Blog PostsThe Rape of Lyanna Stark?

The first season of Game of Thrones is over, and given the most recent events in the land of Westeros, I imagine that the minds of most viewers (who have not read the books) exploded approximately three times over the last two episodes.  I want to talk about the show, but even more than that, I want to talk about the backstory in A Song of Ice and Fire, because there seems to be a variety of interpretations about Lyanna Stark and her relationships with Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen.  (Spoilers for the first book/first season follow.)

There is a popular theory among book fans that Jon Snow is not actually the son of Ned Stark, but the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.  Once I heard about this theory, I glommed onto it in a heartbeat because it seemed perfect.  There’s not a lot of concrete evidence in the books thus far (so therefore I am not actually spoiling, readers – don’t worry), just a lot of symbolic, subtle hints, and holes in the backstory that have left people questioning.  I love this theory and fully believe it to be true.  It never made sense to me that Ned Stark, who always does what is honorable and “right” and follows the rules, would just randomly sleep with a woman that wasn’t his wife and then raise their child.  Ned raising his dead sister’s son as his own to protect the kid from a Targaryen-hating king and allowing everyone to believe that he was a cheating hypocrite to ensure Jon’s safety is a much more Ned Stark thing to do.

I try to watch Game of Thrones with another book-fan friend of mine whenever our schedules coincide, and we had an interesting, friendly debate concerning this issue.  She shares my opinion that Jon is probably the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, but we had completely different interpretations about the tone of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship.

There are some facts that we know of: Lyanna Stark was betrothed to Robert Baratheon.  Rhaegar Targaryen was married to Elia Martell and had two children with her.  Rhaegar won a tourney and presented the prize for the “queen of love and beauty” to Lyanna instead of his wife (ruh roh!)  Shortly after that, Rhaegar “stole” Lyanna away, and Robert began a war to get her back.  Robert killed Rhaegar, but Lyanna died as well.

I put “stole” in quotation marks because this is where our interpretations differ.

My friend shares Robert’s view of the situation: Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna and forcibly raped her god knows how many times, and Robert went to war to save the woman he loved.

I have the opposite view: I think Robert is lying to himself about the real nature of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship, Lyanna went along willingly with Rhaegar because they were in love.

It’s no wonder that we have opposite views of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship, because we have completely different opinions of Robert.  My friend loves Robert and considers him a tragic figure in the series, having lost the woman he loved and assuming a role he wasn’t suited for.  I hate Robert, I have no sympathy for someone who actively fights for the role of a king when he doesn’t want the responsibility that comes along with the power, and I think he and Cersei are equally to blame for Joffrey turning into such a reprehensible little shit.  (No, Joffrey is not Robert’s son, but Robert thinks he is and so does Joffrey, for that matter.  I also blame Cersei for a LOT but I think her hatred of Robert is more than justified.)

Therefore, I take Robert’s interpretation of what happened to Lyanna with a huge MOUND of salt.  I think it’s very telling that Robert is the only person who speaks badly of Rhaegar.  Other characters who freely admit that Aerys and/or Viserys Targaryen are mad or cruel often speak well of Rhaegar.  Ned Stark doesn’t seem to hate Rhaegar at all.  He resents the Lannisters far more than he resents Rhaegar, and I think even Noble Ned would think some vile things about the man who raped his sister, his sister he loved so much that he erected a statue in her honor in the tombs of Winterfell even when the tombs were only supposed to be for the rulers of Winterfell.

Of course, this makes me wonder why Ned would participate in a rebellion to get his sister back if she went willingly, but I suppose he might have thought she was kidnapped until he found her on her deathbed and she explained it to him.

Then I started reconsidering my others arguments that Rhaegar and Lyanna were in love and saw, for the first time, how flawed those arguments were, and how my opinions of my own arguments have changed as my feminism has grown and evolved:

– “Rhaegar can’t be a rapist.  He was described as being gentle, preferring books and music to fighting, and his heart was never really into being a knight.”  Well, wouldn’t we live in a wonderful world if all rapists were as violent and easily noticeable as Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides, who might as well have a, “Hi! I’m a Rapist!” tattoo on his head.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, and not all rapists can be that easily identified.

– “The common people loved Rhaegar!”  This is true.  Cersei remembers that a crowd once cheered twice as loudly for her father as they did for King Aerys, but their cheers for Prince Rhaegar were almost deafening.  Then again, the common people also hate Tyrion Lannister and think he’s a sneaky devil, and they hate Jaime Lannister for being a Kingslayer of the king they didn’t even like.  The common people can be dumb.

– “But everyone loved Rhaegar!”  It’s true that only Robert seems to hate Rhaegar.  But again: reputations aren’t always true.

– “Lyanna was described as a wild girl similar in looks and personality to Arya Stark, and probably wouldn’t have been kidnapped easily.  She had to have gone with him willingly.”  It’s just as dangerous to imply that there is only one type of rape victim, as it is to imply that there is only one type of rapist.  “Wild girls” can be kidnapped and raped, too.

– “Lyanna didn’t seem all that into Robert and knew he wouldn’t stop whoring around even when they were married.”  I stand by this opinion.  But it doesn’t make Rhaegar not a rapist.

– “Why would Lyanna want Ned to care for Jon if he was her son by a rapist?”  Because sometimes mothers do that.

In other words, my argument kind of falls flat.

Still, I don’t think I’m wrong.  The common people could be wrong that Rhaegar Targaryen went to war for a woman he loved, and he could have just kidnapped a woman he was obsessed with.  As long as Robert is the only one who calls it a rape, though, I’m sticking by my opinion.  I don’t trust Robert as a judge of character given how he blames his wife for everything wrong (such as the wolf situation with Joffrey, Sansa, and Arya.  He gets mad at Cersei for making him kill Lady, but you’re the fucking KING, Robert!  You can stop it if you want to!)  I also think that Robert, deep down, knows that Lyanna didn’t love him.  He tells Ned that Rhaegar still “won,” because even if he’s dead, he gets to be with Lyanna in the afterlife, and I wonder, “Why do you think the gods would force Lyanna to spend eternity with her rapist?”

I’m getting long-winded now, so I’ll come to the point: while I still suspect that I am right about Rhaegar/Lyanna, I think some of my arguments engaged in unintentional rape apologia and I will avoid doing that in the future.

But honestly, I really hope I’m right.  One thing that A Song of Ice and Fire is missing is an epic love story.  I don’t think I’m going to get an epic love story with the current living characters, unless George R.R. Martin makes my Jaime/Brienne wishes come true, or spends further time developing my much dirtier, much more wrong love for Sandor/Sansa.  (I know.  Don’t judge me.)  I want Rhaegar and Lyanna to have had this doomed love that started a war.  I want Jon Snow to be the result of a doomed love affair, not a product of rape.  And most importantly, I want Lyanna to be one of the few women in this series not raped or threatened with rape because there’s too much damned rape in Westeros and beyond.

This may have been my longest post to date.  I always get ranty when talking about the Martin books.

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92 Responses to The Rape of Lyanna Stark?

  1. kimmie says:

    hi there!
    While it’s true that non-consensual sex comes in all flavors (from the “two sleeping people together” to the snuff), I don’t believe Rhaegar violently raped Lyanna. It doesn’t fit his type, his description [if you follow the Chinese zodiac, there are many types of men… Rhaegar fits most of the kitsune traits. warrior bard. Robert, strangely enough, fits something more like dragon.].

    Put more baldly, the eloquent man does not reach to violence, when other means are both simpler, less dangerous, and easier.

    I don’t believe Lyanna sat down and said, “yes, i want to run away with him.” I believe that Rhaegar “swept her off her feet” (a polite euphamism for “enjoyable, non-consensual sex, that if you asked me beforehand, I would have said no to — or after, really. it was a bad idea.”) And then he took her off with him.

    If he had not “gotten lucky,” it would have been unrealistic to assume Lyanna would have ridden off with him.

    I like Robert. And Cersei. I don’t believe Robert was a womanizer before he met Lyanna.

    • Lady T says:

      I don’t believe Robert was a womanizer before he met Lyanna.

      Lyanna told Ned that she didn’t think Robert would be able to keep it in his pants even if they got married, and I don’t know why she would think that unless she was already acquainted with his whoring ways.

      I don’t believe Lyanna sat down and said, “yes, i want to run away with him.” I believe that Rhaegar “swept her off her feet” (a polite euphamism for “enjoyable, non-consensual sex, that if you asked me beforehand, I would have said no to — or after, really. it was a bad idea.”) And then he took her off with him.

      You may be right, but I would find this scenario just as problematic and upsetting as a straight-up violent rape, if not moreso. There were already icky Stockholm Syndrome undertones to the Dany/Drogo relationship (especially in the show). I don’t need a “it was rape, until I enjoyed it!” trope in here, too.

      If he had not “gotten lucky,” it would have been unrealistic to assume Lyanna would have ridden off with him.

