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R + L = Lightbringer -- Updated with Part II

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I forgot if this connection has been explicitly mentioned, it probably has.

A sword that sends off it's own heat would be a fine thing to have on the Wall, which would be an ironic statement if Jon is Lightbringer. And when he was talking to Tycho, he said that a dragon would be nice to have on the Wall. So, there's precedent for this kind of irony.

Nice connection

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I forgot if this connection has been explicitly mentioned, it probably has.

A sword that sends off it's own heat would be a fine thing to have on the Wall, which would be an ironic statement if Jon is Lightbringer. And when he was talking to Tycho, he said that a dragon would be nice to have on the Wall. So, there's precedent for this kind of irony.

Would fit with the Watch being Lightbringer too, of course ;)

That said, nowadays I love the sheer irony of Jon's unintentional truths more than Tyrion's zingers. Way more. There's just so much if you only knew in half of Jon's thoughts and words.

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Would fit with the Watch being Lightbringer too, of course ;)

That said, nowadays I love the sheer irony of Jon's unintentional truths more than Tyrion's zingers. Way more. There's just so much if you only knew in half of Jon's thoughts and words.

And it could also be foreshadowing Dany coming to the Wall in the future. Like before the battle when he thinks he "might as well wish for another thousand men, or maybe a dragon or three." He did actually get the extra thousand men, so now I'm just waiting for the dragons.

Jon was born in Dorne where the sun burns hot. But he was brought up in the North where it is cold. Does not this sound like a sword being hammered hot and then tempered in cold?

I like it!

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There is a quote by Mel in aSoS from Davos' POV that might have served as better proof where she proclaims Stannis as both. I think all three might be the same thing (tPtwP, AAR, and Lightbringer). I think the prophecy got jumbled a little through the retelling of it.

Yes, I vaguely remembered there was a better quote from Mel somewhere but I just couldn't find it. In aSoS then?

Again right one the money except I dont think that this is the three heads of the dragon. Dragons are different than heroes IMO. Just putting this out there, not saying I fully buy in, but in aSoFaI there are three types of dragons mentioned (and please, no one respond with "well there are gold dragons haha"). Fire, stone, and ice. We know fire has been awoken. Awakening the stone dragon people have wanted to attempt. The ice dragon only comes from Jon's POV and that is only by comparing the dragons breath to the cold he is experiencing. I don't think the dragon's three heads refers to people. I think that since there are currently three dragons GRRM wants us to think that (three heads = three riders). I think there is a deeper meaning and thats the conclusion I leaned towards. Also consider the three gods who show power: the Lord of Light (fire), the Drowned God (stone), and the Great Other (Ice, I am sure he has a different name but thats what Mel calls him). Just simple speculation, but if you go by the basic two extreme and one neutral scenario it works.

Good stuff - The Great Other could be the Stranger...

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Yes, I vaguely remembered there was a better quote from Mel somewhere but I just couldn't find it. In aSoS then?

Good stuff - The Great Other could be the Stranger...

Its Davis IV and I was slightly mistaken. In that chapter she refers to him as tPtwP but not both at the same time

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Its Davis IV and I was slightly mistaken. In that chapter she refers to him as tPtwP but not both at the same time

Thanks, found it! That is key IMO, this one time when she refers to tPtwP and not AAR, we suddenly understand that AAR = tPtwP:

[Mel to Stan] You are he who must stand against the Other [=AAR].The one whose coming was prophesied 5000 years ago. The red comet was your herald. You are the prince that was promised, and if you fail the world fails with you.

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Since we're still waiting for the OP to update this thread (impatiently waiting I might add :cool4: ) I figured I'd hijak it to put in some of my musings about AA and lightbringer.

My guess is Martin's trick is that there may be multiple persons who fulfill the ancient prophecies.

I think Rhaegar is one. Born on the day of Aegon V death, my belief is he inhereited Aegon V's mantle as the dragon. Aegon V earned this title from Bloodraven after the events of Whitewalls which concluded with Whitewalls being torn down and the ground sown with salt. And then Rhaegar is born on the same day as Aegon's (the "Egg") death at Summerhall so Rhaegar began where Aegon ended in smoke. Rhaegar seems to have an almost psychic connection with Summerhall:

... Summerhall was the place the prince loved best. He would go there from time to time, with only his harp for company. Even the knights of the Kingsguard did not attend him there. He liked to sleep in the ruined hall, beneath the moon and stars, and whenever he came back he would bring a song. When you heard him play his high harp with the silver strings and sing of twilights and tears and the death of kings, you could not but feel that he was singing of himself and those he loved.

Then Rhaegar has marries Elia, the princess of Dorne and conceives two children with her. My belief is that these are the first two "swords" forged by Rhaegar in his role as AA. The first child, Rhaenys takes after the Rhoynish features of her Dornish mother. Rhoyne named from the river in Essos where they sailed from whose marriage to the Targaryens was commemerated with the Water Gardens supplies the "water" of the ancient tales. The act of "tempering" the sword in water stands for Rhaegar tempering his Targaryen bloodline with Elia's Dornish bloodline.

Rhaegar's second child is Aegon. Up until Aegon's birth, Tywin kept Cersei at King's Landing in hopes that Elia's poor health would cause her to die in childbirth and allow Rhaegar to marry Cersei, since she had yet to give birth to a son I assume that they still hoped that her union with Rhaegar would give them a half Lannister heir to the throne. Aegon's birth put an end to that and resulted in the "sword through the heart of a lion", here the heart being the "pride" of the Lannisters. Of course Tywin made sure both children did not survive the sacking of King's Landing. (the breaking of the swords).

Rhaegar's third attempt was the conception of Jon with Lyanna, tempering the sword with a Stark, the result of which was her death in childbirth, thus we have the forging of Lightbringer through the heart of Rhaegar's "spouse" Lyanna. Resulting in the OP's Lightbringer, Jon Snow.

We also have a more obvious canidate in Rhaegar's sister, Daenerys. Conceived right after Rhaegar's death on the trident. Dany was born on Dragonstone (salt and smoke). There is some smoke and sea imagery as well during her liberating horse ride after her wedding. Her first "sword" is broken on the Dothraki sea (water) in that her brother Viserys is slain after his time with the Dothrakis. Her second "sword" is Drago, who shortly after he slays the white lion of the fields falls ill to his festering wound. Here we have Drago as the heart of the lion. Finally after Dany kills her spouse and has his funeral pyre, she hatches her dragons resulting in her own version of lightbringer.

I think we also have Tyrion as a canidate as well. As a poster above mentioned, Tyrion takes his glove off to clasp the hand of Jon (AA clasping lightbringer?). Tyrion is reborn at the Battle of Blackwater a saltwater sea set afire by wildfire providing the salt and smoke of his rebirth. And remember in addition to Azor being a warrior he is also a smith. Tyrion shows his skills there as well in his design of Bran's chair and the chain that trapped Stannis' navy. Tyrion's first sword tempered in water could stand for the forces he led at the Battle of Blackwater. This sword was tempered in water but broken when Tyrion received no credit and was cast aside and finally accused of the murder of Joffrey.

Tyrion's second sword is forged after Tyrion kills his father (the heart of the lion) and flees to Essos where he ultimately joins up with the Second Sons whose banner is the broken sword. This is Tyrion's second sword where Tyrion gains admittance by promising the Lannister gold (heart of the lion again). My guess is that the Second Sons may come to an unfortunate end with Tyrion.

Which leads Tyrion to his third sword (Jon? the Nightswatch?) and the death of his spouse (Tysha? Sansa?)

ETA: Tyrion's first two swords could also be his interactions with Davos (at the battle of Blackwater, the sword tempered in water) and Jaime (the sword tempered in the heart of the lion).

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Well this is an interesting read and there is some evidence, but I have a rather large problem with it. While I believe Martin drew some inspiration from Cartharism I don't tend to connect him drawing parallels this closely. I do feel Jon is part of or connected to Lightbringer however it can't be this. It's nothing against your idea really, but I have seen this plot used before in a book, a very popular book. It's the base plot of The Da Vinci Code. In fact almost identical. Martin could never use it, it doesn't matter if the names are different or the setting. No editor would ever let it reach print. I believe he found some inspiration from within that story but using it like that is a law suit waiting to happen. Plus with the use of elements in Angles and Demons it is to close, plus another secret son. I just can't see him using the same exact religious historical story that was the base of the Da Vinci code and then have the secret holly child/adult in secret hiding who was an orphan, Howland filling in the role of the Templars. It's career suicide. Sorry, I think you wrote this up very well, but I think the parallels are to close for Martin to even think about doing that. Either that or I have to drop him down into the land of bad writers who plagiarize. I mean hell call the wall the Rose line and Jon being the blue rose. It's the Da Vinci code.

