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S+L=J (Yes. That’s right. Be afraid.)

S+L=J (Yes. That’s right. Be afraid)
By: Kingmonkey
kingmonkey Avatar

S? Who’s S? S is Stark. Jon is an incest child.

Wait, what? Ew! No way. That’s sick. No way is Jon an incest child. Sick!

Yeah, I’m going there. Someone’s got to. It’s the nuclear option, and I’m pressing the button. BAM! Suck it in. This is the option that never gets discussed because as soon as anyone raises it, they get shouted down. Nobody wants it to be true. Well you probably wanted Oberyn to beat The Mountain. You probably wanted Syrio Forel to survive. You probably weren’t cheering on the Freys at the Red Wedding. This essay series is supposed to be dealing with the various possible answers to the parentage of Jon, and this is one of those possible answers. What’s more, it’s one with a surprising amount going for it.

But: EW! Sick!

Right, because GRRM would never tell a story that involved incest? Suuuuuuure, you tell yourself that. Then we can discuss this bridge I want to sell you. Ok, ok, but incest is a thing that evil Lannisters do, and produces utter cads like Joffrey, not GRRM’s good guys, like Jon. Or say Tyrion. Or Dany.

Uh… Oh. Yeah.

Three main characters: Jon, Tyrion, Dany.

Dany: Mother died giving birth to her. Both parents were Targaryens.

Tyrion: Mother died giving birth to him. Both parents were Lannisters.

Jon: Mother died giving him. Both parents were… wait, what?

The Uncomfortable Logic

Let me say this right now: I’m not sold on this theory. I wrote the R+L=J essay too, that’s who I think is most likely Jon’s parents. However, when you get past the “Ew! No way. That’s sick”, Jon as an incest child makes some sense. In fact, quite a bit of sense. Not enough to convince me, but enough to convince me more than any of the other alternatives to R+L=J. Enough to think that an essay series that’s supposed to be delving into Jon’s parentage that omits this option is shying away from a genuine possibility. Yet this theory, above all others, gets short shrift because nobody wants it to be true. Put aside those feelings of “ick” and pay attention, because we’re after the truth, not after puppies and rainbows and farts that smell of cotton candy. So let’s all be grown-ups and ask that pressing question in a calm and mature fashion: did Lyanna get jiggy with her bro? Was she boning Benjen? Did she like to play hide Brandon’s bratwurst? Was there nookie with Ned?

This isn’t one of the officially announced essays. It wasn’t on the list. I think that’s an oversight, and here’s why.

Firstly, Lyanna is Jon’s mum. I’m not going to try to prove that here. Look at my R+L=J essay, or a hundred other places, and you’ll see evidence enough. Secondly, what I said about the three main characters. Seriously, just look at that again. The three main characters who are exemplars of their respective families, who are our main eyes and ears in the story, with more chapters than anyone else, who are the main three characters in the book, share a lot in common. They are all outsiders. They are all “bastards and broken things”. Their mothers all died giving birth to them. Two of them, their parents were close relatives with the same family name. One of them, we’re told the father is a Stark, and we’ve figured out that the mother is a Stark. YOU DO THE MATH.

Come on guys, we’re TOLD this. Jon looks Arya. Arya looks like Lyanna. Therefore Jon looks like Lyanna. Ok, cool. We are also told that Jon looks like Ned. Red herring, because Ned must surely have looked like Lyanna? Maybe. Or maybe he looks like both of them because Jon is 100% pure Stark.

Tyrion thinks of Jon that “Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son, “ but he also tells Jon that “You have more of the north in you than your brothers.” He sees only Ned in Jon, while he sees Cat’s influence in Jon’s brothers. If Jon is Lyanna’s son but the father was not a northerner, why would Jon have “more of the north” in him than his brothers? What Tyrion is observing is that the Stark characteristics are diluted in the other siblings, but undiluted in Jon. How do you get a child with undiluted Stark characteristics? Simple, you have two Stark parents.

Now let’s talk about something that’s either a major plot-hole or a major clue that everyone overlooks because they don’t want to believe this — Sherlock Ned. Donning his deerstalker and pipe, Ned cleverly detects that Robert’s bastards all have dark hair. He reads in Maester Mallion’s The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms about how Baratheon-Lannister matches have produced dark haired kids before. He listens to Arya and Sansa’s disagreement about Joffrey – Arya says he’s a stag, not a lion. Sansa responds that Joffrey is nothing like that drunken king. BINGO!

Elementary, my dear Eddard. Robert is not Joffrey’s father. Cersei must have been sleeping with someone else. So how then, Mr. Stark, did you come up with this?

AGoT said:

“My brother is worth a hundred of your friend.””Your brother?” Ned said. “Or your lover?””Both.” She did not flinch from the truth.

Deducing that Robert wasn’t the father is simple if genetically somewhat dubious detective work. Deducing that Jaime must be the dad is a shot out of the blue. As far as we know, there has been no hint of it to Ned. I’ve heard it suggested that it was the attempt on Bran’s life that filled him in. So what, if the real father of Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella had been someone unrelated to Cersei, Robert wouldn’t have minded? It’s only because Cersei’s kids are children of incest that they’d get disinherited and Joff would lose the throne? REALLY? Just because Baratheons wear horned helmets doesn’t mean they like being cuckolded. No, that holds no water. So how about the way Joffrey looks so purely Lannister? Once Ned knows what to look for, surely he’d be looking to see what other features he could see in the kids. Cersei and Jaime are twins, though. He wouldn’t see any features in Joffrey that aren’t apparent in his mother. You could almost say that whoever his father had been, he had left little of himself in his son. Like when Tyrion says of Jon, “whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son.”

And there’s the rub. Ned has been raising Jon, who has all the features of just one of his parents, apparently. How could Ned, of all people, not be familiar with the idea that a child might look the spitting image of just one of his parents? That makes no sense at all. Unless… unless Ned knew that Jon showed no signs of his other parent because his parents were very similar looking siblings. In that case, Ned would have had a direct example of what he was seeing in Joffery to make him jump to that conclusion. Elementary indeed!

That link between Jon and Joffrey is an important one, because they are intentionally drawn as opposites who have a hidden similarity. Golden Joffrey, dark Jon. Both sons of the leading houses of the land, but one will inherit everything and one nothing. They’re even called jON and jOFF, for heaven’s sake! Ok, that one might be a bit silly.

The first time we see Joff is in Arya’s very first chapter where he’s directly contrasted to Jon.

 AGoT said:

“What did you think of Prince Joff, sister? He’s very gallant, don’t you think?”
“Jon says he looks like a girl,” Arya said.
Sansa sighed as she stitched. “Poor Jon,” she said. “He gets jealous because he’s a bastard.”

He gave her a half smile. “Bastards are not allowed to damage young princes,” he said. “Any bruises they take in the practice yard must come from trueborn swords.”

As it turns out, Joff is a bastard too. Fancy that. I wonder what else they have in common. Here’s a funny thing: Sansa and Arya’s talk about who Joff takes after gives Ned his little epiphany. There’s another person who Sansa and Arya think about in terms of familial resemblances and the question of parentage, and that’s Jon.

Well let’s take a look at their mothers. Funnily enough, Cersei and Lyanna keep getting compared too. Cersei worries about a “new Lyanna”. She believes that she was meant for Rhaegar but ended up with Robert. She believes that Lyanna was meant for Robert but ended up with Rhaegar. Cersei ended up having children with neither, being too busy shagging her brother. Might then Lyanna have ended up having children with neither, being too busy shagging her brother too?

Seems like a lot of incest going on. Sure, the Targs swing that way, but do the Starks? Well, about as much as the Lannisters do. Tywin married his cousin Joanna Lannister, and two of their children went a step further. Funnily enough, we don’t get told who Lyanna’s mother was in the books. They’re strangely silent about Rickard Stark’s wife, but the world book is not. As it turns out, Lyanna’s mother was Lyarra Stark. Yep, another cousin. Another parallel between Lyanna and Cersei.

Lyanna Stark lived a parallel life to Cersei. Jon is compared to Joff. When Ned thinks about a child who, just like Jon, is noted for looking like one parent alone, Ned’s assumption is that both parents must have been siblings of similar appearance. In Joff’s case, that is true. In Jon’s case, the one that Ned is most familiar with, does it make sense that it isn’t true? If Chewbacca lives on Endor, then you must acquit!

Which Brother?

Which Stark dad, then? We have a choice of three possible sister-shaggers, who’s the secret Jaime?

Brandon the Womaniser is the obvious choice. Poor Brandon, everyone blames him for everything. He seems to have done the deed with every other woman in Westeros, so why not Lyanna? If Brandon was in love with Lyanna – and even more, if Brandon knew Lyanna was carrying his child – it would help explain why Brandon blew his top so spectacularly. However, I don’t like it. Firstly, I’m bored of Brandon the shagger theories. Yeah, he liked sex. Big deal. That doesn’t mean that every deadbeat dad in the series is Brandon. He was just a bit of a mini-Robert. Lyanna wasn’t into Robert because of his proclivities, so it’s a fair bet she’d be the same about Brandon. Then there’s the fact that GRRM has said that Brandon never had a son. On top of that, Brandon had probably been dead for three months when Jon was conceived, and that tends to kill the mood. Let’s put Brandon’s corpse aside as possible dad-material.

So onto the middle brother, Eddard. It couldn’t possibly be honourable Ned though. Ned wouldn’t shag Lyanna, Right? Right? Not “Dearest Ned”, who “had loved her with all his heart”, and “dishonoured [himself] and dishonoured Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men”? Wait, what?

Ok, so that’s all out of context. Ned loved his sister AS A SISTER, ok? That, plus his famous honour, is why he made a promise to her that meant he had to lie to Catelyn. His dishonouring of Cat was by lying to her. And possibly by lying with Ashara as well. The sly old dog!

Yes, sensitive Ned. Over-sensitive, indeed, because as far as Catelyn was concerned, “He was welcome to whatever solace he might find between battles,” so she doesn’t feel like she’s been dishonoured. That’s why he lies awake at night, his sleep troubled for fourteen years by the terrible knowledge that he hadn’t actually done anything wron… uh, I mean… well. “Old guilts”, right? That’s what causes it. The guilt about the lie. That lie really eats at old Ned. He’s such an honourable and innocent soul, that one lie is enough.

“I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine”, Eddard tells Cersei, making that interpretation rather dubious. Does he think of lying to Cat as one of those mistakes? Perhaps, but he has had 14 years to correct that mistake, and that leaves a lot of other mistakes too. Regrets, he’s got a few. Yes, Ned’s honourable. That’s why doing something dishonourable eats at him. But really, all that fuss over one little white lie, the dying wish of his beloved sister? Surely there’s got to be more? Well how about: “The thought of Jon filled Ned with a sense of shame, and a sorrow too deep for words.” Shame? That seems a little bit strong. Or not, if you were slipping your sister a length of Valyrian steel.

How could this happen, though? Ned’s movements are fairly well attested, but there is a tiny window of opportunity. After leaving Cat he could have rushed south at top speed to the Tower of Joy, had a quickie with Lyanna, high-fived Rhaegar, then raced up north to gather an army to overthrow Rhaegar’s family. It would explain how Ned managed to find the ToJ so quickly after raising the siege of Storm’s End if he already knew where it was, but no, it’s not a very satisfactory story. Too many questions.

That just leaves little Benjen. Too little? We don’t know for sure, but not necessarily. He could be within a year of Lyanna’s age. From Bran’s visions they seem to have been close. In the Knight of the Laughing Tree story, it’s Benjen who tells Howland he knows where to find some armour. The KoTLT then turns up in mismatched armour, and it’s a fair bet that’s the same suit of armour. The KoTLT was either Lyanna or Benjen (who on our first meeting with him is described laughing, looking at Ghost with amusement, and always having a hint of laughter in his eyes). Benjen and Lyanna were close, and kept secrets together.

Benjen also has the best opportunity. People will tell you that he was the Stark in Winterfell at the time, but was he really? Let’s go to the source, this SSM:

SSM said:

6) When, specifically, did Benjen join the NW? Was it a couple of years after Ned returned, or immediately?It was within a few months of Ned’s returning. The reason being that there always was a Stark at Winterfell, so he had to stay there until Ned returned. GRRM refused to say the reason why Benjen had to join the NW. source

This certainly tells us that in the latter stages of the war, Benjen was the Stark in Winterfell. It tells us nothing about what was happening at the beginning. People often assume that Benjen was there all along, that he was left as the Stark in Winterfell while all the other Starks were heading to Riverrun for Brandon’s wedding, but this is nothing but a guess. I’ll make a different guess. Lyanna, daughter of one of the most powerful men in Westeros, one of the five most eligible women in Westeros, would not be wandering around the riverlands without a very trusted escort. Ideally a member of the family. This would be the perfect kind of responsibility for the youngest Stark son, on the edge of manhood and in need of just the kind of minor command experience that being in charge of a couple of soldiers escorting Lyanna on her travels would give him. Doubly perfect that Benjen and Lyanna had always been so close.

So Bad Boy Benjy could have been at the right place at the right time. It’s very reasonable to think he was with Lyanna at the time of the abduction, and he might have accompanied Lyanna to the Tower of Joy (or wherever Rhaegar and co. went first). Plenty of time for some sister-boffing. When the nasty consequences of the abduction became clear, who better to send as a messenger from Rhaegar & Lyanna to try to stop the rebellion in its tracks and forestall further tragedy than Benjyboy? So Benjy heads back to Winterfell, meets up with Ned while he’s there raising the banners, and tries to explain to Ned that all is not as people thought. Sorry Benjy, too late for that. Aerys lost his head, and won’t be happy until Ned and Rob lose theirs too. Not too late, however, to be the Stark in Winterfell while Ned needs to be off leading the fight. As a bonus, Benjen can tell Ned where Lyanna is, so that he can race there at speed after the fight is won, explaining the mystery of how Ned found the ToJ so fast, and why the 3KG seem so unsurprised to see him.

Of course in such a situation, we would expect there to be serious repercussions. Ned would return from the tower with Lyanna’s sprog, knowing just what kind of thing his kid brother had been doing. He would not be a happy Stark. Little Benjen has been naughty, and big Benjen would have to pay. Have you ever wondered why Benjen went to the wall just after Robert’s Rebellion? Because if you haven’t, HELLO, THIS IS PLANET EARTH CALLING.

It would be just like GRRM, if Jon was Benjen’s son, to hint at it. Jon and Benjen meet first in chapter 5 of GoT, so let’s take a look. Our first mention of Benjen is as Jon describes watching the high and mighty entering the hall at Winterfell for the feast. As they go past the bench where Jon was seated, Benjen takes the time to give Jon a smile. Later, Benjen comes looking for Jon.

AGoT said:

“Is this one of the direwolves I’ve heard so much of?” a familiar voice asked close at hand.Jon looked up happily as his uncle Ben put a hand on his head and ruffled his hair much as Jon had ruffled the wolf’s. “Yes,” he said. “His name is Ghost.”

Our first meeting with Benjen, and he does something that Jon does too. Jon ruffles Ghost’s hair. Benjen ruffles Jon’s hair. Ghost is Jon’s pup. Does this hint that Jon is Benjen’s pup? Sneaky old GRRM!

Benjen asks why Jon is not eating with his “brothers”. Jon tells him that Cat thought the royal family might be offended, and Benjen’s response is a rather flat “I see,” and a glance back at his brother Ned. Again Benjen seems to be checking up on Jon, trying to make sure that Eddard is treating him like one of the family. As the two had agreed, perhaps.
Benjen’s first act is to see what Jon has been drinking, and ask how much he’s drunk. Then he laughs it off, remembering that he was younger the first time he had been drunk. Benjen is looking out for Jon, paying attention to his development. Quite paternal, really.

Then a rather odd thing happens.

AGoT said:

Benjen gave Jon a careful, measuring look. “You don’t miss much, do you, Jon? We could use a man like you on the Wall.”

Benjen seems to be suggesting to Jon that he consider joining him at the wall, yet immediately he seems to try to talk Jon out of it, to tell him about the things he will miss if he becomes a man of the Night’s watch. It’s almost as if he regrets the suggestion, that he was making the suggestion and then realising it was selfish. As if he wanted Jon with him, but didn’t want Jon to have to pay the price. There are two interesting passages in this segment:

AGoT said:

“I am almost a man grown,” Jon protested. “I will turn fifteen on my next name day, and Maester Luwin says bastards grow up faster than other children.””That’s true enough,” Benjen said with a downward twist of his mouth. He took Jon’s cup from the table, filled it fresh from a nearby pitcher, and drank down a long swallow.

Look at Benjen’s reaction. He agrees with Jon’s comment about how fast he grows, and in response his normally amused demeanour changes. His mouth turns downwards and he takes a long drink. It’s almost as if he’s unhappy about Jon’s quick growth. Of course bastards don’t really grow up faster, but from Benjen’s perspective, seeing Jon only occasionally, Jon must seem to be growing up fast – and Benjen has missed most of it. If Benjen was Jon’s father, no wonder he needed a strong drink when that subject came up.

AGoT said:

“You are a boy of fourteen,” Benjen said. “Not a man, not yet. Until you have known a woman, you cannot understand what you would be giving up.””I don’t care about that!” Jon said hotly.”You might, if you knew what it meant,” Benjen said. “If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less eager to pay the price, son.”Jon felt anger rise inside him. “I’m not your son!”Benjen Stark stood up. “More’s the pity.” He put a hand on Jon’s shoulder. “Come back to me after you’ve fathered a few bastards of your own, and we’ll see how you feel.”

Now this really is a telling passage. Benjen went to the wall only a few months after Ned returned from the war, yet he apparently did understand what he was giving up. Maybe this is just something he learned from visits to Mole Town with his new brothers, but it certainly seems to suggest that Benjen had been sexually active before he paid the price. The line “after you’ve fathered a few bastards of your own” almost sounds like Benjen is saying “like I did”, and Benjen actually calls Jon “Son.” Jon, feeling rejected by Ben trying to talk him out of it, lashes out with “I’m not your son”, and Benjen’s reaction is regret. As if the price that Benjen paid included Jon not being his son.

In the following Catelyn chapter, we learn that Benjen approached Maester Luwin, informing the Maester that Jon aspired to take the black. Two interesting things here. First, that we get the whole process of Eddard deciding to agree to this plan outside of his own PoV. We never get Ned’s thoughts on the matter, which would certainly be too revealing if Benjen was Jon’s dad. The other, that Benjen decided to go to Maester Luwin first, as if the Maester could make the case better than he could. What possible reason could Ned have for being dubious about an approach from Benjen himself, his own brother?

So who was slipping their sister some Stark sausage? I think we can put this in an order of likelihood. I’ll throw in a percentage likelihood based on a highly scientific process of pulling numbers out of my arse:

1. Benjen. Closest ties to Lyanna, unknown whereabouts at the time, mysteriously sent to the wall. 72.1%
2. Eddard. Would explain his guilt, but a narrow window of opportunity. 24.3%
3. Brandon. Most sexually active as far as we know, but somewhat dead at the time. 3.6%

The Big Picture

It’s notable that Ned doesn’t have Robert’s anti-Targaryen feelings, even though he’s the one with the reason to hate. Why would Ned have such a different view to Robert, unless he knew something Robert did not? Until Aerys forced Rhaegar’s hand, Rhaegar wasn’t actually involved in the rebellion. In fact, it was only after Rhaegar joined the King’s army that the rebellion chose someone to sit on the Iron Throne as a replacement to the Targaryen dynasty. Perhaps Ned learned something that allowed him to forgive Rhaegar for the abduction. Perhaps Ned was still going along with his father’s Southron Ambitions; Ned would initially have been happy to seat Rhaegar on the throne, and only after Rhaegar was forced to switch sides to keep his family safe from Aerys did Ned favour Robert? Perhaps knowing that they were at one point secret allies explains that sad smile on Arthur Dayne’s lips?

It’s a lot of perhapses, but as scenarios go it does have the advantage of less stupidity than most scenarios require. Let’s be honest, pretty much every scenario out there relies on people doing a lot of stupid things, like Prince Perfect starting a massive war because Mr. Sausage was hungry, or Lyanna forgetting to send word home that she was fine. From a political viewpoint, this actually makes sense without having to assume that Rhaegar didn’t give a damn about political concerns. There’s one other point in its favour: Ned apparently knew where the Tower of Joy could be found. If he’d already had some communication with Rhaegar, that would explain a lot.

What’s in it for Rhaegar? Why would he abduct Lyanna, not to mention letting brother and sister shag beneath his roof? This is a very difficult question for any theory other than R+L=J, and it’s why people sometimes come up with complicated and frequently nonsensical theories about baby swaps and nobody noticing Jon being a year older than claimed. There is a hint of a possibility however.

In my “Puppets of Ice and Fire” essay I’ve dealt with the links between the ToJ and Mirri Maaz Duur’s ritual in the tent. There are a lot of similarities. Too many for coincidence. I believe that Rhaegar, obsessed by prophecy as his grandfather was, attempted to do what his grandfather failed to do at Summerhall, and what his sister later did succeed in doing. We know that at one point, Rhaegar believed Aegon to the the Prince that was Promised. Some people suggest that Rhaegar changed his mind and later believed Jon would be. Others propose that Rhaegar still believed Aegon was the prince, but needed a third child so there could be three heads to the dragon.

I’m not sure we understand these prophecies, and more specifically the way Rhaegar interpreted them, as well as we think. In the one instance we have of an attempt to hatch dragons that actually succeeded, we see a very interesting detail:

AGoT said:

Inside the tent the shapes were dancing, circling the brazier and the bloody bath, dark against the sandsilk, and some did not look human. She glimpsed the shadow of a great wolf, and another like a man wreathed in flames.

Now why might there be a great wolf involved in a ritual that ends with the birth of dragons, and who could that great wolf be? The direwolf of Stark is certainly a “great wolf”, and Rhaegar is very familiar with the idea of exemplars of a family coming from interbreeding. When Rhaegar was sent out to discover the identity of the Knight of the Laughing Tree, he is said to have returned with only the Knight’s shield, yet later he crowns Lyanna as Queen of Love and Beauty. It seems like a pretty fair bet that Rhaegar knew more about the KotLT than he let on, and at that time became aware of Lyanna. If he was seeking a “Great wolf” as a necessary element in his ritual, who better to turn to? And knowing the Targaryen tradition of creating exemplar Targaryens by breeding brother with sister, which indeed resulted in his own birth, wouldn’t it make sense for him to believe that Aegon’s future may depend on a great wolf, bred from Stark brother and sister?

Conclusion

GRRM’s girlfriend Parris is quoted as dismissing R+L=J on the basis that “GRRM does not do simple.” It must be remembered that she has not been told the truth, but we shouldn’t dismiss her opinions lightly. My inclination is to think that R+L=J, but it’s not as simple as a plain old love story. If she’s right though, for Jon to be an incest child certainly fulfils the requirements of not being a simple story.

The problem with this theory, and indeed with any theory other than R+L=J, is that it requires us to ignore evidence. What’s going on with the story of Bael the Bard, if not R+L=J? Why, when he visited a royal bastard at a brothel, in a close parallel to his visit to the ToJ, did Ned’s thoughts turn to Rhaegar, if Rhaegar didn’t have a royal bastard at the ToJ? I can’t give an answer to that, but in this theory we at least have an alternative that can fit the story without jumping through hoops, and gives satisfying answers to some unanswered questions, such as Benjen’s reasons for going to the wall, how Ned seemed to know to go to the ToJ in advance, and why Ned is so damn guilty and filled with shame all the time.

As theories go, this really isn’t a bad one. It certainly deserves far more consideration that it ever receives, and the value in this essay, if nothing else, is to address that imbalance. It doesn’t have a mountain of evidence in support, but then it shares that with all the non-RLJ alternatives. It does explain the forgotten mystery of how Ned came to the conclusion that Joffrey was a child of incest, and intriguingly, the only evidence that Ned seems to have had for that (Joffrey displaying only Lannister features) also seems to apply to Jon (who displays only Stark features). What else it has in its favour is that one rather compelling calculus I mentioned at the start of the essay, and I’ll close by repeating that. Our three main characters, the three heroes of the series, three “bastards and broken things”, three outsiders, yet exemplars of their familes; Dany, Tyrion and Jon.

Dany: Mother died giving birth to her. Both parents were Targaryens.

Tyrion: Mother died giving birth to him. Both parents were Lannisters.

Jon: Mother died giving him. Both parents were… wait, what?

Eddard + Wylla = Jon

Ned Stark as Jon’s father
By: Markg171

markg171 Avatar

Introduction

The Starks were not like other men. Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him “son” for all the north to see.

As most know, the books and GRRM have been telling us for 20 years that Ned Stark is Jon Snow’s father, but still there have been doubters. The purpose of this essay will be thus to examine Ned Stark as a possible father for Jon Snow. This will be done by first examining Ned Stark’s reputation as an honourable man who therefore would not lie about having fathered Jon. The paper will then examine Jon Snow’s looks as evidence for Ned Stark being his father and of the story Ned weaves to explain Jon. Following this, the paper will examine Ned’s curious (or rather not so curious) “Jon is my blood” and not “Jon is my son” line to Catelyn in the early days of their marriage, before moving on to examine Bran’s weirwood vision of a younger Ned praying for two people to “grow close as brothers”, and an examination of Jon possessing a direwolf. Then the paper will examine why Ned never told his family who Jon’s mother was, before once again examining Jon’s looks and how they relate to what I call “the bastard look”. Then finally the paper will examine the truths hidden in the faces of children, of which the only truth that can be found is that Jon is Ned’s son. Finally, the essay will finish off with a brief summary of the essay’s major arguments and then some brief parting remarks.

The Honourable Ned Stark says so

I knew Ned Stark as well. Your father was no friend of mine, but only a fool would doubt his honor or his honesty.

Ned Stark was considered by many to be one of the most honourable men in the Seven Kingdoms during his lifetime. When Ned said he would do something, he went through with it to the bitter end.