      She wouldn’t have left if he hadn’t forced himself on her? I doubt that. I think Lyanna did what she wanted, and I can easily picture a scenario where Rhaegar just straight-up woos her like an actual gentleman. The way Lyanna was characterized, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had invited him into her bed first, honestly. It’s no coincidence that the few times she’s mentioned, she’s often compared to Arya.

      • kimmie says:

        It’s hard to write a love story without ’em, at least with virgins. because, on some level or another, it’s not a good idea to have sex with a guy, any guy. [not saying that you have to like romances!]

        This seems reasonably romantic, like she had some amount of choice, and like she liked it enough to stick around.

        “wooed like a straight up gentleman” is exactly what I’m talking about. Be reasonably charming, get the girl to go off alone with you, do something “exciting” that she wouldn’t have agreed to otherwise, or if she had time to cool off. It’s non-consensual, if you count “wouldn’t have agreed to it beforehand” and “oy, that was a BAD idea” afterward. Which I do. People deliberately shortcircuiting informed consent is not exactly “ain’t this great” in my book.

        There’s no element of “forced” in a lot of non-consensual sex.

        Arya is a pretty feral kid, in touch with her instincts. I see no reason to believe that Lyanna would be any different. And feral virgins tend to avoid sex. Not welcome it.

        Now, if you want to claim that Lyanna wasn’t a virgin… (which is anti-characterization, I think… you see anything about her riding horses? 😉 )

        point made on robert and lyanna. forgot dat. it’s been a while

  2. Kristin says:

    >>As long as Robert is the only one who calls it a rape, though, I’m sticking by my opinion. I don’t trust Robert as a judge of character <<

    First I don't think you need to think of your arguments as rape apologia, no rape has been textually established, the most you could surmise is that Lyanna was "kidnapped" by Rhaegar, and the end result was her death.

    Additionally Martin structures his stories via POV to illustrate how limited everyone's information is, and how prone they are to interpret things in a light that favors their own biases and prejudices.

    So I think the way the TV show chose to portray things definitely made me instantaneously doubt Robert's narrative about Lyanna. If anyone was "obsessive" about Lyanna it doesn't appear to have been Rhaegar. It's Robert and her family who treated her like an object "stolen". Ned is clearly pained and irritated by Robert's possessiveness about his sister.

    So even though the show left out a key piece of the Lyanna/Rhaegar puzzle (The Tower of Joy flashback – even though I think even that is oblique as sphinx), I think you still have the sense that the known story is not the right story.

    It's hard for me to believe though that romance won't eventually figure into A Song of Ice and Fire: Jon/Dany, Gendry/Arya, Sandor/Sansa, Brienne/Jaime, Bran/Meera, I feel like there are classically romantic cues in all those relationships except for Jon/Dany who have obvs have no explicit relationship…YET, but who seem on an irreversible symbolic crash collision.

    • Lady T says:

      BRAN/MEERA? I never even considered that and my first reaction is to be a little perturbed. But, you and I pretty much agree on all ships that aren’t from Firefly so I’m interested to hear more on this.

      Additionally Martin structures his stories via POV to illustrate how limited everyone’s information is, and how prone they are to interpret things in a light that favors their own biases and prejudices.

      Oh I know, and I do think I’m right about Rhaegar/Lyanna, but I just meant that some of the arguments I was using might have fallen into the realm of rape apologia.

      So I think the way the TV show chose to portray things definitely made me instantaneously doubt Robert’s narrative about Lyanna. If anyone was “obsessive” about Lyanna it doesn’t appear to have been Rhaegar. It’s Robert and her family who treated her like an object “stolen”. Ned is clearly pained and irritated by Robert’s possessiveness about his sister.

      It’s interesting, because in the book Ned loves that Robert remembered her after all these years…though he does seem oddly non-committal whenever Robert rants about Rhaegar.

      • Kristin says:

        Oh I just think Bran crushes Meera right now, which I get because she’s pretty awesome, like Mya Stone, Arya, and Asha Greyjoy I’m grateful for those kinds of competent, capable, independent women in the story (I also love Brienne, but I’m not sure how independent she is, she is understandably a little more needy than those women are).

        As for R + L since it seems they opted to skip the Tower of Joy and all references to “promise me Ned”, maybe his bristling about Robert was one way they could still communicate something about Lynna’s dying ain’t what they’re saying it is.

  3. Eneya says:

    Spoiler question

    On which book are you Lady T?
    If you have read the last published book… I remember a scene that puts your Brien/Jamie situation a bit… difficult,

    • Lady T says:

      I finished A Feast for Crows years ago and have to reread, but I know the scene to which you are referring. I don’t think she’s dead. The chapter ends with her screaming a word, and I’m almost certain that word is “sword.” I think she’ll agree to kill Jaime just so she can save Pod (because I don’t think she’d agree to it just to save herself). So now, instead of having to protect the man she hates, Brienne will be sworn to kill the man she loves. All tragic and whatnot. 🙂

  4. Kimsie says:

    I think Brienne’s quite independent. gotta be, to be the bitch in armor (compliments, ladies!). She’s a bit like Jaime, hard on the outside, but soft underneath. (Sabra, anyone?)

  5. Rica Jackson says:

    I personally don’t think everyone should kiss Rhaegar’s and Lyanna’s butt. Lyanna is a hypocrite. She was pissed at Robert for having a good time as a single man; yet , she may have run off with a married man with two children herself. I am pretty sure that Rhaegar knew that his father wasn’t the most stable man. A Good Prince doesn’t leave his kingdom with no word about where he is. Not only that but there was plenty of time for Lyanna and Rhaegar to come back and explain the situation. Yet the war was pretty much already being won before he makes an appearance. So it is all his fault.

    • Lady T says:

      ALL his fault? Aerys is the one who wanted to set the whole city on fire, but it’s Rhaegar’s fault for letting him?

      I see your point about what in the hell Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually doing during the Mad King’s reign, but I don’t think the rebellion can be laid completely at their feet. For one thing, I doubt that, if Rhaegar and/or Lyanna had just stepped forward and calmly explained to Robert and Brandon Stark that they were actually in love, either one of them would have gone, “Oh, I see. No problem, then. Best of luck to you!” I never thought Lyanna seemed angry about Robert’s womanizing, anyway, just realistic about it.

      • Rica Jackson says:

        I don’t think it was all Rhaegar’s fault, but yes some of it is. Obviously everyone knows that Aerys was a little insane before he killed the Starks. Why would Rhaegar put his father in that situation? Did Rhaegar think that everyone would just be okay with him taking Lyanna Stark? I think not. If he wanted her, he could have stayed in Kings Landing too. I am not saying that Lyanna was not realistic about Robert. I just felt she was downing Robert for something that she would later do too. It is very hypocritical.

  6. Paula Dunlop says:

    I’ve been wondering if there was a rape, or even a threat of rape, that it was Robert who actually perpetrated/threatened it? Is Jon Snow Robert’s son? Did Lyanna leave with Rhaegar to escape him?

    I know that this is unlikely (R + L = J makes much more sense), but I still often wonder about it.

    Obviously, Ned wouldn’t know of this (otherwise surely he’d bear an intense hatred for Robert), and I’m not sure why Lyanna might keep a truth like this from Ned (to spare the realm more bloodshed? I dunno), but nonetheless, I’m keen to do another re-read with this in mind!

    • Lady T says:

      If Robert was the one who forced himself on Lyanna, I don’t think Ned knew about it. But as much as I hate Robert, I don’t think he would have done that to Lyanna.

    • screamo14 says:

      Jon Snow could not be Robert’s son.. not with that brown hair and black?/grey? eyes of his.. But who knows, GRRM is the true God of this series, not Rhlorr not the Drowned God, no the old gods, not the Seven… and he can f**k it all up it he wants to..

  7. Jessica says:

    I really like how deconstructed your own thoughts and assumptions! I believe the first steps are those we take when we look more closely at ourselves.

    Having said that, however, I think you’re on to something especially brilliant. When trying to guess the secrets an author is withholding from you, you have to think about how that author works. As realistic as Martin may be, I dont really think he would go against the trope of the rapist. Though the TV show made it look as though Drogo raped Dany, remember that in te book he never portrayed Drogo as violently raping ANYONE. Dany may have been somewhat unwilling when she was tired, but I don’t think she was ever written as having refused him. Martin wants us to like Drogo to some degree, or at least for us to understand why Dany loves him. Drogo actually seemed to have a passive stance about rape. He didn’t mind that his khalasar raped, he may have even enjoyed watching it at his wedding, but he never actively engaged in it or cheered people on. That would make him too hateful; but if he had discouraged it, it would have screwed up some of the storyline and made him appear as a less “barbaric” ruler. Martin is very skilled at making complicated characters who are neither good nor bad.

