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Will We Ever Know the Truth about Rhaegar and Lyanna?

Rhaegar Targaryen – the man, the myth, the legend. He is one of the most mysterious characters we never get to meet in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, but one who has a huge impact on the story before it even starts. Per the official history, Rhaegar abducted and raped Lyanna Stark, holding her captive at the Tower of Joy and igniting Robert’s Rebellion, which put an end to the Targaryen dynasty. However, a careful reading of the books paints another picture of Rhaegar – one at odds with this version of the story.

It all began at the Tourney of Harrenhal, when Rhaegar jousted his way to victory and proceeded to crown Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and Beauty. Later, it is said he fell upon her in the Riverlands and carried her off, but why? Did he see her at the tourney and fall hopelessly in love? Did she return his affection and run off with him willingly? She seemed less than enthusiastic about her betrothal to Robert Baratheon, but would she be so rash?

After reading several theories and piecing together information from the books (the main series as well as The World of Ice and Fire) – along with what we know of Rhaegar’s and Lyanna’s personalities – I have created my Grand Unified Theory about what really happened at Harrenhal, why Rhaegar took Lyanna, and what happened in the aftermath. There is still much we don’t know, but I have attempted to cover the bases as completely as possible. The following contains facts as well as speculation; if you want more in-depth analysis with references from the written material, please check out the four-part series The Harrenhal Conspiracy as well as Rescue at the Crossroads. I drew heavily from both theories and added my own thoughts and conclusions, and they are well worth your time.

The Tourney at Harrenhal

“Rhaegar had put his hand on Jaime’s shoulder. “When this battle’s done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but . . . well, it does no good to speak of roads not taken. We shall talk when I return.” – A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8 (Jaime)

By the time of the tourney (in the Year of the False Spring), opposition was growing against King Aerys due to his increasing paranoia and cruelty. Rhaegar – growing concerned about his father’s ability to rule – planned to call a Great Council to possibly force Aerys’ abdication. Meanwhile, the lords of the great houses (notably Stark, Tully, Arryn, and Baratheon) were attempting to strengthen their power and influence by forming alliances through marriages and fostering each other’s children. The Harrenhal Tourney appears to have been arranged to gather together as many of the lords as possible – promising a lavish spectacle and generous prizes that Lord Whent (the host) could not afford. Likely the secret benefactor was Rhaegar, possibly with help from Tywin Lannister. Tywin had already resigned as Hand of the King due to his anger at Aerys marrying Rhaegar to Elia Martell instead of Cersei, and naming Tywin’s heir Jaime to the Kingsguard.

Unfortunately for Rhaegar, Aerys decided to attend the tourney despite not having left the Red Keep in four years (ever since he had been held captive during the Defiance of Duskendale). Aerys was becoming suspicious of Rhaegar’s intentions, believing (correctly) that Rhaegar was plotting to take the throne. This threw a wrench in Rhaegar’s plan, but he may have gone ahead with a council anyway if he thought he had enough support.

The Three Factions

“Prince Rhaegar’s support came from the younger men at court, including Lord Jon Connington, Ser Myles Mooton of Maidenpool, and Ser Richard Lonmouth. The Dornishmen who had come to court with the Princess Elia were in the prince’s confidence as well, particularly Prince Lewyn Martell, Elia’s uncle and a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard. But the most formidable of all Rhaegar’s friends and allies in King’s Landing was surely Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning”. – The World of Ice and Fire, The Year of the False Spring

Rhaegar knew he had the backing of Dorne (House Martell), some of the Crownland and Stormland houses, a few men of the court, at least three of the Kingsguard (Dayne, Whent, and Martell), and the love of the smallfolk. He presumably counted on House Lannister as well, given the bad blood between Aerys and Tywin. Support for Aerys came chiefly from his small council, who had great influence and the ability to use the king’s madness to their benefit. What Rhaegar needed to know was where the other great houses stood (Stark, Tully, Arryn, and Baratheon). If he could count on them to support his ascension, he would have the leverage he needed to oust his father from the throne.

It’s possible Rhaegar and Arthur Dayne enlisted the help of Arthur’s sister Ashara to gather the intel they needed. At the opening feast, she was noted to have danced with a “white sword” (probably Arthur giving her information and instructions), a “red snake” (Oberyn Martell, with assurances of Dorne’s support), the “lord of griffins” (Jon Connington, telling her which court members Rhaegar could count on), and lastly the “quiet wolf” (Ned Stark). The “wild wolf” (Brandon Stark) had spoken with Ashara, asking her to dance with Ned, who was too shy to approach her himself – but could he have told her something more?

Perhaps Brandon told her that the Stark/Tully/Arryn/Baratheon alliance would throw their support to Rhaegar; maybe even sealing the deal with a promise of marriage – Ned (who was not yet betrothed and needed a suitable match) to Ashara. This would give Rhaegar enough confidence in his victory to call a council. I believe he arranged for himself to win the tourney and crown his wife Elia as the Queen of Love and Beauty as a signal that the council would convene as planned. After all, two of Rhaegar’s opponents (Brandon and Arthur) were involved in the conspiracy, and the others (Yohn Royce and Barristan Selmy) could have been given orders to take the fall.

