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The fisherman's daughter: a proposed explanation


Littlest Finger
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On 10/14/2022 at 11:13 AM, Littlest Finger said:

2. Brandon and Ashara already had an established sexual history, and its made well known that he was sleeping with women wherever and whenever he wanted and drove them crazy.

Brandon and Ashara? Where is it said? These women were not crazy. They wanted to be lady of Winterfell. Their fathers were sending them.

I know many people believe Brandon had sex with Ashara. But I don't think so.

First, I don't see what it would bring to the story. Why GRRM would write it. Brandon and Ashara had their part. But it's done and they are dead. Even if their daughter was still alive, I don't see what it would be for?

I also don't think it matches what the characters were. Both of them.

Brandon was protective of his sister. The pack thing, their bannermen too, such as Howland Reed. So I don't see Brandon stealing the girl his little brother had a crush for. Yes, Brandon was as bad as Robert with women. But still, he was soon to be married. And honor means something to the Starks.

Arthur Dayne was an honorable man too. I would guess the same for Ashara. Brandon was already betrothed and beyond her station. What would she expect of a flirt with him? Marriage? But with Ned... He was not the heir, he had honor to match the Daynes. A good marriage match.

ASOS Arya VIII

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When Ned met this Dornish lady, his brother Brandon was still alive, and it was him betrothed to Lady Catelyn, so there’s no stain on your father’s honor. There’s nought like a tourney to make the blood run hot, so maybe some words were whispered in a tent of a night, who can say? Words or kisses, maybe more, but where’s the harm in that? Spring had come, or so they thought, and neither one of them was pledged.

Brandon makes sense only if the sex happened during Harrendal. But it was too far from the ToJ and Jon's birth. Likely Ashara's daughter was born near the same time as Robb and Jon.

ADWD, Barristan, The Kingbreaker

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But Ashara’s daughter had been stillborn, and his fair lady had thrown herself from a tower soon after, mad with grief for the child she had lost, and perhaps for the man who had dishonored her at Harrenhal as well.

It was after Ned left Starfall. After loosing a brother, a child and a lover.

My guess is Ned and Ashara were engaged in a (secret) promise of marriage. And when Brandon died, Ned had to break this promise. Ashara then pushed her luck and tried to sway Ned. And got pregnant.

Ned made a promised to her. Kind of the same choice Robb had to do. Love or duty. Ned chose duty. But it cost Ashara's life. It explains Ned's marriage difficult beginning. Why Ned was so rigorous with his promises. Added to Rahegar dead children, it also explains why he took so much risk to save Cersei's children.

We have evidences. Why ignore or deny them.

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"Before Robert was king. She met your father and his brothers at Harrenhal, during the year of the false spring".
Oh." Arya did not know what else to say. "Why did she jump in the sea, though?"
"Her heart was broken."
Sansa would have sighed and shed a tear for true love, but Arya just thought it was stupid. She couldn’t say that to Ned, though, not about his own aunt. "Did someone break it?"
He hesitated. "Perhaps it’s not my place ..."
"Tell me."
He looked at her uncomfortably. "My aunt Allyria says Lady Ashara and your father fell in love at Harrenhal-"
"That’s not so. He loved my lady mother."
"I’m sure he did, my lady, but-"

Edited by BalerionTheCat
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On 10/14/2022 at 11:57 AM, Nevets said:

By the way, what is your difficulty with r+l=j?  In other words, what about it do you think is inconsistent with the text and therefore wrong?  I am perfectly happy considering alternative theories, but they have to make sense and not be wildly inconsistent with what we already know.  The theory presented here fails on both counts.  It is wildly convoluted and difficult to follow and is inconsistent with known facts, especially regarding timing and Daenerys's status.

I typed up a complete full explanation earlier in this thread with like about 20 reasons or so why it makes more sense than R+L=J. R+L=J does not produce an explanation as to why Ned’s men gossip that Ashara is Jon’s mother, why Ned says wylla is jons mom, why the Dayne’s are in on the same lie Ned tells about Wylla, why Ashara ended up allegedly dying under mysterious circumstances, why the fisherman’s daughter is named as Jon’s mom, but waaayy above all other reasons is because Ned ONLY thinks about his promise to Lyanna, that he describes as being broken, when Daenerys’s life is being threatened by Robert. Why is his promise broken if Jon is safe at the wall, as far away from Robert’s desire to kill Targaryens as possible? Also Ned specifically says that he had not thought about Rhaegar for YEARS. How is that possible if he sees Rhaegar’s son every single day?

