Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tower of Joy - For the Record

Spoiler Alert: This piece may contain spoilers from any material of A Song of Ice and Fire.

   I want to get two mini-theories out there just for the record, because I haven't seen anyone suggest them yet.  Both of them have something to do with the Tower of Joy, and tie in well with the Mance Rhaegar theory.

   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 are 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, Rhaegar fell upon Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and carried her off, lighting a fire that would consume his house and kin and all those he loved—and half the realm besides."

   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 Wells Wull by Eagle of Seagard
2) Theodan Wells is Theo Wull.

   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.


J! said...

Hey Jeremy,

Theory 1 is awesome. Definitely the freshest theory I've heard in a while with a lot of implications. Is Jon actually Dornish and the son of Oberyn? We know the Martells have Targaryen blood in their line. Why would Rhaegar bring Lyanna so close to Dorne right after a Dornish kidnap plot? How did Oberyn escape? Was he exiled by Doran for his actions? Would love to see it hashed out on the forums.

As for theory 2, I had a theory that Theodan Wells was Septon Chayle who was a great swimmer and was thrown down the well in Winterfell by Theon. You could be right though. Either way, I've become less convinced about the HR=HS theory over time.

Final note, you're my favorite for embracing Mance is Rhaegar. I so hope its true. Email me if you want to collaborate on something j j duffy 3 3 3 at gmail dot com

Jeremy Johnson said...

My assumption is that Rhaegar and/or the kingsguard were bringing Lyanna *out* of Dorne. The only reason they were ever in Dorne is because that's where the Dornish brought her.

Oberyn is a slippery snake, so I'm confident in his ability to avoid capture when he knows he's outmatched. Retaining a prisoner is another matter, though. It's difficult to say how the game of cat and mouse (dragon and snake) would have played out - how long it took, how far they traveled, at what point Lyanna was rescued, if there was further pursuit afterward, the return journey, etc. I doubt that Jon is Oberyn's, though, because there are so many subtle references to him being Rhaegar's (or MAYBE Arthur's).

Doran makes suggestions that he and Oberyn worked together more than most people think. This is one item where they would probably be in agreement - Oberyn for his love of Elia, and Doran for his gaming of thrones.

Regarding Chayle, that's pretty funny and I like it! It is curious that George would make note of his swimming ability.

I don't keep up on all the theories so I only recently became aware of HR=HS. I don't find the criticisms to be convincing, but I haven't looked into it extensively. If the Mance Rhaegar conspirators are scheming to unite the people and save the realm, the High Sparrow's efforts certainly seem to be in line with theirs. I was partial to the HR=Jojen theory until I read this one. Wherever he is, I do not believe the man is idle.

I may shoot you a note. I don't participate in the forums because I don't have the time, I'm honestly not a huge fan of George, and I thought the last two books were awful compared to the first that hooked us in. I just appreciate the "mystery novel" aspect of the overall story. If others were to discuss these ideas in the forums I'd read them.

ND said...

Do you find it odd that in Ned's recollection, the Kingsguard are all sitting around outside the tower, not ready for a fight?

They were seven, facing three. In the dream as it had been in life. Yet these were no ordinary three. They waited before the round tower, the red mountains of Dorne at their backs, their white cloaks blowing in the wind.

And they aren't even ready for a fight:

The hilt of the greatsword Dawn poked up over his right shoulder. Ser Oswell Whent was on one knee, sharpening his blade with a whetstone.

Then they have a weird conversation with Ned, and Arthur takes his time putting his helmet on. Almost like they were waiting for Ned to arrive and help them attack the tower.

Finally, there is this:

"The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed." Father had gotten sad then, and he would say no more. Bran wished he had asked him what he meant.

No mention of the Tower of Joy here. I think the incident Ned is talking about is the Tourney of Harranhal; Arthur caught him with Ashara, and Howland intervened.

Jeremy Johnson said...

Hah! I like the way you think, ND. It is indeed merely an assumption that the Reed reference had anything to do with the Tower of Joy. Why was Ned looking for them? To hunt or to assist? Perhaps Ned might have also believed the lies started by Littlefinger if Howland had not gathered better intelligence, sparing them an unnecessary confrontation.

I've been working on a new facet of this overall theory: that House Mormont is not an old house at all - that Ned created it as part of his northern conspiracy.

