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R+L=J v.136

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Reference guide

The R+L=J theory claims Jon Snow most probably is the son of crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned's sister Lyanna Stark.

The Tower of the Hand has an excellent analysis of this theory:
Jon Snow's Parents

And Westeros' Citadel also provides a summary:
Jon Snow's Parents

A Wiki of Ice and Fire:
Jon Snow Theories

Radio Westeros podcast:
A Dragon, a Wolf and a Rose

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can Jon be a Targaryen if ordinary fire burned his hand?
Targaryens are not immune to fire. It's a myth that has been refuted by a list of Targaryens being burned. Danaerys 'the unburnt' was indeed unscathed when she hatched the dragon eggs, but that has not stopped her being burned on other occasions. See this thread on Targaryen fire immunity.

Don't all Targaryens have hallmark Valryian silver-golden hair and purple eyes?
Not all of them: Valarr and Queen Alysanne had blue eyes. Bittersteel, who like Jon was half first men blood, had brown hair. Baelor Breakspear and his son(s) and Jon's own half-sister Rhaenys had the Dornish look (dark hair, black eyes, olive skin). Rhaenyra Targaryen's three sons all had brown hair and brown eyes even though both their parents had light silver-gold hair.
Had Jon Valyrian features, it would give his parentage away: "He had the Stark face if not the name: long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away. Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son." Tyrion got the bit about the mother wrong, though: his mother was the Stark.

If Jon isn't Ned's son, then why does he look so much like him?
Jon looks very like Arya, and Arya looks very like Lyanna. Jon is Ned's nephew, and Lyanna and Ned looked similar.

Ned is too honourable to lie. If he says Jon is his son, doesn't that mean he must be?
Ned tells Arya that sometimes lies can be honourable. His final words, a confession of his guilt, are a lie to protect Sansa. While a lie can be honourable, cheating on his wife isn't, so Ned's famed honour points to Jon not being his son.

How can Jon be half-Targaryen and have a direwolf?
He's also half Stark, through Lyanna. Ned's trueborn children are half Tully and that doesn't stop them having direwolves.

Why doesn't Ned ever think about Lyanna being Jon's mother?
Ned doesn't think about anyone being Jon's mother. If he did, there would be no mystery. He names 'Wylla' to Robert, but we do not see him thinking of Wylla being Jon's mother.
There's a hidden hint at who Jon's mother might be: In chapter 4, Eddard's internal monologue goes "Lyanna ... Ned had loved her with all his heart." and in chapter 6, Catelyn thinks "Whoever Jon's mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely".

Why would Ned not at least tell Catelyn?
We don't have a list of what Ned promised to Lyanna, but know he takes his promises seriously. Maybe he promised not to tell anyone. In Chapter 45, Ned is uncertain what Cat would do if it came to Jon's life over that of her own children. If Catelyn knew that Jon was Rhaegar's son, she might feel that keeping him at Winterfell presented a serious risk to her own children. Ultimately, Catelyn did not need to know, so maybe Ned simply chose to be on the safe side.

Doesn't Ned refer to Robb and Jon as "my sons in the very first chapter?
In speech, not in thought. Ned is keeping Jon's parentage secret. He never thinks of Jon as his son: In Chapter 45, Ned thinks of his children "Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon and explicitly excludes Jon from the list. ADwD Chapter 34 has Bran's vision of younger Ned in the Winterfell godswood: "...let them grow up close as brothers, with only love between them," he prayed, "and let my lady wife find it in her heart to forgive..." which not make sense if they are brothers.

Since Rhaegar was already married, wouldn't Jon still be a bastard?
He might, or might not. There was a tradition of polygamy among Targaryens in the past, so the possibility that Rhaegar and Lyanna married is not easily ruled out. A pro-legitimacy argument is this: The presence of the three kingsguards at the Tower of Joy is best explained if they were defending the heir to the throne, which Jon would only be if he was legitimate.

