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Five theories that The Winds of Winter needs to answer



george r r martin winds of winter
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We are inching toward the release of George R.R. Martin’s sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, although at a snail’s pace (no, we don’t have a release date yet, but there’s hope!). There is no shortage of speculation and theories in the fandom. Even the most improbable fan theories can be slightly possible with a universe as large and mystical as Game of Thrones. Here are the most interesting theories that we wish The Winds of Winter puts to rest.

In case: All the Game of Thrones books written by George R. R. Martin

The infamous R+L=J

rhaegar lyanna r+l=j theory game of thrones

For those who have not heard of possibly the most popular Game of Thrones theory, it suggests Rhaegar Targaryen and Lynna Stark are the true parents of Jon Snow, who has been known as Ned Stark’s bastard throughout his life. As Vox points out, this theory first appeared online way back in 1997 by Rodrick Su. On an online forum of Game of Thrones fans, he listed out all the questions the first book left unanswered.

4. Jon Snow’s parent. It is wholely consistent that Jon Snow is the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Ned probably keep this a secret because Robert Baratheon is obsess with killing off all Targaryen, especially any offspring of Rhaegar.

Robert’s Rebellion began because Robert Baratheon assumed Lyanna Stark, the woman he madly loved, was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen. The uprising became such a solid movement because, by this point, the Targaryen reputation was tainted with claims of insanity, and the lords and people were tired. While the series has confirmed this theory, it is still a mystery in the books.

The evidence from the books

  1. Towards the end of Robert’s Rebellion, three of the Kingsguard are guarding Lyanna Stark, not the Mad King himself. Why would they be assigned away from the King if not for the possibility of Lyanna being pregnant with the heir to the Iron Throne?
  2. After getting past the Kingsguard, Ned finds his sister Lyanna in a pool of blood, and she asks him to make a promise. As book readers, we do not know what is spoken at this moment.
  3. Ned Stark is built up to be nothing if not honorable. So how come he returns from the war with a bastard, knowing this will be a badge of dishonor for his beloved wife, Catelyn Tully? And he never even reveals the name of Jon’s mother.
  4. Jon is said to resemble his half-sister Arya Stark. While all the other Stark children are described as having some of Catelyn’s features, Arya is said to look similar to Lyanna Stark.

Another thing of note is the TV series depicted a secret wedding ceremony between Rhaegar and Lyanna. This would make Jon Snow the official heir to the Iron Throne, placing him above Daenerys even. It would make for the perfect storm that we expect from the books. And if Jon Snow does not have a huge role in the series, why would his parentage be so alluded to?

Read More: HBO Drama Chief gives update about Jon Snow spinoff

Jojen Paste

jojen reed jojen paste theory a song of ice and fire

As of the previous book, A Dance with Dragons, Bran Stark continues his journey beyond the wall with Meera and Jojen Reed. Jojen Reed is a greenseer who accompanies Bran Stark on his journey beyond the Wall. According to the theory, Jojen is eventually sacrificed (maybe in The Winds of Winter) by the Children of the Forest, who are allied with the Three-Eyed Raven. They believe that Jojen’s blood and greensight abilities are necessary to sustain Bran’s training and help him achieve his destiny that will save humanity.

It might be possible that Jojen is slowly draining his blood to be mixed into the paste ingested by Bran. His sister Meera notices his growing weakness and shift in behavior and points it to Bran. Jojen reveals that he possesses knowledge of his own death, mentioning to Bran and Meera in a tense situation during “A Clash of Kings” that the present moment is not his destined day to die. Nevertheless, as the events unfold in “A Dance with Dragons,” Jojen’s foretold day of death appears to be drawing nearer. This is how the mysterious paste is described in A Dance with Dragons:

Inside was a white paste, with dark red veins running through it…Something about the look of it made Bran feel ill. The red veins were only weirwood sap, he supposed, but in the torchlight they looked remarkably like blood…It had a bitter taste, though not so bitter as acorn paste. The first spoonful was the hardest to get down. He almost retched it right back up. The second tasted better. The third was almost sweet. The rest he spooned up eagerly. Why had he thought that it was bitter?