    That’s why I don’t think Rhaegar would be a rapist. Martin has fed us the very obvious hatred of Rhaegar from Robert, while subtly giving us tidbits from others about Rhaegar being a “nice guy”. And while in the real world you and I both know that a “Nice Guy” can be just as brutal a rapist, in the fantasy world where we are given all our information through POV characters, Martin has to follow some tropes so that we can be guided to wonder and question about the assumption of an unseen character without just telling us and being too obvious.

    I think this is a very good commentary on the assumptions humanity makes about people, however. Think about it: if Martin didn’t know that no one would think such a “nice guy” could be a brutal rapist, and a loud obnoxious one such as Robert someone who lies to himself and others, he wouldn’t be able to pull this off so well. He knows that if he gives us tidbits about what a gentle creature Rhaegar was, and we will say “But wait, how can he be a rapist then?” and start to question. An author has to know his reader, and that means having an understanding about humanity, stereotypes, and assumptions!

    Sorry for the wall of text. I loved your post!

    • Lady T says:

      Those are all very good points. I think you’re right that Martin is probably not thinking the same way I am about this issue, and he’s going to work with what he knows our assumptions to be. I don’t think he’s dropping all these hints that Rhaegar was gentle and popular to just pull the rug out from under us later and go, “Ha ha, jk, fooled you – Robert was right all along!”

      Thanks for commenting and please don’t EVER apologize for long comments. I love long comments. 🙂

      • kimmi says:

        well, here’s one for you. Drogo seduced Dany, and in the midst of it, took a “misinformed” consent as license to do what he will (Dany was clearly unwilling before the marriage). This is no different from an older uncle getting his niece to say yes (sans incest. maybe I should have used teacher? nah, too familiar). After all, how old is Drogo?

        It’s written well. If you’re going to hate on Rhaegar for having seduced Lyanna (not saying you are), you better hate on Drogo as well.

        Rape is written as part of the power structure of the Dothraki, the way it was in Greek culture (where, to some extent, being a sub was humiliating, whatever sex you were.)

        One needn’t be violent to be a rapist, and I think that association is rather missing the point.

        • Eneya says:

          I am cringing by the way you are udsing the word “seduce”.
          I don’t see much of seducing in forcing someone to bend while the said one is crying, that’s rape.
          The uncle who persuedes the niece/newphew to have sex with him this way on not seducing them either, that’s rape.

          Really… I feel horrified by this discussion already.

          • Lady T says:

            I don’t see much of seducing in forcing someone to bend while the said one is crying, that’s rape.

            She was actually referring to the sex scene in the book, which wasn’t written to be violent rape. In the book, it’s presented much more as a seduction, where Dany is nervous at first but Drogo is gentle with her.

        • Lady T says:

          Umm…maybe I’m misinterpreting some of your comments but this is really starting to creep me the fuck out. I’m not quite following your argument. It SEEMS that by comparing Dany/Drogo to the uncle/niece scenario…you’re condoning both. I don’t think you mean to but that’s the way it’s coming across.

          • Kimmi says:

            to take someone who is a sexual being (as all people are, once they cross “that threshold” which is rather personal in timing) and do something that they are willing to do, without Force or Coercion, is not wrong, assuming that the younger person can give informed consent (aka no fair making babies with the kid who hasn’t learned that part yet).

            Uncle/niece has an implied power-dynamic which is not present in all situations of “reasonably consensual” sex between older and younger .people.

          • Lady T says:

            to take someone who is a sexual being (as all people are,

            These folks might beg to differ with that statement:

            And I’m still weirded out/confused by this line of discussion so…let’s just not pursue it further.

  8. Eneya says:

    That could prooobably pass for seduction but when she/he added the comparison with the uncle blaaaah.

  9. Rica Jackson says:

    Even if R+L= J, he would still be a bastard. To become King and put in the line of succession, he would have to be declared legitimate.

    • screamo14 says:

      targaryens are bigamous.. but, lyanna and rhaegar never got married, or did they?

      • AmyGen says:

        Well that IS interesting, I hadn’t thought they might have actually married. I assumed they couldn’t have done as Rhaegar was already married, but if bigamy’s a goer then that makes a huge difference. I suppose another thing to consider is that Elia died before Lyanna did, might there have been time for R+L to marry then?

  10. Evangeline says:

    You need to read the other books in the series because there are certain pairings that cannot be [Sandor/Sansa] and there is more information about the characters of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar, as well as back story, that lean heavily toward the possibility that Jon is Lyanna’s son with Rhaegar. I read at The Tower of the Hand website [absolutely the best, with fans who have the read the books so often they know a lot of minuetia] that the Targaryens had practiced polygamy in the far past. Lyanna believed that Robert would not be faithful to her, based on his nature, and the impression is given that Lyanna was not in love with Robert. Lyanna is often compared to Arya. Ned says Arya has too much of the wolf in her like Lyanna. And Arya [who is a fearless rider] is compared to Lyanna’s horsemanship when she tries to outride her captors on a stolen horse. There is a tale of an anonymous, small knight in ill fitting armor who bests three knights who treated their squires harshly at a tourney. The small knight is almost surely Lyanna when placed in the context of the tale. During the course of the series, Arya is fearless, an excellent fighter for her size, and a killer when she must. If Lyanna was like Arya, I find it hard to believe that Rhaegar could abduct her so easily. Rhaegar is always spoken of as a fair, kind, and beloved character. Blue roses were Lyanna’s favorite, so when Rhaegar crowns her with them and bypasses the honor of declaring his wife Queen of Love and Beauty, he clearly knows Lyanna intimately enough to know her favorite flower. In the books, there is mention of a dream or prophesy where a blue rose grows out of a crack in a wall of ice. That would suggest that Lyanna was Jon’s mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lyanna and Rhaegar were secretly wed and Jon is legitimate. Of course, with George RR Martin, storylines are often shockingly and brutally unpredictable and he may not be going down that road.

  11. Rica Jackson says:

    I do know the Targaryens practiced polygamy. Even if they were secretly wed, there would need to be actual proof and not just heresy. The only way Jon could become King if it is true is if he wins back the Iron Throne. Who knows after The Great War? They may decide to break the kingdoms back up the way that they were before the Targaryen Conquest. I like what Ser Jorah Mormont said in a Game of Thrones episode. Dany felt that it was her right to the Iron Throne, but it wasn’t her family was just strong enough to take it.

  12. Klaus says:

    I do believe that Jon is Lyannas son, too. With Rhaegar his father that makes him half a Targaryen. And THAT makes him a perfect match with Danaerys – the rightful heir of the Iron Throne. There’s your epic love story.

    It’s called A Song of Ice and Fire: Ice (Jon) and Fire (Dany). So I really would love to see them both rule over the 7 Kingdoms. After all the cruelty and downfalls and the near extinction of the Starks a happy end seems ..ehm. compensating.

    The only thing that puts me off: In my memory Jon is older by a few years than Dany – who was born when Kings Landing was sieged. So Jon would have to be born BEFORE the abduction of Lyanna. Or am I mistaken? Please help me out.

    One last remark: Just came here by accident and I am really glad to participate in this debate as this is one of my favourite “secrets” of my all-time favourite book-series… So thank you all 😉

    • Stephanie says:

      When Jon is making his case to join the wall, he says to his uncle Benjen that his age is “four and ten…practically a man grown.” When Daenerys finds out she is pregnant and becoming a woman, she’s thirteen, about to turn fourteen.

  13. Eve says:

    @Klaus I don’t know; I feel like we already had enough incest in the series that I wouldn’t really see the point of having Jon and Danaery’s get together.
    I know its something the Targaryens do, but again, its usually between cousins, and bros and sisters, not aunts and nephews. If anything, I thought about the idea of Danaery’s making Jon her heir since one of Miri Maz Dur’s prophecy is that she won’t ever to be able to have children again (though who knows how much of that is true).

    Also, has anyone else thought that maybe Jon is legitimate? The Targaryens practiced bigamy so maybe Lyanna and Rhaegar got married before he knocked her up because she was a high born and from the north (versus places like Dorne, where having sex before marriage isn’t as big of a deal). Idk thoughts?

  14. Evangeline says:

    Well, I just read A Dance With Dragons and it blows a lot of our suppositions out of the water. I’ve read all the first 4 books very carefully and the evidence that Lyanna and Raeghar were in love is substantiated. And I think Martin was heading toward Jon being Lyanna’s son but he decided to turn that all on its head. Eddard continually returns to Lyanna’s dying request in Game of Thrones and whatever it was, it weighed on him. But 4 books later we are no wiser.

    • Lady T says:

      Well, I don’t think that Jon ISN’T Lyanna’s son simply because Martin still hasn’t revealed who the mother is. If anything, the book only confirmed for me that the people in Westeros are as gossipy as we are and all have their pet theories about the identity of Jon’s mother. 😉 If only one of the characters would just bump into Howland Reed already! He was at the Tower of Joy and he knows what happened there!

      I did think it was interesting that Ser Barristan was in love with Ashara Dayne, and he was sad that she was in love with “Stark.” But even that is left ambiguous. We don’t know if Stark returned her love, or if Ned Stark is even the Stark he means. I think it might be Brandon Stark.