I hope Martin didn't try to do that, maybe he took it and flipped the idea or it's only part of the Lightbringer prophecy he is doing. Looking at it their are some very scary parallels, which is not a good thing. I would look at adding the three heads to the mix. Ripping off the Da Vinci code would be bad, and I have already read it and don't want to read it again in middle earth. Maybe he combines that with 2 other religions to get the three heads. The 3 eyes with Bran is very similar Shiva.

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I've gotten a sneak peak at Part II and it's very good. Definitely worth the wait.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup:



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~ 1 of 4 ~

Part II

Sorry this took so long! I've spread Part II over four posts because of quote and character restrictions. Many thanks to J.Stargaryen for all of his feedback and advice! He's been a tremendous help. Also, many thanks to everyone who posted kind words about Part I. I really appreciate it! Here we go ....

A Song to Mithras

Throughout Jon’s chapters, careful readers can find repeated references and homages to the Roman mystery cult god Mithras and his ancient Persian precursor, Mithra, as well as the Greek hero Perseus, whom worshipers of Mithras heavily associated with their god. Of course, there are tons of mythology references throughout the books, but these stand out because Mithras was often referred to by his worshipers as the “bringer of light” (see caption on the second pic) and even sometimes as the “light bringer.”

Please note that, since we’re looking at George’s inspirations for a work of fiction, I consider anything that is a widely discussed theory or contention about Mithras to be fair game for analysis. I will not be distinguishing between minority and majority opinions or theories. Please do not consider this section to be an adequate primer on Mithras from a scholarly perspective. Many more caveats and explanations would be needed before it could be that. Everything contained here has, however, been extensively written about and argued about by scholars (and armchair scholars). If George did even a little research about Mithras (and it’s obvious he did more than a little), he will have come across multiple sources related to everything I will be discussing in this section.

The Persian Mithra was a major pre-Zoroastrian god who was demoted to “yazata” (a divine being, somewhat akin to an angel, but not a god per se) under Zoroastrianism. Pre-Zoroastrian Mithra was the most important god in the ancient Persian pantheon. He was a sun god, a divine source of light. He was the god of mutual obligation, including oaths, covenants, and the relationship between kings and their subjects. He was also the god of justice (because it was the obligation of a king to give his people justice) and loyalty to one’s king (because it was the obligation of a king’s subjects to be loyal) and of war (because of the mutual obligations between a king and his soldiers). Because Mithra’s sphere of influence covered so many types of relationships between people, he was sometimes called “the Mediator.” It was believed that Mithra divinely facilitated open communication and good relations between people.

Even reimagined as a Yazata, Mithra remained an important holy being for Zoroastrian Persians. While no longer considered the sun itself, he was still called the “Lord of heavenly Light” in the Avesta (Zoroastrian scriptures). He remained the divinity of oaths and covenants as well as truth and justice. The Avesta describes Mithra as “see[ing] all,” variously having “myriad eyes” or “ten thousand eyes.” He also took on several new roles, becoming the guardian of the waters, cattle and the harvest.

Mithras, as he was worshipped by Roman cultists, is shrouded in mystery. We do know that Roman worshippers considered Mithras to be a god of light (possibly a solar deity). He was most commonly worshipped by soldiers and enjoyed widespread popularity along the Roman frontier in modern day Western Europe. He had a particularly important temple at Hadrian’s Wall. George has flat-out acknowledged that his Wall “comes from Hadrian’s Wall,” which he’s visited in person. One imagines that, while he was there, he may have visited the temple of Mithras. It’s become a common stop for tourists.

Mithras was such an important god at the frontiers of the Roman Empire that his worshippers are likely responsible for popularizing the use of the “handshake.” “Taking the right hand” was the ancient Persian method (associated with Mithra) of sealing an agreement or covenant as well as pledging one’s allegiance to a ruler or superior. Mithra himself was depicted in stone carvings “taking the right hand” of kings, signifying a holy pact or agreement between the mortal king and the divine. Roman Mithraic cultists adopted the handshake as a greeting between initiates and referred to themselves as Syndexioi – “united by the handshake”. The act of “taking the right hand” will become an import focus in Part III.

Some initial connections between Mithras (for simplicity, I will use “Mithras” to refer to the god in both his Persian and Roman incarnations from here on out) and Jon should be obvious. Mithras is the god of covenants (defined as “a formal and serious agreement or promise”). Jon’s very identity (as he knows it) was determined by a promise made when he was a newborn (“Promise me, Ned ….”). Mithras is the god of oaths. Jon’s conflicted struggle to keep his NW oath and guard the realms of men has been the major focus of his story arc thus far. Mithras was an extremely popular divinity for the soldiers at Hadrian’s Wall. Jon is Lord Commander to the Black Brothers of the Wall. Mithras was “the Mediator.” Jon repeatedly plays the mediator in his chapters (between Stannis and the Watch, between the Watch and the Wildlings, etc.). Mithras “takes the right hand” of kings, to signify divine imprimatur. Jon, the subject of a great deal of royal foreshadowing, has a burned right hand … which is bound to happen when a fiery sun god grabs it. :P On a related note, Mithras is also the god of Justice. Take a look at one of the very first descriptions we get of Jon, from the first chapter of AGoT:

Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.

AGoT, Bran I.

[H]and” and “Justice.” Recall in Part I, when I likened Jon’s hand to the “Red Right Hand” of god? The one god uses to punish the wicked (dispense justice)? A particularly important Mithraeum (mithraic temple) is located in Ptuj, Slovenia. To this day, elements and associations with Mithraism abound in Ptuj (a major crossroads for the ancient world in Roman times). One such element is a giant “metallic hand … holding a sword” called the “Hand of Justice!” (note the name of the hotel). Jon is an “old hand at justice.” Mithras has a “Hand of Justice” holding a sword. Quite the “coincidence,” no? Also, remember that Lightbringer is called (among other things) the “Red Sword of Justice.” ASoS, Davos VI. Curiouser and curiouser.

Let’s take one last look back at AGoT’s first chapter before we move on. This line appears just a couple of paragraphs after the last one:

Jon’s eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see.

As mentioned above, Zoroastrian scriptures repeatedly state that Mithras “sees all.” Pretty similar wording, no? And think about the two signature “battle scars” Jon carries: A burned hand and a scar framing his eye. Both connect to Mithras “the Lightbringer” in more ways than one. In addition to the “taking the right hand” and “see[ing] all” stuff, Mithraic mystery cult initiates were said to be “marked” on either their hand or their head in such a way that they could identify each other (since members’ identities were not made public). These marks were said to take the form of tattoos or brands (as in burns) on the hand or the head (depending on the source). In other words, the marked locations mirror the locations of Jon’s two signature scars. We don’t know for sure what form the mark took, but the most popular theory is that it was an equidistant cross, variously referred to as a “sun cross” and “the sword of Mithras.” Early Christian propaganda (the cult of Mithras was one of early Christianity’s chiefest competitors) claimed that the mark was “the mark of the beast” – 666. Interestingly, Janos Slynt tells Jon:

“The mark of the beast is on you, bastard.”

ADwD, Jon II.

So … there’s that.

The “sword of Mithras” has always been associated with war. The third century philosopher Porphyry, one of the best early sources on Roman Mithraism, wrote:

[A] place near the equinoctial circle was assigned to Mithra as an appropriate seat; and on this account he bears the sword of the Ram, which is a sign of Mars.

Mars (aka Ares to the Greeks) was the god of war. This has led to a poetic association between Mithras’ sword and war/death/destruction. Perhaps the most famous example of this comes from The Kindly Ones (part of the multi-volume A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell:

The sword of Mithras, who each year immolates the sacred bull, will ere long now flash from its scabbard …. The slayer of Osiris once again demands his grievous tribute of blood. The Angel of Death will ride the storm …. The god, Mars, approaches the earth to lay waste …. The Four Horseman are at the gate.”

This is a prediction of world war (specifically, WWII). The bolded part about Mithras’ sword “immolate[ing]” the bull is not infrequently quoted in other works.

The backstory of Mithras provides some more connections to Jon. Mithras was born from a stone (or, in some versions of the tale, died and was resurrected in a stone cave or tomb). The stone is sometimes referred to as the “cosmic egg” and is commonly depicted with a serpent coiled around it as Mithras emerges from it. This calls to mind the ASoIaF prophecy about waking dragons from stone (which I will link to Jon and to Lightbringer in Part III) and also Jon’s connection to the stone crypts of Winterfell. After emerging from the “cosmic egg,” Mithras almost immediately became the sun’s rival (this part was added by Zoroastrians, who did not believe Mithras himself was the sun). They fought each other to a standstill, after which they became friends. The Persian Mithras is often described as wearing a fiery crown. Later texts describe Mithras as giving the fiery crown to the sun, after they become friends. This will come up again in Part III.

