Secrets of Westeros: Who are Jon Snow’s Parents?

By Monique Jacobs on Jul 2, 2012 to Game of Thrones

Do you find yourself asking questions like, ‘Is my mother alive?’ and, ‘Does she know about me, where I am, where I’m going? Does she care?’ as you prepare to ride for a massive, frozen man-made structure up North?  No, because your name isn’t Jon Snow and you don’t live in the world of Westeros where whorehouses welcome you (your money) with open arms, where the invitation is accepted with such regularity, it’s equivalent to having a membership and where infidelity is the national pastime.

Bastards are spawned ad nauseum and there’s very little concern about whether or not mommy or daddy will be around to change the diapers.

With regards to everyone’s favourite bastard, however, people want answers.
Jon-Snow-jon-snow-25851985-500-282-300x169Who is Jon Snow’s mother?   This is one of the most frequently debated topics amongst book readers as well as non-book readers.

Is she a whore that Ned met while fighting alongside Robert Baratheon?   Is it The Lady Ashara Dayne, the sister of Ser Arthur Dayne who was killed by Ned during combat?

It’s Robert Baratheon’s remark, ‘’ She must have been a rare wench to make Lord Stark forget his honor” that I’m using to spark this debate.   Rare wench, indeed.  You could even use the word ‘fictional’ if you like.  Catelyn Stark notes that ‘Whoever Jon’s mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, because nothing she said ‘would persuade him to send the boy away.’  Yes, Ned did, in fact, love Jon’s mother fiercely.  Contradiction at its best?  Not quite.  Please take a moment to appreciate the dramatic irony.

I all but fell out of my chair when I received the go-ahead to present the theory that has everyone’s knickers in an excited twist.    Before proceeding, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that all the events referred to in this article took place before the series starts.  Also, remember that George R.R. Martin has yet to divulge who Jon’s parents are.   He, alone, knows the answer to the delectable enigma that he’s created.  This is, at best, speculation.

Albeit cleverly supported speculation.

‘Lord Eddard Stark is my father.’   Jon says to Tyrion Lannister in episode one.  When pulling at the thread of this particular claim, the secret begins to unravel.  No, my dove, I’m afraid he isn’t.

But, even at the tender age of fourteen, Jon is described as bearing the most striking resemblance to the Starks than any of his half-siblings.  Catelyn observes that he ‘looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him.’ Curious.  Unless you entertain the widely popular belief that Ned is, in fact, Jon’s uncle and that his sister, Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen were Jon’s biological parents.   Just when you think Jon can’t possibly get any sexier/more interesting, gods old and new, the half-dragon card gets played.

Let’s try to uncover one of the realm’s best kept secrets, shall we?

Lord Eddard Stark is a man of indisputable honour and loyalty.  But, as the story is said to go, the noble Lord marries Catelyn Tully and she falls pregnant with his son, Robb.  The newly wed then has to embark upon Robert’s Rebellion and, during this time period, he casts aside his husbandly duty  – such a Ned thing to do – and beds another woman while the mother of his unborn child waits for him at Riverrun.  A year after his departure, he returns to Winterfell with an illegitimate bundle of joy.

Can we put this version of the event to eternal rest?   Immediately?   Those who have come to understand Ned know that he is governed by nothing short of sainthood.

Lord Stark’s unwaveringly noble disposition aside, what other evidence is there to support this theory?   I’m thrilled you asked because it took an hour to find the relevant book passages and episode scenes.

The first seed of suspicion should begin to grow in light of just how little information is provided about said affair in relation to how prominently the subject of who Jon’s mother’s is, features in the story.  The hearsay accounts are ambivalent and disparities exist when the identity of the woman comes into play.  The question arises far too often for it not to have a significant answer.   And amidst all the speculation, what’s Ned doing?  Why, he’s busy evading and deflecting questions while wearing a most aggrieved expression on his face of course.
robert-and-ned-high-dressNow, Robert Baratheon seems certain of Jon’s mother’s identity.  While lunching along the King’s Road and engaging in a bout of ‘Who bedded whom?’ nostalgia, he poses the question to Ned, “Yours was, Elena.  You told me once, your bastard’s mother.  Meryl?”  To which Ned reluctantly responds, “Wylla.”  Robert goes on to say, ‘’You never told me what she looked like.”  Ned’s answer signals the end of the discussion. “Nor will I.”  Well, there you have it, case closed.  It is known.  Is it?  If her identity is this uncomplicated, why won’t Ned share the information or even so much as her name with Jon?

Or clarify the matter with his wife who suspects that The Lady Ashara Dayne is Jon’s mother?  Oh dear.  Upon her return to Winterfell, she finds baby Jon and his wet nurse setting up home.   It’s understandable that a wife would have a few questions about the new addition to the family.  But Ned, who isn’t prone to displays of insensitivity, hurts Catelyn deeply by remaining tight-lipped.   After the whispers from the rumour mill reach her ears of the beautiful Lady Ashara, she musters the courage to ask Ned about her.  His response marks the first time that Catelyn is ever truly frightened of her husband.   ‘“Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.”’

‘He is my blood’.  The phrasing is crucial.  Again, in episode two, Jon rides for the Night’s Watch and, before they part ways on the King’s road, Ned says, “The Starks have manned the Wall for thousands of years.   You may not have my name but you have my blood.‘  The folks of Westeros may refer to Jon as Ned’s bastard son, but does Ned ever use the word ‘son’?   The subtlety of the wording would be completely lost on anyone who isn’t asking the right questions.  Ned certainly can’t be accused of lying.  If Lyanna is Jon’s mother, Stark blood does indeed flow through his veins.  Ned’s is an act of omission.  It’s my feeling that he loathes fueling any lies but he’s not prepared to reveal the truth either.  His words and responses are selected with careful deliberation.

But why the need for secrecy?  The answer to this question hinges on the magnitude of Robert’s hatred towards the Targaryens and the promise that Ned made to Lyanna as a result of that hatred.

Ned’s transgression was said to have occurred during Robert’s Rebellion against the Targaryens, but we’re working from the basis that there was no affair.  Let’s proceed.

It was believed that Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped  Lyanna  – Robert’s betrothed –  and that he raped her numerous times.   Now, I’m using the words ‘kidnapped’ and ‘raped’ very loosely because it’s a belief that, I suspect, originated with Robert.

And Robert was biased.  His feelings towards Rhaegar soured the moment Rhaegar made his interest in Lyanna uncomfortably known at the Tourney at Harrenhal.  Rhaegar was declared the champion and ‘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.’

Roughly a year later (to commemorate the event?) Rhaegar ‘kidnapped’ her (I would’ve suggested sending a card instead.)  This roused Robert’s fury.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but Rhaegar Targaryen doesn’t fit the profile of ‘wicked rapist.’  Adored by the smallfolk, he was described as an intelligent, honourable, valiant man who often succumbed to melancholy.  He excelled at knighthood but he preferred to read books and play the harp.  He could sing ‘songs of such beauty they could reduce women to tears’ – a most dreadful fellow indeed.  Married to Elia Martell, he fathered two children with her.  His only crime may have been that he loved another woman.

Lyanna Stark was no delicate flower either.  She was blessed with unrivaled beauty, but she was described as a very headstrong, stubborn young girl (much like her niece, Arya).  Her feelings towards Robert were ambivalent.  She may have cared for him, but I couldn’t find any definitive evidence to suggest that she loved him as she should have.  If Lyanna was taken to King’s Landing, it’s because she went willingly.  If she had intimate relations with Rhaegar, they were consensual.  Rhaegar loved her and I believe she loved him in return.  These are possibilities that didn’t enter Robert’s mind.  In his eyes, Lyanna could do no wrong.  “You never knew Lyanna as I did, Robert.” Ned once remarked.

