Thursday, February 28, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, Part 18

Thursday is theory day now. 
This is the eighteenth 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 ( 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 18. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously.  

Is there a great Northern conspiracy to make Jon King in the North?
No. There really isn't. You can read a detailled description of this theory on the Westeros forums, so a short summary might suffice: Robb sent his decree of legitimizing Jon north with Maege Mormont on her quest to Greywater Watch, and we never heard of her again. It seems like the letter hasn't fallen into enemy hands, since else they would have used it against Jon ("The Lord Commander plots with the traitors! Kill him!"), so the question remains what happened to the document. The idea is that "the northern lords" ally with Stannis to get rid of the Boltons (because, really, fuck the Boltons) and then proclaim Jon the King in the North. There are some textual arguments of how Manderly's statements and song collection point to this, but I don't really buy it. Jon Snow remains a bastard, even if legitimized. And Martin stressed time and time again just how people didn't like bastards in this world and don't trust them. Jon wasn't involve in the whole war at all. But put that aside and say they really are Stark shippers and take whatever direwolf they can get. The stakes are a bit high, aren't they? The North has bled like hell, and winter is upon them. If they proclaim Jon King in the North (and provided Jon accepts this, which is really not that likely), they're in for another round of war against the Iron Throne. Sure, they can block Moat Cailin after they eliminated the Bolton threat, but still, why should they? Manderly's "official" plot makes much more sense. Kill the Boltons and Freys and present Rickon Stark as LORD Stark to the Iron Throne, hoping for a big "whatever" from the South. The North would again swear fealty to the Iron Throne, continue to reign itself like it has always done, and Manderly would be the de-facto lord of the North until Rickon comes of age. Seems pretty sensible to me, and not at all like this romantic "let's all die for the Stark cause", a cause that bascially died with Robb, and everyone knows it. Except some fans with romantic notions. And, of course, Martin being a romantic himself, you may never exclude the possibility entirely. 

Is Gerold Dayne the real Aegon Targaryen? 
Another weird theory I found at the Westeros forums. I consider it really weird, because it seems so off, but for the sake of the argument, let's do it. The baseline is Doran Martell's quote that there is no man in Dorne as dangerous as Gerold Dayne. Now, the guy is such an esteemed swordsman that he misses an eleven-year-old girl on a horse and flees rather than to face Areo Hotah (although that's a wise course). Clearly, he's not renowned for his prowess with weapons, or else he would have been named Sword in the Morning, right? Darkstar, so the theory goes, is in reality Aegon Targaryen, carefully hidden by Doran, who is such a sick guy that he sacrifices his son in order to keep the appearance. Now, the obvious thing to response is that Gerold's age is totally off. The guy is at least 25, and Aegon can only be 17. That's a hell of a difference. Second, Doran Martell clearly loves his children. He wants revenge for his sister, after all, so sacrificing Quentyn doesn't seem like anything he would do. Totally out of character. Third, there is a totally reasonable explanation for Doran's quote, since Darkstar is dangerous because the madman almost started a war Dorne can't possibly win. I'd call that dangerous, too. We will most likely see him again in "The Winds of Winter", since Areo is a POV and sent after him. But I'd really be surprised if there is anything more to Darkstar than the surface we already witnessed: he's a deviation of the badass stereotype. Basically, he's the Blackfish brought to a logical conclusion. He has a cool nickname, even comes with the appropriate empty but shiny entrance ("I'm of the night") and likes war for war's sake, and everyone else be damned. In short, he's a character you can encounter all the time in inferior fantasy, where he would be either the anti-hero (he would fit perfectly in a David Gemmel novel) or at least a boss enemy. Here, he's just a sad, self-absorbed idiot who almost killed some tenthousand people, and hopefully, Areo Hotah will put an end to him.

Is Lemore Tyene Sands mother, Ashara Dayne or Serra Mopatis?
Lemore's secret identity never really grasped me. If Martin still follows the law of Checkov's gun, there's more to Lemore than meets the eye (although that seems to be pretty much already, if you're into mature porn). There are theories around that are all equally possible and equally unlikely. Let's explore three of the most popular in quick succession. First, she could be Tyene Sands mother, whose identity has been kept a little mystery and provide yet another link between the whole conspiracy of Aegon to Dorne (see the Darkstar idea above). Since Tyene likes to play a septa, like Lemore does, the link seems credible enough. The next theory comes of the camp of the most ardent R+L=J supporters, who still want to keep Ashara Dayne around. In that idea, she didn't commit suicide but instead somehow went to Essos to nurture Aegon. I think this one holds the least water, but it's also very popular. It's the most Hollywood-esque idea, so it's easy to see why. The last option is the most complicated: in this setting, that is often connected to the idea that Aegon isn't real, Lemore is Serra Mopatis, the late wife of Illyrio and mother of "Aegon". This might - and I stress might - make the whole idea of Illyrio prepping his son more credible, but I also don't really buy into it. Regarding Lemore, I don't have strong feelings one way or the other. As of now, we know almost nothing about her. She's more or less a blank slate on which you can project anything, which is why even the craziest theories about her identity work. In the end, it might be a red herring, and she's just a busty septa teaching young Aegon. We'll have to wait and see.


