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Chebyshov

Aegon VI's Identity: Compiling the Evidence

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There’s been numerous threads about the boy calling himself Aegon Targaryen VI, who landed in Westeros with the Golden Company at his back. Book characters and forum posters alike are skeptical of his identity, and when debating the finer points, a lot of people point to “all the evidence.” I’d like to present all options for his identity, and then provide textual evidence for each option. I’m sure I’ll miss some textual pieces, so feel free to add any you’d like.

The possibilities:

1. Aegon is who he claims he is: the trueborn son of Rhaegar and Elia

2. Aegon is the son of Rhaegar, but his mother his Lyanna

3. Aegon is not the son of Rhaegar, but is a Blackfyre

4. Aegon is not a Blackfyre or Rhaegar's son but is the son of one or two characters we know and recognize (for instance, Brandon and Ashara)

5. Aegon is a completely random, likely lowborn child

Examining the options in depth:

1. Aegon is the son of Rhaegar and Elia

Keep in mind that theories 2-5 run with the assumption that Aegon is fake, so evidence against this theory will not be used again in the examination of the other theories.

The Text:

a.) Aegon is foreshadowed as being an important character, or at least fitting into TPTWP prophecy in an important way, with a comet the night of his conception, and the HOTU vision.

“…but later he [Rhaegar] became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy, for a comet had been seen above King’s Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, and Rhaegar was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet.”

__

Viserys, was her first thought the next time she paused, but a second glance told her otherwise. The man had her brother’s hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac.

“Aegon,” he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. “What better name for a king?”

“Will you make a song for him?” the woman asked.

“He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany’s, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. “There must be one more,” he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. “The dragon has three heads.” He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings. Sweet sadness filled the room as man and wife and babe faded like the morning mist, only the music lingering behind to speed her on her way.

This vision I think may be one of the most important pieces. Rhaegar tells Dany “there must be one more,” indicating that Dany is a head, Aegon is a head, and she must find the third (Jon?).

b.) The dead baby presented to Robert as Aegon has been mentioned frequently, and the face being completely unrecognizable is almost always discussed as well. I’ve only selected a couple quotes, but there’s plenty to be had.

“He remembered Rhaegar's infant son, the red ruin of his skull, and the way the king had turned way, as he had turned away in Darry's audience hall not so long ago”

“It was Ser Gregor Clegane who smashed Prince Aegon’s head against a wall and raped your sister Elia with his blood and brains still on his hands.

c.) When news of Aegon landing in the Stormlands reaches Kevan, he even begins to question the identity of the dead baby.

The girl had been recognizably the Princess Rhaenys, but the boy … a faceless horror of bone and brain and gore, a few hanks of fair hair. None of us looked long. Tywin said that it was Prince Aegon, and we took him at his word.

d.) JonCon thinks Aegon is real. That means if he isn’t real, he’d have to be very close in age (JonCon meets him around age 5) and appearance to the real Aegon as to fool them.

Death, he knew, but slow. I still have time. A year. Two years. Five. Some stone men live for ten.

Time enough to cross the sea, to see Griffin’s Roost again. To end the Usurper’s line for good and all, and put Rhaegar’s son upon the Iron Throne.

e.) Varys tells a dying man on his deathbed that Aegon lives. Why would he bother to prevaricate to someone he knows isn’t leaving the room alive?

“I thought the crossbow fitting. You shared so much with Lord Tywin, why not that? Your niece will think the Tyrells had you murdered, mayhaps with the connivance of the Imp. The Tyrells will suspect her. Someone somewhere will find a way to blame the Dornishmen. Doubt, division, and mistrust will eat the very ground beneath your boy king, whilst Aegon raises his banner above Storm’s End and the lords of the realm gather round him.”

“Aegon?” For a moment he did not understand. Then he remembered. A babe swaddled in a crimson cloak, the cloth stained with his blood and brains. “Dead. He’s dead.”

“No.” The eunuch’s voice seemed deeper. “He is here. Aegon has been shaped for rule since before he could walk.”

Issues with this theory (not in order):

a.) The HOTU also included imagery that could signify a false dragon.

Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman’s name.... mother of dragons, daughter of death... Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd. From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire.... mother of dragons, slayer of lies... Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars.

It could mean a false dragon, but it could also simply be a description of a battle standard, so a foreshadowing of Aegon and/or Dany’s victories in Westeros.

TWOW Spoiler

We know that Aegon takes Storm’s End, so there would be cause of cheers in the crowd (the Golden Company) and dragon banners raised.

Within the same book, battle standards are frequently described as cloth:

Near all the chivalry of the south had come to Renly’s call, it seemed. The golden rose of Highgarden was seen everywhere: sewn on the right breast of armsmen and servants, flapping and fluttering from the green silk banners that adorned lance and pike, painted upon the shields hung outside the pavilions of the sons and brothers and cousins and uncles of House Tyrell….

Where grey men had sat grey horses armed with shadow spears, the points of ten thousand lances now glinted silverly cold, and on the myriad flapping banners Catelyn saw the blush of red and pink and orange, the richness of blues and browns, the blaze of gold and yellow…

Catelyn spied a second camp strung out along the bank north of the Tumblestone, familiar standards flapping in the wind-Marq Piper’s dancing maiden.

Because we know battle standards to be cloth, there’s no reason to jump to “false dragon.”

