A Crown of Winter Roses

As discussed in Episode 05 of Radio Westeros: A Dragon, a Wolf and a Rose

Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost…

While Ned is imprisoned in the Black Cells in AGoT, he has a dream about the Tourney of Harrenhal which highlights the connection between Lyanna Stark and blue roses, and introduces a possible romantic element to the Rhaegar and Lyanna story.

Fast forward for a moment to ASoS and Meera Reed tells Bran Stark the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree. Much has been written about the identity of the Knight, and we discussed it in our podcast “A Dragon, a Wolf and a Rose.”  It’s commonly (though not universally) accepted that Lyanna Stark donned armor and sought to teach the bullying squires she had caught tormenting young Howland Reed a lesson in honor. Meera goes on to tell Bran of the aftermath of the Knight’s victory and disappearance:

That night at the great castle, the storm lord and the knight of skulls and kisses each swore they would unmask him, and the king himself urged men to challenge him, declaring that the face behind that helm was no friend of his. But the next morning, when the heralds blew their trumpets and the king took his seat, only two champions appeared. The Knight of the Laughing Tree had vanished. The king was wroth, and even sent his son the dragon prince to seek the man, but all they ever found was his painted shield, hanging abandoned in a tree. It was the dragon prince who won that tourney in the end.

This passage lends a lot of weight to the idea that Rhaegar might have unmasked Lyanna as the KotLT which further leads to the possibility that there might have been a window for a spark of mutual attraction to develop if and when he found her. Whether or not romance blossomed immediately, Rhaegar’s knowledge of Lyanna’s actions would give him cause to want to honor her in some way. Add to that Bran’s conviction to Meera Reed that the mystery knight should have won the tourney. If Lyanna was the Knight, in a sense she did when Rhaegar crowned her, though in a very different way, and of course, as Meera indicates, the end of the story is rather sad.

The passage from Ned’s dream also gives us a huge clue as to the link between Lyanna and blue roses. That link is hinted at in Ned’s first chapter in the crypts of WInterfell when he recalls his sister’s death, linked to the smell of blood and roses, and tells Robert “I bring her flowers when I can… Lyanna was … fond of flowers.” Then in Ned’s Tower of Joy dream, in the aftermath of Jaime Lannister’s ambush, the connection is drawn more strongly. The first line “He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood and the last “A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death” work together to connect Lyanna, blue roses and blood.

In fact, not only are blue roses linked to Lyanna on numerous occasions, but in most cases blood and promises are also present. Ned has another dream, the day Robert returns from the Kingswood with his fatal wound. He is in the crypts of Winterfell and sees Lyanna’s statue:

Promise me, Ned, “ Lyanna’s statue whispered. She wore a garland of pale blue roses, and her eyes wept blood.

And the Black Cell dream continues with this passage:

“Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals the thorns lay hidden. He felt them clawing at his skin, sharp and cruel, saw the slow trickle of blood run down his fingers, and woke, trembling, in the dark. Promise me, Ned, his sister had whispered from her bed of blood. She had loved the scent of winter roses.”

All the way back in Ned’s first PoV in the Winterfell crypts, we saw this memory:

Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black.

Every mention of blue roses in Ned’s point of view blue links to Lyanna, and also involves promises, blood or both. A final example of the connection between Lyanna and blue roses is in Theon’s dream of the dead in ACoK, when he sees a “slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore” who could only be Lyanna.

This dream can be interpreted as a hint to the reader that Lyanna’s crypt statue most likely depicts her wearing that crown of roses. Since the story of the KotLT and the Harrenhal tourney has not been told inside Winterfell (as we know from Bran) it seems unlikely the rose story would have gotten around. Logically, Theon will only know whatever the “official” story of Lyanna’s death is and would have no inkling of any romantic attachment between R+L. For what it’s worth, “spattered with gore” seems to imply that someone else was wounded near her (causing gore to spatter her gown) in the moments before her death, most likely indicating Theon has heard some version of the fight at the ToJ, which would only be natural since several northerners died there. And yet in Theon’s dream, as in Ned’s thoughts and fever dreams, there is the connection made to blue roses. Thus it seems that the crown of roses is depicted on the statue, which very few people would have seen outside of the family.

So back to Ned, he heavily associates Lyanna, blue roses, promises and blood, and it seems like the author is trying to tell us something. What’s really curious is that the association begins with Rhaegar Targaryen giving her blue roses. Overall the blue rose seems to symbolize the union between Rhaegar and Lyanna. Given that RLJ asserts Jon is the direct product of that union, the blue rose can be applied as a metaphor for Jon himself, something Rhaegar has given her, as he gave her the original crown. Of course the blood and promises would indicate Lyanna’s death and the promise Ned made to her, both of which R+L=J assumes relate directly to Jon Snow.

Extending the blue rose symbolism slightly beyond Rhaegar and Lyanna, and attributing it to Jon, we see another blue rose in Dany’s vision in the House of the Undying:

“A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice … “

It’s Jorah Mormont who later clarifies that this blue flower was in fact a blue rose. And that blue rose again fits Jon very well, with his proximity to a Wall of ice. So there’s a brief take on the symbolism of blue roses and their connection to Lyanna Stark. For a more in depth look at blue roses, a friend of ours has done a lot of writing on the subject at westeros.org, in a thread called Jon Snow and the Blue Winter Rosetta Stone.

 

Lord Stark: The Fisher King

 

                                   I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?
T.S.Eliot, The Wasteland

The Fisher King is sometimes known as the Wounded King and is nearly always presented with a leg or groin wound. Because the wound causes a loss of fertility, his kingdom becomes barren (as in “The Wasteland”) and he has little to do but fish in the river outside his palace. He is Keeper of the Grail, but must wait for the chosen one to heal him. Only when he is healed is the chosen one (alternately, Peredur, Percival or Galahad) allowed to “achieve” the Grail. The legend of the Fisher King is closely related to the story of Bran the Blessed and his magical cauldron from the Mabinogian, a mythical cycle thought by many to be closely related to the Stark family. Interestingly, the Mabinogian uses a severed head as the motif, rather than a lower body wound. Celtic scholars believe some Celts practiced a cult of head worship, as that is where they believed the soul resided. In fact, Diodorus Siculus, in his 1st century History, relates: “[Celts] cut off the heads of enemies slain in battle and attach them to the necks of their horses.” We have seen this motif with the story told about the Freys’ treatment of Robb Stark and Grey Wind.