You are an honest and honourable man, Lord Eddard. Ofttimes I forget that. I have met so few of them in my life… When I see what honesty and honor have won you, I understand why.

This is the man whose sense of honour demanded that he tell Cersei Lannister to flee with her children as he planned to tell Robert that Cersei had swindled him and the realm for all these years.

“For a start,” said Ned, “I do not kill children. You would do well to listen, my lady. I shall say this only once. When the king returns from his hunt, I intend to lay the truth before him. You must be gone by then. You and your children, all three, and not to Casterly Rock. If I were you, I should take ship for the Free Cities, or even farther, to the Summer Isles or the Port of Ibben. As far as the winds blow.”
“Exile,” she said. “A bitter cup to drink from.”
“A sweeter cup than your father served Rhaegar’s children,” Ned said, “and kinder than you deserve. Your father and your brothers would do well to go with you. Lord Tywin’s gold will buy you comfort and hire swords to keep you safe. You shall need them. I promise you, no matter where you flee, Robert’s wrath will follow you, to the back of beyond if need be.”

So if honourable Ned Stark says that he fathered Jon Snow, then his character lends enormous credit that he is not lying.
But of course, the very fact that Ned is such an honourable man makes it unlikely that he’d have cheated on Catelyn, which is what he says that he did when he fathered Jon.

Ned’s mouth tightened in anger. “Nor will I. Leave it be, Robert, for the love you say you bear me. I dishonored myself and I dishonored Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men.”
“Gods have mercy, you scarcely knew Catelyn.”
“I had taken her to wife. She was carrying my child.”

He’d agreed to take Catelyn as his wife, and for an honourable man, that would mean forswearing other women. So it would seem out of character that this honourable man broke his vows to Catelyn to father Jon, so perhaps he’s lying. But, as Ned’s best friend tells us repeatedly, Ned Stark couldn’t lie for shit.

Robert slapped Ned on the back. “Ah, say that I’m a better king than Aerys and be done with it. You never could lie for love nor honor, Ned Stark. I’m still young, and now that you’re here with me, things will be different. We’ll make this a reign to sing of, and damn the Lannisters to seven hells. I smell bacon. Who do you think our champion will be today? Have you seen Mace Tyrell’s boy? The Knight of Flowers, they call him. Now there’s a son any man would be proud to own to. Last tourney, he dumped the Kingslayer on his golden rump, you ought to have seen the look on Cersei’s face. I laughed till my sides hurt. Renly says he has this sister, a maid of fourteen, lovely as a dawn…”
Robert took his hand, fingers squeezing hard. “You are… such a bad liar, Ned Stark,” he said through his pain. “The realm… the realm knows… what a wretched king I’ve been. Bad as Aerys, the gods spare me.”

As Ned’s best friend, Robert was one of the people most attuned to Ned’s personality and characteristics. On multiple occasions he’s able to note when Ned’s lying to him in AGOT, and the first quote shows that he’s very familiar with Ned’s attempts at lying throughout their life, and has always been able to detect when Ned lies. Yet Robert never detects any hint of a lie regarding Ned’s story of fathering Jon on a common girl named Wylla.

“You are too hard on yourself, Ned. You always were. Damn it, no woman wants Baelor the Blessed in her bed.” He slapped a hand on his knee. “Well, I’ll not press you if you feel so strong about it, though I swear, at times you’re so prickly you ought to take the hedgehog as your sigil.”

He’s confused that 15 years later Ned is still beating himself up over the fact that he had cheated on a woman he barely knew, but other than that he doesn’t pick up on any hint that Ned is lying to him when Ned says that Wylla is Jon’s mother. And it’s not just that Ned would have had to have sneaked a lie past Robert once regarding Wylla and Jon.

“You were never the boy you were,” Robert grumbled. “More’s the pity. And yet there was that one time… what was her name, that common girl of yours? Becca? No, she was one of mine, gods love her, black hair and these sweet big eyes, you could drown in them. Yours was… Aleena? No. You told me once. Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard’s mother?”
“Her name was Wylla,” Ned replied with cool courtesy, “and I would sooner not speak of her.”
“Wylla. Yes.” The king grinned. “She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like…”

Ned has told Robert before that Wylla is Jon’s mother as Robert remembers her name. They’ve had this conversation at least once before, and Robert has never detected any lie in Ned’s voice, despite being very familiar with how Ned lies. Which is peculiar if Ned is indeed lying. Either Robert isn’t as good at detecting when Ned lies as we are told, or Ned is not lying.

Other than Robert not picking up on Ned possibly lying to him regarding Jon Snow’s mother, there’s a few other clues that make it unlikely that Ned is lying when he says that he is Jon’s father.

First of all, Edric Dayne, the Lord of Starfall in faraway Dorne, confirms Ned’s tale.

“My lady?” Ned said at last. “You have a baseborn brother… Jon Snow?”
“He’s with the Night’s Watch on the Wall.” Maybe I should go to the Wall instead of Riverrun. Jon wouldn’t care who I killed or whether I brushed my hair… “Jon looks like me, even though he’s bastard-born. He used to muss my hair and call me ‘little sister. “‘Arya missed Jon most of all. Just saying his name made her sad. “How do you know about Jon?”
“He is my milk brother.”
“Brother?” Arya did not understand. “But you’re from Dorne. How could you and Jon be blood?”
“Milk brothers. Not blood. My lady mother had no milk when I was little, so Wylla had to nurse me.”
Arya was lost. “Who’s Wylla?”
“Jon Snow’s mother. He never told you? She’s served us for years and years. Since before I was born.”

We learn that Wylla is indeed a real person, and that she currently serves House Dayne in Dorne, where presumably she is telling the exact same story as Ned for Edric to believe that she is Jon Snow’s mother. Or at the very least, if not Wylla, then someone in House Dayne is repeating the same story as Ned regarding Jon’s parentage and Wylla’s role as Jon’s mother. Regardless, Ned’s is a tale that’s verified by other people as it’s the same story being told in far away Dorne. That makes Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon, Edric Dayne, and Wylla all saying that Jon’s parents are Ned Stark and Wylla.

Some might argue however that Wylla is an impossible mother for Jon as she lives in Dorne and Ned never travelled there in the right timeline for Jon to be “off an age with Robb”. But note that Edric never says in the above quote that Wylla was serving the Dayne’s during the Rebellion. Simply that she’s been serving the Daynes since before Edric was born, which is years after the Rebellion. So Wylla is perfectly capable of having been some chance encounter on the road, as we simply have no idea where she was before she began serving the Daynes in Starfall, or when she began serving them. Furthermore, not only is Ned’s explanation for fathering Jon Snow being verified and repeated by other people literally across the country, we also never hear of anybody doubting it.

Part of this is potentially due to Ned’s honourable reputation (and therefore if he says he fathered Jon then he did), but no one ever wonders that Jon might not have been Ned’s. Jon is obviously at least half Stark, but no one ever thinks that Jon might have been Brandon’s, Benjen’s, Rickard’s, or even Lyanna’s who was supposedly being raped hundreds of times by Rhaegar during the war. With all these Starks who could have supplied Jon with his Stark blood, why does no one ever question if Jon is one of theirs instead of Ned’s? Simple plot device by GRRM? Or is it simply that people have investigated, and not found anything that could indicate that Jon is not Ned’s? Surely guys like Varys and Littlefinger dug up every ounce of information they could find as knowledge is power to men like them, but nope. Everyone seems to be entirely convinced that Jon is indeed Ned’s son. So either Ned has hidden the truth so well that not even masters of secrets like Varys and Littlefinger could find it, or they never tried, or there’s nothing to find as Ned is indeed Jon’s father.

Next though, this paper will examine Jon Snow’s looks and how they help us identify Ned as his father.

The Starkest Stark

Riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him, so like a younger version of his own.

It is repeatedly, and I mean repeatedly stated, that Jon looks incredibly like Ned. Qhorin, Cersei, Catelyn, Ned, Tyrion, Stannis and numerous others all say that Jon looks like Ned.

The ranger gave his horse into the care of one of his men and followed. “You are Jon Snow. You have your father’s look.”
“Did you know him, my lord?”
“I am no lordling. Only a brother of the Night’s Watch. I knew Lord Eddard, yes. And his father before him.”
“The brothers of the Night’s Watch have taken leave of their wits and chosen Ned Stark’s bastard son to be their Lord Commander.”
“Snow, the boy is called,” Pycelle said unhelpfully.
“I glimpsed him once at Winterfell,” the queen said, “though the Starks did their best to hide him. He looks very like his father.”
Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him.
“Lord Eddard Stark is my father,” Jon admitted stiffly.
Lannister studied his face. “Yes,” he said. “I can see it. You have more of the north in you than your brothers.”
Stannis snorted. “I know Janos Slynt. And I knew Ned Stark as well. Your father was no friend of mine, but only a fool would doubt his honor or his honesty. You have his look.”

Obviously the Starks have a recognizable family look, but this goes beyond that. People are saying he looks specifically like Ned, which is very important for judging if Ned is Jon’s father, as Ned looked different than Rickard, Brandon, Lyanna, and Benjen.

She remembered her own childish disappointment, the first time she had laid eyes on Eddard Stark. She had pictured him as a younger version of his brother Brandon, but that was wrong. Ned was shorter and plainer of face, and so somber.
“She was more beautiful than that,” the king said after a silence. His eyes lingered on Lyanna’s face, as if he could will her back to life.

His uncle was sharp-featured and gaunt as a mountain crag, but there was always a hint of laughter in his blue-grey eyes.
There were three tombs, side by side. Lord Rickard Stark, Ned’s father, had a long, stern face. The stonemason had known him well. He sat with quiet dignity, stone fingers holding tight to the sword across his lap, but in life all swords had failed him.

Catelyn notes that Ned wasn’t as handsome as his brother Brandon, Robert (and a few others) tell us that Lyanna was beautiful (and therefore not plain looking like Ned), Benjen was sharp-featured and gaunt, and Rickard had a long stern face. Ned therefore has a distinct look from his family and if Jon looks like Ned so much so that people comment on that fact so often, than we can reasonably conclude that he does not just look like a Stark in general. He looks like Ned, and not Brandon, Lyanna, Benjen, or Rickard. As we all know it’s of course possible to have children who look like their aunts and uncles more so than their own parents, so it’s possible for Jon to still look incredibly like Ned if Ned was his uncle instead of his father, but it’s far more likely that one would look like a specific family member if they were directly related to them.

Which also ties into the fact that no one ever says that Jon looks like Brandon, Benjen, Lyanna, or Rickard. It’s only ever Ned who people say that Jon looks like in the Stark family tree. No one who ever knew the other Starks mention that Jon looks like any of them, which would be particularly odd if Jon was one of their children’s instead of Ned’s as he’d be more likely to look like them than Ned. There’s of course the fact that Arya and Jon apparently resemble each other as Arya has the Stark look, and Arya resembles Lyanna according to Ned so the argument might be there that Jon looks like Lyanna. But no, this is not true, because as noted above, Lyanna was noted to have been beautiful while Ned was plain looking. If Jon truly resembled Lyanna, he would be more handsome, and people would say that he looks like Brandon instead of Ned as Brandon was handsomer than Ned. Or they would simply say that Jon looks like Lyanna. But no, it’s always Ned that people say Jon looks like, even though many people knew the other Starks from Ned’s family and could say that Jon looked like one of them. They don’t, so Jon does not beyond the general Stark features. The resemblance between Arya and Jon is nothing more than the resemblance that they would have shared with any of Ned’s other children had they inherited the Stark look as well.

Jon grinned, reached over, and messed up her hair. Arya flushed. They had always been close. Jon had their father’s face, as she did. They were the only ones. Robb and Sansa and Bran and even little Rickon all took after the Tullys, with easy smiles and fire in their hair.
Sansa could never understand how two sisters, born only two years apart, could be so different. It would have been easier if Arya had been a bastard, like their half brother Jon. She even looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the Starks, and nothing of their lady mother in her face or her coloring.

Which means it’s far more likely that Jon is Ned’s son, than any other Stark. Jon’s looks point to Ned as his parent.

Jon’s looks also potentially help support Ned and Edric’s story that Wylla is Jon’s mother.

“The deserter died bravely,” Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother’s coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun. “He had courage, at the least.”
“No,” Jon Snow said quietly. “It was not courage. This one was dead of fear. You could see it in his eyes, Stark.” Jon’s eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.

Jon is noted to be “dark where Robb was fair” right after Robb was noted to have “fair skin”. This means that Jon has darker skin than Robb. As I pointed out already in this essay, we don’t actually know where Wylla is from, simply that she currently lives in Dorne. But if she lives in Dorne because she is Dornish, then the fact that Jon has dark skin supports the idea that Wylla is his mother as 2/3 Dornish have darker skin.

The salty Dornishmen were lithe and dark, with smooth olive skin and long black hair streaming in the wind. The sandy Dornishmen were even darker, their faces burned brown by the hot Dornish sun. They wound long bright scarfs around their helms to ward off sunstroke. The stony Dornishmen were biggest and fairest, sons of the Andals and the First Men, brownhaired or blond, with faces that freckled or burned in the sun instead of browning.

Assuming Wylla is Dornish, as long as she’s not a stony Dornishwomen, then she would have darker skin. Thus if her and Ned were to have a baby, then this child would have darker skin due to its mother having dark skin. Jon has dark skin, so the signs point to a Dornish woman or Summer Isle woman as his mother, and if Wylla is indeed Dornish, then this is another clue that Ned is indeed not lying when he says that he fathered Jon.

Which fits with the fact that 5/7 characters (Ned, Robert, Cersei, Catelyn, Edric Dayne, Godric Borrell, and Tyrion) who comment on Jon’s parentage possibly think that Jon’s mother was Dornish.

“Her name was Wylla,” Ned replied with cool courtesy, “and I would sooner not speak of her.”
“Wylla. Yes.” The king grinned. “She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like…”
Arya was lost. “Who’s Wylla?”
“Jon Snow’s mother. He never told you? She’s served us for years and years. Since before I was born.”

Again, it’s unknown if Wylla is herself Dornish, but she does have a Dornish connection so it seems likely. But regardless, Ned, Robert, and Edric all say that Jon’s mother is Wylla. If she’s Dornish, then they’re saying that Jon has a Dornish mother.

The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.
“Honor, “she spat. “How dare you play the noble lord with me! What do you take me for? You’ve a bastard of your own, I’ve seen him. Who was the mother, I wonder? Some Dornish peasant you raped while her holdfast burned? A whore? Or was it the grieving sister, the Lady Ashara? She threw herself into the sea, I’m told. Why was that? For the brother you slew, or the child you stole? Tell me, my honorable Lord Eddard, how are you any different from Robert, or me, or Jaime?”

Catelyn and Cersei both think that Ashara Dayne is possibly Jon’s mother, and Ashara was Dornish, so they believe that Jon had a Dornish mother.

The boy absorbed that all in silence. He had the Stark face if not the name: long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away. Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son.

Tyrion decides that he cannot see past Jon’s Stark features (and more accurately Ned’s features as should have been noted, Tyrion is one of the many who notes that Jon looks liked Ned) to guess at who Jon’s mother was.

“At the dawn of Robert’s Rebellion. The Mad King had sent to the Eyrie for Stark’s head, but Jon Arryn sent him back defiance. Gulltown stayed loyal to the throne, though. To get home and call his banners, Stark had to cross the mountains to the Fingers and find a fisherman to carry him across the Bite. A storm caught them on the way. The fisherman drowned, but his daughter got Stark to the Sisters before the boat went down. They say he left her with a bag of silver and a bastard in her belly. Jon Snow, she named him, after Arryn.

Godric Borrell believes that Jon’s mother was a woman from the Vale, but he has never seen Jon Snow before so he’s hardly reliable for discussing Jon’s features, nor does he ever mention them.

So, that makes 5 of 7 characters who guess at Jon’s mother thinking that she was Dornish. Therefore the majority of characters believe Jon to be of Dornish descent, and there must be a reason for this, otherwise they wouldn’t believe this. Jon therefore potentially has some Dornish features otherwise people wouldn’t believe that he had a Dornish mother. We see that he has dark skin which lends credence to the idea that his mother was Dornish as the Dornish have dark skin, and again, assuming that Wylla is indeed Dornish, then Ned’s story is all adding up to point to him and Wylla being Jon’s parents. Ned and a Dornish woman would make a child who looks like Jon does.

Next this essay will discuss the fact that Ned tells Catelyn that Jon is his blood, and not his son.

The blood of the Stark: Ned’s not so curious choice of phrase when asserting that Jon is his blood

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. “Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.”

While many might see this as Ned refusing to call Jon his son by instead calling him his blood, this is not so. Calling someone your blood can indeed mean that you are related to them as you share the same blood, but it does refer to your children as well. In fact, that is what it is mainly used to indicate when someone says that someone is their blood in the North.

“Then let Lord Hornwood’s bastard be the heir,” Bran said, thinking of his half brother Jon.
Ser Rodrik said, “That would please the Glovers, and perhaps Lord Hornwood’s shade as well, but I do not think Lady Hornwood would love us. The boy is not of her blood.”

Ser Rodrik calls Lord Hornwood’s bastard his blood, but not Lady Hornwood’s seeing as he was only Lord Hornwood’s child. This though indicates that calling Lord Hornwood’s bastard his blood indeed indicates that he is his son.

Once, when she was littler, Sansa had even asked Mother if perhaps there hadn’t been some mistake. Perhaps the grumkins had stolen her real sister. But Mother had only laughed and said no, Arya was her daughter and Sansa’s trueborn sister, blood of their blood.

Catelyn calls Arya her blood to indicate that she’s her daughter.

Mormont grumbled. “That’s all they’re good for, ravens. Why I put up with that pestilential bird… if there was news of Lord Eddard, don’t you think I would have sent for you? Bastard or no, you’re still his blood.

Mormont says that as Eddard’s bastard, Jon is his blood. Therefore calling someone your blood can mean calling them your son. And note that this is the second instance that when discussing a person’s bastard that they are called their father’s blood and not their son in the North as both Jeor Mormont and Ser Rodrik Cassel have now done so. Perhaps that’s the norm to indicate that a bastard is someone’s son?

“They will garb your brother Robb in silks, satins, and velvets of a hundred different colors, while you live and die in black ringmail. He will wed some beautiful princess and father sons on her. You’ll have no wife, nor will you ever hold a child of your own blood in your arms.

Mormont says that Jon will never hold a child of his own blood in his own arms, therefore any son of Jon’s could have been called his blood. Interestingly, this quote also implies that if Jon holds any child of Robb’s, he will not be holding a child of his blood. Therefore when Ned says that Jon is his blood, according to this, he cannot be talking about anybody other than his own child.

I would need to steal her if I wanted her love, but she might give me children. I might someday hold a son of my own blood in my arms.

Jon calls a child of his and Val’s a son of his own blood, thus the child would be his blood, and not any of his other sibling’s blood. Thus my own blood indicates someone who is solely your own blood.

So when Ned called Jon his blood instead of his son to Catelyn, he never said that Jon wasn’t his son. In fact, as these quotes all show, that’s exactly what “my blood” indicates Jon is: Ned’s son. Ned calling Jon his blood did mean that he was calling him his son. He wasn’t avoiding calling Jon his son at all. And besides, Ned does call Jon his son in some of the very first pages of AGOT.

That was when Jon reappeared on the crest of the hill before them. He waved and shouted down at them. “Father, Bran, come quickly, see what Robb has found!” Then he was gone again.
Jory rode up beside them. “Trouble, my lord?”
“Beyond a doubt,” his lord father said. “Come, let us see what mischief my sons have rooted out now.” He sent his horse into a trot. Jory and Bran and the rest came after.
They found Robb on the riverbank north of the bridge, with Jon still mounted beside him.

Ned never avoided saying that Jon is his son.

Next this essay will examine Bran’s weirwood vision of a young Ned Stark.

The Truth in The Trees

… but then somehow he was back at Winterfell again, in the gods-wood looking down upon his father. Lord Eddard seemed much younger this time. His hair was brown, with no hint of grey in it, his head bowed. “… let them grow up close as brothers, with only love between them,” he prayed, “and let my lady wife find it in her heart to forgive …”

While many point to this as definite proof that Jon is not Ned’s son, this text is actually far more ambiguous and indeed works perfectly well as showcasing that Jon is indeed Ned’s son. Bran sees Ned asking for two people to grow up close as brothers, and this works perfectly well for Jon and Robb as Jon is not Robb’s brother. He’s his half-brother. Ned asking for them to grow up like brothers implies that he wants them to focus on their similarity, i.e. their shared father, and not their differences, i.e. their different mothers. There need be no hidden meaning behind Ned not saying that Jon and Robb, if that’s who he was discussing, are not brothers, when they are indeed not brothers.

Furthermore, we actually have no idea if Ned is even talking about Jon and Robb here. Ned Stark wants two people to grow up like brothers, but it never says that he wants Jon and Robb to grow up like brothers. A very real possibility is that Ned could be talking about Theon and Robb, who we see did in fact grow very close together. Theon initially says that the Starks didn’t treat him well, but then in Dance says that Ned was a father to him, and certainly Ned never made any attempt not to let Theon grow close to Robb. It seems like he actually encouraged a friendship between Robb and Theon, otherwise why else bring Theon to execute Gared, why bring Theon on hunts with Robb, why have Rodrik train Theon when Rodrik was training Robb and Jon, etc. Ned did clearly did want Theon and Robb to grow up like brothers, and they definitely were not brothers, so they fit about who Ned might be talking about “growing up as close as brothers”.

And finally, the vision says that Ned looks younger, but never how young. Presumably Ned was around 20-21 when he brought Jon back, and 26 when he brought Theon back. In both instances Ned would indeed look much younger than how Bran last saw him at 35 years old, so the timeframe works for both instances. And in both instances, seeing as Ned never consulted Catelyn either time he brought Jon or Theon home, he would indeed need to ask her for forgiveness. The point being though is that the vision is not conclusive about exactly who Ned is talking about, and more importantly, does not automatically indicate that Jon is not Ned’s son.

Next this essay will discuss the importance of Jon’s direwolf Ghost.

Part of the Pack – The Wolves of Ned

Catelyn remembered the day when her boys had found the pups in the late summer snows. There had been five, three male and two female for the five trueborn children of House Stark… and a sixth, white of fur and red of eye, for Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow

At the start of AGOT, the 6 children happen to find 6 direwolf pups. All of the direwolves correspond exactly to the sexes of the children of Ned, and all reflect their owners. In short, they all deeply represent the children, and all of these children happen to be Ned’s. So the fact that Jon also received a direwolf, who mirrors the others in that it is both male and bonds with Jon, indicates that Jon is also a son of Ned’s.

There is an argument to be made that possibly one need not be a child of Ned’s to have received a direwolf. But, I think this argument is flawed, as it seems likely that there are other Stark bastards running about other than Jon.

“You are a boy of fourteen,” Benjen said. “Not a man, not yet. Until you have known a woman, you cannot understand what you would be giving up.”
“I don’t care about that!” Jon said hotly.
“You might, if you knew what it meant,” Benjen said. “If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less eager to pay the price, son.”
Jon felt anger rise inside him. “I’m not your son!”
Benjen Stark stood up. “More’s the pity.” He put a hand on Jon’s shoulder. “Come back to me after you’ve fathered a few bastards of your own, and we’ll see how you feel.”
Brandon died before he had sons

It’d be an exaggeration to say that Brandon died before he could have children. It’s established in the books that he was no virgin. He could very well have left behind some little Snows in the various places he visited. But what’s absolutely clear is that he had no legitimate children.

http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Asshai.com_Interview_in_Barcelona

Benjen implies that he’s slept with a woman and fathered a few bastards, and the SSM implies that Brandon fathered some daughters, or that he died before his son was born, but that he “very well” could have fathered some bastards. Of course there’s no definitive proof that Benjen and Brandon had any bastards, but if Benjen and Brandon’s bastards did not receive a direwolf (at least we’ve never heard of them receiving such, and these are the first direwolves in 200 years so it’s doubtful that they did), then it’s awfully convenient that only Jon, out of all the Stark descendants who are not Ned’s, received a direwolf. It seems far more likely that only Ned’s kids received direwolves, and therefore Jon must be Ned’s son.

Next, this essay will examine why Ned never told his family who Jon’s mother was.

The Silent Bond

Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband’s soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys’s Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur’s sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.
That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. “Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady.” She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne’s name was never heard in Winterfell again.

The interesting bit here is that Ned wouldn’t speak of who Jon’s mother was when he initially moved in with Catelyn. Not necessarily that he wouldn’t speak of her at all, or might not have spoken of her should anybody have asked him as the years passed. He only refused to answer the question then and there, and then seemingly never went out of his way to talk about it himself over the years.

Even his own mother had not had a place for him. The thought of her made him sad. He wondered who she had been, what she had looked like, why his father had left her. Because she was a whore or an adulteress, fool. Something dark and dishonorable, or else why was Lord Eddard too ashamed to speak of her?
“Jon never knew his mother. Not even her name.” Arya gave Ned a wary look. “You know her? Truly?”

We have no other reference to Ned refusing to tell his family who Jon’s mother was other than Catelyn’s, as far as I am aware. He simply didn’t talk about it, not that he refused to talk about it when questioned and was actively ignoring his family’s questions surrounding Jon’s mother.

And while many would say that Ned actively tried to keep Jon’s parentage a secret because of the Catelyn quote where he silenced all talks of Ashara, this is not true.

Sansa could never understand how two sisters, born only two years apart, could be so different. It would have been easier if Arya had been a bastard, like their half brother Jon. She even looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the Starks, and nothing of their lady mother in her face or her coloring. And Jon’s mother had been common, or so people whispered. Once, when she was littler, Sansa had even asked Mother if perhaps there hadn’t been some mistake. Perhaps the grumkins had stolen her real sister. But Mother had only laughed and said no, Arya was her daughter and Sansa’s trueborn sister, blood of their blood. Sansa could not think why Mother would want to lie about it, so she supposed it had to be true.