Still, more to point a.), after learning of Dany, Aemon says that he and Rhaegar read the signs wrong, and it’s not Aegon that fills any prophecies…it’s Dany.

What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it

e.) Varys is hardly presented as a trustworthy character, and there’s something bizarre about his voice in that scene, which is suspicious.

EDIT 7/11/2014:

I just reread a chapter last night that was relevant to the counter to point e.

We've heard Varys's voice seem "odd" or "different" before, and it's during a moment of candor: when he tells Tyrion about his being cut.

The eunuch paused a moment. “My lord, you once asked me how it was that I was cut.”

“I recall,” said Tyrion. “You did not want to talk of it.”

“Nor do I, but...” This pause was longer than the one before, and when Varys spoke again his voice was different somehow. “I was an orphan boy apprenticed to a traveling folly. Our master owned a fat little cog and we sailed up and down the narrow sea performing in all the Free Cities and from time to time in Oldtown and King’s Landing..."

The change in his voice with Kevan may mean that he's actually being honest.

b.) Varys had no way of knowing the switched baby’s face would be smashed in, unless he paid the Mountain to do it (no evidence to support that), so this whole plan could have gone completely up in smoke. This is the most salient point, to me. It would make sense that Varys would see the smashed baby-face, and think “I could claim this was a switch.” However, there’s a lot of unknowns. Kevan mentions how everyone “took Tywin at his word.” Maybe Tywin knew it wasn’t Aegon and ordered The Mountain to smash the face? Or maybe Varys figured that it’s at least worth a try to switch the babies. Or maybe Varys never even thought about needing the baby’s face to be smashed in. By the time anyone identified the body as false, if it came to that, the real Aegon would be to safety. The fact that the face was smashed in was simply an added bonus for Varys as no one would be hunting for Aegon. Keep in mind Viserys and Dany escaped very much alive, without using any sort of fake corpse to prevent a hunt. And they were pretty much untouched until the events of AGoT.

General problems with the theory not specific to any piece of evidence:

It is often mentioned as “evidence” that the real Aegon died that during the sack, Elia was downstairs with her son, while her trueborn daughter (easily identified) was upstairs. What mother would do that? To that, I’d argue that we really don’t know the logistics of what happened in the keep. We get Tywin’s second-hand account of it to Tyrion, in the context of “how can we lie to Oberyn about what happened.” The sack seemed to take them by surprise, and we know Elia was sickly. We don’t know if she was in a condition to be able to run upstairs, or if Rhaenys somehow saw men coming before her mother did and bolted. It is an interesting point, but I don’t think we have enough textual evidence to use it as proof one way or the other.

Another thing people point to the issue that “both children weren’t switched.” I just mentioned that the baby-swap working was not contingent upon the baby’s face being destroyed, so why wouldn’t Rhaenys (and/or Elia) be taken to safety along with Aegon? For this, we simply don’t know the logistics of the baby-swap (or the timing). It is easier to hide one baby than a baby and a toddler. It’s easier to smuggle a baby in and out than to deal with two children.

Additionally, while whoever was coming to kill the children (in this case Lorch and the Mountain) may have overlooked the baby being different (they would have seen Elia with a baby that had Targ coloring and not thought much of it), toddlers are far more recognizable at first sight, which may have sounded the alarm that the children escaped earlier. Also, why put all your eggs in one basket? They didn’t know the sack was happening for sure, so splitting up the children makes sense. And it also makes sense to have extra caution with the boy who is heir to the Iron Throne than with Rhaenys.

As another issue, Quaithe warns Dany about a mummer’s dragon, which indicates that Aegon is false. Some say this is her way of saying Varys’s (a mummer) dragon, but the way “mummer’s _” has been used before in the text is always to mean fake, so to use it as “Varys’s dragon” would be inconsistent with George’s writing.

No. Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.

So how can Aegon be real? Keep in mind the true Aegon would still be the Sun’s son. Who is the mummer’s dragon then? Mayhaps the character who had a PoV titled “the dragontamer,” but was no such thing.

Finally, there is nothing to suggest that Varys is a Targ loyalist. His end game seems to be having a strong ruler on the throne who understands the plight of the people. However, Rhaegar (by most accounts) seemed like he would have been a good king, and yet we know Varys whispered to Aerys about a potential coup that Rhaegar was planning, leading Aerys to attend the Tourney at Harrenhal. That’s when Aerys’s paranoia became out of control.

The memory was still bitter. Old Lord Whent had announced the tourney shortly after a visit from his brother, Ser Oswell Whent of the Kingsguard. With Varys whispering in his ear, King Aerys became convinced that his son was conspiring to depose him, that Whent’s tourney was but a ploy to give Rhaegar a pretext for meeting with as many great lords as could be brought together. Aerys had not set foot outside the Red Keep since Duskendale, yet suddenly he announced that he would accompany Prince Rhaegar to Harrenhal, and everything had gone awry from there.

Varys’s interest in Aegon seems more about his upbringing than his heritage:

“Aegon has been shaped for rule since before he could walk. He has been trained in arms, as befits a knight to be, but that was not the end of his education. He reads and writes, he speaks several tongues, he has studied history and law and poetry. A septa has instructed him in the mysteries of the Faith since he was old enough to understand them. He has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, swum in rivers and mended nets and learned to wash his own clothes at need. He can fish and cook and bind up a wound, he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid. Tommen has been taught that kingship is his right. Aegon knows that kingship is his duty, that a king must put his people first, and live and rule for them.”