      But maybe we’re all wrong, and Jon’s mother is actually the Mother from How I Met Your Mother. That would be legendary.

  15. I apologize for getting to the party a little late, but it seems to me that this story is following the Helen of Troy archetype. Interpretations of Helen of Troy are varied, but I think the general understanding is that Paris was a hot ticket and Helen didn’t mind getting “abducted”. I think it’s hard to have a feminist interpretation of Helen of Troy when all the stories about her that were written make her an object and not a subject. All the action happening in the stories is done by men, and there’s not much said about Helen other than she is the most beautiful woman alive. I think if you wanted to make a feminist critique of Helen of Troy you would be hard pressed to say much more than there was a very obvious omission of Helen’s character in the story.

    • Something I thought up on the spot says:

      It’s actually mostly a Hollywood interpretation that Helen ‘loved’ Paris. In the Iliad itself, she shows nothing but contempt for Paris, but is forced by Aphrodite to play along.

  16. Jo says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it.

    I’m also a believer in the L + R theory, and had – unwittingly – engaged in exactly the same apologism you described. Rhaegar was a Nice Guy! The commonfolk loved him! Massive thank you for opening my eyes to it.

  17. CraieRahl says:

    Just finished aDwD and, based on a POV chapter of Ser Barristan Selmy that was particularly filled with revelations about that Harrenhal Tournament and his personal assessment of Rhaegar’s worth as a prospective ruler, I am inclined to give Rhaegar the benefit of doubt in this. Selmy was an insider and has always avoided self-delusions about the morality of the kings he served. The fact that he regarded Rhaegar so highly and considered his death a tragedy that all of Westeros had to pay for, leads me to believe that the relationship between Rhaegar and Lyanna was more of an indiscretion rather than savage sexual assault.

    • Tanya says:

      In Asos Ser Barristan Selmy says that it’s possible to say that no one truly knew Prince Rhaegar. He said that Rhaegar became obsessed with fulfilling the prophecy of the prince that was promised which means he needed to have one more son. Who knows he might have gone into Targaryen madness like his father, obsessing with 15 year old Lyanna as the woman to fulfill the prophecy. Everyone had great things to say about who he was in public but how many knew him in private? Sure he thought Rhaegar would be a great ruler but there are good rulers who are not good husbands or good to the women in their lives. Look at President Clinton, great ruler but lousy husband. If Rhaegar had the affair with Lyanna then he cheated on his wife (the mother of his two children).

      I don’t believe that Lyanna would just run away from her family like that leaving her father and brothers. If Rhaegar was such an upstanding knight why didn’t he go to Lyanna’s father and ask for her hand? Why did he take another man’s betrothal (Robert’s)? That’s not honorable behavior. Rhaegar knew his father was crazy but didn’t try to do anything about it or prevent him from burning innocent people. Where was Rhaegar and Lyanna when Aerys was killing Lyann’s family members? Worst, Rhaegar left his wife Elia and their two children to be slaughtered with no protection (Elia was also raped before her death). His family died just so he could get some young tail. What kind of man takes off with a 15 year old girl leaving his wife and children unprotected? The most important role of a husband is to protect his family. People who hate Robert automatically think Rhaegar is this perfect knight in shinning armor but Rhaegar is just as flawed as Robert.

      • Lady T says:

        I think you make some good points in your comment, but I take issue with this:

        If Rhaegar was such an upstanding knight why didn’t he go to Lyanna’s father and ask for her hand? Why did he take another man’s betrothal (Robert’s)?

        “Why didn’t Rhaegar respect a system that treats daughters as a father’s chattel?” and “Why did Rhaegar steal another man’s property?” are not arguments that will get very far on a feminist blog.

        • Tanya says:

          Well Rhaegar had no problem with “respecting a system that treats daughters as a father’s chattel” when his marriage to Elia was arranged by her mother and his father. He had no problem with marking Elia as his “property” by undergoing a formal betrothal prior to marriage. His only issue with the system is when it prevented him from having sex with a 15 year old girl that he thought he DESERVED to have without formerly asking for her hand and treating her with the respect that ladies of Lyanna’s class were expected to be treated. No he thinks he can just grab her, bang her, make her have his precious Prince That Was Promised because he is an effing Prince so she should just be glad that he even picked her! She is Lyanna Stark a highborn lady from a great house who can trace their line to the First Men, she is not some 2 bit whore or breeder.

          You may not like the system of marriage in ASOIAF (I don’t either) but those are still the rules, if anything they at least are supposed to stop men from grabbing highborn unmarried women to rape just because they feel like it. What was to happen to Lyanna if she had lived? She would be called a whore or slut for being kidnapped and raped! It’s a totally unfair system but that is what happens to women when they are victims of rape in that world. The only protection they have is marriage. That is why the right thing to do in their world is to formerly ask for a young girl’s hand in marriage, marry her and have all the sex you want. Running away with her or kidnapping her will just leave her in a bad position when you decide you have had enough sex and want to go back to your wife and children.

          Rhaegar is a Prince, if he wanted Lyanna as his second wife (and she AGREED) King Aerys can talk to Lord Stark to get Lyanna’s engagement overturned. His daughter will become a Queen, how many fathers would object to that? The King can offer Robert compensation in terms of land or another favorable marriage (he might be mad but will have no choice but to go along if Lord Stark agrees with the new arrangement. He would have no cause to start a fight with Rhaegar if the engagement is formerly overturned). Then Rhaegar will be free to have Lyanna as his second wife, have sex and have his Prince that was Promised. THAT is how you treat a highborn woman with respect in their time period. You don’t kidnap and knock them up. Of course we all are assuming that 15-year old Lyanna would be overjoyed to be a second wife in a pseudo harem (yuck!). I am not so sure how many women outside of the incest-ridden Targaryens want to share their man with another woman. I can see it with your sister if you all grew up together, both married the same brother and want to keep it all in the family (Ewww!!!) but with a stranger sharing your husband? And Elia’s son being the first born would end up being King but not YOUR son? Hmmm I don’t see a proud Stark being down with that.

          • Lady T says:

            You may not like the system of marriage in ASOIAF (I don’t either) but those are still the rules, if anything they at least are supposed to stop men from grabbing highborn unmarried women to rape just because they feel like it…The only protection they have is marriage.

            Protection so that fathers and husbands (or future husbands) won’t have their favorite pieces of property “spoiled.” And that system didn’t do anything to protect Sansa when the Lannisters decided to use her as a piece of meat and forced her to marry Tyrion. What they did to Sansa is really no different, morally speaking, than what Rhaegar allegedly did to Lyanna – they just did it more elegantly and within the system.

            She is Lyanna Stark a highborn lady from a great house who can trace their line to the First Men, she is not some 2 bit whore or breeder.

            And that right there is just an example of how disgusting, corrupt, and hypocritical the world of Westeros is. (I’m also assuming that you’re using the terms “whore” and “breeder” to point out how wrong they are, and not condoning their usage.) The world of Westeros is outraged because this happened to Lyanna Stark, a highborn lady, when these same people have little to no problem with men raping lower-class women every day, or highborn women being raped by their husbands within the confines of marriage.

            The world of Westeros isn’t designed to protect women. The system is designed to protect the property of fathers and the future property of husbands. The people who really loved Lyanna think about this differently, obviously, but Westeros in general has no problem with rape. If Rhaegar is condemned by the people, it’s not because he raped Lyanna – it’s because he did it “the wrong way.” And by saying that, I mean not to defend Rhaegar, but to further condemn the world of Westeros.

            That is, of course, assuming that Rhaegar raped her at all. This whole post was about recognizing my own rape apologia and not doing it anymore, but I still think Martin is deliberately dropping enough clues to at least make us question the accepted story that he kidnapped and raped her.

            You’re right, though, about Elia. There’s no doubt or debate that he treated her like crap.

          • Tanya says:

            “You’re right, though, about Elia. There’s no doubt or debate that he treated her like crap.”

            I still can’t believe that he passed over his own wife, the woman who almost died twice from giving birth to his two children, crowning another woman he was lusting after as ‘ Queen of Love and Beauty’. In front of Elia, her friends and the entire kingdom. That’s just rude and disrespectful to the mother of your children. To make matters worse he leaves her with his insane father so he can go kidnap and have sex with that same 15 year old girl he was crushing on. He comes back to the Red Keep when the Rebellion has already started but still doesn’t do anything about removing his wife and children from harm’s way. According to Jaime Lannister in ASOS, Rhaegar’s father had at that time started treating Elia as a hostage to get Dorne to behave. Really ? You leave your wife and children as hostage to your irrational father who is burning innocent people alive left and right? What kind of loving husband does not protect his family first? After Rhaegar dies, King Aerys refuses to let Elia get to safety with Queen Rhaella but is planning to burn everyone in King’s Landing, including her and her children, with Wild Fire.