In some versions of the story we are presented with a father and son pair, representing the wounded King and his fishing counterpart. I propose that Ned Stark, whose leg wound precedes his death which leaves his “kingdom” almost literally a wasteland, represents the wounded aspect of the Fisher King. Lord Rickard stands in as the patriarch of the clan in whose keeping the “sangreal” or cauldron has been left, only to be offered to one who has proven himself worthy. Of course, it is Lyanna herself who stands in for the cauldron, as in Celtic mythology the cauldron represents a womb. Robb Stark represents the severed head on the platter (the original “sangreal”), presented to the Welsh hero Peredur, who later recognizes it as his cousin. Jon Snow, as the son of Lyanna Stark and cousin of Robb, ties together the two versions of the Grail: the cauldron/womb and the vessel/platter.

Rhaegar Targaryen: The Many Faced Abductor

In most versions of the Gwenhwyfar abduction story, the abductor is Melwas (or Meleagant) also known as the “Summer King”, whose name means “princely youth.” Melwas holds Gwenhwyfar captive in his tower for nearly a year. In later versions, the kidnapper is Arthur’s own nephew/son Mordred and the end comes with the Battle of Camlann, with Arthur killing Mordred and receiving in turn the grievous wound that leads to his departure for Avalon. But it is also important to recognize that in some versions of the Lancelot story, the kidnapper is Lancelot himself and is simultaneously a kidnapping and a rescue. In these versions of the story, Gwenhwyfar has been sentenced to be burned to death due to her betrayal of the king and Lancelot transports her to Joyous Gard for her own safety. This is too strong a parallel to ignore and I wonder again: what if Aerys knew of Lyanna’s deception? Would his son and Kingsguard stand by as he threatened to burn a highborn maiden for an imagined slight? We know from Ser Jaime that this was his preferred method of dealing with all who displeased him — the King’s “Justice” in those days was fire. We also know that he was paranoid and held a grudge. What if Aerys himself, a year following the tourney, sent men to seize Lyanna Stark as she travelled to Riverrun for her brother’s wedding, with the intent of bringing her to face the King’s “Justice”? Might Rhaegar and the KG closest to him not have staged a rescue? Can we find the logic in shifting the role of Lancelot to Rhaegar?

The Melwas version also has clear parallels to the Rhaegar-Lyanna story, if we once again shift analogies and treat Rhaegar (the reported abductor) as Melwas (the “princely youth”) The captivity and its length are direct parallels, as is the dramatic Battle of the Trident with the Battle of Camlann. Gwenhwyfar went to her deathbed filled with guilt for the lives lost in her name, as I have always imagined Lyanna Stark must have done. I think here is the justification for shifting the role of Lancelot to Rhaegar: the reverse path from Mordred/Rhaegar, who perished at Camlann/Trident, to Melwas/Rhaegar, the “princely youth” who held the queen in his tower for a year, to Lancelot, who rescued the queen from the fire, all playing the same role of abductor. Considering the parallels between Rhaegar and Lancelot adds a new dimension to the adulterous nature of R+L, as seen in Chretien de Troyes “Knight of the Cart.” 

 

Lyanna Stark: Elaine of Corbenic into Gwenhwyfar

Lancelot has a son called Galahad with a woman named Elaine of Corbenic. The father of Elaine of Corbenic is the Fisher King, sometimes called King Pelles, the guardian of the Holy Grail. Legend has it that he is descended from Bron who was a follower of Joseph of Arimathea, who brought the Grail to Britain. He is also thought to be derived in part from the character of Bran the Blessed in the Welsh Mabinogian. Bran possessed a magic cauldron that could resurrect the dead. This brings to mind the North, with the connection between the cauldron and the resurrected dead of the Land of Always Winter, the name Bran, and Welsh mythology in general. Given that, I would assume a Stark connection to the characters of Elaine and Pelles.

Malory describes Elaine as “passing fair and young.” Compare that to Eddard Stark’s memory of his sister “Lyanna had only been sixteen, a child woman of surpassing loveliness.” (AGoT, ch.4) After Lancelot rescues Elaine from a “scalding bath” she falls in love with him. Applying this to Lyanna, could she have been in trouble with a Targaryen? Did Aerys actually discover the truth behind tKotLT only to have someone save her from punishment at the tournament? Was Rhaegar’s crowning her QoLaB a symbolic message to his father that she was under his protection? In the story of Elaine of Corbenic and Lancelot, Elaine must ultimately resort to a magical disguise to trick him into lying with her and conceiving Galahad. I propose that, with typical Martinism, the analogy is now given a different twist.

Lancelot is closely connected with a traditional folk story that has three main elements: a child raised by a water sidhe, the reappearance of the (now grown) hero at a tournament on three consecutive days in three different disguises, and the rescue of a kidnapped queen.

If we assume the Lyanna Stark is tKotLT and also analogous to Elaine of Corbenic, we see that she is associated with disguises. The disguise Elaine assumes is of Gwenhwyfar. If we assign the role of sidhe child to the crannogman and agree that Lyanna’s disguise as tKotLT and defeat of three champions satisfies the second element we have two of the elements of the original topos present. This may be a hint that Lyanna is now moving into the third element or the role of Gwenhwyfar, the captive queen.

*A note on the etymology of Corbenic, which I believe ties Corbenic, Elaine and the Fisher King very closely to the Starks. There are a number of possible linguistic connections, among them the Brythonic Caer Bran (literally Fort of Bran, or Fort of the Raven) and the middle French corbin, also meaning Raven, thought by many to be an allusion to Bran the Blessed with whom the Fisher King is closely connected.

