Thursday is theory day.
This is the twenty-sixth 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 (email@example.com) 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 26. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously.
How could Varys even abduct Aegon?
The answer to this question determines whether or not you think that the whole idea that "Aegon" is the real thing holds any water or not. In my opinion, Varys exchanging babies equals a peace of cake. The Red Keep is full of secret tunnels and little birds. Varys could store away the swapped baby in the tunnels in the care of a little bird, wait for a moment alone (or even fabricate one), swap the two babies the job would be done. Perhaps Elia was in on the plan - hoping that she would survive and go in exile or something, where she could reunite with Aegon, Varys is good telling these stories - perhaps she was not. Varys is a cold motherfucker, after all, and I don't doubt he would have swapped them either way. And Gregor Clegane wouldn't have thought twice about Elia crying "Where is my son?" while raping and killing her, after all. Varys could then have hidden the infant somewhere - agin, there are enough tunnels to go around - and waited until the dust settled to smuggle him out of the city into Pentos, where a certain griffin lord was waiting. That is by no means to be taken as proof that Aegon really is who he thinks he is, but at least, the complexity of the abduction task wouldn't have prevented anything. Varys is resourceful enough to pull this off. After all, he tells Eddard he could get him out of the Black Cells AND King's Landing, and he only doesn't because of the questions and because it's infinitely more difficult to smuggle in an Eddard look-alike than another baby.
What would you think if Bloodraven was the father of Mance Rayder?
I AM YOUR FATHER! *hissing breathing sound* NOOOOOO! Oh, let my associations become words on the screen there, didn't I? But that's what I would be thinking. Totally needless, stupid, Hollywood-esque connection that makes no sense at all. First, Mance Rayder is, what, fifty? By that time, Bloodraven was already a tree. While you could perhaps milk the wiggly branch and somehow introduce the stuff into the wildling woman, "weird" wouldn't begin to describe it. And why, for christ sakes? Mance Rayder is the child of wildlings and was raised by the Watch. His desertion is the result of his own free will, ignited by an event impossible to construct for Bloodraven. If Mance was somehow connected to Bloodraven, the whole story would immediately degenerate into the usual fantasy stuff of magical powers using whole realms and hosts of thousands as their pawns, ready at a moment's whim. "A Song of Ice and Fire" is one really big saga inverting exactly that trope, so why should Martin suddenly reintroduce it? The Others don't have a tower with a big gleaming eye, neither. Really, sometimes I wonder whether or not we're reading the same series.
What will be in "The Winds of Winter"?
That is really a tough question. I wouldn't be surprised if Dany's return was starting, but let's look at this in a structured way. In the North, we have to resolve the Night's Watch uprising and Jon's death. I'd guess Jon comes back, much like Dany in "A Dance with Dragons", transformed and more determined. I would also guess the Others show up in some way. Roose Bolton will lose against Stannis, who in turn is shown not to be Azor Ahai and may or may not accept it. The Freys lose much more than they already did; their northern host and all people accompanying it are toast. In King's Landing, there will be some infighting between Tyrell and Lannister, but I wager they find together to fight Aegon, but before anything decisive happens, Dany shows up, throwing everything in disarray. The Riverlands won't play a major role in "The Winds of Winter". Dorne makes an alliance with Aegon, but it might be Danaerys shows up before it becomes public, allowing Doran some more maneuvering. Arya completes her training and gets her first assignment outside Braavos, with a high-profile target in Westeros, but one she doesn't know (Jon's ruled out). At least one POV character will be dead. Sam shows us the Citadel politics, but there's no way to complete the training in time to return on the theater of action.