            I look forward to Martin clarifying the Rhaegar/Lyanna business but I’m not going to continue thinking of Rhaegar as some gift to women as so many readers do or that he DIDN’T kidnap Lyanna like her family says. I don’t care if Rhaegar is good looking, cultured, is well read and plays a musical instrument. I don’t care if the men of Westeros think that Rhaegar would have made a good King. See the President Bill Clinton example. People believe that just because a man looks good, speaks well and is rich that ANY woman would welcome that man’s advances or would willingly run away with them. I find that anti-feminist. Not all women are that shallow, Lyanna Stark is never described as being that shallow. She is described as being like Arya Stark. Rhaegar’s poor treatment of his wife Elia and kidnapping of Lyanna Stark for his selfish libido (and crazy Prince that was Promised conspiracy theories ) makes me NOT respect him as a man or a Knight.

          • Lady T says:

            I find that anti-feminist. Not all women are that shallow, Lyanna Stark is never described as being that shallow.

            I find it anti-feminist to decide that a woman must be “shallow” if she’s attracted to a man who is cultured, well-read, and musically gifted.

            She is described as being like Arya Stark.

            You mean wild, impulsive Arya, who often acts without thinking and does whatever she wants, no matter what others say?

            There are two popular theories surrounding Rhaegar. One is that he’s everything the Starks and Robert say he is. The other is that he was a better guy than people think and that he and Lyanna really loved each other. I find those scenarios equally plausible. I don’t find it hard to believe that Rhaegar might have really loved Lyanna even while he was neglectful of Elia; Jaime Lannister threw a seven-year-old to his death, but he was the same man who killed the king in order to save the city from burning down.

            Showing people’s excellent qualities while also revealing their worst traits is one of the things that makes Martin’s writing and story so interesting and complex. His writing is deliberately misleading and he purposely makes the readers second-guess themselves. People who believe that Rhaegar might not have raped Lyanna are not just creaming themselves over a hot guy who can play the guitar and I find it anti-feminist and insulting to imply that they are. It’s not shallow or anti-feminist to believe that this author who tricks and misdirects his readers all the damn time might also be tricking or misleading us in this particular scenario.

            Of course, if he does reveal that no, the Starks were right and Rhagear’s a rapist, I’ll be the first person to talk about how fucked-up he is.

          • RMR says:

            I hope he got approval from Elia to find a second wide to have the 3rd Targ baby. Maybe even asked Elia to choose the carrier. Selmy said Rhaegar was fond of Elia. She knew about his obsession with having 3 damn children. So, I hope she chose Lyanna Stark for him. If not and Rhaegar gave in to his lust and made a insulting public display of his lust at the tpurna

          • Tanya says:

            P.S. I just thought of a male character in the series that has good relationships with women without following the rigid structure placed on women. Oberyn Martell (the Red Viper), Elia’s brother. Oberyn didn’t go around having to kidnap these women either to get them to have sex with him.

      • Ange says:

        The Targaryens had practiced polygamy in the past and I wonder if that was what Rhaegar offered Lyanna. Elia could no longer have children and the implication was that her health was fragile in general, perhaps limited in longevity. Also, Elia and Rhaegar were not a love match and it is likely that Lyanna, with her ‘wild beauty’, spirit and strength, was irresistible to Rhaegar. Apparently, Rhaegar was going to call a Great Council, presumably to deal with his father. I’m not sure of my timeline, but I believe Rhaegar was fighting Robert when Aerys killed the Starks.

        All references to Lyanna paint her as strong willed, physical [didn’t she enter a tourney as a mystery knight to punish some hedge knights who had been cruel to their squires?], excellent with horses, etc. It’s hard to believe that Lyanna could have been taken or that the song-singing Rhaegar had it in him to abduct anyone. Perhaps Lyanna didn’t care about her honor and ran off, drunk on love.

        We forget that Martin’s world borrows from our own early Middle Ages. Those were some brutal times and not forgiving toward women. The series are not meant to be politically correct or function as romance. It’s a world where women are political pawns. Children are ‘fostered’ in enemy houses as a means of ensuring the fealty of their parents. Behind all honor and trust are captives forcing it. This is not a pretty world.

        • Kris says:

          Thank you for pointing that out. You can’t compare modern ideals to the world in the book. I mean geeze. They talk about Bran Stark being a man grown at 8 years old and Ricken at 4 not being a baby anymore. I am only on CoK and I can already see that Jon is Lyanna’s son. I just want to hear that perspective already.

  18. Ramona says:

    If Jon is the child of Rhaegar he would be blood of the dragon and would not burn but his arm got badly burned if the first book.

    • Lady T says:

      We only know that full-blood Targaryens can’t get burned. We don’t know if that’s true for someone who’s half-Stark.

    • AryaWaters says:

      Just because he might be blood of the dragon (I’m leaning towards NOT, because GRRM is big on symbolism and I think the third Targaryen would have Targaryen traits, like Dany and Aegon) doesn’t mean he wouldn’t get burned. Look at Viserys. Dany thinks “He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon.” And wasn’t there an old Targaryen King who drank wild fire and died? Dany’s the embodiment of the whole “Prince that was Promised” thing, that’s why she doesn’t burn, why the dragons are born to her. She’s obviously not the only one with dragon eggs. Aemon surmises that they got the gender wrong in the prophesy. When Dosh Khaleen were talking about Rhaego, the stallion who mounts the world, they could’ve easily mixed Dany and Rhaego up.

      Anyways, just because Jon burns doesn’t mean that he’s not Targaryen, even though I personally don’t think he is. Dany’s special, that’s why she’s the only one who can walk into the flames.

  19. Rebekah says:

    Viserys was burned to death and he was a full Tagaryen! Maybe a Tagaryen has to be bonded with a dragon to be fireproof.

  20. Something I thought up on the spot says:

    The fact that GRR Martin keeps having the Lannisters say ‘if only he married Cersei he wouldn’t have looked at the wolf girl’ tells me alot. What little snippets of information we got about Rhaegar from Sir Barristen paints us a picture of a bookish boy who decided he ‘must’ be a warrior (probably because of something he read in some very heavy handed book about strength and power). Thus, I get a sense that he has a very repressed personality, whose spent most of his youth forcing himself to fit into the world of knights. Even though he’s reasonably good at it, it’s not something he does because he wants to, but because he must. He hasn’t ever really done anything for himself, and has very little in the way of a love life. His only natural self-expression came through his singing, which are always described as being sad. Then this Stark girl comes along…. and he fucking loses it. Does something utterly unprecedented. He’s not one of the Free Folk, he can’t just take women. He’s supposed to ask, to arrange, to haggle. But he doesn’t think it through, and what he does ultimately has terrible consequences. His father was so paranoid at that point any who spoke to him angrily would be killed, and the next people to do that just happen to be the Starks asking for their Lady back. If he’d been thinking clearly, he’d have know that his actions would have brought misery down on the family of the women he “loved”.

    Could a man like that also rape the woman he steals? I don’t know…. It conflicts with his ‘noble’ character and knightly virtues, but so does all I described above. Rhaegar seems to me like a extremely repressed and unhappy individual who suddenly decided to think with his heart/cock for the first time in his life, with disastrous consequences.

    • Tanya says:

      “The fact that GRR Martin keeps having the Lannisters say ‘if only he married Cersei he wouldn’t have looked at the wolf girl’ tells me alot. What little snippets of information we got about Rhaegar from Sir Barristen”

      I wonder if the Lannisters weren’t a bit delusional about Cersei’s “charms”. Rhaegar has seen her before lots of times (her father was the King’s hand) but he never reacted to her beauty like he did to Lyanna’s. His father rejected Tywin Lannister’s proposal to marry Rhaegar to Cersei. Ser Barristan says Elia was attractive and a joy to others around her. Cersei is just a nasty person even when younger. If Rhaegar had married Cersei he would have looked for more opportunities to cheat. He would have still had the same reaction to Lyanna.

      I like your theory about Rhaegar’s repression. Very interesting angle.

  21. joeiscrafty says:

    I think you’re dead on almost all counts. I dont think Ned joined Robert solely for his sister. Remember the mad king brutally tortured and murdered his father and brother.

    The rebellion on Ned’s part I believe was for justice. Which falls completely into his personality.

    • Lady T says:

      You’re right – I didn’t forget about what Aerys did to Brandon and Rickard (how could I? Yikes!) but I got the timeline mixed up. I forgot that the murder of Brandon and Rickard happened before Robert started the rebellion.

  22. Nawaal says:

    I totally agree with you! I love the backdrop of the Rhaegor and Lyanna love, and I agre with you because Rhaegor is described as kind and sweet unlike his father and brother.
    And I wanted the Sandor/Sansa relationship too!
    God I want to discuss this with you so badly!