Rescue at the Crossroads

The possibly true story of the abduction of Lyanna Stark
Spoilers for The World of Ice and Fire

 

In one branch of Arthurian legend, Queen Gwenhyfar is sentenced to death for a crime against the king (adultery in the legend– but most significantly, a crime against the crown) The Queen was sentenced to burn, but Sir Lancelot arrived at the last minute and carried her away to safety at his castle, called Joyous Gard. If we consider the parallels between Rhaegar and Lancelot, and that Joyous Gard is very similar to tower of joy, then the pieces click. A king, a crime, punishment by fire and a rescue by a knight. So, what if the famous kidnapping was really a rescue? What if Rhaegar intercepted Lyanna as she was about to be seized by royal soldiers?

Among fans some believe that Rhaegar did kidnap Lyanna Stark, absconding with her perhaps to fulfill a prophecy. Others think Lyanna may have gone willingly to escape her proposed marriage to Robert. There isn’t a huge consensus on whether Rhaegar was a villain or a hero here, in fact just the opposite. GRRM has indicated that more information will come out about the circumstances of this supposed kidnapping.

One thing that seems clear is that the seeds of the event seem to have been sown at the Tourney of Harrenhal. If we take as fact that Lyanna Stark was the Knight of the Laughing Tree, what we’ve recently learned from The World of Ice and Fire becomes quite significant:

King Aerys II was not a man to take any joy in mysteries, however. His Grace became convinced that the tree on the mystery knight’s shield was laughing at him […] he commanded his own knights to defeat the Knight of the Laughing Tree when the jousts resumed the next morning, so that he might be unmasked and his perfidy exposed for all to see. But the mystery knight vanished during the night, never to be seen again. This too the king took ill, certain that someone close to him had given warning to “this traitor who will not show his face.”

Given his evident paranoia, it seems very unlikely in the wake of the Tourney of Harrenhal that the Mad King would let go of his paranoia over the KotLT. Significantly, we are told by Jaime that Aerys’ favourite method of punishment was burning: “the King’s Justice” in the reign of Aerys II was fire. Since we’ve speculated that Rhaegar unmasked Lyanna, honouring her as QoLaB in a subtle nod to the courage and chivalry she showed standing up for Howland, it’s possible he thought he was protecting her from his father. But what if it wasn’t so subtle? As TWoIaF tells us:

…when the triumphant Prince of Dragonstone named Lyanna Stark, daughter of the Lord of Winterfell, the queen of love and beauty, placing a garland of blue roses in her lap with the tip of his lance, the lickspittle lords gathered around the king declared that further proof of his perfidy… [it] could only have been meant to win the allegiance of Winterfell to Prince Rhaegar’s cause, Symond Staunton suggested to the king.

What if Aerys was able to put all the pieces together? Or what if someone told him?

“Someone told…. Someone always tells.” -Areo Hotah, AFfC

Surely we can take a hint from Hotah’s words to Arianne Martell.  If we assume for a moment that the Mad King did discover the identity of the KotLT, what would he do? Isn’t it likely that he would want to bring her to “justice”?

If Rhaegar had word from King’s Landing that his father intended to seize the daughter of Lord Rickard Stark, this could explain the suddenness of Rhaegar’s actions. The commonly accepted timeline, supported by information from TWoIaF, is that the “kidnapping” occurred shortly after Prince Aegon’s birth. We might also have an explanation of why Lord Rickard doesn’t appear to have demanded his daughter back when he arrived in King’s Landing. He may have been notified by Rhaegar and at that point was trying to prevent hostilities from breaking out and mitigate the actions of his eldest son, who apparently stormed into the Red Keep calling for Rhaegar to “come out and die.” If we assume Rhaegar didn’t have time to alert all of the Starks, we get a possible explanation for Brandon’s rash response as well.

It’s plain that Rhaegar would have known full well that such actions by his father could mean open war in the Seven Kingdoms. The obvious plotting and factions alluded to in TWoIaF would have made the political situation in Westeros a powder keg.  When Rhaegar said to Jaime ahead of the Battle of the Trident: “When this battle’s done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but… it does no good to speak of roads not taken” he may have been tacitly admitting that had lost control of the reins of the plot, but would take them up in earnest again once he won the battle to come. In other words, Rhaegar may have been trying to stop his father’s downward spiral, spirit the girl to safety in secret and then deal with his father by calling a Great Council, but was unprepared for the violence of the reactions of both his father and the rebellious lords.

Most importantly, he might not have reckoned with Brandon Stark’s actions. By the time Rhaegar got Lyanna to safety and had time to hear the news from King’s Landing, it may have been too late. Brandon and Rickard could have been dead and his father calling for Ned’s and Robert’s heads. Aerys could have been furious with his son and his Kingsguards as well.

We learned something new about the actual “kidnapping” in TWoIaF:

With the coming of the new year, the crown prince had taken to the road with half a dozen of his closest friends and confidants, on a journey that would ultimately lead him back to the riverlands, not ten leagues from Harrenhal . . . where Rhaegar would once again come face-to-face with Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and with her light a fire that would consume his house and kin and all those he loved—and half the realm besides.

Based on information from the books, it seems possible that Lyanna was on her way to Riverrun for her brother’s upcoming wedding. Lord Rickard appears to have been en route from Winterfell south, and Brandon had left Riverrun on “an errand” which may have been to meet his sister and return with her to the Tully home. Lyanna may well have been staying at Harrenhal, as many have suggested, and given the distance mentioned in TWoIaF we can consider a few possibilities as the fateful meeting place. The Isle of Faces, another locale that some speculate may have significance to the RLJ narrative, lies well within a ten league radius of Harrenhal. So too does any amount of “open road” or countryside. And while we can’t rule those possibilities out, I wonder about the Inn at the Crossroads.