If he cared so much about Rhaegar’s line, then why did he whisper to Aerys (a terrible king) and tip him off about Rhaegar. Maybe it was loyalty to Aerys because he gave Varys his job?

Assuming Varys’s end game is to have a king sit the throne who is raised to be the best ruler possible for the realm, it wouldn’t be contingent on it being Aegon. It’s about the upbringing. The only thing I can think is that he saw the opportunity to get his hands on a baby with what would one day be a claim to the IT, who he knew would be malleable enough to raise the way he wanted. His legitimacy plus his upbringing makes Aegon Targaryen VI the ideal leader of the 7K.

2. Aegon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna

The Text:

a.) There’s lots of evidence that Rhaegar and Lyanna had a child together. The best pieces are as follows:

i. Lyanna was described as dying in a “bed of blood,” which is a phrase often associated with childbirth

He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood.

"I know every secret of the bloody bed, Silver Lady, nor have I ever lost a babe," Mirri Maz Duur replied.

"My time is near," Dany said. "I would have you attend me when he comes, if you would."

ii. The promise that Ned made…why would there have been fear in her eyes if the promise was for something like “please take my bones back to Winterfell.”

He could hear her still at times. 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.

iii. Also we know Lyanna pleaded with Ned once, which Ned was reminded of when Sansa pleaded with Ned for Lady’s life. Why would it remind Ned of Lyanna? Who’s life would she have been pleading for if not her child?

Yet even as he said the words, he remembered that chill morning on the barrow lands, 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 so long ago. He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once.

There’s loads more evidence, but I’d direct you to 81 threads on the matter if you doubt that Lyanna had a child.

Now, R+L=A, there’s two general forms this theory takes: one is that Jon and Aegon were twins (doubtful that either one was actually named ‘Aegon’ on the spot…that was adopted later), but Jon had Stark coloring whereas ‘Aegon’ had Targ coloring. We know this is possible because the real Aegon baby had Targ features, whereas Rhaenys had Dornish coloring.

The other version of this theory is that Aegon was Lyanna’s child, but Jon is Ned’s child through Ashara (couldn’t be Brandon’s because Jon is too young given when Brandon died). Both theories involve Ned leaving a child with Ashara.

All you’d have to do is read through a few of the R+L=J threads to realize that Ned impregnating a Jon-aged child with Ashara is logistically unlikely. Sure, Ashara wasn’t “chained to the floor” during the rebellion, but was she really traveling through a war-torn country for a sweet meet-up with a now married Ned because they danced together that one time (or possible had sex)? I personally find that unlikely (feel free to disagree), so if Aegon is Lyanna’s child, I’d propose he’s Jon’s twin.

b.) Twins separated at birth is not the most uncommon trope (look at Star Wars), and better yet it would fit with the song of ice (Jon) and fire (Aegon). However, there’s practically no textual evidence to support this, other than that twins are common in the Targaryen family tree.

c.) The only other piece of evidence from the text that could possibly be used is Aegon’s age. Tyrion places him a couple years younger than the real Aegon should be:

Tyrion craned his head to one side, and saw a boy standing on the roof of a low wooden building, waving a wide-brimmed straw hat. He was a lithe and well-made youth, with a lanky build and a shock of dark blue hair. The dwarf put his age at fifteen, sixteen, or near enough to make no matter.

If Tyrion’s right, this would put Aegon at the same age as Jon, Robb, Meera, and Margery, maybe slightly older.

Issues with this theory:

a.) Other than a lack of textual evidence linking Lyanna to Aegon, this theory would almost require Ashara to be Septa Lemore, unless Ned saw fit to trust Varys. Yet the first time we are introduced to Varys in Ned’s thoughts, it’s as follows:

Varys the eunuch was the king's master of whisperers. He served Robert now as he had once served Aerys Targaryen.

This doesn’t exactly indicate trust, nor is there any hint that these two men really interacted before. Would Ned trust Ashara with Aegon? He may have if he felt he had no choice (where else do you hide what is clearly a Targ-baby?). And Ashara, who likely did have a stillborn with Brandon (or Ned even), may have happily wanted to raise any baby. It makes more sense if she jumped at the chance to raise the real Aegon, true son of Elia (her friend), but she likely felt some loyalty to Rhaegar and his line.

However, if Ashara faked her death and is Septa Lemore, there’s the major issue that Tyrion never once mentions her eyes. It’s very inconsistent writing on Martin’s part if she really is Lemore, based on how we know he reveals identities.

c.) Lastly, Tyrion’s age prediction could easily be wrong. He’s off by 2 years with Jon, so we know he’s unreliable in this department.

Tyrion sighed. "You are remarkably polite for a bastard, Snow. What you see is a dwarf. You are what, twelve?"

“Fourteen,” the boy said.

A two year age difference would be a lot for JonCon to overlook, given that he met Aegon when the child was only 4 or 5.

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3. Aegon is a Blackfyre

There’s a whole lot of variations on this theory: Serra’s the Blackfyre, he’s Illyrio’s son, the Brightflame theory, etc. I’m just going to look at it more generally.