The Knight of the Laughing Tree

“The mystery knight was short of stature, and clad in ill-fitting armor made up of bits and pieces. The device upon his shield was a heart tree of the old gods, a white weirwood with a laughing red face.” – A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24 (Bran)

So why didn’t the council happen? One of the key pieces of information about the tourney comes from A Storm of Swords, when Meera Reed recounts a tale she heard from her father Howland, about the Knight of the Laughing Tree. This mystery knight defeated three squires who had been bullying a crannogman (presumably Howland) before Lyanna put a stop to it and befriended him. While we don’t know for certain, the most widely accepted theory is that the knight was Lyanna in disguise. If so, this is a vital part of the Rhaegar and Lyanna relationship.

King Aerys, in his paranoia, believed the mystery knight was an enemy and a traitor – he thought the tree was laughing at him. He ordered Rhaegar to discover the knight’s identity, which almost certainly led him to Lyanna. She already seemed infatuated with him (like every other woman in Westeros); “the dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle” at the opening feast. I think Rhaegar found Lyanna intriguing and admired her spirit, bravery, and selflessness in defending Howland. They probably developed a mutual attraction and respect, and Rhaegar promised to keep her secret.

How did this impact Rhaegar’s plan? It’s very possible that Lyanna had discovered the true motive behind the Stark/Tully/Arryn/Baratheon alliance – to force a council to be called and to switch their allegiance from Rhaegar to Robert Baratheon. After all, Robert was in the line of succession via his Targaryen grandmother, and his ascension would be a boon to those houses – they stood to wield much more power and influence that they would under Rhaegar. If she told this to Rhaegar, he would have had no choice but to postpone the council to avoid defeat.

Why would Lyanna betray her family? Maybe she didn’t want to be queen (she certainly wasn’t overjoyed about marrying Robert anyway). Maybe she just felt it was the right thing to do. Maybe she cared enough for Rhaegar that she didn’t want to see his family overthrown. We already know of her resemblance to Arya, but maybe she had a bit of Sansa’s romantic and naïve tendencies as well. Whatever the reason, it gives another layer to Rhaegar crowning Lyanna – acknowledging her bravery as the mystery knight, thanking her for divulging the truth, and signaling that there would be no council after all. No wonder “all the smiles died” – their scheming had been stopped in its tracks.

An Abduction, or a Rescue? 

“Someone told. Someone always tells.” – A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21 (The Queenmaker)

After the tourney, Rhaegar returned to Dragonstone with the pregnant Elia to prepare for their son’s impending arrival, and King Aerys returned to King’s Landing. Aerys had initially thought Jaime Lannister was the mystery knight at Harrenhal; that he had defied Aerys who had ordered him back to King’s Landing after taking his Kingsguard vows. Upon his return to the Red Keep, doubtless Aerys was informed that Jaime had been there for the duration of the tourney. It’s not likely Aerys would have forgotten his anger over the mystery knight, so either someone eventually found out the truth or he deduced it on his own. Either way, it’s very possible Aerys ordered Lyanna’s arrest as a traitor to the crown.

Around the time of her “abduction” Lyanna was in the Riverlands for Brandon and Catelyn Tully’s wedding. Her father Rickard was on his way from Winterfell, and Brandon was on his way from Riverrun to meet up with his party. Rhaegar had left Dragonstone and was journeying to the Riverlands with six companions – did he find out that Aerys sent men to arrest Lyanna? If so, he would have felt obligated to help her, knowing the fate that would have been in store for her. He would have also rightly assumed the arrest and execution of Lord Stark’s daughter would start a war, and would have wanted to avoid that at all costs.

If there was a confrontation, given everyone’s location at the time it would be reasonable to think it happened at the Inn at the Crossroads. The inn has served as the site of many momentous events throughout the course of the books, and this would certainly be one of them. A conflict between Targaryen soldiers and Lyanna’s and Rhaegar’s parties could have been misinterpreted (or deliberately reported) as an abduction. It’s also possible that Littlefinger was in the area, returning to the Vale from Riverrun after his duel with Brandon. Knowing Brandon’s rashness (and harboring resentment for the wounds he took from him), could Littlefinger have arranged for Brandon to be told about the “kidnapping” before he could hear the truth?

The Rebellion

“Brandon had been twenty when he died, strangled by order of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen only a few short days before he was to wed Catelyn Tully of Riverrun. His father had been forced to watch him die. He was the true heir, the eldest, born to rule.” – A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4 (Eddard)

Brandon rushed to King’s Landing with his men and demanded for Rhaegar to “come out and die.” Of course, Rhaegar wasn’t there, but Aerys imprisoned them all for plotting to murder the prince and summoned their fathers to the capital. Rickard Stark arrived with 200 men, all of whom were executed by the Mad King.

The lone survivor was Brandon Stark’s squire, Ethan Glover. Could he have been spared because he divulged the plot to put Robert on the throne? Aerys wrote to Jon Arryn demanding the heads of Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon. Ned makes sense given the “treason” of his brother and father, but why Robert, unless Aerys knew of their plan? Of course, Jon Arryn refused to give up his wards (and the potential claimant to the throne), which sparked the rebellion and led to the downfall of the dragon kings.