Given the very rough scale of the published maps, at times conflicting descriptions from the text, and GRRM’s statement that “I did leave the scale out of the map on purpose… I didn’t want to get bogged down in that type of detail” (source) the Inn at the Crossroads seems close enough to Harrenhal to be considered within a ten league radius of Harrenhal. The crossroads is a symbol of choices, meetings and fateful decisions. And interestingly enough the Inn at the Crossroads is the site of another high profile kidnapping– Cat’s seizure of Tyrion. That fateful decision also led to open hostilities in Westeros, and in that case we had the onlookers in the Inn who rushed to tell the family of the kidnap victim what had happened. This could be the explanation for Brandon’s headlong rush to King’s Landing– hearing a story from witnesses of knights with swords seizing his sister and making off with her. It could have looked like a kidnapping, especially if we consider the possibility that Aerys’ soldiers were also present and there was confusion and some kind of fight. In fact, given that we now know that Rhaegar had six companions when he went into the Riverlands, but only Dayne and Whent disappeared into the South with him and Lyanna, it’s possible that Brandon actually pursued the wrong group of four back to King’s Landing. I’d suggest Ser Myles Mooton and Ser Richard Lonmouth as two of the six, since they are mentioned on more than one occasion as close companions of Rhaegar. Based upon their identification in TWoIaF as Rhaegar’s supporters, could Prince Lewyn Martell and Lord Jon Connington have been the other two? Aerys ultimately proved a lack of trust in both, which could have been cemented by their possible involvement with the situation.

There’s also the wording of that passage– coming “face-to-face” with someone and lighting a fire “with her” need not indicate an unwilling captor. In fact, there’s a good chance it indicates complicity. If Lyanna was being rescued from arrest by royal soldiers (think Gold Cloaks scouring the Riverlands for Gendry in ACoK) she probably would have gone willingly.

Taken altogether, the slim facts that we are given, combined with textual parallels and meta textual allusions, it seems a compelling possibility that Rhaegar rescued Lyanna from the the King’s Justice at the Inn at the Crossroads.

As discussed on Radio Westeros E05 RLJ – A Dragon, a Wolf and a Rose

LemUncloak(ed): The True Identity of Lem Lemoncloak

Lem by Amok

Lem by Amok

Who among us hasn’t wondered at the true identity of the charming Lem Lemoncloak? One of the leaders of the Brotherhood without Banners, Lem appears on the page with no true name and no history, although we have names and stories for many of his fellows, including several of far less significance to the narrative. Some time ago a chance combination of musings inspired by the questions of fellow posters at westeros.org led me to connect Lem with another character whose name is mentioned but once and who is alluded to on only one other occasion. What would lead one to connect Lem with Ser Richard Lonmouth, erstwhile squire and companion of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen? To be honest, at first it was nothing more than the colour of his cloak combined with the conviction that the knight of skull and kisses is meant to be significant. But it turns out that there are quite a few textual hints that support the connection. While I initially laid this theory out on my own, much credit must be given to posters at westeros who picked up this cracked pot and ran with it. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that with their help, this pot will now hold water.

In ASoS chapter 43, the Ghost of High Heart demands payment for her news:

“A skin of wine for my dreams, and for my news a kiss from the great oaf in the yellow cloak…His mouth will taste of lemons and mine of bones

Earlier, the GoHH was consulted regarding Lord Beric’s whereabouts. At that meeting, the little woman who speaks of everyone in terms of their sigils and representations of their Houses, had this exchange with Lem:

“Dreams,” grumbled Lem Lemoncloak, “what good are dreams? Fish women and drowned crows. I had a dream myself last night. I was kissing this tavern wench I used to know. Are you going to pay me for that, old woman?”

“The wench is dead,” the woman hissed. “Only worms may kiss her now.” ASoS, chapter 17

With the bard Tom o’ Sevens the connecting reference at both meetings is a song. For Lem … kisses.

The arms of House Lonmouth have been described as “quartered of six: red lips strewn on yellow, yellow skulls strewn on black.” It was the connection of kisses, skulls (bones) and yellow with Lem which provided the “aha!” But the connections do not end there.

When Arya first meets him, she thinks he has the look of a soldier:

The man beside him stood a good foot taller, and had the look of a soldier. A longsword and dirk hung from his studded leather belt, rows of overlapping steel rings were sewn onto his shirt, and his head was covered by a black iron half-helm shaped like a cone. He had bad teeth and a bushy brown beard, but it was his hooded yellow cloak that drew the eye. Thick and heavy, and stained here with grass and there with blood, frayed along the bottom and patched with deerskin on the right shoulder, the greatcloak gave the big man the look of some huge yellow bird. ASoS, chapter 13

From lack of direct reference, it appears that he was not one of the original company that set out from King’s Landing with Lord Beric, but one of those who joined the Brotherhood in the Riverlands. Yet he does make a possibly revealing comment in this exchange:

Anguy the Archer said, “We’re king’s men.”

Arya frowned. “Which king?”

“King Robert,” said Lem, in his yellow cloak. ASoS, chapter 13

How to explain a large man loyal to Robert who has the look of a soldier, wears a distinctive yellow cloak and was living in the Riverlands prior to Lord Beric’s mission? Let’s take a look at the bare facts of Richard Lonmouth. We know that he was once Prince Rhaegar’s squire and companion:

Myles Mooton was Prince Rhaegar’s squire, and Richard Lonmouth after him. When they won their spurs, he knighted them himself, and they remained his close companions. ASoS, chapter 8

We also know that House Lonmouth was a stormlands house, and that Ser Richard was a one-time drinking companion to the Lord of the Stormlands, Robert Baratheon:

The storm lord drank down the knight of skulls and kisses in a wine-cup war. ASoS, chapter 24

Knowing Robert’s reputation as a prodigious drinker, Ser Richard must have been of a similar bent, to engage him so. Lem is a large man also known to enjoy his drink:

Lem Lemoncloak pushed forward. He and Greenbeard were the only men there tall enough to look the Hound in the eye. ASoS, chapter 34

“You must have been drunk, or asleep.”

“Us? Drunk?”  Tom drank a long draught of ale. “Never.” ASoS, chapter 13

We are never told which side Ser Richard joined Robert’s Rebellion on.  Myles Mooton fought for the Targaryens and was killed at Stoney Sept by Robert Baratheon himself. Even the last we hear of Lonmouth doesn’t give a clear indication. Following the appearance of the Knight of the Laughing Tree at the Harrenhal tourney:

That night at the great castle, the storm lord and the knight of skulls and kisses each swore they would unmask him, and the king himself urged men to challenge him, declaring that the face behind the helm was no friend of his … The king was wroth and even sent his son the dragon prince to seek the man, but all they ever found was his painted shield. ASoS, chapter 24

Here we have no clear indication of which House he would side with: that of his friend and mentor Rhaegar Targaryen or that of his drinking buddy and overlord Robert Baratheon. But perhaps the words of House Lonmouth might be a hint that Ser Richard did indeed take a side.

