If you have seen the previews for Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, then you are aware it will include a vision of a young Ned Stark’s confrontation with some Targaryen soldiers. The soldiers were members of the Kingsguard tasked with guarding Ned’s sister Lyanna, who was being held at the “Tower of Joy” at the end of Robert’s Rebellion.
The story goes that Rhaegar abducted Lyanna sometime after the Tourney at Harrenhal, in which Rhaegar was victorious and crowned Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty. He supposedly fell upon her in the riverlands and carried her off to the tower. There are reasons to doubt this tale, however.
Rhaegar was perceived as an honorable man by all who knew him (with the exception of Robert Baratheon who never forgave him for stealing Lyanna from him). Lyanna was independent and impulsive, and she was not happy about being betrothed to a womanizer like Robert. She could have gone with Rhaegar willingly, and one theory (detailed here) suggests Rhaegar may even have rescued her from an increasingly paranoid King Aerys.
Why is any of this important to the current story? Well, the theory commonly called R+L=J suggests that Rhaegar and Lyanna had a child together, and that child is Jon Snow. When Ned finds Lyanna in the tower, she is lying in a “bed of blood,” which is used throughout the A Song of Ice and Fire novels to describe the birthing bed. She then makes Ned promise her something, which many people believe was a promise to keep Jon’s identity a secret and raise him as Ned’s own child.
Now that Jon is indeed back from the dead, his heritage matters more than ever. With Stannis gone, Melisandre needs a new champion. Jon could possibly be Azor Ahai reborn or the Prince That Was Promised – legendary figures who are prophesied to defeat the White Walkers/Others and stop the Long Night (more information on that here).
Jon Snow may not even be a bastard. It’s possible that Rhaegar and Lyanna married in secret (Targaryens had practiced polygamy in the past), which would make him an heir to the Iron Throne. There are numerous hints in the novels about Jon being a king, which are catalogued here. In short, Bran’s vision on Sunday could confirm a theory that has been discussed for almost 2 decades by book readers, and which could have enormous implications for the future of Westeros.
I am incredibly excited to see how this plays out on screen. Do you think we will find out the truth about Jon this Sunday?