The Text:

a.) There is symbolism surrounding Blackfyres that is mentioned with the tavern sign.

“No,” said Septon Meribald. “When the smith’s son was an old man, a bastard son of the fourth Aegon rose up in rebellion against his trueborn brother and took for his sigil a black dragon. These lands belonged to Lord Darry then, and his lordship was fiercely loyal to the king. The sight of the black iron dragon made him wroth, so he cut down the post, hacked the sign into pieces, and cast them into the river. One of the dragon’s heads washed up on the Quiet Isle many years later, though by that time it was red with rust.”


b.) The Golden Company has never broken a contract before, and would likely never do so unless to support Blackfyres.

“Sellswords break their contracts all the time.”

“Not the Golden Company. Our word is good as gold has been their boast since the days of Bittersteel. Myr is on the point of war with Lys and Tyrosh. Why break a contract that offered them the prospect of good wages and good plunder?”

“Perhaps Lys offered them better wages. Or Tyrosh.”

“No,” she said. “I would believe it of any of the other free companies, yes. Most of them would change sides for half a groat. The Golden Company is different. A brotherhood of exiles and the sons of exiles, united by the dream of Bittersteel. It’s home they want, as much as gold. Lord Yronwood knows that as well as I do. His forebears rode with Bittersteel during three of the Blackfyre Rebellions.”


c.) Illyrio specifically mentions the “male-line” has died out…not that BFs have died out. Why would he say this unless the female line survived?

Illyrio brushed away the objection as if it were a fly. “Black or red, a dragon is still a dragon. When Maelys the Monstrous died upon the Stepstones, it was the end of the male line of House Blackfyre.” The cheesemonger smiled through his forked beard. “And Daenerys will give the exiles what Bittersteel and the Blackfyres never could. She will take them home.”


Not to mention, in the same book, Rhaegar Frey (ick) makes note of how females of a line can be just as important:

As to the Starks, that House is extinguished only in the male line. Lord Eddard’s sons are dead, but his daughters live, and the younger girl is coming north to wed brave Ramsay Bolton.



d.) We get a lot of Blackfyre information, which seems very unnecessary otherwise.

Problems with this theory:

a.) The tavern sign could also apply to the Golden Company. In fact it almost fits better in that case, because you could argue that the Golden Company was “hacked to pieces” moreso than Aegon. Also, many of the popular BF theories place Aegon as being born in Essos, so he was never exactly cast overseas. The GC was, however. It’s obviously not a perfect parallel one way or the other, but I think it’s hard to call it solid evidence for Aegon being a BF, when it could just as easily be nice foreshadowing for the GC.

b.) It is stated in the text (and confirmed by the Golden company) that they broke their contract for Dany. That is why Illyrio says “red or black, a dragon is still a dragon.” Tyrion does seem to think it odd that he takes this for granted, but the fact remains that the Golden Company did have every intention of declaring for Dany, and have held that intention for a while. If Aegon is a BF, then it’s possible the GC leaders know this, but there’s no textual evidence to support it. Not to mention Illyrio’s point about Dany giving the exiles a way to come home is a salient one: this is what they want.

“I had heard the Golden Company was under contract with one of the Free Cities.”

“Myr.” Illyrio smirked. “Contracts can be broken.”

“There is more coin in cheese than I knew,” said Tyrion. “How did you accomplish that?”

The magister waggled his fat fingers. “Some contracts are writ in ink, and some in blood. I say no more.”


“I admire your powers of persuasion,” Tyrion told Illyrio. “How did you convince the Golden Company to take up the cause of our sweet queen when they have spent so much of their history fighting against the Targaryens?”

Illyrio brushed away the objection as if it were a fly. “Black or red, a dragon is still a dragon. When Maelys the Monstrous died upon the Stepstones, it was the end of the male line of House Blackfyre.” The cheesemonger smiled through his forked beard. “And Daenerys will give the exiles what Bittersteel and the Blackfyres never could. She will take them home.”

“Which plan?” said Tristan Rivers. “The fat man’s plan? The one that changes every time the moon turns? First Viserys Targaryen was to join us with fifty thousand Dothraki screamers at his back.Then the Beggar King was dead, and it was to be the sister, a pliable young child queen who was on her way to Pentos with three new-hatched dragons. Instead the girl turns up on Slaver’s Bay and leaves a string of burning cities in her wake, and the fat man decides we should meet her by Volantis. Now that plan is in ruins as well.

“I have had enough of Illyrio’s plans. Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne without the benefit of dragons. We can do the same. And if I am wrong and the realm does not rise for us, we can always retreat back across the narrow sea, as Bittersteel once did, and others after him.”


Note that Tristan confirms they were going to break their contract for Viserys, who is definitively a Red Dragon.

c.) It could just be because no one is sure of the female line, or because the idea of revenge and taking the throne from the Targaryens came from the male Blackfyres. Within this world, not much stock is held for women carrying out revenge.

"You are a woman, my lady," the Greatjon rumbled in his deep voice. "Women do not understand these things."

"You are the gentle sex," said Lord Karstark, with the lines of grief fresh on his face. "A man has a need for vengeance."


Also, there is heavy importance placed on an unbroken male line in Westeros. So Illyrio could have been saying that as his way of saying “they are finished.”