  1. Major props for your characterization of Darkstar. I can't for the life of me figure out why everyone is so in love with him.

    Also, Lemore is DEFINITELY NOT Tyene's Mum, since Tyene is said to have inherited her blonde hair from her Septa mother, whom Tyene and Arianne have also once visited somewhere in Westeros (so at the time she can't have been in Essos teaching "Aegon") and Lemore is described as dark-haired. If we don't attribute hair-coloring techniques to the Tyroshi that surpass that of our world, she should have become at least somewhat blonde due to her daily swimming, even if her hair HAD been colored.
    Also, hey: could it be that mone than ONE Woman of the Faith in the history of Westeros forgot about her vows for a night with a hot dude or two? My, oh my.

    P.S.: Now where's the REALLY weird stuff you promised me? No merlings, unigoats or anything? I'm still waiting!

    1. I found the Darkstar=Aegon theory to be ludicrous already, as well as these damn "Northern conspiracy" stuff. Guys, get over it - the North is NOT THE GOOD GUYS.
      But to tease you - Brynden Rivers is the father of Mance Rayder. (Insert Darth Vader suffocating sounds)

    2. Noooo!
      OK, that's a good one.

      The Darkstar = Aegon theory is just a desperate attempt at making Gerold more than he is - a homicidal maniac with an inferiority complex the size of Essos (waaaah, everyone knows Arthur but not me, waaaaaahhhh, I'm not Lord, etc.), but speaking of House Dayne - whatever happened to Little Ned? Is he still alive or did he sacrifice himself with his Lightning Lord?

  2. Didn't Illyrio have Serra's hands lopped off and preserved when she died?

    1. Hold your horses there - Illyrio has a pair of skeleton hands and claims they're hers, but what does that prove? But anyway, I don't believe the theory, I just wanted to show that it's valid...somehow.

  3. This morning I was re-reading the chapter where Tyrion travels with Illyrio through the flatlands. The guy is never clear on his reasons why he helps Dany.. "because I'm an old man who wants to do some good", "because Viserys promised me to make me master of coin".
    Despite how much I hate the theory of FAegon as Illyrio's son, I think it has a ring to it.. otherwise, why a fat rich Magister of Pentos would trouble himself with rising this child to be a King? all this time?.
    Let's not forget the dude SOLD Dany, and care a fig for Viserys. It's not until Dany reaches Quarth that he sends her aid (to bring her back to Pentos, mind you) AFTER she hatches the dragons (btw, there was one last report from Jorah while in Quarth.. that might be how Illyrio learns about the dragons).
    On the other hand, a fact to consider: When Varys & Illyrio talk under Arya's hearing in AGoT, they debate about how long will it take the Khal to "bestir himself" (until the Princess's child is born). Which led us to believe all along that they relied on the dothraki to take over the 7K. But if Illyrio had also the Golden Company in league with the F/Aegon plan.. what am I missing??

    So, to recap, this dude at some point has 3 targaryens:
    1 Right after the rebellion, he gets Rhaegar's son
    1 Right after the rebellion, he hatches a plan with Varys to pose some other babe as Rhaegar's son "because hey, wouldn't that be a blast?"

    2 Some time after, he rans into Viserys and Dany (a mad boy and a shy girl according to him)

    At some point the plan must have changed. There was an original plan with Aegon, fake or not (the kid has long being groomed by JC, Maester and Lemore), then the Targaryen kids appear, then the dothraki appear, then Viserys and the dotraki are gone, but 3 dragons appear..

    My hypothesis: In the beginning Illyrio did not care much about Viserys or Dany because he already had Aegon/FAegon hatching in the dark.. with a better claim to the throne than the brothers.. but kept them under watch beacause of their value.
    As things unraveled he now thinks better to join forces between Dany and F/Aegon, improving the chances of actually winning the 7K

    That still does not explain:
    - why bother? what's in it for him?
    - why ponder on the dothraki, when your goal is another (a kid with a better claim than Dany's or her child) and you have the Golden Company in it?

    Sorry I had to get this out of my head!!

    1. Nice thoughts. So, what is it going to be? ^^

    2. well.. based on what I know (which, after an almost 3rd re-read is not as much as others), for each of the woes I would say that:
      - what's in it for him: If not because FAegon is his son (I hate this hypothesis too much to give it some credit), then just for the fun of it.. a game pretty much like Littlefinger's (and I don't dare go much deeper that that).. basically to prove how far the duet Illyrio/Varys can raise: from petty thieves, to Magister/King's counselor, to having planted an actual king (wether a legit one or not)

      - why rely on an unpredictable Khal when you have your back covered with the Golden Co?
      Well, the last incursion (or attempt of) of the GoCo ended up in the stepstones, along with the last blackfyre male slain by Barristan.. so, one might think that Illyrio wouldn't SOLELY rely on the GoCo.. and some dothraki would be a welcome addition to an army that to take over the 7k.
      BTW let's not forget about Dorne.. altough I bet Illyrio wouldn't take for granted Dorne's alliance.
      So, there you have it.. altough there are holes everywhre (like.. why giving the last female Targaryen up to a savage lord, when you could marry her with this Aegon hence strengthen their claim?)