Can we be certain polygamy is not illegal?
Aegon I and Maegor I practised polygamy. In Westeros, unlike a constitutional monarchy, royals are not subject to the law. So if there ever was a law against it, it did not apply to the Targaryens: In Chapter 33 it says "like their dragons the Targaryens answered to neither gods nor men". Examples demonstrate that it was considered an option for Targaryens: Aegon IV and Daemon Blackfyre may have considered it for Daemon, Jorah Mormont suggested it to Daenerys as a viable option, and she said the same about Quentyn Martell.
George R.R. Martin says in this SSM: "If you have a dragon, you can have as many wives as you want". There is also this SSM predating the worldbook.
On Polygamy essay by Ygrain with additions by Rhaenys_Targaryen

Weren't the Kingsguard at Tower of Joy on the basis of an order from Aerys, to guard Lyanna as a hostage?
If so, why would they have apparently made no effort to use this leverage against Robert and Ned? Some argue their Kingsguard vows would have taken precedence and still have required them to leave the Tower to protect Viserys when he became heir -- unless there was another that took precedence [Jon]. Others think they were guarding Lyanna as a hostage at the Tower of Joy. Some say that makes little sense: She would better be kept hostage at King's Landing, and wouldn't require kingsguards to guard her. The mere presence of three kingsguards implies something more important: guarding members of the royal family or maybe the heir.
Frequently suggested readings: At the tower of joy by MtnLion and support of the toj analysis by Ygrain

Isn't there an SSM that says the 3 Kingsguard were following Rhaegar's orders though?
The SSM you may be thinking of is probably this: The King's Guards don't get to make up their own orders. They serve the king, they protect the king and the royal family, but they're also bound to obey their orders, and if Prince Rhaegar gave them a certain order, they would do that. They can't say, "No we don't like that order, we'll do something else."
We know from Barristan, protecting the king is the first and most important of all kingsguard duties. Jamie suggests some other KG to stay with the king when he wants to leave for the Trident and we also learn of a ritual that is performed when all KG meet and the king is guarded by someone who is not from the order.
"Protect vs Obey" is an ongoing subject of debate that is unlikely to be settled until we know more. Either viewpoint is compatible with R+L=J.

Wouldn't Viserys take precedence anyway? Rhaegar died without becoming king, and doesn't the world book call Viserys, not Aegon, Aerys' new heir?
No, in the case of an eldest son dying before the king dies, a grandson comes before a younger son. Even in the case the grandson is yet unborn at the time of death, he would succeed (heir apparent vs. heir presumptive). The world book is written with a Lannister bias (it may be propaganda to undermine Dornish support for the Targaryens) and in hindsight by maesters who have never learned all of what we know from Ned's dreams and memories. If it still turns out to be true... see the next answer.

Are matters of succession just as clear as presented here?
Succession quarrels are a part of medieval power play and even a very clear inheritance could well be contested. So maybe in King's Landing things did happen as the world book says. Rhaegar and Aerys may have been at odds over the succession. Rhaegar told Jaime before leaving for the Trident that he intended to call a council, and The Great Councils of the past have dealt with matters of succession. Who would have accepted such a change is a question worth asking.

Ned is dead. Who's going to tell anyone about it?
Bloodraven and Bran may have learned of it through the weirwood network. Benjen might know. Checkov's Crannogman Howland Reed is the sole survivor of the encounter at the Tower of Joy, and George R.R. Martin has stated he has not yet appeared because he knows too much about the central mystery of the book. "They had found him [Ned] still holding her [Lyanna's] body" tells that there also was someone else besides Howland to find Ned.

Why is this important? What impact can it have on the story?
The careful way the mystery of Jon's parentage was created is reason to believe it's important. What impact it will have on the rest of the series is still unknown.

This theory is too obvious and too many people believe it to be fact. How can it be true?
It is not so obvious to the majority of readers. Some will get it on their first read, but most will not. Readers who go to online fan forums, such as this, still represent a very small minority of the readership. Also, A Game of Thrones has been out since 1996. That's more than 18 years of readers being able to piece together this mystery. Crowd-sourced internet-based mystery solving like this inevitably make solved mysteries seem more obvious in hindsight.

George R.R. Martin is a "breaker of tropes, there can be no hidden prince, it's simply too cliché.
In order to break a trope it needs to be installed in the first place. It is yet unknown what will happen to Jon in the future. Being the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar does not imply the fairy-tale style happy ending associated with the hidden prince trope.