But Rhaegar’s life, the nature of his relationship with Lyanna, the prophecy and the metaphorical three-headed dragon are a 2900 word story for another time.

Ned’s father, Rickard and his brother, Brandon, rode to King’s Landing to reclaim Lyanna, but it was an unsuccessful mission.  You see, the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, had other plans – he decided to murder them instead.  Don’t worry, your Grace, Jaime Lannister’s got your back.

The murder of Ned’s father and brother is what triggered Robert’s Rebellion and, with the Mad King slayed, Robert eventually won the Iron Throne as well as the title of ‘Usurper’.

We’re (purposefully) provided with very few details, but it was also sometime during the campaign that Lyanna died.  Her death unleashed Robert’s full devastation, fury and hatred.  Ned had loved his sister ‘with all his heart.  Robert had loved her even more.’

Ned notes that ‘Robert’s hatred of the Targaryens was a madness in him.’  And it was a madness that drove a rift between the two of them for a period of time.  When Tywin Lannister presented the bodies of Rhaegar’s family to Robert , ‘Ned had named that murder; Robert called it war.’  Ned couldn’t advocate the murder of children but Robert’s reply was, “I see no babes.  Only dragonspawn.”

Robert sought his vengeance and he found it.  He killed Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident but the victory was a hollow one.  He felt that even a thousand deaths would not have been good enough for the Targaryen Prince.  And, to him, Rhaegar was the victorious one because, in death, he still had Lyanna.  Robert’s unquenchable bitterness and hatred stretched out its hand to all of Rhaegar’s kin.  Viserys and Daenerys Targareyn – Rhaegar’s younger siblings – were smuggled out of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea in the nick of time.   His hatred was to be his companion for the rest of his life.  Only later, on his deathbed, did he have a change of heart and instruct Ned to revoke the order to have Daenerys killed.

Here’s where a very interesting point arises.  Whenever Robert reflects and rages, Ned offers a few pacifying words and waits for the tirade to end.   It begs the question, ‘Why is Eddard Stark so damn chilled?’ He doesn’t need to show his grief by killing babies, but if Rhaegar really did kidnap and rape Lyanna , the sister that he loved so much, shouldn’t his anger match at least a fraction of Robert’s?  Why does Ned seem to remember the young Prince in a way that suggests admiration, even sadness?

Ned, is there something you’re not telling Bobbie?

“Promise me, Ned.”   These are Lyanna’s final words.  He often recalls them and, coupled with the memory that they conjure, they torment him for the rest of his life. ‘He could hear her still at times. “Promise me,” she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses.  “Promise me, Ned.’’’ While the circumstances of her death may be vague, we know one thing for certain.  Ned was with her when she died.

There’s the admission that he can scarcely recall the moment when they found him, still clutching Lyanna’s body.  The book structures Ned’s memory in a manner that feels fragmented and incomplete.  It’s also written in such a way as to lead one to believe that what she’s asking of him is to be buried in the crypt at Winterfell, ‘to rest beside Brandon and Father.’  However the weight of the burden that’s placed on his shoulders isn’t in keeping with such a small request.  He describes honouring the promise as 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.’

Price?

‘I promise, Lya.  I promise.’  And he kept his promise.  He didn’t reveal that that Lyanna had fallen pregnant, that Jon was her son and that Rhaegar, not him, was his father.  This is a hefty claim, I know.

Let’s examine it.  Various passages describe it simply as a fever that took her life, but the ‘bed of blood’ reference could suggest that Lyanna died while giving birth to Jon.  Ned doesn’t mention a baby, but as I said, it feels as though we’re privy to a partial memory only.

The peace of mind that his word offers her is staggering.  ‘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’

Sidenote:  Rose petals you say?  ‘Lyanna loved the scent of winter roses.’  Wasn’t it thoughtful of Rhaegar to present her with a crown of the flowers that she loved?  Very sweet.  I wish I had the time/space/patience to explore the importance of the symbology.

What was Lyanna so fearful of?  Simply put, she didn’t want her son to move to the top of Robert Baratheon’s hit list.

‘She belonged with me.  In my dreams, I kill him every night.’ Robert says.  ‘It’s done your grace. The Targaryens are gone’ is Ned’s response.

‘Not all of them.‘

But Robert is, of course, referring to Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen.  Perhaps Jon will be safe, even if his true identity is known.

‘I’ll kill every Targaryen I get my hands on.’ Perhaps not.

Allow me to be frank.  It’s possible that Robert and Lyanna consummated their betrothal, but it seems unlikely to me and, once again, there’s no real evidence to support the claim that they did.  Robert loved Lyanna, I think she’s the one thing he would’ve wanted to keep sacred.  I feel he would’ve waited to consummate the union after they were married.  This could further explain the intensity of his rage.  In his eyes, it could never have been anything other than ‘rape’.  Rhaegar had been the one to take Lyanna’s innocence.  Robert saw it as a vile, unforgivable act, the defiling of one that was so pure and beautiful to him.

If you want to argue that they did have an intimate relationship and that the child could have been Robert’s, why was Lyanna so afraid?  Robert fathered many bastards and let’s be honest, no one would list ‘observant’ as one of his strengths (Enter Cersei and her three golden haired offspring.)  She must have known, beyond a doubt, that Robert was not the father and that he would have drawn the same conclusion.  If Lyanna fell pregnant, whether by rape or consent, she must’ve believed that Robert would have known the child was Rhaegar’s.   And I don’t have the strength to spell out how Jon’s story would have ended.
Jon-and-Daenerys-jon-snow-29370480-500-500-300x300Ned lied to his best friend. He allowed his wife to believe that his honour had been compromised and that he had had an affair.  He withheld the identity of Jon’s biological parents from everyone, including Jon.  This was his burden, this was his sacrifice.  He did it in order to keep his word to Lyanna.  He did it to protect the son of the sister that he loved so much from Robert Baratheon’s vengeance.   What an honourable man.

George has to be commended for his writing prowess.  He chooses his words with care and deliberation.   One won’t find conclusive evidence to rule Ned out as Jon’s father.    Instead, Martin dances around subtleties, omissions and carefully worded phrases that leave room for debate and that will allow him to creatively steer the story in the direction that he sees fit.   He uses the characters to reflect on Ned’s alleged lapse of honour, and this foregrounds the idea.  But, when it’s juxtaposed with his actions and the constant sacrifices that he makes for the sake of honour, it forces us to ask the question, ‘Come again?’  The true brilliance is fully appreciated when focusing less on what is made explicit and paying attention, instead, to what is being said implicity.

If the Lyanna/Rhaegar theory is correct, it holds very big, exciting implications for the future of the realm.  In addition, writers often like to create symmetry.   In literary terms, if Jon is a Targaryen, this will form one of several potential literary harmonies that George has set up beautifully.