Sansa tells us that there were rumours in Winterfell that Jon’s mother was common born. So clearly Ned was not stopping talks regarding Jon’s mother, otherwise Sansa would never have heard this rumour. All we actually know, is that Ned didn’t allow talks of Ashara Dayne in Winterfell. And Robert and Edric tell us that Wylla was indeed common born, which is what the rumours in Winterfell repeat. So Ned allowed the rumours that were true to percolate, but he would not allow people to believe that Ashara was Jon’s mother. This is likely because if Ashara was not Jon’s mother, than it was a slight on her honour to say that she’d birthed Jon when she did not. Regardless though, Ned clearly was not going out of his way to end talks of who Jon’s mother was in Winterfell, as we see that he let these rumours stand.

Also, let’s say that he did refuse to answer the questions his family were asking. It’s not as though it wouldn’t make sense. Telling his family who he cheated on his wife with would just serve to drive a wedge in the family. It would alienate Catelyn, and it would cause the children to focus on the fact that they were different, instead of similar. And we know that that is definitely not what Ned wanted.

Benjen Stark gave Jon a long look. “Don’t you usually eat at table with your brothers?”
“Most times”
Jon swelled with pride. “Robb is a stronger lance than I am, but I’m the better sword, and Hullen says I sit a horse as well as anyone in the castle.”
She was looking at him the way she used to look at him at Winterfell, whenever he had bested Robb at swords or sums or most anything.

We see that Ned went out of his way to include Jon in the family. He made him eat with his trueborn children, he had him trained with Robb, he had him educated with Robb, etc. Ned wanted to unite his family, and went out of his way to do so, so there’s no reason why he should have actively gone out of his way to drive wedges into what he was trying to accomplish, which is what telling everyone who Jon’s mother would do. Better to let it be a mystery and let everyone focus on the fact that they all share him in common.

“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

Next this essay will once again take a look at Jon’s features, but this time it will do so in the context of the other bastards found within the story, and in doing so showcase that there is something called “the bastard look” in the series which serves to prove that Jon is Eddard’s son.

The Bastard Look

Her hair was gold as well, and her eyes were deep blue pools . . . and yet somehow they reminded the captain of her father’s eyes, though Oberyn’s had been as black as night. All of Prince Oberyn’s daughters have his viper eyes, Hotah realized suddenly. The color does not matter.

We see repeatedly throughout the novels bastards who look like their fathers in some way. When GRRM describes both the bastard and the father, there is repeatedly some aspect of the father’s features in the bastard. I call this “the bastard look”.

Here is every bastard I could find, where there is a description of both the father and the bastard, who has “the bastard look”.

Jon

The ranger gave his horse into the care of one of his men and followed. “You are Jon Snow. You have your father’s look.”

Robert’s bastards

“You brought my uncle Stannis fish to eat before I was born, when Lord Tyrell had him under siege.” The boy drew himself up tall. “I am Edric Storm,” he announced. “King Robert’s son.”
Of course you are.” Davos had known that almost at once. The lad had the prominent ears of a Florent, but the hair, the eyes, the jaw, the cheekbones, those were all Baratheon.

Jaime Lannister’s bastards

After them came the children. Little Rickon first, managing the long walk with all the dignity a three-year-old could muster. Jon had to urge him on when he stopped to visit. Close behind came Robb, in grey wool trimmed with white, the Stark colors. He had the Princess Myrcella on his arm. She was a wisp of a girl, not quite eight, her hair a cascade of golden curls under a jeweled net. Jon noticed the shy looks she gave Robb as they passed between the tables and the timid way she smiled at him. He decided she was insipid. Robb didn’t even have the sense to realize how stupid she was; he was grinning like a fool.
His half sisters escorted the royal princes. Arya was paired with plump young Tommen, whose white-blond hair was longer than hers. Sansa, two years older, drew the crown prince, Joffrey Baratheon. He was twelve, younger than Jon or Robb, but taller than either, to Jon’s vast dismay.Prince Joffrey had his sister’s hair and his mother’s deep green eyes. A thick tangle of blond curls dripped down past his golden choker and high velvet collar. Sansa looked radiant as she walked beside him, but Jon did not like Joffrey’s pouty lips or the bored, disdainful way he looked at Winterfell’s Great Hall.
He was more interested in the pair that came behind him: the queen’s brothers, the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. The Lion and the Imp; there was no mistaking which was which. Ser Jaime Lannister was twin to Queen Cersei; tall and golden, with flashing green eyes and a smile that cut like a knife. He wore crimson silk, high black boots, a black satin cloak. On the breast of his tunic, the lion of his House was embroidered in gold thread, roaring its defiance. They called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered “Kingslayer” behind his back.

Ramsay

“A year later this same wench had the impudence to turn up at the Dreadfort with a squalling, red-faced monster that she claimed was my own get. I should’ve had the mother whipped and thrown her child down a well … but the babe did have my eyes. She told me that when her dead husband’s brother saw those eyes, he beat her bloody and drove her from the mill. That annoyed me, so I gave her the mill and had the brother’s tongue cut out, to make certain he did not go running to Winterfell with tales that might disturb Lord Rickard. Each year I sent the woman some piglets and chickens and a bag of stars, on the understanding that she was never to tell the boy who had fathered him. A peaceful land, a quiet people, that has always been my rule.”

The Sand Snakes

Her hair was gold as well, and her eyes were deep blue pools . . . and yet somehow they reminded the captain of her father’s eyes, though Oberyn’s had been as black as night. All of Prince Oberyn’s daughters have his viper eyes, Hotah realized suddenly. The color does not matter.

Bittersteel

His real name was Aegor Rivers, and he was the natural son of King Aegon IV by his fifth mistress, Lady Barba Bracken. Younger than Daemon Blackfyre, older than Bloodraven. Bittersteel was also a warrior, and looked the part. He was only half Tagaryen, so he got the purple eyes, but his hair was black. As a adult he wore a beard, cropped very short, little more than a shadow on his face and jaws. Somewhat of a Conanesque look to him, but not the Frank Frazetta Conan and definitely not the Arnold Conan, more the Barry Windsor-Smith version, or the one described by REH — he is tall and well made, but lean and lithe as a panther. And angry. No smiles here. Bittersteel was pissed off all his life, and had a special loathing for Bloodraven and his mother, who had displayed his own mother as the king’s favorite.

Daemon Blackfyre

Targaryen on both side, Daemon had all the hallmarks of his house; the silver-gold hair, the deep purple eyes, fine features of almost inhuman beauty. Daemon’s friends and supporters often remarked on how much he resembled Aegon the Conquerer (or at least his likeness, since none of them had ever seen Aegon in the flesh), and indeed there was a certain similarlity, though Daemon wore his hair long, flowing down to his shoulders in a silvery-gold mane. He went clean-shaved, with neither beard nor mustache. Daemon looks every inch the warrior; broad shoulders, big arms, a flat stomach, but he was also a man of considerable charm. I’d give him a warm smile. He made friends easily, and women were drawn to him as well.

Shiera Seastar

Shiera was born with one dark blue eye and one bright green one, but the singers said that this flaw only accentuated her loveliness. She was the greatest beauty of her age, a slender and elegant woman, slim of waist and full of breast. She had the silver-gold hair of the Targaryens, thick and curling, and wore it very long. At some points in her life it fell well below her waist, almost to the back of her knees. She had a heart-shaped face, full lips, and her mismatched eyes were strangely large and full of mischief; her rivals said she used them to melt men’s hearts. Even at an early age, she was a great reader. She spoke a dozen tongues and surrounded herself with ancient scrolls. Like her mother, she was reputed to practice the dark arts. Though she never wed, she had many offers, and several lovers through the years. Duels were fought over the right to sit beside her, men killed themselves after falling from her favor, poets outdid each other writing songs about her beauty. Her most ardent admirer was her half-brother, Bloodraven, who proposed marriage to her half a hundred times. Shiera gave him her bed, but never her hand. It amused her more to make him jealous.

Walder Rivers

If Robb seemed cool at table and Edmure surly, Lame Lothar made up for them both. He was the model of courtesy, reminiscing warmly about Lord Hoster, offering Catelyn gentle condolences on the loss of Bran and Rickon, praising Edmure for the victory at Stone Mill, and thanking Robb for the “swift sure justice” he had meted out to Rickard Karstark. Lothar’s bastard brother Walder Rivers was another matter; a harsh sour man with old Lord Walder’s suspicious face, he spoke but seldom and devoted most of his attention to the meat and mead that was set before him.

Donnel Hill

Of the dozen odd brothers who sat by the fire, four were his. He gave each one a hard squinty look as he ate, to see if any showed signs of breaking. Dirk seemed calm enough, sitting silent and sharpening his blade, the way he did every night. And Sweet Donnel Hill was all easy japes. He had white teeth and fat red lips and yellow locks that he wore in an artful tumble about his shoulders, and he claimed to be the bastard of some Lannister. Maybe he was at that. Chett had no use for pretty boys, nor for bastards neither, but Sweet Donnel seemed like to hold his own.

Aurane Waters

Margaery was dancing with her cousin Alla, Megga with Ser Tallad the Tall. The other cousin, Elinor, was sharing a cup of wine with the handsome young Bastard of Driftmark, Aurane Waters. It was not the first time the queen had made note of Waters, a lean young man with grey-green eyes and long silver-gold hair. The first time she had seen him, for half a heartbeat she had almost thought Rhaegar Targaryen had returned from the ashes. It is his hair, she told herself. He is not half as comely as Rhaegar was. His face is too narrow, and he has that cleft in his chin. The Velaryons came from old Valyrian stock, however, and some had the same silvery hair as the dragonkings of old.

Ronald Storm

By the time Connington made his descent, his men had gathered the castle garrison and surviving smallfolk together in the yard. Though Ser Ronnet was indeed off north somewhere with Jaime Lannister, Griffin’s Roost was not quite bereft of griffins. Amongst the prisoners were Ronnet’s younger brother Raymund, his sister Alynne, and his natural son, a fierce red-haired boy they called Ronald Storm. All would make for useful hostages if and when Red Ronnet should return to try and take back the castle that his father had stolen. Connington ordered them confined to the west tower, under guard. The girl began to cry at that, and the bastard boy tried to bite the spearman closest to him. “Stop it, the both of you,” he snapped at them. “No harm will come to any of you unless Red Ronnet proves an utter fool.”

While this is obviously not every single bastard that can found in ASOIAF, it is the list of every bastard who has a description of both themselves and their father, and there is a clear pattern that bastards can be identified by who their father was by their features as they have some aspect of their father’s features. Of the bastards I found while researching this part of the essay, where there were descriptions of their and their father’s features in the books to compare each other to, I found only TWO bastards, who DO NOTlook like their father in some way, and that’s Harry Rivers and Ser Glendon Flowers. Want to know what they both have in common however? People doubt that their fathers are actually who they claim they are.

Harry Rivers

Blackwood’s relief was palpable. “Thank you, my lord.” He hesitated a moment. “If I may be so bold, you would do well to require a hostage from Lord Jonos too. One of his daughters. For all his rutting, he has not proved man enough to father sons.”
“He had a bastard son killed in the war.”
Did he? Harry was a bastard, true enough, but whether Jonos sired him is a thornier question. A fair-haired boy, he was, and comely. Jonos is neither.” Lord Tytos got to his feet. “Will you do me the honor of taking supper with me?”

Ser Glendon Flowers

“Heroes.” Glendon Ball turned his shield about, so all of them could see the sigil painted there, a fireball blazing red and yellow across a night-black field. “I come from hero’s blood.”

“You’re Fireball’s son,” Egg said.

Ser Kyle the Cat studied the boy closely. “How can that be? How old are you? Quentyn Ball died—”

“—before I was born,” Ser Glendon finished, “but in me, he lives again.” He slammed his sword back into its scabbard. “I’ll show you all at Whitewalls, when I claim the dragon’s egg.”

The scorn in his voice made Dunk give the youth a closer look. Ser Glendon’s clothes were of good cloth, but well-worn and ill-matched, with the look of hand-me-downs. Tufts of dark brown hairstuck out from beneath his iron halfhelm. The lad himself was short and chunky, with small close-set eyes, thick shoulders, and muscular arms. His eyebrows were shaggy as two caterpillars after a wet spring, his nose bulbous, his chin pugnacious. And he was young. Sixteen, might be. No more than eighteen. Dunk might have taken him for a squire if Ser Kyle had not named him with a ser. The lad had pimples on his cheeks in place of whiskers.
Dunk scratched his neck again and glanced over at Ser Glendon Ball, who was tightening the cinches on his saddle as he waited for the ferry. That horse will never serve. Ser Glendon’s mount was a sway-backed stot, undersized and old. “What do you know about his sire? Why did they call him Fireball?”

“For his hot head and red hair. Ser Quentyn Ball was the master-at-arms at the Red Keep. He taught my father and my uncles how to fight. The Great Bastards too. King Aegon promised to raise him to the Kingsguard, so Fireball made his wife join the silent sisters, only by the time a place came open, King Aegon was dead and King Daeron named Ser Willam Wylde instead. My father says that it was Fireball as much as Bittersteel who convinced Daemon Blackfyre to claim the crown, and rescued him when Daeron sent the Kingsguard to arrest him. Later on, Fireball killed Lord Lefford at the gates of Lannisport and sent the Grey Lion running back to hide inside the Rock. At the crossing of the Mandel, he cut down the sons of Lady Penrose one by one. They say he spared the life of the youngest one as a kindness to his mother.”

Unless I’ve missed a bastard (and I used the wiki’s Notable Bastard section and looked over every bastard there plus all the others I could think of), Jon’s father pretty much needs to have been a male Stark as GRRM has always made his described bastards take after some aspect of their father’s features and Jon’s features are all Stark. It’s of course possible that Jon is the sole described bastard who’s inherited no features from his father (and thus Lyanna must be his mother for him to look like a Stark), but that seems quite unlikely to me. GRRM has created “the bastard look” which seemingly always showcases the father’s features in some way in their bastard and Jon’s features are all the same features that his father possesses.

Next this essay will examine the truth hidden behind the faces of children to slam home that not only does Jon have “the bastard look”, but his bastard look points to a specific Stark as his father.

The Truth in the Faces of Children

How could they have all been so blind? The truth was there in front of them all the time, written on the children’s faces. Ned felt sick.

While many fans believe that Jon is in fact not the child of Ned, one has to then wonder how that assumption can ever stand in the face of the above quote. Ned is sickened to learn that Cersei has managed to pass off Jaime’s children as Robert’s. Yet if Jon isn’t Ned’s, then that is exactly what Ned himself did by passing off Lyanna/Benjen/Brandon/Rickard’s child as his own all these years. He should be thinking about how he has done the same thing she did, but instead he’s horrified that Cersei not only passed off Jaime’s children as Robert’s, but that she did it so successfully and that someone should have noticed. If Jon isn’t Ned’s, then Ned did the exact same thing, yet he feels nothing but horror to find out that someone could have done such a thing.

And if Jon is Lyanna’s son as most fans seem to think, then the truth would have been written on his face all along like it’s written on Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen’s faces. While I personally do not subscribe to the popular fan held believe that Jon actually looks like Arya beyond that they both have the Stark look, and therefore anyone with the Stark look would look like Jon as well so Arya is not some special case of “real” similarities between their features, it is commonly held that because Arya is said to look like Lyanna, and that because Jon is said to look like Arya, then Jon also looks like Lyanna. So the truth would have been “there in front of them all the time, written on [Jon’s] face” if he was not Eddard’s son, in the same way that the truth is written on Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen’s faces that they are not Robert’s children.

Yet as I had previously explored in this essay, no one remarks upon how Jon looks like Lyanna, despite Jon encountering people who knew her in her lifetime. Yet with Joffrey and the others, people DO see the truth written on their faces. They look at the children and see who their parents truly are, even if they think they’re still Robert’s children.

“He is!” Sansa insisted. “I don’t want someone brave and gentle, I want him. We’ll be ever so happy, just like in the songs, you’ll see. I’ll give him a son with golden hair, and one day he’ll be the king of all the realm, the greatest king that ever was, as brave as the wolf and as proud as the lion.”

Arya made a face. “Not if Joffrey’s his father,” she said. “He’s a liar and a craven and anyhow he’s a stag, not a lion.”

Sansa felt tears in her eyes. “He is not! He’s not the least bit like that old drunken king,” she screamed at her sister, forgetting herself in her grief.

Sansa sees Joffrey and see’s nothing of his “father” the “stag” in him, only that he’s a “lion”. Which he is as he only has Lannister (lion) blood by being actually Jaime and Cersei’s child. But when people regard Jon, they see nothing of the she-wolf, or the wild wolf, or the young pup, or the elder wolf. They see only the quiet wolf when they look at Jon’s face. The truth is written on the faces of children, and that truth is that Jon is Ned’s son.

Conclusion

Before briefly concluding with some parting remarks, this essay will quickly go over the main arguments in this paper.

Ned Stark is one of the most honourable men in Westoros, but he’s also a terrible liar. Despite this, no one in story has ever doubted that he is Jon Snow’s father, and there are multiple people verifying his tale that he is Jon Snow’s father.

Further evidence that Jon is Ned’s son, is that he distinctly looks like Ned, who looked distinctly different than his siblings. Thus it seems far more likely that he is Ned’s son than any other Stark’s son. Furthermore, Ned’s explanation for who Jon’s mother was seemingly fits with the fact that Jon has dark skin as presumably Wylla is a Dornish woman as she is currently a Dornish servant.

Thirdly, Ned calling Jon his blood by no means meant that he was not calling Jon his son. Rodrick Cassel, Catelyn Tully, Jeor Mormont, and Jon Snow all use the notion of blood to denote someone’s child, thus when Ned says Jon is his blood, he is also calling him his son.

Fourthly, Bran’s weirwood vision does not indicate that Jon is not Ned’s son. Firstly, it’s unclear if Ned is even talking about Jon and Robb in that vision as he could be talking about Robb and Theon, but regardless, Jon is not actually Robb’s brother, Ned’s bastard or not. They are half brothers, and Ned is simply hoping that they will grow up as if they were full brothers.

Fifth, Jon Snow received a direwolf while every trueborn child of Ned and Catelyn’s did as well. Seeing as there is some evidence that there are other Stark bastards than just Jon, but none of them received direwolves seeing as the 6 pups and their mother are the first direwolves seen in 200 years, it seems likely that only Ned’s children received direwolves. Thus Jon is a son of Ned.

Sixth, Ned never ignored his family’s questions regarding Jon Snow’s mother. Rather it seems that he simply didn’t bring it up himself, and choose instead to try and unite his family around their similarities instead of their differences. Ned did not speak of Jon’s mother as to do so would create wedges in his family, which is something that we know that he did not want.

Seventh, GRRM has seemingly created a so called “bastard look” in his series where bastards always inherit some feature of their father. Seeing as Jon’s features are all Stark, Jon’s father must have been a male Stark.

Eighth, Ned feels sickened to learn that Cersei has managed to pass off Jaime’s children as her own. Yet if Jon is not Ned’s, then that is exactly what did himself did by claiming that Jon was his son if he in fact was not. Furthermore, we see that people are able to see who someone’s parents are by looking at the face of the child. Yet everyone agrees that Jon looks like Ned.

In conclusion, Jon is indeed the son of Eddard Stark. He may not have the Stark name, but Ned Stark’s son he is.

He belongs to the old gods, this one. And he alone of all the direwolves was white. Six pups they’d found in the late summer snows, him and Robb; five that were grey and black and brown, for the five Starks, and one white, as white as Snow.
He had his answer then.

Eddard + Ashara = Jon

Eddard Stark + Ashara Dayne= Jon Snow

By: Voice (of the First Men)

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The body of my argument can be summarized in but a single word: canon. Every reference to Ashara Dayne, literally, every single reference to her throughout the five novels, connects her to Eddard Stark.

A Game of Thrones – Catelyn II

He did more than that. The Starks were not like other men. Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him “son” for all the north to see. When the wars were over at last, and Catelyn rode to Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already taken up residence.

That cut deep. Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband’s soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys’s Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur’s sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. “Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady.” She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne’s name was never heard in Winterfell again.

Whoever Jon’s mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, for nothing Catelyn said would persuade him to send the boy away. It was the one thing she could never forgive him. She had come to love her husband with all her heart, but she had never found it in her to love Jon. She might have overlooked a dozen bastards for Ned’s sake, so long as they were out of sight. Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him. Somehow that made it worse. “Jon must go,” she said now.

A Game of Thrones – Eddard XII

Her eyes burned, green fire in the dusk, like the lioness that was her sigil. “The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna.”

Ned Stark thought of pale blue roses, and for a moment he wanted to weep. “I do not know which of you I pity most.”

The queen seemed amused by that. “Save your pity for yourself, Lord Stark. I want none of it.”

“You know what I must do.”

“Must?” She put her hand on his good leg, just above the knee. “A true man does what he will, not what he must.” Her fingers brushed lightly against his thigh, the gentlest of promises. “The realm needs a strong Hand. Joff will not come of age for years. No one wants war again, least of all me.” Her hand touched his face, his hair. “If friends can turn to enemies, enemies can become friends. Your wife is a thousand leagues away, and my brother has fled. Be kind to me, Ned. I swear to you, you shall never regret it.”

“Did you make the same offer to Jon Arryn?”

She slapped him.

“I shall wear that as a badge of honor,” Ned said dryly.

“Honor,” she spat. “How dare you play the noble lord with me! What do you take me for? You’ve a bastard of your own, I’ve seen him. Who was the mother, I wonder? Some Dornish peasant you raped while her holdfast burned? A whore? Or was it the grieving sister, the Lady Ashara? She threw herself into the sea, I’m told. Why was that? For the brother you slew, or the child you stole? Tell me, my honorable Lord Eddard, how are you any different from Robert, or me, or Jaime?”

“For a start,” said Ned, “I do not kill children. You would do well to listen, my lady. I shall say this only once. When the king returns from his hunt, I intend to lay the truth before him. You must be gone by then. You and your children, all three, and not to Casterly Rock. If I were you, I should take ship for the Free Cities, or even farther, to the Summer Isles or the Port of Ibben. As far as the winds blow.”

A Clash of Kings – Catelyn VI

“Those who favor Stannis will call it proof. Those who support Joffrey will say it means nothing.” Her own children had more Tully about them than Stark. Arya was the only one to show much of Ned in her features. And Jon Snow, but he was never mine. She found herself thinking of Jon’s mother, that shadowy secret love her husband would never speak of. Does she grieve for Ned as I do? Or did she hate him for leaving her bed for mine? Does she pray for her son as I have prayed for mine?

They were uncomfortable thoughts, and futile. If Jon had been born of Ashara Dayne of Starfall, as some whispered, the lady was long dead; if not, Catelyn had no clue who or where his mother might be. And it made no matter. Ned was gone now, and his loves and his secrets had all died with him.

Still, she was struck again by how strangely men behaved when it came to their bastards. Ned had always been fiercely protective of Jon, and Ser Cortnay Penrose had given up his life for this Edric Storm, yet Roose Bolton’s bastard had meant less to him than one of his dogs, to judge from the tone of the queer cold letter Edmure had gotten from him not three days past. He had crossed the Trident and was marching on Harrenhal as commanded, he wrote. “A strong castle, and well garrisoned, but His Grace shall have it, if I must kill every living soul within to make it so.” He hoped His Grace would weigh that against the crimes of his bastard son, whom Ser Rodrik Cassel had put to death. “A fate he no doubt earned,” Bolton had written. “Tainted blood is ever treacherous, and Ramsay’s nature was sly, greedy, and cruel. I count myself well rid of him. The trueborn sons my young wife has promised me would never have been safe while he lived.”

A Storm of Swords – Arya VIII (Ashara was the “aunt” of Jon’s “milkbrother”)

Jon has a mother. Wylla, her name is Wylla. She would need to remember so she could tell him, the next time she saw him. She wondered if he would still call her “little sister.” I’m not so little anymore. He’d have to call me something else. Maybe once she got to Riverrun she could write Jon a letter and tell him what Ned Dayne had said. “There was an Arthur Dayne,” she remembered. “The one they called the Sword of the Morning.”

“My father was Ser Arthur’s elder brother. Lady Ashara was my aunt. I never knew her, though. She threw herself into the sea from atop the Palestone Sword before I was born.”

“Why would she do that?” said Arya, startled.

Ned looked wary. Maybe he was afraid that she was going to throw something at him. “Your lord father never spoke of her?” he said. “The Lady Ashara Dayne, of Starfall?”

“No. Did he know her?”

“Before Robert was king. She met your father and his brothers at Harrenhal, during the year of the false spring.”

“Oh.” Arya did not know what else to say. “Why did she jump in the sea, though?”

“Her heart was broken.”

Sansa would have sighed and shed a tear for true love, but Arya just thought it was stupid. She couldn’t say that to Ned, though, not about his own aunt. “Did someone break it?”

He hesitated. “Perhaps it’s not my place…”

“Tell me.”

He looked at her uncomfortably. “My aunt Allyria says Lady Ashara and your father fell in love at Harrenhal—”

“That’s not so. He loved my lady mother.”

“I’m sure he did, my lady, but—”

“She was the only one he loved.”

He must have found that bastard under a cabbage leaf, then,” Gendry said behind them.

Arya wished she had another crabapple to bounce off his face. “My father had honor,” she said angrily. “And we weren’t talking to you anyway. Why don’t you go back to Stoney Sept and ring that girl’s stupid bells?”

Gendry ignored that. “At least your father raised his bastard, not like mine. I don’t even know my father’s name. Some smelly drunk, I’d wager, like the others my mother dragged home from the alehouse. Whenever she got mad at me, she’d say, ‘If your father was here, he’d beat you bloody.’ That’s all I know of him.” He spat. “Well, if he was here now, might be I’d beat him bloody. But he’s dead, I figure, and your father’s dead too, so what does it matter who he lay with?”

