The first promo images for Game of Thrones Season 7 have been released. Taken collectively, the new photos lay out the state of play in Westeros after Season 6 substantially scrambled alliances, titles and geography. There’s still something disorienting in seeing Missandei and Daenerys in winter weather gear and dank castle locations after six seasons in the desert regions of Essos. But there’s one picture with more immense consequence than all the others, even the one of Tormund Giantsbane ogling Brienne of Tarth. Check out the photo HBO released of Samwell Tarly and Gilly. A close look at the manuscript in Gilly’s hands reveals two important names in A Song of Ice and Fire mythology: Azor Ahai and the Lord of Light.
The Lord of Light, or R’hllor, is a god primarily worshipped in Essos. Yet the Lord of Light’s handful of Westerosi faithful have had an outsized impact in Westeros throughout Game of Thrones. The Red Woman Melisandre used magic associated with R’hllor worship to kill Renly Baratheon. Her oracular powers brought Stannis Baratheon closest to the Iron Throne, but ultimately to ruin. For a time she thought Stannis was Azor Ahai, a legendary hero who defeated the White Walkers thousands of years before Game of Thrones. It is believed by worshippers of the Lord of Light that Azor Ahai will return to defeat the White Walkers once more. With Stannis dead, Melisandre believes Jon Snow to be the true return of Azor Ahai. But she’s been wrong before. Daenerys could also be a strong candidate for the title.
At the end of Game of Thrones Season 5 Jon Snow sends Samwell Tarly to Oldtown, to study at the Citadel and become the Night Watch’s new maester after the death of Aemon Targaryen, who had served in the position for decades. It now looks like Samwell and Gilly will uncover more than maester wisdom in the Citadel library.
Here's a closer look at the manuscript Gilly holds. Look at fifth and sixth line up from the bottom:
New knowledge about the return of Azor Ahai could be Westeros’ only chance at stopping the advance of the undead wight and their Night’s King. Whatever Sam and Gilly learn about Azor Ahai, it’s likely to be a turning point in the battle between the fragmented forces of the living and the army of the dead. Of all the new promo images from Game of Thrones Season 7, it’s this moment that’s likely to be most pivotal in the 13 remaining episodes of Game of Thrones.