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MinotaurWarrior

R+L=LN?

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Recently, I was watching this video about the possible identities of Azor Ahai which laid out the typical "requirements" for TPTWP: being born under a bleeding star amidst salt and smoke, wielding a 'fiery sword' tempered by the sacrifice of a lover, waking stone dragons, and being born of the union of Aerys the Mad and Rhaella Targaryen. It occurred to me that something huge is missing from that list, and from every list I've ever seen:

Azor Ahai reborn needs to live during the Long Night.

Typically, we overlook this since it's a complete non-factor in our search for AAR/TPTWP, because all possible candidates are equally present for the dusk of the Long Night. Even absurd candidates like Ser Pounce unambiguously meet this criteria. But to all of the people who have spent the past several thousand years anticipating AAR/TPTWP, predicting the dusk of the second Long Night would have been one of the most important tasks for interpreters of prophecy.

So, enter Rhaegar - born in the ashes of Summerhall the Prince was obsessed with prophecy at an early age, at first believing that he could be the TPTWP. Exactly what convinced him of this is ambiguous, but we know it wasn't merely a passive alignment of signs, because upon reading something in an old scroll Rhaegar decided he had to become a knight and wield a sword. It is heavily implied that the scroll said something like, "TPTWP will wield a sword (called Lightbringer)," and he was training to become a swordsman to bring about prophecy.

At some point it seems Rhaegar decided that he wasn't actually TPTWP but rather the dad that was promised, fathering Aegon and saying "the song of ice and fire" was the child's song. On a meta-level, I'd like to point out that we know this is a reference to a poem about destruction, human vice, and the end of the world; not a virtuous hero who ushers in a glorious new age of peace and prosperity, or anything so nice. Rhaegar also said that the dragon has three heads, and during the year of the False Spring he attends (/arranges) the tourney at Harenhall to crown Lyanna Stark Queen of Love and Beauty.

Notably, Eddard remembers this as being the moment "when all the smiles died." We don't have any vivid descriptions of the scene and that memory could have been soured by hindsight, but I imagine Eddard means that the crowd gathered in attendance immediately realized that this was bad news. If Rhaegar was a smart guy, he probably could have anticipated that reaction. But he went ahead and crowned her anyway, and then later runs away with her while knowing full well that literally every major lord disapproves of their relationship. This goes beyond a mere aloof indifference to disapproving politicians. If Rhaegar just had to sleep with a Stark because prophecy said so, he could have kidnapped her without warning or courted her with private letters. He went out of his way to draw their ire, which was inevitably going to start a conflict. Rhaegar seems to have been absolutely fine with that.

Now, I'm not saying the blame falls completely upon his shoulders - obviously Rickard and Brandon chose how to interpret events, Aerys chose to kill them, Clegane's crew chose to kill Elia and her kids, et cetera. And clearly Rhaegar wasn't trying to get himself and his children killed. But he has been clearly established as willingly drawing the wrath of others and inviting conflict to bed Lyanna and fulfill prophecy. The smallfolk loved him and many survivors admired him, but that doesn't mean he was a good guy.

Now, exactly what part of the prophecy was he trying to fulfill by snagging a Stark? He thought he already had the PTWP in Aegon, which presumably means the boy was born under some kind of bleeding star amidst salt and smoke. Obviously, Aegon was also born of the line of Aerys and Rhaella. The ability to hatch dragon eggs appears to be a congenital trait that you either have or you don't, as hammered home by the numerous failed attempts by targs to artificially induce it, so the Starkgaryen baby couldn't help with the stone dragons. It's possible that Rhaegar somehow predicted that Aegon would never be able to love Rhaenys enough for her to play the role of Nissa Nissa, and he somehow foresaw that, IDK, Aegon would grow up to be really into some 'icy' trait Viserys would inherit. But it makes more sense to me to think that Rhaegar already felt he had the role of Nissa Nissa covered well enough, and really just needed to bring about the Long Night to tick all the boxes on the AAR/PTWP checklist.

So how the hell does running off with Lyanna Stark help with that?

I think it's because (the birth of) Rhaegar's kids could change the weather. The timeline isn't very clear, but in 280-282 Rhaegar has two kids, and Westeros experienced a one-of-a-kind climactic event. The Year of the False Spring. I don't think that's a coincidence, and neither would prophecy-and-portent-obsessed Rhaegar. Now, exactly what effect these children's births had can be no clearer than their very vague birth dates. It's possible that Aegon brought about the sudden, unnatural return to winter. But I happen to favor (admittedly without any particular support) the following timeline.