“Gerrick is the true and rightful king of the wildlings,” the queen said, “descended in an unbroken male line from their great king Raymun Red-beard, whereas the usurper Mance Rayder was born of some common woman and fathered by one of your black brothers.”


d.) There actually isn’t that much information on the Blackfyres in ASOIAF. The Dunk and Egg novellas are intended to stand-alone, and not provide spoilers for ASOIAF.

No Blackfyres are mentioned in the first two books, in ASOS they’re mentioned when Stannis is listing traitors, when Jaime is telling Brienne about Aerys (mentions that Robert was the biggest threat to the Targs since Daemon Blackfyre), when Cat is trying to talk Robb out of legitimizing Jon (legitimized bastards make trouble), and in the White Book under Barristan’s long entry.

In AFFC there is one mention, which is in the context of the Golden Company. In ADWD, all Blackfyre discussion is based around the Golden Company. Seeing as they’re now an army in Westeros fighting for Aegon, including their backstory makes sense.

There’s no real discussion of Blackfyres’ right to the throne, issue of succession, or anything. The information could all be viewed as providing context for the Golden Company, so it’s not like it would be out of place.

I view the Aegon=Blackfyre evidence as rather shaky. Of course it could be true, but it would need to be very much explained in TWOW to fill in all the blanks. Also (still just my opinion), it would be one hell of a coincidence for a Blackfyre male to be born that is exactly the same age as Aegon (or close enough to fool JonCon). Is it impossible? No. None of these theories are. But I don’t see this as more likely than any the others, unless GRRM really did intend for Dunk & Egg to heavily supplement ASOIAF.

4. Aegon is not Rhaegar's son or a BF, but he is the child of characters we know/would recognize

I’m going to format this section differently and just explain it, because there is very little textual evidence for it. Feel free to skip it, if you’re not interested, but it is one possibility still. There many variations that this theory could take; the Brightflame theory (though not the BF component) would fit here. But the most common one that I have seen mentioned on the boards is that Stark + Ashara = Aegon.

For this theory to work, it would make more sense for Lemore to be Ashara, but as I mentioned above, there’s issues with the fact that Tyrion didn’t mention her eyes (inconsistent with GRRM’s writing). Also mentioned above, Tyrion has been known to underestimate ages, at least with Jon, and places Lemore around 40. This might be a bit too old for Ashara. Finally, JonCon never thinks of Lemore as Ashara, who he likely would have recognized. But let me just lay out this theory ignoring the fact that Lemore likely is not Ashara.

Ashara’s death is viewed as enigmatic. Although Barristan and Cersei reference, there’s no first-hand account. Ashara in general is a bit of a head-scratcher. Here’s what we know about her:
1. She was pretty (with “haunting” eyes)
2. She was Arthur Dayne’s sister, and Ned returned Dawn to her after the ToJ
3. She danced with Brandon, Ned, a KG (likely Barristan), and JonCon at the tourney
4. According to Barristan, she was dishonored at Harrenhal, with it being implied that it was a Stark who did so (there’s been some disagreement here)
5. She supposedly threw herself off of a tower at some point after Ned’s visit. Edric Dayne said it was because her heart as broken by Ned, who she loved. Cersei suggested it was because Ned stole her kid (Jon). Barristan thinks it’s because of a stillborn daughter.

Because so much of this is “mysterious,” the Stark + Ashara = Aegon theory actually can explain a good amount. Let’s say she had sex with one of the Stark boys at Harrenhal and was pregnant. If it was Brandon or Eddard, it’s irrelevant to the theory (I’m of the mind that Brandon is more likely). This child would be too old to be Jon, because of the amount of time in between the tourney and the start of the war. However, this child would be just a few months younger than the real Aegon.

Coloring would be an issue, but we know that some Daynes have silvery hair purple eyes. Ashara could have easily had the recessive hair trait in her. As for Stark genes, they are likely dominant over Targ coloring (see Jon), but are recessive to Tully coloring, which is traditionally more recessive in our world (red vs. brown). So I’m going to ignore genetics a bit here, and say it’s possible a Dayne could have a child with purple eyes and silvery blonde hair, even from a Stark. We also know that Young Griff’s eye color doesn’t match Rhaegar’s:

His [Rhaegar’s] silvery hair was blowing in the wind, and his eyes were a deep purple, darker than this boy’s


Could it be the Dayne shade of purple, instead?

Now, let’s pretend Ashara gives birth to a living, healthy boy. The war happens, maybe she has a wetnurse named Wylla who serves House Dayne during this. When Ned comes to tell her that he killed her brother, this could also be when she finds out about Elia and her children’s horrible fates. Or maybe she knew before; having been one of Elia’s closer friends, someone might have seen fit to inform her. Either way, she would see Ned (the man she might have loved) visiting with a baby that he probably called his bastard (unless he trusted Ashara, but who knows why that would happen), telling her that her brother is dead. Ashara would have absolutely no reason to like the new regime, especially given Elia’s fate. It’s possible was willing to pass her child off as Aegon to reclaim the throne for the Targaryens. She may have faked her own death and gone with him, to be raised as Aegon Targaryen VI. Or, perhaps Varys, seeing an opportunity, saw that Ashara’s boy had similar features to Aegon (and a similar age), and took him from her, hence her suicide. The story of the stillborn daughter would have been spread as a cover-up to explain the disappearance of her baby either way.

