In this song of ice and fire, is Jon Snow the harmony that unites the two?
In the season six finale it appears that what many fans have been theorizing for years has been confirmed; Jon Snow is not the bastard son of Ned Stark but the child of Lyanna Stark and, presumably, Rhaegar Targaryen, L+R=J. This would make Jon a literal combination of the two opposing elements, ice (the North, Stark) and fire (Dragons, Targaryen) and leads to several heavy implications and possibilities for the story to come.
Before we get to the potential future, Let’s cover the essential information:
Lyanna Stark was the sister of Ned Stark, and one that he loved dearly. She was engaged to Robert Baratheon, prior to his kingship over the seven kingdoms seen in season 1.
Rhaegar Targaryen was the son and heir of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, and elder brother to Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen. Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell of Dorne, sister of Doran and Oberyn Martell.
Rhaegar is blamed for starting Roberts Rebellion, one of the greatest civil wars in Westeros between the Great Houses that predates the start of the series by 7 years, by abducting Lyanna Stark and taking her to the Tower of Joy in Dorne. The Stark family presumed this action to be a kidnapping and Ned’s father and Warden of the North, Rickard Stark, and older brother Brandon Stark both vehemently protested to the Mad King who then had both Rickard and Brandon slaughtered at the court in Kings Landing. This killing was another significant factor that fueled Robert’s Rebellion and provided house Baratheon with the support of the North.
Robert was enraged by Rhaegar’s actions, he presumed that Lyanna had been kidnapped in order for Rhaegar to rape her and have her as his slave. This presumption however, is highly biased and counter to what was known about Rhaegar. Rhaegar was known for being popular amongst the smallfolk of the kingdom and was said to prefer music over combat. Barristan Selmy, former Queensguard of Daenerys, even spoke very highly of Rhaegar’s nobility and kindness as he recalled memories of them together. This information led fans to believe that Lyanna was not kidnapped but potentially willfully left with Rhaegar in a moment of passion, and that Jon was not the product of rape but a love child between the two. Robert would later face Rhaegar in one on one combat at the wars climax, and Robert would kill Rhaegar with a massive blow to the chest from Robert’s warhammer.
Throughout season 6, Bran has several visions of Ned and his men going to the Tower of Joy to retrieve Lyanna. In the season 6 Finale Ned finds Lyanna in bed in a pool of blood after just giving birth to a young boy. Lyanna asks Ned to keep his birth a secret before her death, as it would drive Robert mad, and Ned agrees which finally reveals what secret Lyanna had spoken to Ned alluded to earlier in the series. As Ned holds the new born boy the camera focuses on his eyes as they appear deep and dark, then the scene cuts to an image of Jon Snow with the same deep and dark eyes, revealing his true origin.
Now, what does all this new information potentially mean for Jon Snow? For one it gives him a new found claim to the Iron Throne. If he is the son of Rhaegar then he is part Targaryen meaning that he has a rightful claim as king that can contest that of the usurper’s (Robert Baratheon) family name and that of the new found Queen Cersei Lannister. With Cerise’s current track record amongst the public, and the recent atrocity she committed by blowing up the Great Sept and countless people, it is not hard to believe that the people will flock to anyone with a claim before accepting her reign of terror. With Jon also being the son of Lyanna stark, it gives him a more true claim to the Stark name. Though not as strong as being the son of Ned Stark, no longer being a Stark bastard means he can be a true “King in the North”, however, his possible Targaryen lineage could become problematic to the houses of the North.
This new information also leads to a potential connection between Jon and Daenerys’ story lines. With Jon being potentially Dragonborn, it means that he may be ably to have some connection with the dragons currently headed towards Westeros. The entire series has been building towards this moment but with the White Walkers bringing devastation from the North, the Seven Kingdoms have larger issues to worry about than a battle for the throne.
It has also been shown throughout the series that Dragonglass and Valyrian steel can slay the White Walkers. Dragonglass is produced with the fire of dragons and old legend claims that Valyrian steel is produced with dragon fire as well. If this is true then dragon fire could prove to be the ultimate weapon in the fight against the White Walkers. This leaves the potential for Jon to perhaps control or ride a dragon and lead an assault against the impending force. Tension between the houses of Targaryen and Stark mean that this may not be so simple, as Daenerys not only cherishes her dragons, but is not easily willing to use them to aid a former enemy of her house. The utter destruction that The White Walkers bring however could easily change her tune.
Is Jon Snow the chosen savior of the world? It’s hard to know for certain, the guy has already died once, and with the still unknown intentions of the Lord of Light it’s impossible to know what fate he has in store for Jon. Yet, Jon has seen the worst of things, and after his battle with Ramsey Bolton, it seems he has gone to the brink once again, and come back renewed with a fire.
Update: HBO’s official Making of The Game of Thrones blog has just released an infographic that confirms Rhaegar Targaryen is in fact Jon Snows father.
The infographic has a clear “parent” line that leads from Rhaegar directly to Jon Snow and from Lyanna Stark to Jon Snow, removing all doubt on the R+L=J theory. The infographic also shows an “abducted” line, in a rather eye catching color, leading from Rhaegar to Lyanna (the only time the line is used) to maintain the ambiguity of the relationship between the two. It appears the show still wishes to keep some elements of Jon’s origin in the dark.