Is there a list of all R+L=J clues that have been found?
There is a list of R+L=J hints, clues and foreshadowing compiled by sj4iy.

Since this theory has been refined so well, will Martin change the outcome of the story to surprise his fans?
He has stated that he won't change the outcome of the story just because some people have put together all the clues and solved the puzzle.

Previous editions:
Please click on the spoiler below to reveal links to all previous editions of this thread

Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon Thread (thread one)

Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon Thread (thread two)

The Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon thread (Part III) (thread three)

The Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon thread (Part IV) (thread four)

The Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon Thread (Part V) (thread five)

The Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon Thread (Part VI) (thread six)

The Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon Thread Part VII (thread seven)

The Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon thread, Part VIII (thread eight)

The Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon thread, Part IX (thread nine)

The Rhaegar + Lyanna =Jon Thread, Part X(thread ten)

The R+L=J thread, part XI (thread eleven)

The R+L=J thread, part XII (thread twelve)

R+L=J Part XXIII (thread thirteen)

R+L=J Part XXIV (thread fourteen)

R+L=J XXV (thread fifteen)

R+L=J v.16 (thread sixteen)

R+L=J v.17 (thread seventeen)

R+L=J v.18 (thread eighteen)

R+L=J v.19 (thread nineteen)

R+L=J v.20 (thread twenty)

R+L=J v.21 (thread twenty-one)

R+L=J v.22 (thread twenty-two)

R+L=J v.22a (thread twenty-two (a))

R+L=J v.23 (thread twenty-three)

R+L=J v.24 (thread twenty-four)

R+L=J v.25 (thread twenty-five)

R+L=J v.26 (thread twenty-six)

R+L=J v.27 (thread twenty-seven)

R+L=J v.28 (thread twenty-eight)

R+L=J v.29 (thread twenty-nine)

R+L=J v.30 (thread thirty)

R+L=J v.31 (thread thirty-one)

R+L=J v.32 (thread thirty-two)

R+L=J v.33 (thread thirty-three)

R+L=J v.34 (thread thirty-four)

R+L=J v.35 (thread thirty-five)

R+L=J v.36 (thread thirty-six)

R+L=J v.37 (thread thirty-seven)

R+L=J v.38 (thread thirty-eight)

R+L=J v.39 (thread thirty-nine)

"R+L=J v.40" (thread forty)

"R+L=J v.41" (thread forty-one)

"R+L=J v.42" (thread forty-two)

"R+L=J v.43" (thread forty-three)

"R+L=J v.44" (thread forty-four)

"R+L=J v.45" (thread forty-five)

"R+L=J v.46" (thread forty-six)

"R+L=J v.47" (thread forty-seven)

"R+L=J v.48" (thread forty-eight)

"R+L=J v.49" (thread forty-nine)

"R+L=J v.50" (thread fifty)

"R+L=J v.51" (thread fifty-one)

"R+L=J v.52" (thread fifty-two)

"R+L=J v.53" (thread fifty-three)

"R+L=J v.54" (thread fifty-four)

"R+L=J v.55" (thread fifty-five)

"R+L=J v.56" (thread fifty-six)

"R+L=J v.57" (thread fifty-seven)

"R+L=J v.58" (thread fifty-eight)

"R+L=J v.59" (thread fifty-nine)

"R+L=J v.60" (thread sixty)

"R+L=J v.61" (thread sixty-one)

"R+L=J v.62" (thread sixty-two)

"R+L=J v.63" (thread sixty-three)

"R+L=J v.64" (thread sixty-four)

"R+L=J v.65" (thread sixty-five)

"R+L=J v.66" (thread sixty-six)

"R+L=J v.67" (thread sixty-seven)

"R+L=J v.68" (thread sixty-eight)

"R+L=J v.69" (thread sixty-nine)

"R+L=J v.70" (thread seventy)

"R+L=J v.71" (thread seventy-one)

"R+L=J v.72" (thread seventy-two)

"R+L=J v.73" (thread seventy-three)

"R+L=J v.74" (thread seventy-four)