- Jeor Mormont fed Jon a load of aurochs poo when he talked about his family history and Longclaw. The sword is, in fact, Dark Sister which was left in his chambers by Bloodraven. I suspect that fierce, old Jeor was truly fierce, old Gerold.
- Bloodraven has been communicating with Jeor through the raven. He even likes to perch on his old sword, which is cute. I think Bloodraven had a huge hand in restoring some semblance of order to the Wall after personally witnessing the incompetence of Sleepy Jack's Watch while disguised as Red Raven.
- There is no mention of House Mormont in Maester Yandel's "The World of Ice and Fire" despite the fact that it records the winning of Bear Island by Rodrik Stark - the event that allegedly placed the Mormonts as overlords of the isle.
- Jorah may not even be related to Jeor, though it's still hard to say how he comes into all of this.

You heard it here first.

Another possible survivor might be Martyn Cassel. House Cassel has no history to speak of. He could easily be Ser Rodrik, and nobody would be the wiser. Did Rodrik use his sickness as a mere pretense to shave his prominent whiskers on his way to King's Landing where someone might recognize him?

That one's not as solid, but it's a fun idea.

ND said...

Do you think Jeor may have deliberately weakened the wall by taking 300 of the Nights Watch to the Fist of First Men in order to give Mance and his wildlings a clear run at Castle Black?

Jeremy Johnson said...

No. While the fist certainly had to be a pretense for something else, I suspect it had more to do with the passing Jon off to Rhaegar or some related matter. Qhorin is probably Arthur Dayne, though I also suspect Tormund of being in on this. Jeor is working with Mance to unite the wildlings and Watch against the Others, but I don't think he would willingly subject his Watch to such a fate.

Joel Huettig said...

I like the Jeor=Gerold idea.Old White Bulls and old,black bears fit, as does hightower/mor mont (French mountain).

As Benjen was clearly apart of this group, what of him? I have to subscribe to the much scorned Daario theory. I actually like it a lot. The only textual evidence I can find--Daario is somewhat unnecessarily described as wearing a black cloak and salt-stained boots on the night he brings the Stormcrows over. Also (haven't seen it, but heard about) in the show he gives Dany a blue rose…

Like Quorin, whom I am absolutely convinced is Arthur (Q uses a similar phrase with Jon as the wildlings attack as the one he says to Ned, btw), Daario has a suspiciously vacuous backstory, as do the Stormcrows. In all of their pillow talk, Dany never once gets him talking about his past? Not that it didn't happen offstage, but for an author like GRRM, who revels in lineage and provenance, to seemingly deliberately withhold information seems conspicuous.

I would suggest that Bloodraven and/or Mance (possibly in possession of a glass candle) dispatched Ben to get Dany. He took a load of gold, purchased his way into an already formed band of sellswords, gave them an almost too easy to spot name (Crows and Storms, sheesh) and headed east. After all he knows about his sister falling in love with a Targ, is it any wonder he would as well?

For as brilliant as some paint GRRM to be, many of his aliases are almost silly (not that I spotted any of them on my first read)
Arellas--Sarella (!)
Mance Rayder--Prince Rhaegar, almost rhymes
Jeor Mormont--Gerold Hightower
The infamous "Larry, Moe, and Curly" sellswords

That being said, Quorin and Daario aren't as obvious at all.

In the end, I see all of this group as analogous to the Dunedain in LOTR, hidden warriors protecting the north, led by a lost king.

ND said...

Unfortunately, I don't think anyone else other than Ned, Howland and Arthur survived the Tower of Joy.

Ned recalls building 8 cairns, for the 8 who died: Hightower, Whent, Dustin, Glover, Cassel, Wull, Ryswell and Lyanna. He later returns some bones back to Winterfell, which may or may not have been Lyanna. I'm guessing not, or he would have brought back all the remains (which Lady Dustin is upset about). He most likely did this is so that if anyone finds the cairns, they would think the 8th is for Arthur.

There's a lot more evidence pointing to Daario being Euron Greyjoy. You should check out that theory, it's a lot more compelling than Daario=Benjen.

Joel Huettig said...


I haven't paid much attention to the Euron theory, and maybe I've discounted it too easily. The thing I like about the way Jertech thinks is that I can see narrative truth in it. Arthur and Rhaegar at the Wall make sense. Benjen protecting/guiding Dany in the guise of Daario also makes sense to me, even if there is little to no evidence of it. Euron as Daario doesn't make any sense to me narratively. He is obviously aware and interested in her, and I am not entirely convinced sending Victarion is the whole sum of his plan to capture(?) her, but masquerading as Daario for an indeterminate amount of time, seizing on an unanticipated opportunity to make the trip to the Iron Islands, reaving for a while, and then sailing back to Mereen is just…no offense, but it sounds like a plot from Scooby-doo. But, like I said, I haven't given it much of a deep look.