Once they became allies, the sun sent a raven to Mithras as a messenger, asking him to kill a white bull. Mithras did not wish to harm the bull, but he reluctantly complied, after chasing or dragging the bull into a cave (the one he is resurrected from in some versions). Jon, of course, began his life being guarded by “the White Bull,” Gerold Hightower. I think that the Hightower “White Bull” connection is a little wink at the original legend, but in another context, George gives us more than a wink. Here’s what happened when Mithras killed the bull:

But at the very moment of the death of the bull, a great miracle happened. The white bull was metamorphosed into the moon; the cloak of Mithra was transformed into the vault of the sky, with the shining planets and fixed stars; from the tail of the bull and from his blood sprang the first ears of grain and the grape; from the genitals of the animal ran the holy seed which was received by a mixing bowl. Every creature on earth was shaped with an admixture of the holy seed. One Mithraic hymn begins: “Thou hast redeemed us too by shedding the eternal blood.” The plants and the trees were created. Day and Night began to alternate, the Moon started her monthly cycle, the Seasons took up their round dance through the Year, and thus Time was created.


The killing of the white bull causes the seasons to begin to turn and day and night to cycle. An echo of this can be found in Lightbringer’s prophesied use by a hero to end the Long Winter (aka the Long Night) and usher in the spring season. The bull/moon transformation provides a direct link to Lyanna, which I’ll discuss in the next section.

At one point during their initiation into the Mithraic mystery cult, initiates were drenched in (or possibly dabbed on the forehead with) a bull’s blood (sometimes referred to as a Mithraic baptism). The meaning of this act is open to speculation. Roman mystery cults, by their very nature, guarded their rituals and secrets jealously, and early Christians made a habit of seeking out and destroying any written records of the “competition.” One popular take is that initiates were ritualistically reenacting Mithras’ sacrifice, thus slaying their own baser natures and being “reborn.” In other words, they were “kill[ing] the bull boy and let[ting] the man be born.” ADwD, Jon II.

Instead of a white bull, George gives Jon a white direwolf. Just as the white bull is a part of Mithras, Jon repeatedly thinks of Ghost as a being part of himself. For example:

Of late, Jon Snow sometimes felt as if he and the direwolf were one, even awake.


Ghost has taken “the place of [a] sword” in the books once before (thanks to Paper Waver for reminding me of this quote in another thread):

Rangers often shared skins for warmth, but warmth was not all Ygritte wanted, he suspected. After that he had taken to using Ghost to keep her away. Old Nan used to tell stories about knights and their ladies who would sleep in a single bed with a blade between them for honor’s sake, but he thought this must be the first time where a direwolf took the place of the sword.

ASoS, Jon II.

Although he closes out ADwD lying bloody in the snow, most of us agree that Jon is not perma-dead. He’ll likely warg into Ghost for a time before regaining a human body. Mel seems to see this in her fires:

The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again.

ADwD, Melisandre I.

This vision of Jon is preceded by Mel feeling the “agony” and the “ecstasy” of having the fire “inside her,” which I discussed in Part I. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think Jon’s transformation from man to wolf and back again is a step on the path to him becoming the Lightbringer. Perhaps this is why George repeatedly associates Ghost with the tools used to make swords. For example:

When he went to close the door, Jon saw that Ghost was stretched out beneath the anvil, gnawing on the bone of an ox to get at the marrow.

ADwD, Jon II.

An ox is a bull trained as a draft animal. Another wink to the white bull/white wolf connection? Importantly, this passage occurs immediately following the conversation in which we are introduced to the phrase “Kill the boy” for the first time. Jon tells Gilly that she must leave her baby behind and take Mance’s. “Kill the boy,” he thinks twice as he talks to her (we don’t know what it means yet). That conversation ends with Gilly running out of the armory (yes, Jon lives and works out of an armory – the place where they usually keep swords, not Lord Commanders) and the very next sentence is the one quoted above. George seems to think the image of Ghost under the anvil with the bone of an ox is important enough that he puts it in the books twice. Sam sees Ghost in the same position under the anvil, gnawing on the ox bone as well. AFfC, Sam I.

In Jon’s last chapter in ADwD, which ends with him getting stabbed (and presumably warging into Ghost), we get this line:

The big white direwolf would not lie still. He paced from one end of the armory to the other, past the cold forge and back again.


An agitated Ghost is repeatedly pacing past the forge in the armory. In the next section, I’ll go into more detail about why Jon warging into Ghost after being stabbed is part of Lightbringer’s “forging” process.

If Jon does indeed warg into Ghost post-stabbing, then the direwolf will take “the place of [a] sword” once again by becoming a temporary vessel for Lightbringer. Jon’s emergence from Ghost will be a kind of resurrection or rebirth, just as Mithras had when he separated his divine essence from the white bull.

In essence, by slaying the “bull,” Mithras was acting as a “corn king”. For those unfamiliar, a Corn King is a catchall term for a king or god who is sacrificed for the greater good of his people. The term is often associated with Sir James Frazer’s thesis of a sacred, sacrificial god-king, which he explored in his famous work The Golden Bough. Commonly, the Corn King’s sacrifice is intended to usher in a fruitful harvest before the winter comes. As already noted, the slaying of the white bull results in the first grain and grapes – the first harvest. Jon is directly tied to the “corn king” mythos in the text:

He rose and dressed in darkness, as Mormont’s raven muttered across the room. “Corn,” the bird said, and, “King,” and, “Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow.” That was queer. The bird had never said his full name before, as best Jon could recall.

ADwD, Jon XII.

Corn King Jon Snow. George is flat-out, unambiguously connecting Jon to the idea of a sacrificial god/king who dies and is reborn for the benefit of his people. George even waves a big flag for the reader by having Jon find the raven’s use of his full name “queer,” thereby calling more attention to the passage. Interestingly, garlands of flowers are very commonly associated with the rituals and celebrations Frazer analyses in The Golden Bough. It may be that the inspiration for Lyanna’s garland of winter roses came from there. There’s no question that George is familiar with Frazer’s book (which has become an increasingly popular source of inspiration for fantasy and horror writers over the years). He puts in a direct reference to Frazer’s sacrificial god-king archetype in ADwD:

"In Pentos we have a prince, my friend. He presides at ball and feast and rides about the city in a palanquin of ivory and gold. Three heralds go before him with the golden scales of trade, the iron sword of war, and the silver scourge of justice. On the first day of each new year he must deflower the maid of the fields and the maid of the seas.” Illyrio leaned forward, elbows on the table. “Yet should a crop fail or a war be lost, we cut his throat to appease the gods and choose a new prince from amongst the forty families.”

“Remind me never to become the Prince of Pentos.”

“Are your Seven Kingdoms so different? There is no peace in Westeros, no justice, no faith … and soon enough, no food. When men are starving and sick of fear, they look for a savior.”

ADwD, Tyrion I.

The bolded portions about the deflowering of the “maid of the fields” and the “maid of the seas” and the prince’s sacrifice to appease the gods when a crop fails are practically carbon-copy examples of some of the ancient practices Frazer writes about in the book (though the deflowering and sacrificing was often symbolic in the real world).

Illyrio says that soon enough, there will be mass starvation in Westeros. If only there were some corn-king-esque figure who could be sacrificed to turn things around ….

As it happens, Jon is stabbed by his brothers in Jon XIII, the very next (Jon) chapter after the raven identifies him as a “corn king.” George hides a surprising amount of Mithraic imagery this chapter. This requires a bit of setup: A depiction of Mithras killing the white bull – the “Tauroctony” – is the central image of Roman Mithraism (equivalent to Christ on the cross for Christians). A Tauroctony can be found in every Mithraeum (Mithraic temple). In the center of the image is Mithras himself, stabbing the white bull with a sword. Mithras is almost universally depicted as looking away from the bull while he is killing it. In some versions, the bull’s tail and/or blood are depicted as food, though the type of food varies (a reference to the bull being a sacrificed to feed mankind). There are usually a dog, a snake and a scorpion depicted in the image, as well. Many Tauroctonies also include a raven and a lion. Almost all Tauroctonies feature two torchbearers, one with his torch raised and the other with it lowered. These represent “the double incarnations of [Mithras’] person.” They are variously said to represent light and dark, day and night, summer and winter, heat and cold, and life and death. The sun and the moon are usually depicted too.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but every single element of the Tauroctony is referenced in Jon’s last chapter. Every. Single. Element. The chapter contains one or more express references to “bulls,” “dogs,” “snakes,” “scorpions,” “raven,” “lions,” “torches,” “light,” “dark,” “day,” “night,” “summer,” “winter,” “heat,” “cold,” “liv[ing],” “the dead,” “suns,” “moon” and food for the starving. Many of these aren’t exactly unusual to find together in one Jon chapter, but some certainly are. And all together? In the very same chapter where Jon is stabbed and all the messianic references and hints that have been piling up around him finally see the beginnings of their bloody payoff? Consider that George spends an awful lot of words describing the heraldry on the shields that no longer hang in the shield hall. He doesn’t even bother to tell us about the heraldry on the shields that do still hang there, but he lists off dozens of beasts and symbols that used to be present. George may have done this so he could have a convenient way to reference things like “scorpions,” “bulls” and “snakes” that you normally wouldn't see mentioned in a chapter that takes place at the Wall. Again, maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it’s worth considering.

