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So here's my question, and forgive me if this has been discussed to death:

Why doesn't every informed character in Westeros suspect the truth about Jon's parentage? Because I think we overestimate how good a job Ned has done hiding the truth here. Here's what's more or less common knowledge about the story:

1) Rhaegar "kidnapped" Lyanna and "raped" her. (as Robert describes it inin AGOT Eddard I)

2) After the sack of King's Landing and the relief of Storm's End, Ned Stark rode with a small band of companions to find her. (Certainly anyone who was with Ned at Storm's End must have known that he rode south with a few companions, right?)

3) They found her in Dorne, where they fought three King's Guards who were protecting her. Only Ned Stark and Howland Reed survived the fight. Lyanna died shortly thereafter, of unclear causes. Ned brought her body back to Winterfell. (Catelyn knows Ned killed Arthur Dayne, at any rate in AGOT Catelyn II; Robert knows Ned was with Lyanna when she died in AGOT Eddard I)

4) Around the same time, Ned Stark also brings back a Stark-looking bastard son from Dorne. (Wylla and Ashara Dayne, the two suspected mothers, are both apparently Dornish; Edric Dayne believes Jon Snow was born in Dorne in ASOS Arya VII)

So, just after witnessing the mysterious and unexplained death of his raped sister, Ned Stark suddenly has a bastard son, whom he then takes back to Winterfell and raises with his trueborn children.

I mean, I don't think anyone would necessarily *know for sure* that Jon was Rhaegar and Lyanna's son from this. But isn't it an obvious thing to suspect? What did people think Lyanna died of? Surely "Lyanna might be pregnant with Rhaegar's son" would be a thing many people would have considered from the time of the kidnapping until the time of Lyanna's death, right?

Like I can understand how, if you're coming at it from the Jon side, people might not think about it. But surely people would be coming at it from the Lyanna side? And from that side, well, the sudden appearance of a bastard son of Ned Stark *in Dorne* ought to be incredibly suspicious.

Am I missing something here?

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9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

So here's my question, and forgive me if this has been discussed to death:

Why doesn't every informed character in Westeros suspect the truth about Jon's parentage? Because I think we overestimate how good a job Ned has done hiding the truth here. Here's what's more or less common knowledge about the story:

1) Rhaegar "kidnapped" Lyanna and "raped" her. (as Robert describes it inin AGOT Eddard I)

Or something like that. Robert knows that is not the truth even if he won't consciously admit it. You don;t talk about a rapist being together with his victim in death.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

2) After the sack of King's Landing and the relief of Storm's End, Ned Stark rode with a small band of companions to find her. (Certainly anyone who was with Ned at Storm's End must have known that he rode south with a few companions, right?)

It is likely only Known that Ned rode off. Not 'to find her'. In fact, what most people 'know' about that is that he found and killed Arthur Dayne and returned Dawn to Starfall where he apparently claimed his bastard from Ashara Dayne.
Lyanna isn't in the picture. She was last heard of over a year before and hasn't figured or surfaced since before the war even started (note that contrary to Robert's bullshit, Lyanna's kidnapping was not the cause of the war. Aerys' demand for Ned and Robert's heads, after the judicial murders of Rickard and Brandon Stark is what set off the war. Lyanna never even came up as far as we know.)

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

3) They found her in Dorne,

Who knows that?

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

where they fought three King's Guards who were protecting her. Only Ned Stark and Howland Reed survived the fight.

Who knows that? 
It is known, or assumed, that Ned fought Arthur Dayne, because he returned Dawn to Starfall. But only Howland Reed knows the truth, and you can bet your bottom dollar he's not told anything. The rest is conjecture - and I've not heard even conjecture from anyone else about Ned fighting Whent or Hightower.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

Lyanna died shortly thereafter, of unclear causes.

Lyanna isn't part of that story, so far as anyone knows.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

Ned brought her body back to Winterfell. (Catelyn knows Ned killed Arthur Dayne, at any rate in AGOT Catelyn II; Robert knows Ned was with Lyanna when she died in AGOT Eddard I)

Sure, but thats separate, and likely only Robert knows it. He's not terribly smart, and entirely too trusting on Ned, who deceives him in this area, mostly by telling selected truths.
I expect Ned told him Lyanna died 'of a fever' or something like that. The truth, but a deceiving truth. It was likely puerperal fever - the major cause of death during childbirth in our world until only a hundred years or so ago.

I doubt anyone else even knows Ned found Lyanna. I think thats a private conversation between Ned and Robert (though little birds may well have overheard).

Similarly, I believe that when Ned reunited with Robert after Lyanna's death, Robert had already had a report of Ned arriving at Starfall with Jon and Wylla. Like we saw in their 'current' conversation, I expect Robert concluded that Wylla was the mother, and pushed Ned about her, Ned neither confirmed nor denied her being the mother, but conceded her name to Robert, leaving Robert self-convinced (based on what he knew) that Wylla was indeed Jon's mother. 

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

4) Around the same time, Ned Stark also brings back a Stark-looking bastard son from Dorne. (Wylla and Ashara Dayne, the two suspected mothers, are both apparently Dornish; Edric Dayne believes Jon Snow was born in Dorne in ASOS Arya VII)

It appears to be widely suspected that Ashara is the mother. But not in Starfall, and not by Robert. I think Ned rode in to Starfall with Wylla and Jon (he would have needed a wetnurse to get from ToJ to Starfall, and Starfall people would likely have prepared a wetnurse for the babe anyway in case Lyanna did not survive). Thats why Starfall people know Ashara was not the mother and believe Wylla is. And Robert no doubt had a report of that event, as king, and pushed Ned when they met about it. Ned no doubt followed his modus operandi of say as little as possible and try to change the subject without lying. Robert asked the wetnurse's name, and Ned gave it too him because there is no reason not to and it satisfies Robert who believes he understands how things went.

