Warning: Minor “Game of Thrones” spoilers if you have not seen the episode “Beyond the Wall” yet.
Beric Dondarrion, the eye-patch-sporting leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, made use of his flaming sword on the most recent episode of “Game of Thrones” – fighting off wights, White Walkers, and even a horrifying wight polar bear.
Beric first utilizes a flaming sword in season three, episode five, when he fights Sandor “The Hound” Clegane for his wrongful killing of Mycah the butcher boy. Thoros, co-leader of the Brotherhood and a red priest who serves the Lord of Light, says a prayer to the Lord of Light before cutting Beric’s hand with a sword. Beric then touches his sword with his bloody hand causing it to burst into flames.
The same prayer and cutting ritual isn’t employed in the latest episode of “Game of Thrones;” Beric merely waves his hand over the sword to get it to light this time.
The inconsistencies in getting these swords to flame poses the question: How do these flaming swords actually work?
The explanation for how Beric’s sword is ignited into flames remains unclear.
There’s no solid explanation for how or why Beric and Thoros are able make swords flame in the series, but in George R.R. Martin’s third book in the “Game of Thrones” series, “A Storm of Swords,” Gendry insinuates that the flaming swords are just a trick.
“‘It’s only a trick, I told you. The wildfire ruins the steel. My master sold Thoros a new sword after every tourney. Every time they would have a fight about the price.’ Gendry hung the tongs back up and took down the heavy hammer.”
The flaming sword has a strong connection to the Azor Ahai prophecy.
According to the Azor Ahai, or The Prince Who Was Promised prophecy, a prince destined to chase away “darkness” is said to wield a flaming sword called the Lightbringer.
In season two, episode one, when Melissandre is still convinced that Stannis Baratheon is the Azor Ahai, she has him pull a flaming sword off of a burning idol during the burning of the seven on the beach of Dragonstone. In Martin’s second book, “A Clash of Kings,” Melissandre talks about Azor Ahai, and the significance of the Lightbringer sword.
“In ancient books of Asshai it is written that 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 darkness shall flee before him.”
While none of this really offers up a deeper understanding of how the flaming swords work, it does reveal how significant flaming swords are in “Game of Thrones” lore.