As in the Tauroctony, feeding the hungry is an important theme in Jon XIII. Jon begins the chapter being told by Selyse that he should “let [the Wildlings at Hardhome] die,” even the children, because there is “no food for them.”

Bowen Marsh thinks Jon should send the Wildlings to rescue their own at Hardhome:

“The more we lose, the fewer mouths we’ll have to feed.”

Elsewhere in the chapter, as Jon is trying to work out the logistics of a rescue mission to Hardhome, he has this thought:

“A smaller ranging would reach Hardhome sooner … but what good were swords without food?

Food is more important than swords. Sounds like it’s time for a harvest sacrifice. And Jon (aka Lightbringer – a sword) is indeed stabbed (sacrificed) by chapter’s end. I’m not suggesting that Jon getting stabbed is going to magically put food on Westerosi plates, mind you. This is a veiled literary allusion to the corn king archetype, not an actual ritual sacrifice. But I do think that the stabbing has set a chain of events in motion that will ultimately lead to Jon finding himself in a position to help Westeros survive the coming long winter … if he still wants to (more on that in sections yet to come).

Moving on, no discussion of the similarities between Jon and Mithras the light bringer would be complete without a closer look at the “mysteries” guarded by the Roman mystery cult of Mithras. One of the unique features of Roman Mithraism was the locations of Mithraic temples. Mithraeum were generally located underground. Many, many ancient Mithraeum have been converted into crypts with Christian churches now built above them, including at least one Mithraeum under the site of the Vatican itself. This provides another link to Jon, with all of the dread importance his dreams place on the crypts under Winterfell.

There were seven ascending “ranks” (scroll down to “Degrees of Initiation”) for cultists to obtain. The first level was “Crow” or “raven” (variously recorded as corax, corux or corvex). Jon, of course, becomes a “crow” when he joins the Watch. The second level was “Bridesman.” A “bridesman” is a male friend who accompanies a bride down the aisle at her wedding. Jon was literally a “Bridesman” in the wedding of Alys Karstark and Sigorn of Thenn:

“Who brings this woman to be wed?” asked Melisandre.

“I do,” said Jon. “Now comes Alys of House Karstark, a woman grown and flowered, of noble blood and birth.” He gave her hand one last squeeze and stepped back to join the others.

ADwD, Jon X.

Importantly, the first two ranks were open to young boys as well as men (only males were allowed to join the cult). However, the third rank, “Soldier,” was only obtainable for grown men. Thus, for Jon to become a “Soldier,” he has to “kill the boy” and become a man. And just a few chapters after the wedding, Jon sets events in motion that will lead to “the boy” getting stabbed repeatedly. It looks to me like George might be symbolically taking Jon through the Mithraic ranks.

Something awfully interesting happens during a cultist’s initiation into the third rank. The initiate is offered a crown on the blade of a sword. He ritualistically refuses the crown and says that Mithras is his only crown. Soldiers who worshipped Mithras were even officially excused from wearing laurel wreaths and garlands (honors for exemplary military service and markings of rank) because they were associated with crowns (the Latin word corona means both “wreath” and “crown”). Sounds a lot like a potential inspiration for “I shall wear no crowns, and win no glory,” doesn’t it? AGoT, Jon VI. I won’t delve into wild speculation about what Jon might do if offered a crown in the future (not until Part III, anyway), but it is interesting to think about.

The fourth rank is “Lion.” It is associated with the element of fire, which seems like it could be important for a fiery sword like Lightbringer.

The fifth rank, associated with the moon, is “Perses,” meaning “Persian” or “son of Perseus” (Perseus was said to be the ancestor of all Persians, via his son’s line. One of the symbols cultists associated with this rank is a stylized type of sword called a “harpe.” Perseus was commonly depicted with a harpe sword in Roman art. A harpe is a sort of combination sword and scythe. In western culture, the scythe is, of course, a famous symbol of death and the reaping of souls. Given all of the Stranger/death associations related to Jon (more of which I’ll look at in Part III), that’s potentially unsettling. Also, the word “harpe” looks an awful lot like “harp,” with all the Rhaegar connections that brings. Given that “Perses” is a rank specifically dedicated to the son of a famed prince (Perseus’ blood was royal), that’s quite interesting.

The sixth rank of Mithraic initiation is “Heliodromus” (“Sun Runner”). Upon attaining this rank, a religious banquet is held where the initiate sits next to a cultist of the seventh rank, “Pater” (Latin for “Father”). One book I found states that Sun Runners wear red garments at the banquet to symbolize the sun, fire and blood (other sources suggest the “Father” is the one wearing red). “Fire and Blood” are, of course, the Targaryen words. There is a direct “sun” connection to Rhaegar as well, as we shall see in the next section.

The title “Father” is a reference to Mithras himself. A cultist who has attained this rank is said to be the “earthly representative” of Mithras, “the light of heaven embodied.” In other words, this is the rank where the initiate becomes the light bringer.

The meaning of the title “Father” is linked to the meaning of the title of the fifth rank (again, “Perses,” son of Perseus). According to one especially popular theory, one of the “secrets” revealed to higher ranking members of the mystery cult of Mithras was that Mithras was actually the Greek hero Perseus ascended to godhood. Thus, the “Father” of Perses would be Mithras himself.

Just about every scholar now agrees that the Tauroctony is some kind of star map (incidentally, the star map notion is credited to one K.B. Stark). Mithras himself may represent the constellation Perseus (the bull is obviously Taurus).

In the Tauroctony, Mithras is generally depicted wearing a Phrygian cap. Perseus was often depicted with the same distinctive headgear (including in some early drawings of the constellation Perseus). I mentioned earlier that Mithras is generally depicted looking away from the white bull in the Tuaroctony. This is a highly unusual feature of the Tauroctony. Heroes and gods were quite often depicted slaying beasts in ancient Roman art, but never looking away. Except for Mithras … and Perseus, who looked away when he killed the Gorgon, Medusa, so as not to be turned to stone by her gaze. The imagery of Mithras emerging from a stone with a serpent coiled around it (which I mentioned earlier and will return to in Part III) may also connect to Perseus and Medusa (as a symbolic depiction of the hero’s victory over a creature with serpents for hair that tried to turn Perseus into stone).

The Perseus connection helps to explain this otherwise completely random line from Lord Commander Mormont:

“If your brothers had not fetched you back, you would have been taken along the way, and not by friends. Unless you have a horse with wings like a raven. Do you?”

“No.” Jon felt like a fool.

“Pity, we could use a horse like that.”

AGoT, Jon IX.

I know that Mormont likes to start drinking a little early in the day, but even so, why the crap would he ask Jon about a winged horse? It comes completely out of nowhere. There’s no context for it. It’s an all-around awkward moment. Either Mormont had a few too many beers with his breakfast, or George is shoehorning in a reference to Pegasus, Perseus’ famous winged horse. As an aside, Mithras was said to hold the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear) in his hand for a time before killing the white bull; a possible initial inspiration for the Old Bear, LC Mormont.

Perseus’ harpe sword has been portrayed as a flaming sword a fair few times. For example, famous Psychiatrist Carl Jung describes Perseus killing Medusa with a “fiery sword” in discussing mythological archetypes and the unconscious mind. Perseus is also sometimes depicted with a flaming sword in art and literature, for example, in the play Perseus the Deliverer by Sri Aurobindo:


The sun [Perseus] had risen in my dreams: perhaps

I feared to wake lest I should find all dark


My sun was a bright god and bore a flaming sword

To kill all monsters.

I don’t know enough about Sri Auronindo’s work to be sure, but based on how he writes Andromeda’s description of Perseus, I’m guessing he was influenced by the Mithras/Perseus connection.

Importantly, Perseus’ origin story is full of Jon parallels: King Acrisius of Argos became aware of a prophecy that an as-yet unborn prince of his line would one day kill him. According to the prophecy, the king’s daughter, Danaë, would be the prince’s mother. The king didn’t feel like dying, so he had Danaë (who had no sons and was not pregnant) locked away in a bronze tower (which immediately calls to mind Lyanna at the Tower of Joy). The god Zeus became taken with Danaë, so he turned himself into a shower of golden raindrops and slipped in through the tower window, where he and Danaë conceived the promised prince, Perseus. When he learned of this, the king had Danaë and her baby locked in a wooden chest and thrown into the ocean. Thanks to the intervention of the gods, they survived.