The Choice is Yours

In his role of hangman for the Brotherhood, Lem is carrying out sentences based on a choice. In the case of Merret Frey, Lem gives the choice to Lady Stoneheart:

“She don’t speak,” said the big man in the yellow cloak. “You bloody bastards cut her throat too deep for that. But she remembers.” He turned to the dead woman and said. “What do you say, m’lady? Was he part of it?” ASoS, Epilogue

At Brienne’s “trial” the choice is given by the northman, while the sentence is carried out by Lem:

The northman said, “She says that you must choose. Take the sword and slay the Kingslayer, or be hanged for a betrayer. The sword or the noose, she says. Choose, she says. Choose.” AFfC, chapter 42

Lem is involved in choices being offered by the BwB, while there is also enough evidence to speculate he has made other fateful choices in his past. While “choice” can be seen as a major theme of ASoIaF, the fact that it is prominently featured in the house words of a minor house seems almost like a flag saying “look closely here”! Looking closely in this case has certainly led to some interesting theorizing.

Treading into speculative territory with the theme of choice, I’m going to suggest that Richard chose his overlord, Robert Baratheon and fought on his behalf during the Rebellion.  Just after Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are taken in by the BwB the company arrives at the Inn of the Kneeling Man. Here the young people are given ale by the innkeeper’s wife because she has no milk or clean water to offer:

“…the river water tastes of war, with all the dead men drifting downstream. If I served you a cup of soup full of dead flies, would you drink it?”

“Arry would,” said Hot Pie. “I mean, Squab.”

“So would Lem,” offered Anguy with a sly smile. ASoS, chapter 13

Why would Anguy say such a thing? Could it be that Lem once drifted in the river with the dead? Much later the Elder Brother on the Quiet Isle tells Brienne his story of being left for dead in the river after the Battle of the Trident, and washing up downriver, alive and reborn to a new life. Could something similar have happened to Lem?

Later, Lem reveals some local knowledge that just might indicate he was in the area as these events occurred:

“Lord Lychester’s sons died in Robert’s Rebellion,” grumbled Lem. “Some on one side, some on t’other. He’s not been right in the head since.” ASoS, chapter 17

And finally at the Peach, the brothel in Stoney Sept where Robert may have taken refuge before the battle, Tansy has this to say to Lem:

“…Lem is that you? Still wearing the same ratty cloak are you? I know why you never wash it, I do. You’re afraid all the piss will wash out and we’ll see you’re really a knight o’ the Kingsguard!” ASoS, chapter 29

If Lem is Richard Lonmouth, he might have been present at Stoney Sept with Robert and be known to Tansy from that event.  If she had knowledge of him being a knight in service to the man who went on to become the king, it might well explain her “Kingsguard” joke. But why vanish from the page then? Speculation brings us back to AFfC, and Brienne’s POV. In chapter 25 Septon Meribald describes to Brienne, Pod and Ser Hyle the inner turmoil of the broken man.

“…even a man who has survived a hundred fights can break in his hundred-and-first. Brothers watch their brothers die, fathers lose their sons, friends see their friends trying to hold their entrails in after they’ve been gutted by an axe … They take a wound, and when that’s half-healed they take another … And one day they look around and realize all their friends and kin are gone … And the knights come down on them, faceless men clad all in steel, and the iron thunder of their charge seems to fill the world … And the man breaks.”

Meribald makes it clear that anyone can break, at any time. Every man has his limit and it’s just possible Ser Richard reached it in the aftermath of the Trident.  Two references make me believe this could be what happened to Lem:

“Bugger that,” said Lem Lemoncloak. “He’s our god too, and you owe us for your bloody lives. And what’s false about him? Might be your Smith can mend a broken sword, but can he heal a broken man?” ASoS, chapter 39

“You are not the only one with wounds, Lady Brienne. Some of my brothers were good men when this began…” AFfC, chapter 42

I’ve already suggested that Anguy’s “sly” comment may indicate that Lem went into the river with the dead at one time. Let’s suppose that Richard Lonmouth went into the river after the Battle of the Trident, as the Elder Brother did. If he was fished out and nursed back to health by some kind soul, it would have been some time before he was able to get news of what had happened in the battle and afterwards. Would he have been devastated to know that his friend the Prince had been killed by his overlord? Would the guilt of his choice have weighed heavily on him? Certainly that would be enough to cause a break. But I think there’s even more at play here. I’m speculating that Ser Richard chose the winning side, so why wouldn’t he have emerged at some point to claim his reward from his overlord and new King? Assuming Lem is Ser Richard, I think the explanation behind his abiding hatred of Lannisters might be the final piece of the puzzle. We don’t for sure know why Lem hates Lannisters so much, or if Richard Lonmouth was ever married. But we do know that Lem Lemoncloak was married, and had a child:

“I want my wife and daughter back,” said the Hound. “Can your father give me that?” AFfC, chapter 42

Going right on assuming Lem and Richard are one and the same, I will posit that Richard Lonmouth’s family was in King’s Landing during the Rebellion. Perhaps his wife came from a loyalist family, perhaps they thought it would be a safe place to retreat to. But we know that when the Lannisters sacked the city there was no mercy for anyone, from the royal family down to the poorest smallfolk. Could his wife and daughter have been among the casualties? It might explain his need to hang “lions” and judging by his comment, his association of them with that act. Finally, Lannisters being the new good-family of his former overlord might make it once and for all impossible to come forward and publicly serve Robert.

Because a revelation of this sort would require a narrative purpose, we return to the Tourney of Harrenhal and the knight of skulls and kisses vow to unmask the knight of the laughing tree (whom most of us assume to be Lyanna Stark.) We know that GRRM uses thematic parallels frequently in his narrative. We also know that Arya Stark bears a resemblance to her aunt:

“Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.” AGoT, chapter 22

Looking at some of the interactions between Arya and Lem, one incident in particular stands out. When Arya learns that she is in truth the prisoner of the BwB, she attempts to flee:

…when she glanced back over her shoulder four of them were coming after her, Anguy and Harwin and Greenbeard racing side by side with Lem farther back, his big yellow cloak flapping behind him as he rode. ASoS, chapter 17

It’s easy enough to imagine a similar scene with Lyanna pursued over similar ground by a group including Ser Richard Lonmouth.  Later, almost like a sly nod to this possibility Tom sings to Arya:

Tom winked at her as he sang:

And how she smiled and how she laughed,

the maiden of the tree.