Worth noting here that neither Ned nor Wylla are ever noted to actually claim that Jon is Wylla's child. 
Ned merely told Robert her name. Robert stated she was Ned's bastard's mother, but his actual question to Ned when you break it down was "what was the name of that girl I'm thinking of?" 
And Edric Dayne tells us what he and his sister believe, not that Wylla has claimed it.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

So, just after witnessing the mysterious and unexplained death of his raped sister, Ned Stark suddenly has a bastard son, whom he then takes back to Winterfell and raises with his trueborn children.

That would be the sister who went missing over a year before the child turned up, yes. 
More importantly, the bastard has a mother. Wylla, or so thinks Robert. And its a reasonable story that fits the known facts, fits the character of Ned that Robert knows, yet allows Robert a little satisfaction that never-the-boy-he-was, oh-so-honourable Ned, slipped up a bit, once at least. But honourably took care of it (of course he did, he's Ned!)
To others, who know less, Ashara become an obvious mother. She's young, beautiful, disgraced from court from a scandal in the past, may well have been linked with Stark in that scandal, and appears to commit suicide when Ned takes his bastard away from Starfall.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

I mean, I don't think anyone would necessarily *know for sure* that Jon was Rhaegar and Lyanna's son from this. But isn't it an obvious thing to suspect? What did people think Lyanna died of?

Most people don't think of her at all.
Robert likely thinks, accurately but incompletely, she died of a fever.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

Surely "Lyanna might be pregnant with Rhaegar's son" would be a thing many people would have considered from the time of the kidnapping until the time of Lyanna's death, right?

Not when Lyanna has been out of the picture for so long and there are obvious and interesting alternatives.

9 hours ago, jlk7e said:

Like I can understand how, if you're coming at it from the Jon side, people might not think about it. But surely people would be coming at it from the Lyanna side? And from that side, well, the sudden appearance of a bastard son of Ned Stark *in Dorne* ought to be incredibly suspicious.

Am I missing something here?

I think so. I don't think there is a "Lyanna side". Robert apart, who is a bit dim and has other satisfactory answers, Lyanna is little more than a footnote in history, a character who disappeared well over a year before Ned reappears with Jon, and who's fleeting notoriety was quickly overtaken by the Brandon/Aerys/Rickard/WAR! story.

The Ashara and Wylla stories are more than enough to satisfy virtually anyone.
 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, jlk7e said:

Why doesn't every informed character in Westeros suspect the truth about Jon's parentage? Because I think we overestimate how good a job Ned has done hiding the truth here. Here's what's more or less common knowledge about the story:

I think it's trip to Starfall that muddied the waters for anyone may have suspected something. Catelyn and Cersei both heard the rumors about Ashara being the mother, so who knows how widely spread this rumor is and how many people believe it. 

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose

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Posted (edited)

I think you're assuming way less knowledge than is actually out there. If Robert knows that Ned found Lyanna somewhere south of Storm's End, then certainly other people know (Varys, e.g.).  Certainly that Ned *found* her has to be known, because he took her body back to Winterfell with him, a statue was carved of her for the crypts, etc. That's a multi-person operation.

I think you're also assuming an alarming lack of curiosity from everyone. Everyone should have been thinking that a Rhaegar/Lyanna bastard was a possibility as soon as she disappeared. When Ned Stark appears with a Stark bastard and Lyanna's body *at the same time*, any intelligent person should have been suspicious.

And while you're right that nobody has specifically mentioned Hightower and Whent, well, what the fuck do people think happened to them? Everybody seems aware that they are dead (Jaime mentions them as being dead in ASOS Jaime VIII), and did not flee to Essos like Jon Connington or Willem Darry. Nobody says "Oswell Whent and Gerold Hightower disappeared, but I never heard tell of them arriving in the Free Cities." It just seems to be generally assumed that they are dead.

And what about the families of Ned's dead companions? What does Lady Dustin think happened to her husband? The Dustin men returning would have known he'd gone off with Ned after Storm's End. There must be some story about what happened. Presumably that story would have to involve finding Lyanna, because *everybody knows that Ned found Lyanna*. The idea that everyone would just forget about the girl whose abduction caused the war (something that a lot of our POVs think about) is implausible.

I'm not saying anyone should have *known* that Jon was Lyanna's child by Rhaegar. I'm saying that, given the number of different theories for Jon's origin that we've heard, it's bizarre that nobody seems to have even suspected or guessed at the truth, which is a lot less implausible than, say, Lord Borrell's story.

Especially because people like Varys and Pycelle and Jon Arryn and Tywin Lannister should have been on the lookout for a Rhaegar/Lyanna bastard.

Edited by jlk7e

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

I think you're assuming way less knowledge than is actually out there.

Well, I'm going by what the text tell us. Its you thats assuming more and complaining that it doesn't add up...

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If Robert knows that Ned found Lyanna somewhere south of Storm's End, then certainly other people know (Varys, e.g.). 

Why?

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Certainly that Ned *found* her has to be known, because he took her body back to Winterfell with him, a statue was carved of her for the crypts, etc. That's a multi-person operation.

So? Its still a private matter that Ned almost certainly declined to share details with anyone else with (beyond the minimum to his King Robert, when Robert asked), and almost entirely within Winterfell.