Danaë and baby Perseus were found by a good and honorable fisherman (who also happened to be the brother of King Polydectes of Serephos). The fisherman raised Perseus as his own son (just as Jon was raised by a good and honorable man who was not his father).

Years later, King Polydectes fell in love with Danaë, even though he publicly pursued at least one other woman (perhaps mirroring Robert falling in love with Lyanna). The king considered Perseus an obstacle to his affections for Danaë, so he sent the young hero on a suicide mission to kill the Gorgon Medusa.

Medusa’s “origin story” may have been the inspiration for a portion of Lyanna’s backstory. Before she was a monster with snakes for hair who could turn a man to stone with her gaze, Medusa was a beautiful woman who drew the attention of the god Poseidon. Sources famously conflict as to whether Poseidon raped Medusa or whether they were consensual lovers (very closely mirroring the conflicting accounts we get about Lyanna and Rhaegar’s relationship). Regardless, Medusa became pregnant with Poseidon’s child while inside a temple dedicated to Athena. Jealous Athena cursed Medusa and turned her into the monster Perseus would ultimately slay (which, incidentally, fits perfectly with another theory of mine about Elia and Lyanna … I’ll write that one up eventually).

With the help of the gods, Perseus killed the pregnant Medusa. The two children of Poseidon that she had been carrying in her womb sprang forth alive from her beheaded corpse: The winged horse Pegasus and the demigod Chrysaor, armed with a golden sword (or bow). Jaime famously wielded a golden sword, of course, but there’s a much deeper connection to be made here. The story of Perseus slaying Medusa and causing her two children to be born is, I think, a big inspiration for George’s Lightbringer. I’ll begin to look at the outlines of this inspiration in the next section, but the direct parallel won’t be evident until Part III.

Obviously, the name Danaë calls Daenerys to mind, not Lyanna. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. George purposefully conflates Dany and Lyanna (and their respective “children”) quite a bit in the books. More on that in the next section (and even more in Part III).

The Sun’s Son

The Mithras/Perseus stuff provides a nice segue into the topic of dragons. Scholars have long suspect that tales of the Norse/German hero Sigurd (aka Sigfried) the dragon-slayer were “inspired” by the much older stories of Perseus slaying the sea serpent Cetus. In fact, the famous legend of Perseus killing the sea serpent to rescue Princess Andromeda is thought to be one of the main sources for the “slay the dragon/rescue the princess” trope that still exists in fantasy today. The theory is that soldiers at the Roman frontiers introduced Perseus to the Germans via the cult of Mithras, and over time the legend of Perseus slaying the serpent spread and morphed, until it became the legend of Sigurd/Sigfried slaying the dragon Fafnir.

An important disclaimer: We’re about to launch into an extended look at Jon-as-a-dragon. None of what follows means that I think Fire “trumps” Ice when it comes to Jon. Yes, dragons (literal and Targaryen) are generally linked to fire in the books. But there’s a reason that George keeps referencing an ice dragon in the text along with the fiery kind. Jon is both ice and fire and so is Lightbringer (despite what Mel might think). More on that in Part III. For now, on to the dragons ….

There’s one very important bit from the legend of the forging of Lightbringer that we haven’t examined yet. As you’ll recall, Salladhor Saan tells Davos that:

“… [Nissa Nissa’s] cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon ….”

ACoK, Davos I.

This is actually the second reference in the books to a “crack” in the moon. Here is the first:

“A trader from Qarth once told me that dragons came from the moon,” blond Doreah said as she warmed a towel over the fire ….

Silvery-wet hair tumbled across her eyes as Dany turned her head, curious. “The moon?”

“He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said. “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”

The two Dothraki girls giggled and laughed. “You are foolish strawhead slave,” Irri said. “Moon is no egg. Moon is god, woman wife of sun. It is known.”

“It is known,” Jhiqui agreed.

AGoT, Dany III.

Compare the prediction that “the other moon … will crack and dragons will return” with the story of Nissa Nissa’s “cry of anguish and ecstasy [leaving] a crack across the face of the moon.” George is giving us a clue. He’s using the description of Nissa Nissa’s cry to point the reader back to the story of the two moons and the return of dragons. Here’s another clue, courtesy of Google: Nissa Nissa literally means “Moon Moon” in the language of the Seneca Amerindians. Does that sound like a pretty random language to be drawing from? Consider that George has already stated that he used “various … Amerindian tribes” as part of the inspiration for the Dothraki. At the height of their power, the Seneca (members of the Iroquois League) held sway over lands in New York that extended fairly close to where George grew up in Bayonne, NJ, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the Seneca might have been among the “various … Amerindian tribes” George researched, if he wasn’t already familiar with them. And the fact that a story about two moons cracking and hatching dragons just happens to have language in it that directly points the reader towards similar language in a story about a woman whose name means “Moon Mooncannot possibly be a coincidence, especially in light of the evidence to follow.

Doreah says that the first moon hatched dragons (like an egg) after an interaction with the sun’s fire. This calls to mind the original Nissa Nissa, whom Azor Ahai supposedly stabbed with a sword that “glowed white-hot in the sacred fires ….” When the second moon kisses the sun, “dragons will return.”

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~ 2 of 4 ~

The Sun's Son (cont.)

Doreah’s story is easy to connect to the birth of Dany’s dragons in the pyre. I don’t think that connection is a false one. And there’s no question that Dany is associated with a lot of moon imagery. But that imagery seems to fall into three disparate categories: Some of it likens her to the moon (“moon of my life”), some of it depicts the moon as something apart from her, and at least one important passage presents the moon as flat-out adversarial to Dany (more on that in Part III). Here’s one of the earliest Dany/moon passages:

They rode to the lake the Dothraki called the Womb of the World …. Naked, she stepped gingerly into the water. Irri said the lake had no bottom, but Dany felt soft mud squishing between her toes as she pushed through the tall reeds. The moon floated on the still black waters, shattering and re-forming as her ripples washed over it.

AGoT, Dany VI.

Just prior to this, Dany’s unborn son is proclaimed the “Stallion who Mounts the World.” Now she bathes in “the Womb of the World” while the moon’s reflection “shatter and re-form.” I think what George is trying to tell us here is that the moon takes on different forms. It’s Dany … but it’s not just Dany. After all, Doreah’s story prominently features two moons giving birth to dragons. I think that “dragons,” in this context refers to both the literal and the figurative variety.

While Dany and her dragons have a vital role to play in this theory, our focus for now is on the other moon and the other kind of dragon … Lyanna and her son Jon. The next section (coming with Part III) will focus more on the plot-related meaning behind Jon being portrayed as a dragon. It’s enough for our purposes in this section to point out that Jon, as the secret son of Rhaegar “the last dragon” Targaryen (AGoT, Dany III), is a figurative dragon by blood.

The moon fits perfectly as a stand-in for Jon’s mother. Recall that when Mithras killed the white bull, it transformed into the moon. I’ve already discussed the Ghost/bull connection. But George loves double meanings and multiple interpretations. I think he’s also drawn a parallel between Lyanna (whom Jon “killed” by coming into the world) and the white-bull-turned-moon (as I mentioned earlier, George even gives us a direct wink at the Mithras legend by having pregnant Lyanna guarded by Gerold “the White Bull” Hightower at the ToJ).

And consider the stars:

The King’s Crown was the Cradle, to hear her tell it; the Stallion was the Horned Lord; the red wanderer that septons preached was sacred to their Smith up here was called the Thief. And when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, that was a propitious time for a man to steal a woman, Ygritte insisted.

ASoS, Jon III.

The “red wanderer” is a star that is connected to the Smith. As it happens, in addition to being one aspect of the Seven, a smith is a guy who forges swords. And red, of course, is the color of fire. It’s a color we associate with the “red sword of heroes” and with Azor Ahai, who forged the first Lightbringer long ago. The wildlings call the star “the Thief.” They believe that when the red wanderer/Thief is in the moonmaid (when the two stars are aligned), it’s a good time to “steal” a woman.

Consider the two most famous examples from the books of a “Thief” stealing a woman. The first is Bael the Bard stealing a daughter of Winterfell and leaving behind a blue winter rose. The Stark daughter later turned up with a son. The second parallels the first; Rhaegar (known for his bardic skill with a harp) stealing Lyanna (a daughter of Winterfell), after placing a crown of blue winter roses in her lap (pretty close to where babies come from) at Harrenhal. Lyanna later turned up with Jon. Rhaegar absconding with Lyanna is likened to stealing more than once – and not just by Robert:

“But that was the tourney when [Rhaegar] crowned Lyanna Stark as queen of love and beauty!” said Dany. “Princess Elia was there, his wife, and yet my brother gave the crown to the Stark girl, and later stole her away from her betrothed. How could he do that? Did the Dornish woman treat him so ill?”

ASoS, Dany IV.

