Who Is Jon Snow’s Father? Jon’s Daddy Issues, Explained
Somebody please get this boy a paternity test. PLEASE. Haven’t the maesters invented one yet? Couldn’t he get some weird maegi from Asshai to divine who is daddy is with some blood magic? It can’t be that hard, can it? Beric Dondarrion literally came back from the dead like 50 times (and as a matter of fact, so did Jon) but they STILL haven’t figured out how to keep track of a person’s parentage? What is going on here?
Alright, listen, you’re gonna have to take this article with a grain of salt the size of The Mountain. George R.R. Martin is still writing the series, and we all know that Game of Thrones season 7 (when Jon’s parentage was revealed) turned out to be a harbinger of the total shitshow that was season 8. It’s possible that George R.R. Martin will change up the books a little bit, just so we can wash the taste of the final season out of our collective cultural mouth. With that in mind, the details of Jon’s parentage may be subject to change. Or MAYBE they’ll just be revealed in a more subtle and satisfying way. Maybe. But the Red God only knows.
So, who do we think Jon Snow’s parents are?
Alright, so this is where we’re gonna mix the events of the show with what is still considered “theory” in the books. According to A Song of Ice and Fire, Jon’s daddy is Eddard Stark. His mother may have been a highborn woman or a sex worker, we just don’t know. What we do know is that, like much of the bullshit in the world of Ice and Fire, it all started with the Targaryens.
Flashback: The tourney at Harrenhal. Nearly every noble family, hedge knight, and lowborn peasant was in attendance. The tourney was so massive that even King Aerys II himself was there. Also in attendance were the Stark family, consisting of a young Eddard, his brother Brandon, and his sister Lyanna, along with the king’s son, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and the prince’s wife, the Dornish Princess Elia Martell. The day was an eventful one: Thousands of lances were broken in a thousand tilts, and many a noble knight was unhorsed, with his dreams of glory dashed in the dirt. At the end of the tourney, only one knight was left standing: Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. After winning the tournament, it is tradition for the victor to choose a woman in the audience to crown as the “Queen of Love and Beauty.” Naturally, everyone thought Rhaegar would crown his wife Elia Martell with the honor, but instead, he rode right past her and laid the title on Lyanna Stark. The move shocked the crowd, and Eddard Stark remembers it as “the moment when all smiles died.” Yikes.
Flash forward: Sometime later, Prince Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark and stole her away. This led Brandon Stark to ride down to King’s Landing to demand Aerys II punish his son for the injustice. It didn’t go as planned. Aerys II took offense to this command and had Brandon Stark, his father, and all the men accompanying them put to the sword—and when I say “put to the sword,” I actually mean “strangled, burned alive, and—in a few merciful cases—beheaded.” In response to this outrage, Eddard Stark and his lifelong friend Robert Baratheon declared war on the Targaryens in what became known as Robert’s Rebellion, or The War of The Usurper, depending on whose side you were on.
Eddard Stark received word that his sister was being held at the Tower of Joy in Dorne, where she was being guarded by three of the finest knights in Kingsguard in history—one of whom was Ser Arthur Dayne, a.k.a. the Sword of Morning and the greatest swordsman in Westeros. Eddard traveled to the Tower of Joy with his bannerman Howland Reed and a handful of others. After the resulting battle, only Eddard and Howland survived. Eddard climbed the Tower of Joy and found Lyanna Stark stricken with fever and lying in a “bed of blood.” And this is where things get murky. Eddard has a flashback to this event during the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, where he recalls Lyanna pleading to him and repeating the phrase “promise me, promise me.” After Eddard and Robert win the war, Eddard returns home to Winterfell with a bastard boy. The boy is called Jon Snow—Snow being the last name that all highborn bastards take in the North. Eddard’s wife Catelyn once tried to ask where Jon came from, but Eddard commanded her to never speak of it again. Even his best friend Robert Baratheon was not able to get the secret out of Eddard. It doesn’t make any sense. Eddard Stark is a man of honor—a man who died for his honor. Why would he break his vows to his wife? Why would he father a bastard? Why would he keep this information from the boy who calls him father? Why, indeed?