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I think you're also assuming an alarming lack of curiosity from everyone. Everyone should have been thinking that a Rhaegar/Lyanna bastard was a possibility as soon as she disappeared. When Ned Stark appears with a Stark bastard and Lyanna's body *at the same time*, any intelligent person should have been suspicious.

Curiosity dulls when answers are found.
I don;t think most people know Lyanna's body was found - or care. Or even think about Lyanna. 

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And while you're right that nobody has specifically mentioned Hightower and Whent, well, what the fuck do people think happened to them?

Lost in the war? Died with Arthur? Died on some other mission for Aerys or Rhaegar?
Heck, all of those are actually a sort of version of the truth anyway. 

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Everybody seems aware that they are dead (Jaime mentions them as being dead in ASOS Jaime VIII), and did not flee to Essos like Jon Connington or Willem Darry.

That may be because of the esteem and honour they are held in. Its inconceivable for them not to be dead.
It may be that they are known to have fought Ned.
It may be that they are assumed to have been with Arthur Dayne.

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Nobody says "Oswell Whent and Gerold Hightower disappeared, but I never heard tell of them arriving in the Free Cities." It just seems to be generally assumed that they are dead.

Indeed.
Thats pretty much my point. These things are generally assumed. They aren't actually interesting to most people, so its not an issue to investigate or think about.

We, think its mysterious and interesting. In world characters don;t seem to (at least the ones we've met, who matter so far). I think you vastly overestimate how interesting it is to most people.
At the same time there may be a Hightower scion (a family notable absent from the 'live' pages as yet) with a massive interest in the fate of Ser Gerold who has been quietly digging an investigating for years. We don;t know.

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And what about the families of Ned's dead companions? What does Lady Dustin think happened to her husband?

He died in the south with Ned. 
These things happen in war. They even happen outside of war, especially at the end of war. Oddly enough, hey are quite common when the greatest warrior in living memory is taken on and vanquished.

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The Dustin men returning would have known he'd gone off with Ned after Storm's End. There must be some story about what happened.

No, there must'nt.

There might be, something like Ned's men gossiping that Ned vanquished Arthur Dayne in single combat - not that any of them were there or know the truth!
BUt we haven't been hanging around Dustin men enough to hear such a story.

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Presumably that story would have to involve finding Lyanna, because *everybody knows that Ned found Lyanna*.

No, they don't.

Lyanna's just not relevant to most people. Period. 

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The idea that everyone would just forget about the girl whose abduction caused the war (something that a lot of our POVs think about) is implausible.

She didn't cause the war. In fact she's not even mentioned that we hear of in the lead up to the war.
I refer you to the actual events we are given by eye-witnesses (Jaime mostly, who has no reason to lie in this area).
Brandon started a shitstorm by riding up to the Red Keep with a bunch of noble friend and threatening the life of the crown prince (who wasn't even there). (we believe we know why he did that - Lyanna's abduction, but Jaime's account gives no reason or reference to Lyanna). Aerys doubled down and eventually upped the ante so high that war was the only possible response - still without reference to Lyanna.

They only POVs the think of Lyanna in relation to the war are Robert, who has a fantasy-illusion about that time that is necessary for his self-image not to collapse, and Bran, who is just parroting back the history he has been taught about his own family - fake-insider knowledge so to speak.

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I'm not saying anyone should have *known* that Jon was Lyanna's child by Rhaegar. I'm saying that, given the number of different theories for Jon's origin that we've heard, it's bizarre that nobody seems to have even suspected or guessed at the truth, which is a lot less implausible than, say, Lord Borrell's story.

Especially because people like Varys and Pycelle and Jon Arryn and Tywin Lannister should have been on the lookout for a Rhaegar/Lyanna bastard.

And I'm pointing out to you that the reason this doesn't make sense is you assume a bunch of things that are not actually in evidence.
If you stick with what we are told, without the extras you assume, then the narrative makes sense.

People have believable (and salacious) answers. So they don't look deeper into what are actually relatively obscure and private events.

Robert could probably put it together, but he's dim and basically refuses to think in any uncomfortable direction.
Varys might have the clues to put it together. But there is no indication he has. And if he did, what value pursuing it given Robert has another belief (probably originally formed by a Varys report on Ned's arrival at Starfall). Varys is also 'distracted' in this area by his own Targaryen-heir plotting. He has no reason to think about a potential extra heir.

I don;t think anyone else has enough pieces to be even potentially distracted any from the Ashara/Wylla conclusions.

Edited by corbon

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, corbon said:

Well, I'm going by what the text tell us. Its you thats assuming more and complaining that it doesn't add up...

I mean, you are going by what the text tells us. But we also need to make inferences about what people would reasonably do.

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Why?

So? Its still a private matter that Ned almost certainly declined to share details with anyone else with (beyond the minimum to his King Robert, when Robert asked), and almost entirely within Winterfell.

But it's not a private matter, precisely because of the possibility that Lyanna was carrying Rhaegar's child. Which you're just assuming nobody would have thought about.

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Curiosity dulls when answers are found.
I don;t think most people know Lyanna's body was found - or care. Or even think about Lyanna. 

Again: anyone who bothered to think about anything would have been concerned at the possibility that Lyanna was carrying Rhaegar's child. The idea that everyone would be like "Yup, she's dead now, and suddenly Ned Stark has a bastard son. No questions to be asked there!" is implausible. Especially people like Varys, whose whole thing is that he knows everything. (Of course, perhaps Varys does know)

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Lost in the war? Died with Arthur? Died on some other mission for Aerys or Rhaegar?
Heck, all of those are actually a sort of version of the truth anyway.