"R+L=J v.75" (thread seventy-five)

"R+L=J v.76" (thread seventy-six)

"R+L=J v.77" (thread seventy-seven)

"R+L=J v.78" (thread seventy-eight)

"R+L=J v.79" (thread seventy-nine)

"R+L=J v.80" (thread eighty)

"R+L=J v.81" (thread eighty-one)

"R+L=J v.82" (thread eighty-two)

"R+L=J v.83" (thread eighty-three)

"R+L=J v.84" (thread eighty-four)

"R+L=J v.85" (thread eighty-five)

"R+L=J v.86" (thread eighty-six)

"R+L=J v.87" (thread eighty-seven)

"R+L=J v.88" (thread eighty-eight)

"R+L=J v.89" (thread eighty-nine)

"R+L=J v.90" (thread ninety)

"R+L=J v.91" (thread ninety-one)

"R+L=J v.92" (thread ninety-two)

"R+L=J v.93" (thread ninety-three)

"R+L=J v.94" (thread ninety-four)

"R+L=J v.95" (thread ninety-five)

"R+L=J v.96" (thread ninety-six)

"R+L=J v.97" (thread ninety-seven)

"R+L=J v.98" (thread ninety-eight)

"R+L=J v.99" (thread ninety-nine)

"R+L=J v.100" (thread one hundred)

"R+L=J v.101" (thread one hundred one)

"R+L=J v.102" (thread one hundred two)

"R+L=J v.103" (thread one hundred three)

"R+L=J v.104" (thread one hundred four)

"R+L=J v.105" (thread one hundred five)

"R+L=J v.106" (thread one hundred six)

"R+L=J v.107" (thread one hundred seven)

"R+L=J v.108" (thread one hundred eight)

"R+L=J v.109" (thread one hundred nine)

"R+L=J v.110" (thread one hundred ten)

"R+L=J v.111" (thread one hundred eleven)

"R+L=J v.112" (thread one hundred twelve)

"R+L=J v.113" (thread one hundred thirteen)

"R+L=J v.114" (thread one hundred fourteen)

The "[TWoIaF Spoilers] R+L=J" threads were used to openly discuss spoilers from TWoIaF at the time we needed to protect that information.

"[TWoIaF Spoilers] R+L=J v.1"

"[TWoIaF Spoilers] R+L=J v.2"

"[TWoIaF Spoilers] R+L=J v.3"


"R+L=J v.115" (thread one hundred fifteen)

"R+L=J v.116" (thread one hundred sixteen)

"R+L=J v.117" (thread one hundred seventeen)

"R+L=J v.118" (thread one hundred eighteen)

"R+L=J v.119" (thread one hundred nineteen)

"R+L=J v.120" (thread one hundred twenty)

"R+L=J v.121" (thread one hundred twenty one)

"R+L=J v.122" (thread one hundred twenty two)

"R+L=J v.123" (thread one hundred twenty three)

"R+L=J v.124" (thread one hundred twenty four)

"R+L=J v.125" (thread one hundred twenty five)

"R+L=J v.126" (thread one hundred twenty six)

"R+L=J v.127" (thread one hundred twenty seven)

"R+L=J v.128" (thread one hundred twenty eight)

"R+L=J v.129" (thread one hundred twenty nine)

"R+L=J v. 130" (thread one hundred thirty)

"R+L=J v.131" (thread one hundred thirty one)

"R+L=J v.132" (thread one hundred thirty two)

"R+L=J v.133" (thread one hundred thirty three)

"R+L=J v.134" (thread one hundred thirty four)

"R+L=J v.135" (thread one hundred thirty five)

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Ygrain said:




But of course that the headmaster will - figuratively - have my head if I disobey or fail to carry out my duty. And duty is exactly what matters most here - were the KG of old shining examples of KGhood because they were afraid to lose their heads if they disobeyed, or because they had a strong inner drive to fulfill their duty no matter the cost?



