If you think the show ‘Game of Thrones’ is good or great, pick up the books. It might tell you what happens in later season (not necessarily as the show has its own route in a way), but it’s simply so much better, bigger, and richer. And like the show, but with more of an impact, the story lays seeds to a million and one bigger and smaller fan theories.
Because as much as A Song of Ice and Fire is about telling the story of what happens from the moment we pick up the first book, Robert visiting Winterfell and Ned Stark becoming the Hand of the King, leading to the war of five kings, it’s just as much about telling what happened up to that point – Robert’s rebellion, before that and even the very distant past in the Age of Heroes.
Warning – Major spoilers ahead.
R + L = J?
The moment that probably led to Robert’s rebellion, the trigger at least, was Rhaegar Targaryen, the crown prince choosing Lyanna Stark as the queen of love and beauty over his own wife, Elia of Dorne, while Lyanna herself was promised to Robert Baratheon. As the books unfold, we learn that Rhaegar probably didn’t kidnap Lyanna Stark. We also get more and more pieces of information that make us believe Ned Stark isn’t Jon Snow’s father. It actually begins right from the start, in the visit to the crypts, where we know Ned is hiding something from Robert regarding Lyanna – “Promise me, Ned…”
R+L=J is the most popular and discussed fan theory in the ASOIAF universe, which also builds up to other theories and interesting thoughts. Like the Tower of Joy, and what exactly happened there. One of the great things about GRRM’s epic tale is the way the future unfolds just as much as the past is revealed to us, bit by bit.
Tower of Joy
The Tower of Joy is a place in the Red Mountains of Dorne, were Rhaegar apparently left Lyanna Stark after hiding with her there in order to lead his father’s armies against Robert’s rebellion, eventually slain by the war-hammer on the trident. Ned Stark arrived at the Tower of Joy with Howland Reed, William Dustin, Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull and Mark Ryswell.
Three knights of the Kingsguard were waiting there – The Sword of the Morning, Arthur Dayne, Oswell Whent and the Commander of the Kingsguard, Gerold Hightower. A battle ensued, with only Ned and Lord Reed surviving the battle. Why were the kingsguard there, with their prince off at battle? Were Lyanna and Rhaegar married? With child? Did Lyanna, who died in Ned’s arms after the battle, already have a baby? Was it Jon Snow? Only Howland Reed knows, but he hasn’t left his home since the rebellion ended.
The Dragon Has Three Heads
Again, Rhaegar Targaryen. He was obsessed with a prophecy he came upon one day while reading his books, apparently changing his life, while shrouding him in some melancholic sense of doom, according to those who knew him still alive to tell the tale in ‘present’ time. The Prince that was Promised, Azor Ahai… Probably all the same person, with different cultures giving different interpretations to the legend.
Someone, or maybe three someones, will need to rise up against The Others once again, just like 8000 years prior to that, when the Last Hero, whoever he may be, was able to stop the White Walkers’ advancement and put an end to the long night, a winter that lasted a generation.
Now – Rhaegar believed that he needed three Targaryens to have his three headed dragon – Maybe his son Aegon, who was allegedly killed when the Lannisters broke into King’s Landing, but later appears as young Griff. Maybe Daenerys, who might be Rhaegar’s daughter and not Aerys’? Maybe another Targaryen, a secret one, named Tyrion?
Just like more and more surviving members from Krypton were introduced to us over the years, we learn, although we might be deceived, that Daenerys isn’t the last Targaryen after all. Tyrion encounters Young Griff who turns out to be a grown up Aegon Targaryen, not dead and brought up to take the throne. Is he actually Aegon? Is he a pretender brought up by Varys and Illyrio? Is he actually a Blackfyre? Is Varys secretly a Blackfyre, which explains all the chaos he causes in Westeros and King’s Landing?
The biggest shock of all might be Tyrion being one. In ADWD we learn that Aerys might have impregnated Tywin’s wife, Joanna, on a certain night, probably through rape. Tyrion might be the child of that night, which also killed Joanna after she gave birth. This might explain Tywin’s hate for Tyrion. But maybe it were the twins? Jaime and Cersei, who are actually Targaryens?
Who Will Kill Cersei?
One of the best things GRRM did was give Cersei Lannister a POV in the fourth book, a Feast for Crows. We learn how paranoid and not that clever she is. Also, we learn that she’s haunted by a prophecy – When she was young, she and a friend went to the tent of a woodswitch called Maggy the frog, a Maegi from the East.
The old woman told Cersei that she’ll have three children, who will all die (Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds) before her, and then the Valonqar, a younger brother, will kill her (And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you). Knowing both Jaime and Tyrion would like to kill Cersei, it’s hard to choose. Most people think it’s Jaime, her younger by a few minutes twin.
But with GRRM, you never know. A younger brother doesn’t mean it has to be her younger brother. It doesn’t mean it has to be a brother… It can be a younger sister.
More – It’s impossible to count how many thought goes into theories each day by the growing number of ASOIAF fans. For the best of ’em, either go to Westeros.org or the ASOIAF community on reddit.com. Warning – It’s addictive.