  23. THEWOLF says:

    I actually totally agree with you and I also get angry as fuck if people contridict ASOFAI i mean they dont see the craftsmenship Of martins plots… I hope that Jon is Rhaegars son rather than neds, i seem to love Rhaegar and Jon (even if he is dead) and it seems to make sence… i was hoping that Sandor and sansa would get together they seem wrongly perfect for each other, but i was also hoping The Bull and Arya (who i both love) would too… anyone else see how perfect that love story would be… Roberts bastard and Ned starks little wolf? anyone?

  24. Van says:

    I agree with you completely! If you recall in the house of dust it was told to Daenerys that their would be a three headed dragon. I think it’s Daenerys, Aegon, & Jon.

  25. John says:

    I think Jon’s parents are Robert and Lyanna.
    Here are my reasons:
    1-Jon has black hair just like Robert, not Rhaegar.
    2-Lyanna was raped by Robert
    3-She fled to Rhaegar because of that.
    4-Robert and Ned went to war.
    5-Ned finds Lyanna and learns the truth and needs to promise her not to tell anyone.

    • Lady T says:

      I don’t think black hair necessarily means Robert is Jon’s father. Lyanna had dark hair as well. I also don’t think Ned would’ve had that much affection left for Robert if he knew Robert raped his sister.

      • John says:

        The seed is strong…
        Well maybe Robert did not rape Lyanna. They might just have sex together before nuptials. She got pregnant. But then later, Lyanna saw Robert with another woman…
        She would have fled without telling Ned and gone to Rhaegar since he is the prince heir to the throne. She would have asked him to annul her wedding with Robert. I don’t think Rhaegar was in love with Lyanna when he gave her the rose. He only applauded her bravery for affronting the knights whose squires had bullied Howland Reed. Then, on her deathbed, this is where Lyanna told Ned her secret and promised him not to tell anyone.
        This is just my theory. Maybe I’m wrong.
        When I look at Jon Snow on the tv show, he reminds me way too much of Robert than what we know of Rhaegar…
        Who do you think will tell us of Jon Snow’s heritage? Howland Reed himself? Jojen? Meera? Varys? Anyone else? Anyways, another 10 years of waiting before we get that answer… 😉

        • Melissa says:

          You really shouldn’t go by what Jon looks like in the show (or any of the characters’ appearances in the show either). Jon is supposed to look like Ned, as does Arya – the other Stark children resemble the Tully’s. Jon actually has BROWN HAIR in the book, for starters. I still support the idea that Jon could be Rhaegar and Lyanna’s child, only with him taking after his mother, the Stark family.
          Even though most Targaryen’s were blond with purple eyes, this was largely due to the inbreeding going on with most generations. Introducing the Starks into the mix would be a feasible way to have Jon look just like Ned.
          And remember, the only other Stark child to look “like a Stark” was Arya, who is also noted as resembling Lyanna in so many ways.

          Remember, even Catelyn didn’t know the truth, she resented Jon’s presence in her home. But I wonder if Lyanna’s “Promise me, Ned..” is that he would take Jon as his own, and keep him from being killed by Robert. It makes sense to me for several reasons – I feel Robert would have scorned the baby as a product of Targaryen rape, and had it killed. So I see Ned protecting the legacy of his sister by fostering Jon.
          But this is all my speculation here 😛

  26. kate kate says:

    – “Lyanna didn’t seem all that into Robert and knew he wouldn’t stop whoring around even when they were married.” I stand by this opinion. But it doesn’t make Rhaegar not a rapist.

    Hmm… While this argument indeed doesn’t make Rhaegar not a rapist, it has some other interesting side that die-hard Rhaegar/Lyanna lovers fail to notice. Namely, the girl is disgusted by her future husband’s infidelity and yet she has no moral qualms about running away with a married man. I.e. ironically, Rhaegar is also whoring. With Lyanna. And consequences of this affair are absolutely devastating, to both country and lovers’ relatives.
    Yet somehow people managed to make an icon of true love of this selfish couple.

    • Lady T says:

      I find it hard to condemn Rhaegar and Lyanna too harshly for their actions. If we want to condemn them for being selfish then we have to extend that criticism to just about every other character in the series, except for maybe Ned Stark and Davos the Onion Knight (God bless him).

      I’m not going to comment much further simply because I always have a hard time keeping track of the timeline of events in Robert’s Rebellion, but if they were in love, I’m not going to judge them for indulging in that love while their relatives went to war over an affair. Besides, Aerys was batshit insane – it was only a matter of time before something happened to spark a rebellion. This just happened to be an inciting incident.

    • Issarie says:

      The one thing here that makes Lyanna’s situation different (so she’s not entirely hypocritical) is that I feel she (like Arya) doesn’t want to be in a forced marriage. Arya has thought that she doesn’t want to marry (or at least that she’d want to pick), and I suspect that parallels with Lyanna.
      Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia was a purely political one, as Lyanna’s engagement to Robert’s was. Possibly she felt that Rhaegar was trapped in his arranged marriage, as she would be with Robert. In that position, she might feel more… sympathetic? Either way, I feel it makes her much less hypocritical (assuming that her and Rhaegar really were in love and ran off).

  27. Hmmmm? says:

    In the books they are always refering to the targaryens and saying that “the dragon must gave three heads” IF Jon is lyanna’s and Rhaegars then that could fulfill the prophecy.
    DANY+AEGON(rhaegars ‘legitimate’ son+JON= 3 TARGARYENS= 3 DRAGONS
    also if Rhaegar truly was obsessing about the prophecy of the prince that was promised then that could explain why he disregarded his normal customs and made a baby with Lyanna.
    We know from he books that Prince Rhaegar and Elia have TWO children and we also know that she hardly travels as she is a sickly woman and that she barely survived her first two births so providing Rhaegar with his third DRAGON could put her life at risk. so he went somewhere else…Enter Lyanna.
    I do, however, believe that they were in love and he didn’t rape her but they ran away to be together . When Selmy talks of rhaegar and elia he says that rhaegar was “fond” of her but I never got a sense of Love in that relationship, but theres just some things that make me feel as if rhaegar LOVED lyanna. Robert, in his own way did love Lyanna, Ned himself says that Robert loved her more than Ned did, but she knew what he was like and probably wouldnt be surprised to find him cheating, no matter how much he loved her. She had a realistic view of robert that was neither good nor bad buti dont think that she felt the same for him as he did for her.
    I think that Lyanna just got swept away by rhaegar, she cried during his sad song during the ToH and was most likely drawn to him because he seemed so sad and broody. 😀

  28. Mm says:

    I don’t disagree with your view that nice guys can be rapists, but your entire argument falls flat apart with 1 key element of R+L=J (which I do subscribe to). While remembering the conversation with Lyanna about Robert’s infidelity, Ned has a thought about Rhaegar in a positive light. If Ned still believed that his sister was kidnapped and raped and not that they were in why would this be the case?

    • Lady T says:

      Well, again, I DO believe that Rhaegar/Lyanna were in love. I wrote this post last year because I was trying to examine some of the arguments people (including me) use to argue this theory.

      I agree that Ned’s favorable memory of Rhaegar is the best argument in the “Rhaegar was a good guy” theory.

  29. RMR says:

    I really hope Rhaegar and Lyanna were “married” or in a relationship approved (probably not happily approved of) by princess Elia. Prince Rhaegar was obsessed with having 3 children to be the 3 dragon riders and princess Elia could not have another baby. Selmy told Dany that Rhaegar was fond of Elia. I hope that fondness would have lead to him asking for her blessing to find a second wife to
    have the last needed child. Maybe even asking for her to choose from the single women. Lyanna Stark might have been told of the “3 Targ children for 3 dragons” and wanted to help make it happen.

  30. Heather Fain says:

    Super duper late to this party, sorry if this is repetitious …I am a huge fan of this series (the books more so, but I like the show as well and have seen every episode thus far). My theory on Lyanna and Rhaegar is that it wasn’t rape and kidnapping. The story in my mind, is that Rhaegar and Lyanna hooked up sometime before Robert’s Rebellion. I feel like we are given enough clues in the story to know that Rhaegar was smitten by Lyanna and Lyanna being the spirited and independent young woman that she was (as well as being skilled with a sword and riding) would not be easy to rape or kidnap in my opinion. Sure it could have happened but I just don’t think so. She was probably more attracted to Rhaegar than Robert. (she never comes across as being attracted to Robert at all IMO) I think they very well could have had a passionate sexual affair that left Lyanna pregnant. Upon revealing this news to Rhaegar (and with him knowing what he does about the prophecy and the dragon having three heads) he swoops in and carries her off. Robert being none the wiser to the truth and nature of their relationship, and having a massive sense of entitlement (how dare someone steal HIS woman!!!) as well as a thirst for war and bloodshed, is easily pushed into action by this…and we all know what happened after that.

  31. Hank says:

    A clue may be in crypt of Winterfell

    The crypt contains the statues of the Lords of Winterfell. But in addition to Eddard’s father Rikkard there are statues of both Brandon and Lyanna. Why did Eddard Stark, of all people, break with long tradition and go the trouble and expense?

