Like, for example, who the fuck are your parents? (This post will contain spoilers!)
This is just a brief entry, because I’ve been mulling this over for a bit as I re-read Storm of Swords in between new episodes of Season 3 of Game of Thrones. There’s a big chunk of Westerosi history in ASOS when Meera tells Bran about the Great Tourney at Harrenhal. There’s an interesting tidbit about the Baratheon fool, Patchface. Melisandre says she sees shadows of skulls, and lips as red as blood around Patchface, which is similar to the arms of House Lonmouth (“the knight of skulls and kisses”). But mostly, I’m interested in Lyanna & Rhaegar, because they are universally acclaimed to be Jon’s parents.
I truly think that Aerys is a distinct possibility for Jon’s father, and it’s one that doesn’t seem to come up very often. Most likely because from the stories, we do know that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark (or escaped with her, depending on how generous you want to be to Rhaegar). We know that three Kingsguard were protecting Lyanna while Rhaegar fought in the Trident against Robert’s army. (And three Kingsguard fought with Rhaegar, while Jaime Lannister remained with Aerys).
Aerys was a paranoid king, which everyone pretty much universally agreed on. He was especially paranoid of his son. He was terrible to his queen, which Jaime confirms. Rhaegar was (while a Targaryen) a pretty okay guy. Rhaegar knew from his readings two things: the dragon must have three heads, and he would have to become a warrior. Barristan Selmy tells us Elia was sickly enough that having a third child would have killed her, so most people assume that Rhaegar did get Lyanna pregnant to fulfil the prophecy. Which is legitimate I think, except for the presence of the Kingsguard at Lyanna’s tower (or indeed, the ones by Rhaegar’s side, at the Trident).
The attempt of Ser Mandon Moore to kill Tyrion, or Meryn Trant to beat Sansa, or Jaime having to stand guard while Aerys abuses his wife indicates that the loyalty of the Kingsguard is (or should be) absolute to the reigning regent’s wishes, no matter how vile. Why would Aerys send Kingsguard knights to guard the son he’s scared will murder him? Or the child of that son by a family who has every reason to hate him, now that he’s murdered their lord and his heir?
If Aerys also knew of the prophecies, it’s entirely possible he intended Viserys, Daenerys and a child yet to come to stand as the three heads of the dragon. If he found out Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree (if indeed she was), Meera said that the king was wroth with the Knight. Rhaegar then kidnapped Lyanna to protect her from his father – it may be that the Kingsguard were not sent to protect Rhaegar but Aerys’ “investment” in Lyanna as a possible mother to a dragon’s head. Similarly, Aerys sent Kingsguard with Rhaegar to the Trident to ensure he didn’t come home alive, guaranteeing Rhaegar would never father a third child and his children become the dragon’s heads.
In a way it works, because Daenerys is the only living child of Aerys (that we know of), and she has fulfilled the duties of the Prince(ss) who was Promised by hatching the dragons. If Jon Snow is a Targaryen, then he could just as easily be Aerys’ as he is Rhaegar’s. It’s horrifying because it puts Lyanna in a terrible position but, despite the fact Robert hated Rhaegar, she begs Ned to promise her something. Ned begs Robert for the life of Daenerys Targaryen, saying she poses no threat, in the first book, and he had every reason to hate Aerys. He thought the death’s of Rhaegar’s children were abhorrent. Why would Lyanna have to extract a promise from him? What was the promise? To not kill the infant? To raise him as Ned’s own?
Maybe it’s just open ended because GRRM wants to write whatever version is the least well known. Maybe he’ll never tell us! What’s your take?