It’s also worth noting that if Ashara did go with Aegon, she wouldn’t necessarily have to be Septa Lemore. She could have died later, after faking her death. More likely she never made the trip at all. But JonCon, who we know danced with Ashara, only thinks of her as “Lady Lemore.”

“The crannogman saw a maid with laughing purple eyes dance with a white sword, a red snake, and the lord of griffins, and lastly with the quiet wolf . . . but only after the wild wolf spoke to her on behalf of a brother too shy to leave his bench.”

___

“He [JonCon]had grown fond of Lemore, but that did not mean he required her approval. Her task had been to instruct the prince in the doctrines of the Faith, and she had done that. No amount of prayer would put him on the Iron Throne, however.”


Unless he was so distracted by his love for Rhaegar that he didn’t even take note of who he was dancing with, then JonCon would definitely see past the Septa Lemore disguise (which would be necessary, because JonCon wouldn’t agree to help Aegon if he thought his father wasn’t actually Rhaegar).

This version of the theory holds very little water, other than it would explain one of the more mysterious deaths in the series, and that the child would be the right age/possible the right coloring. Obviously, there could be other variations of this theory where Aegon’s parents would be other characters we know (such as Howland Reed, who pops up in every theory), but not born of Rhaegar. If you think there’s one that holds weight, please include it!

But this brings us to the last possibility for Aegon’s identity.

5. The Pisswater Prince: Aegon is a completely random, likely lowborn child

“A true friend, our Lord Connington. He must be, to remain so fiercely loyal to the grandson of the king who took his lands and titles and sent him into exile. A pity about that. Elsewise Prince Rhaegar’s friend might have been on hand when my father sacked King’s Landing, to save Prince Rhaegar’s precious little son from getting his royal brains dashed out against a wall.”

The lad flushed. “That was not me. I told you. That was some tanner’s son from Pisswater Bend whose mother died birthing him. His father sold him to Lord Varys for a jug of Arbor gold. He had other sons but had never tasted Arbor gold. Varys gave the Pisswater boy to my lady mother and carried me away.”

“Aye.” Tyrion moved his elephants. “And when the pisswater prince was safely dead, the eunuch smuggled you across the narrow sea to his fat friend the cheesemonger, who hid you on a poleboat and found an exile lord willing to call himself your father. It does make for a splendid story, and the singers will make much of your escape once you take the Iron Throne … assuming that our fair Daenerys takes you for her consort.”


The above quote, while maybe explaining how Aegon could be real, also explains how Aegon could be fake, and moreover, a lowborn nobody.

The Text:

a.) If Varys can find a son from Pisswater to pass off as Aegon, as evidenced in the above quote, for a baby-swap, why couldn’t he find a son from Pisswater to pass off as Aegon after seeing that the baby’s head was unrecognizable, knowing he could claim a baby-swap?

b.) We know Varys cares for lowborn children (or at least takes them under his wing).

Mice, we called them then. The older thieves were fools who thought no further than turning a night’s plunder into wine. Varys preferred orphan boys and young girls. He chose the smallest, the ones who were quick and quiet, and taught them to climb walls and slip down chimneys. He taught them to
read as well.


And further he seems to care about the “innocents” of the realm, the children

If that's true, Lord Eddard, tell me . . . why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?

___

“Ser Kevan. Forgive me if you can. I bear you no ill will. This was not done from malice. It was for the realm. For the children.”


c.) Finding Targ coloring is not that difficult, especially in Essos. Jorah found a Dany look-a-like in a whorehouse

In the corner of the room, a man sat in a pool of shadow, with a whore squirming on his lap. I
never saw that girl. If I had, I would have taken her upstairs instead of freckles. She was younger than the others, slim and pretty, with long silvery hair. Lyseni, at a guess … but the man whose lap she filled was from the Seven Kingdoms. Burly and broad-shouldered, forty if he was a day, and maybe older. Half his head was bald, but coarse stubble covered his cheeks and chin, and hair grew thickly down his arms, sprouting even from his knuckles.


Issues with this theory:
This theory is really difficult to disprove, unless you want to look at textual evidence for the other theories instead. The biggest point against it is Varys lying to Kevan on his deathbed. I don’t think the mark of a good theory is an inability to disprove it, but rather textual evidence supporting it. It does exist here, but there’s so much unknown that it’s hard to make a definitive statement about it.

Based on what I’ve outlined, here’s how I rank the percentage possibilities of these theories, based on the strength of the evidence in these books (my opinion).

1. Aegon is real – 38%
2. Aegon is from R+L – 8%
3. Aegon is a BF – 12%
4. Aegon is the son of one or two known characters other than Rhaegar –2%
5. Aegon is a lowborn –40%

What are your thoughts?

(EDITS: to broaden the scope of option #4)

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You also forgot Aegon being the descendant of Aerion Brightflame, or possibly from both Aerion and a Blackfyre. There's a thread on it I believe.

You're right, that he's a Targ but through some other lineage. I guess that could fall under category 4 if I amend it

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Kudos on compiling this list, OP. Very impressive work.I would personally err toward #5. A Blackfyre would be cool, but really unnecessary and convoluted.

