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The Wild World of Game of Thrones Fan Theories, Part 1

Spoilers. Spoilers, everywhere!

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With HBO’s Game of Thrones currently filming season 5 and GRRM coming out with a new book  (but not the one we want *sob*) soon, things have been fairly quiet for fans of A Song of Ice and Fire. To entertain themselves between releases, fans have taken to thinking up  theories. This isn’t a new practice, as fans have participated in the great story guessing game even before ASoIaF was around (lookin’ at you original LoTR fandom). Fan theories can be extensively researched, with hours poured into combing through source material to find legitimacy. On the other hand, they can seem like bad inside jokes from that one night you got totally wasted on Mead while watching the 4th season finale. *ahem* Anyway, I’ll be focusing on some of the more intricate fan theories here: from a few of the big ones, to some of the lesser known, but equally appealing. This is in no way an all-inclusive list, so if some of your favorites are missing list them in the comments!

I want to give a big shout out to the members of r/asoiaf, the tumblr asongoftheories, and westeros.org for keeping records of theories both probable and preposterous! Additionally, please know that this article is full of spoilers!  In Mary Sue tradition: The column of Catelyn Stark judges all, especially if they haven’t read all the books and then complain about being spoiled. Beware, for beyond here there be spoilers! 

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Tired of R+L=J? Try R+L=D & B+A=J

jon snow

Ah, the old tried and true. The theory commonly known as R+L=J suggests that during the war Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark GOT BIZAY and made everyone’s favorite bastard, Jon Snow! There’s a nice run down for the curious here. It’s such a popular theory that it’s practically canon for a lot of readers. However, there’s another idea that’s been gaining favor through the readership: Rhaegar + Lyanna = Daenerys.

The idea goes like this: If Ned was so worried about breaking a promise to protect Jon, why does he stay in King’s Landing (especially after he gives up at being Robert’s second in command)? Jon’s safe at the Wall, after all. Ned’s anxieties throughout A Game of Thrones make a lot more sense if he’s concerned about Daenerys instead. The promise Ned made to Lyanna could be about protecting Dany rather than Jon. So who does that leave to be Jon’s parents? Ned’s older brother Brandon Stark and Ashara Dayne. Both R+L=J/R+L=D and B+A=J theories are explained very well in this video series by Preston Jacobs.

What does George R.R. Martin have to say about it? On the subject of fan theories, he said at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival:

“I’ve been planting all these clues that the butler did it, then you’re halfway through a series and suddenly thousands of people have figured out that the butler did it, and then you say the chambermaid did it? No, you can’t do that.”

Welp. Take that how you will!

The Grand EVERYTHING Conspiracy 


If you get further into the realm of ASoIaF fannish speculation, you’ll find a bunch of titles with the words grand, theory, and conspiracy in them. There are a lot of them, and I can’t possibly go through every one here. Each one has a lot of research backing it, and they all give us more questions than answers. There’s the The Grand Tyrell Theory,  The Dornish Master Plan, and The Grand Faceless Men Conspiracy. Check them out for some really fun reading!

For now we’re going to focus on two theories that go hand in hand if you consider R+L=J to be true: Southron Ambitions and The Grand Northern Conspiracy. Southron Ambitions tells us that before the events of the books the houses of Stark, Tully, Arryn, Lannister, and Baratheon conspired to gain enough political power to hold Mad King Aerys by the balls. They would either force him to fulfill their demands through politics or have Rhaegar take the throne. How would these houses gain that much political power without going to war? Through the clever use of wards and weddings to seal alliances. Of course, all these plans went belly up when Rhaegar kidnapped (or at least Robert Baratheon thought Rhaegar kidnapped) Lyanna.

Fast forward to A Storm of Swords, just before the Red Wedding. Robb Stark is talking to his mother about who will take his place as King in the North should he die. The conversation eventually turns to Robb legitimizing his bastard brother Jon Snow and naming him heir, but we never find out if he actually did it. What we do know is that if it did happen five people would know about it: Greatjon Umber, Galbart Glover, Maege Mormont, Edmure Tully, and Jason Mallister. All of them are still alive. This is The Grand Northern Conspiracy: Robb legitimized Jon as a Stark and heir, and the Northern Lords know about it. They’re all working on the sly to get Jon on the throne as King in the North! 

The Tourney at Ashford and Sansa’s Suitors


In the Dunk and Egg novel The Hedge Knight, our heroes travel to Ashford for a tourney to celebrate Lady Ashford’s 13th name day. Defending the girl’s honor are five knights, ordered by appearance in the tilts that day: Lyonel Baratheon, Leo Tyrell, Tybolt Lannister, Humfrey Hardyng, and Prince Valarr Targaryen.  Not a bad line up for a 13 year old!

Notice anything interesting about these names? Each one corresponds with Sansa’s suitors in the same exact order. We all know Sansa was originally betrothed to Jofferey Baratheon, and then set to be engaged to Willas Tyrell. She ended up marrying Tyrion Lannister, but the marriage was never consummated. Under Littlefinger’s tutelage Sansa is now set to marry Harold Hardyng. Same families, same order, and the only one who hasn’t shown up for Sansa is a Targaryen. Oh yeah, isn’t that young Aegon coming into town soon?

The Tourney at Ashford theory suggests that The Hedge Knight foreshadows all of Sansa’s suitors and may even tell us what happens to them. For example, Prince Valarr Targaryen and Humfrey Hardyng both died at or shortly after the tourney. If this theory is true, Harry and Aegon may not be long for the world. Poor Sansa.

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