That may be because of the esteem and honour they are held in.
It may be that they are known to have fought Ned.
It may be that they are assumed to have been with Arthur Dayne.

Indeed, but I think it must be *known* they were with Dayne. Otherwise there would be a mystery about their fates. Similarly - what on earth were Ned and Arthur Dayne fighting over? If nobody connects Dayne (and Hightower and Whent's) deaths with Lyanna, what do people think happened? You're just assuming people would be given a vague cover story and not ask any more questions.

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Indeed.
Thats pretty much my point. These things are generally assumed. They aren't actually interesting to most people, so its not an issue to investigate or think about.

Most people perhaps. But certainly some people would be very interested. I can see how Robert is not smart enough to connect the pieces. Cersei's probably kept out of the loop so she only hears things second hand. But surely people like Varys, Pycelle, Tywin, and Jon Arryn would be thinking about questions like "What happened to three knights of the Kingsguard?" and "Did Lyanna stark bear Rhaegar's bastard?"

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Lyanna's just not relevant to most people. Period. 

She didn't cause the war. In fact she's not even mentioned that we hear of in the lead up to the war.
I refer you to the actual events we are given by eye-witnesses (Jaime mostly, who has no reason to lie in this area).
Brandon started a shitstorm by riding up to the Red Keep with a bunch of noble friend and threatening the life of the crown prince (who wasn't even there). (we believe we know why he did that - Lyanna's abduction, but Jaime's account gives no reason or reference to Lyanna). Aerys doubled down and eventually upped the ante so high that war was the only possible response - still without reference to Lyanna.

It's not about Lyanna. It's about a possible son of the Crown Prince. Which would be of interest to literally anybody with a stake in either the Baratheon regime or restoring the Targaryens.

Also, you're just wrong to say that "she's not even mentioned" as a cause of the war. Plenty of people think about Lyanna and say the war was fought over her, or instigated by her abduction. Here's AGOT Bran VII:

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"Robert was betrothed to marry her, but Prince Rhaegar carried her off and raped her," Bran explained. "Robert fought a war to win her back. He killed Rhaegar on the Trident with his hammer, but Lyanna died and he never got her back at all."

Here's Catelyn associating Brandon's trip to King's Landing with Lyanna's abduction (ACOK Catelyn VII):

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"He was on his way to Riverrun when . . ." Strange, how telling it still made her throat grow tight, after all these years. ". . . when he heard about Lyanna, and went to King's Landing instead. It was a rash thing to do." She remembered how her own father had raged when the news had been brought to Riverrun. The gallant fool, was what he called Brandon.

Theon is familiar enough with the story to recognize Lyanna in a dream (ACOK Theon VI):

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The slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore could only be Lyanna.

Dany knows the story, presumably from Viserys (ASOS Daenerys IV), and views Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna as the cause of the war:

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

"It is not for such as me to say what might have been in your brother's heart, Your Grace. The Princess Elia was a good and gracious lady, though her health was ever delicate."
 
Dany pulled the lion pelt tighter about her shoulders. "Viserys said once that it was my fault, for being born too late." She had denied it hotly, she remembered, going so far as to tell Viserys that it was his fault for not being born a girl. He beat her cruelly for that insolence. "If I had been born more timely, he said, Rhaegar would have married me instead of Elia, and it would all have come out different. If Rhaegar had been happy in his wife, he would not have needed the Stark girl."

Barristan certainly sees Lyanna's abduction as the cause of the war (ADWD The Kingbreaker):

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Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna, and thousands died for it.

So does Kevan Lannister (ADWD Epilogue):

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If Aerys had agreed to marry her to Rhaegar, how many deaths might have been avoided? Cersei could have given the prince the sons he wanted, lions with purple eyes and silver manes … and with such a wife, Rhaegar might never have looked twice at Lyanna Stark.

ETA - Oh, and Maester Yandel too:

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Not ten leagues from Harrenhal, Rhaegar fell upon Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and carried her off, lighting a fire that would consume his house and kin and all those he loved—and half the realm besides....

What followed Prince Rhaegar's infamous abduction of Lyanna Stark was the ruin of House Targaryen.

 

Edited by jlk7e

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3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

I mean, you are going by what the text tells us. But we also need to make inferences about what people would reasonably do.

My whole point is that if things aren't adding up, its likely that your inferences are the problem. Re-examining them may help.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

But it's not a private matter, precisely because of the possibility that Lyanna was carrying Rhaegar's child. Which you're just assuming nobody would have thought about.

Literally no one has appeared to thin about t.

The relevant point you seem to be missing here is that Lyanna disappeared well over a year before Jon appeared as an infant. So she's not logically in the picture for most people anyway.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

Again: anyone who bothered to think about anything would have been concerned at the possibility that Lyanna was carrying Rhaegar's child.

Nope, She disappeared over a year before, and Rhaegar reappeared without her or any child coming up much more recently. She's dead and gone long ago for most people.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

The idea that everyone would be like "Yup, she's dead now, and suddenly Ned Stark has a bastard son. No questions to be asked there!" is implausible. Especially people like Varys, whose whole thing is that he knows everything. (Of course, perhaps Varys does know)

It not just not implausible, its entirely logical once you break it down. But you prefer your inferences to actually breaking down what we know. Hence it doesn't work - due to your incorrect (IMO, and apparently GRRMs) inferences.

Sorry, I'm not trying to be rude, or personal, its just this point doesn;t seem to be getting through - and its the entire point, really.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

Indeed, but I think it must be *known* they were with Dayne. Otherwise there would be a mystery about their fates.