We’ve already looked (in Part I) at how George likens Lyanna to the Maiden in the burning of the Seven. Here, instead of the Maiden, Lyanna is the moonmaid. The Cradle represents Jon, their child. The fact that the Cradle and the King’s Crown are one and the same is quite interesting, but I’ll leave discussion of Jon’s legitimacy for Part III.

This next pair of quotes further demonstrates the Lyanna/moon connection:

The northern girl had a wild beauty, as he recalled, though however bright a torch might burn it could never match the rising sun.

ADwD, Epilogue.

Kevan Lannister is thinking about how things would have been different if Rhaegar had married Cersei. He thinks that Rhaegar would never have run off with Lyanna (“[t]he northern girl”) if he’d wed Cersei instead of Elia. In the subtext, though, Lyanna’s supposed inability to “match the rising sun” seems pretty similar to what happened to Doreah’s moon. It “wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat.” The moon was no match for the sun and the heat caused it to crack … hatching/birthing “dragons.” Which brings us to this next line, also from the Epilogue:

Behind a veil of ragged clouds, a full moon floated fat and white as a snowball.

This line conjures an image of a pregnant Lyanna carrying lil’ Jon Snow in her “full … fat” belly.

With a pregnant Lyanna-moon in mind, take a look at the following:

Only the brightest stars were visible, all to the west. A dull red glow lit the sky to the northeast, the color of a blood bruise. Tyrion had never seen a bigger moon. Monstrous, swollen, it looked as if it had swallowed the sun and woken with a fever. Its twin, floating on the sea beyond the ship, shimmered red with every wave.

ADwD, Tyrion VIII.

This is a clear reference to the story Doreah tells Dany about dragons returning. A “big[] …. Swollen” (read: pregnant) moon looks “as if it had swallowed the sun” (in Doreah’s story, the moon-spawned dragons “drank the fire of the sun”). There are even two moons here, the pregnant one and its “twin” reflected on the water.

The language in this passage also slyly points at Lyanna as a moon that cracked so dragons could return. Tyrion thinks the pregnant moon “swallowed the sun and woke[] with a fever.” Lyanna had a fever (presumably a pregnancy complication) when she died:

Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, 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.

AGoT, Eddard I.

And the “sky … the color of a blood bruise” in Tyrion’s passage sounds pretty similar to the “blood-streaked sky” in Ned’s fever dream about Lyanna and his battle at Tower of Joy:

…. [Ned] could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.

AGoT, Eddard X.

Note that the rose petals falling from Lyanna’s hand in the first passage and blowing across the sky in the second also tie these two passages to each other, in addition to both being tied to the Tyrion passage above.

Jon’s first chapter in ADwD pushes the moon/Lyanna and sun/Rhaegar thing into overdrive. At the chapter’s start, Jon is having a wolf dream of Ghost running through the woods near the Wall. The moon is with him:

The white wolf raced through a black wood, beneath a pale cliff as tall as the sky. The moon ran with him, slipping through a tangle of bare branches overhead, across the starry sky.

Snow,” the moon murmured. The wolf made no answer.

ADwD, Jon I.

The moon proceeds to repeatedly call out “Snow,” growing more and more insistent. Ghost/Jon ignores it at first, then runs from it, and then eventually turns and bares his fangs to the moon before Jon wakes up to Mormont’s raven cawing “Snow, snow, snow!” Whether or not the raven just wanted to talk about the weather, there’s no getting around the fact that the moon is repeatedly calling out Jon’s bastard surname (it’s all uppercase “S” until the raven comes into the picture) and Ghost/Jon’s reaction is increasingly negative. Here’s the best bit:

“Snow,” the moon insisted.

The white wolf ran from it, racing toward the cave of night where the sun had hidden, his breath frosting in the air.

What is the “cave of night where the sun had hidden?” Perhaps on one level, this is how George imagines a wolf might conceive of the day/night cycle. The sun stays in a cave at night. But there’s another layer here. Ghost/Jon is running away from Jon’s bastard surname and towards the sun’s (read: Rhaegar’s) hiding spot. Jon is heading towards the truth about his identity.

So, as we’ve seen, the story about the (re)birth of dragons as the children of the sun and the moon directly connects to the story of Nissa Nissa and Lightbringer via the meaning of the word “nissa.” And both stories connect to Jon. But what do these connections mean? And what about the connections to Dany and her dragons?

Whether we’re dealing with literal or figurative dragons, the Lightbringer/dragon connection is hard to deny. There are just too many clues that support such a connection. For example, here’s a hint that something can be both “a sword” and a dragon (“snake”):

[Jon] had once heard his uncle Benjen say that the Wall was a sword east of Castle Black, but a snake to the west. It was true.

ASoS, Jon IV.

And from the same chapter:

The sun was high in the sky, and the upper third of the Wall was a crystalline blue from below, reflecting so brilliantly that it hurt the eyes to look on it.

The sword/snake gives off near-blinding light. Interesting.

Many have come to the conclusion that Dany’s dragons are Lightbringer. Indeed, there is some undeniable foreshadowing of a direct connection between Dany’s dragons and Lightbringer:

“When your dragons were small they were a wonder. Grown, they are death and devastation, a flaming sword above the world.”

ADwD, Dany III.

Seems pretty on-the-nose. And we are repeatedly told that Dany’s dragons are “fire made flesh.” Ex., ADwD, Dany IX. But there’s also some equally on-the-nose foreshadowing that Dany’s dragons aren’t Lightbringer (thanks to Frey family reunion):

Hizdahr arched an eyebrow. “The only dragons that I know are yours, and magic swords are even scarcer.”

ADwD, Dany IV.

“[M]agic swords” are “even scarcer” than Dany’s dragons. So, we’ve got a hint that the dragons are “a flaming sword” but also a hint that they aren’t as rare as “magic swords.” How do we reconcile these passages?

Just to confuse things even further, we also have to reconcile the evidence favoring the dragons with the evidence favoring Jon. Let’s not forget that Jon spends all of ADwD living in an armory. You know … the place where they keep the swords. And there are plenty of passages like this:

Stannis touched his sword hilt. “Just who do you imagine that you are?”

“The watcher on the walls. The sword in the darkness.”

“Don’t prate your words at me.” Stannis drew the blade he called Lightbringer. “Here is your sword in the darkness.” Light rippled up and down the blade, now red, now yellow, now orange, painting the king’s face in harsh, bright hues. “Even a green boy should be able to see that. Are you blind?”

“No, Sire.”

ADwD, Jon I.

Jon is the “sword in the darkness.” The part of the NW vow that comes immediately after the two lines Jon recites goes: “I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn ….” Sword, fire, light. Of course, lots of people have taken those vows, but Jon is the only one that George heavily and repeatedly connects to Mithras the light bringer. When a guy who is deeply associated with a god of oaths and covenants makes a vow, you have to assume there’s special significance there.

And the evidence of Jon-as-a-sword doesn’t end with the vows. Arya’s sword Needle acts as a symbolic representation of Jon more than once in the books. For example (Credit to Paper Waver):

She stood on the end of the dock, pale and goosefleshed and shivering in the fog. In her hand, Needle seemed to whisper to her. Stick them with the pointy end, it said, and, don’t tell Sansa! …. She’d been a stupid little girl when Jon had it made for her. “It’s just a sword,” she said, aloud this time …

… but it wasn't ....

Needle was Jon Snow’s smile. He used to mess my hair and call me “little sister,” she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

AFfC, Arya II.

Needle seems to whisper things that Jon told Arya in AGoT (“Stick them with the pointy end, it said, and, don’t tell Sansa!”). And Arya thinks of it as Jon’s smile.

If Needle can be a stand-in for Jon, then this passage becomes quite interesting:

When the ice blue blade brushed the flames, a screech stabbed Sam’s ears sharp as a needle. The head of the torch tumbled sideways to vanish beneath a deep drift of snow, the fire snuffed out at once. And all Grenn held was a short wooden stick. He flung it at the Other, cursing, as Small Paul charged in with his axe.

ASoS, Sam I.

When the Other’s icy blade touches fire, the result is “sharp as a needle.” And then the fire (torch) “vanish[es] beneath … snow.” Hint hint?

And after Sam kills the Other with the obsidian dagger Jon gave him:

“Obsidian.” Sam struggled to his knees. “Dragonglass, they call it. Dragonglass. Dragon glass.”

George separates the word dragon from the word glass and italicizes it, just to make sure the “dragon” part is emphasized. Dragons and blades and Jon. And speaking of dragonglass (thanks to FrozenFire3 , who reminded me of this quote in another thread a while ago):

It was a hunger inside [Jon], sharp as a dragonglass blade.

ASoS, Jon XII.

Jon has a dragonglass blade inside him. Dragons and blades and Jon. And there’s this:

Beneath Dany’s gentle fingers, green Rhaegal stared at the stranger with eyes of molten gold. When his mouth opened, his teeth gleamed like black needles.