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9 hours ago, BalerionTheCat said:

Brandon and Ashara? Where is it said? These women were not crazy. They wanted to be lady of Winterfell. Their fathers were sending them.

Meera and Jojen tell Bran the entire story of the harrenhall tourny. Ashara danced with Ned, but only after She danced with Brandon, who asked her to dance with Ned because he was too shy to ask himself. Afterwards, Lyanna and Benjen went off to plan their knight of the laughing tree ploy, Ned spent the rest of the night with Howland Reed who stayed in Ned’s tent, and Brandon was unaccounted for. Barristan specifically says he regrets not winning the joust because he would have named Ashara his queen of love and beauty. And wonders if he told her how he felt about her, if she still would have looked to the Stark who dishonored her. Barristan has nothing but praise for Ned and his honor. It’s made obvious to those who read between the lines that Brandon and Ashara were having sex at the harenhall tourny.

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2 hours ago, Littlest Finger said:

I typed up a complete full explanation earlier in this thread with like about 20 reasons or so why it makes more sense than R+L=J. R+L=J does not produce an explanation as to why Ned’s men gossip that Ashara is Jon’s mother, why Ned says wylla is jons mom, why the Dayne’s are in on the same lie Ned tells about Wylla, why Ashara ended up allegedly dying under mysterious circumstances, why the fisherman’s daughter is named as Jon’s mom, but waaayy above all other reasons is because Ned ONLY thinks about his promise to Lyanna, that he describes as being broken, when Daenerys’s life is being threatened by Robert. Why is his promise broken if Jon is safe at the wall, as far away from Robert’s desire to kill Targaryens as possible? Also Ned specifically says that he had not thought about Rhaegar for YEARS. How is that possible if he sees Rhaegar’s son every single day?

Ned thinks about his promises to Lyanna repeatedly, none connected to a threat to Daenerys.  He thinks of the price he paid to keep his promises to her when he is speaking with Barra's mother, who he made promises to.  We know he paid a price to keep Jon close and raise him at Winterfell.  His only thought about broken promises is when he is in the black cells and expecting to die soon.  That could mean lots of things;  Lyanna isn't mentioned there.

Daenerys is threatened twice; once when she gets married, and again when she gets pregnant.  The first occasion, Ned remembers Lyanna saying "promise me, Ned", but it's clear the memory was triggered by Robert mentioning Lyanna and her treatment by Rhaegar.  The second occasion contains nothing about promises or Lyanna.

Ned thinks about Rhaegar frequently.  There are multiple mentions of him in Ned's early chapters.  He later thinks that he hadn't remembered Rhaegar in years; probably what he was like or looked like, which is entirely possible.

I'll get around to the rest later.  

Can you explain how and why Dany was switched?  We have had 31 chapters of a character called Daenerys, so I doubt there is another waiting in the wings to take over the name.  And if the real Dany died, there is no point to a switch.  She's not important; she's the younger child and a girl.  If she dies, you cry and move on.  She's surplus; actually she's a burden and a drain on resources.

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6 hours ago, Littlest Finger said:

Ashara danced with Ned, but only after She danced with Brandon, who asked her to dance with Ned because he was too shy to ask himself.

Brandon didn't dance with Ashara. Meera would not have missed it.

ASOF Bran II

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

 

6 hours ago, Littlest Finger said:

Ned spent the rest of the night with Howland Reed who stayed in Ned’s tent, and Brandon was unaccounted for.

If nothing is said of know Brandon spent his night, it doesn't mean he spent it with Ashara. Or another girl. Most likely he slept it in his own tent.

6 hours ago, Littlest Finger said:

Barristan has nothing but praise for Ned and his honor.

For all what Ned did. But Harrenhall seems more regret, sorrow, than accusation.

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If I had unhorsed Rhaegar and crowned Ashara queen of love and beauty, might she have looked to me instead of Stark?

She definitely had put expectations on a Stark. And Barristan, as fool as he his, knows she can"t expect anything of Brandon who was already betrothed.

6 hours ago, Littlest Finger said:

It’s made obvious to those who read between the lines that Brandon and Ashara were having sex at the harenhall tourny.

No, it isn't. Read the lines before reading between.

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4 hours ago, BalerionTheCat said:

Brandon didn't dance with Ashara. Meera would not have missed it.

Meera wasn't born yet. She's getting her account second hand. She may not be aware of the full picture. Alternatively she may have left things out of her tale that she didn't think were important.

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1 hour ago, Lady_Qohor said:

Meera wasn't born yet. She's getting her account second hand. She may not be aware of the full picture. Alternatively she may have left things out of her tale that she didn't think were important.