A mystery for who though? The Hightowers - we haven;t met any of them yet. The Whents? All gone. Robert? Could care less. Littlefinger? well before his time. Tywin? Got much more important things to fuss about than two enemy underlings.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

Similarly - what on earth were Ned and Arthur Dayne fighting over?

Dayne's a kingsguard, Ned's a rebel. Why wouldn't they fight? This is Arthur Dayne the legend remember, a very different sort of Kg than Boros Blount, for example.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

If nobody connects Dayne (and Hightower and Whent's) deaths with Lyanna, what do people think happened? You're just assuming people would be given a vague cover story and not ask any more questions.

No, I'm assuming people understand how things are in war, and its aftermath (much better than we do in fact). They don't need explicit details in detail. In fact the evidence shows most are happy to accept or make up their own details, so long as its a believable narrative for them (ie Ned's men whispering Ned killed Dayne in single combat).

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

Most people perhaps. But certainly some people would be very interested. I can see how Robert is not smart enough to connect the pieces. Cersei's probably kept out of the loop so she only hears things second hand. But surely people like Varys, Pycelle, Tywin, and Jon Arryn would be thinking about questions like "What happened to three knights of the Kingsguard?" and "Did Lyanna stark bear Rhaegar's bastard?"

Varys? maybe, I covered him in the last post. Pycelle? - he's a Lannister toady and always was. He's not the curious type and this subject isn't really relevant to Lannister interests. Tywin? Much more important things to do than worry about a coupe of opposition underlings that are too proud and honourable to just run and hide.
Selmy is the one I'd expect to be most interested. But he's not the smartest or most curious either. Nor is he a talker. He could know, and not bother to tell anyone, just write in in the White Book like the Show did.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

It's not about Lyanna. It's about a possible son of the Crown Prince. Which would be of interest to literally anybody with a stake in either the Baratheon regime or restoring the Targaryens.

But again, you miss the point that Lyanna disappeared long ago, and Rhaegar reappeared, no evidence of Lyanna or child. 
In the mean time there's been a whole war/successful rebellion and overthrow of a 300 year dynasty thats been distracting people. By the time thats done, Lyanna is practically ancient history. Especially in terms of Ned's squalling new bastard from Ashara/Wylla.

3 minutes ago, jlk7e said:

Also, you're just wrong to say that "she's not even mentioned" as a cause of the war. Plenty of people think about Lyanna and say the war was fought over her, or instigated by her abduction. Here's AGOT Bran VII:

Here's Catelyn associating Brandon's trip to King's Landing with Lyanna's abduction (ACOK Catelyn VII):

Theon is familiar enough with the story to recognize Lyanna in a dream (ACOK Theon VI):

Dany knows the story, presumably from Viserys (ASOS Daenerys IV), and views Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna as the cause of the war:

Barristan certainly sees Lyanna's abduction as the cause of the war (ADWD The Kingbreaker):

So does Kevan Lannister (ADWD Epilogue):

 

Fair cop guv.

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I think we're arguing past each other a bit. You are right - nobody in the text explicitly thinks about the possibility of Rhaegar and Lyanna having had a child, or suggests anyone else thinks about it. Absolutely correct.

What I am saying is that that is nuts. From a Doylist perspective, this is just bad world building - Martin is trying to keep his big secret, so he can't have anyone have already thought of it, so they haven't. But I don't think he's built a very good reason, within the story, for this to make sense.

You keep saying "Nobody cares about Lyanna. She's ancient history." But this just isn't true. She's the new king's Great Lost Love, which is repeatedly made clear by Robert himself, by Ned, by Cersei, even by Renly! Her abduction is widely believed to have started the war, as I showed in my last post. It beggars belief that nobody (except maybe Varys) would consider the possibility of a child.

I'm glad we agree that Robert could have put it together, but is probably not smart enough (and too emotionally involved) to do so. I'm also glad we agree that Varys might know - he definitely might, though as you say he's given no indication of it. What I'm saying is that the pieces that Robert has are actually pretty widely available to anyone who wants to think about it AND that there are plenty of people who would have reason to think about it. That they don't is down to authorial fiat that nobody had any curiosity about what happened after the fall of Storm's End.

Also:

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Pycelle? - he's a Lannister toady and always was. He's not the curious type and this subject isn't really relevant to Lannister interests. Tywin? Much more important things to do than worry about a coupe of opposition underlings that are too proud and honourable to just run and hide.

Lyanna's fate is certainly relevant to Pycelle and Tywin's interest in getting Robert married to Cersei.

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1 hour ago, jlk7e said:

Martin is trying to keep his big secret, so he can't have anyone have already thought of it, so they haven't. But I don't think he's built a very good reason, within the story, for this to make sense.

Fundamentally I agree with you that the concept of Jon being Rhaegar's son by Lyanna should've been worked out by various people in Westeros. 

I would also add that while some have argued no one knows Lyanna died at the TOJ, that seems a rather dubious argument to me, because:

Quote

"Ned Stark returned the horse to me on his way back home to Winterfell. He told me that my lord had died an honorable death, that his body had been laid to rest beneath the red mountains of Dorne. He brought his sister's bones back north, though, and there she rests... but I promise you, Lord Eddard's bones will never rest beside hers. I mean to feed them to my dogs."

I find this all but irrefutable evidence Ned told Lady Dustin that Lyanna died at the same place as Lord Dustin -- "beneath the red mountains of Dorne" -- and that he had buried Lord Dustin there, but not Lyanna. 

