Thursday is theory day.
This is the twenty-fifth 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.
What's it with the "Song of Ice and Fire?"
A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. That's what Wikipedia says, at least. Ok, bad jokes aside, we witness the "Song of Ice and Fire" twice in the first five books, save for their very titles, of course. The first time we hear it is when Bran greets the Reeds, Meera and Jojen, who cite an ancient oath to him pledging the loyalty of Greywater Watch to Winterfell. The oath ends with "we swear it by Ice and Fire". Unfortunately, Bran is curious about the line - like us, it's nothing he knows - but somehow, he forgets about it and never asks them. The second time is when Rhaegar tells his wife that his son's song has already been written and is a "Song of Ice and Fire". In Rhaegar's case, knowing of his obsession with the Azor-Ahai-prophecy, I guess he connects the song to the prophecy, and since Azor Ahai is the hero of fire and fights the cold darkness, there's an interpretation presenting itself. Why the Reeds swear by this, though, eludes me. It could just be a red herring, because it's simply two opposites, and there's no song in it. I'd guess that the song itself refers to the fight between life and death, fire and ice, Others and humans. I have a strong guess, however, that Bloodraven would know something about it, so I'd watch out primarily for Bran's chapters in "The Winds of Winter".
Will we see Howland Reed?
Howland Reed is one of the most obscure figures of the canon. Like Lyanna and Rhaegar, he's a constant shadow hovering about the story, but he has the added virtue of being alive. Should R+L=J hold any water - and it will, I'm sure of it - then Howland Reed is the only guy who knows about it. Besides, the law of Checkov's gun is also in effect, since we have heard so much about him. Eddard pointedly remembers him in "A Game of Thrones", Maester Luwin is obviously surprised to see the Reeds, making a big thing of it, and Meera and Jojen are totally surprised that Eddard never told Bran the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree, like Howland did to them, so there's that. Hey, that leads me to another one...
Who is the Knight of the Laughing Tree?
After the "little Crannogman" from Meera's story is abused, a mystery knight appears, the "Knight of the Laughing Tree", and defeats all abusers, demanding and receiving retribution. Then he vanished and couldn't be found by searching parties, including Rhaegar. Now, the obvious interpretation is that the little crannogman is Howland Reed (so far, so safe) and that he also was the knight, but I don't believe that. The interpretation I favor is the one saying that Lyanna is the Knight of the Laughing Tree. It may be a tad surprising, but consider this: she was the one going under the squires with a sword and protecting Howland, and she was really furious at them. We know she loved to ride and that she was allowed to learn a bit of swordplay, so she could definitely possess the skills necessary to knock some minor knights out of the saddle (Lady Dustin mentions to Theon that Lyanna rode as naturally as Brandon, who seemes to have been a pretty decent jouster). It also holds the explanation for why Rhaegar crowned her Queen of Love and Beauty. His search party would have had success, finding Lyanna. He would come to love or at least desire her in the process and somehow get the thought that she was the second wife he needed (ice) to his first one, Elia Martell (fire). So, he crowns her, later wins her love and then "abducts" her (in reality: runs away with her). He simply claims that he only found Lyanna's armor, and no one would have been the wiser, since suspecting a woman capable of that would be beyond imagination anyway.