  • Jacob Taylor

    Looks like Grayce had it right sorry Seth and Denhunter you are both wrong, Jon is a Stark and Targaryen. It makes complete sense and ties everything together, who else to better lead man against an army of the undead but the King of the North and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, which just so happens to be Jon Snow. It’s perfect :)

  • Denhunter

    Silly readers. Ned and his sister begat Jon Snow. He is one-hundred percent Stark. Pure northerner. No foolish conjecture about any love except the one they both had for each other, and that everyone knew about. Incest going on since Aegon the Conquerer. Remember that the Mad King wanted the Stark men dead. All of them. He lured two to Kings Landing where they were strangled and burned. He kidnapped Lyanna to lure Ned south. They figured Ser Gerold and Arthur Dayne would be enough to kill ten Ned Starks. But they didn’t account for ‘sister-love’.

    And incest lives on. Young Griff is the son of the Arthur and Ashara Dayne. Same blonde hair and violet eyes as mummy and daddy. Targaryens are not the only blondes. Daynes have been around MUCH longer. Get it? Sword of the Morning (which is the end of the darkness). Family sword is ‘Dawn’? THIS is the prince that was promised.

  • Cheeky Kent

    The Starks’ hair are red and brown. Not black.

    • Archer Sterling

      Robert is black of hair and all his offspring.

  • Seth

    Very impressive and well written. However, there would be no significance in Jon being a Targaryen. He would not be the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, because he would be a bastard, nonetheless. Despite the many things that seem to “fit” in this theory, one must ask the question: “What difference would it make?” There is nothing significant or to be gained by Jon being a Targaryen. He is (1) pledged to the Night’s Watch, having forsaken all lands, titles, inheritances, etc.; (2) the Lord Commander of the same; (3) still a bastard—only that of two noble houses rather than of one noble house and an unidentified commoner. I am very impressed with the theory postulated here, but, alas! it just doesn’t work. And as insignificant as it would be for Jon to be a Targaryen in the SHOW, it would be even more so in the books. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in such an exciting, seemingly plausible theory, that we don’t stop to think about the fact that, even if it were true, it would not even mean anything or make any difference. It would be no different, in the grand scheme of things, than when we learned that Maestor Aemon was a Targaryen. A few seconds to reflect, and say “Whoa… that’s cool,” and then on to the next scene.

    • Grayce

      Yeah, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, Stark and Targaryen…. no significance whatsoever…….

      • Seth

        Perhaps you need to think about it a little more, or read it again. Jon Snow being a Targeryn bastard would mean absolutely nothing. Period.

        • Watcher on the Wall

          Right, because no bastards have risen to power nor have Lord Commanders foresaken their vows. How about undead? A Song of Ice and Fire is significant.

  • Nicole

    I just started reading the books and find it very interesting that in the beginning of the first book, how Tyrion Lannister is comparing himself to Jon and advising him prior to his decision to enter the Nights Watch. From what I know of the fever and blood and roses relating to Lyanna’s death and the common assumption that it was a result of childbirth and comparing it to Tyrion’s constant remindings that he murdered his mother when he was born, made this particular relationship stick out.. I believe Tyrion is probably the wisest of all characters. As I pay attention to what he says, it seems he may leak a few things that aren’t as easily picked up on. Tyrion has the name, the title, the wealth but is an imp… The opposite to that when he compares it to Jon as a “Stark” is that he could always be an imp. Implying he doesn’t have the name title etc. and that’s his “imp flaws”

  • Pigeon

    Wylla is the damn wet nurse, someone that looks after babies. Yes Jon doesn’t have silver hair, but if you look through the world of Westeros there’s plenty of bastards that don’t follow the exact hair colour; even some that aren’t which still don’t have the exact hair colour. It’s caused by the inter-mixing of various houses. It’s very plausible that Jon could be a Targ. I’ve read all the books and watched every episode at least half a dozen times each. This entire theory seems to fit better than anything other.

    • Laura173

      The Targaryen seed is weak, which is why they are so incestual. With Lyanna being the mother, her colourings would have passed to John, making him look like a Stark even if he is half dragon.

  • joseph negranza

    WHO IS WYLLA?
    “YOURS WAS..er..ALEENA? NO. YOU TOLD ME ONCE. er…MERYL? YOUR BASTARDS’ MOTHER?” -ROBERT BARATHEON
    and then Ned Stark replies, WYLLA. He even had that face that suggests that he did and regret such acts with such a woman

  • mick

    targaryens can be hurt by fire many have even died from it

  • Jamie

    I fully subscribe to the theory that Jon is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. However, I was watching the first series again not long ago and remember when Jon kills the White Walker he burns his hand on the lamp (which is drawn upon very overtly). With this in mind and what we see with Danny that fire can’t hurt a Targaryen. Just food for thought.

    • Overlord

      Viserys was a Targaryen.

    • Monique Jacobs

      What Overlord said.

  • Donya

    i have always wondered..why would Ned bring home his bastard son..why not leave it to the mother..which would be more convenient..for everyone.. including the child!

    • Denhunter

      He brought home his bastard because sister/lover was dead.

  • Donya

    i have always wondered..why would Ned bring home his bastard son..why not leave it to the mother..which would be more convenient..for everyone.. including the child!

  • Dimitra

    but how is it going to be revealed if the only people who knew about it were Ned and Lyanna

    • Anna Pomaville

      The Reed kids that are with Bran, their dad was with Ned when Lyanna died. And Jojen has the sight, Bran will as well. Plus, Lyanna was in a tower in Dorne when she died, so maybe the Oberyn Martell suspects… we was at the Turney when Lyanna/Rhaegar met.

      • Dimitra

        thanks for explaining!i haven’t read the books, so there is a lot i don’t know!

        • Anna Pomaville

          I haven’t read the books either actually, just speculating. The online wikis have the info on Lyanna/Rhaegar.

      • Prince Adam

        yeah, but Oberyn doesn’t found ou before he died.

      • joseph negranza

        but WHO IS WYLLA? Season 1 Episode 2 “Kingsroad” remember? Even Robert knew that wench and her “connection” to Ned. Please explain. I have started reading so right now most of my knowledge came from the TV series

        • AMP

          I haven’t ready the books. I thought Ned miht have made up the name Wylla, but I don’t know. You can look it up on this wiki: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Wylla

          • Denhunter

            Edric Dayne claims he nursed Willa with Jon Snow, when they both were in Starfall.

        • Matthias Börner

          Robert hated every single Targ that walked the earth. Would he have known that Jon was half Targaryen, he would have killed him – regardless of his relation to Ned

  • Sally

    Also, his last name is snow, and accordingly in Westeros illegitimate children take the bastard name of where their mother is from. Since he is a Snow, this indicates his mothers from the north… Just some food for thought.

  • NED

    what if ned have sex with her sister,,and jon snow is their child…likw jamie lanister and her sister? back this times this hapens for the reason that royal families contimue the ” pure bloodline of the family name”

    • Wtf

      Ned was kinda busy fighting a war and he’s not Jaime Lannister either

      • Denhunter

        No, he wasn’t. The war didn’t go on over a year. I also believe Snow is the Ned/Lyanna incest baby.

        EVERYONE in the book, including Ned, states that he is Jon’s father. And he is the spitting image of Ned. And Ned ALWAYS calls him ‘son’.

        Jon Snow is the King of the North. I think that Robb knew when he made him his heir.

  • silverwolf

    I agree with your theory on Jon’s parentage. I believe Jon is the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms. When Daenerys was in the House of the Undying, she saw SNOW falling in the throne room…this could be symbolic for “Jon Snow”. On a side note I’m curious why didn’t they dye Sean Bean’s hair Black for his role as Eddard..his lighter colored hair does not fit the profile for the Starks?!?!

