Thursday is theory day now.
This is the tenth article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right.
Prepare for part 10. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously.
What exactly did happen with Rhaegar and Lyanna?
Hehe, the mother of all fan theories. So, let's start in the beginning. In the tourney of the False Spring, Howland Reed gets molested by some squires and avenged by the "Knight of the Laughing Tree", which bests their knights and demands an apoplogy. This mystery knight was, I believe, Lyanna. We know that she was a good rider and that she had a way with a sword (after all, she defended Howland against all three squires). So, why not lancing, too? Seems possible if the three knights were not the brightest fruits around and she was full of zealotry, as Jorah Mormont back in his day. After, she disappeared, befitting a mystery knight, but unfortunately, Aerys demanded a search which was led by Rhaegar. I assume that Rhaegar managed to find her quickly enough and included her in his "Song of Ice and Fire" theory, revealing a good grasp of metaphors. The two came together, and Lyanna got hooked on his whole prophecy angle, not being really excited about the Baratheon match to begin with. Rhaegar then travelled to Winterfell some time later and "abducted" her, basically asking her to run away with him. It's not entirely clear how he did this, but I guess being the heir to the realm offers some resources. He brought her to the Tower of Joy, his little man-cave in the Dornish Mountains, where no one was able to find them and had a little honeymoon, while Brandon Stark rode to King's Landing and started a war. Rhaegar impregnated Lyanna as he planned (prophecy and all), learned of the war and rode to the Trident with the remnants of the Targaryen army and the Dornish troops, leaving behind three trusted kingsguard with his new bride (likely he married her in a secret ceremony. Aegon set the precedent for two wives, after all) and the little babe in her womb. The battle of course went sour, and Lyanna died birthing her son, taking the promise from Eddard on her deathbed to keep the secret. Eddard took the child, named it Jon after his beloved mentor, and spun a life-lie around it - the things we do for life. Beautiful, haunting and tragic story.
What is the deal with Aurane Waters?
Aurane Waters is a bastard member of house Velaryon, a minor Valyrian house who made the journey with the Targaryens back before the Doom of Valyria. They have no attachment to the Targaryens anymore that we know of, though, and are sworn to Dragonstone. Aurane Waters fought for Stannis on the Trident, bent the knee to Joffrey and suddenly rose to fame after he won the favor of Cersei in "A Feast for Crows". The circumstances of this are fairly mundane: Aurane Waters looks a bit like Rhaegar, since he also has some Valyrian blood - he has the same silverish hair. Cersei, getting more and more hooked up with the "what could have beens" of her past as the present proves to be more and more dismal, grasps the opportunity and names Waters "Master of Ships" - one of her many bad personell decisions. Waters takes all the money available and starts to build a fleet of dromons for Cersei, which he manages to complete quickly. When Cersei gets incarcerated, he takes the ships and goes rogue, pirating around the Stepstones. Many people made up theories that he serves some higher power - Stannis, Danaerys or Aegon being chief among them - but I seriously doubt it. Waters was in no position to gain anything until Cersei decided she would like to fuck him, and that woman was mad at that time. Nobody could have planned this, which makes a secret plot unlikely. So, Waters was just smart enough to recognize that a Kevan-Lannister-court holds nothing for him, took what he could and made the best of it, revealing yet another case of bad character judgment by Cersei.
Is it coincidence that the Others are attacking for the first time in eras, now that the kingdoms are highly shattered?
The Others haven't been seen in centuries, so why do they attack now that the kingdom is at war with itself? There are to levels to this, one in the world itself and a narrative one. Concerning the world, it's pure coincidence. The Others appeared before Jon Arryn was murdered, and unless Littlefinger somehow is their agent, their appearance has nothing to do with any of this. There are greater forces at work here that go way beyond the Game of Thrones. On a narrative level, this is no coincidence, of course. It raises the stakes very high and prevents an easy "Robert rallying the realm, joining Eddard in the North and of to the climactic battle". Martin isn't recreating the Lord of the Rings here.