She spun away and said to him,

No featherbed for me.

I’ll wear a gown of golden leaves,

And bind my hair with grass.

But you can be my forest love,

and me your forest lass.

ASoS, chapter 17

Here then we arrive at a possible narrative purpose for Lem being Richard Lonmouth. He might be able to shed light of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s first interaction, the reason Rhaegar crowned Lyanna QoLaB and possibly (if he remained in the Prince’s confidence) events that came after. At the very least he would be one of the few attendees of the Harrenhal tourney who is still alive.  This would place him in the same category as the elusive Howland Reed of One Who Knows Much and More.

In conclusion, Ser Richard Lonmouth, whose house colours are black and yellow, is never mentioned after his cameo at the Tourney of Harrenhal. During the Wot5K an outlaw of no known name or history appears in the Riverlands wearing a distinctive yellow cloak of heavy (and most likely at one time, expensive) cloth. In his arc, Lem is associated with kisses and choices, both known motifs of House Lonmouth. Based on these associations, a connection between the two can be made. Close reading further allows us to enter into some speculation to fill in the details of the intervening years. Finally, as to the significance of this theory, if he was a part of the search for the knight of the laughing tree, and some revelation was made, Ser Richard could be possessed of interesting insight into the story of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

Addendum, December 2014:

With new information now available from TWoIaF, the Supreme Court of Westeros taking up the case, and E09 of Radio Westeros presenting the theory in audio format, the time seems right for a short addendum. TWoIaF tells us that Ser Richard Lonmouth was among Rhaegar’s supporters at court when there was an obvious divide between Rhaegar and Aerys:

Prince Rhaegar’s support came from the younger men at court, including Lord Jon Connington, Ser Myles Mooton of Maidenpool, and Ser Richard Lonmouth. The Dornishmen who had come to court with the Princess Elia were in the prince’s confidence as well, particularly Prince Lewyn Martell, Elia’s uncle and a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard. But the most formidable of all Rhaegar’s friends and allies in King’s Landing was surely Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning.

Since this description comes during a discussion of court politics and conspiration around the time of the Tourney of Harrenhal, the implication seems to be that Lonmouth supported regime change. Next from TWoIaF is the strong hint that Lonmouth accompanied Rhaegar into the Riverlands on that fateful mission that resulted in the disappearance of Lyanna Stark:

With the coming of the new year, the crown prince had taken to the road with half a dozen of his closest friends and confidants, on a journey that would ultimately lead him back to the riverlands, not ten leagues from Harrenhal . . . where Rhaegar would once again come face-to-face with Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and with her light a fire that would consume his house and kin and all those he loved—and half the realm besides.

Let’s revisit Ser Barristan’s information: “Myles Mooton was Prince Rhaegar’s squire, and Richard Lonmouth after him. When they won their spurs, he knighted them himself, and they remained his close companions” With that in mind, combined with the information in TWoIaF, we can surmise that the half dozen companions were most likely Arthur Dayne and Oswell Whent (as previously revealed in the WoIaF app) Mooton and Lonmouth (both identified as close companions of the Prince on more than one occasion) and possibly Connington and Prince Lewyn Martell, whom TWoIaF indicates were also strong supporters of Rhaegar.

Given the outcome of the Rhaegar and Lyanna situation, with Aerys executing Rickard and Brandon Stark and calling for the heads of two of his Lords Paramount, we propose that Richard Lonmouth chose Robert in the Rebellion in order to effect that regime change it was earlier implied he supported. Remember that quite early on Rhaegar was well out of things and the Rebellion was technically against Aerys, aimed at removing an increasingly mad tyrant from power. Rhaegar’s eventual involvement– no doubt out of a sense of duty to his House and perhaps an effort to safeguard his children in King’s Landing– would play right into the themes of choice and the broken man that were identified earlier.

For the record it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait too long to put this theory to the test. Last we saw of the Riverlands in ADwD, one person who likely knew Richard Lonmouth was on a collision course with Lem Lemoncloak and is a strong candidate for a reveal. When Jaime Lannister resurfaces he may find himself in for a surprise reunion with someone from his past.

For the First Time in Years: Eddard Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen

Blood and Roses  by crisurdiales

Blood and Roses
by crisurdiales

In AGoT, chapter 35, Eddard IX, Littlefinger takes Ned to Chataya’s brothel to see Robert’s youngest bastard child. After the interview, as they ride away, Ned’s thoughts become introspective:

“For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen. He wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels; somehow he thought not.”

This is a puzzling thought, since a closer look reveals that not only has Ned thought of Rhaegar recently, he thinks of him frequently. There are six previous sustained thoughts or conversations about Rhaegar in prior Eddard POV chapters. That means in seven out of nine of his POV chapters to that point, Ned thinks about or mentions Rhaegar. So what’s going on here?

It has been noted that Ned never seems to have a negative thought about Rhaegar. This is used to support the idea that Ned knows that Rhaegar was not the kidnaping rapist Robert thinks he was. This particular thought actually goes a long way in that department– Ned compares Robert to Rhaegar and Robert comes up wanting. Since we know that Ned himself is not the type to frequent brothels (to Petyr Baelish’s evident glee– he delights in making Ned uncomfortable by taking him to these places, as we see on two separate occasions) we can assume that with this particular comparison he is thinking of Rhaegar as a man of honor like himself.

To review Ned’s previous thoughts and conversations about Rhaegar is revealing and gives a clear picture of how Ned perceives Rhaegar. Beginning in AGoT, chapter 4, Eddard I, when Ned and Robert are in the Winterfell crypts visting Lyanna’s tomb, Robert is overcome with emotion and tells Ned:

“I vowed to kill Rhaegar for what he did to her.”

 The exchange continues:

“You did,” Ned reminded him.

“Only once,” Robert said bitterly.