It mattered to Arya, though she could not have said why. Ned was trying to apologize for upsetting her, but she did not want to hear it. She pressed her heels into her horse and left them both. Anguy the Archer was riding a few yards ahead. When she caught up with him, she said, “Dornishmen lie, don’t they?”

“They’re famous for it.” The bowman grinned. “Of course, they say the same of us marchers, so there you are. What’s the trouble now? Ned’s a good lad…”

“He’s just a stupid liar.” Arya left the trail, leapt a rotten log and splashed across a streambed, ignoring the shouts of the outlaws behind her. They just want to tell me more lies. She thought about trying to get away from them, but there were too many and they knew these lands too well. What was the use of running if they caught you?

It was Harwin who rode up beside her, in the end. “Where do you think you’re going, milady? You shouldn’t run off. There are wolves in these woods, and worse things.”

“I’m not afraid,” she said. “That boy Ned said…”

“Aye, he told me. Lady Ashara Dayne. It’s an old tale, that one. I heard it once at Winterfell, when I was no older than you are now.” He took hold of her bridle firmly and turned her horse around. “I doubt there’s any truth to it. But if there is, what of it? When Ned met this Dornish lady, his brother Brandon was still alive, and it was him betrothed to Lady Catelyn, so there’s no stain on your father’s honor. There’s nought like a tourney to make the blood run hot, so maybe some words were whispered in a tent of a night, who can say? Words or kisses, maybe more, but where’s the harm in that? Spring had come, or so they thought, and neither one of them was pledged.”

“She killed herself, though,” said Arya uncertainly. “Ned says she jumped from a tower into the sea.”

“So she did,” Harwin admitted, as he led her back, “but that was for grief, I’d wager. She’d lost a brother, the Sword of the Morning.” He shook his head. “Let it lie, my lady. They’re dead, all of them. Let it lie… and please, when we come to Riverrun, say naught of this to your mother.”

A Dance with Dragons – The Kingbreaker (N+A=J+D?)

Even after all these years, Ser Barristan could still recall Ashara’s smile, the sound of her laughter. He had only to close his eyes to see her, with her long dark hair tumbling about her shoulders and those haunting purple eyes. Daenerys has the same eyes. Sometimes when the queen looked at him, he felt as if he were looking at Ashara’s daughter …

But Ashara’s daughter had been stillborn, and his fair lady had thrown herself from a tower soon after, mad with grief for the child she had lost, and perhaps for the man who had dishonored her at Harrenhal as well. She died never knowing that Ser Barristan had loved her. How could she? He was a knight of the Kingsguard, sworn to celibacy. No good could have come from telling her his feelings. No good came from silence either. If I had unhorsed Rhaegar and crowned Ashara queen of love and beauty, might she have looked to me instead of Stark?

He would never know. But of all his failures, none haunted Barristan Selmy so much as that.

Robert + Lyanna = Jon

“R”+ L = J   By: Wolfmaid7

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Introduction

I remember being blown away by the “Sixth Sense” after the final twist was revealed. More so because retrospectively the clues were there, especially in the most memorable phrase of the movie “I see dead people walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.” All this while Bruce Willis is sitting right there in our faces; the twist of course was Bruce Willis being dead all the while. What made the clues indiscernible at least to me was the play on character and viewer perception of the everyday interaction, expectations and biases. IMO,the issue of Jon’s parentage is something similar, where clues are hidden in realism more times than not. We expect something fantastic, a love that’s so unreal it belongs in a fairytale, or a moment that starts an epic love affair. It’s the same with the characters in this story who retell events in grandiose fashion adding color and pizzazz. Like Sansa we are slain by the stories of tournaments only to be made speechless by the reality. Love is presented to us as something spectacular, epic, a madding emotion, borne from prophecy that makes one do crazy shit, and we buy that because it’s bigger than life. Yet, all the while missing what’s there, hidden in plain view.

We ask ourselves the right questions, kinda i.e.‘Why Ned hasn’t thought of Rheagar in years if he’s Jon’s father’ when the question should be “has Ned ever thought/talked about anyone in particular to Jon?” Deep down we know it’s unrealistic that Ned would be unable to keep Jon’s father out of his thoughts FOR YEARS. Let alone not speak of him. He would find some way to tell Jon about his father without revealing anything’s amiss. We ask the right question, but ignore the answer when it’s right there in the way GRRM constructed the narrative. The reality is Ned could never NOT think of Jon’s father. That’s impossibly unrealistic even in GRRM’s world, and he wouldn’t ever go without trying to have Jon know something of him or even speak of him.

“The king was a great disappointment to Jon. His father had talked of him often: the peerless Robert Baratheon, demon of the Trident, the fiercest warrior of the realm, a giant among princes.”

Jon, is the only one of the Stark kids whom we are told Ned talked of Robert to and quite a bit. We hear no such claims from the others. Ned could have talked to the others about Robert, but its not what is relayed. Jon was the one the author chose to say this through. So, if you couldn’t tell the child you raised about his real dad, realistically how might you introduce him? Might you tell of his exploits without telling the truth? Talk him up, and his badassary? That is exactly  what Ned did. He elevated Robert to Jon, exalting him above all warriors and all Princes. Furthermore, this trickling of info continues through the story, where the author uses various characters to give insight into Robert to Jon. Robert shows up in Jon’s chapter more than any other prospect for the precise purpose “it seems” of having people talk about his strengths, flaws. How he was and how he’d changed. I shit you not, look it up. If quantity of a potential in Jon’s chapter is a base for figuring his father prepare for shock and awe. But it’s not so much the quantity, it’s chapters upon chapters exposition about Robert to Jon. If this reveal does come. The idea of Robert +Lyanna is not new to Jon, he already knows there’s a connection.

So, you may have guessed by now that this theory postulates that Robert and Lyanna were Jon’s parents. This essay will delve into the subtle and obscure clues; symbolism, parallels, themes, events before and during Harrenthal that connect Robert and Lyanna romantically, Jon to both Robert and Lyanna and ultimately connect all three. Additionally, some miscellaneous info that sets the background to what may have occurred.

                                   Where misconceptions begin ………….and should end

Robert will never keep to one bed,” Lyanna had told him at Winterfell, on the night long ago when their father had promised her hand to the young Lord of Storm’s End. “<snip>, but he assured her that what Robert did before their betrothal was of no matter, that he was a good man and true who would love her with all his heart. Lyanna had only smiled. “Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man’s nature.”–GoT, pg. 379.

We could all agree that the above quote indicates that Lyanna has knowledge of Robert’s past and a belief about his inability to be faithful. Noteworthy, is her familiarity with him. She addresses him not as “Robert Baratheon,” but “Robert” -Familiarity. We should also note when the timing of this conversation took place; which was the night Lyanna found out she was to wed Robert. So, they were betrothed at least 3yrs before she went missing. The WB author states:”Robert and Lyanna were long bethrothed.” So there was time enough for this concern about Robert to be proven, or not. And there’s only one way for that to happen. Only one way for Lyanna to know if Robert would keep to one bed.It involves them sleeping together and him stepping out on her. Agreed?

Lastly, this notion that Lyanna didn’t want the marriage needs to be dispel.She never expressed this,though she could have.Through this entire story we have individuals; Sansa, Dany, Brandon all voicing wanting a match or not.In a conversation where it wold be perfectly natural to say “Ned i don’t want this.” She never does. She verbalized no issue with the match except whether Robert would be able to dock his cock in one port only. The tone of the conversation implied that she was worried, else Ned would never have had to reassure her. What we should be asking is if Robert forsook all others when he and Lya got betrothed? The answer is yes. Had Robert been sewing oats while he thought she was missing. Ned’s attitude towards him would be less than brotherly.

 

                                                            The politics of marriage

GRRM has showed us outcomes of several arranged marriages in this series. e.g. Cat and Ned grew to love each other. Dany and Drogo grew in love and Elia and Rhaegar had a solid relationship. Then we have Robert and Cersei, who were disastrous, Sansa and Joff also disastrous. No matter the outcome, all of these couples went or would go through with what was best for their family’s ambitions because it is what was expected of them. From the main text and the World book, we know alliances were being made via marriages, of which BraCat ,JoLys RoLya were pairings; a power block on the rise. Brandon was marrying Cat no matter how he felt. If Barbrey was truthful:

“The day I learned that Brandon was to marry Catelyn Tully, though … there was nothing sweet about that pain. He never wanted her, I promise you that. He told me so, on our last night together … but Rickard Stark had great ambitions too. Southern ambitions <snip> ADWD Chpt 38.

Brandon is a good example of doing what he must despite how he felt. Feeling or not, Lyanna would know how important this alliance was to her family and her place in securing it as she was taught to. The take away from this: Duty to family, and if you’re lucky you might grow to love your intended. A strong possibility for Lyanna and Robert who had the time to grow in love where there initial relationship was different. All this brings me to (3) of GRRM’s quotes.

“And then there are some things that just don’t square with history. In some sense I’m trying to respond to that. [For example] the arranged marriage, which you see constantly in the historical fiction and television show,
almost always when there’s an arranged marriage, the girl doesn’t want it and rejects it and she runs off with the stable boy instead. This never fucking happened. It just didn’t.
There were thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of arranged marriages in the nobility through the thousand years of Middle Ages and people went through with them. That’s how you did it. It wasn’t questioned. Yeah, occasionally you would want someone else, but you wouldn’t run off with the stable boy

“And that’s another of my pet peeves about fantasies. The bad authors adopt the class structures of the middle Ages<snip>they have scenes where the spunky peasant girl tells off the pretty prince. The pretty prince would have raped the spunky peasant girl. He would have put her in the stocks and then had garbage thrown at her. You know. I mean, the class structures in places like this had teeth.
They had consequences. And people were brought up from their childhood to know their place and to know that duties of their class and the privileges of their class. It was always a source of friction when someone got outside of that thing. And I tried to reflect that.”

Sum: Given GRRM’s quotes, along with the social, political and emotional stakes and ideologies involved, it’s highly unlikely that Lya bolted from her betrothal to Robert in the same token. It’s just as unlikely that Rhaegar kidnapped/ran off with her.This takes inverting the examples GRRM gave, so Lyanna is the stableboy and Rhaegar is the Princess.

Furthermore, from the below quotes there’s no indication from Robert and Ned that Lyanna and Robert weren’t going to get married had she not died. That was still going to happen and it’s even more interesting from Ned’s perspective because years later his thoughts still indicated the marriage was going to happen had she lived. Ned’s thoughts and Robert’s words doesn’t betray that Lyanna ran away after years from her betrothal to Robert.

“We were meant to rule together. If Lyanna had lived, we should have been brothers, bound by blood as well as affection. Well, it is not too late.”
Robert had loved her even more. She was to have been his bride. (AGOT,Ned).

 

                    Clues to an intimate relationship between Robert and Lyanna

I am now going to explore clues that Lyanna and Robert were intimately involved.Lucky for us, Robert and Ned wouldn’t be dead for a while and a crucial bit of info is revealed via the only statement we have from Lya.When it comes to one half of this equation,we actually see and hear what Robert felt for Lya from (4) credible sources. Something that cannot be said for any other prospect.

  1. Lyanna had only been sixteen, a child-woman of surpassing loveliness. Ned had loved her with all his heart.
    Robert had loved her even more. She was to have been his bride. (AGOT,Ned).Oooooooo

    2. “Her {Cersei’s} eyes burned, green fire in the dusk, <snip>. “The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna.”Ned thought of pale blue roses, and for a moment he wanted to weep.—Ned,GoT, pg. 480.——-Daaaaang

    3. “He’s still in love with the sister, the insipid little dead sixteen year old.” How long till he decides to put me aside for some new Lyanna AGOT, Bran, Pg.83……Snap

    4. “The gods be damned. It was a hollow victory they gave me. A crown … it was the girl I prayed them for. Your sister, safe … and mine again, as she was meant to be.” —–Hmmmm

    5. “Oh, Cersei is lovely to look at, truly, but cold . . . the way she guards her cunt, you’d think she had all the gold of Casterly Rock between her legs.”——-Hmmmmm

    6. I dishonored myself and I dishonored Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men. “Gods have mercy, you scarcely knew Catelyn.””I had taken her to wife. She was carrying my child. “You are too hard on yourself. You always were. Damn it, no woman wants Baelor the Blessed in her bed.”

    7. “She was more beautiful than that,” the king said after a silence. His eyes lingered on Lyanna’s face, as if he could will her back to life. <Snip> “Ah, damn it, Ned, did you have to bury her in a place like this?” His voice was hoarse with remembered grief.”<Snip>. “The king touched her cheek, his fingers brushing across the rough stone as gently as if it were living flesh.”——-Hmmmmm

    8. “And Cersei… I have Jon Arryn to thank for her. I had no wish to marry after Lyanna was taken from me, but Jon said the realm needed an heir.”

Validation of Robert’s love for Lyanna comes from Robert himself, Cersei, Ned and even Renly. Through Robert’s behaviors it can be argued that Robert could be grieving for the unrealized, which is the weakest of the arguments given the context of the quotes, or mourning what was and is no more which best fits what he’s displaying and others are saying and by that I speak of the intensity and depth.Its strange that Robert’s behavior where Lyanna is concerned is that of a man that didn’t have a relationship with her beyond the superficial. So, did Lya “guard her cunt” from Robert like Cersei did? Was she cold as Cersei? Given Robert’s Statement, (he seems kinda taken aback by Cersei’s non commitance) Cersei is the only woman to put a padlock on her pussy against him. A side note, Robert’s reply to Ned about Cat exposes an interesting mindset of his. Knowing is an intimate thing and Ned didn’t know Cat, so in Robert’s eyes Ned didn’t dishonor Cat because he didn’t know her “Knowing” warrants fidelity. Ned, Robert and Cersei’s statements validates Robert’s love for a woman he knew. What he is displaying, and what is never shown or described by anyone else Rhaegar for e.g. when it comes to Lya ….is Intimacy. Pay special attention to how Ned describes Robert’s behavior toward Lya’s statue, pay attention to how Robert refers to getting Lya safe “mine again.” The idea of “mine” comes up a couple of times in this series and usually when referring an intimate i.e.

“She pushed him back against the trunk of a tree and kissed him, full on the lips right there in the midst of the ragged column. <Snip>. He kissed her back despite all that. When they finally broke apart, Ygritte was flushed. “You’re mine,” she whispered. “Mine, as I’m yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first we’ll live.”

He is mine.” She rose to her feet. “They all tried to take him from me. My lord father, my husband, your mother…Catelyn most of all. She liked to kiss my Petyr too, oh yes she did (asos,Sansa).

This theme is one of endearment, one of physical and/or emotional intimacy and it’s a constant exhibition by Robert. Now let’s look at the only conversation we have of Lya concerning Robert again. Look at the connotation of her statement.I believe this to be a hint by the author to Lya’s state of mind going prior.

Robert will never keep to one bed,”

It’s something that gets overlooked the moment Lya uttered those famous words. It’s worth keeping in mind, that Robert has been sexually active from a very young age, and Lyanna is aware of that. Those close to him like Ned knew that “Robert Baratheon had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures (AGOT,Ned 1).He didn’t cheat on her,and i doubt Robert wouldn’t make a play. Would Lya have guarded her cunt from Robert? Did Robert abstain from pussy, OR was he in fact “keeping to one bed -Lya’s….Now I’m not saying Robert and Lyanna had an ongoing sexual relationship. I believe they’ve only ever done it once. What I am saying is Lyanna wasn’t “closed” to him; she may have shown openness to his advances. From her conversation with Ned, intimacy of that type was already on the table. Why would she be worried about Robert not keeping to one bed (hers), if she wasn’t willing or offering up her own when and if he wanted?

The truth, Lya had no qualms about having sex with Robert from the get bethrothed or married would be up to them, just as long as it was only her bed. When Robert asked for “ah lil ting ting” and he would we all know that, what would Lya have done? What are the odds that during their entire betrothal Robert never wanted a romantic encounter or under the right circumstances it didn’t happen? What are the odds that Lya knowing full well his appetite turned him down? They were betrothed.

“Mother says I’m still to marry you so you’ll stay here.”

I’ll get you with child as soon you’re able.”…….”When do you think you’ll be able to have children?”Pg 747.

Yes,” Septa Scolera echoed, “and you must feel so much lighter now, clean and innocent as a maid on the morning of her wedding. “I fucked Jaime on the morning of my wedding, the queen recalled.

“He would have served up my maidenhead to any Stark who happened by, but there was no need. Brandon was never shy about taking what he wanted. I am old now, a dried-up thing, too long a widow, but I still remember the look of my maiden’s blood on his cock the night he claimed me (adwd Barbrey).

As you can see premarital sex happened rather frequently or was talked about. But if you are a gentleman and a lady you didn’t blab about it.You don’t speak of a lady if she was deflowered prior to marriage.That’s messed up. In the case of Sansa and Joffrey had she gotten preggers before their marriage they would have simply spun it. Despite what was expected by society these things happened. e.g. Harrenhall Tourney.                                                                        


The coat of arms worth a thousand words

Under the right atmosphere i don’t think Lyanna would say no to Robert; taking into consideration Cersei’s retelling of her experience and Robert’s own reference to Lya, them having sex was sure as Fantastic 4 flopping at the box office.Is there more hints in support of reciprocity? Let’s look at this hint.That feelings did develop both ways.

Perhaps you should wed Tully to Stark in your arms. A wolf with a fish in its mouth “That made her laugh. “Besides if a girl can’t fight why should she have a coat of arms?” Jon to Arya—Agot.

“But 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 (asos,Bran).”

Keep in mind the concept of the above quotes, the joining of representations on the arms.

He laughed uproariously, and even Ned smiled, remembering. This was the boy he had grown up with, he thought; this was the Robert Baratheon he’d known and loved.”

Gods,” he swore, laughing, “It feels good to get out and ride the way a man was meant to ride! (AGOT,Ned Chpt 12).”

“Robert … He is in my dreams as well. Laughing. Drinking. Boasting. Those were the things he was best at. Those, and fighting. (Stannis about Robert).

He heard his laughter in the dark, saw his eyes, blue and clear as mountain lakes. “Look at us, Ned,” Robert said. “Gods, how did we come to this?”Agot,Ned ,Chpt 58.

“Is that any way to speak to your King? He let go, his laughter sudden as a storm. ”Ah damn you Ned….”

“Robert succeeded him as Lord of Storm’s End and grew to be one of the finest Knight’s in the Seven Kingdom………-a warrior so strong and fearless that many hailed him the Laughing Storm reborn WB,pg,230.

The weirwood was the heart of Winterfell, Lord Eddard always said … but to save the castle Jon would have to tear that heart up by its ancient roots,<snip> ASOS,Jon.

“I was with her when she died,” Ned reminded the king. “She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father (AGOT, Ned, pg.43).

Sum: Lyanna was a fighter as we know, and Lya as TKOTLT did just what Arya and Jon were speaking of and what we are seeing is IMO a retrospective look place by the author into the figure we know as TKOTLT. Lya  wed what is well known and loved about Robert’s nature-his laughter-to what symbolized Winter Fell/home a place she loved–its heart tree- on her arms.

Lyanna’s initial fears about Robert being unfaithful to her turned out to be false after all and more to the point during their betrothal that would have become very apparent to her that she was wrong and Ned’s statement about how much Robert “would” love her turned out to be true. “Ned loved her with all his heart and Robert even more. Now I hope you all see it, for Ned’s statement about Robert’s feelings of love to be true he had to be speaking contextually of the time it would make more sense, which was when Lyanna and Robert were betrothed.Now what would be the basis of Ned saying this? He had to have observed this.
                                                                          A perfect match

Contrary to some belief, Rickard didn’t make a poor match for Lya, he actually did her a solid. Robert and Lyanna in terms of compatibility were a perfect match. There was nothing they couldn’t love about each other and if fidelity wasn’t an issue which it wasn’t , then sparks could very well fly.
About Lyanna:

“‘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 to Arya (I 215).

“The crowning of the Stark girl who by all accounts was a wild and boyish thing…… (WB, pg137).

“He [Brandon] loved to ride. His little sister took after him in that. A pair of centaurs, those two. ADWD chpt 38.

“That evening there was to be a feast in Harrenhal, to mark the opening of the tourney, and the she-wolf insisted that the lad attend. He was of high birth, with as much a right to a place on the bench as any other man. She was not easy to refuse…..”

About Robert:

“He (Ned) was no Jon Arryn, to curb the wildness of his king and teach him wisdom. Robert would do what he pleased, as he always had, and nothing Ned could say or do would change that (AGOT,Ned.Chp 12).”

“He’s only a boy,” Ned said awkwardly. He had small liking for Prince Joffrey, but he could hear the pain in Robert’s voice. “Have you forgotten how wild you were at his age?” Agot Ned.”

“I am heartily sick of secrets and squabbles and matters of state, Ned. It’s all as tedious as counting coppers. Come, let’s ride, you used to know how. I want to feel the wind in my hair again.” He kicked his horse back into motion and galloped up over the barrow, raining earth down behind him (AGOT,Ned Chpt 12).

“Gods,” he swore, laughing, “It feels good to get out and ride the way a man was meant to ride! I swear, Ned, this creeping along is enough to drive a man mad.” He had never been a patient man, Robert Baratheon AGOT,Ned,chpt 12).”

 

Mythic parallel and theme: Connections Robert, Lyanna and Jon.

GRRM incorporated several world mythologies in his story and some of these myths overlap in the lives of some of the characters, but sometimes we get a gem that is very unique to certain characters and events. One such myth has very strong allusions that Jon’s parents are Robert and Lyanna.This isn’t an exact match down to evey detail.It can’t be, there’s stuff that happenes in real that isn’t even there and other variations and diversions are present but the gist is still there and fits perfectly.

We look toward a ritual that was recreated by the author at Harrenhal. In many pagan traditions, Beltane the third holiday on the “wheel of the year” is a major fertility festival between the spring and summer equinoxes. I believe certain characters in this story are acting out or have acted out the Wheel of the Year as well as an important ritual  during Beltane festivities called “The grand rite” aka “the sacred marriage.” Central to the Beltane ritual are two figures. The Horned god,a solar god whose dual aspect Oak(e.g. Cernunnous, Green man, Corn King) and Holly king (e.g. Krampus, Santa Claus, Wodon) rules summer and winter respectively. In some traditions THL is one person with two parts to his nature. He receives a mortal wound, dies and is born again with the help of the goddess to continue the cycle. In other traditions the two aspects are brothers that are in an eternal war and they are killed in their turn to indicate which half of the year will be dominant and which brother is ruling. The Horned god is a natural hunter, warrior, fertile, virile and wild. He is life, death and rebirth.The masculine energy at the feast and is machismo personified. He has the honor of mating with the goddess who is also a dual deity floral/winter after he. At the “grand rite” couples hooking up is common but it is the above coupling that is important because from their union the horned god (Oak +Holly) is conceived anew, birthed and hidden until the fullness of time has come.

The Players and how they line up :
The above is a summary of Beltane, a snap shot of what goes on, who’s important. So how does that relate this story? Well GRRM has established the characters and set up the rite at Harrenhall and in the story.

Horned god:

“He found himself thinking of Robert more and more. <Snip> tall and handsome, his great antlered helm on his head, his Warhammer in hand, sitting his horse like a horned god. Agot,Ned,Chpt 58.”

“Robert? Robert was hunting. That was his custom. Whenever my time was near, my royal husband would flee to the trees with his huntsmen and hounds. When he returned he would present me with some pelts or a stag’s head, and I would present him with a baby.

“He laughed and slapped his own ample stomach a thump. “And the girls, Ned!” he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling.”

“The king still wore his boots. Ned could see dried mud and blades of grass clinging to the leather where Robert’s feet stuck out beneath the blanket that covered him, A green doublet lay on the floor, slashed open and discarded, the cloth crusted with red-brown stains. The room smelled of smoke and blood and death.”

Here George has given us the imagery of Robert as both aspect of the Oak and Holly. We get the bad ass horned warrior in his youth and the jolly fat man with sparking eyes and rosy cheeks,to his final death. The green man has finally fallen.

The goddess:

“The slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore could only be Lyanna. ACOK Theon.

“Last of all, he came to the tomb where his father slept, with Brandon and Lyanna beside him.”Promise me, Ned,” Lyanna’s statue whispered. She wore a garland of pale blue roses, and her eyes wept blood.

The maiden crowned with a halo of flowers is the typical imagery for the goddess at Beltane and this is what Lyanna represents.

Wicker Man:

“Seventeen and new to knighthood, Rhaegar Targaryen had worn black plate over golden ring mail when he cantered onto the lists. Long streamers of red and gold and orange silk had floated behind his helm, like flames. AFFC,Cersei.

“The crown prince wore the armor he would die in: gleaming black plate with the three-headed dragon of his House wrought in rubies on the breast. A plume of scarlet silk streamed behind him when he rode, and it seemed no lance could touch him”

The Wicker man a product of modern paganism based off *ehem* sketchy origin (blood sacrifice) but in a ritualistic context he is the working of sympathetic magic. The purpose is to change what the effigy represents and hinder its power. Both Rhaegar ,Aerys and even Lord Rickard would fit the Wicker man archetype.They represent an era,order, system that needed to be changed and was with their deaths.

“A maying”( lovers going off at Beltane to have sex):

“There’s nothing like a tourney to make the blood run hot, so maybe some words were whispered in a tent of a night, words or kisses maybe more, but where’s the harm in that Spring had come-Harwin to Arya-(ASOS,Arya)

“Under Harren’s roof he ate and drank with the wolves, and many of their sworn swords besides, barrowdown men and moose and bears and mermen. The dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle, but when her pup brother teased her for crying she poured wine over his head. A black brother spoke, asking the knights to join the Night’s Watch. The storm lord drank down the knight of skulls and kisses in a wine-cup war. (Meera Reed).

Good times, good wine, ceremony, pageantry,some fighting and sex.