R+L=J

“Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna, and thousands died for it.” – A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67 (The Kingbreaker)

What of Rhaegar and Lyanna? After he rescued her from his father’s men, Rhaegar needed to get her someplace safe – eventually taking her to the Tower of Joy. If Rhaegar didn’t abduct her or run off with her out of love, how would Jon have been conceived? It’s possible that Rhaegar tried to get word to Lyanna’s family to keep war from breaking out, but it arrived too late, or not at all. Once Lyanna learned the news of her father’s and brother’s deaths, she would have been devastated. She may have turned to her rescuer for comfort, and perhaps it led to something more. Rhaegar must have named it the Tower of Joy for a reason.

Rhaegar would have found it difficult to reject a grieving girl, and perhaps the admiration he already felt for her grew into love. I don’t think he planned for it, or that he used her to fulfill a prophecy. I believe it was a similar situation to Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling – she gave herself to Robb, and he married her so as not to dishonor her. Yes, Rhaegar was already married, but the Targaryens had practiced polygamy in the past. Perhaps he thought that once the rebellion was defeated and Aerys was deposed, he would have the power and ability to make the realm accept a second marriage. A union and a child with a Stark could also be used to ensure the loyalty of the North and the Riverlands.

Since King Aerys didn’t seem to have viewed Rhaegar absconding with Lyanna as an act of treason, Rhaegar must have sent word that he was holding her as a hostage in a secret location. Rhaegar believed he would be victorious and that he could take care of his father once the war was over. He may have still been communicating with Tywin Lannister to win his support, but Tywin stayed his hand to ensure he only backed the winning side. Unfortunately his decision likely led to Rhaegar’s death on the Trident, and the rest is history.

 

5 Game of Thrones Theories That Need to Die a Horrible Death in Season 7

Fan of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire certainly come up with some interesting theories – ranging from brilliant (R+L=J), to brilliantly tinfoil (D+D=T), to brilliantly idiotic (N+L=J). Sometimes they get a little too carried away and either create theories without much to back them up, or they hold onto theories despite all evidence to the contrary. Here are 5 theories I hope are put to rest after Season 7 airs next summer.

5 – Sansa is pregnant with Ramsay’s child

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Take some unflattering promotional photos, add some VERY circumstantial evidence, and you get this theory. Speculation began when the first Season 6 photos were released, and fans remarked on the possible baby bump Sansa appeared to be sporting. Once the season aired, people noticed Sansa didn’t appear to eat much (morning sickness?). Later she made a comment to Littlefinger about being able to physically feel inside what Ramsay did to her, and in episode 9 Ramsay told Sansa he would always be a part of her – fans took these remarks literally, assuming it meant a baby.

Setting aside the fact that physical and psychological torture, leaping from a castle wall, and being chased through snow and freezing water would likely lead to a miscarriage, enough time had passed that surely Sansa would be showing by season’s end. Even if she were pregnant, how would Ramsay know? I find it hard to believe she would have sent him a raven with the unhappy news. A Sansa pregnancy wouldn’t serve the plot in any meaningful way; given the limited time the show has left and the much more important storylines coming to a head, this theory doesn’t make much sense.

4 – Jon will marry Sansa

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Jon and Sansa’s reunion was one of the most touching moments of Season 6, evoking smiles, tears, and apparently, Jonsa shippers. There isn’t much to substantiate this theory aside from “chemistry” and “vibes” (I call it wishful thinking). Guys, I know incest is a thing on Game of Thrones, but this is just too much. To be fair, this particular pairing was circulated as a possibility among readers of A Song of Ice and Fire before their onscreen reunion, but I don’t want to see it happen in either medium. Now that Jon has been confirmed as Lyanna’s son we know he is Sansa’s cousin and not her half-brother (which is still a little icky though accepted in-universe), but they don’t know that. Besides, they grew up as siblings and didn’t even particularly like each other.

Jon is now King in the North in his own right, and marrying Sansa isn’t necessary to solidify his claim. She is ostensibly already his ally, so how would a union with her help him politically? It would benefit Sansa of course, as she would become Queen in the North, but that would likely cause Littlefinger to withdraw the Vale’s support (slimy little weasel that he is). Besides, Jon being available for a marriage alliance could help him bring other regions of Westeros to his side; he will need much more than the North to stop the White Walkers in  their tracks.

3 – Arya is actually the Waif

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Arya’s Season 6 storyline in Braavos wasn’t one of the highlights for me. It was a bit confusing, and – at times – boring (how many times can you watch someone get beaten with a stick anyway?). So I was glad to see Arya decide to head back home in episode 7…until she got shanked. That began one of the most unbelievable parts of her storyline – not only did she survive the initial stab wounds, she avoided infection despite not receiving adequate medical care, and then she was able to outrun the Waif through the streets of Braavos.

Even more incredibly, Arya was able to kill the Waif and remove her face, which she displayed in the Hall of Faces before having her mic drop moment with Jaqen. Some fans believe that Arya beating the Waif wasn’t actually unrealistic writing – they think the Waif killed Arya instead. They theorize that Arya would have been too tired and weak to defeat her, so the person we think is Arya is really the Waif wearing Arya’s face. There really isn’t any other evidence to support it, and I don’t think it would serve the plot for the Waif to act as Arya for the rest of the series. Plus, could the Waif really remove her own face? Somehow I doubt it.