That's the exact reason Lady Dustin is furious: that double standard in Ned's behavior. So Ned did not keep this to himself.

However:

1. We don't know R+L=J hasn't been conceived by various characters.  We get only a tiny fraction of the available thoughts from a tiny fraction of the people.  Varys is just one of endless possibilities; there may be hundreds of people who thought of it.

2. Ned's honor is so extraordinary, famous, and well established that most characters probably never conceived of him as lying about a thing like that.

3. The premise that GRRM is trying to keep R+L=J "a big secret" from his fans, and that's why he has no characters discuss it, just makes me chuckle.   He always knew it would cross the minds of his readers.

No cliche in fantasy history is better established and more predictable than the downtrodden male teen who turns out to be the heir to the throne of a great kingdom; this is exactly why Parris McBride, in expressing doubt about R+L=J, famously said "George doesn't do obvious."   Obvious is by definition easy to imagine.

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I mean, I think that I, personally, guessed R+L=J well before AGOT Eddard X. I'm not sure when, but probably by Eddard II? Then I spoiled myself on the internet to see if I was right. So I didn't think it was a very difficult secret to guess, personally. But it seemed like Martin didn't expect so many people would figure it out, and you get people saying things like "Well, Martin didn't expect that people would be able to spend years talking about it on the Internet". Obviously it's no longer really a secret now that the show verified it!

Otherwise, yes, I agree with you - both that people know Lyanna died in Dorne at the Tower of Joy, at the same time as Lord Dustin (and probably, as the three Kingsguard), and that we don't know for sure if other people may have figured it out.

But there are definitely characters who likely know the basics but who do not seem to have considered the idea - we are privy to the thoughts of a bunch of characters who know the basic facts - Jon himself, Catelyn, Tyrion, Theon, Jaime, Cersei, Jon Connington, Barristan, perhaps Melisandre and Sam, maybe even the Stark kids. There's other non-POV characters I think we'd have an inkling if they guessed it - Pycelle, Tywin, Robert, Jorah Mormont, Jeor Mormont, Maester Aemon, Maester Luwin.

On the other side, Howland Reed obviously knows, and I'd guess that there's Wylla and some Daynes at Starfall who know (Ned Dayne might, too, but probably not). Jojen and Meera and Benjen may also know. As far as who might have guessed it, I'd not be at all surprised if Varys suspects the truth. Littlefinger, Lady Dustin, Wyman Manderly, Roose Bolton, Jon Arryn, the elder Martells, etc., could all have guessed it without us having any real idea of it.

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To start with, I firmly believe R+L=J so that's what I'm basing this question off of.

I find it hard to believe that no one has guessed Jon's true parentage. Now there may be people who suspect - Varys, Littlefinger, etc. And it seems likely that members of House Dayne are in on the lie (In Deep Geek has made great videos about it). Also I'm sure that there was a maester and other servants in the ToJ. Otherwise the Kingsguards would be doing the cooking and cleaning. 

Even if people believed what Robert said, that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna, then there was a possibility of her becoming pregnant. And what did Ned say she died of? Did no one get a good look at her body? And no one wondered why 3 members of the Kingsguard, including the Lord Commander, was with Lyanna and not on Dragonstone with Rhaella and Viserys, the believed to be Targaryen heir?

And there's the issue of timing. Jon was born at the end of the rebellion, which according to Ned lasted close to a year. If Ned was Jon's father, he would have had to have slept with someone during the campaign, kept in touch with her while the country was in civil war, then picked up the baby while marching back to Winterfell. For as much as Catelyn wonders about who Jon's mother was, she doesn't seem to think about the logistics. 

So that brings us back to the central question - do you think anyone else knows or suspects Jon's true parentage?

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Most likely, Howland Reed knows. Also I think that Howland's wife, Jyana, is actually Ashara Dayne, so she also knows. Wylla, who is originally from Starfall, she also knows, if she was little Jon's wet nurse. She knows, that Ashara isn't Jon's mother, and even if she hasn't met pregnant Lyanna in Dorne, prior Ned gave Jon to her, it's likely, that, based on Jon's age, she figured out, that he was born in Dorne, and thus all those gossips, that Jon's mother is some fisherman's daughter from The Bite, are incorrect. So, it's likely that she knew, who the mother was. In my opinion, when Lyanna was giving birth to Jon, she was assisted by a maester, and that maester was Marwyn. It's likely that Quaithe/Shiera Seastar also knows.

So, at least this five - Howland and Jyana Reed, Wylla, Marwyn, Shiera.

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Nobody is surprised when a lord goes off to war and fathers a bastard. There would be literally no reason to believe that Ned was lying about being Jon's father. They look alike. And anyone who knows Ned wouldn't be surprised to see him do the honourable thing and raise him as one of his own. 

What's more, the lie regarding Rhaegar and his treatment of Lyanna was a convenient one. It kept Jon safe from any suspicion. The only people who would come forward to claim Jon as Rhaegar's child would be people trying to get Jon and/or Ned killed. That would of been the price whilst Robert was King. Hell, even the person who stepped forward with the truth would get themselves killed one way or another. It really is a very inconvenient truth that messes everything up for the victorious side. 

Regarding the timing of his birth/conception. It's important to remember that by the time Ned reaches the TOJ, the war was over. Rhaegar and Aerys were slain. As were baby Aegon and his sister Rhaenys. Viscerys and Dany had fled from Stannis' ships. From that point in time, it would of taken months for Ned to track Lyanna at the TOJ. Not to mention physically getting there without attracting unwanted attention. JS is conceived toward the beginning of the rebellion. So you can say either Ned went off and on day one got a woman pregnant. Or Rhaegar and Lyanna eloped. After almost a year, the war ended. A few months later, Ned reaches the TOJ and discovers Jon. It lines up, for me. 