The last days of 280 - Rhaenys is born, Elia is on bedrest and cannot breastfeed

Early 281 - With the warming starting (because of Rhaenys), Rhaegar becomes convinced that he needs to sire a son on Elia to be TPTWP, and has sex with Elia despite her fragile state

Mid / Late 281 - Aegon is born, her birth nearly killing Elia as she in some sense is fighting against the seasons and losing.

Early 282 - Nature begins to overpower the magic of these births and the false spring ends. By the time his father is employing pyromancers to try and reverse the return of winter, Rhaegar has already left on his own mission to change the seasons.

Late 283 - The Starkgaryen is born in the Tower of Joy, bringing the spring that had turned into summer by 284.

Now, why did the Starkgaryen bring a true spring, and not a false one like it's siblings? Because the Starks in addition to (/because of?) their warg blood also carry powerful weather magic in their veins, as alluded to by their words Winter is Coming. Also, because the Starkgaryen killed Lyanna, using her (Queens?) blood to fuel the spell.

The next question is, of course, how would these magically-induced warm periods help bring about the Long Night? Well, we're told repeatedly, in vague terms, that long summers bring long winters. The maesters, not even believing in the Others, anticipate an extremely long winter is coming because of the unprecedented decade-long summer that concluded in ACoK. But I think there's a little more to it. I think the Other's are returning due to some set of specific complaints, likely having to do with meltings in the Land of "Always" Winter and / or activities undertaken by the growing wildling population (Mance's years of tomb-raiding?)*. Rhaegar was trying to create an unnatural period of warmth or a "Long Day" in order to provoke the Others into creating a second "Long Night", in which his son Aegon could fulfill prophecy get a dope sword and awaken stone dragons, thus restoring Targaryen glory.

Now, there's one immediate challenge I can see to this theory - we know that there have been several smaller winters between 284-288, as said in Tyrion III AGoT. But I actually think this is further evidence that the seasons haven't been right for the entirety of the Starkgaryen's life. Tyrion says there have been eight or nine winters in his life, but he doesn't know which. Now, we know when two of those winters were. He was born in the winter of 272-274, and it was winter from 280-282. Since seasons are said to usually last for at least a year, and nothing weird or magical was going on between these two known winters, there should be at most one winter between these two (seven changes of seasons over ~ seven years) and could have easily been none (with an ~ two-year spring, summer, and fall sandwiched between these two ~ two-year winters). In 284, we know it's summer, likely proceeding from a 283 spring. Then, between 284 and 288 there would have been between five and seven winters. Those are amazingly short by Westerosi standards - possibly even shorter than an earth winter. As well, they would likely have been exceptionally mild, as indicated by Tyrion having lost count. Keep in mind that Casterly Rock is north of King's Landing where the rivers froze over in 282, as well as being up in the mountaintops, and that Tyrion had pursued a life of learning from a young age, studying religion and memorizing lists of the world's wonders. Still, he didn't even know how many winters had passed during his lifetime, and even the northmen he's surrounded by aren't able to easily correct him after he specifies that he was born in the only three year winter to have occurred in the past ~ 30 years. During this passage Tyrion also references a prophecy of a "Great Summer" foreseen by the Faith of the Seven. Now, Tyrion says he was told the gods would grant this if men were good, but it's likely he isn't conveying the fullest extent of the most accurate version of that prophecy. It's possible that Rhaegar found a scroll saying "The Great Summer will be brought by a child born under conditions matching those of the Starkgaryen."

One last bit of miscellaneous evidence: the only time a Targaryen has been confirmed as being correct about a prophecy was when Daenys the Dreamer predicted the Doom of Valyria, a fiery apocalypse. In the meantime, there have been many, many misinterpretations of prophecy wherein the Targaryens have fled illusory danger to arrive in real peril. It would in some sense be fitting if Rhaegar was finally able to get prophecy right, only to purposefully drive his house into an icy apocalypse.

TL;DR

Rhaenys / Aegon created the Year of the False Spring, nearly killing their mom in the process. Aegon was to be a PTWP, which required a Long Night. Rhaegar, more than willing to provoke catastrophe as evinced by Robert's Rebellion, sires the Starkgaryen so the child could sacrifice (Queen?) Lyanna and use inherited magical powers to bring about an approximately 26 year long period of unnatural warmth to piss off the Others and provoke them into starting Long Night 2, in which Aegon (who wasn't supposed to die) would finally be able to hatch some dragons and restore house Targaryen to its days of glory.

*

Spoiler

I happen to subscribe to the "Long Night ended in a truce" theory, and that, like the Deepwood was promised to the Children and then illegally seized by humans, the Land of Always Winter was promised to the Others, who have long suffered a series of human "reinterpretations" of the pact and are just now reaching their limit. Winter is Coming would have originally been meant more as reassurance to the Others and a reminder of First Men obligations.