2 – Bran was all the Brandon Starks

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Everyone was excited to see Bran back in Season 6, and we were anxious to see what impact he would have in the story. The answer to that question was, quite a lot (and most of it negative). Not only did he discover Jon isn’t Ned’s bastard and witness the origin of the White Walkers, he singlehandedly led to the deaths of the Three Eyed Raven, Summer, several Children of the Forest, and Hodor. If that weren’t bad enough, we also discovered that Bran was responsible for “Wyllis” becoming Hodor in the first place.

Now we know that not only can Bran see the past, he can interact with and influence it. That has led to speculation about other events he may have affected (such as driving King Aerys mad). Some fans believe Bran has skinchanged into all of the past Brandon Starks (Brandon the Builder, Brandon the Shipwright, Brandon the Breaker) and is responsible for their legendary deeds.

The support for this idea seems to be that they all have the same name, and that Old Nan confuses Bran with all the other Brandons she has known. Seriously, that’s it. There are several problems with this: one, skinchanging into humans with normal brain function is pretty much impossible (see what happened to Hodor as an example); two, why would Bran only do this with Brandons and not other important Starks of the past?; three, with all of the threats facing Westeros in the present, why would he spend time influencing past characters who don’t necessarily impact the current situation? We may well see Bran affecting other events, but for him to have been every Brandon Stark seems pointless and silly.

1 – Anything other than R+L=J

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Ever since the release of the first book, A Game of Thrones, fans have been theorizing about Jon’s Snow’s mother: was it Ashara Dayne, Wylla the wet nurse, or the fisherman’s daughter? It wasn’t long before people questioned whether Ned was even the father, leading to the theory that Jon was the son of Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark and her “abductor” Rhaegar Targaryen (R+L=J).

The evidence in the text is overwhelming once you know to look for it (there have even been hints on the show), and fans have had 20 years to put it all together. Of course 20 years of wondering has also allowed alternate theories to crop up like annoying little weeds – that Jon is the son of Ned’s brother Brandon and Ashara, or that Lyanna was his mother and someone other than Rhaegar was the father. Even confirming Jon’s parentage in the Season 6 finale (and via an HBO infographic) wasn’t enough to quiet the dissent; there are still people who wonder if Robert, Aerys, or (for the incest obsessed) Ned is Jon’s father.

Let me just say it – anything other than R+L=J MAKES NO SENSE. It doesn’t make sense with the timeline, it doesn’t make sense with the secrecy, and it doesn’t make sense in the story. I just pray Bran has a vision next season that includes Rhaegar with Lyanna and leaves no room for doubt. My peace of mind depends on it.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Meera is Jon’s twin

This. Just, why? There is NO evidence. None. Having similar hair doesn’t make you related, I promise. And there was no second baby at the Tower of Joy, unless she was hidden away somewhere. Please people, let it go.

Surviving the Long Night

So here we are – no book, no show… Nothing but our imaginations to fill the void while we wait for word that The Winds of Winter is finished, or for the start date of Game of Thrones Season 7. It’s a dangerous time, when tinfoil (or just plain dumb) theories abound (Tyrion the time-traveling fetus and R+L=J+M come to mind) and fans become desperate for any tidbit of news. Unfortunately for us, those tidbits have been few and far between.

Last week, my guest poster Caroline had some good suggestions for filler shows, and doubtless there are many more that could provide a distraction. I took a bit of a summer hiatus from this blog, but I plan to continue my prediction posts and theory discussions in the coming months to provide some outlet for impatient fans. Hopefully we will get some casting and filming news as production for Game of Thrones Season 7 kicks into gear, and I keep holding out hope that a certain book will make an appearance before the premiere (a girl can dream, right?).

I have personally been coping in a variety of ways – rewatching all six seasons of Game of Thrones, starting an in-depth reread of A Song of Ice and Fire, and working on a series of portraits based on the novels (this latest obsession of mine is responsible for my lack of blogging; I’ll do better, I promise!). Considering my slow pace and the vast number of characters, that alone should keep me occupied until A Dream of Spring is released. Below are the ones I’ve completed so far – please feel free to suggest future characters for me to work on.

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Not knowing how long we must wait makes it all the more frustrating. We can only make guesses as to when the next season of Game of Thrones will start (May? June? Gods forbid, July?), or when GRRM will release The Winds of Winter (some friends and I have a pool going; sadly my hopes for 2016 or early 2017 are quickly fading). Thankfully though, we know the wait will end…eventually.

How do you entertain yourself during the off season and the wait between books? Do you immerse yourself in anything Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones related, or do you avoid thinking about it completely?

 

Will Arya Stark Survive to the End? (Spoilers and Speculation)

Arya Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire

In A Dance with Dragons, we last see Arya after she has made her first kill for the Faceless Men. She is given an acolyte’s robe and assigned as an apprentice to a mummer’s troupe led by Izembaro. In a sample chapter from The Winds of Winter – entitled Mercy – Arya encounters Raff the Sweetling while she is performing with the troupe. Raff is one of Gregor Clegane’s men who captured Arya and her friends in the Riverlands, killing Lommy Greenhands in the process. Arya avenges him, and in doing so she crosses another name off her list.