Only the most desperate and stupid of Lords would of tried to raise Jon as King or even try to convince Robert that Lyanna (willingly or not) had a child by Rhaegar and Ned of all people was raising them. Robert wouldn't of believed that his best friend and his betrothed both conspired against him. That and, it wouldn't benefit any of the major houses what-so-ever. All of them except the Reach and Dorne had rebelled. And Dorne were never going to be sympathetic to Robert and the Lannisters. So that leaves only the Reach (okay and the Ironborn I suppose) as viable candidates for making the claim that Jon was Lyanna's. But the Tyrells and their bannermen do not know. 

As for characters who do know the truth, I think Howland clearly does. And judging by Jojen and Meera's lack of input. I'd say he kept his mouth shut. And the Daynes... They named their child after Ned. So if they do know, they wouldn't reward the man who's their child's namesake by telling a disinterested King 'the truth'. 

Varys may know. But he hasn't made much of an indication that he does. And whoever else it is that knows the truth have remained silent for 15 years. So there's a very good chance that almost nobody in Westeros actually knows anything at all. Which is how Ned wanted it.

 

Overall, it's an incredibly inconvenient truth that's remarkably well hidden. 
 

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The only person who actually gives to shets about Evil named bastard's parentage is Bobby B BARAtheon, who learns about Daenis marrying Dothraki and immediately ends up asking Neddard about parentage of his bastard son. Other than that no one cares about evil named bastard snow. 

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12 hours ago, EvanSol919 said:

Now there may be people who suspect - Varys, Littlefinger, etc.

Littlefinger was basically a kid recuperating in the Fingers when this was happening. He has a number of people working for him now, but there's no reason to believe the few people likely to know are among them. Even Varys I'd be skeptical about. We catch a couple of instances in which he says what he really thinks, and while Targaryen succession is important to both he gives no indication of interest in Jon Snow.

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On 7/10/2019 at 3:28 AM, jlk7e said:

So here's my question, and forgive me if this has been discussed to death:

Why doesn't every informed character in Westeros suspect the truth about Jon's parentage? Because I think we overestimate how good a job Ned has done hiding the truth here. Here's what's more or less common knowledge about the story:

1) Rhaegar "kidnapped" Lyanna and "raped" her. (as Robert describes it inin AGOT Eddard I)

2) After the sack of King's Landing and the relief of Storm's End, Ned Stark rode with a small band of companions to find her. (Certainly anyone who was with Ned at Storm's End must have known that he rode south with a few companions, right?)

3) They found her in Dorne, where they fought three King's Guards who were protecting her. Only Ned Stark and Howland Reed survived the fight. Lyanna died shortly thereafter, of unclear causes. Ned brought her body back to Winterfell. (Catelyn knows Ned killed Arthur Dayne, at any rate in AGOT Catelyn II; Robert knows Ned was with Lyanna when she died in AGOT Eddard I)

4) Around the same time, Ned Stark also brings back a Stark-looking bastard son from Dorne. (Wylla and Ashara Dayne, the two suspected mothers, are both apparently Dornish; Edric Dayne believes Jon Snow was born in Dorne in ASOS Arya VII)

So, just after witnessing the mysterious and unexplained death of his raped sister, Ned Stark suddenly has a bastard son, whom he then takes back to Winterfell and raises with his trueborn children.

I mean, I don't think anyone would necessarily *know for sure* that Jon was Rhaegar and Lyanna's son from this. But isn't it an obvious thing to suspect? What did people think Lyanna died of? Surely "Lyanna might be pregnant with Rhaegar's son" would be a thing many people would have considered from the time of the kidnapping until the time of Lyanna's death, right?

Like I can understand how, if you're coming at it from the Jon side, people might not think about it. But surely people would be coming at it from the Lyanna side? And from that side, well, the sudden appearance of a bastard son of Ned Stark *in Dorne* ought to be incredibly suspicious.

Am I missing something here?

You are absolutely right, but most people on this thread will never admit it. Because R + L = J is there holy grail, the central mystery of the books, and they are so proud about themselves having realized it before it was official that and critical opinions will be shut down.

In fact, the hidden prince is one of the oldest and most clichè tropes in fantasy.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Littlefinger was basically a kid recuperating in the Fingers when this was happening. He has a number of people working for him now, but there's no reason to believe the few people likely to know are among them. Even Varys I'd be skeptical about. We catch a couple of instances in which he says what he really thinks, and while Targaryen succession is important to both he gives no indication of interest in Jon Snow.

There's a theory that Littlefinger was the one who told Brandon Stark that Rhaegar had abducted Lyanna. In Deep Geek made a video about it. As for Varys, I'm sure he knew about the Tower of Joy - the crown prince, the warden of the north's daughter and two members of the kingsguard all ending up in one place - I'm sure he had someone watching. Plus I'm sure that there was a maester and servants there throughout the year of the rebellion. Varys is focused on Aegon's ascension to the throne. Why would he care about a boy who is claimed to be a bastard and currently at the Wall thousands of miles away from King's Landing?

As for the Targaryen succession, there's a theory that Aegon is not a Targaryen but a Blackfyre. Some even go further and believe Varys is a Blackfyre, Alt Shift X made a video about it. If that's true, then Varys really doesn't want a potential Targaryen heir acknowledged. 