Now, it's been a while since I read the books, so I could easily be forgetting something obvious that disproves this (sorry if it's been thoroughly debunked before). I'm also curious if anyone knows of any other details that might support this theory. Most of all, I'm looking forward to keeping questions raised along the way to drive me towards a new perspective as I reread the series in anticipation of the release of TWoW.

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The most obvious problem with this theory is that you argue that Rhaegar deliberately sought to bring about the second LN, a continent- or world-wide catastrophe, in order to restore Targaryen glory.

Yet the Targs are the ruling family of Westeros so he has no need to go to such cruel and apocalyptic events to achieve a goal which is already secure.

Not to say that if he knew how to trigger the LN the obvious thing to do would be to avoid those actions not work to achieve them.  It's like a nuclear war: if you know what brings about an apocalyptic conflict in which millions of people die rule #1 becomes avoiding that event whether you think you know how to "win" or not. 

Everything we know about Rhaegar was that he believed in duty and the good of the realm and, e.g., that he intended to call a Grand Council to have Aerys set aside to achieve this.  It's much more likely that he was working to be ready for apocalyptic events that he thought were inevitably going to happen (aka prophecy), not that he chose to trigger those events.  Especially if he could have chosen to prevent them.

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8 minutes ago, the trees have eyes said:

The most obvious problem with this theory is that you argue that Rhaegar deliberately sought to bring about the second LN, a continent- or world-wide catastrophe, in order to restore Targaryen glory.

Yet the Targs are the ruling family of Westeros so he has no need to go to such cruel and apocalyptic events to achieve a goal which is already secure.

Neither did Aegon V to burn down Summerhall to restore Targaryen glory. Yet he did. We know that the Targaryens of this time were positively obsessed with bringing back the dragons and the glory of old, and willing to invite disaster to do so.

Quote

Everything we know about Rhaegar was that he believed in duty and the good of the realm and, e.g., that he intended to call a Grand Council to have Aerys set aside to achieve this.  It's much more likely that he was working to be ready for apocalyptic events that he thought were inevitably going to happen (aka prophecy), not that he chose to trigger those events.  Especially if he could have chosen to prevent them.

Now, I agree that it's a big jump to go from the typical guess at Rhaegar's character, that he was a stand-up guy who everyone liked, to thinking he would callously throw away the lives of unknown multitudes just so his kid could be special. I'm glad you brought this up explicitly.

My biggest reason for believing Rhaegar would be capable of something so inhumane as starting the Long Night is that we know he was capable of something so inhumane as lighting the powder keg of Robert's Rebellion. You mention the theory that the tourney of Harrenhal may have been called as a cover for a grand council to peacefully place Rhaegar upon the throne. And yet during this tourney Rhaegar went out of his way to alienate everyone in attendance. One of the traits we can most confidently ascribe to Rhaegar is that he was supposed to be smart, and it wouldn't take a genius to anticipate that crowning Lyanna would piss everyone off. According to Ned, that crowning (the only thing we know Rhaegar to have done at Harrenhal) was the moment "all the smiles died" indicating that the implications were immediately clear to everyone in the audience. It wasn't a thinker, it was a smack in the face.

Also, consider the alleged source for the intel that Harrenhal was meant to be a cover for the grand council - Varys. A guy who we know lies constantly, specifically claiming to be working for peace and the good of the realm, even as he definitely worked to stop any chances of a Council at Harrenhal from succeeding.

Now, I'd love to find out that I'm missing some awesome backstory on Rhaegar cementing him as a guy who cares about the greater good. I just don't know of any such story.

Quote

Not to say that if he knew how to trigger the LN the obvious thing to do would be to avoid those actions not work to achieve them.  It's like a nuclear war: if you know what brings about an apocalyptic conflict in which millions of people die rule #1 becomes avoiding that event whether you think you know how to "win" or not. 

Does it?

I frequently hear people compare dragons to magic, and we have good reason to believe, based on the Danaerys chapters, that playing with dragons is like playing with fire. Yet the Targaryens have explicitly been doing crazy things to try and awaken dragons ever since they all died. They don't care that dragons are monsters that are only good for causing the horrific deaths of human beings, they don't care that dragons inevitably must be either cruelly chained or set free to wreck havoc as they hunt and kill in your own lands. All they care about is getting that power back.

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Usually I don’t like heresy posts, but for some strange reason I quite liked this one. Even if I don’t agree with it I think that it is interesting and refreshing since unlike most of the theories that involve Rhaegar and Lyanna, this theory doesn’t  glorify them.

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On 28/05/2016 at 1:17 PM, MinotaurWarrior said:

Neither did Aegon V to burn down Summerhall to restore Targaryen glory. Yet he did. We know that the Targaryens of this time were positively obsessed with bringing back the dragons and the glory of old, and willing to invite disaster to do so.