I think this event will lead to repercussions for Arya, as she wasn’t assigned to kill Raff and did it instead of her own volition. This proves she hasn’t truly become “No One,” and I don’t think she ever will. I’m not sure if Arya will leave the Faceless Men and escape back to Westeros, or if she will be sent to Westeros on an assignment and then decide to leave. Either way, there is still too much Arya Stark in her to ever completely give up her identity.

It’s likely she will continue to cross names off of her list, although there are few left. I could see her being responsible for killing Walder Frey and possibly Ilyn Payne, who are both in the Riverlands. I also believe she will encounter her undead mother, Lady Stoneheart, and kill her out of mercy.

Although George R. R. Martin’s original outline for his novels has Arya surviving to the end, there are hints in the novels that she will die. Her father tells her, “You have a wildness in you, child. The ‘Wolf Blood’, my father used to call it. Lyanna had a touch of it, and my brother Brandon more than a touch. It brought them both to an early grave.” Ned also says, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives” – while her siblings are scattered like she is, they have maintained their identities and are emotionally close to others. Arya is very much alone in a physical and spiritual sense.

While in disguise at Harrenhal, Arya encounters Elmar Frey – the boy to whom Catelyn promised Arya when she made her pact with Walder Frey (of which Arya is unaware). Elmar is upset that his betrothal to his “princess” has been called off, and after insulting Arya, she tells him “I hope your princess dies.” However, the biggest hint at Arya’s death is Jon Snow’s comment to her that “when the spring thaw comes, they will find your body with a needle still locked tight between your frozen fingers.” Should she die, I believe she will warg into Nymeria and live out her second life as her direwolf.

Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

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As of episode 8 (No One), Arya has survived the Waif’s attempt on her life and reclaimed her identity as Arya Stark. She tells Jaqen that she is going home. I’m not sure if we will see Arya in the season finale, but I think her story will play out similarly to the books.

It’s possible that she may be in disguise at the Frey celebration on Sunday. There is reason to suspect there will be a bad end for the Freys (possibly another Red Wedding type of scenario), so Arya could have a hand in what occurs. I think she could also potentially meet up with Sandor and the Brotherhood Without Banners once again. They are in the Riverlands, heading north, and if she goes with them hopefully she will reunite with Jon and Sansa. I still feel that she is destined to die, but the show may decide to take her character in an entirely different direction.

What do you think her fate will be?

 

Visions and Prophecies – Deciphering the Mysteries in the House of the Undying

I am following up my previous post (analyzing Bran’s vision from last week’s episode of Game of Thrones) with a look at another vision – Daenerys in the House of the Undying. Since I have already touched upon the show version, I will focus on the book version from A Clash of Kings (book 2 in A Song of Ice and Fire). I discuss information from a sample chapter of The Winds of Winter, so please don’t read if you don’t wish to be spoiled.

Daenerys enters and passes a series of rooms which depict various scenes (past, present, and future):

  • A beautiful, naked woman being ravished by four little men (believed to be the War of the Five Kings – reduced to four as Renly has been killed by this time)
  • A feast of slaughtered corpses below a dead man with the head of a wolf, sitting on a throne and wearing an iron crown (the Red Wedding)
  • The house with the red door in Braavos where Daenerys spent her childhood
  • A throne room with dragon skulls where an old king (assumed to be Aerys II) sits on a towering throne, preparing to burn the city
  • A room where a man with silver-gold hair and indigo eyes (presumably Rhaegar Targaryen) names his son Aegon, calls him “the prince that was promised” whose song is “the song of ice and fire,” and says there must be another because “the dragon has three heads”

Daenerys ends up in a room with a “splendor of wizards” who claim to be the Undying. They tell her they have been waiting for her and offer food and knowledge. She begins to doubt this vision, and finds a hidden door which takes her to the real Undying, withered creatures in a dark room where a rotting blue heart floats over a long table.

The Undying Ones call Daenerys “mother of dragons…child of three” and echo Rhaegar’s assertion about the three heads of the dragon. Then then whisper prophecies to her: “three fires must you light…one for life and one for death and one to love,” “three mounts must you ride…one to bed and one to dread and one to love,” “three treasons will you know…once for blood and once for gold and once for love.”

It’s unclear whether these are all predictions for the future or if some have already come to pass. However, if you put them in the context of the earlier scenes she witnesses and the visions that are shown later, they are likely a mix of both. There has been much debate over the meaning here, but my thoughts are as follows:

Three fires

I believe the one “for life” was the fire which hatched her dragons. The one “for death” probably hasn’t happened yet, but it could be related to the “pale mare” – the wasting plague that is spreading through camps outside Meereen. I’m not sure about the one “to love” – the wording is a bit different, implying this fire will be something she will take pleasure in. Perhaps she will have Drogon burn Euron? If she has been forced to marry him (which is certainly his goal and the reason his sent ships to her), his death would free her and would definitely be something to love.