    • heichgled

      the snow in the throne room scene happened only in the tv show. in the books the house of the undying scene was very different from what happened the tv show. plus jon is a bastard, he is heir to nothing no matter who his parents are.

      • Skuilan

        Unless, of course, he’s not. The Targs were known for sister wives (literally in most cases). The only reason Reaghar married was because he didn’t have a sister to wed (Remember Dany was born around the same time he died). He could have, easily, married Lyanna with, or without, the consent of his current wife which, again, is something the Targs were known for.

        If he did marry Lyanna (which makes sense because the Kingsguard is only suppose to serve those of Royal blood with claim to the throne. There were three guarding Lyanna) than Jon is Jon Targaryan, and true heir to the Iron Throne except he took his vows at the black. But, hey, if (SPOILER) Mellisandra brings him back to life his vows would be fulfilled and he’d be free to claim his inheritance.

        • Paocy

          The real heir to the throne is the first son of Reaghar , Aegon VI his first born son … Even if snow is his son his the heir to nothing …. Cause the firs born is still alive.

    • joseph negranza

      black hairs are baratheons
      tullys are gingers
      starks are brown
      lannisters&tah(I’m not sure of the spelling:P) are gold/yellow
      targaryens are silver, i think

      • H

        You can’t just simply go by hair colour alone to determine a person’s lineage…

        • joseph negranza

          They actually have a book of those in the series. Remember in season 1 where Ned stark was determining the last actions of the former Hand of the king that eventually led to his death.

  • Pudgy McFudge

    Pretty sure Godrick Borrell straight up told Davos Seaworth that Jon Snow’s mother was a fisherman’s daughter who smuggled Edard into Sisterton. I mean if that’s not true it’s not true but it’s actually there in black and white.

  • Sherman Chiles

    I would like to throw a wrench in the mix here, Jon does not have the silver hair that all Targaryens have. So I think it unlikely that his parents are Rheagar and lyanna.

    • skuilan

      There have been other Targaryens with dark hair. The main reason they always had silver hair and purple eyes is from inbreeding.

    • Sofia Alarcon

      You do know that genes are also passed down through the mother’s side, right? Men are not the only ones with “strong seeds”.

      Besides, it’s established in-universe that whenever the Targs married outside the family, the children would often inherit the looks of the non-Targaryen parent. For example, in the Dunk and Egg stories it’s revealed that Baelor Breakspear, the son of Daeron the Good, had dark hair and eyes like his Dornish mother. GRRM had also stated that Princes Rhaenys, Rhaegar and Elia’s daughter, had dark hair and generally looked more Dornish like her mother.

      In short, the “seed” was not strong with Rhaegar.

  • MIKEY

    He couldn’t say it was his nephew because he thought his best friend Robert would kill him for being the bastard son or the son of rape by rhaegar or the mad king either way

    • Denhunter

      Or he thought Robert would kill them BOTH because he has a baby with Robert’s beloved Lyanna.

  • MIKEY

    Jon aegon and Danny are the three heads of the dragon jon takes the white and red eyed one, aegon the green and Danny the biggest jon is ice Danny is fire, aegon and jon are half brothers and Robb and Brandon and the rest were cousins Danny is his aunt

  • Fox Cat

    Fabulous! Kneesus I agree with you. I asked my partner, who is ahead of me in the books, what he thought of Jon Snow’s parentage and he was surprised I even brought it up.

  • kneesus

    And I really hate it when people say this is too obvious. Its really not until somebody points it out.

  • kneesus

    Robert might have loved Lyanna but I think it was more like lust. True love takes two and Ned makes it clear thatLyanna’s feelings for Robert weren’t quite what he remembers. Robert’s anger is rooted in an unfulfilled conquest and he wrapped it in a one way love to fuel his rage. He drowned that rage with battles then drink and wh**es.

  • Sam Hallworth

    Melisandre always talks about power in a kings blood, this theory makes Jon have this blood. Resurrection lord of light style, followed later by a massive sacrifice (maybe with stannis and Mance) to summon something big?

  • kneesus

    Leanna was kidnapped in 281, Ned found her in a bed of blood (birthing) in 283.

  • kneesus

    It’s obvious Ned is not the father. Even on the show he states, “he is of my blood.”

    • joseph negranza

      season 1 episode 2, just before they split up on the kingsroad, ned said “you may not have my name, but you have MY BLOOD”. not “of my blood”. then again, i’ve only started reading most of my knowledge is from the series. but still, just saying

  • spyglass

    How about Aerys being the father of Jon (by rape after the “kidnapping”). Along with him being the father of Tyrion (again by rape) and Dany, the 3 siblings are the 3 heads of the dragon. The mothers of all 3 died in childbirth as well.

  • ana arias

    what i never understood about the r+l=j theory was why would Lyanna put Ned’s marriage in that position. Robert wasn’t there. He had no idea how she died. All she did was make Jon Snow a second class citizen in the house of stark because Catelyn hates him now. I’m sure Catelyn would have been more than happy to raise Lyanna’s son. she has plenty of help around the house and at the time the only other child was Robb. if she really did want Jon to be raised with the same privileges and honors of a stark telling Ned’s wife that hes a filthy cheater is not the way to go about it. The argument is that she didn’t want the baby to be treated like Ned’s nephew but rather like his son. honestly being his nephew would be a lot better than being his bastard son at this point. catelyn wished the poor boy dead and he was just a kid. the only person who needed to know the truth would have been Catelyn and everything would have been okay for jon. he would have grown up with two loving parents rather than one guilty parent and one who not-so-secretly wants to smother him under a pillow

    • Michael Fuchs

      The problem is that cat would treat too good. Someone maybe become suspicious when cat don´t hate Jon, so Ned haven´t told her.

      • ana arias

        yeah but she at least she wouldnt treat him as poorly behind closed doors. that would just be for show. and besides in the books it says that she understood that a lot of lords have bastards so it wasnt a huge deal. no body would be expecting her to treat jon in any way. she couldve been indifferent to him. but she wasnt indifferent. she actively HATES him. she didnt have to smother him with kisses especially not in front of everyone but at least she wouldn’t be praying on his death and saying “i should have been you” when bran fell off the tower. besides who would even think wow lady catelyn is being awfully nice to neds bastard… maybe he’s lyanna’s child by rhaegar. the only reason book readers picked up on it is because theyre obsessive and borderline insane. no one cares that much about Jon snow. he doesn’t inherit anything regardless. so who would actively look into his parentage. im just saying catelyn couldve been told and everything would be exactly the same except jon and catelyn would be a tiny bit happier. everyone would still treat him like a bastard and know him as neds bastard but at least the bullying would stop once he was home and catelyn didnt flip out at him for no reason.

        • laurie66bay

          The fact that she hated him, raised Jon beyond suspicion. That was what Ned wanted. It was the only way…someone would think something was up if catelyn didn’t despise Jon. There are lots of people in the keep and everyone knew catelyn had no love for Jon.