They had come together at the ford of the Trident while the battle crashed around them, Robert with his warhammer and his great antlered helm, the Targaryen prince armored all in black. On his breastplate was the three-headed dragon of his House, wrought all in rubies that flashed like fire in the sunlight. The waters of the Trident ran red around the hooves of their destriers as they circled and clashed, again and again, until at last a crushing blow from Robert’s hammer stove in the dragon and the chest beneath it. When Ned had finally come on the scene, Rhaegar lay dead in the stream, while men of both armies scrabbled in the swirling waters for rubies knocked free from his armor.

“In my dreams, I kill him every night,” Robert admitted. “A thousand deaths will still be less than he deserves. “

There was nothing Ned could say to that.

Ned thinks about this scene, the death of the man who allegedly kidnaped and raped his sister (“How many times… How many hundreds of times?”), extremely dispassionately. Robert is still full of hate, but Ned manages only polite pauses and quiet sympathy. First hint that all is not as it seems! The scene proceeds into a discussion of Jon Arryn’s son being fostered by the Lannisters:

Ned would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin, but he left his doubts unspoken. Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word. […] “Lysa ought to have been honored. The Lannisters are a great and noble House.” […] “I have more concern for my nephew’s welfare than I do for Lannister pride,” Ned declared.

Here we have an example of Robert avoiding all those unpleasantries he doesn’t care to deal with, hiding behind the “nobility” of his in-laws. Ned isn’t fooled as he recognizes the true nature of House Lannister and their regard for the lives of children, and has a much more vehement reaction to the fostering of his wife’s nephew than he does to the supposed kidnap and rape of his own sister.

In chapter 12, Eddard II, Robert raises the issue of Daenerys Targaryen and her unborn child. Ned strongly objects to the murder of children.

“He remembered the angry words exchanged when Tywin Lannister had presented Robert with the corpses of Rhaegar’s wife and children as a token of fealty… It was said Rhaegar’s little girl had cried as they dragged her from beneath her bed to face the swords.”

For Ned, the murder of children was and is unspeakable. But Robert has not gotten over his hatred of Targaryens

“Unspeakable? The king roared […] “And Rhaegar… how many times do you think he raped your sister? How many hundreds of times?”

It is clear from Ned’s POV that the Lannister crimes far outweigh those of Rhaegar Targaryen, as the conversation continues to a discussion of Jaime as the Warden of the East. Ned is disturbed at placing so much power in the hands of one family. He recalls the aftermath of the Trident, the Sack of King’s Landing and the death of Aerys Targaryen.

“You took a wound from Rhaegar,” Ned reminded him […] “The remnants of Rhaegar’s army fled back to King’s Landing. We followed… I expected to find the gates closed to us [but] the lion of Lannister flew from the ramparts, not the crowned stag. And they had taken the city by treachery.”

At the center of the most dishonorable actions of the war in Ned’s memory is not Rhaegar Targaryen, but the Lannister family. Robert disagrees:

“Treachery was a coin the Targaryens knew well,” Robert said. The anger was building in him again. “Lannister paid them back in kind. It was no less than they deserved. I shall not trouble my sleep over it.”

“You were not there,” Ned said, bitterness in his voice. Troubled sleep was no stranger to him. He had lived his lies for fourteen years, yet they still haunted him at night. “There was no honor in that conquest.”

“The Others take your honor!” Robert swore. “What did any Targaryen ever know of honor? Go down into your crypt and ask Lyanna about the dragon’s honor!”

“You avenged Lyanna at the Trident,” Ned said, halting beside the king. Promise me, Ned, she had whispered.

Here we have a stark (forgive the pun 😉 ) contrast between one view of honor and another. In Ned’s view, the killing of children is the height of dishonor. He harks back to his promise to his sister here, which is most likely inspired by his recollection of what the Lannisters did to Rhaegar’s children in King’s Landing. When Robert urges him to “ask Lyanna” Ned recalls the promise she extracted from him. Robert has different views of honor, informed at least in part by his interpretation of R+L. Their earlier exchange in the crypts supports the notion that Ned does not in any way share that interpretation. Robert’s notion that Lysa should have been “honored” by his plan to hand her son over to the Lannisters proves his utter obliviousness to the brutal nature of Lannister policy.

Chapter 16, Eddard III finds the royal party at the Darry holdings. Arya has been accused of attacking Prince Joffrey, and after days on the run has been found and brought before the Queen in the Darry audience chamber. Ned recalls:

“Ser Raymun lived under the king’s peace, but his family had fought beneath Rhaegar’s dragon banners at the Trident, and his three older brothers had died there, a truth neither Robert nor Ser Raymun had forgotten.”

Once again we have a memory of Rhaegar Targaryen and of the war fought against his House, contrasted with the actions of the Lannister family. While Ned hardly expects the Targ loyalist Darrys to support him in the matter of Arya and her wolf, in his mind, as always, the clear and present danger comes from House Lannister.

Chapter 20, Eddard IV the party has finally reached King’s Landing. After an emergency meeting of the Small Council, Ned is taken by Littlefinger to see Catelyn at her hiding place in a brothel in the city. She tells him of the attempt on Bran’s life, shows him the scars on her hands and the dagger that made them, and accuses Tyrion Lannister of hiring and arming the assassin. Ned refuses to believe that Tyrion could have acted alone and Littlefinger insinuates he did not. Ned cannot accept that Robert might have knowledge of this act…

“Yet even as he said the words, he remembered that chill morning on the barrowlands, and Robert’s talk of sending hired knives after the Targaryen princess. He remembered Rhaegar’s infant son, the red ruin of his skull, and the way the king had turned away, as he had turned away in Darry’s audience hall not long ago. He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once”

Here we are again, with a memory of Rhaegar paired with Lannister infamy, in both past and present. In this passage there is a clear connection between Robert’s acceptance of child slaying, Ned’s anxiety over it, the protection of innocents, and a young woman pleading for mercy. If Sansa was pleading for Lady’s life, what could Lyanna have been pleading for if not her son? Who posed the danger to Rhaegar’s children, to Lady, and allegedly to Ned’s own son Bran? None other than House Lannister. Hidden beneath the overt memories and never mentioned explicitly, yet undoubtedly heightening Ned’s anxiety given the nature of his train of thought, is the fact that the child that he promised to protect from Robert’s fury and the Lannister willingness to enable him as a killer of innocents has been sent into the far North in the company of the very Lannister now accused of trying to harm Bran.