Also, sorry but the context makes it clear that they are referring to the KG vow, not an additional one Even if they swore an additional vow to protect PTWP, that wouldn't exempt them from fulfilling the KG duty. They might, of course, choose to prioritize and and place the protection of PTWP above their KG duties, but only at the cost of becoming oathbreakers to the KG vows - in which case the emphasy they put on being KG wouldn't make any sense, nor would Ned name Dayne as a paragon of KGhood.



Kinda like if I went to save the president at the cost of abandoning my students - though I'd theoretically follow a higher call, I'd still fail as a teacher (and I prefer even the worst of my students to the guy who occupies the chair, anyway).





I don't think Ned ever says they are "shining examples of Kingsgaurd-hood"




Something his father had told him once when he was little came back to him suddenly. He had asked Lord Eddard if the Kingsguard were truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms. “No longer,” he answered, “but once they were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world.”

“Was there one who was best of all?”

“The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.”




He says that once they were the finest knights and a shining lesson to the world. It's not at all clear that the reason he respects them is because of their unwavering loyalty to their king. Why would he exalt people for standing by as a madman burned people alive? You don't think it's possible that he respects them for their martial abilities or their willingness to die following their princes final order to protect his sister?


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I mentioned this possibility in my first post on the subject, and I don't think we can rule it out. However, again without evidence that they did not hear of this I think we have to go as our default answer that they did know about it. Why? Because the conversation we both have read a million times between the Kingsguard and Ned at the tower of joy shows they were informed about the events of the day, and this would likely be major public news.

As to Ned's view of Dayne, Hightower, and Whent, there is a very plausible reason Ned would hold these men in high regard even if they refused to do their first duty to Viserys. We are told over and over in the story about Ned's honor by others than Ned himself. We are also told over and over how Ned, and Robb for that matter, sacrifice their honor for the needs of the innocents. Whether it is Ned's outrage with Robert about the murder of Rhaegar's children or about Robert's own plan to murder Daenerys and her child. Or it's Ned's willingness to lie about his supposed treason on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in order to save Sansa, even knowing it will undercut Robb by doing so. Or if it's Ned's total hatred for Tywin for ordering the murder of Aegon and Rhaenys. Or it's Ned telling Arya that some lies are good and honorable. Or Ned choosing to hide Rhaegar's child as his own in order to save Jon's life, even when it is clearly treason and betrayal towards his best friend and new king. Ned's story is one in which, unlike his view of Ser Barristan, Ned puts the essence of acting for good and what's truly honorable above all else, not just following vows.

If what Ned and we as readers are seeing in the actions of the Kingsguard is that they have abandoned their first duty in order to save an innocent or two from the general in charge of the rebel forces at King's Landing, then their actions are close to what Ned does throughout his arc. Not too hard to see why he would think of them as great knights. Perhaps what we are seeing is that these three are Ser Duncan the Tall come again sacrificing their oaths to obey and protect their King/Prince in order to follow their vows as knight to protect the innocent. I hope that answers your question.

No way it is public news, no one knows about it, at present. If Ned had known about it, would he name Viserys prince? Would the Kingsguard knowing about it allow Ned naming Viserys prince pass, without comment? No. The three Kingsguard do not know of any such decree. Even if the decree had been made, the council can ignore it and follow the laws as established. I see no point in continuing to discuss a decree that has no bearing on the topic.

The finest knight I (Ned) ever knew was Ser Arthur Dayne, he was a member of the Kingsguard that was a shining example to the world. Ned might abhor children being murdered, and he might congratulate any man who honored an order to protect a child with his life if he knew about the order, right? Ned knows about the vow, and it quote what he expresses about it in red in my analysis of the tower of joy scene. Ned has precisely one reason to think of these fine knights as a shining example to the world, they say they are honoring their vow, and Ned knows their vow is to protect their king with their very lives.

You did well on the coronation, it was immediate, Ned was present, and Jaime begged forgiveness which was granted, angering Ned. The children and Elia were presented to Robert, wrapped in Lannister crimson cloaks to conceal the blood. Crimson is not going to conceal blood that is not fresh. So, consider that when attempting to divine the time frame for the coronation. You fall down by suggesting that there is another one. There is no suggestion of a second coronation for Robert, and likely the next partay is Cersei's wedding.