          • ana arias

            why would she HAVE to hate jon when she clearly stated in the books that bastards are anything but uncommon in westeros. and if cat knows this than ned should be smart enough to know this too. it’s their culture. Cat said this herself in the books. she said that bastards were just one of the facts of life in westeros. lords have bastards. so what. it was just something that happens… like birthdays. kinda like “big deal you have a birthday. everyone has a birthday.” sorta thing. her reason for hating him had nothing to do with ned but rather with winterfell. indifference to bastards was more common than outright hatred. nobody loved their husbands bastards but they werent as harsh as Cat. no one expected her to hate jon but to really be indifferent to him like “oh yeah thats that kid my husband had with someone else.” moving on. because she wasnt in love with ned when she was pregnant with robb. they barely new each other. they later fell in love but she considered his indiscretion a thing of the past when they werent really in love so ididnt bother her that he cheats. what bothered her was that jon is supposedly ned’s acknowledged son and could inherit anything at all which would otherwise go to her children. but if her children died like robb did jon could swoop in and claim winterfell. its a jealousy thing about property not love. she wants HER kids and grandkids to be the kings in the north. the point is no one EXPECTED anything from her behavior other than indifference. no one expected her to love and dote on him but no one expected her to hate him either. they just expected her to shrug him off like everyone lady does to the bastards of their husbands.

          • laurie66bay

            Its in her nature to resent Jon because it is evidence of the betrayal of her husband. Others might shrug it off, but she didn’t. Its the way she is. She doesn’t want him at Winterfell for various reasons. The point isn’t that Ned wanted her to hate Jon but that he had to create the perfect shroud around him. A secret ceases being a secret when you tell someone else. Not that he would expect Cat to tell anyone, but she might let it slip or create suspicion in some other way, and he couldn’t take that chance. She can’t accidentally disclose, that which she doesn’t know. And no one can question that the end story Ned created for Jon, and the trouble it subsequently created for him, created an airtight alibi for Jon in which nobody inside the book ever suspected that Ned wasn’t really the father. It was a secret too important to take chances with.

          • ana arias

            yeah but she didn’t care about Ned when “wylla” had him. she wasn’t in love with him. the only real reason she resents him is because he poses a threat to her children’s inheritance. she doesn’t really feel like Ned betrayed her but rather like he’s giving jon what belongs to her children only. she doesn’t want to share Ned’s property and lordship with him. if she knew that he’s not his son it would put her at ease. the truth is he doesn’t have to even tell her it’s Lyanna’s baby. anyone else’s baby would have been just fine. well if thats the case about secret then its not secret already. ned wasn’t alone at the tower of joy. howland reed was there. so he knows whatever happened too.

          • gotfan

            haha ur funny

          • V

            She hates Jon because she felt that Ned loved the other woman; that is what really bothers her, that he is willing to go above and beyond to keep his mother a secret instead of telling his own wife. Since she loves Ned and can’t truly hate him, her hatred was transfered to an easier target that she has no bond with: Jon. Hopefully this finally helps you understand :)

          • ana arias

            maybe in the show but not in the book. she explicitly states that she doesnt care that ned he cheated that she understands that shit happens in war and that he was gone for a year and that men have needs or whatever.

          • gotfan

            u still dont fukking get it? grow a brain pls.

    • kneesus

      She wanted to protect jon because he’s technically a targaryan

      • ana arias

        so. do you think catelyn is such a blabber mouth that she couldnt be trusted with such a huge secret. she would put both ned and jon at risk. he would be harboring a targaryen which to robert is betrayal.

        • kneesus

          It has less to do with Cat and more with Ned’s honor.

          • ana arias

            im not sure i understand what you mean by this. elaborate. what has to do with neds honor?

            i personally like that jon is his bastard and not the son of some mary sue dead prince. not only does it give ned a flaw in an otherwise perfect character but gives catelyn more dimension. i really hope he’s not rhaegars son. it would spoil too many good charcters for me. ned, catelyn and lyanna being that she basically forced her son to live a life as a second class citizen. im mean even fucking theon gets more respect than jon from catelyn. and theon is just some kid they kidnapped.

          • kneesus

            Ned was a man of honor and he made a promise to his dying sister as she laid in a “bed of blood”, which means childbirth in Westeros speak. Hurting Cat was probably hard for Ned, but the impossible thing was to break a promise and defy his precious honor. Look how he handled the Cersei situation, got himself killed.

          • ana arias

            yeah but im not talking about ned honoring lyanna’s wish. what im talking about is why lyanna would ask him to do this in the first place. i get why he would honor that of course. she’s freakin dying. but it just seems a little crazy that lyanna would ask him to do such a thing when there are so many other ways around that. ways that would have benefited her infant son rather than be condemned as a bastard in his wifes eyes. again its not about ned promising to keep his true parentage a secret but why Keep it a secret from Cat. the operative words being “from cat”. why cant she know. its not as if she hated Lyanna or rhaegar. she and the rest of the Tully’s have proven to be fiercely loyal to the Stark family and that loyalty would have been extended to her nephew.

          • kneesus

            Robert Baratheon has a deep burning hatred for Targaryans. She probably feared for the child’s life. Robert has always made more of their relationship than really was there. She wasn’t kidnapped, she ran off with Rhaegar. Her fears are founded in how Robert deals with a pregnant Daenarys no less. He sends someone to kill a pregnant woman. Sure he would have been conflicted about somebody associated with Leanna, but she wasn’t willing to make that gamble.

          • Azgri

            Robert would not have been at all conflicted. He’s persuaded himself Lyanna was raped.

            That (assuming the rest of the theory) makes Jon Snow 1 son of Robert’s most hated enemy 2 Targaryen 3 the legitimate heir to the throne 4 the direct cause of Lyanna’s death.

            Those are not good prospects for a long life span under Robert Baratheon.

          • kneesus

            Cersei/Tywin definitely would have found a way to off Jon if they knew.

          • laurie66bay

            Lyanna didn’t ask Ned to lie to Cat. All she asked was for him to hide Jon and never let anyone find out who he was. She may have even asked Ned to pretend it was his son, but I doubt they got to the point of developing the whole elaborate plan. The plan is what Ned completed on his own when he had to figure out how to ensure no one would ever care enough to look into Jon’s origins. And that he did. No one had a reason to look because Ned was his father, and no one cared who the mother was.

          • gotfan

            ana arias i was reading this convo.. and i cant help realize that your stupid..

          • laurie66bay

            Cat’s anger seals the lie. No one questions it. If Catelyn accepted Jon and showed affection for him, someone somewhere might start questioning why and it could draw attention. Jon had to be beyond suspicion.

          • ana arias

            no one would question it anyway. in the books catelyn herself states that a lord like ned having a bastard is no biggie. this is standard stuff for their society. even if she brushed jon snow off no one would think to much of it since most ladies do the same. this is from the book “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” in other words she does like looking at him because he looks more like ned than Robb. “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 had his needs after all and they had spent that year apart.” it last continues like this ” her thoughts were more of robb, the infant at her breast, than of the husband she scarcely knew. he was welcome to what ever solace he might find between battles. and if his seed quickened she expected he would see to the childs needs. he did more than that…called him “son” for all the north to see.” I cant find the exact line where her hatred for him is truly explained but it involved jon fathering sons that might challenge robbs sons claim to winterfell.

        • jimmy

          Catelyn has proven time and again that she isn’t to be trusted – her “thinking on her own” essentially cost her husband and sons everything. Take Tyrion prisoner? Ned dies, war starts. Free Jaime Lannister? Robb loses face, gets killed. Catelyn is just awful. I wouldn’t have told her a damn thing, either.

          • ana arias

            Yes but thats in times of war and her daughters were kidnapped and her youngest sons were dead. She had already lost her husband and her young songs. all she could do now was try to save her daughters who were still alive. dont blame catelyn for robb losing the war. he lost that war all by himself when he married talisa/jeyne and beheaded karstark. He beheaded karstark and lost half his army and then the only way to get the same amount of men back was to do one stupid fucking thing but noooo he couldnt keep it in his pants. i doubt she was so hot that she was worth losing a war, your head and your mom over it.He’s a fucking idiot and it had nothing to do with jaime lannister.