Three mounts

Some people believe the “mounts” are lovers or husbands, but I think they are actual mounts, as in methods of conveyance. One “to bed” would be Dany’s silver horse that carries her to consummate her marriage to Drogo on her wedding night. One “to dread” could be an Ironborn ship that takes her to Westeros (possibly to Euron himself – definitely someone to dread), as we know Victarion is headed to Daenerys with a fleet. One “to love” is more difficult, but I’ll get into my opinion shortly – I think there may be a connection between this set of prophecies and three visions she is shown later.

Three treasons

The one ”for blood” was probably Mirri Maz Duur who sought vengeance for the slaughtering of her people by Khal Drogo’s khalasar. One “for gold” is sometimes assumed to be Jorah, but he betrayed her for a pardon and for home. I think it’s more likely Brown Ben Plumm – he’s betrayed her once already and may do it again, possibly selling a dragon to her “nephew” Aegon. One “for love” is harder to determine. I believe Daenerys is taking a darker turn at the end of A Dance with Dragons – and likely on Game of Thrones as well – but that she will eventually do what’s right for the realm. Perhaps someone who loves her will have to betray her in a way that forces her to realize she’s on a wrong path.

Daenerys is then shown a series of visions – each in sets of three – accompanied by titles given to her by the Undying:

Daughter of death

Daenerys sees Viserys with his molten crown of gold, a lord with copper skin and silver-gold hair in front of a burning city (most likely Rhaego if he had lived), and Rhaegar’s death at the Battle of the Trident. All of her close family has been killed.

Slayer of lies

She is shown a blue-eyed king who casts no shadow holding a red sword (Stannis – the false Azor Ahai Reborn), a cloth dragon on poles in a cheering crowd (“Aegon” – the possibly false prince and Blackfyre pretender), and a stone beast flying from a smoking tower, breathing shadow fire (possibly Jon Connington who has greyscale and whose sigil is a griffin). These are presumably lies that she will expose once she returns to Westeros. I’m not sure about the stone beast, since Jon Connington’s support of the false Aegon seems to be tied to the cloth dragon vision, but I don’t have another interpretation at the moment.

Bride of fire

I believe this series of visions may actually tie in with the three mounts prophecy. Daenerys sees her silver trotting to a stream beneath the stars (where she and Drogo consummated their marriage – a mount to bed). She was his bride of fire – she had to burn him upon his death.

Next she sees a corpse at the prow of a ship with grey lips smiling sadly (this appears to be Euron’s ship, the Silence – a mount to dread). In the new Aeron Greyjoy sample chapter that George R. R. Martin read at BaltiCon over Memorial Day weekend, we find out Aeron is now Euron’s prisoner. By the end of the chapter, Aeron is lashed to the prow of the Silence before they set sail, so there is a strong likelihood he is the corpse in this vision; that would mean Daenerys does indeed marry Euron. Bride of fire here may support my prediction that Daenerys will kill him with dragonfire.

Finally Daenerys sees a blue flower growing from a chink in a wall of ice (a blue winter rose representing Jon at the Wall, as he is almost certainly Lyanna’s son – the “chink” may be an ice cell where his body will be stored before his resurrection). I believe Jon will find out about his parentage during his death, as he may have warged into Ghost. If he did, Bran may be able to contact him in this state and share the truth about his birth (Bran will likely see a vision of the Tower of Joy). If these visions do relate to the three mounts, then that would mean the mount to love would take her to Jon, to be the bride of fire to his ice.

Perhaps she rides Drogon to the Wall because King’s Landing has been destroyed, and she has heard of the threat from the Others/White Walkers. If the House of the Undying vision as portrayed in Game of Thrones relates to her end game, it lends even more credence to this idea. In that episode, she enters a ruined throne room and reaches for the Iron Throne, but changes her mind and leaves. When she goes through the door, she appears at the Wall.

There is definitely evidence and foreshadowing which suggests that Daenerys will embrace violence, and the “Fire and Blood” mantra of House Targaryen. George R. R. Martin has stated there will be a second Dance of the Dragons, and it will probably be as destructive – maybe even more so – than the first. However, we also see throughout her arc a desire to be a just and benevolent ruler, with a peaceful and happy kingdom. The question is, which path will she ultimately choose? I believe there is enough evidence to support her making the right decision – hopefully before it’s too late.

 

Top Sources for Game of Thrones Analysis and Discussion

Can’t get enough of Game of Thrones on Sunday night? There are some great podcasts and videos available after each episode to help you through your weekly withdrawals. I’ve included my favorites here.

History of Westeros puts out two fantastic reviews every week – one on Monday (show only review), and one on Wednesday in collaboration with Radio Westeros (for book readers). You can visit their YouTube channel or find them on iTunes. Radio Westeros also has a YouTube channel and podcasts available on iTunes. Both are great sources for not only reviews, but also book discussion – including characterization, theories, history, and predictions.

If you prefer short, succinct reviews and explanations, Alt Shift X is a great resource. His YouTube videos are under 20 minutes, and he not only recaps each episode but has several videos detailing popular theories. His R+L=J video is one of the best at summing up all of the evidence:

If you’re interested in learning more about how each episode is put together, HBO has a website called Making Game of Thrones. There you can find behind the scenes information like storyboards, interviews, and in depth videos on the filming process. Last but not least, the official Game of Thrones YouTube channel publishes clips, interviews, and an “Inside the Episode” series that allows the producers to elaborate on the storylines and the choices they make for portraying them onscreen.