” And when the triumphant Prince of Dragonstone named Lyanna Stark daughter of the Lord of Winterfell,the queen of love and beauty ,placing the garland of blue roses in her lap with the tip of his lance,……”

If you look a smidge deeper than the superficial belief that lance equates penis,lance dropping laurel in Lyanna’s lap means sex and baby; the crowning itself is another representation in the Beltane ritual.If you identified Rhaegar’s lance with the laurel dangling as a symbolic representation for the Maypole then you are correct.And it to is also part of the Beltane dialogue that signifies that the sacred marriage has happened the horned god and goddess have mated.This goes had in hand with what i presented before a strong suggestion that Lyanna and Robert were intimately involved.I would also like to point out an interesting fact of all the houses the Baratheon’s via the female line of Elanai are the only ones to said to come from the line of gods.

“The way the world is made. The truth is all around you, plain to behold.<snip>. There is ice and there is fire. Hate and love. Bitter and sweet. Male and female. Pain and pleasure. Winter and summer. Evil and good.” She took a step toward him. “Death and life. Everywhere, opposites. Everywhere, the war……. “The war,”she affirmed. “There is two onion Knight<snip> The war has been waged since time began (ASOS, Davos Chpt 25).”

From Mel’s tale,to the tale of Garth Greenhand, the Shrouded Lord etc, George has woven an important myth into this story that begins at the tourney.This begins Jon’s journey

Don’t worry I’m not proposing they actually got married in front of a Weirwood officiated by a drunken Septon etc..

Now I want to mention something that has come up in discussion and while i favor it the least, it’s not implausible that Robert heavy with drink at Harrenhal raped Lyanna. There’s no way Ned would tell Robert or Jon this and i don’t think Lya would want this known either.

“Robert Baratheon, the First of His Name, may there never be a second. A dim, drunken brute of a man. Let him weep in hell. Taena warmed the bed as well as Robert ever had, and never tried to force Cersei’s legs apart.“ AFFC, pg. 684

“She wondered what it would feel like to suckle on those breasts, to lay the Myrish woman back and push her legs apart and use her as a man would use her, the way Robert would use her when the drink was in him, and she was unable to bring him off with hand or mouth.” AFFC, pg. 685

“Those had been the worst nights, lying helpless underneath him as he took his pleasure, stinking of wine and grunting like a boar. Usually he rolled off and went to sleep as soon as it was done, and was snoring before his seed could dry upon her thighs. She was always sore afterward, raw between her legs, her breasts painful from the mauling he would give them. The only time he’d ever made her wet was on their wedding night.” AFFC, pg. 685

For Robert, those nights never happened. Come morning he remembered nothing, or so he would have her believe. Once, during the first year of their marriage, Cersei had voiced her displeasure the next day. ‘You hurt me,’ she complained. He had the grace to look ashamed. ‘It was not me, my lady,’ he said in a sulky sullen tone, like a child caught stealing apple cakes from the kitchen. ‘It was the wine. I drink too much wine.’ To wash down his admission, he reached for a horn of ale. As he raised it to his mouth, she smashed her own horn in his face, so hard he chipped a tooth. Years later at a feast, she heard him telling a serving wench how he’d cracked his tooth in a melee. Well, our marriage was a melee, she reflected, so he did not lie.” AFFC, pg. 686

“The rest had all been lies, though. He did remember what he did to her that night, she was convinced of that. She could see it in his eyes. He only pretended to forget; it was easier to do that than to face his shame. Deep down Robert Baratheon was a coward. In time the assaults grew less frequent. During the first year of their marriage he took her at least once a fortnight; by the end it was not even once a year. He never stopped completely, though. Sooner or later there would come a night when he would drink too much and want to claim his rights. What shamed him in the light of day gave him pleasure in the dark.” AFFC, pg. 868

There’s certainly a case to be made for Robert drunk at Harrenhall committing something awful.

Jon Snow thou art the babe!!

Lets see if Jon boy fits the mold and follows in the vein of Robert’s archetype.

“This is not Winterfell’, he told him as he cut his meat with fork and dagger. ‘On the Wall, a man gets only what he earns. You’re no ranger, Jon, only a green boy with the smell of summer still on you.”

“He would play the game to its conclusion. He rose and dressed in darkness, as Mormont’s raven muttered across the room. “Corn,” the bird said, and, “King, “and, “Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow.” That was queer. The bird had never said his full name before, as best Jon could recall.”

“Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him

Sum: We have the players and who they are, for GRRM has etched the trail for us and if we follow the theme in the narrative, given the pattern, clues, and how well these characters correspond to the myth we have found the connection between Robert, Lya and Jon. We see Jon’s transformation from a green boy to him eventually becoming the corn king and sacrifice.One more to go something colder and darker for winter.
                                                    Parallels and connections Jon and Robert
Mythically,  inverse and out we have a solid foundation for how Robert, Lya and Jon connect with each other. Parallels should be made between things that “actually” happen and not assumptions .We see a fair amount of echoes between Jon and Robert via experiences we know they had because it’s in the text as facts.
So lets look at them

Jon:

He swallowed nervously and said, “Jon, could there be honor in a lie, if it were told for a … a good purpose?”
“It would depend on the lie and the purpose, I suppose.” Jon looked at Sam. “I wouldn’t advise it. You’re not made to lie, Sam.”—-Jon Snow to Sam Tarly

Robert:

“Robert slapped Ned on the back. ”Ah, say that I’m a better king than Aerys and be done with it. You never could lie for love nor honor, Ned Stark. —–Robert Baratheon to Ned Stark

-Here we have Jon and Robert speaking to their best friends on honor, lies and how seemingly horrible they are at lying. Funny enough both friends are actually concealing something important from them.

Robert:

“We all know what my brother would do. Robert would gallop up to the gates of Winterfell alone, break them with his Warhammer, and ride through the rubble to slay Roose Bolton with his left hand and the Bastard with his right…..”

Jon:

“This creature who makes cloaks from the skins of women has sworn to cut my heart out, and I mean to make him answer for those words <snip>.“The Night’s Watch will make for Hardhome. I ride to Winterfell alone…….. I have my swords, thought Jon Snow, and we are coming for you, Bastard.”

-Well what Robert would have done, is what Jon was on his way to doing before he got shanked.

Robert:

“I will kill every Targaryen I can get my hands on, until they are as dead as their dragons, and then I will piss on their graves. (Robert to Ned).”

Jon:

” Jon took the letter back. “Why would he help us now? <Snip> “Well,” said Sam, “That would bring scorn down upon House Lannister.” “Its death and destruction I want to bring down upon House Lannister, not scorn.” Jon lifted up the letter. (Jon to Sam affc.) “

Really Robert and Jon?
I mean can’t you guys just make a list like Arya and leave the innocents out?

Robert:

“It was the king’s voice that put an end to it . . . the king’s voice and twenty swords. Jon Arryn had told them that a commander needs a good battlefield voice, and Robert had proved the truth of that on the Trident. He used that voice now. “STOP THIS MADNESS,” he boomed, “IN THE NAME OF YOUR KING!”

“He has a lord’s voice, Jon thought. His father had always said that in battle a captain’s lungs were as important as his sword arm. “It does not matter how brave or brilliant a man is, if his commands cannot be heard,” Lord Eddard told his sons, so Robb and he used to climb the towers of Winterfell to shout at each other across the yard.”

Jon:

“The wall will stop them,” Jon heard himself say. He turned and said it again louder. “The wall will stop them. The wall defends itself. “He laughed, and Pyp and Owen and half a dozen more laughed with him. “They’re nothing. They are less use than our straw brothers here.”…….”They’re down there and we are up here and so long as we hold the gate, they cannot pass. THEY CANNOT PASS!”

A connection via a common lesson both used rally men.

                                                              Parallels and connections Jon and Lyanna

Here we see not only the echo of Lya’s experience in Jon’s but also a hint via Catelyn’s observation of Ned and confirmation in Ned’s own thoughts another echoing of his love for his sister.

“Whoever Jon’s mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, for nothing Catelyn said would persuade him to send the boy away.”

“Lyanna had only been sixteen, a child-woman of surpassing loveliness. Ned had loved her with all his heart. Robert had loved her even more. She was to have been his bride.”

“They shoved him down every time he tried to rise, and kicked him when he curled up on the ground. But then they heard a roar. ‘That’s my father’s man you’re kicking,’ howled the she-wolf.“<Snip>”The she-wolf laid into the squires with a tourney sword, scattering them all.”

“………..Jon took a step forward…….”.Halder stop”. The Bastard wishes to defend his lady love, so we shall make an exercise of it. Rat, Pimple, help our Stone Head here.” Rast and Albett moved to join Halder. “Three of you ought to be sufficient to make Lady Piggy squeal. All you need do is get past the Bastard.” “Stay behind me,” Jon said to the fat boy.”

Why the secrecy?

Safety
It isn’t just a matter of one’s physical state it’s your entire well-being. I think Lya extracted at least two promises from Ned.One that was very specific “take me home to winterfell” which carried its own consequences for Ned;the other was specifically general “watch over him,keep him safe”, which required Ned to lie to loved ones, dishonor himself and accrue a measure of risk. Sadly, I believe Robert would be a danger to Jon .Had Robert known about Jon he would want him at court, would acknowledge and legitimize him. A son by the woman he loved…..Hell yeah, but to any lord with ambition for a daughter, Jon would be a threat. Same for any woman Robert married, and her children he would be a threat. In this case it would be Cersei and the Lannisters and i think that has a purpose as well in the narrative

“Once, after that sorry business with the cat, he (Robert) had made some noises about bringing some baseborn daughter of his to court. “Do as you please,” she’d told him, “but you may find that the city is not a healthy place for a growing girl.” (AFFC, Cersei).

“There was another bastard, a boy (Gendry), older. I took steps to see him removed from harm’s way…but I confess, I never dreamed the babe would be at risk. A base born girl, less than a year old, with a whore for a mother, what threat could she pose?” “She was Robert’s that was enough for Cersei it would seem (Tyrion & Varys ACOK).

“Cersei could not have been pleased by her lord husband’s by-blows, yet in the end it mattered little whether the king had one bastard or a hundred. Law and custom gave the baseborn few rights. Gendry, the girl in the Vale, the boy at Storm’s End, none of them could threaten Robert’s trueborn children.”

“He gave Ned a sideways glance. “I’ve also heard whispers that Robert got a pair of twins on a serving wench at Casterly Rock, three years ago when he went west for Lord Tywin’s tourney. Cersei had the babes killed, and sold the mother to a passing slaver. Too much an affront to Lannister pride, that close to home.”

“He remembered the angry words they had exchanged when Tywin Lannister had presented Robert with the corpses of Rhaegar’s wife and children as a token of fealty. Ned had named that murder; Robert called it war…………. You are no Tywin Lannister, to slaughter innocents.”

“Your Robert got me with child once,” she said, her voice thick with contempt. “My brother found a woman to cleanse me .AGOT—Cersei to Ned.

“Catelyn Tully was a mouse, or she would have smothered this Jon Snow in his cradle. Instead, she’s left the filthy task to me (AFFC Cersei).”

Of course,the other mentionable is if Robert at Harrenhall did rape Lyanna And he didn’t recall it because he was drunk.Who wold want to know that as their origin.
Social/religious stigma:

Legitimization does not remove the stain on bastards,it remains as well as the belief about them. Except this would be throughout the realm.

“The old High Septon told my father that king’s laws are one thing, and the laws of the gods another. Trueborn children are made in a marriage bed and blessed by the Father and the Mother, but bastards are born of lust and weakness, he said. King Aegon decreed that his bastards were not bastards, but he could not change their nature. The High Septon said all bastards are born to betrayal”—Egg to Dunk.

“Bastard children were born from lust and lies, men said; their nature was wanton and treacherous. Once Jon had meant to prove them wrong, to show his lord father he could as good a true son as Robb Stark.” —Jon Snow.

“You know I cannot take him south. There will be no place for him at court. A boy with a bastard’s name . . . you know what they will say of him. He will be shunned (AGOT,Cat).

“If the gods frowned so on bastards, he thought dully, why did they fill men with such lusts? Ned.”

No matter what Robert’s feeling might have been, Jon was better off at Winterfell and away from the intrigue of Southern court and its politics. As a mention, I think you all might see the narrative purpose with Cersie in play with her hatred of Robert especially in light of Tyrion’s keen insight.Robert in her mind robbed Cersie of what she could of had with Rhaegar and what she could of had with him.On the account of a girl she didn’t think measured up to her….Burn

Lastly, as i mentioned before.If Robert drunk at Harrenhall did rape Lyanna there’s no way Ned would tell Robert that.Robert would have probably killed himself.He could always lie to Jon but as long as Robert was alive this couldn’t happen the realization  of what he done.OUCH.
 Timelines and namedays

Now we come to it, the seeming spoke in the wheel “timelines” which is ambiguous just the way George meant it to be I believe. But in spite of this, there are hints as to how things unfolded. Specifically clues in the narrative that indicate Jon is older than he and we think. Before I proceed I think it’s important to look at this quote from GRRM as it may also be a clue.

“The reason I am never specific about dates and distances is precisely so that people won’t sit down and do this sort of thing. My suggestion would be to put away the ruler and the stopwatch, and just enjoy the story.—GRRM” http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Chronology_and_Distances

The Bastard contingency

“He had a man’s needs, after all, and they had spent that year apart, Ned off at war in the south while she remained safe in her father’s castle at Riverrun. Her thoughts were more of Robb, the infant at her breast, than of the husband she scarcely knew……”

“It came as no surprise to her, in the first year of her marriage, to learn that Ned had fathered a child on some girl chance met on campaign. He had a man’s needs, after all, and they had spent that year apart, Ned off at war in the south while she remained safe in her father’s castle at Riverrun.”

“He did more than that. The Starks were not like other men. Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him “son” for all the north to see. When the wars were over at last, and Catelyn rode to Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already taken up residence (agot,Cat.Chpt 6).”

A couple of quotes have been used to “establish” Jon’s age.The above two uses Cat’s belief about when she thought Ned fathered Jon.Cat’s statement can’t be used because her belief  has no bearing on Jon’s actual age.As we can see in the first year of their marriage she found out Ned had fathered a child chance met on campaign.This is ambiguous and a bit of a play on perception as chance met on campaign could have been anytime after Ned called his banners.Cat isn’t sure about this,but this “girl” possibly given a name the more people talk.

She is making this determination on information she recieved on Ned’s “relationship” with Ashara Dayne.There’s plenty for her to glean from;Harrenhall,the reports from Ned’s guards.

They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys’s Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur’s sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

We also know that Ned has a history of avoidance. He let’s everyone who has an idea about Jon run with it.Never offering any detail.Even more telling is Cat asking him about Jon.The below tells us that this was the first time there was a conversation about Jon with Cat and he shut her down quick.So any information Cat believes about Jon unless it came from Ned has no bearing on validating when Jon was conceived. It’s all about perception and fans have taken Cat’s statement to be an indicator when it shouldn’t be.Cat knows nothing of this,because Ned told her nothing.He is the only person whereby truth can come and he said nada. Cat has no facts that tell her when Jon was born.She chooses to believe it was after their wedding night because that protects Robb.

That cut deep. Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word…finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face. That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. “Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.” (AGOT).

The next issue people will have is how does one pass off Jon as a newborn? Did he? Or did he just let people go with what they wanted to believe.The better bet is  Jon is Ned’s son and he was born after Robb. An idea an belief that makes it easy for Cat’s sensibility and the stability of her in her legitimate children’s status.If as some believe Ned left some Fisherman’s daughter preggers with Jon he is definitely older than Robb. Nobody seems to care or comment on that.Like the story of the FMD I think there were tell tale signs Jon was older.

“Take me with you when you go back to the Wall,” Jon said in a sudden rush <snip>“I am almost a man grown,” Jon protested. “I will turn fifteen on my next name day, and Maester Luwin says bastards grow up faster than other children. “That’s true enough,” Benjen said with a downward twist of his mouth.”

He’d heard it said that bastards grow up faster than other children; on the Wall, you grew up or you died.”

From the first quote it seems there were discussions about this at Winterfell but it is concealed in the “he’s a bastard so that’s why” ideology.Seeing as this is in the context of reaching manhood Jon was most likely maturing before Robb. Getting hair in places before Robb, voice deepens before Robb. Generally act more mature.

Lastly,and going back to Syrio’s lesson “people see what they expect to see instead of what’s there.” When shit’s going on and people have other stuff going on they don’t “see” It’s also funny that we have Jon himself doing the same thing I’m proposing happened to him passing off an older baby for a younger one. Gilly’s baby was born in 299, Dalla’s in 300,we don’t know if they are weeks apart, months or a year that’s not important in comparison to the blinders people put on when someone in authority says “thus is the case” Jon said Monster was Aemon and so he was.Nobody noticed anything because they didn’t care to.

Now it’s time for the “major evidence” used to support Jon being born one month give or take of the Sack (Citadel) and that’s the SSM “Jon was born 8-9 month before Dany thereabouts” in conjunction with Dany’s belief that “Dany was born 9 moons after their midnight flight to Dragonstone.”

The first issue is the obvious one and its really funny by the way and there’s no way no one haven’t thought of this. If we take what Dany was told about her conception and birth, along with all the other surface readings surrounding Jon’s parentage ,in addition to GRRM’s quote then there is no secret of Jon’s parentage, there never was. If so GRRM gave it away in that SSM. All we have to do is count 9mths prior, which most people have been doing and boom.So what has people been arguing about since the SSM. Let’s look at this,why would GRRM give away such specific detail and yet act all cryptic about when Jon was born.He could have said a month or so give or take of the sack he wouldn’t have been giving anything away we were all going to figuring out by approximating at the minimum…..Unless the details of Dany’s conception and birth is not as it is and he could say what he said because though it is true-Jon was born 9months prior to Dany.Dany was not born 9months after the flight to Dragonstone.

The above isn’t the only problem, there’s some other major inconsistencies that have emerged and I’ve bulleted some of them below. But because of length constraints I prefer if as a group we talk about them if the above isn’t enough to convince you that like Bruce Willis on Sixth sense we have turned our eyes to the obvious.

 Jamie’s account of the hooded figure

 Rescue by Willem Darry of Viserys and Dany on “Dragonstone?”

 The worst storm in Westrosi history that affected no other except the Targ fleet.

 Viserys’s Black sail conundrum-Not the TV series.

 Lemon tree and Pole boats

 This summer had lasted ten years. Jon had been a babe in arms when it began”

 Rhaegar the dead beat father ….why Aegon should spit on his grave.

Shout outs: I would like to give big props to posters like Pretty Pig, Frey Family Reunion,Markg171 and whoever spotted the anomaly with the Lemon tree for the majority of the bullet points. You all took plenty flack for what were spot on observations IMO….The truth is never popular, remember that.

Points of contention that will come up and counters

1. Jon doesn’t have black hair like the rest of Robert’s bastards.

“The seed is strong, Jon Arryn had cried on his deathbed, and so it was. All those bastards, all with hair as black as night. Grand Maester Malleon recorded the last mating between stag and lion, some ninety years ago,… Their only issue, an unnamed boy described in Malleon’s tome as a large and lusty lad boar with a full head of black hair. … No matter how far back Ned searched in the brittle yellowed pages, always he found the gold yielding before the coal.”

A. Gendry remembers that his mom had yellow hair

B. Barra’s mother ….Had light red hair.

What is being observed and told to us is the outcome between the black hairs of Baratheons with the gold hair of the Lion. No info is given to us on the outcome with dark haired women i.e Dark brown.

2. Ned said Robert didn’t know Lyanna so there “neener, neener.”

A. Actually Ned said:

“You never knew Lyanna as I did, Robert. You saw her beauty, but not the iron underneath.”

Ned is simply pointing out the difference in their relationship with the same woman. His knowledge and intimacy as a sibling will be different to Robert’s knowledge and intimacy as the intended. Robert never saw Lyanna’s iron side because he never warranted her showing that side to him. Plus, based on what Ned said Lya would have told Robert, Robert was right, Lyanna would not have spoken to him the way Cersei did which was the point Robert was trying to make.

3.Welllll Wolfmaid what about Bella huh,if Robert loved Lya so much why he banged all the whores at the Stoney Step and fathered her huh,huh?

“I’m a king’s daughter myself.”

Arya knew she was being mocked. “You are not.”

Well, I might be.” When the girl shrugged, her gown slipped off one shoulder. “They say King Robert fucked my mother when he hid here, back before the battle. Not that he didn’t have all the other girls too, but Leslyn says he liked my ma the best.”

a. This is a rumor of which even Bella is unsure. Most likely created to make the brothel more popular. In this case Robert’s reputation is probably working against him here.

Rhaegar’s Pekong: Pekong is a form of social commentary with a hidden insult or attempt shaming at its core, it can be an extreme form of teasing.

This part was/isn’t necessary for making a case for Robert as Jon’s Daddy. But I think it important to explain what i think Rhaegar’s actions at the Tourney was about, what it was saying and the consequence .The display had naught to do with admiration, promise of love, political machinations nor it prophetically driven; it was Rhaegar’s wit on steroids. What Rhaegar did had cultural significance to the Starks that should be taken into consideration. Given Rhaegar’s bookish nature it’s not unreasonable to think that he may have encountered the tale of Bael and the Stark maiden before and pulled it from his memory bank at the tourney.

“Be that as it may, what’s certain is Bael left the child in payment for the rose he plucked unasked –Ygritte to Jon (ACOK,Jon).”

Contextually, the rose does not signify a baby, but the Stark maiden’s virginity and Bael deflowered her. Per Ygritte’s tale:

“He (Lord Stark) followed the sound and found his daughter back in her bedchamber, asleep with a babe at her breast.” “Bael had brought her back?” “No. They had been in Winterfell all the time, hiding with the dead beneath the castle.”

Bael didn’t take her, but what he did take was rare indeed. Her maiden’s head.

“but the old chronicles of Winterfell say nothing of him (Bael). Whether this was due to the defeats and humiliation he was said to have visited upon them (including, according to one improbable story deflowering a Stark maiden and getting her with child) WB pg, 149.”

Fun fact: A girl’s Hymen before getting torn looks like an inverted flower? This is where the term “deflower” originated. Furthermore a crown of roses in general is considered a maiden’s crowning glory. We see this in several myths where the goddess is in her maiden form and on bride’s to be. It’s a symbol linked to purity and chasteness and that of being untouched.

We will continue in the vein that blue rose(s) is linked to a Stark girl’s virginity in verse. Thus, Rhaegar laying the crown of roses in her lap in front of her brothers per the story the Starks know so well implied that Lya was no maiden thus deflowering had already occurred. Now if the Stark boys saw this as an insult, how did Lyanna -coming from the same cultural background- interpret this gesture from Rheagar? I’m making a guess here but she may have been humiliated.

“That night at the great castle, the storm lord and the knight of skulls and kisses (Richard Lonmouth who was also a close friend and squire to Rhaegar also he was a Storm lander (Hmmm) each swore they would unmask him,<snip>. But the next morning,<snip>. The Knight of the Laughing Tree had vanished. The king was wroth, and even sent his son the dragon prince to seek the man, but all they ever found was his painted shield, hanging abandoned in a tree.

This statement here is speculation based on Harwin’s take of the atmosphere at the tourney and the theme element represented at Beltane. Robert and Lya like other couples probably “hooked up” at the Tourney and Rhaegar guessed, a friend told him,he figured it out ; take your pick. But, on the last day of the Tourney he dropped the 411, a reference only the Starks would get. It was the truth cleverly wrapped that alluded to a previous shame in Stark history. I know some people are reading this and saying there’s no way Rhaegar, golden boy Rhaegar would do something like this. Well it may surprise to you but yes he would.

“Rhaegar took no interest in the play of other children. The maesters were awed by his wits, but his father’s knights would jest sourly that Baelor the Blessed had been born again (asos,Dany.Chpt 8).

Wit: a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way sometimes to create humor.

Rhaegar’s show and tell had a profound effect on Ned and Brandon. Though Ned wasn’t overtly expressive as Brandon, his description was very telling.

“Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife………….. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, as blue as frost. Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals, the thorns lay hidden….. He felt them clawing at his skin, sharp and cruel, saw the slow trickle of blood run down his fingers, and woke……-GoT, pg. 631.

Note: Thorns in a crown is tied to a rather famous event in our world as a mockery to Jesus the Christ. As the Romans mocked Jesus as King of the Jews with their Crown of thorns, Rhaegar’s gesture mocked Lyanna as a maiden. That display, to the Starks was sharp and it was cruel…… It hurt. Rhaegar’s little show drew blood, first blood….
..You all saw what Ned did to LF when he said Cat was in his whore house? It was true she was,but the implication of LFs statement was that she was a whore.Ned was seriously going to cut his ass.There’s something else to this with regard to the LF/Brandon and Cat ‘duel for her hand’ but again this goes toward the notion there are some things you don’t do with regard to a lady.Some behaviors that can set her man to blaze.

We are almost at the end, so let’s have a bit of fun with a little exercise.

Spot the Ghost Grass: A Ghost grass is excessive mirroring of words and phrase that may just be that.

1.“I failed you, Robert, Ned thought. He could not say the words. I lied to you, hid the truth. I let them kill you.”AGOT,Ned Chpt 58.

Ned lied to Robert about Jon being Ned’s and Wylla’s. The truth he hid, that Jon was R & L

2.”Fathers are like that,” he admitted as he pinned the folds with a silver clasp. “Tell him he should be pleased. As many times as I’ve fucked you, you’re likely with child. It’s not every man who has the honor of raising a king’s bastard.”ACOK,Theon Chpt 11

Seeing as Theon’s entire internal monologue consisted of Ned and Robert conquest of Pyke It’s so clear, Ned had been raising King Robert’s bastard.

3.“My son, how could I have made a son like that Ned………..“It would not trouble me if the boy was wild, <snip>Agot Ned.”

“Thorne staggered back, rubbing the marks Jon’s fingers had left on his neck. “You see for yourselves, brothers. The boy is a wildling.” Jon,Asos.

