Who is John Snow?

Everyone everywhere is eagerly awaiting the second to last episode of Game of Thrones Season 5 which airs later today.

Last week’s episode, Hardhome, was dedicated almost entirely to John Snow’s story arc, concerning his attempts to unify the Wildlings with those south of the wall. Any time John Snow comes up in discussion between Jenny and I also comes a heated debated about who John’s parents really are.

Of course the common consensus in Westeros and the story the audience is led to believe is that John Snow is the bastard son (hence the last name Snow) of Eddard Stark, and presumably some whore he met during Roberts’s rebellion.

John Snow is Not Ned’s Son

But this doesn’t quite settle with me. First off, Ned Stark is (was) probably the only honorable man in all the Seven Kingdoms. War or not I don’t see him cheating on his wife. So I’ve ruled out Ned Stark as his father entirely.

John Snow is the Son of Lyanna Stark

If John isn’t Ned’s son, then why bring the child home to Winterfell? Snow must have had some kind of significance or value to Ned to not only be brought to the North, but also raised as one of his sons, and not only that, but as an equal among them. My guess is that John is the son of his sister, Lyanna who was killed during rebellion, making John Ned’s nephew.

But Who is the Father?

Robert Baratheon?

This is where the point of debate comes up. I think John Snow is the child of Lyanna Stark and Robert Baratheon. His dark hair and curls remind me of the late, great Robert’s hair, as well as Renly Baratheon. Stannis isn’t a good indicator since he always keeps his hair short. A couple holes in this argument are that Robert and Lyanna barely knew each other, they were betrothed to one another but were not officially wed. And if John was Robert’s son, you think he’s have known or at last suspected, and raised him in Kings Landing.

Rhaegar Targaryen?

Jenny thinks John is the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, which is admittedly a hell of a lot more interesting, and might make sense. Ned tells John in Season 1 that he knows who his mother is and will tell him one day. What reason would there be to keep a secret about John’s identity unless it could endanger him? Being a son of Lyanna Stark is no crime, but being the son of Rhargar Targaryen or any Targaryen for that matter would have resulted in John Snow having been strangled in his crib if anyone had found out. Lyanna must have given her son to Ned for protection, under the guise that it was actually his.

But that’s not the story is it? Everyone in Westeros knows that Rhaegar Targaryen violently kidnapped Lyanna, and that’s what started the rebellion. Right?

Maybe. Apparently growing up, Daenerys was told a different story, one of a secret love between Rhaegar and Lyanna. In parts of Essos, it’s told that Lyanna was not kidnapped, but that she fled with her lover, Prince Rhaegar.

This is interesting because it’s a direct analogy to the story of Helen of Troy, and goes to show how history is written by the victors. In Homer’s Illiad, Helen runs off with Prince Paris, but King Menelaus tells Agamemnon that Paris kidnapped her. Touché, George R. R. Martin.

Why It Matters

What difference does it make who the parents of a bastard child are?

It makes a difference because if either of our theories are correct, it means that John Snow is heir to the Iron Throne. Either he’s a Targaryen and technically has direct lineage to the original Mad King, or is a Baratheon should have been the rightful heir instead of Geoffrey.

Dragon’s Blood

The John Snow-Targaryen theory pushes us into one more fun direction. Last week we saw John Snow show down against the White Walkers and their army of dead. Last week we learned that Valyrian steel can kill a White Walker and stop their magic. We’ve learned in previous seasons that dragon glass can also kill a White Walker, as can fire. What’s the common denominator here? Valyrian Steel and dragon glass are both created by dragons.

It’s said that some Targaryens have dragon’s blood in them, and this bestows upon them magical powers. Daenerys already proved this, and just like dragons, she cannot be harmed by fire.

If John Snow is in fact a Targaryen, what if he also has this dragon blood trait? And if he does, perhaps he is somehow less vulnerable to damage and magic from White Walkers.

This would be very fortuitous for him since the White Walkers have started their march south and all of Westeros will soon be at war. The only thing stopping their march on the wall is winter, but as the North always reminds us: Winter is Coming.

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