She is repeating what her father told her. She names 3 men she doesn't know. And one wolf, not two. It is pushing to deliberate falsification to construe differently.

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35 minutes ago, Lady_Qohor said:

Meera wasn't born yet. She's getting her account second hand. She may not be aware of the full picture. Alternatively she may have left things out of her tale that she didn't think were important.

What's the point in giving us the tale if it isn't accurate though?

I think things like Meera's story, Ned's dreams etc. are all there like puzzle pieces. Small parts that can help people figure out the big mystery. I don't think there would be a point in including them if they were all wrong. We have already been given likely red herrings such as Wylla and possibly Ashara. Having every single account be wrong or missing parts seems pointless to me. If they are all inaccurate then they might as well not be there. Nothing is added.

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31 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

What's the point in giving us the tale if it isn't accurate though?

I think things like Meera's story, Ned's dreams etc. are all there like puzzle pieces. Small parts that can help people figure out the big mystery. I don't think there would be a point in including them if they were all wrong. We have already been given likely red herrings such as Wylla and possibly Ashara. Having every single account be wrong or missing parts seems pointless to me. If they are all inaccurate then they might as well not be there. Nothing is added.

I tend to think its a bit more complicated than that and that these stories have elements of both truth and misdirection, like stories that are passed on in real life.

To be clear, I'm not saying that Meera is lying or mistaken. She probably is giving an fully accurate picture of what happened at Harrenhall but I just wanted to point out that we can't know that for certain.

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1 hour ago, Craving Peaches said:

Having every single account be wrong or missing parts seems pointless to me. If they are all inaccurate then they might as well not be there.

Ignoring the facts that don't fit your pet theories, and extrapolating from the absence of evidence, is common. If it globally makes sense in the big picture, why not. I like ground breaking ideas. But it generally ends into inconsistencies.

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1 hour ago, Lady_Qohor said:

To be clear, I'm not saying that Meera is lying or mistaken. She probably is giving an fully accurate picture of what happened at Harrenhall but I just wanted to point out that we can't know that for certain.

OK. But so far as something is not proved inconsistent with something else, we can't on a principle basis, extrapolate it is wrong.

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3 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

I tend to think its a bit more complicated than that and that these stories have elements of both truth and misdirection, like stories that are passed on in real life.

To be clear, I'm not saying that Meera is lying or mistaken. She probably is giving an fully accurate picture of what happened at Harrenhall but I just wanted to point out that we can't know that for certain.

I just feel like there are some things that are supposed to be taken at face value. Usually when something is suspect it is made reasonably clear that it is supposed to be seen as suspect, because it either conflicts with what we already know to be true, e.g. the Freys claims about what happened at the Red Wedding, or because the person making the claim is established to not be trustworthy or suspicious etc. With Meera, she has no reason to lie, nor does her father, whom the information is likely coming from. There's also no reason why her father would lie to her about what happened. Now Meera could be forgetting or misremembering details but I find that unlikely because she has been established to be an observant character.

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On 10/14/2022 at 2:13 AM, Littlest Finger said:

1. Aegon was born before the war started. Aerys sent his wife and Viserys to dragonstone when the war started, and made sure that Elia and her children were kept in kings landing as effective hostages to ensure Dorne would fight for the crown. So yes, Elia was in kings landing. Which would mean Ashara would be too.

Aerys sent them to Dragonstone shortly before the end of the war, not the beginning. Also the war does not start until after Brandon dies. Elia was not in KL at the time

 

On 10/14/2022 at 2:13 AM, Littlest Finger said:

2. Brandon and Ashara already had an established sexual history, and its made well known that he was sleeping with women wherever and whenever he wanted and drove them crazy. Barbrey Dustin still isn't over him almost 20 years later. so yes it’s plausible they met up when he arrived but more likely that she snuck in the cells to see him after he got arrested. 

With all due respect this is straight up porn level writing with zero basis in the text.

On 10/14/2022 at 2:13 AM, Littlest Finger said:

3. The entire point of Ned’s promise to protect Lyanna’s child requires him to not expose the truth of the kids origin to anyone so he can’t say this kid is Ashara’s since Ashara was going to be passing off lyanna’s child as her own. Having Ned say that he dishonored his wife gives him the pretext to dismiss any questions about it.

Why couldn’t Ashara say she had twins? And if we do assume they can’t claim Ashara as the mother, why doesn’t Ned just say that Jon is Brandon’s son and leave the mother a mystery as he did anyways? At the very least, why doesn’t Ned claim he fathered Jon before he married Cat to avoid falsely and needlessly confessing to adultery and hurting Catelyn? He doesn’t have to answer questions about it to anyone except Robert either way, that’s not a good justification.