-Robert’s true son has been called wild and he’s on the Wall.

4.“His father was observing all the courtesies, but there was tightness in him that Jon had seldom seen before. He said little, looking out over the hall with hooded eyes, seeing nothing. Two seats away, the king had been drinking……………Father took the king down to the crypts this afternoon.

“She was more beautiful than that,” the king said after a silence. His eyes lingered on Lyanna’s face, as if he could will her back to life.”

– Ned was nervous because Jon and Robert were in the same room for the first time. Robert knows Lya’s face intimately so there is a possibility he would have seen a bit of Lya in Jon.

You know because Jon looks like Arya and Arya looks like Lyanna. By the way Jon your father went to visit your mother.

5.“That’s the real king of this castle right there,” one of the gold cloaks had told her. “Older than sin and twice as mean. One time, the king was feasting the queen’s father, and that black bastard hopped up on the table and snatched a roast quail right out of Lord Tywin’s fingers. Robertlaughed so hard he like to burst. You stay away from that one, child.

“The wildling pulled off the band from his left arm and tossed it at Jon, then did the same with its twin upon his right. “Your first payment. Had those from my father and him from his. Now they’re yours, you thieving black bastard.”

“The Black Bastard of the wall, one man had called him. Even Jon would never know Blind Beth, i bet. That made her sad.”

Whoop there it is confirmation!!

In conclusion:

It has been said that clues in this series supports one man as Jon’s father. No other combination stands up against (some test that apparently most of us didn’t get the memo on).You decide. I’ve shown that Robert and Lyanna were sexually involved and the clues highlighted also supports mutual love between them. Additionally the essay has showed connections between Robert/Jon, Lyanna /Jon and even found the common thread that connects all three thematically in and out of verse. The need for secrecy when it came to Jon was quite clear and still is relevant to the story emotionally, politically and magically if Jon is revealed to be the son of Robert Baratheon and Lyanna Stark.

<><><><><><><><><><>END OF CASE<><><><><><><>

Arthur + Lyanna = Jon

Arthur Dayne + Lyanna Stark = Jon Snow

By: Superunknown5

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Preface: this theory is based on the (admittedly debatable) assumption that Ned is NOT Jon’s father, but that he is raising his sister’s son as his own.

He tells Cat that Jon is “my blood” and that’s “all she needs to know” (an obviously ambiguous statement that would be a very strange way to refer to someone who is your son) and he recalls Lyanna whispering from her “bed of blood” (a phrase that undeniably conjures at least the possible image of a birthing bed).

He also wishes for them to “grow up close as brothers”. A strange thing to wish for if Jon is Ned’s son, for two half-brothers to grow up close as brothers. They already ARE brothers. It makes no sense. A half brother is still a brother. A half sister is still a sister.

Part 1: Black and White Morality: A Tale of Two Sworn Brotherhoods, Forsworn Oaths and Soiled Cloaks

“Much as I admire Tolkien, and I do admire Tolkien —We don’t need any more Dark Lords, we don’t need any more, ‘Here are the good guys, they’re in white, there are the bad guys, they’re in black.” – George R.R. Martin

This contrast between the false perception of the shining white knights versus the evil black lords is a central theme in A Song of Ice and Fire. And George doesn’t waste any time getting down to business in a A Game of Thrones.

Arriving at Winterfell, we have first, sworn white brother, the white sword Jaime Lannister. Member of the Kingsguard, the finest knights in the realm. They wear white, and are sworn to defend and obey the king at all costs, including giving up any claim to lands, titles, love and glory. Sworn to celibacy, these knights give up everything it means to be a man to serve the realm. They are the picture of chivalry, honor, nobility. And yet are we so naïve to believe that men’s lusts simply vanish behind a wall of honor?

And what is the character of the man that represents this sterling band of shining white knights? Kingslayer. Sister fucker. Child murderer. A ruthless, amoral bully, a narcissistic and manipulative man, all arrogance and entitlement. He aspired to be better. He had a mentor, the man who knighted him, a man long dead. He was considered by many, including Ned Stark, as the finest knight of his day. Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. A Dornishman from Starfall.

And his counterpoint, the black brother, Benjen Stark, member of the Night’s Watch, the last resort of thieves, rapers, murderers and other vile criminal scum who would elsewise be condemned to death. They are stripped of all rights, lands, titles, inheritances, sworn to celibacy and banished to a a frozen hell hole guarding against things from beyond the wall, ridiculous tales of snarks and grumkins, frozen undead, and the Others, riding down on ice spiders as big as hounds. Preposterous.

And what is the character of the man that represents this sorry band of ugly misfits? Honorable, wise, kind, loving, strong, dutiful, humble. A man who takes his vows seriously. A hero.

Jon and Benjen talk about those vows. On celibacy:

“I don’t care about that!” Jon said hotly.

“You might, if you knew what it meant,” Benjen said. “If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less eager to pay the price, son.” – Jon, AGoT

SPECULATIVE SIDEBAR: This essay is about ASOIAF, but real quick, I’ll point out as well that there is an interesting scene in the show Game of Thrones in the second episode of the first season that is not in the books. Right before Jon leaves with Benjen to go to the Wall, Jaime confronts Jon about his decision to join the Watch, sardonically thanking him and lamenting, “it’s only for life.” I think this is significant in its framing and contrasting of the two sworn brotherhoods and their vows.

First there is the Nights Watch. We know of oath breakers in the Night’s Watch. Jon Snow and Ygritte. Samwell Tarly and Gilly. And most famously Mance Rayder, who deserted the wall and LITERALLY soiled his cloak. He talks about it at length:

Mance Rayder rose, unfastened the clasp that held his cloak, and swept it over the bench. “It was for this.”

A cloak?”

“The black wool cloak of a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch,” said the King-beyond-the-Wall. “One day on a ranging we brought down a fine big elk. We were skinning it when the smell of blood drew a shadow-cat out of its lair. I drove it off, but not before it shredded my cloak to ribbons. Do you see? Here, here, and here?” He chuckled. “It shredded my arm and back as well, and I bled worse than the elk. My brothers feared I might die before they got me back to Maester Mullin at the Shadow Tower, so they carried me to a wildling village where we knew an old wisewoman did some healing. She was dead, as it happened, but her daughter saw to me. Cleaned my wounds, sewed me up, and fed me porridge and potions until I was strong enough to ride again. And she sewed up the rents in my cloak as well, with some scarlet silk from Asshai that her grandmother had pulled from the wreck of a cog washed up on the Frozen Shore. It was the greatest treasure she had, and her gift to me.” He swept the cloak back over his shoulders. “But at the Shadow Tower, I was given a new wool cloak from stores, black and black, and trimmed with black, to go with my black breeches and black boots, my black doublet and black mail. The new cloak had no frays nor rips nor tears . . . and most of all, no red. The men of the Night’s Watch dressed in black, Ser Denys Mallister reminded me sternly, as if I had forgotten. My old cloak was fit for burning now, he said. – Jon, ASoS

Then, there’s the Kingsguard. These organizations mirror each other narratively. The Night’s Watch has Molestown. The Kingsguard have the Street of Silk. In Dorne, paramours are openly accepted. We learn of one such tale, one of Arthur’s contemporaries in fact, a fellow Dornishman and a fellow KG Prince Lewyn Martell (a tale about a DORNISH KG, who soiled his cloak, told TO a KG who is CURRENTLY soiling his cloak with a DORNISHWOMAN):

“I never had the honor to know Prince Lewyn,” Ser Arys said, “but all agree that he was a great knight.”
A great knight with a paramour. She is an old woman now, but she was a rare beauty in her youth, men say.”Prince Lewyn? That tale Ser Arys had not heard. It shocked him. Terrence Toyne’s treason and the deceits of Lucamore the Lusty were recorded in the White Book, but there was no hint of a woman on Prince Lewyn’s page. – The Soiled Knight, AFfC

(Nor on Arthur Dayne’s.)

“So do others,” suggested Gerris Drinkwater. “Naharis, for one. The queen’s …”
“… paramour,” Ser Barristan finished, before the Dornish knight could say anything that might besmirch the queen’s honor. “That is what you call them down in Dorne, is it not?” He did not wait for a reply. “Prince Lewyn was my Sworn Brother. In those days there were few secrets amongst the Kingsguard. I know he kept a paramour. He did not feel there was any shame in that.” – The Discarded Knight, ADwD

Few secrets, but not none. Barristan thinks of Rhaegar and Lyanna:

Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna, and thousands died for it. – The Kingbreaker, ADwD

We should be skeptical about Barristan’s ability to ferret out the truth in such matters. The man is a fighter, not a schemer. A warrior, not a politician. We also know Barristan was not privy to Arthur and Rhaegar’s inner circle:

I am not made for this, he reflected as he looked out over the sprawling city. The pyramids were waking, one by one, lanterns and torches flickering to life as shadows gathered in the streets below.Plots, ploys, whispers, lies, secrets within secrets, and somehow I have become part of them.

Perhaps by now he should have grown used to such things. The Red Keep had its secrets too. Even Rhaegar. The Prince of Dragonstone had never trusted him as he had trusted Arthur Dayne. Harrenhal was proof of that. The year of the false spring. – The Kingbreaker, ADwD

When it comes to matters of politics, Barristan the Bold is as dumb as a box of bricks. If he thinks Rhaegar was carrying on with Lyanna, I can almost guarantee you it isn’t true. However Barristan was close to the situation as a member of the KG, so he likely wasn’t TOTALLY off base. But if so, it begs the question, if not Rhaegar, then who?

But first, let’s turn our attention the OTHER explanations of which, there are primarily two: Rhaegar the raper and Rhaegar the prophecy obsessed madman.

“As you wish,” said Whitebeard. “As a young boy, the Prince of Dragonstone was bookish to a fault. He was reading so early that men said Queen Rhaella must have swallowed some books and a candle whilst he was in her womb. Rhaegar took no interest in the play of other children. The maesters were awed by his wits, but his father’s knights would jest sourly that Baelor the Blessed had been born again. Until one day Prince Rhaegar found something in his scrolls that changed him. No one knows what it might have been, only that the boy suddenly appeared early one morning in the yard as the knights were donning their steel. He walked up to Ser Willem Darry, the master-at-arms, and said, ‘I will require sword and armor. It seems I must be a warrior.” – Daenerys, ASoS

Well, Rhaegar seems not to be a very sensual or hedonistic person, like say, Robert Baratheon. He is also not at all brutish. The rape angle seems, frankly, impossible, and indeed like a rumor that got cooked up somewhere along the way, either by someone with an agenda, or by the Westerosi equivalent of the game telephone, where facts become more and more distorted as they pass through each person that recounts the tale.

The point is, people across the realm seemed to THINK Lyanna and Rhaegar were involved. And they certainly were. However it is logical to point out that them being in love and running off together, and him kidnapping her and raping her are not the only possible explanations for this widespread belief. It is an understandable mistake, Rhaegar DID crown her at Harrenhal over his wife. “All the smiles died.” It’s hard to interpret it any other way, and yet, there ARE logically other possible explanations. The obvious one being that someone CLOSE to Rhaegar was carrying on with Lyanna, rather than that it was the Dragon Prince himself doing the deed.

“The dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle.” – Bran, ASoS

The RLJ interpretation of this passage is well known. Rhaegar wooed Lyanna with a song, and they died happily ever after.

But, wait a tick… It’s just a song! He sang a song. She cried A LITTLE BIT. She SNIFFLED, she didn’t weep and gnash her teeth and rend her flesh with grief. She got mildly choked up that’s all.

And the song is described as sad. Rhaegar is certainly described as “sad”, “melancholy”, etc. BUT SO IS ARTHUR! TIME AND TIME AGAIN! Ned is saddened by the memory of his death, he appears to smile sadly in Ned’s dream, and in Jaime’s dream as well –

We all swore oaths,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, so sadly. – Jaime, ASoS

Arthur was sad too. That’s probably why he and Rhaegar got along so famously! They were two peas in a sad sack pod!

Hell, the song is sad. Arthur was sad. Who’s to say Arthur Dayne didn’t write that song as a surreptitious love letter (or perhaps have Rhaegar write it for him), the same way he had his buddy Rhaegar lay the crown of blue winter roses in her lap? And why? To protect his reputation as a KG sworn to celibacy by not publicly soiling his cloak. The secret admirer in the white cloak. A Dornishman seeking a paramour to call his own. He may have even got the idea from his brother in arms, fellow Dornish KG Lewyn Martell, a man who also had a paramour, as we know.

Maybe Rhaegar and Arthur both loved her. Maybe Rhaegar decided their affair wasn’t prudent and changed his mind. Maybe Rhaegar and Arthur had a falling out. OR…

Maybe Aerys, the Mad King, sought her iciness for a prophetic union or even a sacrifice. If Rhaegar knew of the prophecy (his is the song of ice and fire), it stands to reason Aerys may have known of it as well. Maybe they joined forces to rescue Lyanna from the Mad King.

The other part of this quote deals with a Rhaegar that “found something in his scrolls that changed him” and that he told Darry “It seems I must be a warrior.” I admit, the prophecy angle is harder to dismiss than the rape angle.

But, I’ll say this: Rhaegar was not mad. Quite the opposite. He was in control, thoughtful, focused, responsible.

Dany turned back to the squire. “I know little of Rhaegar. Only the tales Viserys told, and he was a little boy when our brother died. What was he truly like?”

The old man considered a moment. “Able. That above all. Determined, deliberate, dutiful, single-minded.” – Daenerys, ASoS

“Single-minded” could imply a kind of religious devotion perhaps, but he doesn’t seem like a raving prophecy obsessed lunatic at all. He seems to be quite a reasonable and well thought of man, if a bit moody.

Rhaegar crowned Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty at Harrenhal. He did that for a reason. If he did not want her for himself, and if he would not stoop to kidnapping a woman and raping her to fulfill a prophecy, then it could only be for the love of another or for politics. But the political angle doesn’t make sense.

We know Rhaegar was planning on calling a “council” and that “changes will be made.” Obviously he intended to in some way ameliorate the damage his father’s terrible mental state had been doing to the realm. But what does calling a council have to do with crowning Lyanna at a tourney? If he intended the crowning as proposing an alliance, why did the Starks take it as a provocation? And if it WAS a provocation, well, what possible cause would Rhaegar have to provoke the Starks? If anything, Rhaegar wanted peace and reconciliation. He wanted to heal the realm, not divide it further than the Mad King had already done.

If it the crowing was not political, and he did not love her, the logical answer is, someone close to him did. Someone he cared about very deeply. Someone in Rhaegar’s inner circle. So who’s in this inner circle? Barristan, while dumb, WAS there and thus was probably very aware of who the prince spent the most time with, if not what they talked about or planned.

Ser Jorah snorted. “Along with a thousand others at some harvest feast. Next you’ll claim you squired for him.”
“I make no such claim, ser. Myles Mooton was Prince Rhaegar’s squire, and Richard Lonmouth after him. When they won their spurs, he knighted them himself, and they remained his close companions. Young Lord Connington was dear to the prince as well, but his oldest friend was Arthur Dayne.“”The Sword of the Morning!” said Dany, delighted. “Viserys used to talk about his wondrous white blade. He said Ser Arthur was the only knight in the realm who was our brother’s peer.” – Daenerys, ASoS

So, let’s go down the list, shall we?

Jon Connington – His affections for Rhaegar are hard to deny… We’re barking up the wrong tree here.

Myles Mooton – Slain at the Battle of the Bells. The time line is murky, but it’s hard to father anybody when you’re dead. But he’s a young squire, it’s hard to imagine a young boy inspiring much passion in Lyanna.

Richard Lonmouth – Mooton’s replacement. Also a young squire. Same thing.

Arthur Dayne – Ser Rhaegar’s only peer and best, oldest friend.. A man grown. The finest knight in the realm. A Kingsguard knight sworn to celibacy. A Dornishman, who, if seeking a paramour (as Dornishmen are wont to do) would not be able to do so openly.

Bingo. Thus we cast Arthur in the role of Cyrano de Bergerac, and Rhaegar as Christian de Neuvillette “appearing” to woo Lyanna Stark (as Roxane) while her true love is waiting in the wings.

So, what evidence is there? Where’s the beef?

Part 2: Fever

They were seven, facing three. In the dream as it had been in life. Yet these were no ordinary three. They waited before the round tower, the red mountains of Dorne at their backs, their white cloaks blowing in the wind. And these were no shadows; their faces burned clear, even now. Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, had a sad smile on his lips. The hilt of the greatsword Dawn poked up over his right shoulder. – Eddard AGoT

“I swore an oath to keep him safe,” she said to Rhaegar’s shade. “I swore a holy oath.”

“We all swore oaths,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, so sadly. – Jaime, ASoS

Oaths of celibacy?

And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.” As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death. – Eddard, AGoT

Lyanna screams as Ned and Arthur begin their dance. Although the dream is not necessarily literal, this does seem to imply a connection between the two events in Ned’s mind. A connection between Lyanna pleading and him fighting Arthur to the death. The dream also features the image of a “storm of rose petals… as blue as the eyes of death” blowing across “a blood streaked sky”. If the blue winter rose petals represent Lyanna, the northern maiden flower plucked from the glass gardens at Winterfell, what does the blood streaked sky represent? Well, there’s this:

Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.

Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals the thorns lay hidden. He felt them clawing at his skin, sharp and cruel, saw the slow trickle of blood run down his fingers, and woke, trembling, in the dark. – Eddard, AGoT

Hidden love?

Jaime had laid his sword across the Warrior’s knees, piled his armor at his feet, and knelt upon the rough stone floor before the altar. When dawn came his knees were raw and bloody. “All knights must bleed, Jaime,” Ser Arthur Dayne had said, when he saw. “Blood is the seal of our devotion.” With dawn he tapped him on the shoulder; the pale blade was so sharp that even that light touch cut through Jaime’s tunic, so he bled anew. He never felt it. – Jaime, AFfC

Arthur says “blood is the seal of our devotion.” Reminiscent of “Across a blood streaked sky”.

“Devotion” often has a romantic connotation, IE he was a “devoted husband” or she was a “devoted wife”.

Also, “he never felt it.” Why does that phrase sound so familiar?

Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold … – Jon, ADwD

And why is Arthur Dayne so sad? Could it be because he feels he bears responsibility for all that has happened? Why would he feel so unless it were true? Also there’s seems to be a great fondness between Ned and Arthur. Years later, the memory of his death makes Ned viscerally sad:

The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.” Father had gotten sad then, and he would say no more. Bran wished he had asked him what he meant. – Bran, ACoK

This strange, deep fondness would make a lot of sense if Arthur was the father of Ned’s sister’s baby and Ned had to kill him.

As far as a possible attraction between the White Sword and the Wolf Maid it’s possible they met at Harrenhal. They were both there. We don’t have any direct evidence they interacted, but their natures are intriguingly similar.

“Ah, Arya. 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.” Arya heard sadness in his voice; he did not often speak of his father, or of the brother and sister who had died before she was born. “Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.” – Arya, AGoT

Lyanna liked to fight. She was wild. And she had a chivalrous streak too. She fights to defend the underdog, the little crannogman Howland Reed at the tourney, too weak and small to defend himself against younger, bigger squires:

“None offered a name, but he marked their faces well so he could revenge himself upon them later. They shoved him down every time he tried to rise, and kicked him when he curled up on the ground.But then they heard a roar. ‘That’s my father’s man you’re kicking,’ howled the she-wolf.” – Bran, ASoS

(And of course, we know Jon looks like Arya. Therefore Jon looks like Lyanna too.)

What about Arthur? Did he like to fight? Yes. Was he wild? Yes:

he’d held his own against the Smiling Knight, though it was Ser Arthur who slew him. What a fight that was, and what a foe. The Smiling Knight was a madman, cruelty and chivalry all jumbled up together, but he did not know the meaning of fear. And Dayne, with Dawn in hand . . . The outlaw’s longsword had so many notches by the end that Ser Arthur had stopped to let him fetch a new one. “It’s that white sword of yours I want,” the robber knight told him as they resumed, though he was bleeding from a dozen wounds by then. “Then you shall have it, ser,” the Sword of the Morning replied, and made an end of it. – ASoS, Jaime

He had the Smiling Knight on the ropes, one of the most dangerous outlaws in the seven kingdoms, and he let him REPLACE his BROKEN SWORD? Is he nuts? Arthur Dayne sounds more like Brandon than Ned. Wolf blood indeed.

And yet, he, too, possessed a chivalrous streak and a fondness for the underdog, the little guy:

“If you want their help, you need to make them love you. That was how Arthur Dayne did it, when we rode against the Kingswood Brotherhood. He paid the smallfolk for the food we ate, brought their grievances to King Aerys, expanded the grazing lands around their villages, even won them the right to fell a certain number of trees each year and take a few of the king’s deer during the autumn. The forest folk had looked to Toyne to defend them, but Ser Arthur did more for them than the Brotherhood could ever hope to do, and won them to our side. After that, the rest was easy.” – Jaime, AFfC

There’s an interesting parallel here between Arthur’s kindness kindness towards the “forest folk” and Jon’s kindness towards the the “free folk” as well.

The only question that remains in my mind is then, why hide Jon’s true identity?

Well, once again the answer is rather simple. We don’t know what Arthur Dayne looked like. The Daynes ARE NOT VALYRIAN. THEY ARE FIRST MEN. But strangely, we DO know that the Daynes possess Valyrian (or rather Valyrian LIKE) features or hereditary traits.

Arthur’s sister Ashara had purple eyes. Edric Dayne, the lord of Starfall, has “big blue eyes” “so dark” “they almost look purple”. And his hair is “pale blond” “more ash than honey”.

(ash is gray/silver of course)

And there’s Darkstar. A member of the cadet branch of House Dayne of High Hermitage, who possesses silver hair streaked with black and dark purple eyes. This makes sense, as he is a more distant relation and thus possesses similar, but darker and more Dornish, features, like a mongrel Dayne.

We don’t know what Arthur looked like. He may or may not have had these characteristics. But even if he did not, he could certainly pass them along (similar to how a Dornish looking Targaryen can have a silver haired, purple eyed child and vice versa).

If the rumor had spread that Rhaegar or Aerys had taken Lyanna or run off with her, but really it was Arthur she was in love with, it would make sense that Lyanna would fear that people would mistake her possibly Dayneish looking child as a Targaryen, and therefore a threat to Robert’s new reign.

He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. – Eddard, AGoT

So, she was fevered and delirious. She’s likely dying hours or days after from the trauma of the birth, hence the setting in of the fever. This is known as a puerperal fever or “childbed fever”. From Wikipedia:

“Historically, puerperal fever was a devastating disease. It affected women within the first three days after childbirth and progressed rapidly, causing acute symptoms of severe abdominal pain, fever and debility.”

(Debility means weakness. Just like how “the fever had taken her strength”).

Also important to remember: A newborn’s appearance is not always apparent or set in stone. Babies are often born with blue eyes that change color as they get older. And babies are sometimes born without hair, and hair can change color over time too. So even if Lyanna had seen her child, there’s no guarantee she would know what it would look like as it got older. Thus her fear that it may grow up and look like a Targaryen, and hence be threatened by forces loyal to King Robert.

Jon’s obviously Stark-ish appearance must have been quite a relief to Ned. And now of Jon’s parentage, none is the wiser. For now.

Part 3: The Heart of Dawn

I’ll also point out that after Lyanna’s death (and Jon’s birth), Ned returns Arthur Dayne’s greatsword Dawn back to its ancestral home of Starfall.

I can’t help but think of this gesture as a token of love and grief and mourning from Ned to his Nephew’s father. And of course, to visit his dear Ashara, whom he very well may have been enamored of.

Though even this rumor is dubious. Perhaps Ned let it fester around Winterfell on purpose, in case Jon did take on the appearance of a silver haired and/or purple eyed Dayne. It would make a convenient cover story to be sure. Ned even snaps at Cat in an uncharacteristic rage when confronted about the Ashara rumor. An effective way to make it seem as if he had no part in allowing or even perpetuating the rumor than Ned + Ashara = Jon, which, again, is the perfect cover story for Jon’s possible Dayne-ish or “psuedo-Targaryen” appearance.

Ned may have even turned her down, may have been the one who broke her heart:

Ned looked wary. Maybe he was afraid that she was going to throw something at him. “Your lord father never spoke of her?” he said. “The Lady Ashara Dayne, of Starfall?
“No. Did he know her?
Before Robert was king. She met your father and his brothers at Harrenhal, during the year of the false spring.”
“Oh.” Arya did not know what else to say. “Why did she jump in the sea, though?”
Her heart was broken.”
Sansa would have sighed and shed a tear for true love, but Arya just thought it was stupid. She couldn’t say that to Ned, though, not about his own aunt. “Did someone break it?
He hesitated. “Perhaps it’s not my place . . .”- Arya, ASoS

So what are we left with? Two men who inadvertently killed each others’ sisters.

They even killed them with metaphorical swords. In Westeros, “sword” is often used as euphemism for penis. Arthur killed her with his “sword” when she died from the trauma of the birth. And Ned drove Ashara to suicide when she jumped from the tower at Starfall called the “Palestone Sword”.

Presumably Ashara committed suicide from the grief that either:

1) Ned killed Arthur

AND/OR

2) Because she “turned to” him after being dishonored at Harrenhal and either A) The baby was Ned’s and she miscarried his daughter OR B) The baby belonged to the one who dishonored her. So, she went to Ned seeking solace and he rejected her.

Ned and Arthur were driven to fight to the death by a war that they had helped cause. (For some reason this reminds me of the tale of Erryk and Arryk, the famed KG twins who died upon each others’ blades.) A war of two lost loves which brought death and destruction and woe down upon the hills, barrows, and wilds of Westeros, shattering the realm into death and disarray.