ACoK, Dany II.

Dragons and needles (a blade that symbolizes Jon). Again. And J.Stargaryen made a great observation about this passage: If Needle is Jon's smile, and dragons have needles for teeth, does that mean Jon has a dragon's smile?

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~ 3 of 4 ~

The Sun's Son (cont.)

Here's another one:

I am the sword that guards the realm of men, Jon reminded himself, and in the end, that must be worth more than one man’s honor.

The road beneath the Wall was as dark and cold as the belly of an ice dragon and as twisty as a serpent.


In the NW vows, it’s “the shield that guards the realms of men.” Either Jon forgot the words of his vow for a minute there (somewhere, Mithras is facepalming) or George is trying to tell us something. And the very next sentence takes us from Jon being a “sword that guards the realm of men” to “ice dragon” imagery. A handful of paragraphs later:

Dragons again. For a moment Jon could almost see them too, coiling in the night, their dark wings outlined against a sea of flame.


Dragons again.” Even Jon is noticing a recurring theme here. And then, in the very next paragraph, we’re back to swords:

“Do you remember what my sister told you [about sorcery]?”

“Yes.” A sword without a hilt, with no safe way to hold it. But Melisandre had the right of it. Even a sword without a hilt is better than an empty hand when foes are all around you.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Dragons and blades and Jon. What to make of it all?

In Part I, we looked at the evidence that Nissa Nissa (“Moon Moon”) is the mother of Lightbringer. In this section, we looked at the connection between Nissa Nissa and the two moons that hatch dragons. Dany seems to be a “nissa” – she’s repeatedly tied to moon imagery and she’s the “Mother of Dragons.” But Lyanna also seems to be a “nissa.” She’s repeatedly tied to moon imagery as well and she’s the mother of Jon, a figurative dragon. There are clues in the books suggesting that the dragons are Lightbringer but there are also clues suggesting Jon is Lightbringer. It would be expedient to dismiss one line of clues or the other as red (pun intended) herrings, but that doesn’t seem like George’s style:

… if you are doing well you work, the books are full of clues that point to the butler doing it and help you to figure up the butler did it, but if you change the ending to point the maiden, the clues make no sense anymore; they are wrong or are lies, and I am not a liar.


This looks like a translation by a non-native English speaker, so we can assume that George’s original words were a bit more eloquent, but you get the idea. Right now, there are too many clues that both Dany’s dragons and Jon are Lightbringer. Either George is “a liar” or these clues can be reconciled.

Consider what Gendry tells Arya about Thoros’ flaming swords:

“My master always scolded him about his flaming swords. It was no way to treat good steel, he’d say, but this Thoros never used good steel. He’d just dip some cheap sword in wildfire and set it alight …. The wildfire ruins the steel.”

ASoS, Arya IV.

Thoros’ flaming swords had two components, the fire and the steel. Thoros used cheap steel and he kept having to replace his swords. I think that the magical flaming sword known as Lightbringer is made of two similar components – flame that burns even hotter than wildfire and a sword with the unique qualities necessary to handle the fire.

If you put Dany (“nissa”) and Lyanna (“nissa”) together, you get Nissa Nissa. If you put their children together, you get “fire made flesh” and “the sword in the darkness.” Together, they are the flaming sword Lightbringer.

To understand how that might work, we need to take a look at the three attempts to forge Lightbringer. I think that there are at least three “correct” interpretations of the three forging attempts (as in, three interpretations that George is intentionally planting in the books). All three point to the same Lightbringer in the end. One interpretation relates to a literal sword (more on that shortly), one to the Prince that was Promised (more on that in Part III), and one relates to dragons. That’s the one we’re going to look at now. The warning Quaithe gives Dany in ADwD contains a puzzle in it that hints at these three attempts:

“Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying.”

ADwD, Dany II.

Dany thinks Quentyn Martell is the “sun’s son.” The fact that Dany thinks it’s Quentyn should be our first clue that it isn’t as simple as that (George never lets his characters interpret prophecy that easily). (Edit: Just to be clear, I think Quentyn is one potentially correct interpretation, but definitely not the only one. George loves his double meanings.) I think Quaithe is referencing the story Dany’s handmaidens told her about the sun and the moon and the return of dragons. The “sun’s son” is Jon, the symbolic son of the sun and the moon. It makes a lot of sense that the sun’s son is the Lightbringer. Providing light kind of runs in the family.

Jon makes sense in context, too. Coupled with the mummer’s dragon, whom most of us interpret to be (f)Aegon, the pairing potentially refers to Dany’s two future competitors for the Targaryen crown.

While we’re on the subject of Jon and (f)Aegon, take a look back at Quaithe’s pairings:

1st: 2nd:

Kraken and dark flame

lion and griffin

sun’s son and mummer’s dragon

I’ve bolded the first item in each of the three pairs: kraken, lion, sun’s son. I don't think Dany is meant to interpret Quaithe's warning in this way, but taken together, I think there is a clever literary hint for readers here about the three attempts to “forge” Lightbringer (first mentioned in ACoK, Davos I). Although not relevant here, I think the three non-bolded second items of each pair (dark flame, griffin, mummer's dragon) provide a pretty straightforward hint about (f)Aegon’s true heritage, just as Jon being the son of the sun and the moon is a hint about his true heritage. Many readers think that griffin and mummer's dragon both relate to (f)Aegon. If you read dark flame as having a secondary meaning of Blackfyre in addition to Moqorro ... you get three things that many people think relate to (f)Aegon.

At any rate, first on the bolded list is “kraken.” As it happens, Krakens (both literal and figurative) are heavily associated with water. Here’s how the first attempt to forge Lightbringer failed:

Yet when he plunged it into water to temper the steel it burst asunder.

Victarion (a Greyjoy kraken) is approaching Dany at the end of ADwD via ship (on the water). And as it happens, Victarion is the son of a woman we know only as Lady Sunderly (a possible nod to the steel “burst[ing] asunder”). AFfC, The Prophet. While on his way to Dany, Victarion becomes increasingly troubled by a wound:

His left hand still throbbed— a dull pain, but persistent. When he closed his hand into a fist it sharpened, as if a knife were stabbing up his arm. Not a knife, a longsword. A longsword in the hand of a ghost.

ADwD, The Iron Suitor.

Victarion’s arm has a longsword in it. This is the wound that Moqorro “heals” via fire, giving Victarion a burned hand to mirror Jon’s.

Let’s look at the second attempt to forge Lightbringer:

Azor Ahai captured a lion, to temper the blade by plunging it through the beast’s red heart, but once more the steel shattered and split.

The second on our bolded list is, of course, “lion.” So we’re two for two with the forging attempt parallels. The lion here is Tyrion, a Lannister lion who is on Dany’s doorstep as of the end of ADwD. And as with Victarion and the first attempt, the manner in which the second forging attempt is described as failing seems to provide an additional clue that we’re on the right track. We’re told that this sword “shattered and split.” Tyrion suffers from his own “split:”

There was hunger in his green eye, it seemed to her, and fury in the black. Sansa did not know which scared her more.

ASoS, Sansa III.

The black eye and the green one seem to represent a larger “split” within Tyrion. I’m not going to launch into a long analysis of what the “split” means (I think there are multiple meanings), since it’s enough for our purposes that it exists. The existence of a split within Tyrion is even more heavily underlined in this dream from ADwD:

That night Tyrion Lannister dreamed of a battle that turned the hills of Westeros as red as blood. He was in the midst of it, dealing death with an axe as big as he was, fighting side by side with Barristan the Bold and Bittersteel as dragons wheeled across the sky above them. In the dream he had two heads, both noseless. His father led the enemy, so he slew him once again. Then he killed his brother, Jaime, hacking at his face until it was a red ruin, laughing every time he struck a blow. Only when the fight was finished did he realize that his second head was weeping.

ADwD, Tyrion II.

Two heads, one laughing, the other weeping. A “split.” And dragons ….

Jon (Lightbringer) is the “sun’s son,” the third member of the bolded list. So we’re three for three. But how do Vic and Tyrion work as the first two unsuccessful attempts? The answer is the connection we’ve just been exploring between Lightbringer and dragons.

A few books before Quaithe warned Dany about the sun’s son et. al., she gave Dany this warning:

“Beware,” the woman in the red lacquer mask said.

“Of whom?”

“Of all. They shall come day and night to see the wonder that has been born again into the world, and when they see they shall lust. For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.”

ACoK, Dany II.

This seems to be a less specific version of the ADwD warning. Basically, don’t trust anybody because they all want your dragons.