Edited by ATaleofSalt&Onions
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On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

So the whole reason I thought there was more to the whole “who are Jon’s parents” thing in the first place was because there was a bunch of all these conflicting bits of clues and info, and I felt like they must all have some place in the story, a reason for all their existences. Like there has to be a reason some people say Wylla is Jon’s mom, and Ashara is Jon’s mom, and the fisherman’s daughter is Jon’s mom.
 

There is a reason, Martin wanted to make things fuzzy, he didn’t want to give away the info too soon or for it to be too easily reached. 

On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

<snip>
So I just spent a bunch of time pondering and trying to figure out why he thinks that IS Jon Snow. He doesn’t suggest it to Davos, he is telling him with a level of certainty. How does that make sense with the limited info we have?
 

More to the point, does it make sense w/ the amount of info his father had? 

 

On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

What could have actually happened in the past that would fit with the rest of theory surrounding Jon Snow? So this theory is more built on my imagination based on what I think fits the best in the story, and less on clues and evidence since there practically are none.

I don’t know, but… as I said above, Martin clearly wanted not to give away the answer, so, being the consummate gardener,  he plants lots of red herrings - not just irt Jon’s parents but loads more obviously. 
In regards to the fisherman’s daughter specifically, my take has always been that the Borrells just assumed Ned was the father because he went on a trip with the fisherman and his daughter and the likely unmarried daughter turned up pregnant. And if she was unmarried, she may have hinted at that herself, and with her father dead, there was no one to contradict her. 
I also think the lack of clues or evidence is very deliberate, again, to cast doubt and muddy the waters. 

On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

So Ned agreed to pay the fisherman with a daughter to smuggle him across in secret… but the fisherman dies on the way…. What could have possibly happened? It’s implied that he might have fallen overboard in the storm and drowned, but shouldn’t a man who’s life and profession is on the sea know how to navigate his ship in a storm or at the very least, know how to swim?…

This doesn’t make much sense to me… I mean, I have no difficulty believing that a skilled fisherman who is a proficient swimmer could drown after falling overboard in a storm at sea. In fact, I would think it is not a rare occurrence, both on Planetos and irl.  :dunno:

On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

what if it wasn’t an accidental drowning? What if he was killed? Who would kill him and why? Well it’s only Ned and the daughter on the boat, why would either want to kill him? Ned’s a great, honorable guy, and this fisherman is helping him, and what daughter would want to kill her father?
 

Cersei? Dany? Any of Walder Frey’s daughters? Any of Craster’s daughters? :D
 

On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

Unless this father was just horribly evil. Maybe this father was abusive to his daughter, maybe he beat her? …. Maybe he was raping her??? If this daughter was effectively her abusive father’s prisoner, then maybe she felt that this honorable, rich, lord of Winterfell would be able to rescue her. Maybe this was her only chance to be rescued from her father. (A small parallel to Theon’s salt wife begging him to take her with him so her sea captain father couldn’t chastise her?) Maybe she tried to tell Ned that her father was raping her, and that she just recently realized she was pregnant and was sure that once her father found out about it, he would either kill her or the baby or both, and that Ned was her only hope? Why does that sound familiar??? …. Oh yeah, because that’s the exact same thing that happens to Jon north of the wall when they’re at Craster’s keep and Gilly asks Jon to be rescued for her baby's sake. Her baby that’s being fathered by her own father that’s raping her. A baby that she fears her father will kill. A father that Jon despises, but has to swallow his pride and bite his tongue because he still requires the help of this monster to survive and continue north to fulfill his duty. Ned thinks when he, Cat and Littlefinger are in the brothel discussing bran’s attempted murder that “It would not be the first time that Ned had been forced to make common ground with a man he despised.” Jaime Lannister might fit that bill when they fought together in Balon’s rebellion… but maybe he was referring to this fisherman. If Jon swapping Mance and Gilly’s babies in order to protect one from a Baratheon king that wants to kill it, is a direct parallel to what Ned did years ago, then it makes sense thematically that this could be yet another direct parallel between Ned and Jon that ties to the mystery of Jon’s own origin. (For those of you confused about the Ned baby swap I’m talking about and you still believe R+L=J, then look into the R+L=D, B+A=J theory, or watch the tower of joy youtube videos by preston jacobs. It makes way more sense.)

I feel this explanation is a bit contrived. It’s like a whole different story - that Martin would have to tell to make the reveal - and unnecessary if you believe Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, which I do. 