            The war was over when ned brought jon home. Robert won. almost all the targs were dead. why would she start unnecessary conflict that could endanger her husband over some stupid jealous that she knew very well was standard in westeros and no one would mock her over it because the truth is that no one cares how many bastards a lord has. that totally normal! she was just greedy. so greedy she wouldnt even accept it if jon inherited one tiny little house to live in when he grew up so she was practically bouncing at the idea to have him shipped off to the nights watch. the north is a big fucking place. jon snow is one tiny little bastard man (which means he cant inherit in the first place) even so im sure he wouldnt take up too much land since robb was a disputably the heir.

    • TJ Neel

      I believe one thing is being missed here. It was Ned Stark’s decision to tell Catelyn what he did. His promise to his sister was only to keep the secret of Jon’s heritage a secret and to keep him safe overall. I doubt they were thinking of how to do this or the consequences while she lay dying.

    • laurie66bay

      Ned allowing people to think Jon is his bastard, effectively rules out any other “real” theories about Jon’s parentage. After all, people would figure, it has to be true. If Ned was going to lie, he wouldnt have lied in this way (putting his own honor at risk). Why would he claim to have sired a bastard, unless he actually did. People would assume his honor compelled him to take responsibility. And Catelyns real antagonism towards Jon just firms up the story. Why would Ned lie, and anger the wife he loves more than anything else…it has to be true (in people’s minds) because no one would do this to themselves if it wasn’t. Ned had to make everything airtight and unquestionable and he did. A lot of people question who Jon’s mother was, but no one at all questions whether Ned is the father, and the one person who couldn’t be the mother (if ned if the father) is his sister Lyanna. It is the perfect lie and he paid for its perfection with his honor.

  • toddschul

    My guess was that Jon was Ned’s sister’s kid. But, having only watched the show and not read the books was not sure who the father was.

    I do have a question though. You wrote that the murder of Ned’s Father and Brother is what triggered the rebellion. Why did Ned not lead the rebellion if that was the cause? Do the books explain why that was?

    • JennNJ

      Yes, the Baratheon line is descended in part from the Targaryens, so the drop of dragon blood led a bit of legitimacy for Robert’s claim to the throne. In the end, it was swords that won the throne, but the Baratheon-Targaryen connection made the whole thing “look” a little better.

  • Patsy Montana

    I think you have a significant typo in your otherwise beautiful dissertation on the origin of Jon Snow. After stating that the Mad King had murdered Ned’s father and brother, your very next statement is:

    “The murder of Robert’s father and brother is what triggered Robert’s Rebellion and, with the Mad King slayed, Robert eventually won the Iron Throne as well as the title of ‘Usurper’.”

    I believe you meant Ned’s, not Robert’s, father and brother?

    Otherwise, you’ve written a very well researched and thoughtful piece. Thanks for the good work.

  • rich24h

    remember both Robert and Ned were in the Vale when Lyanna was “kidnapped”
    how could Robert had taken advantage of her

  • delafey

    Shouldn’t Snow’s hair be blonde, if his father is Rhaegar? The hands of the king figured out the truth of the Lannister/Baratheon kids by reading the Lineages of the Great Houses and following hair color……or at least that’s the way I remember it.

    • t

      No as the black hair gene is stronger than a blonde gene meaning that if his mother had dark hair, it would cancel the blonde of his fathers hair.

    • Sofia

      Genes are also passed down through the mother, you know. And it’s established in-universe that whenever the Targs married outside the family, the offspring would often take after the non-Targ parent in appearance. GRRM has also stated outside the books that Rhaegar’s daughter with Elia Martell took more after her Dornish side in appearance. So the seed was strong with Rhaegar.

  • Opi

    According to Ned Stark his daughter Arya resembles Lyana very much, Also there are many references that Jon looks the most like Arya, just one of my observations.

  • Stuart Herrington

    I think this is a good theory, but you point more toward Rob Baratheon as the father then you deny that as well.

    With all the evidence you put forward, I think a more logical theory as opposed to your more obvious one is, Lyanna went to see Rhaegar but they didn’t have sex, but Robert turns up presuming the worst, like you said she was ‘kidnapped’ in his eyes, when he killed Rhaegar and confronted Lyanna maybe he got drunk and raped her.

    At Lyanna’s death, she tells Ned what happened, his best friend and pretty much the new king of the iron throne angrily took advantage of her, but in the position of them supposed to be getting married, been Ned’s best friend, and maybe sharing some empathy with the situation whilst still disapproving of Robert’s actions. Leave’s Ned in a somewhat awkward position with the burden of knowing, which could be his curse, Though it leaves him in a fairly neutral if not a little bitter position, He is also often be the person who tries to suppressors Roberts anger, knowing he can see things in a ‘bad light’ and been rash about his decisions.

    Jon Snow is probably more likely to be Robert and Lyannas child, as Jon has Dark hair, darker than anyone from the Stark family, yet the Targeryen are quite blonde, it would be hard to believe that the blonde hair of Rhaegar, a male (The Targaryens seem to all have prodominently very light blonde hair), wouldn’t pass down that trait to his son, instead Jon has Jet black hair, like Baratheon, which is part of the lineage plot used to point out that Robert’s children are not his, but Lannisters through incest.

    So Jon is also half-brother to Gendri.

    Even if this theory is wrong, the chances of Jon ever finding out are quite slim by the looks of it, which means his interaction with Gendri or Daenerys might not be as interesting or fulfilling as our rumors predict :p

    • Martin

      You are a sick cook sucker!!! Lyanna is Jon Snow mother!!! That is to obvious!!

    • JEM

      Then why would Robert ask Ned who Jon’s mother was if he knew he was Jon’s father and Lyanna was Jon’s mother?

      • R Akathiotis

        I guess that’s the point, he didn’t know. Ned led everyone to believe he was his son, so no one would suspect he was Lyanna’s.

  • Fire&Blood

    This theory is so perfect hehe, I hope this is THE ONE. I’m just a bit freaked that if people keep putting this theory up, GRRM would change his mind or something. I mean the whole awesome point of writing is giving everyone the element of surprise and the fact that everything is unpredictable. I’m just a bit ??? that if this theory is actually IT and everyone is so hooked on it GRRM wouldn’t put it on paper because there will be no surprise and it’s predictable :/ . BUT :) I love love love this, and yes Jon is so much a Stark, black hair and everything and yes he’s not immune to fire and he has a direwolf, but at the same time, you all see Ghost right :D his eyes is the color of fire and he is white, which is close to Targaryen hair colour, with Ghost it’s as if a way of saying, Jon’s appearance is Stark but at the same time a Targaryen inside :) LOve it ***

    • R Akathiotis

      It occurred to me that GRRM may change his mind if the same theory kept cropping up. He does love the unexpected story line.

    • JennNJ

      GRRM has stated numerous times that he is not going to change the story just because some people may have figured out some of the mysteries, so no worries there.