More than anything else, I question why GRRM would introduce this character as the real Aegon. While his personal story arc (the exiled Prince/King who grew up with a rag-tag band and traveled the Free Cities, only to return and reclaim Westeros) sounds epic as hell, that's not really how Martin writes. It's not exactly a cliche, but at the same time is very fairytale like, and doesn't fit well within the greater narrative. An imposter, especially one who seems to save the day only to led the people down an even worse path, is much more up Martin's alley.

Ultimately, I don't know that we'll ever get an firm answer on who the kid is. Since only Varys and Illyrio know the actual truth, they would have to straight up tell a POV character, and Varys clearly is keeping to his story even when talking to the mortally wounded (though the presence of so many of his "little birds" was probably a factor there).

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I actually think it'll be far more interesting if he's real. His story in isolation is arguably somewhat of a cliche (or at least identical to Paul Atreides), but it tremendously complicates Dany's arc. What does she do when she finds out her nephew is alive and with a better claim to the throne than her? Was her intention all along to restore her family or did it always have to be her in charge? Will she marry him? Will she support him? Will she fight him?



If he's some impostor just meant to be her final opponent in a long line of obvious opponents that present no dilemma crushing, doesn't that get old after a while? Is she really just 100% righteous slayer of lies, prophesied and true? If the fake theory holds up, what's going to happen? Aegon gets to do the dirty work of deposing a basically likable and innocent Tommen? Stannis dies in the north? And Dany never faces any roadblocks on her way to the throne consisting of an actually sympathetic character that makes it more than a millisecond question of who is in the right?


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I don't think Aegon truly being real or fake changes the drama it causes for Dany. It seems likely to me Dany's dilemma is the same either way, and likely that she will have to take a stance before/without knowing the truth. For the readers, though, I would agree that if it is confirmed to us that he is not Rhaegar's son before things go down with Dany, that might make what happens after that less dramatic. I have a feeling his end will be pretty sad either way. If he ends up being legit, and ends up dying, especially if intentionally at the hands of Dany while assumig he is a fraud, that will be pretty sad. If he ends up being fake, and was raised all this time being lied to about who he is just to further someone else's plots, that will be pretty sad, especially if he learns the truth. I could also see him ending up being a fake, yet still killing Dany. Don't know how it's going to go down, but I think the pieces are there for some real suspense and drama.

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I don't think Aegon truly being real or fake changes the drama it causes for Dany. It seems likely to me Dany's dilemma is the same either way, and likely that she will have to take a stance before/without knowing the truth.

That's very true, and not just for Dany...other players will be responding to his invasion, while still doubting the truth. It's going to be fascinating how that doubt factors into everyone's actions and what it'll mean when another Targ (Dany) comes to shore. You'd think dragons beat heritage, but for those who view Robert as the usurper, the order of succession would still matter.

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I thought Brandon Stark had no sons.

Brandon died before he had sons

http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Asshai.com_Interview_in_Barcelona/

I think that depends on the use of the word "having." What if the son was in Ashara's belly? But it's a good point. I'm of the mind that stillborn daughter is most likely with her.

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I think Targs could get some decent support in Westeros. Common people seemed to generally like their kings. Of the major rebel lords, Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon, Hoster Tully, and Tywin Lannister are all dead. It took less than two decades for them to turn on each other and brutalize each other's houses and the people of Westeros in the process. The wrongs committed by those families are much fresher and more recent than anything any Targaryen has done (yet, at least). But having to choose between multiple Targs, one with uncertain identity, complicates things. One of them might have been able to garner a lot of support. Two will be chaotic.

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"Mummer's Farce" typically talks about a person and their lies. In this case, farce refers to a lie, and mummer being a person. An example of this: Freys at White Harbor and Manderly lying to them. The mummer is someone manipulating others, like a puppeteer. "The mummer's farce is almost done. My son is home". In this case, the mummer is Manderly and the farce is what he promised to the Freys.



Now, the text says "Mummer's dragon". If you read it was a puppeteer's dragon, Varys' Dragon is Aegon. This is still consistent with GRRM and his language. A mummer is literally someone who puts on an act. And if we know anything at all about Varys...he is skilled at acting. Whether or not he was lying about being raised by a troupe of mummers, he is still associated with them and we can associate that imagery to him.



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You also forgot Aegon being the descendant of Aerion Brightflame, or possibly from both Aerion and a Blackfyre. There's a thread on it I believe.

Edited to leave room for it in option #4 (I took out the "non-Targ" component).

However, I'm not going to analyze that one...the only evidence presented was the "some contracts are writ in blood" line from Illyrio, and that recalls a tradition from when Brightflame served the Second Sons. I'm trying to keep textual analysis mostly to ASOIAF, which leaves very little to recommend the Brightflame theory. Not saying it couldn't happen, but I'll just leave at as another unlisted variation under #4.

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Based on what I’ve outlined, here’s how I rank the percentage possibilities of these theories, based on the strength of the evidence in these books (my opinion).

1. Aegon is real – 38%

2. Aegon is from R+L – 8%

3. Aegon is a BF – 12%

4. Aegon is the son of one or two known characters other than Rhaegar –2%

5. Aegon is a lowborn –40%

What are your thoughts?

I don't want to detract from your compilation, which is nicely assembled and thorough, but I take some issue with your analysis of all this, and what you're calling "evidence."