That may speak as well to how differently people are digesting these books. I see Daario as a likable, "good guy" roguish Han Solo type character--and I am aware some people see him in a much less favorable light-- and Euron as possibly one of the most villainous, so that part doesn't fit for me either. Anyhow, I'm not sure how much I believe in the Ben/Daario theory either, but I also don't believe Ben is just dead, or that he has been on some long winter walkabout, so I need to find a place for him. For me, Lyanna's brother hanging out with Rhaegar's sister/cousin has a lot of thematic/inferential "evidence" going for it.

Jeremy Johnson said...

Joel, thanks for your "narrative truth" comment. Essentially, that's the concept that tipped me off, independently, to Mance Rhaegar as I was reading Dance. I saw a significant narrative purpose in the conspiracy. It's not a theory that begins with textual evidence (though it has plenty) but rather a perception of the author's intent and a concept of what the overall picture might look like.

Benjen is definitely a part of the group, as this conspiracy provides an excellent narrative reason for his joining the Night's Watch. Jon has been wondering about him a lot, and I suspect this might be a bit of misdirection on Martin's part. I don't think he's where we would expect him, but I just can't see him being Daario either.

I do however, see a narrative reason for Daario being someone who is in on the Mance Rhaegar conspiracy. I'm reminded of how Ned advocated passionately against the assassination of Daenerys. I've also been wondering a lot about Jorah's role in this. I'm not certain that he's in on the conspiracy, and perhaps he may have been at one time but went rogue? I believe that House Mormont was created by Ned as part of this conspiracy, and if Jorah made it to Daenerys's side, why not another conspirator? I'm also reminded of how Selmy thinks she looks much like Ashara. Perhaps Ned wants to protect her for the sake of the Daynes. She talks all the time about how Targaryen she is; wouldn't that be ironic?

I can't see Daario being Euron either, but I haven't read the theory in detail. I see more narrative purpose in him being one of Ned and Rhaegar's conspirators. Stormcrows... hmm...

I wouldn't read too much into the cairns. George explicitly warned us not to take Ned's dream too literally. I suspect they will make more sense when connected with other evidence.

I recently had another revelation. There's only a single textual reference to the Tower of Joy, and shame on the Wiki for implying otherwise. Was the "tower long fallen" when Ned was there? Is it, in fact, Rhaegar's beloved Summerhall? This would, again, have more of a narrative purpose.

ND said...

I'm not completely sold on the Daario = Euron theory either, I just find it more likely than Daario = Benjen.

Alternatively, it's likely that Daario is merely an agent of Illyrio. There seems to be a lot of feuding over Dany between Doran & Illyrio, and I believe they are the two players that Varys speaks about when Arya overhears them in the Red Keep dungeons. So this works thematically as a counter to Doran's agent Brown Ben Plumm (remember that Oberyn was a member of the Second Sons).

If that's the case, then Daario is just another guy. So is there a connection to Rhaegar's conspiracy? Well, there's a lot of links between the Illyrio & Rhaegar

- Varys saved Aegon, Rhaegar's son
- Illyrio took in Viserys & Dany, Rhaegar's brother & sister
- Rhaegar's best friend Jon Connington is working with Illyrio
- Jeor's son Jorah is working for Illyrio
- Septa Lemore is most likely Arthur's sister, Ashara Dayne

If it was Oberyn who kidnapped Lyanna, then this would run counter to Illyrio's plans as well. For their feud to go that far back, it makes me think Doran v Illyrio is actually the continuation of Rhoyne v Valyria. The Dornish are descended from the Rhoynish, and Targaryens from Valyria. No wonder the Sorrows redirected the Shy Maid back to the Bridge of Dream after Tyrion mentions Rhaegar & Varys!

Is Rhaegar & Illyrio's end goal the restoration of Old Valyria, or going back further, the Golden Empire of the Dawn? It would make sense, since the end of the Golden Empire triggered the Long Night.

Jeremy Johnson said...

After actually reading Daario/Euron, I kind of like it. Not sold, but I like the idea of Victarion smashing the enemy at Mereen only to have Euron jump out of nowhere to claim the queen and her dragons.

Regarding Varys and Illyrio, I am actually quite certain that they have been working against Rhaegar for a long time. They're in with the Faceless Men, who are in with the Others and supplying them corpses. "All men must die" does not mean "death is inevitable" but rather "humanity must be exterminated." This is precisely what Rhaegar is working against. In fact, I believe that Varys is a better reason for hiding Rhaegar than Robert. Check out The Grand Faceless Men Conspiracy Theory.

