Spoiler Alert: This piece may contain spoilers from any material of A Song of Ice and Fire.
As you read, remember George's words regarding Ned's flashback: "Ned's account, which you refer to, was in the context of a dream... and a fever dream at that. Our dreams are not always literal."
1) Lyanna was kidnapped, but not by Rhaegar.
Look. Everyone is pointing out how stupid Rhaegar was to kidnap or elope with Lyanna. I totally agree that it would be completely irresponsible and short-sighted. We're also told in no uncertain terms that Rhaegar simply is not that stupid. This is a contradiction that cannot be ignored.
The most common attempts to reconcile this apparent contradiction are to suggest that Rhaegar was blinded by true love or an obsession with prophecy. These is inadequate, to say the least. Ser Barristan Selmy described Rhaegar as "Able. That above all. Determined, deliberate, dutiful, single-minded." Such a man would have certainly taken more care in securing a third heir. The Official Story just doesn't fit.
What fits better? This: the kingsguard (and perhaps Rhaegar with them) were on a rescue mission. If someone else kidnapped Lyanna, there would be an element of urgency that much better explains Rhaegar's sudden absence. Who would do such a thing? Oberyn Martell.
"My sister loved him. She bore his children. Swaddled them, rocked them, fed them at her own breast. Elia wouldn't let the wet nurse touch them. And beautiful, noble Rhaegar Targaryen... left her for another woman."
Some have noted the similarities between the Tower of Joy and Joyous Gard. Who did Lancelot confront at Joyous Gard? The copper knight.
Oberyn's love for his sister, Elia, is well known. He, and all of Dorne, would have taken the crowning of Lyanna at Harrenhal as an insult. Furthermore, we know how important Dorne's arranged marriages were to the ruling family. Rhaegar's attention toward Lyanna would have been viewed as a threat to Dorne's power and influence. Dorne simply could not permit a relationship between Rhaegar and Lyanna to grow.
"But it is the grass that hides the viper from his enemies and shelters him until he strikes."
The World of Ice and Fire tells us, "With the coming of the new year, the crown prince had taken to the road with half a dozen of his closest friends and confidants, on a journey that would ultimately lead him back to the riverlands, not ten leagues from Harrenhal . . . where Rhaegar would once again come face-to-face with Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and with her light a fire that would consume his house and kin and all those he loved—and half the realm besides."
Lyanna was probably on the way to Brandon's wedding in Riverrun. Rhaegar may have been too. This would have been a great opportunity for Oberyn to strike as Lyanna had left the safety of Harrenhal where she was residing as a ward. Rhaegar seems to have split his group and gone south after her.
How, then, did the rumor of a kidnapping by Rhaegar originate? Funny you should ask, because there just happened to be a bitter little snot whose path met the Crossroads Inn during this same timeframe. Petyr Baelish had just received a good beating from Brandon Stark at Riverrun, and was on his way back to the Fingers to lick his wounds and rage about losing Catelyn forever. Could he have witnessed the kidnapping? Could he have even sped Rhaegar and friends on their way to rescue Lyanna? And finally, could he have concocted the most convenient lie that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna and took her back to King's Landing - the lie that led to the immediate death of his most hated rival?
After Brandon's death, Littlefinger sent a letter to Catelyn, which she promptly burned unopened. What was in it, I wonder?
If the kingsguard were indeed on a rescue mission, then the encounter at the Tower of Joy probably was not the duel to the death that many believe it to be. This fits in quite well with the Mance Rhaegar theory, as well as a little something else...
|The standard of House |
There is a very solid theory about Howland Reed being the High Sparrow. (Also related: Goldilocks and the Three Bears.) Given that, and given the possibility that there are more survivors from the Tower of Joy than we originally thought, (Lord Dustin's bones, anyone?) I submit that Theo Wull is still working with Howland Reed to this day.
Theo was nicknamed "Buckets" because his house's sigil is three wooden buckets, brown on blue, with a border of grey and white checks. It looks a lot like a fricken well. Bricks on the outside, water inside, and buckets. Seriously.
"Well, he is, but they just call him the Wull." - Bran
Howland needs to be working with people he can implicitly trust. Who better to be the captain of the Warrior's Sons than someone who has been in on the whole Mance Rhaegar conspiracy from the beginning? Besides, the only account of his character is given by Ned Stark, and the one word Ned used to describe the man is "faithful." That's cute, George.
This is an extremely important revelation because, if true, there are almost certainly other survivors of the encounter at the tower. I suspect that Ned's other companions are knee deep in these shenanigans. Let me know if you spot any more.