Fan theory time!!!!
This is where things start getting even wackier. Daenerys Targaryen—little sister of Rhaegar (who lost his life to Robert Baratheon in the field)—has a vision of her eldest brother talking to a woman and holding a baby boy. Rhaegar names the boy Aegon Targaryen, and tells the woman the child is the “prince that was promised” and that “his is the song of ice and fire.” Coupled with the fact that Elia Martell was rendered infertile after giving birth to her second child, it’s likely that Rhaegar abducted Lyanna in order to birth more sons. It is ALSO possible that Lyanna and Rhaegar ELOPED with each other and that they were actually IN LOVE. The Targaryens of old often took more than one wife (often a sister or two, ew), so it’s possible that Lyanna and Rhaegar could have been married in secret. Knowing that highborn children are often casualties of the “game of thrones,” it’s likely that Rhaegar locked Lyanna away in the Tower of Joy to give birth so that she and her child could be safe.
It’s also possible that Eddard found his sister after she had just given birth (hence the “bed of blood”), and with her last breath she begged Ned to “promise” to keep her son safe. Eddard would have known that the newborn would not be safe from Robert Baratheon’s wrath, as Robert had already killed the child’s father, Rhaegar, in the Battle of the Trident. Meanwhile, the Lannisters had Elia Martell and her children murdered in order to prove their allegiance to the Baratheons and to eliminate the risk of true-born Taragaryen heirs from rising up in a future rebellion. It’s likely that Eddard decided that his best course of action would be to claim that he fathered the boy, as Jon Snow’s features took more from the Stark side of the family than the Targaryen. In short, Eddard Stark was SO HONORABLE that he LAID ASIDE HIS OWN HONOR and pretended to have fathered a bastard in order to PROTECT HIS FAMILY. This would also make Jon Snow his NEPHEW, and not his son.
Looking for more proof? In the first book, a red comet—a “bleeding star”—appears in the sky that is said to foretell the return of the “prince that was promised”. The Prince That Was Promised is a mythological figure said to have aided the forces of light and fire in defeating the forces of darkness and ice. We know that of all the magic in A Song Of Ice And Fire, the forces of Ice and Fire are legit. R’hllor, the Red God of Fire, is out here lighting swords on fire and bringing people back from the dead. MEANWHILE the God of Darkness, the “Great Other,” is reanimating corpses and letting the Others (the White Walkers) run riot. The Prince That Was Promised is said to lay claim to “the song of ice and fire,” and this may mean that they are the physical embodiment of that song; magic made flesh. The Targaryens are a family descended from fiery old Valyria and are said to have the “blood of dragons”—creatures of fire themselves. Meanwhile, the Starks have been the Kings of Winter for roughly the same amount of time as the Targaryen line existed. In fact, they may be even older. The union of a Stark and a Targaryen—the Ice and the Fire—would no doubt birth a child who could claim to embody the song of ice and fire. So basically, Jon Snow is not Jon Snow at all. Jon Snow is ACTUALLY Aegon Stark-Targaryen, the Prince That Was Promised, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne (depending on who you ask).
But … is this really true?
HBO’s Game of Thrones says that it is. But remember: The last seasons were TRASH. It’s likely that George R.R. Martin consulted with the writers and gave them a rough idea of how the story ended, with Jon Snow being revealed as The Prince That Was Promised. And despite how it was handled in the show, it makes sense. There is a poetry to the novel series; it is an epic, like the hero tales of old. In fact, the story of Beowulf WAS ACTUALLY SUNG by bards in Norse mead halls thousands of years ago. George R.R. Martin is a poet at heart, and it’s likely that the series will conclude in a similarly poetic way. However, George R.R. Martin is also really good at subverting our expectations (e.g., the Red Wedding) and Jon might actually be a huge red herring. We’ll never truly know until Martin finishes the books—if he ever gets around to it.
(featured image: HBO)
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