1st bold: I would imagine that is something that happens quite often in this world.
There are loads of people I think of irt men Ned had to make common cause with, like Tywin, Jaime, Roose, etc.

 

2nd bold: why should I? It doesn’t make any sense. 
 

3rd bold: oh we’re in PJ’s territory now! Thanks, but no thanks! :P

On 10/4/2022 at 6:26 PM, Littlest Finger said:

So this kid Edric Dayne tells Arya that his wetnurse (a woman who breastfed him as a baby) was Jon’s mother, named Wylla. If Ned is leaving Starfall with Jon as a baby, a baby who’s identity needs to be kept secret, it would make the most sense that he would travel home by boat. Traveling by foot would lead to running into too many people on the way who would ask questions. If he’s traveling by boat, then he would need to be able to feed Jon on the journey, he would need a wetnurse to join him, and she would need to be from Starfall if that’s where Ned’s departing from. She was most likely this same Wylla. But if Wylla ends up being wetnurse to this Edric kid years later, back in Starfall, then that means she made the trip back. So here’s what I think happened…

 

While being smuggled across the bite, Ned finds out about this fisherman raping his daughter, and her pregnancy, but can't do anything about it because he needs this mans help to survive this storm and continue to his duty north. He needs to make common ground with this man he despises, just like Jon has to do with Craster. Along the way, the father finds out about the pregnancy, threatens to kill the baby, and beats his daughter, forcing Ned to intervene. While Ned and the fisherman struggle, the daughter attacks her father and kills him. They dump his body overboard, and wash up on the island on accident since they no longer have the captain to navigate them properly. Ned, a man of honor, pays the daughter the bag of silver he owed the fisherman for getting him across, and says nothing of what happened to her father. After the war, and the events at the tower of Joy, Ned takes baby Jon from Starfall by boat with Wylla the wetnurse, and hopes to land in or near White Harbor to make the rest of the journey home north on foot, but before making it to the mainland … stops just before at the Sisters, and returns under the false pretense of thanking the lord who let him pass a year earlier… but really, to seek out the fisherman's daughter he had left there, who by now had given birth to a newborn, and was capable of breast feeding a baby. A baby born to a woman that everyone can see doesn’t have the child’s father around anywhere. A woman who wants to keep the identity of the father of her child a secret. A secret she might NEED to be kept quiet because her life depends on it if this woman herself actually had a hand in killing her newborn’s true father, and said that he drowned to cover it up. A woman who owes Ned her life and her freedom. Wylla returns to starfall on the boat so that she can’t be linked back to the Dayne’s and Jon’s true origin, and can later become Edric Dayne’s wetnurse in the future, and Ned pushes on home with the fisherman's daughter and her newborn so she can take over as acting wetnurse to Jon for the rest of the journey home and the rest of his infancy, where she can have a safe place to stay in winterfell, finally free of her abusive past life. Ned and/or the fisherman's daughter lies and tells the lord of Sweetsister that Ned is going to take home this woman, and her child, “his bastard son Jon Snow” that she gave birth to, in order to keep the truth of why he really needs to take her with him a secret. With no father to her child around, and the woman with a motivation to keep the true identity of the father to herself, and with her having the motive to perpetuate this lie or at least go along with it to help Ned, her savior, it makes sense that lord Borell wouldn’t have any reason at all to doubt the truth of Ned telling him that this fisherman’s daughter birthed his bastard boy Jon Snow. It would explain why Borell seems certain of this information. If Borell thinks this woman that Ned left on his island gave birth to Jon Snow, and Jon then goes on to grow up in Winterfell, then this woman and her newborn would have NEEDED to have left the island for Winterfell for Borell to maintain that level of certainty about it. It would also explain why Cat, upon arriving in Winterfell after the war, finds Ned, Jon, and his wetnurse, but never once ponders if this Wylla character could be Jon’s mother, because Wylla was never there. Ned needed to make sure that no one with the actual knowledge of Jon's true origin in Starfall would follow him home to Winterfell to spread that tale. I think it fits more than any other possibility I’ve heard of or thought of. What do you think?

I feel this is very contrived… mostly because I do believe the fisherman’s daughter is just a red herring. Is it possible she was Jon’s wetnurse? Yeah, it’s possible. Now, is it likely? I don’t think so. 
I also think Borrell’s level of certainty probably comes from his father making the assumption and presenting it as fact. There’s also the fact that Borrell doesn’t tell Davos that Ned stopped there again on his way back to Winterfell, or that the fisherman’s daughter went north with him. Just my 2p worth, of course. 

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