What are your go-to sources for Game of Thrones information? Please feel free to share your favorites!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is the Prince that was Promised? (Spoilers and specuation)

During Game of Thrones episodes three and four – “Oathbreaker” and “Book of the Stranger” – Melisandre calls Jon the Prince that was Promised. Is she right? What is the Prince that was Promised anyway?

In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, there are two saviors that are referenced – Azor Ahai Reborn and the Prince that was Promised. There are many overlapping qualities, and many people suspect they refer to the same person. There are prophecies associated with both, and they both concern saving the world from the Long Night/the darkness/the Others (White Walkers).

According to followers of R’hllor (The Lord of Light), Azor Ahai was a legendary hero who wielded a burning sword and fought the darkness that lay over the world. He may be connected to the Last Hero, who fought the Others during the Long Night with a blade of dragonsteel. Azor Ahai is prophesied to be reborn “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.”

Melisandre also states “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.” She seems to believe the dragons will be made out of stone, because she later tells Stannis that “only a king’s blood can wake the stone dragon.” Melisandre wants him to sacrifice his nephew Edric Storm (a bastard sired by Robert Baratheon – replaced by Gendry on the show) and his “dragon shall awaken and spread his stony wings.”

Melisandre uses the Prince that was Promised interchangeably with Azor Azai Reborn, so she obviously believes they are one and the same. We get very little information about the Prince that was Promised, other than that he will be instrumental in the war for the dawn (presumably the fight against the Others), will be born from the line of Aerys (the Mad King) and Rhaella, and that his song is the song of ice and fire.

Since there are many similarities between the two prophecies, for the sake of argument let’s assume they are about the same person. Is Melisandre right in thinking it’s Jon? She first believed it was Stannis which was obviously incorrect (and appears to be the case in the books as well), and on the surface Daenerys seems to be a better fit.

Daenerys was born (literally) amidst salt (the sea) when she was born on the island fortress of Dragonstone. She was born again (figuratively) amidst smoke when she walked unburnt out of the fire of Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre. The bleeding red star (comet) also appeared at this time, while the darkness (Others) were gathering beyond the Wall. She woke dragons out of stone when she hatched the stony eggs in the pyre (using the Khal’s blood), and the dragons could be metaphorical swords.

Melisandre may have believed that Stannis was The Prince that was Promised if she saw Dragonstone in hear flames. He was the current Lord of Dragonstone, so it would make sense for her to seek him out. She believed in this vision so strongly that she tried to force the prophecy to fit him, giving him an illusory “burning” sword. However, he is not from the line of Aerys and Rhaella (although he does have Targaryen ancestry). Daenerys is both from their line – their daughter – and was born on Dragonstone.

Everything seems to point to Daenerys, but George R. R. Martin is quoted as saying that prophecies shouldn’t be “too literal or too easy,” and that they should “come true in unexpected ways.” With that in mind, how could this be applied to Jon Snow?

If you believe he is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, then he would be the grandson of Aerys and Rhaella and potentially the heir to the Iron Throne (if legitimate). That would make him the Prince of Dragonstone as his father was before him, so if Dragonstone was the key to Melisandre’s vision – and she assumed it was associated with the Prince that was Promised – it could have been pointing toward Jon.

We don’t know much of the circumstances of his birth, but likely there were tears (salt). His resurrection hasn’t happened in A Song of Ice and Fire, but on Game of Thrones he was resurrected amidst smoke (Melisandre burning his hair). There has also been speculation that salt and smoke were used to describe snow and steamy breath in cold air by people that had never seen it. Additionally as Jon was stabbed in the books, Bowen Marsh was crying, and his wounds were “smoking.”

There are theories in the books about the red star bleeding – that it could be the knight with the star sigil who was torn apart by Wun Wun right before Jon’s murder, or that it could refer to Melisandre (the theory for that is detailed here). We haven’t seen much evidence for this in the show, but they could be simplifying it for television.

Regarding “waking dragons out of stone,” this is where is gets tricky. Since Jon is unlikely to find dragon eggs or a literal stone dragon, some believe that Shireen’s burning is what leads to Jon’s rebirth. Greyscale looks like the skin turning to stone, so using magic caused by burning her (releasing her king’s blood) would be waking a dragon (Targaryens are frequently referred to as dragons in both the books and the show) from stone.

My personal belief is that there is proof of Jon’s Targaryen lineage in Lyanna’s crypt. One very convincing theory is that it is Rhaegar’s harp. Discovery of this proof would be a metaphorical way of waking a dragon from stone. Blood is used many times to refer to a relative – not actual blood – so perhaps the king’s blood of the prophecy means a relative of the king. Perhaps you don’t need this person’s actual blood, but just their presence. Jon is a king’s “blood” so he may find the evidence himself, or Bran (related to King Robb Stark) could discover this proof in a vision.

Finally, Lyanna asks Ned to promise her something before she dies. Most likely she asks him to protect Jon, or preserve his heritage by burying evidence with her, or both. Assuming Jon truly is a prince (not bastard born), then he is literally a promised prince.