  • Kim

    This theory seems pretty legit (except about Jon’s hair– genetically, it’s definitely possible that he’d be dark haired, but I just don’t feel like that’s right). However, I just don’t want to see Jon ever becoming King. I love Jon’s character right now but like Ned and Robb, I think that he’s a great man but he’d be a terrible kind. Even through all the development through the books, he just isn’t royalty material yet in my eyes. Also, I think that would seriously mess up the balance of the houses. I know the Starks aren’t the end and beginning of the books, but they’re an important part of it and having Jon being a Targaryen seems lopsided. I don’t know… the theory seems plausible, but I personally wouldn’t want it to be true :/ GOOD SPECULATION THOUGH! :)

  • Rio Palma

    In Dance with Dragons, Davos Seaworth- hand of stannis was shipwrecked in Sisters islands. The Lord of that place told a story of Eddard Stark being shipwrecked with a pregnant woman at the start of the war. Ned gave the pregnant woman a bag silver. Would that woman be Ashara Dayne? Mother of Jon? That makes since!

  • Ewad Hull

    Great article. This is something I’ve discussed myself, here…

    http://edwardwilliam.hubpages.com/hub/Who-is-jon-Snows-Mother

    Personally, I think the Lyanna/Rhaegar theory has to be right- it needs to be something huge like that to do it justice and not be a disappointment. I’ve been starting to wonder the fact that so many people are speculating in this direction will make GRRM change his mind?

  • Hiro

    Assuming Ned was honorable before all this. Lyanna could have asked ned to live honourably as her promise

  • WMihop

    I do think it would be great for Jon Snow to be a Targaryen, I just cannot see how it makes sense. Jon was burnt killing a wight, I don’t see why make him a Targaryen but don’t give him the blood of the dragon. Also there were six dire wolf pups for all six of Ned’s kids. If he was a Targayen he wouldn’t have a dire wolf. He may be Brandon Stark’s bastard.

    • Viserys was a true Targaryen and wasn’t immune to fire, only Dany seems to be immune to fire and in my opinion ot’s because she is the one in the prophecy. Also, he’d be also Lyanna’s child so it makes sense he has a direwolf, for he’d be half dragon and half direwolf.

    • kneesus

      Why Would rhaegar leave 3 of the baddest Knights In the realm to guard a bastard and a mistress? They were secretly wed and Jon is/was a legitimate heir. He did take the black.

    • JennNJ

      Targaryens are NOT immune to fire as a rule. What happened with Daenerys was a one-time magical occurrence. Secondly, even if Jon is a Targ, he is still a Stark as well, so why not have a direwolf?

  • this is quite a tunning theroy and a huge revalation if true. SPOILER

    —- tho jon will never know as to the events at the end of 5th book. Unless lady Melisandre brings him back to life like the fat red preist did to beric dondarrion many times.

    • Monique Jacobs

      Ah, but that’s if he’s dead to begin with ;) No one knows if he dies as a result of his wounds. It’s just my feeling that Jon’s journey is far from over and that George has big plans for him…the king kind.

      • Bruno

        I believe that he does die…thus releasing him from his oath to the brotherhood….with lady melisandre bringing him back to life, he has a chance at revenge etc as he is no longer under the oath to the nights watch

  • Jimill

    Throughout the entire series they talk about great people’s stories being turned into songs. This is what their story has wrought. Everything that has happened to the realm following their love affair is due to their love affair. Hence the name of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

    i have a strong feeling there may be another Direwolf and Dragon romance that GRRM is heading towards, that some may be overlooking. Sansa, the dreamy eyed, innocent and fairest lady, trapped in an impenetrable fortress. Held there against her will by a brutal and scheming tyrant, like the maidens in song and stories of old that she always speaks of (and naively brlieves to be true). To be rescued by a valiant prince… (Aegon perhaps?) Another Song of Ice and Fire to complete the deadly cycle?

    • Monique Jacobs

      Beautiful! Sansa deserves that tale of heroism, considering that she harboured those romantic idealist notions for most of her young life before reality shattered them .

  • Erin Gäddnäs

    I am so glad I wasn’t the only one with this theory in my head!
    My suspicion started out with Rhaegar, though. He is always described as a beloved and calm, even melancholic character and that he would have forced Lyanna to anything didn’t seem logical. And the next step in my mind progression was Lyanna, who was described as headstrong and stern, much like Arya. It all summed up with me thinking: “Poor, stupid Robert… Rhaegar and Lyanna were in love with each other!”
    So in the end I did thought of the possibility of death by childbirth when her bed seemed to have been covered in blood. And that led me to the mindblowing conclusion that a child was born and kept hidden and who might that be? ……. OHMYFUCKINGGOOOOOOOD!! I LOVE THESE BOOKS!
    I can’t wait to see the finale of it.

    • Monique Jacobs

      Right?! That moment when it just *clicks*, when all the pieces fall effortlessly into place, and you know your life is irrevocably changed for the better! ;)

  • Great article! Can’t wait for the next book. I think its plausible that Jon is son to Lyanna and Rhaegar. Especially when Eddard mentions to Jon, “you may not bear my name but you have my blood”, followed by his promise to tell him all about his mother when they next meet. I mention the later because he is finally able to lift the burden of his secret to Jon as he will have no more claim to the Iron throne when he swears an oath to brothers of the wall.

    • Monique Jacobs

      :) Thanks!

      “…he is finally able to lift the burden of his secret to Jon as he will have no more claim to the Iron throne when he swears an oath to brothers of the wall” That’s an awesome point. Think you’re absolutely spot on!

      I’m falling-to-the-ground-in-agony excited about the last two books.

  • Christian

    I think the theory’s brilliant but there’s something even more interesting that falls into it as a harmonic piece. I apologize if you’ve already noted it out and of course i apologize to all the non-book readers because it’s a SPOILER , do not read if you haven’t read Dance. What I was talking about is the prophecy of the three-headed dragon. As of the end of A Dance with Dragons if we believe the word of Tyrion and Jon Connington, and Varys of course, we have the rightful heir to the Throne, Rheagar’s son from Elia, Aegon, on the shores of the Stormlands together with the Golden Company. And if Jon truely is the son of Rheagar and Lyanna, we’ll have one rider for each of the three dragons, don’t you think?

    • Monique Jacobs

      ‘..we’ll have one rider for each of the three dragons, don’t you think?’ ;)<<< The art of agreeing without verbally agreeing

    • SandraKolb

      Don’t forget Bran…he will “fly” as well.

      • Alejandro

        actually Jojen And Meera are sons of Howland Reed (the only other person that knows the truth about Ned’s promise to Lyanna which leads me to believe that they were looking for a warg in the Stark family (Jon) but they got Brann instead. he said that he had a dream of a wolf flying (Jon flying on the white dragon with red eyes, hmmm coincidence?)

  • ap

    the only thing that bothers me is that Jon burns his hand when he kills the wight. Shouldn’t a real dragon not burn?

    i wish there was an explanation for that, but otherwise a good well thought out article….

    Thanks

    • Monique Jacobs

      I don’t have ALL the answers hahaha. Very good point. Maybe it’s because he’s HALF-dragon?

      • well, not ALL targarayens are dragons. viserys was one but he died from molten gold. they said that the dragon skips around in the blood line. they can still all be kings especially since the dragons had died out long ago, it was the bloodline that made them kings, not that they were actual “dragons”

        • cageybee

          who knows that Jon was “burned”? the Maester….who was a tagaryen………and then he wears a glove……to protect the burn? or to protect that he’s not?

        • JennNJ

          Targaryens are NOT immune to fire. Period. Dany’s dragon birth episode was a one-time magical occurrence. GRRM has stated this himself. Dany is mistaken when she claims that fire cannot kill a dragon. In fact, her ancestors died in the fire at Summerhall.