      I would love to hear YOUR thoughts about it XD
      Maybe in a future podcast with Sean? :P

      Thank you!!

    3. If Illyrio is a Blackfyre widower doing it all for dead Serra, extinguishing the main Targaryen line while replacing it with FAegon would be a feature, not a bug.

      He could also have intended to have the Dothraki invade and tear up the Seven Kingdoms, weakening the Baratheon regime while being eventually destroyed themselves to the point where FAegon could sweep in with the Golden Company and be greeted as a liberator.

    4. Just to give a good reason not to marry Dany with Aegon: at the point where that could've been done, Dany has nothing. Marrying her is just for some Targaryen tradition. If you want to conquer Westeros, you need to marry Aegon to a lady from a great house (Margaery, Lysa, Aryanne, for example).

    5. I like the argument about using the dothraki as bait for an internal war, but if you recall I+V conversation in the dungeons, these passages are key:
      "[...] I warn you, the wolf and lion will soon be at each other’s throats, whether we will it or no."
      "Too soon, too soon," the voice with the accent complained. "What good is war now? We are not ready. Delay."

      and regarding the Khal:
      "If he does not bestir himself soon, it may be too late," the stout man in the steel cap said. "This is no longer a game for two players, if ever it was."

      I don't think their plan for the dothraki was to tear up the 7K, because simply they don't want to "tear up" the 7K. They want to destabilize, grant you, to seed mistrust, but not to bring war.

      Remember that V insisted Ned to confess and take the black, so as to avoid an armed confrontation between Starks and Lanns.. ("because the realm would bleed"). Perhaps because he truly wants to spare the smallfolk? Or just to buy some time to hatch their plot?.. whatever..

      Bottom line: if they had gotten the dothraki to invade at that point (with Robert alive), that would have probably backfired.. because in that scenario most likely the great houses would put all differences aside and join forces to fight their common foe.. and a dothraki horde, no matter how big, have no chance against all the 7K.

      So, no, I don't think their plan for the Dothraki was to use them as fodder to bleed the 7k.

      And about Illyrio's wife being a Blackfyre.. I don't buy it.. I think we would have had any hint of that so far if that would be the case.
      The only textual evidence we have that Aegon might be a FAegon (as far as I recall) are the "prophecies" (cloth dragon, mummer's dragon).. if not for that, no one would suspect.. not even Tyrion, who suspects on everyone and everything, and has the knowledge to spot a fake at first sight. The fact that we get the uncovering of the whole plot from Tyrion himself speaks volumes of the "quality" of the deception, if such.

      So, if this is a FAegon, then my bet would be it's just some boy, who I+V chose carefully to plant in the Iron Throne (for fun? for the sake of the game?) not sure why, but I wouldn't look any further than that.

    6. Let me quote this infamous passage:
      Varys smiled. "Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less."
      "So power is a mummer’s trick?"
      "A shadow on the wall," Varys murmured, "yet shadows can kill. And ofttimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow."

      There you have it: Power is a mummer's trick..
      And poor Tyrion is not the subject of praise here.. the damn eunuch is praising himself ;)

      Or to quote another passage from earlier in the same chapter:
      "I told them to throw Allar Deem into the sea. I am sorely tempted to do the same with you."
      "You might be disappointed by the result," Varys replied. "The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling."

  4. Something to keep in mind for the Jon/KotN theory is that Robb's will was written under the assumption that Bran, Rickon, and Arya were dead and that his only heir (Sansa) was married to a Lannister. Whether or not the North would have followed Robb's wishes to legitimize Jon is irrelevant now that Wyman Manderley knows that one or both of the Stark boys is alive.

    1. Like hell it is! When Robb legitimized Jon (i.e. the testament is around), he comes first in the line of succession. Manderly can ignore this, however, because Jon is sworn to the Watch. That's the real trigger.

    2. I agree with Nymeria. It's pretty common in the law that if you do something based on mistake of fact it can be undone. It is clear that Robb viewed Bran as his heir and only resorted to naming Jon because he mistakenly thought Bran, Rickon and Arya were all dead.

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  6. Getting back to Septa Lemore theories... her description closely resembles that of Wyman Manderlys granddaughter Wynafred... brown hair, handsome, etc. Perhaps Lord Manderly had a daughter? or his wife isn't really dead? Maybe Lady Lemore (who loves to swim) is in someway related to Lord Manderly????