And what is left? Naught but Jon Snow, the Sword of the Mourning, clad in funereal black, son of the white star and white sword, Ser Arthur Dayne, his snow white cloak streaming sadly from his shoulders. Like father, like son, Jon is a Dornish member of a martial organization sworn to celibacy who forswore his vow to take a paramour, a wild northern beauty. Jon is the son of winter, the child of death, grief incarnate. A symbol of everything that’s gone wrong in Westeros: Love.

Of all the bright cruel lies they tell you, the crudest one is called love.” – The Meathouse Man by George R.R. Martin

So, Arthur Dayne is the the greatest knight of his day. Who is the greatest knight of all time?

And the Dragonknight?” She flung the bedclothes aside and swung her legs to the floor.

The noblest knight who ever lived, you said, and he took his queen to bed and got her with child.
I will not believe that,” he said, offended. “The tale of Prince Aemon’s treason with Queen Naerys was only that, a tale, a lie his brother told when he wished to set his trueborn son aside in favor of his bastard. Aegon was not called the Unworthy without cause.

He found his swordbelt and buckled it around his waist. Though it looked queer against the silken Dornish undertunic, the familiar weight of longsword and dagger reminded him of who and what he was. “I will not be remembered as Ser Arys the Unworthy,” he declared. “I will not soil my cloak.” – The Soiled Knight, AFfC

And yet, Ser Arys succumbed the temptations of the flesh like so many sworn brothers before him.

The Dragonknight is revered as a hero in the Seven Kingdoms. Aegon the Unworthy is reviled. Of course no one wants to believe that it was the Dragonknight who’s infidelity was chiefly responsible for all the bloodshed of the Blackfyre rebellions. And yet, the evidence is hard to ignore.

“Prince Aemon the Dragonknight cried the day Princess Naerys wed his brother Aegon,” Sansa Stark said.” – Tyrion, ACoK

The Dragonknight once won a tourney as the Knight of Tears, so he could name his sister the queen of love and beauty in place of the king’s mistress.” Bran, ASoS

He sang ofthe Dragonknight and his love for his brother’s queen, of Nymeria’s ten thousand ships. They were beautiful songs, but terribly sad.” Sansa, ACoK

A sad song indeed. A tale of a KG who’s forbidden love caused the devastating Blackfyre rebellion to rage throughout the Seven Kingdoms. How could a knight so highly revered as Aemon the Dragonknight, a man who has innumerable songs written about his unimpeachable valor, have fucked up everything so badly?

And how could Arthur Dayne, the finest knight Ned Stark ever saw, a man (like the fabled hero Lancelot) that was revered by every one who ever so much as heard his name, have done the same? How could he have soiled his cloak and accidentally set off Robert’s Rebellion?

ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING!

The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn,forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.” Father had gotten sad then, and he would say no more.Bran wished he had asked him what he meant. – Bran, ACoK

Dawn forged from THE HEART of a FALLEN STAR.

A fallen (white?) star? Sounds like Arthur Dayne. The White Sword and the Black Brother.

Jon wished he understood what they were talking about, and why. What did he care about ravens and doves? If the old man has something to say to him, why can’t he just say it?

Jon, did you ever wonder why the men of the Night’s Watch take no wives and father no children?” Maester Aemon asked.

Jon shrugged. “No.” He scattered more meat. The fingers of his left hand were slimy with blood, and his right throbbed from the weight of the bucket.

So they will not love,” the old man answered, “for love is the bane of honor, the death of duty.” – Jon, AGoT

Ravens and doves. Black and white. Celibacy oaths. Blood.

Another clue, linking Jaime, Ned, Jon, Arthur, fidelity, celibacy, cloaks, oaths and blood:

“That name again. I don’t think I’ll fuck you after all, Littlefinger had you first, didn’t he? I never eat off another man’s trencher. Besides, you’re not half so lovely as my sister.” His smile cut. “I’ve never lain with any woman but Cersei. In my own way, I have been truer to her than your Ned ever was. Poor old dead Ned. So who has shit for honor now, I ask you? What was the name of that bastard he fathered?”Catelyn took a step backward. “Brienne.””No, that wasn’t it.” Jaime Lannister upended his flagon. A trickle ran onto his face, bright as blood. “Snow, that was the one. Such a white namelike the pretty cloaks they give us in the Kingsguard when we swear our pretty oaths.” – Catelyn, ACoK

One last parting quote:

“There was an Arthur Dayne,” Myrcella said. “He was a knight of the Kingsguard in the days of Mad King Aerys.”

“He was the Sword of the Morning. He is dead.”…

As she led the princess to the fire, Arianne found Ser Gerold behind her. “My House goes back ten thousand years, unto the dawn of days,” he complained. “Why is it that my cousin is the only Dayne that anyone remembers?”
“He was a great knight,” Ser Arys Oakheart put in.
“He had a great sword,” Darkstar said.

And a great heart.” – The Queenmaker, AFfC

THE END

Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon

R+L=J
By: Kingmonkey

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So here we have it. Jon’s parents were Rhaegar and Lyanna. R+L=J. The Mother of All Theories, the über-theory, the ur-formula and trope namer, without which there would be no x+y=z threads. This is not heresy, it’s orthodoxy.

One of the problems for making the R+L=J case is that it there is simply too much data, and much of it is noise. When people pore over the text, examining every sentence for possible hints to R+L=J, they will inevitably find them everywhere. We are very good at finding patterns and no doubt much of the evidence that has been used to support R+L=J is no more than literary pareidolia, the tendency to see significance wherever we look for it. We see R+L=J all over ASOIAF, just as we see faces in clouds. For this essay I will therefore start by going back to basics. R+L=J stands on its own. It does not need the elaborations that have been heaped on it, and they tend to act as distraction. Such concepts as protect vs. obey, or the marriage of R&L, or King Jon etc., are ancillary to the theory of R+L=J. They may add to the discussion, but they are not necessary to the theory. I will avoid these extras as much as possible, and concentrate on finding the baseline of evidence that makes R+L=J by far the most likely possibility.

Back to the beginning

This is not CSI: Westeros. In these close studies of the text, it’s easy to think we are looking for historical clues rather than understanding a literary work. Do you remember what it was like to read A Game of Thrones the first time, unsullied? We, experienced students of the text, find it easy to forget that each clue we pick out is not a piece of a jigsaw-puzzle, but is given to us in a specific order. The order has meaning. Martin is telling a story, and the craft of the storyteller is to build a construction of ideas, to channel the assumptions and the feelings of the reader from start to finish.

The piecemeal approach to these theories means we’re leaving some of the most important data on the cutting-room floor. We look at the words, without considering the context. When do we first get a particular piece of information, and what did we know prior to that which illuminates it? On first reading, A Game of Thrones is packed with so many characters it’s hard to keep track. Martin uses standard techniques of storytelling to build up the image we have of those characters, and to weave the story he wishes to tell.

The first 13 chapters of A Game of Thrones function as an Act 1. They introduce us to House Stark, and to the core dynamics that lead to the events of the series. They take us to the start of the voyage, when Ned and co. head south, while Jon heads north. What Martin tells us in this opening act, and the way he tells it, is fundamental to the story he’s telling..

Martin uses a range of well-understood literary techniques to weave his narrative. For example, he paces the introduction of characters carefully. He avoids leaving too long between appearances of any of the important characters, and he often builds up our understanding of characters by introducing them in stages. Thus for example we first meet Ned as a distant father figure in Bran’s chapter 1, before seeing a much more intimate view of him in Cat’s chapter 2. Then we get into his head in his own PoV chapter 4. Had we started with chapter 4, he wouldn’t have the sense of distant authority that chapter one grants him. The way we are introduced to the core mysteries of the book is similar – we get a small reference to prime us to be aware there’s something important going on, then some background, then the detail. When presenting so much material to the reader, this technique of reinforcement ensures the important stuff stays with the reader. Any writer or literary critic will see all of this very clearly in that opening act — it’s textbook stuff.

I will jump straight to the conclusions, because the full analysis is big. If you want to see how I draw the following conclusions, read the appendix. Be warned, it’s big.

Ned and Jon are active participants in 5 chapters, while nobody else is in more than 3. Jon is discussed when not present more than anyone else – only Bran comes close. He’s obviously important, yet when the action starts, he’s effectively exiled from the story. The main storyline of the first couple of books (first book, in Martin’s original trilogy concept) is the game of thrones between Stark and Lannister. We get to see Jon’s frustration in sitting this out, effectively exiled from events. To paraphrase Aemon, the boy must be killed and the man born before Jon’s real role in the story can play out.

The next thing to observe is that we’ve been given two “whodunnits”. There is the death of Jon Arryn, which makes up the main thrust of Ned’s journey in the south. The second one is less obvious, as it doesn’t have a murder mystery to flag “whodunnit” in big red letters. This is the mystery of Jon (Snow’s) birth. The first mystery is for the journey south, the second for the journey north. Martin never presents this second mystery as being a mystery to be solved like Jon Arryn’s death, yet it gets more attention. The question of Jon’s birth is raised directly twice, once by Cat and once by Robert, and indirectly by Arya (questioning her parentage because she looks like Jon), Benjen (“Jon felt anger rise inside him. ‘I’m not your son!’ Benjen Stark stood up. ‘More’s the pity.'”) and twice by Tyrion (“Some woman, no doubt” and “Whoever his mother had been.”

These two separate whodunnits are played out very differently. The first is the subject of Ned’s investigations in King’s Landing, while the second, never presented as being a whodunnit, is left to the reader to solve. As well as the two whodunnits, we’re left with a bit of an enigma: Rhaegar and Lyanna. At first this seems like background detail, but Martin uses the aforementioned pattern of reinforcement to clue us in that it is important. In this opening 13 chapter act, Rhaegar’s name crops up 10 times over 3 chapters, and Lyanna’s 9 over 3 chapters. Jon Arryn is ostensibly the key mystery of the book, yet they get as much attention as he does – and at this point in the story, it’s all very vague. We don’t yet know what happened to Lyanna, so we’re primed to want to learn more. The clues to Lyanna’s fate, just like the clues to the overt mystery of Jon Arryn’s, unfold with the narrative.

We are invited to consider Jon’s appearance. Jon is first described in chapter 1, contrasting him to Robb. Most characters get a single introductory description, yet Jon’s appearance is discussed again in chapter 5, again in 6, again in 7 and again in 13, each time in relation to his parentage. Why would Martin keep telling us that Jon looks like Ned? You don’t have to be particularly genre – savvy to start wondering whether Jon is Ned’s son at all. Telling us once or twice would have been enough. Repeating it invites us to question it. On the other hand, how can Jon not be Ned’s son if he so clearly looks like Jon?

We are given hint as to a possible solution. Jon has Ned’s look, but he isn’t the only one to have Ned’s look. Arya does too. This doesn’t yet get us very far, as Arya is Ned’s daughter. There’s a subtler clue too.

Ned: “Ned turned away from them to gaze out the window, his long face silent and thoughtful.” ch.6
Arya and Jon: “It would have been easier if Arya had been a bastard, like their half brother Jon. She even looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the Starks, and nothing of their lady mother in her face or her coloring.” ch.7
Rickard Stark: “Lord Rickard Stark, Ned’s father, had a long, stern face. ” ch.4
We even have: “A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful.” – ch.2

Does Jon really have Ned’s face, or is it simply the face of Winterfell, the Stark face? In chapter 6 we had “‘Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.'” — Ned calls Jon hisblood, not specifically his son. Benjen’s son then, despite the “More’s the pity” line and the omission of a “long face” description for him? Brandon, who we know little about? Or could Tyrion’s “Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son” comment be an ironic reversal (from Tyrion? Surely not!) because really he got his features from Lyanna? After all, she keeps being mentioned for no clear reason. We know she died mysteriously in Ned’s presence somewhere in the south, just before Ned mysteriously acquired a motherless bastard son somewhere in the south, despite this apparently being out of character for Ned.

These possibilities all raise a question we have no answer for as yet. If it were any of these three, why not say so? Why would Ned be lying to his wife, who’s obviously hurt by Jon’s presence? Why would he pretend to have done something dishonourable? “I dishonored myself and I dishonored Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men,” he tells Robert. Why the qualifier “in the sight of gods and men”?

For all her resentment of Jon, Cat doesn’t seem to be too aware of the dishonour. “Many men fathered bastards. Catelyn had grown up with that knowledge. It came as no surprise to her, in the first year of her marriage, to learn that Ned had fathered a child on some girl chance met on campaign. (…) He was welcome to whatever solace he might find between battles.” That phrase “in the sight of gods and men” comes up in two other contexts. One is marriage, but the other is confession. “…let my truth or falsehood be judged openly, in the sight of gods and men,” Tyrion says in ch.38. Is Ned’s dishonour that he falsely confessed?

2. The trail of breadcrumbs

As the story progresses, Ned chips away at the mystery of Arryn’s death. The second hidden whodunnit is left to the reader to chip away at, with hints scattered through the text. This section will deal with those hints. It could be much larger, but others have picked the text apart looking for every little clue, and that’s not the point here.

During the journey to Winterfell, we get a slightly obscure connection to the Lyanna story. Sansa thinks about Arya, repeating Arya’s own thoughts from a few chapters previously that she looks like Jon. Just like Arya did, she questions Arya’s parentage due to the similarity. Sansa thinks that Arya “looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the Starks, and nothing of their lady mother in her face or her coloring.” This closely parallels Tyrion’s comment that “Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in [Jon].

We also discover that Arya is rather wild and tomboyish, but like Lyanna she has a thing for flowers. When Joffrey and Sansa find Arya practising sword-fighting with Mycah, we get a parallel that won’t be apparent for two more books. Arya defends Mycah, an innocent northerner, against a Joffrey, a bullying young southerner, by attacking him with a stick she’s using as a training sword. Lyanna did the same thing at Harrenhal, defending an innocent northerner (Howland) from the three bullying southern squires, by attacking them with a wooden training sword. Another parallel we won’t get for a while is that Lyanna and Arya are both excellent horsewomen.

A few chapters later, Ned speaks to Arya, still dealing with the consequences of this event, and we get some telling material.

AGoT ch.22 said:

 “Ah, Arya. 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.” Arya heard sadness in his voice; he did not often speak of his father, or of the brother and sister who had died before she was born. “Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.”

Arya looks like Lyanna. Jon looks like Arya. All three look like Ned. The puzzle of Jon’s looks, which has been brought up again and again, has a solution. Arya has the characteristic Stark look Lyanna had, despite Lyanna not being her mother, because she got it from Ned. Jon has the characteristic Stark look that Ned had, despite Ned not being his father, because he got it from Lyanna. It’s a poetic symmetry – Arya and Jon are alike. Arya is described as looking like Jon’s mother, Jon is described as looking like Arya’s father.

Joffrey too looks like only one of his parents, and we will soon learn that his parentage is not what we thought it was, either. That gives Ned the key to that first mystery. We should not be too surprised that Jon looking like only one of his parents is a clue to his own secret parentage, and that’s the key to the second of those two initial mysteries.

 AGoT said:
Arya made a face. “Not if Joffrey’s his father,” she said. “He’s a liar and a craven and anyhow he’s a stag, not a lion.”

Sansa felt tears in her eyes. “He is not! He’s not the least bit like that old drunken king,” she screamed at her sister, forgetting herself in her grief.Father looked at her strangely. “Gods,” he swore softly, “out of the mouth of babes . . . ”

Arya & Sansa’s focus on Joffrey’s appearance is what clues Ned into the relevance Joff’s looks have on his true parentage. So too, their focus on Jon’s appearance tells the reader about Jon’s true parentage. Both “reveals” come from understanding the truth behind Arya and Sansa’s naive observations about appearance.

“We all lie,” Ned tells Arya, answering any reader who might think that Ned is too honourable to ever lie. It’s just that the circumstances must be right. For example, you can lie with honour when you are trying to save the life of a wolf pup from vengeful royals.

 AGoT ch.22 said:
She whined and looked at me and I felt so ‘shamed, but it was right, wasn’t it? The queen would have killed her.”

“It was right,” her father said. “And even the lie was . . . not without honor.”

A couple of chapters prior, Lyanna enters Ned’s thoughts in a peculiar way. He learns of Bran’s wolf saving his son’s life, and he can’t help worrying that he’d committed some great “folly” in killing Lady. Then we have a very important paragraph:

AGoT ch.20 said:

 “If the queen had a role in this or, gods forbid, the king himself . . . no, I will not believe that.” Yet even as he said the words, he remembered that chill morning on the barrowlands, and Robert’s talk of sending hired knives after the Targaryen princess. He remembered Rhaegar’s infant son, the red ruin of his skull, and the way the king had turned away, as he had turned away in Darry’s audience hall not so long ago. He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once.

In the context of the Lannisters trying to have a Stark child (Bran) killed, he thinks of Robert’s willingness to kill Targaryen children. Then he remembers Sansa pleading for Lady’s life, as Lyanna had once pleaded. What’s the connection?

Way back in chapter 4, we had Lyanna’s “Promise me” first mentioned, and here it is again. It comes up a lot more in the rest of Ned’s chapters; this is something that preys on him, 14 years on.

AGoT ch.4 said:

“I was with her when she died,” Ned reminded the king. “She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father.” He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes.

The promise being mentioned immediately after the mention of Lyanna requesting her body be sent home makes us assume that is what she asked Ned to promise. Now we have some more context, it’s time to re-evaluate that promise that is so reminiscent of Sansa pleading for the life of her pup. Lyanna’s plea – directly likened to Sansa’s – must in some way match Sansa’s.

Ned’s memory is triggered by the thought of the Lannisters, and potentially Robert, as a threat to Stark and Targaryen children. He is reminded of the Lannisters killing Rhaegar’s son, and how Robert had “turned away”, just as he turned away from the killing of Sansa’s pup. So if Lyanna, like Sansa, was pleading with Ned to save her “pup”, was that a Stark or a Targaryen child? Or indeed both?

Some time later we get:

 AGoT ch.45 said:
 Ned thought, If it came to that, the life of some child I did not know, against Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon, what would I do? Even more so, what would Catelyn do, if it were Jon’s life, against the children of her body? He did not know. He prayed he never would.

Why limit his list to Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon? He names them and does not name Jon. Take note of the way Martin lists the children – “Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon”. Using “and” rather than a comma is an unusually precise stylistic choice that emphasises the fact that it’s a list in the readers mind. Martin could easily have written “against my children”, but chose instead to have Ned enumerate his children in this unusually precise fashion – and omit Jon from that list. It’s hard to see how Martin could have more clearly told us that Jon is not Ned’s son without spoiling the puzzle by saying so outright.

Ned’s second thought tells us something more. Ned has not simply forgotten Jon, because he’s mentioned next. The construction “Even more so” indicates that this comparison – Jon against the life of Catelyn’s children – must be more relevant. How, we might ask, would Jon be a threat to Catelyn’s children?

AGoT ch.30 said:

 Cersei could not have been pleased by her lord husband’s by-blows, yet in the end it mattered little whether the king had one bastard or a hundred. Law and custom gave the baseborn few rights. Gendry, the girl in the Vale, the boy at Storm’s End, none of them could threaten Robert’s trueborn children.

What we see here is that at least according to Ned’s own thinking, a bastard son of Ned would not be a threat to Catelyn’s children. It’s true that Cat herself is not so convinced, as we learn when Robb suggests making Jon her heir. However Ned, perhaps naively, doesn’t think that way. Thus, if Jon is Ned’s son, his thought makes no sense.

Let’s concentrate on that “Even more so” conjunction: what could make this example more similar? In Cersei’s mind, Bran had to die because alive he represented a risk that Robert would find out that he’d been deceived on a question parentage, and her children’s future would be at risk if he found out. What circumstance can we imagine where Jon represented a risk that Robert might find out that he’d been deceived on a question of parentage, and where Cat’s children’s future would be at risk if he did? It’s hard to imagine much that would come between Ned and Robert. In fact, there’s only one thing that we see coming between them, causing real anger every time it’s raised, one genuinely hard-to-reconcile difference, and that’s Robert’s desire to see the Targaryen line extinguished, even if it means killing children.

AGoT ch.12 said:
 “I see no babes. Only dragonspawn.” Not even Jon Arryn had been able to calm that storm. Eddard Stark had ridden out that very day in a cold rage, to fight the last battles of the war alone in the south. It had taken another death to reconcile them; Lyanna’s death, and the grief they had shared over her passing.

That first mention of a promise, when Ned tells us she wanted to come home, doesn’t fit with what we later learn. It doesn’t make sense that Ned would be so consumed by the memory of such a promise that he keeps thinking about it, or that it would keep him awake at night.

AGoT ch.35 said:

 “He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them.”

Here we see that the promises are plural. Maybe one of them was about taking her bones back to Winterfell, but there was more than one promise, and Ned paid a price to keep them. What price has Ned paid? We know that he’s hurt about having dishonoured himself and Cat, but that can only be relevant if he “dishonoured her” by doing something he promised to Lyanna. If we believe that Jon really is Ned’s son, then that “dishonour” he did to Cat has nothing to do with his promises or the price he paid to keep them. We know that Jon Snow’s presence at Winterfell causes friction between himself and Cat. We know that “Troubled sleep was no stranger to him. He had lived his lies for fourteen years, yet they still haunted him at night. ” Unless there is something Ned has suffered that we have been given no indication of, the price he paid for keeping his promises to Lyanna must relate to having to lie, and/or to Jon Snow’s presence at Winterfell.

3. X+L=J

All of this comes together in Chapter 39, when Ned has his famous dream. “He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood. ” For some readers, this will be a “Bingo!” moment. Some of us will look at that odd phrase “bed of blood” and immediately think that means childbirth. Some of us have to wait.

AGoT ch.61 said:

 “Before,” Dany said to the ugly Lhazareen woman, “I heard you speak of birthing songs . . . “

“I know every secret of the bloody bed, Silver Lady, nor have I ever lost a babe,” Mirri Maz Duur replied.

There’s a near repeat of the phrase, and the context is clear. The secrets of the bloody bed are about birthing. In Dany’s next chapter, we have a near repeat – remember the concept of reinforcement and clarification in storytelling. Martin draws our attention to the explanation of this phrase by repeating it. He wants us to understand it.

AGoT ch.64 said:
 “The Lamb Woman knows the secrets of the birthing bed,” Irri said. “She said so, I heard her.”

Just in case we’re still confused, Martin repeats this phrase pair in A Feast for Crows – first a “bed of blood”, then a “birthing bed”. Again, repetition reinforces the idea.

AFfC ch.1 said:

 That was the way of this cold world, where men fished the sea and dug in the ground and died, whilst women brought forth short-lived children from beds of blood and pain. […]]No woman could defeat him, not even Asha; women were made to fight their battles in the birthing bed.

The conclusion is clear: while Ned was with her, or shortly before, Lyanna gave birth.

I am going to save the trouble of doing any long analysis of time-lines here, because it’s been done perfectly well many times before. To cut to the chase, Dany was born almost nine months after the fall of King’s Landing, and Jon was born 8-9 months before that. We have Martin’s own word on this. We know that Lyanna was abducted about a year before the sack of King’s Landing, and that Ned reached the Tower of Joy shortly after the sack of King’s Landing. What this tells us is that Jon was born about the time Ned reached the Tower of Joy, when Lyanna was in her birthing bed.

Given the timeline and all the above clues, it would be mighty coincidental if Jon, with all those reasons to believe he’s not Ned’s son but is the son of a Stark, isn’t the child that Lyanna bore at the time when Jon was being born. In fact I would say we’ve got so much reason to believe that Jon is Lyanna’s son that anything else would leave an enormously smelly red herring. To gratuitously abuse a popular phrase, for Martin to write anyone other than Lyanna as Jon’s mother would be a serious case of “jumping the Stark”.

4. Who’s your daddy, and what does he do?

Having established Lyanna as Jon’s mother, we immediately have a candidate for Jon’s father. For a start, Lyanna became pregnant after her abduction. This doesn’t conclusively limit the possible fathers to the men we know were involved with that abduction, but anything else would take some explaining. Rhaegar was the one who decided to abduct her, and most people seem to be under the impression he wanted to get into her knickers. Robert believes Rhaegar raped her; Viserys told Dany that Rhaegar died “for the woman he loved”. We heard that in chapter 2, far too early for it to mean anything to us at the time, but if we go back and look things over, it’s hard to see how the woman he died for could have been anyone but Lyanna. He certainly didn’t die for Elia. Before a debate starts – we don’t actually have to believe that Rhaegar & Lyanna fell in love. As it happens I suspect that they did, but the evidence is not certain, and more importantly irrelevant to the discussions. We are given two contrary stories – the woman he loved or the woman he raped – and both can result in pregnancy. As could something in between.

From a pure story-telling perspective, we’ve seen Lyanna associated with Rhaegar from the beginning, and we’ve already seen a number of hints that point to Rhaegar. There’s the “Even more so” example of Jon vs. Cat during the Ned/Cersei exchange discussed above. There’s Sansa’s pleading, which reminds Ned of Lyanna’s pleas when he thinks of the death of Rhaegar’s children, and that one’s worth repeating:

AGoT ch.20 said:
 He remembered Rhaegar’s infant son, the red ruin of his skull, and the way the king had turned away, as he had turned away in Darry’s audience hall not so long ago. He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once.

It’s good, but it’s not enough. Let’s look for more. Ned’s visit to the brothel, to see one of Robert’s bastards, is a particularly interesting scene.

AGoT ch.35 said:
“Tell him that when you see him, milord, as it . . . as it please you. Tell him how beautiful she is.”

“I will,” Ned had promised her. That was his curse. Robert would swear undying love and forget them before evenfall, but Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them.[…] Good to you, Ned thought hollowly. “I will tell him, child, and I promise you, Barra shall not go wanting.”She had smiled then, a smile so tremulous and sweet that it cut the heart out of him. Riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him, so like a younger version of his own. If the gods frowned so on bastards, he thought dully, why did they fill men with such lusts? “Lord Baelish, what do you know of Robert’s bastards?”[…]”Why would Jon Arryn take a sudden interest in the king’s baseborn children?”The short man gave a sodden shrug. “He was the King’s Hand. Doubtless Robert asked him to see that they were provided for.”Ned was soaked through to the bone, and his soul had grown cold. “It had to be more than that, or why kill him?”Littlefinger shook the rain from his hair and laughed. “Now I see. Lord Arryn learned that His Grace had filled the bellies of some whores and fishwives, and for that he had to be silenced. Small wonder. Allow a man like that to live, and next he’s like to blurt out that the sun rises in the east.”There was no answer Ned Stark could give to that but a frown. For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen. He wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels; somehow he thought not.