    • Amy

      Real dragons can get burned. George Martin has said that dany walking into the burning funeral pyre was pretty much a one time, supernatural thing.

  • DLR

    Great article. However you neglected to mention my personal favorite clue; at one point in GOT Catelyn muses how, out of all the Stark kids, only Arya resembles Ned, the rest take after the Tullys. Then she gets mad realizing that Jon too resembles Ned and thereby Arya. (Sound of Catelyn grinding teeth). At a different point Ned thinks about how much Arya resembles Lyanna, not just spiritually but physically. Jon resembles Arya who resembles Lyanna… hmm!

    • DLR

      whoops, repeated myself. sorry!

  • DLR

    great article. You neglected my personal favorite clue however – at one point Catelyn (I’m pretty sure) muses how only Arya takes after Ned physically, all the other kids resemble Tullys. Then she gets mad realizing that Jon also resembles Ned and Arya. (Sound of Catelyn grinding teeth). At a different point Ned muses on how much Arya resembles Lyanna, spiritually but also physically. Jon resembles Arya who resembles Lyanna… hmm.

    • My sincerest apologies. Yes, there are references to Arya’s strong physical resemblance to the Starks, how similar in character she is to Lyanna and how Jon resembles Arya in so many ways.

      Where those references are in the book is another story :P I knew more or less where to find the key passages that I needed. I assembled about 17 pages of information and passages. When I hit the 18 page mark, I decided to call it a day and work with what I had. A lot of it was repetition, but with one or two additional details. It was a delightful challenge to condense the information into 7 pages :P The difficulty was ensuring that the story flowed and deciding where to slot certain information in. The structure was very important to me.

      If I’d have found these passages while searching, I would’ve made every effort to include them. I promise :)

    • P.S. The Arya/Lyanna resemblance and the Jon/Arya resemblance is a perfect, indirect way of pointing out the resemblance and similarity (physical and personality wise) between Jon and his mama.
      I’m really glad you brought it up.

  • John H

    I’ve held this theory as well, with the only cold water sprinkled on it being the assertion by Edric Dayne, the Lord of Starfall that he and Jon were milk brothers and Jon’s mother was Wylla. If Ned brought the baby to her (for whatever reason) after promising Lysanna to raise the boy, it seems fortunate that the girl had milk enough for two babies without the need of actually being pregnant herself (that we know of).

    There is certainly enough material there for a couple of prequel novels, but the speculation is fun and sets Jon up for some exciting times…assuming he’s brought back from the dead to enjoy them. ;-)

    • A prequel! George?!? Jon’s conception could be one of several.

      Yes, this makes me happy! And this way, when he’s completed the series and we’ve read the last two books, we won’t have to be reduced to lonely, lost people who ask strangers for hugs, not with a prequel (or two, pushing for three. George?!) on the way.

      As for the Wylla scenario, the best way I can explain it (besides restating all of the above content) – the Lyanna/Rhaegar theory creates a literary harmony that FEELS beautiful/inspired/right to me :) No cold water sprinkles are making it to my parade *laughs*

      • Alejandro

        Def. also think about this, Everything that happens in history is then made into a song, This is called “A song of Ice and Fire” therefore if Jon is truly the son of Rhaegar then He’s the rightful heir to the iron throne and the whole Ice and Fire terminology

  • Nick Larter

    Lovely article – as good a summation of all the fan speculation on L+R=J as I have read. Perhaps you could next do a piece explaining how the third head of the Dragon is Tyrion Lannister.

    • Thank you, kind Sir :)

      I’m keen to write about The Prince that was Promised and who the three heads of the dragon represent. My only concern is that, even though it would also be classified as conjecture, I’ll end up incorporating way too many spoilers.

      But I’ll give it some thought because I’d lurveeee to deconstruct the theory ;)

  • Charlie

    Personally, I believe Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. GRRM never writes anything without a meaning or purpose. So, Jon being Ned Stark’s bastard just doesn’t seem likely. George is too creative and too witty for Jon’s mother to be a simple story. It has to have a certain twist and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your analysis.

    But if this holds to be true, would Targaryen loyalists accept him? After all, he is half Stark. Targaryen’s married within the family for years to keep the bloodline pure. Would Dany be more suitable for the Iron Throne because she is a true Dragon?

    • Right?! All the praise in the world wouldn’t be enough for George! I should really check on the status of that fruit basket.

      I’d put him into the same category as Tolkien >>> ‘Mind=Blown’

      Ah, yes, the Targaryen loyalists. I highly doubt that everyone will accept a half-Stark’s/bastard’s claim to the throne. BUT, if Dany has the best Targaryen claim and she accepts Jon? We have a harmonious ruling union of Ice and Fire. The series title always struck me as being very profound #ASongofIceandFire

      While there are one or two people who have a better claim to the Iron Throne, Jon’s ascension from bastard who will never hold any noble titles to Ruler of Westeros feels poetic. It’s the most beautiful version of events that could transpire.

      And how good would he look seated on the throne, a golden crown placed atop his head of curls?! This. Must. Happen.

      • Paperkangaroo

        Too bad Jon will never accept it. He’s the epitome the Night’s Watch. “The men of the Night’s Watch take no part”

        • E190

          And John lived by “the man of the nights watch take no part “until the end of a dance with dragons…

  • Awesome points here and a great piece. Honored to have it here on HBOWatch!

    Thoughts on Jon’s parents: It’s quite clear that the answer isn’t as Eddard explained to Jon before his death. The thing I find interesting is that there are so few people left alive that actually know for sure what happened and will Jon/anyone even believe them when they step up? I mean if Howland Reed comes out of the woodwork and declares something like R+L=J.. will Jaime Lannister, Stannis Baratheon and D. Targ even blink? The question is almost academic in nature in that I find it hard to believe everyone would just bend the knee to a former bastard in the middle of this conflict.

    I think we’ll have to wait until the VERY END when Jon and Dany are getting married in King’s Landing (that’s right, future spoiler alert!) to find out what the truth is. And even then it will only be icing on the pigeon pie at that point. Jon is going to have to prove himself before he’s “kinged” by birthright. Remember.. Stannis is the rightful king and no one cares!

    • Agreed! I’m ridiculously excited to see how/in which way George is gonna present the big reveal and what the various reactions will be.

      No one’s had much respect with regards to who has the rightful claim to that uncomfortable looking throne – as you say, Stannis – everyone believes their campaign is a noble one. Jon’s claim is likely to be met with the response of ‘And?’

      I suppose, in that respect, his is the most worthy. He’s the only one who doesn’t salivate at the prospect.

      And then there’s that prophecy…

      *laughs* *sighs* Too many thoughts on this topic, we’re dangerously close to ‘3000 word comment’ territory.

    • yes when jon and dany get married dragon to zombie. sounds perfect.

  • Eleonora

    Fantastic piece of writing! Excellent points and excerpts to support the theories in the article. I am on the mindset that Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen are Jon’s parents, for the very reasons you’ve mentioned! I look forward to reading more pieces from you!

    • Thanks, honey, I’m really glad you like it.
      They better be his parents, otherwise it’s gonna be a major foot-in-mouth type situation hahaha.
      There’s no doubt in my mind ;)

  • Jonathan

    ..this would also imply, that SPOILER REDACTED.
    *Edit Hey guys, let’s try to refrain from AT LEAST the biggest book/plot spoilers if we can, eh?

    • Um…*laughs* the event you speak of sort of falls under the ‘spoilers’ category :O I can’t really comment on anything that happens in the last three books.










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