 

Edited by EvanSol919

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7 hours ago, EvanSol919 said:

There's a theory that Littlefinger was the one who told Brandon Stark that Rhaegar had abducted Lyanna. In Deep Geek made a video about it. As for Varys, I'm sure he knew about the Tower of Joy - the crown prince, the warden of the north's daughter and two members of the kingsguard all ending up in one place - I'm sure he had someone watching. Plus I'm sure that there was a maester and servants there throughout the year of the rebellion. Varys is focused on Aegon's ascension to the throne. Why would he care about a boy who is claimed to be a bastard and currently at the Wall thousands of miles away from King's Landing?

As for the Targaryen succession, there's a theory that Aegon is not a Targaryen but a Blackfyre. Some even go further and believe Varys is a Blackfyre, Alt Shift X made a video about it. If that's true, then Varys really doesn't want a potential Targaryen heir acknowledged. 

 

The theory about Littlefinger doesn't sound plausible. How did Littlefinger come to know about it before Brandon, and why would Brandon pay attention to what Littlefinger told him?

Varys has spies, but they're concentrated in King's Landing, although he also has Illyrio's network in Pentos. Even then, it appears he didn't know about the wildfire beneath King's Landing. We've gotten no indication that there was a maester at the Tower of Joy either. Maesters are sent by the citadel to castles where noble families reside. The Tower appears to have been something on a smaller scale which was not intended for anyone's permanent habitation.

Varys took care to ferret Gendry out of King's Landing, and he's indisputably a bastard without a real claim to the throne. He's been keeping tabs on Viserys and Daenerys for a while, as they're part of his plot. He claims to have smuggled Aegon out of the city, as he would later do for Gendry. If he knew that Jon was Rhaegar's son, that would definitely seem like a loose thread he wouldn't want to leave to chance.

One problem I have with theories that Varys is a Blackfyre: if the Blackfyres are still around and plotting to take the throne, why would they permit one of their own to be sold into slavery and castrated? They've lost so many male descendants of Daemon that his line died out, you'd think they'd be more careful with him. And if Varys' family did sell him into slavery, why would he grow up to be loyal to them?

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1 hour ago, FictionIsntReal said:

The theory about Littlefinger doesn't sound plausible. How did Littlefinger come to know about it before Brandon, and why would Brandon pay attention to what Littlefinger told him?

Varys has spies, but they're concentrated in King's Landing, although he also has Illyrio's network in Pentos. Even then, it appears he didn't know about the wildfire beneath King's Landing. We've gotten no indication that there was a maester at the Tower of Joy either. Maesters are sent by the citadel to castles where noble families reside. The Tower appears to have been something on a smaller scale which was not intended for anyone's permanent habitation.

Varys took care to ferret Gendry out of King's Landing, and he's indisputably a bastard without a real claim to the throne. He's been keeping tabs on Viserys and Daenerys for a while, as they're part of his plot. He claims to have smuggled Aegon out of the city, as he would later do for Gendry. If he knew that Jon was Rhaegar's son, that would definitely seem like a loose thread he wouldn't want to leave to chance.

One problem I have with theories that Varys is a Blackfyre: if the Blackfyres are still around and plotting to take the throne, why would they permit one of their own to be sold into slavery and castrated? They've lost so many male descendants of Daemon that his line died out, you'd think they'd be more careful with him. And if Varys' family did sell him into slavery, why would he grow up to be loyal to them?

In regards to Littlefinger, the theory goes that he was recovering at the Inn of the Crossroads waiting until he could travel through the Vale. Remember winter had returned by this point. The inn would be the rendezvous point where Lyanna would meet up with Rhaegar. As for Brandon he was known for being reckless. He had to be physically restrained from confronting Rhaegar at Harrenhal. Again In Deep Geek goes more in depth. 

Varys has spies throughout Westeros. For example he knew that Catelyn was coming to King's Landing. 

The Tower of Joy was on the Prince's Pass, the main route into Dorne and during a time of civil war House Fowler, the Wardens of the Prince's Pass, would have been paying attention to who was coming in and out. Also Gerald Hightower and Ned didn't seem to have had trouble finding the tower so there were people in KL who knew. And do you really think that there wasn't a maester attending to a pregnant Lyanna? As for permanent habitation, Lyanna, Arthur Dayne and Oswell Whent were there for about a year. There would have had to be people doing the cooking and cleaning, unless the Kingsguard were doing everything. 

Varys arranged for Gendry to leave KL but Jon was already at the Wall and before that was in Winterfell. There was no need to do anything for him. And to the rest of the world, Jon was Ned Stark's bastard. 

Now for the Blackfyre theory. First the Golden Company is a mercenary company. They don't have the unlimited resources. Second there were potentially several Blackfyres. Daemon Blackfyre had seven sons and at least two daughters, and surely the focus would have been on the male line. It's possible that some of the female line got separated and it was only after Maelys's death (which was in 260 AC so only 38 years before the beginning of GoT) and the end of the male line that the GC tracked down members of the female line. According to Pycelle, Varys was born into slavery not sold into it by his family.

If you want more on Varys and the Blackfyre theory, go watch Alt Shift X 's video.

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Anent "Varys" or rather Rugen, its worth bearing in mind that we have no independent confirmation of his origin [Pycelle doesn't count] or indeed that he really is a eunuch. When he visits Lord Eddard in prison he has stubble on his chin and in the epilogue to ADwD his voice deepens.

A eunuch is despised, especially when accompanied by strong perfume and an effeminate manner and no-one is going to go looking for Rugen under such a disguise

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