Interestingly enough, the Kraken and the Lion do have a special interest in dragons. Victarion has the dragon horn Euron gave him. He’s going to try to bind the dragons to his will. Between Euron’s meddling, Moqorro’s questionable help and uncertain loyalty, and Victarion’s less than stellar brainpower, it’s no stretch to imagine that the kraken’s attempt to bind a dragon may not end in unqualified success.

Tyrion, for his part, has “a morbid fascination with dragons.” AGoT, Tyrion II. Early in the books, Jon sees Tyrion reading a book about dragons, and asks him why he reads so much, leading to this interesting conversation:

My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind … and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” Tyrion tapped the leather cover of the book. “That’s why I read so much, Jon Snow.”


“What are you reading about?” [Jon] asked.

Dragons,” Tyrion told him.

“What good is that? There are no more dragons,” the boy said with the easy certainty of youth.

“So they say,” Tyrion replied. “Sad, isn’t it? When I was your age, I used to dream of having

a dragon of my own.”

“You did?” the boy said suspiciously. Perhaps he thought Tyrion was making fun of him.

“Oh, yes. Even a stunted, twisted, ugly little boy can look down over the world when he’s seated on a dragon’s back.” Tyrion pushed the bearskin aside and climbed to his feet. “I used to start fires in the bowels of Casterly Rock and stare at the flames for hours, pretending they were dragonfire. Sometimes I’d imagine my father burning. At other times, my sister.” Jon Snow was staring at him, a look equal parts horror and fascination. Tyrion guffawed. “Don’t look at me that way, bastard. I know your secret. You’ve dreamt the same kind of dreams.”

AGoT, Tyrion II.

Tyrion had dreams of “having [his] own dragon.” And he has more knowledge of “dragonlore” than just about any other character we’ve met in the books. It stands to reason that Tyrion might well use his knowledge in an attempt to bond with and ride one of Dany’s dragons (there’s a reason George shows us that Tyrion knows how to design unusual saddles). And note the way Tyrion likens his mind to a sword in the passage.

Tyrion says that he knows Jon’s “secret.” Jon has had “the same kind of dreams.” Jon takes this to mean that Tyrion thinks he also imagined killing his family, but look back at the text … Tyrion describes himself as awake when he was “pretending” to burn his family. The “dreams” were about “having a dragon of [one’s] own.”

Might Jon wind up “having a dragon of [his] own” before the books are done? Rooseman pointed out this bit of ironic foreshadowing in the comments:

No, these other sails … from farther east, perhaps … one hears queer talk of dragons.”

Would that we had one here. A dragon might warm things up a bit.”

ADwD, Jon IX.

And speaking of ironic foreshadowing, Onna Lewyys mentioned this passage:

He might as well wish for another thousand men, and maybe a dragon or three.


The jury is still out as to whether Targaryen/Valyrian blood plays a role in bonding with or binding dragons, but if it does, Jon has that covered via his dad Rhaegar. And on top of that, he’s a powerful (if untrained) skinchanger. Even without training, Jon’s skinchanging ability seems to be improving as of the beginning of ADwD:

The wolf dreams had been growing stronger, and he found himself remembering them even when awake.

ADwD, Jon I.

And further improving as the book goes on:

Of late, Jon Snow sometimes felt as if he and the direwolf were one, even awake.


If Jon spends a protracted amount of time in Ghost, it’s likely that his skinchanging skills will develop further. Based on what we’ve read of a skinchanger’s “second life,” (Prologue, ADwD) Jon will have to become immensely powerful if he wants to maintain anything of himself and his identity while inside Ghost. I think this is the reason that Ghost is connected to the anvil and the forge in the passages I quoted in the previous section. Jon’s time in Ghost will be part of his forging process.

If he can learn to use his skinchanger powers to their full potential, Jon may be able to exert a greater level of control over a dragon than anyone has before, through his unique combination of dragon blood (fire) and First Men skinchanger magic (ice).

In sum, George has given a unique method of exerting control over dragons to the kraken (the dragon horn), the lion (his dragonlore) and the sun’s son (skinchanger magic and the blood of the dragon). And he’s associated all three with sword/blade imagery. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I don’t pretend to know whether the kraken and the lion will fail outright at binding/bonding with a dragon. In this context, an “unsuccessful” attempt to forge Lightbringer could mean plenty of different things. But success, I think, means truly merging the fire and the blade. If Jon can form a bond with a dragon that’s as strong as his bond with Ghost is becoming (to the point where he and the dragon are extensions of one another), then Lightbringer will well and truly be forged.

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~ 4 of 4 ~

The Sun's Son (cont.)

As far as which dragon Jon might bond with in the future … George gives us some clues via the sword Ice. The Stark family sword’s recent history parallels the first two Lightbringer forging attempts. Ice’s namesake is, of course, frozen water, so there’s our parallel to the first failed attempt. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but there’s also a reference to Ned dying (Ice was used to behead him) and the realm being “smashed and sundered” in the chapter immediately following the one in which Davos learns of the three forging attempts (ACoK, Theon I).

Lord Tywin has Ice melted down and re-forged as two blades for Lannister lions (complete with lion pommels). In addition to the lion thing, we've got a literal “split” here, two blades where there had been one.

I’m not suggesting Ice is going to be re-forged into some kind of fiery magical weapon. Rather, I think George is using Ice’s transformation into Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail to plant some clues about the real Lightbringer. Take a look at an excerpt from the chapter in which Tywin shows Tyrion the two new blades:

“The colors are strange,” he commented as he turned the blade in the sunlight. Most Valyrian steel was a grey so dark it looked almost black, as was true here as well. But blended into the folds was a red as deep as the grey. The two colors lapped over one another without ever touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore. “How did you get this patterning? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

ASoS, Tyrion IV.

The description of the blades’ coloring evokes Jon. Part of the steel is “a grey so dark it looked almost black.” Compare that to Jon’s eyes: “Jon’s eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black ….” AGoT, Bran I. It’s pretty much a word-for-word match. And, of course, black and red are the Targaryen colors – the colors of Jon’s true father.

Tellingly, the description of the blades’ coloring also evokes Drogon. In AGoT, Drogon’s egg is described as: “… black, as black as a midnight sea, yet alive with scarlet ripples and swirls.” Dany II. Compare a “midnight sea … alive with scarlet ripples and swirls” to “each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore.” Speaking of “waves of … blood,” here’s a recent description of Drogon: “His scales were black, his eyes and horns and spinal plates blood red.” ADwD, Dany IX. Black and blood red, just like the swords.

After Tyrion comments on the swords’ unusual coloring, Tobho Mott says:

“I worked half a hundred spells and brightened the red time and time again, but always the color would darken, as if the blade was drinking the sun from it.”

This is a direct reference to Doreah’s story about the two moons, the sun, and the return of dragons. Compare “as if the blade was drinking the sun from it” to Doreah’s story about how dragons “drank the fire of the sun.” For me, the above pretty much confirms that this theory is on the right track.

A sentence or two later:

Tyrion put down Joffrey’s sword and took up the other. If not twins, the two were at least close cousins. This one was thicker and heavier, a half-inch wider and three inches longer, but they shared the same fine clean lines and the same distinctive color, the ripples of blood and night.

The second sword is larger and heavier than the king’s sword. Drogon is larger and heavier than the ki … I mean Jon. :P And the two swords are “close cousins.” Dany is Jon’s aunt, so her “child” Drogon would be … yup, Jon’s “cousin.”


“Magnificent.” Even in hands as unskilled as Tyrion’s, the blade felt alive. “I have never felt better balance.”

That’s because the blade is “alive.” Not this one – the real Lightbringer. Drogon and Jon. The flame and the sword.


I'm going to wrap up Part II here. In Part III, I’ll focus on the plot significance of Lightbringer. I'll also look at dragonsteel, Longclaw, stone dragons, the horn of winter, Azor Ahai, the three heads of the dragon, polygamy, magical handshakes, and the apocalypse. So ... something for everybody! :P

Thanks for reading!

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All those books came out after ASoS. Dan Brown Bibliography.

:ninja: 'd by Onna Lewyys

Yes I know when they came out J. Star, and I wonder about it, but the problem is, this is a theory. It's a theory because Martin has not completed Jon's arc. If he completes it in this manner it comes more than a decade after those books were released.

The Da vinci code was actually sued for plagerism, because it stole the base theory from the Da Vinci legacy which came out in 1984. Though they got away with it.

The point being it is so close to that story and it is not finished. The Da Vinci code is finished, over a decade finished and legacy is over 3 decades old.

Personally I don't think he would follow any historical or quasi historical story that closely, influence yes, but go point to point? No. I have to much confidence in him as a writer and he has never done that anyway.

ETA: What is Onna Lewyys?

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R + L = Lightbringer


R + L - L = Lightbringer - L


R = ightbringer

But if that's true then:

R + L = LightbringerR

Or, said another way:

R + L = LR

Which, assuming my calculations are correct, necessarily means:

R = L


You are all welcome.

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