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Jon looks very like Arya, and Arya looks very like Lyanna. Jon is Ned's nephew, and Lyanna and Ned looked similar.

the Ugly Duckling fable?

i would not say at this point Arya "looks very like Lyanna"...she is getting there, and the personality matches. but looks? not YET.

i can see that, by the end of the series Arya is a beauty...

we have already seen instances in DwD of men turning their heads to look at her, which is pretty far from the "Horseface" label.

maybe it gets to the point where Jon does not recognize her, and she does not recognize him and, Uh OH!!!!!

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No way it is public news, no one knows about it, at present. If Ned had known about it, would he name Viserys prince? Would the Kingsguard knowing about it allow Ned naming Viserys prince pass, without comment? No. The three Kingsguard do not know of any such decree. Even if the decree had been made, the council can ignore it and follow the laws as established. I see no point in continuing to discuss a decree that has no bearing on the topic.

“Ser Willem Darry is fled to Dragonstone, with your queen and Prince Viserys. I thought you might have sailed with him.”
“Ser Willem is a good man and true,” said Ser Oswell.
“But not of the Kingsguard,” Ser Gerold pointed out. “The Kingsguard does not flee.”
Then or now,” said Ser Arthur. He donned his helm.

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“Ser Willem Darry is fled to Dragonstone, with your queen and Prince Viserys. I thought you might have sailed with him.”

“Ser Willem is a good man and true,” said Ser Oswell.

“But not of the Kingsguard,” Ser Gerold pointed out. “The Kingsguard does not flee.”

Then or now,” said Ser Arthur. He donned his helm.

i really think those 3 were an exception, not the rule.

GRRM has done an interesting job in putting real POS characters in the KG since these 3.

VERY telling, and interesting contrast IMO, do not think it was coincidence...

Boras Blunt serves in the same order as Arthur Dayne? you kidding me?

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Ygrain said:

I don't think Ned ever says they are "shining examples of Kingsgaurd-hood"

He says that once they were the finest knights and a shining lesson to the world. It's not at all clear that the reason he respects them is because of their unwavering loyalty to their king. Why would he exalt people for standing by as a madman burned people alive? You don't think it's possible that he respects them for their martial abilities or their willingness to die following their princes final order to protect his sister?

They were the finest knights of Kingsguard. The whole topic is not about knights in general but about Kingsguard in particular:

He had asked Lord Eddard if the Kingsguard were truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms. “No longer,” he answered, “but once they (= KG) were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world.”

“Was there one (=KG) who was best of all?”

“The finest knight (= of the KG) I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.”

"They" refers to KG and there is no change of the referent in between, so "one" also refers to KG and it makes zero sense to answer with general assesment of knightly qualities when Bran keeps asking specifically about KG.

And, no, martial abilities or following a prince's order while the first duty is neglected doesn't make for a shining lesson of KGhood. A shining example of KGhood is one that fulfills the duty to protect the king no matter the cost, dying for the king as they are sworn to, like this.

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They were the finest knights of Kingsguard. The whole topic is not about knights in general but about Kingsguard in particular:

He had asked Lord Eddard if the Kingsguard were truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms. “No longer,” he answered, “but once they (= KG) were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world.”

“Was there one (=KG) who was best of all?”

“The finest knight (= of the KG) I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.”

"They" refers to KG and there is no change of the referent in between, so "one" also refers to KG and it makes zero sense to answer with general assesment of knightly qualities when Bran keeps asking specifically about KG.

And, no, martial abilities or following a prince's order while the first duty is neglected doesn't make for a shining lesson of KGhood. A shining example of KGhood is one that fulfills the duty to protect the king no matter the cost, dying for the king as they are sworn to, like this.

I understand he's talking about the Kingsguard, but I don't agree that he's calling Aerys' seven a shining example of kingsguardhood. He just says they were a shining lesson to the world, he doesn't say that the lesson is "always stick to the letter of your oaths." (Which we know is difficult as oaths often conflict.)

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Bran asked about the finest knights in the world - whether the KGs are those knights. The whole talk is about knighthood, not about KG-knighthood. KGs are a special subset of knights, representing the pinnacle of knighthood in the eyes of many, and Bran and Ned are talking about them in this capacity. They are not really discussing the actual nature of the Kingsguard - which makes it clear that they may be great warriors, but not exactly great knights.