    A grieving brother? perhaps?

    Brandon was killed shortly after his father so he was a Lord of Winterfell for a minute or so.

    Perhaps Lyanna because of some still unknown event in Drone had a right to a higher title? This would suggest something besides the rape theory

    Just a thought. Only GRR Martin knows for sure.

  32. mahninja says:

    The main thing is why does Ned Stark seem to be ok and actually talk about Rhaegar highly? I’m assuming he knew that Lyanna and Rhaegar were in love. Him being part of the rebellion must have been due to him being upset that she disappeared and along with just fighting for justice against the mad king. “Promise me” was Lyanna telling Ned to take care of Jon Snow (yes I’m agreeing with the whole he is Lyanna and Rhaegar’s son…”. Ned loved his sister and even had a statue of her made and place where only kings and lords ones wre, showing how much he really cared for he so obviously if he thought that Rhaegar raped and actually kidnapped Lyanna against her wishes, then he would be the one most upset but instead he praises Rhaegar and doesn’t speak badly about him as much as Robert does. Robert probably does because he can’t believe that Lyanna would love someone other than him and lives in refusal and jumps to the conclusion she was raped etc etc but Ned is just happy that his friend cares that much about his sister and is happy he still thinks about her. lol I’m just assuming. also taking in mind that Lyanna was strong as fuck and she wouldn’t let Rhaegar take her away easy, she would’ve tried to come back but she knew she was bethrothed to Robert who she spoke about before being afraid that he wouldn’t be faithful to her. she also cried during his music performance and for my knowledge, though she was a woman, she was most memorable for being fierce so maybe this is a sign of her having genuine feelings for Rhaegar?

    Idk but I’m jut hoping there is at least one female character that hasn’t be threatened by rape and there actually is a sign of true love in these books.

  33. stephen says:

    I like this Rhaegar, Lyanna, love child theory. I just stumbled upon it here after just finishing book 1. I finished the book feeling captivated by the mysterious background behind Rhaegar and Neds promise to Lyanna. This theory feels right and I would love for it to be true.
    However I cant understand why Ned would not tell Lady Catelyn the truth about Jon’s derivation. This would certainly have avoided a great deal of pain and suffering for Ned, who Catelyn could never forgive for his having an affair. For Jon who was hated by Catelyn who only saw him as the product of Ned’s alleged affair. And Catelyn herself who felt betrayed by Ned. I could understand why Ned would keep this a secret from Jon, his family, Robert and the rest of the world. But why keep it a secret from his wife? If this is so, why let all these false feelings fester within his family?

    • Lady T says:

      I feel like Ned is so committed to the idea of HONOR and following the letter of the law, not necessarily the spirit, and if Lyanna asked him to not tell ANYONE about Jon’s true parentage, he was going to commit to that – even if it caused friction within his own marriage. I agree, though, that he could have avoided a lot of trouble if he had just been honest with her in the first place.

  34. Ellen Yarbrough says:

    Have you read A Clash of Kings yet? Dany sees a vision in the House of the Undying that leads me to believe that Rhaegar and Lyanna did indeed love each other.

    • Orleanna says:

      Thanks for this discussion, loved reading it! I believe that Rhaegar did legitimately love Lyanna, (maybe it’s just wishful thinking) but think about this- a relationship like one between a crown prince and a young girl both of whom are engaged/married to someone else is classic GRRM material. It’s a little twisted, and wouldn’t it be GRRM’s style to have them be in love? Rhaegar was locked in a loveless marriage to Elia whom he seemed to respect, but not love. He turned from his bookish youth to become a knight for the good of the kingdom- he has sacfificed his personal happines for his station.
      His life can’t have been easy. A mad father, a loveless marriage, a kingdom torn by strife, truth to be told he had probably ever been in love. What if he did fall in love with Lyanna, a beautiful, spirited girl who was wilful, something he could not afford to be? If you had never truly felt love before I could understand throwing everything into the wind for it. Maybe Rhaegar wanted to have some freedom in his life and his love for Lyanna was that freedom. A defiance of every rule in the book. Something that couldn’t be but was worth enough to him that he would die for it.
      They both seemed to have been unhappy before they met, Lyanna was engaged to a man she never loved and Rhaegar had a kingdom on his shoulders. Lyanna could have easily fallen for the beautiful Rhaegar that was quite similar to her in his feelings towards life, but also because of his skill in combat, musical ability and sharp mind.
      Why would Rhhaegar crown Lyanna his queen if he wasn’t in love with her? It was much too risky a move for him to make if it wasn’t for a reason that seemed good to him. His reason for crowning her might have been lve.
      He was a logical person, and when he met Lyanna I believe logic failed him. Rhaegar could have offered Lyanna a chance at freedom by running away with him, and by being with her he was living his freedom too. I also don’t believe he raped her. That doesn’t fit what we know of his character. Jon Snow must have been their child, legitimate or not, and I seriously hope we get some more insight into their relationship in the last 2 books!

  35. laurt says:

    Honestly I think she was having sex with both. When she got pregnant she thought it was the Prince’s son. That is why told Ned to protect him. However when Ned read about Roberts family with the hair black as raven, he realizes that Jon is actually Roberts son and the heir, not Joffry.

    • Issarie says:

      Thing is that Jon Snow does not have black hair in the books (the show portrays him that way, but not the literature). He has brown hair like his ‘father’ Ned, and looks VERY much like him.

      However, he also looks like Arya (who looks like Ned too), but Arya is also always mentioned as looking and acting just like Lyanna; she is frequently compared to Lyanna. This suggests that Jon received Ned’s physical traits from Lyanna instead, making him appear as a Stark. I don’t think he looks like either Robert or Rhaegar.

      Also, I want to note that while Daenarys is mostly immune to fire (her hair burns off), Jon Snow did manage to burn his hand when fighting wights. Now we remember that Daeny suggests (spoiler – book 5) to Quentyn that he’s blood of the dragon, and this results in him being burnt. I wholeheartedly believe that Jon is Rhaegar’s son, but I’m torn about whether he’ll truly be on of the “heads of the dragon”.
      Then again, it isn’t a requirement to be immune to fire to be a Targaryen, and that just might be something special about Daenarys. I still hope that Jon is Lyanna and Rhaegar’s son though.

  36. Finnja says:

    Ok, I’m a bit late in the game, only know ASOIAF since very recently. Anyway, I think one aspect is missed in that discussion. Doesn’t Ned tell Rob he didn’t know Lyanna’s ‘iron’ beneath her beauty? And at oe point she basically dismisses the idea of ‘love’ (like: love won’t change a man’s character).Pretty unromantic girl in my book. And yet, the only question here is: was she robbed and raped or did she lose her head, crazy for love? No one seems to find it thinkable that she left woth Rhaegar’s son due to strategic, big ideas – like: the only way to get rid of the mad king is a union of fire and ice that starts a new age, but no one else may know as this might endanger the project? One may argue that it is a sad state of affairs, when a woman’s only way to have an impact politically is by bearing a child. But it would suit an empowered woman better than losing her head drunken with love and running off. (That even the most empowered woman – or man – is not immune to rape is another thing, so this not off the table, of course). Maybe Martin is not feminist enough for such a storyline, sure, but I am stupefied that something along those lines isn’t even considered on here.

  37. anneboleyn says:

    I have another theory. We know that Lyanna is like Arya, who was determined to a shieldmaiden and independent, and that she was doomed to an arranged marriage, which is anything but independent. She’s completely financially dependent of her father, so she can’t exactly give him the finger and run for the woods. However, if she was anything like Arya, she would definitely not have sat there doing nothing.

    Enter Rhaegar. He’s obsessed with prophecy and needs a third child- and this is the song of ICE and FIRE, so who better than the northern girl, Lyanna Stark, who he seems to respect? Lya however, is not going to ‘let him ride the rollercoaster without paying the ticket’ (Mary Cooper) and demands, in exchange for a child, an estate, or something that allows her to support herself why she achieves her dreams.

  38. Malcolm says:

    “Why would Ned participate in a rebellion to get his sister back if she went willingly?”
    Well, the whole thing went out of control when Brandon Stark went south with the sons of several powerful lords of the Riverlands and the Vale. Crazy Aerys grabbed them, called their fathers south, and burned all of them. At that point. it wasn’t about Lyanna and Rhaegar. It was about Aerys being Aerys.

    Ned’s actual thoughts seem to point to Lyanna being happier with Rhaegar… I also doubt that Rhaegar chose her for her Beauty. It is strongly implied that Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree and that Rhaegar knew that she was. This is probably why he crowned her Queen of Beauty to begin with.

