Westeros' favorite bastard is back (sorry, Jon Snow but you're not a bastard anyway) and he's better than ever. That's right, Gendry has returned on Game of Thrones. But even though fans have been calling for Gendry to row back onto our screens for what seems like ages, the writers probably wouldn't have Robert Baratheon's illegitimate son return without good reason. And, maybe that reason is that Gendry will forge Lightbringer, Azor Ahai's sword.
If you're not familiar with Azor Ahai, you should recognize the phrase "The Prince Who Was Promised" — it's what Melisandre is always blabbing on about. Basically, a lot of people think that the Prince Who Was Promised will be a reincarnation of Azor Ahai, a legendary hero who supposedly defeated the White Walkers with the help of his trusty sword, Lightbringer. Here's what the actual prophecy says:
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 the darkness shall flee before him.
Now, there's a lot of speculation about who Azor Ahai might be, with theories ranging from everyone from Arya to Hot Pie. But let's just say for the sake of argument that it's very likely either Jon Snow or Dany. In order to actually become the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, either of these Targaryens will have to acquire a burning sword, Lightbringer. And that's where Gendry comes in.
We know that Gendry is a master blacksmith. He was an apprentice in King's Landing under a guy named Tobho Mott, who also had some really valuable skills — he was able to reforge Ned Stark's Valyrian Steel sword into two new swords, Oathkeeper (Brienne's sword) and Widow's Wail (Jaime's sword). It's possible that Mott passed this skill down to Gendry, a development that would be hugely important, since it's actually pretty uncommon to be able to forge Valyrian Steel. As an article in Vulture explains:
What Gendry does know is steel. He insists that Jon “won’t need a blacksmith with a sword like that,” referring to Longclaw, the Valyrian steel sword he’s carried since Jeor Mormont bestowed it upon him. But a blacksmith is exactly what Jon might need, since he is about to face the White Walkers and only two things are known to kill them: dragonglass and Valyrian steel. You wouldn’t know it from only watching the show, but Gendry might be one of the only living men who knows how to manipulate Valyrian steel. As explained in the novels, Valyrian steel is an ancient art that requires magic to reforge and a dragon to create.
Since Gendry might be literally the only person able to create weapons that will kill White Walkers, and Jon Snow now has Khaleesi and her dragons on his side who could help make these weapons, the bastard from Flea Bottom is about to become an invaluable part of Jon's squad. But his importance might even go beyond forging weapons for Jon's soldiers. Azor Ahai needs a "burning sword" in order to truly fulfill the prophecy, and if anyone would be able to forge this all-powerful weapon, it would be Gendry.
How would this burning sword be created? This part is a little unclear. In the legend of Azor Ahai, it takes the hero three tries to properly forge Lightbringer, only achieving success when he plunged the sword into the heart of his true love, Nissa Nissa. Uh, yikes. I'm not sure how literally this forging process would apply to Gendry. Would he have to stab his yet-to-be-revealed true love (Arya?) in order for the sword to be effective? Or would Jon or Dany, the prospective Azor Ahais, have to kill their beloved with the sword that Gendry forged, possibly leading to a Harry Potter-esq "neither can live with the other survives" situation if the two fall in love this season.
Then there's also the issue of what the prophecy means about a "burning sword". We've seen a preview of a sword literally on fire, carried by Berick Dondarrion. Could that be Lightbringer? The other possibility is that a "burning sword" is a metaphor for a sword made with powerful fire and magic, in which case it might just provide further evidence for the necessity of Dany's dragons in the forging process.
Whatever the case may be, Gendry's awesome forging skills will likely come into play in future episodes. Jon is going to need all the help he can get to defeat the White Walkers, and Gendry's rare talent is just what he needs to help arm his men. Forging Lightbringer would just be a really awesome bonus.