As to the vow the knights are talking about in their dream:



They could speak about their KG vow, but they may also refer to another oath they swore.



An interesting follow-up to this thing is the question:



Would Ned consider the three knights great examples if he believed 'they died for their king' (i.e. Jon)? After all, he certainly does not believe that Lyanna's son is king, or else he would not have disguised him as his bastard/allowed him to join the NW. It would make much more sense for him to consider them 'gallant/tragic fools' fighting for a lost cause.


On the other hand - standing true to a thing you believe (i.e. following orders you are honor-bound to fulfill) - really is how the Starks think. Ned and Lord Cregan Stark both despised their particular 'kingslayers' for the same reason - despite the fact that they themselves actually fought and tried to bring down those kings.



Ned's king by that time would have been Robert I Baratheon - which could also explain why he talks about 'Prince Viserys' is his dream. Viserys would never be Viserys III Targaryen in Ned's eyes, even after his coronation of Dragonstone.



The problem with this whole 'Ned is talking KG' thing is the (baseless) assumption that Ned cared all that much about the Kingsguard and their vows, and considered it a great virtue to give your life for a (Targaryen) king. I'm not sure this is the case.


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No way it is public news, no one knows about it, at present. If Ned had known about it, would he name Viserys prince?

FWIW, Ned being a Robert supporter, I don't think he is likely to call Viserys king in any case, no matter what he does or doesn't know about the succession. I lean toward thinking it wasn't public knowledge, but I'm not sure that line itself is conclusive. :dunno:

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FWIW, Ned being a Robert supporter, I don't think he is likely to call Viserys king in any case, no matter what he does or doesn't know about the succession. I lean toward thinking it wasn't public knowledge, but I'm not sure that line itself is conclusive. :dunno:

Yeah. Also at that point everyone ahead of Viserys was dead, and Viserys may well have been crowned on Dragonestone already. So MtnLion doesn't really have a valid point there.

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I understand he's talking about the Kingsguard, but I don't agree that he's calling Aerys' seven a shining example of kingsguardhood. He just says they were a shining lesson to the world, he doesn't say that the lesson is "always stick to the letter of your oaths." (Which we know is difficult as oaths often conflict.)

Well, I don't say that, either, so I really don't know what you're arguing here. "Die for the king if need be" =/= "always stick to the letter".

Bran asked about the finest knights in the world - whether the KGs are those knights. The whole talk is about knighthood, not about KG-knighthood. KGs are a special subset of knights, representing the pinnacle of knighthood in the eyes of many, and Bran and Ned are talking about them in this capacity. They are not really discussing the actual nature of the Kingsguard - which makes it clear that they may be great warriors, but not exactly great knights.

As to the vow the knights are talking about in their dream:

They could speak about their KG vow, but they may also refer to another oath they swore.

So, in your opinion, a pinnacle of knighthood may fail their duty but remain a shining example to the world? I fail to see the logic here, nor do I see Ned, of all people, reducing knighthood to mere warrior capacity. Jaime was outstanding with his sword, after all, yet he somehow fails to be seen as a shining example.

"Kingsguard doesn't flee, then or now, because we swore a vow." How is being KG related in any way to swearing an additional vow? ("because" = "explained Ser Gerold")

An interesting follow-up to this thing is the question:

Would Ned consider the three knights great examples if he believed 'they died for their king' (i.e. Jon)? After all, he certainly does not believe that Lyanna's son is king, or else he would not have disguised him as his bastard/allowed him to join the NW. It would make much more sense for him to consider them 'gallant/tragic fools' fighting for a lost cause.

On the other hand - standing true to a thing you believe (i.e. following orders you are honor-bound to fulfill) - really is how the Starks think. Ned and Lord Cregan Stark both despised their particular 'kingslayers' for the same reason - despite the fact that they themselves actually fought and tried to bring down those kings.