  39. Øyvind Frivold says:

    it has been a while since i read the books but if i remember correctly Rhaegar gathered the powers of the seven kingdoms to the turney at harrenhall to try and start a peaceful rebelion of sorts against his father. the mad king had not left kingslanding since the defiance of duskendale but supprised everyone by comming to the turney and in doing so, chrused the rebellion. baristan selmy believes that aerys was afraid of rhaegar and went to the turney to prevent him from taking the iron throne.
    when the mystery knight appeared in the lists aerys sent rhaegar to capture and unmask him.
    if indeed the mysteryknight turns out to have been lyanna they might have met alone in a forest where they probably fell in love. Rhaegar knew he had just lost his chance to save the kingdoms from the war that had been breweing and all he could do was to fulfill the prophecy.*
    rhaegar returned and said he had only found a shield hanging from a tree but a few days later he crowns lyanna as the queen of love and beauty with her favorite flowers.

    *in danis vision at the house of the undying she sees rhaegar talking about the prince that was promised and he says “his is the song of ice and fire”. i take this to mean that the prince that was promised has dragon blood and the blood of the first men.(aemon believes that there might have been a misstranslation and that the word prince is wrong and that the prophecy is not gender specific meaning that every theory we have about jon being the promised prince might be wrong)

    when rhaegar “kidnaps” lyanna, robert reacts by staring his rebellion, but ned stark only joins in after his father and brother is killed by aerys, not imidiatly after the kidnapping.(if lyanna was pregnant that might explain some of aerys reluctance to giving her back to the north) it is only then that john arryn and the lord of riverrun joins the fight to avenge the stark lords.

    some have commented that rhaegar was an asshat when he left elia and the kids in the red keep but it might be that aerys held elia and her children as hostages not only to calm dorne but rhaegar as well.

    lyanna was protected by three of the kingsguard at the tover of joy. the kingsguard is reserved for royalty so who where they protecting? a very highborn child perhaps?

    after ned hears lyannas last words he travels to starfall to return the sword of sir arthur dayne and stays there for a while. there he finds a milkmaid for jon. (edric dayne says the wetnurse is jon’s mother) and for some unknown reason ashara dayne jumps from a tower in sorrow.
    ned’s promise is probably, as mentioned above several times, to not tell anyone about jon’s targaryen blood to protect him from robert.

    in response to the fact that jon burns his hand i seem to remember something about both ice and sea dragons. then dany would be a regular dragon, jon would be the ice dragon and maybe the last one is for some iron born? asha greyjoy flying a dragon would be awesome.
    tyrion might also be half a dragon. there are roumors in lannisport that aerys raped his mother and tywin says “you are no son of mine” on his deathbed. however, that would still only make him a golden dragon.(pun intended)

    anyway, my point is that rhaegar might not have been the cowardly asshole that some belives he was. also i dont htink that robert would have been capable of rape, as he seems to have a very high opinion about himself and his honor, and the way he hates cruelty.(as evident by him wanting to beat jeoffrey after the incident with the kittens)
    in fact i believe that there was no rape at all and that rhaegar was swept of his feet by lyanna stark and escaped with her after his plans to rescue the kingdoms from war failed.

    btw; if aegon was rescued from the red keep and replaced with a baseborn child, did they also rescue his sister rahella? if so there would be yet another dragon somwhere! has there been any mentioning of a girl about 20 old years old with purple eyes and silver hair?

    sorry for the wall of text and the many spelling errors, but i needed to respond to this.i love debating the asoiaf books.

    • Newb fan says:

      Wow! Brilliant!!! I am fairly new to this whole series.

      But there are some things I believe in right now, and I bet a lot of people believe in the same too. (Which worries me because I am afraid GRRM may change things in his books to surprise us.

      1> I believe the identity of the Knight of the Laughing Tree is a crucial piece to the whole story. I do believe it was probably Lyanna Stark. And that is how she met Rhaegar.

      2> I also think that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. There are too many clues pointing towards it.

      3> I also hope that if Jon Snow is a Targaryen, he does not marry Dany. I’m sorry but the whole incestuous storyline does put me off. And for someone from the Stark family to behave that way is not fun to watch. And I like the Dany & Drogo love story. I can’t think of her falling in love with any other character after that!

      4> Now that Aegon is alive, I feel both Aegon and Jon Snow are very important to the story. The question is who is the greater of the two.

      5> My fav female character is Lyanna Stark and I like her way more than Dany.

  40. Newb fan says:

    Another thing that I am curious about is the fact that the baby Aegon was brutally murdered (his skull crushed). Was there some plan there so that no one recognizes the switched baby? Maybe, there are some men who wanted to keep baby Aegon safe till he came of age to rule the seven kingdoms.

  41. Anne says:

    Hi. I love to read about GOT and found your site. I think a recurring theme in these books is the power of love and the conflict of love and duty. The books show the deep unhappiness of some of the “high-born” couples who are forced, at a very young age, by ambitious parents, to marry people they don’t know, and never grow to love or even like. Witness the deep life-long unhappiness of Cersei and Robert, or Lysa and Jon Arryn. I don’t blame Rhaegar for running off with Lyanna. I think the hints are there that they both wanted to be together. I don’t see it as a rape — not in the stories so far anyway. The arranged marriage practice worked for some couples in the books — Dany and Drogo (who treasures Dany in the books, in his barbarian way) and Catelyn and Ned — who had a very loving — and atypical — family life compared to other families in the books (Lysa and her sicko babying of her creepy son, Cersei’s horrible son Joffrey and awful relationship with Robert, Samwell’s bullying father). The conflict between love and duty is explored in all these relationships. Rob marries for love and we know how that ends. Sansa, in the later books, comes to understand that most of the people who want her around really want her claim to Winterfell. Yet she still dreams of marrying for love. By the way, I like the Sandor/Sansa relationship. They aren’t as far apart in age in the books, and by Westerosi standards she’s seen as grown. They both are idealistic underneath, which is one thing that draws them together. Sandor is drawn to her idealism — his constant anger is that of an enraged believer — it makes him bitter that the values of a “true knight” aren’t upheld. He admires Sansa’s belief in those values that he secretly shares. He’s a damaged ruffian, but is kinder to Sansa than anyone else in King’s Landing. Westeros is a very rough world, where life is often brutal and short. And some of the characters break out of their proscribed bonds to try and find some happiness (Tyrion and his little crofter’s daughter, before his dad destroyed that for him). I suspect that was what happened with Rhaegar and Lyanna.

  42. Ha! I just developed this theory myself (I’m halfway through the second book), and started scouring the internet for backup and came upon this. I am 100% convinced that this is the truth of Jon’s parentage. As to the rape vs. love debate, I think it leans more towards love or at the least an agreement between them and not forced abduction/rape.

    You said: One thing that A Song of Ice and Fire is missing is an epic love story. I don’t think I’m going to get an epic love story with the current living characters.

    And Klaus said: I do believe that Jon is Lyannas son, too. With Rhaegar his father that makes him half a Targaryen. And THAT makes him a perfect match with Danaerys – the rightful heir of the Iron Throne. There’s your epic love story.
    It’s called A Song of Ice and Fire: Ice (Jon) and Fire (Dany). So I really would love to see them both rule over the 7 Kingdoms. After all the cruelty and downfalls and the near extinction of the Starks a happy end seems ..ehm. compensating.

    I’m with Klaus. I think the series may end with Dany and Jon as Queen and King, (and their child and heir will be the third head of the dragon.) And this is their saga; their song.Yeah, it’s a little incesty, but way less than the Lannister twincest. I’m also pretty sure Arya/Gendry’s going to be a thing, and that will also be a kind of redemption because it’ll be the union of a Stark woman and a Beratheon man, but this time it’ll go through and it will be one of love.

  43. Peter says:

    Thank you for a thought-provoking and thorough essay.

    Your argument about Robert not being a credible source, and of Ned Stark not speaking ill of Raegar, is very persuasive, and does not fall into any sort of rape apologetics.

    As for your theory that Jon Snow is the son of Raegar and Lyanna, I can think of other supporting evidence: Ned’s cryptic refusal to speak of the affair to Robert, and also his insistence that he not tell Jon who his mother was until a time after Jon had taken the Black. (If Jon knew his heritage before taking the black, he might become a contender for the Throne). Under this theory, it’s possible that Ben Stark was also in on the secret, which would be why he would talk Jon Snow into taking the Black.

    One counterargument that I would love to see you address: If your theory is correct, then why would Ned refuse to bring Catelyn in on the secret? She would have kept the secret. She would have treated Jon as her son if she didn’t think Jon was the product of Ned’s infidelity. Why put Catelyn and Jon through that hell? Ned doesn’t seem like the sort to keep that sort of thing from his wife, who he trusts and loves so completely.

  44. Teri says:

    I mostly skimmed some of the replies so I’m sorry if this has already been said…but what really stuck out for me was when Danaerys went to the House of the Undying and she saw a man, woman and baby in a tower, and the man was playing a harp. It was totally Rhaeghar, Lyanna and Baby Jon. 🙂

  45. Jas says:

    No its not lyanna.. When the mother asks what shall we name the child the prince replies as ‘aegon’. Which we know was the name rhaegar’s son with elia. Its therefore, elia with her son aegon.. Who by the way is still alive.

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