Game of Thrones Season 6 ended up with sealing the most speculated theory about Jon Snow’s parentage. Who is Jon Snow’s real parents?
Apparently, it has been the talk of the town for almost two decades. But to say the least, one theory has been popular amongst them—the RLJ Theory.
RLJ stands for Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon.
Rhaegar Targaryen is the son and heir to the Iron Throne by King Aerys II Targaryen, (which most of us know him by his monicker, Mad King,) and Queen Rhaella Targaryen. Lyanna Stark is the daughter of Lord Rickard Stark, of Winterfell and Lady Lyarra Stark, and siblings to Brandon, Eddard (Ned), and Benjen Stark. Jon Snow is the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark from an unknown mother. We will discuss them further on while we go through important details and how the books are riddled with foreshadowings and hints about this theory.
WARNING: Spoilers for everyone who hasn’t read the book. Read at your own peril.
Appearances and Characters:
1. Jon Snow
We are introduced with the Bastard of Winterfell named Jon Snow on the first few chapters of the book. Jon’s arrival at Winterfell was after Ned Stark, his so-called father arrived from the South following the end of Robert’s Rebellion, the end of the Targaryen dynasty. Catelyn Tully, wife of Eddard Stark, recalled that after her birth of Robb Stark, she travelled to Winterfell to take up residency and found Ned’s bastard with a wet nurse. She then tried to ask Ned about the mother of the child whom Ned only regard that Jon is his blood. This sparks the hatred of Catelyn towards the child, for Ned did not kept to one bed and as honorable as he is, he broke it. Catelyn then believed that Ned “loved his (Jon) mother fiercely [AGoT Catelyn p.66]”.
George RR Martin has been very detailed regarding the appearances of the Stark House. We learned from Bran that Jon, possessed “(Jon’s) eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was LITTLE they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender…dark…strong, and fast…silent and intense [AGoT Bran, p.15]“. It’s remarkable that Bran was able notice these details of his half brother, but what caught me off guard was how Bran described something that most people don’t see. Perhaps that pertains to the true color of Jon’s eyes. He was also a silent person, perhaps, with all the name callings such as a bastard, Jon stayed behind the shadows and prefers himself as his company most of the time.
Catelyn had a remarkable description, as we all know, her hate towards Jon Snow doesn’t go unnoticed. She said, “He (Jon) looked more liked Ned than any trueborn sons she bore him.[AGoT Catelyn, p.66].” Jon was a northerner through and through. Much like Ned Stark’s appearance.
Tyrion also noted that Jon had “a Stark face…long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away. [AGoT Tyrion, p. 124]”. Backing up Catelyn’s description as a Northerner, and also a face which doesn’t reveal much of Jon’s mother. It gives away little of who could have mothered Jon. Not only does Tyrion suggests about his mother but notice that he can’t read Jon’s mind. His face doesn’t give away the kind of person Jon is?
Jon has a temper. While we see him dine alone during the feast in honor of King Robert Baratheon, his temper loses quickly while being reprimanded by his Uncle Benjen, talking about joining the Night’s Watch.
We move over to Arya as she regard Jon as a “wise boy of his age (14). [AGoT Arya 1, p.72] Later on, we discover Arya’s more detailed description. And how it was important.
2. Lyanna Stark
Lyanna Stark is the only daughter of Lord Rickard Stark and Lady Lyarra Stark, and was the only daughter among four siblings. She was betrothed to then Lord of Storm’s End and now King Robert Baratheon.
Lyanna Stark was sixteen when she died and Robert described him as “a child-woman of surpassing loveliness [AGoT Eddard, p.43] ” She was crowned as the “Queen of Love and Beauty” surpassing that of Princess Elia of Dorne at the Tourney of Harrenhal (more discussion about this later on). Ned speaks so highly of his sister Lyanna.
We learned more about her when Ned came to talk to Arya and found out about her sword Needle. He said, “Ah, Arya, you have a wildness in you, child. ‘The wolf-blood’ my father used to call it. Lyanna had a touch of it. [AGoT Arya, p.221]” In this passage, Arya made a note that her “father’s voice was saddened [AGoT Arya, p.221]” at the mention of it. And Arya “reminded him of her sister (Lyanna) sometimes. Arya even look like her. [AGoT Arya, p.221]“. Arya then goes off telling him that “she (Lyanna) was beautiful” which Ned agrees, “beautiful, and willful, and dead before her time.”
But while Lyanna was know for her “beauty, no one saw the iron underneath her“, Ned also told say that “Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it [AGoT Arya, p.221]“. Bran gave us a glimpse of his seer ability, as his thought move to Arya when he saw the little girl. “Arya!…he watched her leap up onto a rock and cut at the boy [ADwD Bran p.504]“. Then suddenly he remembers that “Arya never beat her to playing swords, the way that girl is beating him (the boy) [ADwD Bran p.504]”.
In the book, A Storm of Swords, Harwin, son of the Hullen, the Masters of Horses at Winterfell described Arya, “who rides like a northman. Your aunt (Lyanna) was the same. [ASoS Arya, p.235].”
But while Arya has been the subject of comparison with Lyanna, she was also described in multiple passages in comparison with her father, whom we could also compare to look like Jon. “Arya took after their lord father. Her hair was lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn. [AGoT Arya, p. 70]” Notice how the description of Tyrion fits the Stark’s features—long and solemn.
3. Rhaegar Targaryen
When Daenerys went into the House of Undying, she had seen her brother Rhaegar, “he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac. [ACoK Daenerys, p.632]”
Arstan Whitebeard by which we know him as Sir Barristan Selmy, gave a quite description of Prince Rhaegar. As Daenerys asked him to describe his dead brother to her. “(Rhaegar) loved his harp much better than his lance.” He goes on to say that “he is not certain it was in Rhaegar to be happy“, to which Dany replied that “he makes him sound so sour.” Arstan goes to explain that there was “melancholy, in a sense of doom“. After all, “he was born in grief and the shadow looms over him“, which pertains to the Tragedy at the Summerhall. But while it haunts Rhaegar, “he loved Summerhall. He goes there from time to time, with only his harp for a company [ASoS Daenerys, p.585-587]“—which only shows that Rhaegar likes his own self as his company. Rhaegar liked to sing and music. Once in the feast of the Tourney of Harrenhal, “(Rhaegar) sang a song so sad it made (Lyanna) the wolf maid sniffle [ASoS Bran, p. 340]”
But while King Robert Baratheon described Rhaegar as a man who stole his bride and accused him of raping Lyanna, it has never occurred on the book that Ned Stark regarded him the same. Ned had often recalled him as a fine man.
It is established that Jon took after his Northern features more so than that of Rhaegar. But while his physical appearance remains to be closer to Starks, his characters proved more of the late Rhaegar. He’s a brooding young man, mostly keep to himself as a company. It is suggested otherwise that Ghost as his direwolf, was a silent in nature just like him. Jon also liked books and as suggested, “Young Daeren Targaryen” was his hero after all [AGoT Jon, p.54] . Tyrion noted about his silence as well during their brief encounter while both of them were at The Wall.
There are much more to discuss. And we will all tackle them bit by bit, to understand more about this theory. Why is it important and why this is much true. Next up, we will talk more closely with the Tourney of Harrenhal—where everything begun.
Source of the images used in post: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/
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