Ned's king by that time would have been Robert I Baratheon - which could also explain why he talks about 'Prince Viserys' is his dream. Viserys would never be Viserys III Targaryen in Ned's eyes, even after his coronation of Dragonstone.

An interesting mixture of right and wrong. No, Ned Stark was not a man who would look down on those who fight for a lost cause but he wouldn't perceive honour only in terms of following orders, either. He had a strong sense of loyalty as well as doing the right thing, even if it went against the orders; rather like Davos.

Viserys definitely wasn't his king but he would have respected the KG for adhering to their king.

The problem with this whole 'Ned is talking KG' thing is the (baseless) assumption that Ned cared all that much about the Kingsguard and their vows, and considered it a great virtue to give your life for a (Targaryen) king. I'm not sure this is the case.

It has little to do with KG or Targaryens as such, but rather with having deep respect for loyalty and duty and keeping one's word. He was ready to die for the worth of his word and loyalty, after all.

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Viserys definitely wasn't his king but he would have respected the KG for adhering to their king.

I agree with this. Really, I've always thought the whole idea of the Kingsguard is a little "broken" when it comes to situations where one king gets overthrown and the new king is the first guy's enemy. I would tend to assume that most Kingsguards would remain loyal to their king, and go into exile with him if he survives his overthrowing, and join up with that king's heirs if their king dies. I wouldn't expect them to just go "Welp" and go guard the new king who usurped theirs. It does of course happen with both Barristan and Jaime, though, for various reasons that aren't really germane here.

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I agree with this. Really, I've always thought the whole idea of the Kingsguard is a little "broken" when it comes to situations where one king gets overthrown and the new king is the first guy's enemy. I would tend to assume that most Kingsguards would remain loyal to their king, and go into exile with him if he survives his overthrowing, and join up with that king's heirs if their king dies. I wouldn't expect them to just go "Welp" and go guard the new king who usurped theirs. It does of course happen with both Barristan and Jaime, though, for various reasons that aren't really germane here.

In the end, I think every King's Guard needs to make the choice; is he guarding the King or the Crown.

If its the King then he would follow the King's descendents, but if its the Crown then he (if allowed to) would defend the new regime.

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Well, I don't say that, either, so I really don't know what you're arguing here. "Die for the king if need be" =/= "always stick to the letter".

What I'm arguing is that it's not clear that Ned thinks these men were "a shining example of how the kingsguard would never forsake their king in favor of following orders given by Rhaegar." Maybe the lesson was "go down fighting rather than give up" or any number of other things. Maybe the lesson was not to blindly follow a madman down the drain. We don't know, and it's not as clear cut as you insist.

I agree with this. Really, I've always thought the whole idea of the Kingsguard is a little "broken" when it comes to situations where one king gets overthrown and the new king is the first guy's enemy. I would tend to assume that most Kingsguards would remain loyal to their king, and go into exile with him if he survives his overthrowing, and join up with that king's heirs if their king dies. I wouldn't expect them to just go "Welp" and go guard the new king who usurped theirs. It does of course happen with both Barristan and Jaime, though, for various reasons that aren't really germane here.

Yeah it is unclear what they would be expected to do, there's a SSM to that effect:

4) Does the oath of a Kingsguard include to serve _whoever_ is the king, even if the new king rebelled against the old one, or did Jaime and Barristan _choose_ to continue their service as Robert was crowned?

The oaths did not envision rebellion, actually. Robert pardoned Barristan and Jaime, and they accepted the pardon and continued to serve.

http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/The_Kingsguard/

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What I'm arguing is that it's not clear that Ned thinks these men were "a shining example of how the kingsguard would never forsake their king in favor of following orders given by Rhaegar." Maybe the lesson was "go down fighting rather than give up" or any number of other things. Maybe the lesson was not to blindly follow a madman down the drain. We don't know, and it's not as clear cut as you insist.

Only, at the time of the confrontation, the madman is a goner. Their supposed king is a boy in need of every help he can get. It is him that they forsake when - if - they follow Rhaegar's order, and there is no excuse for them not to. And, fulfilling a duty is perfectly clear cut - either you are doing it, or not. They are not doing their first KG duty and it is not being done by any other KG, unless there is a king right there at the tower.

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