Now, I agree that it's a big jump to go from the typical guess at Rhaegar's character, that he was a stand-up guy who everyone liked, to thinking he would callously throw away the lives of unknown multitudes just so his kid could be special. I'm glad you brought this up explicitly.

My biggest reason for believing Rhaegar would be capable of something so inhumane as starting the Long Night is that we know he was capable of something so inhumane as lighting the powder keg of Robert's Rebellion. You mention the theory that the tourney of Harrenhal may have been called as a cover for a grand council to peacefully place Rhaegar upon the throne. And yet during this tourney Rhaegar went out of his way to alienate everyone in attendance. One of the traits we can most confidently ascribe to Rhaegar is that he was supposed to be smart, and it wouldn't take a genius to anticipate that crowning Lyanna would piss everyone off. According to Ned, that crowning (the only thing we know Rhaegar to have done at Harrenhal) was the moment "all the smiles died" indicating that the implications were immediately clear to everyone in the audience. It wasn't a thinker, it was a smack in the face.

Also, consider the alleged source for the intel that Harrenhal was meant to be a cover for the grand council - Varys. A guy who we know lies constantly, specifically claiming to be working for peace and the good of the realm, even as he definitely worked to stop any chances of a Council at Harrenhal from succeeding.

Now, I'd love to find out that I'm missing some awesome backstory on Rhaegar cementing him as a guy who cares about the greater good. I just don't know of any such story.

Does it?

I frequently hear people compare dragons to magic, and we have good reason to believe, based on the Danaerys chapters, that playing with dragons is like playing with fire. Yet the Targaryens have explicitly been doing crazy things to try and awaken dragons ever since they all died. They don't care that dragons are monsters that are only good for causing the horrific deaths of human beings, they don't care that dragons inevitably must be either cruelly chained or set free to wreck havoc as they hunt and kill in your own lands. All they care about is getting that power back.

First Aegon V did not burn down Summerhall (and kill himself and his son) deliberately.  It was an accident and a tragedy when a fire (possibly wildfire) got out of control.  Very likely the risks involved in the attempt to hatch the dragons were not adequately appreciated.  Rhaegar ushering in the LN deliberately is a whole different kettle of fish to Summerhall which is the equivalent of Dany walking into the pyre, i.e. an action with potentially dire personal consequences but not a deliberate attempt to orchestrate a global apocalypse for "glory".

Rhaegar did nothing "inhumane" with regard to Lyanna Stark nor did he light the powder keg of Robert's rebellion.  That was lit when Aerys, rather than listening to Brandon Stark's grievance and promising justice and recompense, instead executed everyone he could get his hands on and started calling for more high ranking young noblemen to be put to death.  Rhaegar's "abduction" of Lyanna is most likely a love story and the inhumane actions belong to Aerys while Rhaegar is away from KL for all of the overreaction and slide into war.

If you want a backstory that makes Rhaegar out to be a good guy you only have to read the POVs when Rhaegar is brought up.  Whether Ned, Barristan or Jorah they all have an overwhelmingly positive recollection of the man and his public persona was widely admired.

It may be tempting to equate dragons with mortal danger to the world and the embodiment of an elemental fire threat as ultimately destructive as an elemental ice danger in order to balance the equation out but the Valyrians had dragons for hundreds (thousands?) and the Targaryens for hundreds of years so this seems a little off.  The Others / LN and the War for the Dawn are single, isolated catastrophic events rather than part of the eons long cycle of life that the dragons seem to fit into for such a long part of without any terrible events occuring to shake civilization to its foundations.

"dragons are monsters that  are only good for causing the horrific deaths of human beings".  Are they though?  They are magical in nature somehow but they are born, breed, feed, live and die like other creatures.  I see no reason to demonise them because they are large dangerous wild animals people should be afraid of the way we have demonsied sharks, wolves or other apex predators that are a threat to us (or like the direwolves in story).  Yes they need to feed but a polar bear isn't evil for viewing humans as prey, it's just nature.  If people can bind them magically (by horn) or by training then the use they are put to depends on the person controlling them so I see no real difference (except in power and effect of course) between them and a battle-trained warhorse like Stranger or the war elephants of the Golden Company.  It would be amusing to see if a dragon belonging to Sansa turned out to be as dainty and well-behaved as Lady!  Let's bear in mind that dragons aren't evil monsters per se and that the Targs weren't trying to hatch them (any more than Dany out on the Dothraki Sea) because they wanted monsters to feed people to for fun - they wanted symbols or status and power and the trump card to the war elephant.  Why?  Because they had had them before, been able to control them without any disasters and saw them as useful not a threat to humanity or the world in general.

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