Who Is Beric Dondarrion & Why Does He Have A Flaming Sword On Game Of Thrones?

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
There's a lot going on with the latest photos from upcoming Game Of Thrones episode “Death Is The Enemy.” Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) gets up-close-and-personal with some dragons again. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) speak for the first time after last week's “Eastwatch" made their relationship very awkward. And Jon Snow (Kit Harington) prepares to fight some White Walkers with his merry band of misfit men (who've all cheated death).
Amid all of this excitement, it's easy to miss the fact there's a man wielding a flaming sword. There really is a fiery blade in these photos, and it's brandished by Lord Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
As we mentioned recently, Game Of Thrones has a massive cast of characters, so it's easy to forget who, exactly, Beric is, and why, exactly, his sword is on fire. To answer these questions, we put together all the details on Beric, his blade, and what its fiery capabilities mean in the world of Westeros.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
First Of All, Who is Beric Dondarrion?

Although the Brotherhood Without Banners has properly existed on Thrones since season 3, its leader Beric Dondarrion has only appeared in eight episodes of the series. We first meet the Stormlands lord in season 1’s “A Golden Crown,” when Ned Stark (Sean Bean) asks Beric collect 100 men and track down Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane (then played by Conan Stevens) and execute him, since he’s terrorizing the Riverlands by burning, murdering, and raping. Interestingly, when Ned is giving this decree, he tells a grieved commoner he cannot “return your dead to life.” However, that is exactly what keeps happening to Beric after he sets out on his journey.

While attempting to bring down The Mountain, Beric is stabbed straight through the chest by Gregor’s lance. He is then accidentally resurrected by Thoros of Myr, a red priest from Essos who was previously a member of King Robert’s (Mark Addy) court before the royal died. Thoros joined Beric’s quest to execute the Mountain and just so happened to infamously charge into battle with a flaming sword.

After noting the atrocities of the War Of Five Kings, Beric and Thoros use the remaining forces from the 100 men they brought from King’s Landing to create the Brotherhood, which now swears allegiance to no noble house. Instead, the group brings “justice” to anyone who means to harm the common folk of Westeros. By fighting for this cause, Beric has died and been brought back to life by the Lord Of Light at least six times, losing pieces of himself with each resurrection.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
This Isn’t The First Time We’ve Seen That Sword (Or One Just Like It)

Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) is one of the men who has managed to kill Beric. In season 3’s “Kissed By Fire” Beric challenges The Hound to trial by combat over Sandor’s season 1 murder of Arya’s friend, Mycah, the Butcher’s Boy (Rhodri Hosking).

Before beginning the fight, Beric prays to the Lord Of Light, as does Thoros. Then, the red priest walks over to Beric and cuts the lord's hand open with a sword. Beric holds his bloody hand over the weapon and by literal magic, it’s lit aflame. The Hound, whose face was melted in a fire and is therefore terrified of flames, is horrified by the fiery blood magic.

Still, Sandor manages to get over his terror of the flaming sword and eventually cuts the weapon in half with his own sword, completely destroying the fiery blade and dousing its flame. Then, he stabs Beric to death. While Beric is resurrected by Thors' prays to the Lord Of Light, it appears his sword isn’t as lucky.

That’s not so bad, since originally, only the sword’s blade lit up. As the new photo shows, the entire thing is now set aflame, from hilt to tip.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Azor Ahai Prophecy

Beric’s flaming sword is especially noteworthy thanks to one of those pesky prophecies hanging around Westeros. One of the most famous is the Prince (or Princess) Who Was Promised, which many say is probably directly related to the Azor Ahai legend. The myth claims millennia ago, a man named Azor Ahai was chosen to fight against the White Walkers during the Long Night. To save the entire known world, he forged a sword worthy of a hero, but it kept shattering. He finally realized he needed to temper it with a great sacrifice, and drove the blade into his beloved wife Nyssa's heart, immediately creating Lightbringer, a flaming sword so powerful, it was able to successfully defeat the White Walkers.

It is prophesied Azor Ahai will be reborn one day to drive back the evil ice zombies once again. Who ever happens to be Azor Ahai Reborn will pull the new Lightbringer out of a fire.

While Beric seemingly hasn’t pulled his flaming sword out of any blazes or murdered any women to get it, the blade is certainly reminiscent of the legendary one of yore.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Stannis Baratheon And Lightbringer

Like Beric, the late Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) also possessed a flaming sword. Led by Melisandre in season 2 premiere “The North Remembers,” the now-dead lord pulls a burning blade out of a fire — while wearing obviously fire-proof gloves — attempting to fulfill the Azor Ahai prophecy. Although it is obvious to anyone who isn't Stannis the middle Baratheon brother is no one’s Prince Who Was Promised, Melisandre attempts to convince everyone otherwise, saying, “In the ancient books it’s written a warrior will draw a burning sword from the fire. And that sword will be Lightbringer. Stannis Baratheon, warrior of light, your sword awaits you.”

In the book series Game Of Thrones is based on, A Song Of Ice And Fire, multiple characters note Stannis’ sword cannot be the real Lightbringer. Maester Aemon (played by Peter Vaughan in the series) makes the best case, explaining the Baratheon “Lightbringer” may radiate light, but does not give off any heat. The true Lightbringer flamed hot.

It’s unknown if Beric’s flaming sword is actually hot.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Fight Against The White Walkers

In season 1’s “The Pointy End,” we find out fire can kill wights when Jon Snow saved then-Lord Commander Jeor Mormont from one of the reanimated corpses by throwing a torch on it. With the Game Of Thrones “Suicide Squad” heading out to fight a bunch of wights (and legitimate White Walkers) a sword made of fire would be extremely, extremely helpful.

Let’s hope Beric’s sword, unlike Stannis’ lame toy, is actually packing some real heat.