains, the result of an apparently murder-suicide committed to avoid death by starvation.

As Sandor changes, his empathy towards the suffering of others grows. Such is a necessary trait required of one who will be called upon to protect all of humanity. Sandor buries the father and daughter in a storm of guilt and remorse. And before that, when invited by Thoros to stare into the fire (the Lord of Light’s preferred means of communication), Sandor has a vision of the location of the White Walker army. The clarity and detail of this vision is something Melisandre, who’s been at this for hundreds of years, would envy.

Why does the Hound, a man barely initiated in the cult of R’hllor, have the ability to see so perfectly into the Lord of Light’s fire? Perhaps because he is the Prince that was Promised, and because he is a man whose savage burning as a child and his resulting fear of fire has forever bound him to the language of the flames. All he needed to do was to look at them.

There’s more. But now, BEWARE OF SPOILERS.

The Legend Returns: If the Hound is on the road of becoming The Prince that was Promised, then he’s going to have to overcome his fear of fire and get his hands on the fabled flaming sword Lightbringer. There’s an intriguing shot in the Season 7 trailer where someone is wielding a flaming sword.

While Jon stands all cool-as-a-cucumber as the wights attack (above), men on each side of him battle in the middle ground. Now, true, Beric Dondarrion could be the one with the flaming sword — he’s used one before, and we saw him light one up in one of the season 7 trailers.

But the man with the flaming sword to Jon’s left in the GIF above looks bigger, with lots of floppy dark hair. Is it Sandor Clegane? If he’s on the road to becoming the Prince that was Promised, it’s very possible.

So there you have it. The Hound is undergoing one of the most dramatic metamorphoses of any character on Game of Thrones, which is saying something. He’s gone from being a nihilistic man to having a sense of higher purpose. Metaphorically, he has been born of flames and agony, died and been resurrected, and now sees redemption through transformation. Now that the Hound is awakened, the Lord of Light speaks to him like He speaks to no one else. This feels like a good path for the Prince that was Promised to take.

Next: Cersei Lannister’s gift registry—What will Euron Greyjoy try and bring her?

It still seems unlikely, but if grumpy Sandor Clegane turns out to be legendary savior of mankind, that would be a helluva fun twist.