“Barra shall not go wanting”, Ned promises, and the promise he makes here remind him of his promises to Lyanna. The next thing Ned thinks of is Jon Snow. Jon, of course, is (at least so we are told) a bastard, so surely it’s not too surprising that he’d think of Jon in the context of visiting Robert’s bastard. Is it just a coincidence that Martin puts it right after Ned making a promise to protect someone else’s bastard though? Ned thinks of Jon while “riding through the rainy night”. We might expect that previous line about the mother’s smile to be in the previous paragraph, allowing the paragraph break to take us through this jump forwards in the narrative, yet it does not. The mother’s smile, which “cut the heart out of him” remains in his thoughts after he’s left the brothel, and leads him to think about Jon Snow. Why would that smile have such an effect on Ned?

 AGoT ch.4 said:
 Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black.

Ned and Littlefinger have a discussion about Robert’s bastards, and then we have a sudden segue in his thoughts to Rhaegar. Some use this line to object to R+L=J. Why, if he’s raising Rhaegar’s son, would Rhaegar not enter his thoughts in years? Wrong question.

AGoT ch.33 said:
Suddenly, uncomfortably, he found himself recalling Rhaegar Targaryen.
 AGoT ch.35 said:
 For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen.

As it turns out, Ned last remembered Rhaegar in his previous chapter. How on earth can we make sense of this? I don’t think that we are supposed to believe that Ned’s so traumatised by Rhaegar that he suffers some kind of fugue-state amnesiac episodes. Possibly we’re seeing something that Martin would have preferred to reword in his draft revisions, but missed it. The similarity to the phrase in the previous chapter makes me think that Martin had thought up a nice way to express a particular idea, and decided to move it from one place to another where it would serve a better purpose, but accidentally left it in both. Regardless, there are three things that we clearly can take away from this.

1. Ned doesn’t have Rhaegar on the brain.
2. Ned suddenly thinks of Rhaegar in the context of his brothel visit.
3. Ned does not associate Rhaegar with brothels.

What would trigger Ned to think of Rhaegar if he doesn’t think of him often and he wouldn’t associate him with brothels? Something else must bring Rhaegar to mind, and the other things that Ned has been thinking about are royal bastards, Lyanna, and Jon Snow. Let’s put it the other way around. Ned is thinking about Robert’s bastard, and the mother, who he has just visited. The promise he made to the mother reminds him of the promise he made to Lyanna. He thinks about Jon (Lyanna’s child and the subject of Lyanna’s promise). He thinks about Robert, the bastard’s father. What’s missing? The father of Jon Snow. Who else is mentioned, and directly compared to Robert, as if playing the Robert role in that alternative narrative? Rhaegar.

So what we have here with this replay of the promise is an echo of Ned’s visit to the Tower of Joy, where he made the promise to Lyanna, right? Right. More right than just the echo of a promise. As it turns out, this entire chapter is a peculiarly distorted echo of the events at the ToJ.

Just after thinking about Rhaegar, Jaime shows up, and we have a similar part-echo of the other half of the ToJ scene. “Ned’s men had drawn their swords, but they were three against twenty” – a familiar turn of phrase. In Ned’s very next chapter we have the ToJ dream, with “Ned’s wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.” The numbers are inverted, but that’s not the only inversion. Jaime’s men are “phantoms in red cloaks” as Ned’s at the tower were wraiths. The inversion is obvious when we consider the reason for Jaime to accost Ned. Jaime has come to demand the return of his sibling, who was abducted on the road near Harrenhal. Ned went to the ToJ to demand the return of his sibling, who was abducted on the road close to Harrenhal.

The similarities I’ve listed here aren’t the only similarities between the two scenes, and nor is this the only echo of the ToJ scene. This is a point I originally intended to expand on considerably, but it grew in the telling, until it needed an essay of its own.

When you start observing the pattern of Tower of Joy dream echoes, you find it shows up very clearly in a number of places, for example in Cersei’s dream, at White Walls and at Ashford in the Dunc & Egg stories, and Mirri Maaz Duur’s ritual in the tent. There are elements that come again and again: three kingsguards, cloaks, a red stallion, a shooting star, wraith imagery, and more. The pattern isn’t exact; each echo has it’s own distortions, and its own connections. It’s hard to unsee when you see it, and it explains a lot of odd points where there’s a focus on some detail which makes little sense in the immediate context, but much more when you realise it’s an echo of events elsewhere.

MMD’s tent ritual ends with the miscarried birth of Dany’s mutant half-dragon child. Ashford and White Walls both deal with the revealing of a hidden Targaryen, Egg – who’s mother has the curiously familiar sounding name Dyanna. Cersei’s dream deals with her asking about the children she will have with Rhaegar. The events of the Tower of Joy fit into a pattern. What exactly that pattern is, what it represents, whether it’s a literary device or some magical ritual, there’s a link to Targaryen children. The sense of some kind of quest or mystery achievement runs through many of the echoes, and that achievement seems to be about the hatching of a dragon – the birth, symbolically or otherwise, of a Targaryen.

At MMD’s tent, Dany saw shadows dancing. She “glimpsed the shadow of a great wolf, and another like a man wreathed in flames.” In Dany’s next chapter, she has a dream where all the Targaryens are on fire. Thus the man wreathed in flames is likely a Targaryen, while the great wolf is surely a Stark. Dany’s stillborn child was literally half-dragon. I think it’s not much of a jump to suggest that at the Tower of Joy, a great wolf (Lyanna) and a man of fire (Rhaegar) danced, and a half-dragon was born.

You can find the full write-up of this in my essay The Puppets of Ice and Fire over in Another Place.

5. The Blue Winter Rose

Are we convinced yet? Not quite? Let’s talk about blue roses. A lot of the symbolism associated with blue roses (unattainable love, grasping thorns, chinks in a wall of ice) skates too close to the interpretive stuff I’m trying to keep out of this essay, though let’s be honest, when Rhaegar puts the crown in Lyanna’s lapfrom the tip of his lance, that’s some pretty obvious symbolism right there. Let’s stick to the facts though. Rhaegar gave Lyanna a crown of blue winter roses. Lyanna died clutching roses. When Cersei tells Ned that Robert never loved her, only Lyanna, Ned thinks of blue winter roses. Lyanna’s statue wears blue winter roses. Lyanna loved roses, Rhaegar gave blue winter roses to her. The main place that we see blue winter roses apart from the story of Rhaegar & Lyanna is the story of Bael the Bard.

Bael, with his oddly Targaryen-sounding “ae” name, was a harpist. He was offered the fairest rose in Winterfell as a reward for singing, but he interpreted that differently to Lord Stark. He returned the blue winter rose he’d been given, and instead took Lord Stark’s daughter. The image this story gives us is one of exchange – a blue winter rose for the maidenhead of Lord Stark’s daughter. Bael hid away in a crypt with the Stark maiden, and almost a year later the maiden was found by Lord Stark with a new baby.

Rhaegar is the only other person we see giving blue roses to Starks. He was also a harpist. He also abducted a Stark maiden, hid away with her, and almost a year later she was found by Lord Stark with a new baby. Given the similarities here, surely that same exchange – blue rose for Stark Maiden’s maidenhead, and a bastard fathered on her – is a more than reasonable assumption to make in Rhaegar’s case, too.

To cap it all, let’s remember that Ygritte tells this story to Jon Snow immediately after asking Jon Snow who his mother, and tells him this story specifically as an illustration of Jon’s true parentage.

 A Clash of Kings ch.51 said:
“Were they your kin?” he asked her quietly. “The two we killed?”

“No more than you are.”

“Me?” He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“You said you were the Bastard o’ Winterfell.”

“I am.”

“Who was your mother?”

“Some woman. Most of them are.” Someone had said that to him once. He did not remember who.

She smiled again, a flash of white teeth. “And she never sung you the song o’ the winter rose?”

“I never knew my mother. Or any such song.”

So the story of Bael the Bard, with its very obvious parallels to the story of Rhaegar and Lyanna, is told in the context of Jon’s parentage, and the question of who he is unknowingly related to. Jon’s not listening though, he’s got a new family now, and he’s stopped thinking about his mother. He doesn’t even recall that that he heard the “Some woman” line from Tyrion any more. He doesn’t believe any of it.

“It never happened,’ Jon said.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Here’s the optional appendix that explains in detail what I discussed about the “first act” of AGoT. The essay is more than long enough as it is, so I separated this out for people to ignore if they want to.

APPENDIX: The Opening Act

The first chapter introduces us to Ned and his sons (and ward), and the direwolf pups. Although it’s from Bran’s viewpoint it’s really about Jon, and the main thing we learn is that he’s different, just as his wolf is different. This is more than just the bastardy.

“Bran saw his father’s face change, saw the other men exchange glances. He loved Jon with all his heart at that moment. Even at seven, Bran understood what his brother had done. The count had come right only because Jon had omitted himself. ”

This reflects something that we hear again and again. Jon Snow may be a bastard, but Ned treats him equally. Jon isn’t doing what’s expected of him here – Bran, Ned, and the other men all see that Jon is making a sacrifice by representing himself as being simply a bastard. He emphasises that difference more than most other people do, yet the albino pup sets him apart. Bran thinks it “…curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.” This is a very traditional piece of imagery relating to secret knowledge.

In chapter 2, Catelyn gives us a little background on the North, usefully from a southern perspective; like us, she’s an outsider. We’ll see this technique of introduction followed by reinforcement from a different perspective in GRRM’s writing technique again and again. She mentions the three children we haven’t yet been introduced to, and then talks about Jon Arryn and Robert. After Ned as the distant authority-figure in chapter 1, we get a much more intimate view of him here. Following a break for Dany in chapter 3, we then get Ned’s own PoV for an even closer look at him. We meet Robert, and hear more about Jon, and about Lyanna and Rhaegar. Then we get a Jon chapter, with more of Jon as outsider (though revelling in it), as he sits aside from the family at the feast, and gets the opportunity to describe them to us one after the other. Then another Cat chapter, with plenty of talk of the children, and some more background on the mystery of Jon Arryns’ death and Jon Snow’s birth. Then an Arya chapter, where we get to meet the two daughters properly for the first time, and a bit more about the other children, particularly Jon.

Think back to the first time you read this, with this large cast of characters being thrown at you. Remember what it’s like trying to make sense of who is who, and think about what Martin is trying to do here. We see characters at a distance, then up close. We see people mentioned and then introduced. We are given ideas, and then have those ideas reinforced. This is how GRRM constructs a story and introduces key characters. It’s absolutely classic storytelling, almost a by-the-book example of the writer’s craft. There is one notable exception in chapter 2, and that’s Jon Arryn. Right after introducing one character called Jon, Martin introduces another. Either this is a very uncharacteristic piece of clumsiness, or Martin is priming the reader, using that initial unfamiliarity a first-time reader has to create a subtle association between Jon Arryn and Jon Snow.

One thing we learn about John Arryn here is that he was Eddard’s “second father”. Martin uses this phrase twice in as many paragraphs, which tells us that he’s trying to prime the reader with this piece of information too. Thus, as early as chapter 2, Martin is subtly planting a connection in the reader’s head between Jon Snow and “second fathers”. The two Jons are also a the heart of the two mysteries that Martin is introducing us to. We are told outright that there is a mystery, a “whodunnit” about Jon Arryn. There’s also a “whodunnit” question about Jon Snow – the question of his parentage.

Chapter 3 shifts focus to a new character and new place. Danaerys, a young deposed princess who, so far, we have no reason to see as anything other than an innocent victim. We learn of “Her brother Rhaegar battling the Usurper in the bloody waters of the Trident and dying for the woman he loved” and how this usurper was aided by the lords Lannister and Stark. Hang on, Stark? Aren’t they the good guys? And didn’t we just learn in the previous chapter that Lord Stark does not like Lannisters? We’ll learn more about Rhaegar over the next few chapters, but it will be some time before we are given reason to see him in the same light that Dany sees him, as a romantic figure.

In chapter 4, Robert arrives and immediately asks to go down to the Winterfell crypts. Here we hear the back-story of Jon Arryn, which sets up the main action of the book. We also hear of Rhaegar and Lyanna. If you’re following the pattern, you’ll notice that same thing about an introduction followed by detail from another perspective. Rhaegar must be an important character for the author to be using this same priming technique. This is still very early in the book. This is where we expect to be introduced to important information, and everything about this chapter tells us the Rhaegar and Lyanna story is important. This is the very first thing that Robert does. His queen objects, but Jaime leads Cersei away, telling us this is something important enough that everyone knows the queen will lose this argument.

It is Lyanna, not Jon Arryn, who is first discussed after the initial small talk is done. It might at first be considered part of that small talk, yet what we are presented with is a mystery.

“I was with her when she died,” Ned reminded the king. “She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father.” He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black. After that he remembered nothing. They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief. The little crannogman, Howland Reed, had taken her hand from his. Ned could recall none of it. “I bring her flowers when I can,” he said. “Lyanna was . . . fond of flowers.”

It’s easy, as a first time reader, to gloss over much of this because we don’t really understand it. We are given a promise that is never voiced, a room of blood and roses with no explanations, and a peculiar amnesia. We have no idea what’s going on, and Martin’s language highlights the fact. Again, we are being primed – we want to know what’s being referred to, why these things happened. We are being given a mystery to solve.

Chapter 5 returns us to Jon, and spends more time emphasising the idea that Jon is different from the other Stark children. His conversation with Tyrion returns us to the question of his parentage. It also contains an interesting detail that again the informed reader might ignore, but is striking to the first-time reader. Up to this point, the Targaryens appear to have been the bad guys, from the Stark perspective. Suddenly we learn that a Targaryen is one of Jon’s heroes. We also get an important exchange:

“Lord Eddard Stark is my father,” Jon admitted stiffly.
Lannister studied his face. “Yes,” he said. “I can see it. You have more of the north in you than your brothers.”
“Half brothers,” Jon corrected. He was pleased by the dwarf’s comment, but he tried not to let it show.

Again we see Jon emphasise his lack of Starkness more than other people. We’re also given reason to think about Jon’s mother. Cat’s chapter emphasised her foreignness, that she is from the south. When we read Tyrion’s words, the obvious calculus is that Jon’s mother, unlike the other Stark children’s, must have been from the North.

Chapter 6 is where we learn that Jon Arryn’s death is more than it seems, and Lysa’s letter blames the Lannisters (who we previously have negative thoughts about from Ned, more of Martin’s front-load-then-reveal technique). This is interesting because it gives us a reinforcement straight after a contradiction. When we met Tyrion in the previous chapter, he seemed more sympathetic than we were anticipating from a Lannister. This is not the only contradiction of that Tyrion encounter.

It came as no surprise to her, in the first year of her marriage, to learn that Ned had fathered a child on some girl chance met on campaign. He had a man’s needs, after all, and they had spent that year apart, Ned off at war in the south while she remained safe in her father’s castle at Riverrun.

The calculus of Jon’s birth, that his mother must have been a northerner, seems to be very quickly contradicted. Jon’s mother, this seems to imply, was a southerner after all. Unless, of course, his mother was a northerner who was for some reason in the south.

The Starks were not like other men. Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him “son” for all the north to see. When the wars were over at last, and Catelyn rode to Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already taken up residence.

Here we have another reinforcement about the contrast between Jon’s difference and his acceptance. Jon’s position in the Stark household is not normal.

Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband’s soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys’s Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur’s sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the SummerSea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.
That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. “Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady.” She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne’s name was never heard in Winterfell again.

This seems to answer the puzzle. Why would Ned react in that way if Ashara Dayne was not Jon’s mother, if he did not feel shame about her? Obviously this must mean a lot to Ned, as it’s the only time he’d ever frightened Cat. Yet this leaves us with nagging questions. If Jon, like the other kids, has a southern mother, why has he got more of the North in him? If we’ve really been given the answer already, why is it still perpetuated as a mystery well after this answer is given?
There’s another important observation to be made about this passage. We all know who Arthur Dayne is. When we first read this, we did not. At this point, there is no inkling that Arthur Dayne was so involved in Lyanna’s story. In chapter 4 we got our first details of Lyanna’s story. We don’t know it yet, but we’ve just been given more details of Lyanna’s story, and in the context of Jon’s parentage. GRRM is giving us clues that we won’t recognise as clues until we have more of the story; a jigsaw-puzzle piece we’ll have to come back to before we can fit it. GRRM is a sneaky writer though, so he does give us one call back.

Whoever Jon’s mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, for nothing Catelyn said would persuade him to send the boy away. It was the one thing she could never forgive him.

Eddard does not seem to love easily. He loves Robert as a brother, and he’s obviously grown to love Cat, even though we’re told in this chapter that he married her for duty, not love. He undoubtedly loves his children, but he’s far more pragmatic about them than Cat is. What kind of a woman would inspire a fierce, protective love in Ned? Actually we’ve already been told back in chapter 4, in the same place that this mention of Arthur Dayne is a hidden call-back to.

Lyanna had only been sixteen, a child-woman of surpassing loveliness. Ned had loved her with all his heart.

Chapter 7 gives us our first proper look at Arya and Sansa, and we are instantly presented with differences. Arya’s stitches are crooked, Sansa’s exquisite, a neat metaphor that instantly tells us about the characters. Sansa is discussing Joffrey, who she’s very taken by. Arya’s immediate response:

“Jon says he looks like a girl,” Arya said.
Sansa sighed as she stitched. “Poor Jon,” she said. “He gets jealous because he’s a bastard.”
“He’s our brother,” Arya said, much too loudly. Her voice cut through the afternoon quiet of the tower room.

Arya is very protective of Jon here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a bit of a left-over from GRRM’s initial plan to have Arya and Jon eventually fall in love. On the other hand, we will find out as the books go on that Arya bears a lot of similarities to Lyanna – and indeed acts as a kind of stand-in for Lyanna in several places. Wouldn’t Lyanna be very protective of her son? What remains is a matter of comparisons.

It wasn’t fair. Sansa had everything. Sansa was two years older; maybe by the time Arya had been born, there had been nothing left. Often it felt that way. Sansa could sew and dance and sing. She wrote poetry. She knew how to dress. She played the high harp and the bells. Worse, she was beautiful. Sansa had gotten their mother’s fine high cheekbones and the thick auburn hair of the Tullys. Arya took after their lord father. Her hair was a lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn. Jeyne used to call her Arya Horseface, and neigh whenever she came near. It hurt that the one thing Arya could do better than her sister was ride a horse. Well, that and manage a household. Sansa had never had much of a head for figures. If she did marry Prince Joff, Arya hoped for his sake that he had a good steward.

Then a little later,

“A shade more fun than needlework,” Arya gave back at him. Jon grinned, reached over, and messed up her hair. Arya flushed. They had always been close. Jon had their father’s face, as she did. They were the only ones. Robb and Sansa and Bran and even little Rickon all took after the Tullys, with easy smiles and fire in their hair. When Arya had been little, she had been afraid that meant that she was a bastard too. It been Jon she had gone to in her fear, and Jon who had reassured her.
“Why aren’t you down in the yard?” Arya asked him.
He gave her a half smile. “Bastards are not allowed to damage young princes,” he said. “Any bruises they take in the practice yard must come from trueborn swords.”
“Oh.” Arya felt abashed. She should have realized. For the second time today, Arya reflected that life was not fair.

Arya is connecting Sansa to Joffrey, and herself to Jon. Life is not fair to Jon or herself. Arya even used to wonder if she was a bastard like Jon. We have some more similarities. They both look like their father, a fact that’s mentioned twice in the chapter, a sure sign of significance. More subtly, we learn that Arya is good at riding. In Jon’s last chapter, he told us “Hullen says I sit a horse as well as anyone in the castle.”

Chapter 9 gives us lots of little hints about the Jon Arryn mystery, and one little reminder of the importance of Lyanna: “Having Stark beside him will only make him worse. He’s still in love with the sister, the insipid little dead sixteen-year-old. How long till he decides to put me aside for some new Lyanna?”

Chapter 12 sees Ned on the road south, talking with Robert, and it’s a bit of an info-dump. We very quickly move onto the question of Jon’s mother.

“You were never the boy you were,” Robert grumbled. “More’s the pity. And yet there was that one time … what was her name, that common girl of yours? Becca? No, she was one of mine, gods love her, black hair and these sweet big eyes, you could drown in them. Yours was … Aleena? No. You told me once. Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard’s mother?”
“Her name was Wylla,” Ned replied with cool courtesy, “and I would sooner not speak of her.”
“Wylla. Yes.” The king grinned. “She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like . . . ”
Ned’s mouth tightened in anger. “Nor will I. Leave it be, Robert, for the love you say you bear me. I dishonored myself and I dishonored Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men.”

We know that Ned doesn’t like lying, and if we look through Ned’s chapters, we can see that he is very careful with his wording. He deceives by omission, rather than lie. When Robert asks Ned to look after his children for him, Ned remembers Robert’s bastards, and words his reply so that what he says is no lie; he will look after Robter’s children, but means something different by that than Robert did. Ned is doing the same thing here. We may at first think that he’s telling Robert the name of Jon’s mother, but he is not. Robert asks “what was her name, that common girl of yours”. He only then adds, as a qualifier, “You know the one I mean, your bastard’s mother?” If Wylla is not Jon’s mother, then Ned isn’t lying to Robert here at all. He does know the one Robert means, but he’s omitting to correct Robert’s qualification

There’s an interesting contrast between this and the last time we heard of Ned being asked about Jon’s mother. Previously we have been told that Ned would say “not so much as a word” about Jon’s mother, and when pressed his reaction frightened Cat. Here, he responds with a few words, and with cool courtesy. It’s hard to refuse a king, of course – but Ned is the one person who would refuse Robert. The fact that he’s talking with the king doesn’t stop him becoming angry when the question moves away from Jon’s mother to the specific of Ned’s honour.

The conversation moves on to Danaerys, and the potential threat she represents. Ned immediately thinks of Rhaegar’s children, and we learn that this is the one really serious dispute between them.

Ned did not feign surprise; Robert’s hatred of the Targaryens was a madness in him. He remembered the angry words they had exchanged when Tywin Lannister had presented Robert with the corpses of Rhaegar’s wife and children as a token of fealty. Ned had named that murder; Robert called it war. When he had protested that the young prince and princess were no more than babes, his new-made king had replied, “I see no babes. Only dragonspawn.” Not even Jon Arryn had been able to calm that storm. Eddard Stark had ridden out that very day in a cold rage, to fight the last battles of the war alone in the south. It had taken another death to reconcile them; Lyanna’s death, and the grief they had shared over her passing.

There’s some language here reminiscent of the passage when Cat asked Ned about Jon’s mother. The “Cold rage” reminds us of Ned replying “cold as ice” (we might think this is an obvious way to describe Ned’s anger, but these are the only two times we’ve had that usage so far), and “to fight the last battles of the war alone in the south”, while Cat had thought about “…Ned off at war in the south” when Jon was conceived. Like the hint we had with Jon having a Targaryen hero, this passage tells us that the Starks just aren’t as anti-Targaryen as Robert is.

This time, Ned resolved to keep his temper. “Your Grace, the girl is scarcely more than a child. You are no Tywin Lannister, to slaughter innocents.” It was said that Rhaegar’s little girl had cried as they dragged her from beneath her bed to face the swords. The boy had been no more than a babe in arms, yet Lord Tywin’s soldiers had torn him from his mother’s breast and dashed his head against a wall.
“And how long will this one remain an innocent?” Robert’s mouth grew hard. “This child will soon enough spread her legs and start breeding more dragonspawn to plague me.”
“Nonetheless,” Ned said, “the murder of children . . . it would be vile . . . unspeakable . . . ”
“Unspeakable?” the king roared. “What Aerys did to your brother Brandon was unspeakable. The way your lord father died, that was unspeakable. And Rhaegar . . . how many times do you think he raped your sister? How many hundreds of times?” His voice had grown so loud that his horse whinnied nervously beneath him. The king jerked the reins hard, quieting the animal, and pointed an angry finger at Ned. “I will kill every Targaryen I can get my hands on, until they are as dead as their dragons, and then I will piss on their graves.”

Ned clearly has good reason to hate the Targaryens, who killed his brother and father. At last we get to learn what Rhaegar’s crime was, too. This is the sister who Ned “loved fiercely”, dead and apparently raped hundreds of times by Rhaegar. Yet Ned is fiercely protective of Targaryen children, so angered by Robert’s belief that their death was a necessity that it almost destroyed their friendship.
Chapter 13 turns from Ned’s journey south to Jon & Tyrion’s journey north. The main thrust of this chapter is Jon learning that joining the Night’s Watch is essentially an exile. Ned and co. are heading towards exciting adventure in the south, and he’s off North to defend the world from snarks and grumkins amongst a brotherhood of scum. Poor Jon. We also get another comment about Jon’s looks.

He had the Stark face if not the name: long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away. Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son.”

This expands on Tyrion’s comment in chapter 5. Again we see Martin’s reinforcement technique at work. It ostensibly gives an explanation to that question raised in the reader’s mind of a northern mother – he has more of the North than his brothers, because he’s undiluted Ned. So why has GRRM set this whole puzzle for us, hinted, reinforced and primed us to pay attention to Jon’s appearance, if that aspect of the puzzle is going to be dismissed so fast? We’re not meant to have the solution to this yet, but we’ll come to realise something about Tyrion. He’s extremely observant, but often misses the correct interpretation of his observation. It’s worth noting that just before this latest observation, Tyrion guesses Jon’s age wrong.

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