Chapter 30, Eddard VII is even more explicit in the connection. Ned finally connects with the Robert he once knew, and seems on the verge of finding proof of Lannister perfidy once and for all. Knowing that if he finds this proof, it could mean war, he thinks

“…if Lord Tywin dared to rouse the west, Robert would smash him as he had smashed Rhaegar Targaryen on the Trident.”

The Lannisters, architects of cruelty and dishonor in Ned’s POV, seem poised to meet their end in the face of Robert’s fury and Ned is both cautiously optimistic and relieved at the prospect.

Chapter 33, Eddard VIII finds things have taken a turn away from the “old” Robert at a Small Council meeting. Robert is resolved to send hired killers after the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen. Ned is furious and refuses to sign off on the plan. Their bitter quarrel of fifteen years previous seems to come to life all over again:

“Your grace, I never knew you to fear Rhaegar.” Ned fought to keep the scorn out of his voice, and failed. “Have the years so unmanned you that you tremble at the shadow of an unborn child?”

This is the second time Ned mentions Rhaegar aloud. Both mentions are to Robert during moments of truth telling. The latter time is highly provocative, but in both cases the initial subject matter is Daenerys Targaryen and the killing of children. In fact, more often than not, when Ned thinks about Rhaegar Targaryen it is connected to his death, his slain children, the threat to his young sister, and the role House Lannister has played in turning Robert into a child killer.

I believe this is highly revealing of Ned’s motivating anxiety, and when he meets Barra he realises in the course of his discussion with Littlefinger the danger she is in from the Lannisters.

 “…Robert got a pair of twins on a serving wench at Casterly Rock […] Cersei had the babes killed and sold the mother to a passing slaver.”

Ned reflects that the Robert he once knew would never have condoned such a thing, but now he’s not so sure, as Robert has become “practiced at shutting his eyes to things he did not wish to see.”

Back to the exchange with Barra’a mother which would lead once more to thoughts of Rhaegar, it began:

“I named her Barra,” she said as the baby nursed. “She looks so like him, does she not, milord? She has his nose, and his hair…”

“She does,” Eddard Stark had touched the baby’s fine, dark hair. It flowed through his fingers like black silk. Robert’s firstborn had had the same fine hair, he seemed to recall.

“Tell him when you see him, milord, as it… as it please you. Tell him how beautiful she is.”

“I will,” Ned had promised her. That was his curse. Robert would swear undying love and forget them before evenfall, but Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them. […]

Here we have Ned making a promise to a young mother regarding her child and suspiciously, it reminds him of the promises he made to his dying sister. All the way back in Eddard I, he recalled that moment:

 “Promise me, she had cried in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life…”

Not only does the promise remind Ned of his sister, but the young girl’s reaction is highly evocative of Lyanna’s:

She smiled then, a smile so tremulous and sweet that it cut the heart right out of him. Riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him, so like a younger version of his own. If the gods frowned so on bastards, he thought dully, why did they fill men with such lusts?

In this situation, Ned’s train of thought has gone from young girl with infant to promises to his dying sister and now to Jon Snow. Surely there is a clear connection, even a mirroring, of the two situations? His anxiety over the fate of Barra leads him to this bizarre thought about Jon Snow. Often used as proof that Ned thinks of Jon as his bastard or, alternatively, to question the conclusion that R+L=J was a legitimate union, I believe this thought is more complex. As Ned rides off, concerned for the infant and mother he has just met, he thinks of Jon Snow. Since he has just been thinking of his sister, this seems natural enough. It is the fact that he has been thinking about the promises made to his sister that I believe leads to the thought about bastards. In order to fulfill his promises to Lyanna, Ned has had to raise Jon as his own bastard, denying him something that is his by right and making him equal in status to the bastard daughter of a whore in King’s Landing. This is part of the price he has paid to keep his promise, and the reason he thinks of Jon in the context of bastards being frowned on by the gods. Like his concern for the safety of the children, this is all part of his hidden anxiety. Furthermore, we should note the phrase “Ned Stark kept his vows.” This POV assertion by Ned that he is a man who keeps his vows stands in direct contrast to the notion that this passage affirms that Jon is Ned’s bastard. Since he has earlier admitted to Robert that Jon Snow was born after his marriage to Catelyn, I believe this is a subtle hint that Ned has not forsworn himself in any way and that by raising Jon as his own son he has in fact been engaged solely in fulfilling a vow made to his dying sister. Finally, here is where the train of thought becomes quite curious. After a verbal exchange with Littlefinger about Robert’s bastards, wherein he learns about Cersei’s willingness to dispose of them, he comes to thought we opened with

“For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen. He wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels; somehow he thought not.”

Since we have clearly established that Ned thinks of Rhaegar often, there must be some hidden explanation for this thought. As it has been demonstrated that Ned’s thoughts about Rhaegar generally center around his death, child slaying and the perfidy of House Lannister, I think the difference is that here he (“for the first time in years”) allows his thoughts to go one step further and thinks about Rhaegar as Jon’s father. His unspoken thoughts have now gone from his sister, to promises, to Jon Snow, to bastards in brothels, to Rhaegar Targaryen and, interestingly, we arrive at the conclusion that Rhaegar would not have frequented brothels. Meaning? Ned unconsciously allows himself to think about Rhaegar as the father of his sister’s child, compares him to Robert who father’s bastards in brothels and with serving wenches, and upon reflection decides that Rhaegar would not behave in this way. Surely if Ned believed that Rhaegar had fathered a bastard child on his beloved sister, he would not reach such a charitable conclusion? I believe that here, in this passing thought, we have proof from Ned’s own thoughts, as compelling as the scene from the Tower of Joy, that Ned is aware of Jon’s legitimacy. Furthermore, taken as a whole, Ned’s collective thoughts about Rhaegar support the notion that he bears no ill will for the dead prince. Interestingly, close examination has also shown that Ned has seen with clear eyes that the true enemy of the Crown in his lifetime has been House Lannister.