The only "evidence" we have of Aegon = R+E comes from Varys. I mean, "solid" evidence of his identity. Varys is really the hinge of all of this. No matter what you believe, it all comes back to whether you trust Varys. I really think Varys is the starting point of any Aegon discussion.

And on that issue, Varys is a character who has made his living on pretending to be people he's not to influence men's beliefs (all those costumes, Rugen, for heaven's sake). Further, he's the guy who said "power resides where men believe it resides." I.e. what matters is what people believe, and that belief becomes reality.

With this in mind, I think 38% chance he's "real" is far too generous.

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Regarding possibility no. 2, let assume:



  1. Lyanna wasn't kidnapped but went willingly with Rhaegar.
  2. If so, she might have told someone close to her about it.
  3. Brandon and Ned didn't know anything but the kidnap story, so maybe she told Benjen.
  4. Benjen was at Winterfell throughout the war.
  5. She might have used a messenger - who she could trust - to communicate with him.
  6. Ashara Dayne is the sister of Rhaegar best friend, Arthur Dayne.
  7. Rhaegar might have trusted her to be the messenger.
  8. If Ashara did get pregnant by a stark, it could have been Benjen.
  9. Lyanna gives birth at TOJ.
  10. Ned promises to keep the baby safe, by delivering him to Ashara who in turn takes him to Essos.
  11. In order to keep it a secret, Ashara fakes her death and takes a new identity – Presumably Septa Lemore.
  12. GRRM doesn't describe her eye's color because he doesn’t want to reveal her identity yet at that point of the story.
  13. Before she faked her death, she gave Ned her baby to be raised as a Stark (assuming Benjen is the father).
  14. Ned couldn't tell it was Benjen's baby because it would have raised too many questions, therefore he said that Jon is his baby.
  15. Benjen doesn't know that Ashara is alive.
  16. Benjen joins the NW because of his guilt over his part in Lyanna departure of Winterfell and the deaths of Ashara & her.
  17. Lyanna's baby is a bastard, he cannot be king.
  18. Ashara claims that he's Aegon, so when the time is right he could be king.


I think it is plausible that R+L=A & B+A=J.



P.S.


Sorry for any grammar mistakes, English isn't my native language.


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Ashara Dayne had dark hair, not light hair like her brother Arthur Dayne. All the Starks have dark hair. I don't think a child of Ashara Dayne and any Stark would look even remotely Targaryen, let alone completely Targaryen.

My own theory is that Ashara Dayne was raped by King Aerys II at the Tourney of Harrenhal, and Aegon Targaryen is their son. Her body was never found and I don't think she's dead, she's "Septa Lemore".

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Ashara Dayne had dark hair, not light hair like her brother Arthur Dayne. All the Starks have dark hair. I don't think a child of Ashara Dayne and any Stark would look even remotely Targaryen, let alone completely Targaryen.

My own theory is that Ashara Dayne was raped by King Aerys II at the Tourney of Harrenhal, and Aegon Targaryen is their son. Her body was never found and I don't think she's dead, she's "Septa Lemore".

Why would a child of Ashara not have light hair? Light hair is recessive; she could easily be carrying a light hair gene. Ned almost certainly is - all his kids with Cat but one are redheads, so it's very likely his mother was not dark haired, whoever she was. Brandon could have also had it. So could Lyanna, keeping in mind the R+L=A idea (which while I doubt it is my favorite crack theory) in the original list.

I doubt Blue Aegon is Ashara's at all, by anyone, but coloring doesn't disprove him being her son by any Stark. I am curious as to why you think Aerys raped her, though.

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Why would a child of Ashara not have light hair? Light hair is recessive; she could easily be carrying a light hair gene. Ned almost certainly is - all his kids with Cat but one are redheads, so it's very likely his mother was not dark haired, whoever she was. Brandon could have also had it. So could Lyanna, keeping in mind the R+L=A idea (which while I doubt it is my favorite crack theory) in the original list.

I doubt Blue Aegon is Ashara's at all, by anyone, but coloring doesn't disprove him being her son by any Stark. I am curious as to why you think Aerys raped her, though.

Well, the four dancing partners of Ashara Dayne are supposed to be clues. She danced with Eddard Stark (to make you think of Jon), Oberyn Martell (you assume him because sex sex sex), a member of the Kingsguard (???) and Jon Connington (probably a close friend, later surrogate father to her son).

Aerys II liked doing two things, having people burned alive, and savagely raping women, usually in succession with one another. Ashara being the sister of his "treacherous" son's best friend, perhaps he was trying to send some twisted message.

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Well, the four dancing partners of Ashara Dayne are supposed to be clues. She danced with Eddard Stark (to make you think of Jon), Oberyn Martell (you assume him because sex sex sex), a member of the Kingsguard (???) and Jon Connington (probably a close friend, later surrogate father to her son).

Aerys II liked doing two things, having people burned alive, and savagely raping women, usually in succession with one another. Ashara being the sister of his "treacherous" son's best friend, perhaps he was trying to send some twisted message.

I'll admit I'm not the best versed on Aerys but... Wasn't the usual target of his sexual violence Rhaella? Aside from whatever liberties he took at Joanna Lannister's bedding (personally I think he either groped her or tried to burn some part of her, I don't think he raped her), is there anything about him and other women? Honest question, I really don't know about any other women. But it seems more likely he'd burn someone connected to Rhaegar as a message, then go violently rape Rhaella that night.

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