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Fake Aegon Targaryen

young griff by tantavie fake aegon targaryen

Art by Tantavie

This theory suggests that Young Griff, who Varys and Illyrio claim to be the legitimate son of Rhaegar and his first wife Elia Martell, is not actually Aegon Targaryen. People believe that the real Aegon was killed by The Mountain during the Sack of King’s Landing, and a decoy baby was presented to Robert Baratheon to prove the Targaryen dynasty’s demise. Then who is Young Griff?

There has been a gaping hole in the chain of custody with this person. With Daenerys, Viserys, and even Jon Snow, we know whose care they were under and who they were passed to. But how did Jon Connington, Rhaegar’s friend who fought alongside the Targaryens, actually gain the supposed Aegon’s custody? Neither Varys nor Illyrio ever explains it.

So it is highly possible that this theory is true. But while Varys never tells the full truth, he does not side with the white lie either. So one logical explanation can be that this Aegon is actually a Blackfyre. Blackfyres are a line of Targaryen descendants who fought against the Targaryens for many generations to claim the Iron Throne. While all the male Blackfyres were wiped out, it may be possible that Young Griff’s mother was a female Blackfyre.

The real question is, what are Varys, Illyrio, and Connington aiming for by grooming this man as a legitimate Targaryen heir? And what does this mean for Daenerys?

Read More: Can House of the Dragon make way for a Daenerys Targaryen resurrection? (And should it?)

Gravedigger Theory

sandor clegane game of thrones gravedigger theory winds of winter

In the books, Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane is left severely injured and seemingly on the brink of death after a brutal fight. However, the Gravedigger Theory suggests that instead of perishing, Sandor was rescued by the Elder Brother of the Quiet Isle and has since taken up the humble occupation of digging graves and finding solace in monastic life.

This is supported by Brienne’s overly-detailed chapter in A Feast for Crows. Brienne encounters a man who is larger than she is, walks with a limp, and hides his face with a scarf. She finds him digging graves on the Quiet Isle, known to be a refuge for the followers of the Faith of the Seven. Elder Brother’s story surrounding Sandor Clegane is oddly specific for a man who supposedly only knew Clegane on his deathbed. He knows his habits and his troubled past and says, “The Hound is dead. Sandor is at rest.”

This might be metaphorical in the sense that Elder Brother is guiding Clegane to a peaceful life, leaving The Hound in the past. Elder Brother is also known to be an excellent healer, capable of curing and healing ailments that even some Maesters can not. So it is very likely that he nursed Sandor back to health.

What does it mean for Sandor Clegane to be alive? Well, readers might just get the CleganeBowl in the books!

Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree

young lyanna stark knight of the laughing tree theory


Show watchers will have no idea about this, but readers will be familiar with the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree. It is best told as Meera and Jojen narrate the tale to Bran Stark. They talk about how their father, Howland Reed, was once bullied in his youth by three squires. Lyanna Stark shows up with a blunt sword and beats the bullies away. Later Howland and Lyanna identify the houses of the squires and also inform her brothers about them.

The next day, at the great tourney at Harrenhal, a mystery knight appears with the crest of a laughing weirwood tree. His armor was mismatched, meaning he didn’t have his own. But nonetheless, he defeated the knights of the respective squires who had bullied Howland. After this, he disappeared and was never seen again. Later on, Rhaegar Targaryen bestowed the honor of Queen of Love and Beauty to Lyanna Stark instead of his own wife. Here’s why these events might be connected.

Lyanna was known as an excellent joust and was described as one of the finest horse riders in the Seven Kingdoms. She also secretly practiced sword-fighting with Benjen. It is possible that Lyanna was the mystery knight and taught the squires a lesson. The Mad King, Rhaegar’s father, was paranoid about this knight and sent his son to find him. But, Rhaegar returned with only the armor and no other information.

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It’s a popular theory that Rhaegar found Lyanna in her mismatched armor and was impressed by her bravery. Which might be the start of their love story and how R+L=J’s origin story.

Read Next: When is The Winds of Winter coming out? Everything we know about the next Game of Thrones book

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