To your points, ND:
- Aegon is probably a Blackfyre or someone else.
- Illyrio meant to use them, as Varys used Aerys. Also, Rhaegar is not their brother.
- Jon is a tool.
- Jorah is a bit of a mystery to me yet, but I suspect he defected from Ned.
- I've heard the Lemore/Ashara thing, and maybe I'm missing all the details, but I just don't see it. I'd honestly find it easier to believe Lemore is Lyanna. Know how Ned pines for Lyanna like the narrator in The Raven? Eddard's lost Lemore = Edgar's lost Lenore. Har!

Joel Huettig said...

Hmm, after rereading the Grand Faceless Men Conspiracy (did you comment under the name "GERM?") I have to rethink my Euron=Daario comments. I had forgotten any FM angle; I was picturing dyed beards and a fake eyepatch as the totality of his costume. But gaining Dany's trust in the guise of Daario, with FM techniques, seems much more plausible then kidnapping her with Victarion. So, point taken, though I'm still unsure of it all.

It would seem many readers want GoT to be a modern, realistic political drama, only with swords and the occasional bit of sorcery. And perhaps HBO is giving that, and only that, to show watchers. But for my tastes, some kind of overarching epic-ness is much more interesting in this type of storytelling, and I hope some version/cocktail of these theories proves correct.

If, after seven books and thousands of pages, it was al just a story about humans being assholes to each other...

Jeremy Johnson said...

I didn't comment; I don't have Westeros or Reddit accounts. However, I would appreciate if someone who does would point user "pobeb" this direction. I think his views on various theories would help to flesh out a lot of the ideas here. I feel that we're on the same wavelength even if we discuss different theories.

Joel, I believe Martin originally intended to have the story end with a Tolkienesque eucatastrophe. However, I think most of his readers/viewers want, as you say, a story about assholes. Because he didn't finish the story before giving the first parts to readers, I suspect he has changed course to give them more of what they want. (This may have been mostly unintentional.) A Game of Thrones was a much greater book than Feast or Dance, which were absolutely awful. If Martin does try to bring about a happy ending, who is going to even care at this point? The world is so rotten that readers really won't mind if ice demons destroy the planet. (And no, it's not lost on me that this is exactly the motivation of the Faceless Men in the conspiracy - to end the suffering.) What Tolkien described as eucatastrophe simply cannot be achieved anymore because there is so little positive emotion to gain with a happy turn of events.

Many of Martin's readers pathetically claim that A Song of Ice and Fire is realistic whereas The Lord of the Rings was childishly "black and white." This is absurd. I doubt they've actually read Tolkien, or retained what they read if they did. People like Tolkien and Lewis understood honor and nobility while demonstrating clear insight into the minds of men like Denethor, Saruman, or Uncle Andrew. Martin does not comprehend these things. The word for ASoIaF is "sadistic," not "realistic." I shudder to think how depraved such fans must be to relate so closely to what this abomination has become.

Why do I bother with the theories, then? Because I still appreciate ASoIaF as an intricate mystery series. Honestly, that and the excellent prose are the only redeeming qualities I can find now. If Mance Rhaegar is true, it does make for a very good mystery with enough clues for some readers to actually figure out the gist before the ending. I believe it would have been much better if he had completed it before releasing it, and Martin has even admitted as much, but it was not to be.

Joel Huettig said...

I briefly had a Westeros account. Getting one was kind of like getting NSA security clearance. My codename was "Asshai Backwards." Both a sarcastic jab and a literal stab at some kind of theory involving the idea that Mereen is probably equidistant from Westeros regardless of the direction sailed. Euron's knowledge of the Western Sea, Marwyn, "go east to go west," etc.

Actually, I guess I still have one, but I can't seem to stay logged in, and frankly, don't care. Very little I have to say would be appreciated there.

Most threads are incredibly trivial (who would win in a duel? or, is the seneschal at Oldtown corrupt for requiring bribes from would-be acolytes) and most devolve into literal and legalistic battles, or condescending faux-literary banter where terms like "Chekov's gun" and "trope" are thrown around like verbal hand-grenades. There, rant done.

I've long been frustrated by the way Tolkien and others have been portrayed. Had he thrown in a little more graphic violence and sex, along with POV's from the perspectives of those you mentioned and others, perhaps he'd be considered a more "mature" writer. But that is the case with much "great" literature; happy endings need not apply.

At any rate, I am much like you, I suppose, in how I view Martin. I took it as light, guilty pleasure diversionary reading. Perhaps tainted by having watched two seasons of the show first, I completely missed most every interesting mystery aspect in the books. I believe it was win I saw the barest notion that Mance=Rhaegar that I went back and started paying attention. At this point, though, both with the show diverting further and Martin falling behind, I think I am more interested in the day when Martin's notebooks become available, to find out what might have been…I have little confidence he will ever finish his Song.