Arthur Dayne + Lyanna Stark = Jon Snow
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.”
“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
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
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 of… the 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 name…like 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