Do you think Jon will be the savior of Westeros? If not, who do you predict it will be?

Art of Thrones

It’s amazing to see the inspiration certain books, movies, or television shows can spark in their fans. They can lead us to create music, crafts, and art of our own. It is certainly true for the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones series, which have motivated people to create entire communities dedicated to their obsession.

Musicians have covered the Game of Thrones theme song in hundreds of different ways. YouTube has a great collection of videos with people utilizing a multitude of different instruments. You can also find covers of other songs mentioned in the series, and even some original works.


Etsy is a veritable treasure trove for anything related to A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. Whether you are looking for jewelry, collectibles, clothing, or art, you are sure to find something you will love. Speaking of art, there are numerous sites for artists to showcase their work. Tumblr has a Game of Thrones gallery, Facebook has The Art of Ice and Fire page, and DeviantArt features a large selection of pieces celebrating the series.

I have even been inspired to start drawing again – something I haven’t done in years. My header image is one example. I also have several pieces on DeviantArt; below are two of my favorites. You can view the rest on my profile if you are interested.

Gift from the Old Gods.jpg

a_girl_and_her_dragon_by_vanessacole-da1ayc2.jpg

Have you been motivated to create anything? Feel free to share in the comments!

New Sample Chapter from The Winds of Winter

The Winds of Winter may not be available yet, but George R. R. Martin has thrown a bone to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire by releasing a sample chapter last night. His latest blog post states that he isn’t finished with his latest novel, but that it is progressing. The new sample chapter is available here, and is written from the perspective of Arianne Martell.

It’s an interesting choice, given that Arianne does not appear on Game of Thrones. There has been harsh criticism of the Dorne storyline in both season 5 and season 6, so perhaps this is Martin’s way of appeasing fans? Readers who enjoy the Dornish plot in the novels seem to have much to look forward to, if this latest chapter is any indication.

If you would like to read the other chapters that have been released, Reddit has a fantastic wiki page with information on where to find them.

Happy reading!

Will Bran Stark’s Visions of the Past Save Westeros for the Future?

With the return of Bran Stark to Game of Thrones this coming Sunday, I have dedicated this character prediction to him. Please don’t read if you want to avoid potential spoilers.

Bran Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire

In A Dance with Dragons, Bran finally finds the three-eyed crow, who turns out to be Brynden Rivers (aka Bloodraven). Bloodraven is a Targaryen (legitimized) bastard, formerly both Hand of the King and Lord Commander of Night’s Watch. He was a spymaster who was also said to dabble in sorcery. He played a key role in protecting the Targaryen dynasty from the Blackfyre pretenders, but was ultimately sent to the Wall for his for his underhanded methods.

We know Bloodraven is extremely powerful, and he has seen this power in Bran. He lures Bran beyond the wall to train him in his gifts, and we assume that they will use these gifts to help stop the Others from destroying humanity. However, Bran’s final chapter in A Dance with Dragons is full of ominous imagery and a sense of fatalism. There is a detailed breakdown here, but we find out that worship of the Old Gods historically involved blood sacrifice and that the Children of the Forest likely practice it still.

Prior to this, the Children of the Forest and the Old Gods seemed to be forces for good which battled against the forces of evil (the Others). Bran appeared to be on an important journey to awaken his gifts for the betterment of humanity, and he still may. But nothing is black and white in A Song of Ice and Fire, so we are left to wonder how Bran’s story will play out – will he be a hero, villain, or something in-between?

I do believe Bran will discover important information about the Long Night, the true nature of the Others, and also about his family and ancestors. He will probably be the vehicle for revealing Jon’s true parentage and the significance it has for Westeros (if any). What is more difficult to determine is how he will use this information.

Bloodraven’s time as Hand and Lord Commander seemed marked by his desire to keep the realm safe and at peace, and to preserve the Targaryen legacy. Are these goals important to him still? We don’t know what he has learned from the Children and from his visions, and – not knowing Bloodraven’s true motivation – we are left to wonder how he plans to use Bran to further his ends.

Bran Stark in Game of Thrones

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Bran’s role in Game of Thrones seems to be less ambiguous than in the books. From the footage that’s been released so far – and what we’ve learned from interviews – he seems poised to become a powerful warg and greenseer who will use his gifts to try and save Westeros from the White Walkers.

We know that he will see the events at the Tower of Joy, where Ned Stark went to retrieve his sister Lyanna Stark after Robert’s Rebellion was over. Bran will likely discover that Lyanna gave birth to Jon (Rhaegar’s son) and made Ned promise to raise him and keep him safe. Hopefully he will use his power to share this information with Jon prior to his resurrection.

The trailer footage appears to show the White Walkers burning the cave where Bran, Meera, and Hodor are sheltered with Bloodraven. If this is the case, they will need to escape but where will they go? They will be in extreme danger from the weather and the White Walker army. It remains to be seen how they will survive, but if Bran has the knowledge necessary to save Westeros he will hopefully try to find his family. Jon and Sansa (with help from Davos) appear to be on track to unite the North against the Boltons. With the Bolton threat removed, they will need to turn their focus to the threat beyond the Wall –  before it’s too late.

 

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