In Part 3 we talked about how the Long Night and war against the Others built Westeros and led to the kind of sovereigns/leviathans that maintain some semblance of order. When he disappeared North of the wall, Bloodraven saw through the Weirnet how war has led to massive consolidations of power throughout Westeros (and this is the case in real life as well). So let’s talk about the things that happened after Bloodraven started putting his plan into action. Let’s talk about prophecies, Robert’s Rebellion, and a bunch of nerds…
SPOILER ALERT: Robert’s Rebellion was a proxy war between Maester and Greenseer.
The Tragic (Not) Love Story of Aerys and Rhaella
Let’s fast forward to Robert’s Rebellion. When we think about Robert’s Rebellion, we usually think about the supposed ‘Helen of Troy’ love story of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. After all it makes for a romantic narrative doesn’t it? Worthy of song isn’t it? Star crossed lovers and a war for a beautiful maiden. It’s kind of like how Robert Baratheon was the mastermind behind a rebellion [he wasn’t] that was truly about getting back Lyanna [it wasn’t]. But what about the not love story? What about the not beautiful tragedy of two not star crossed not lovers? What about Aerys and Rhaella?
“Aerys and Rhaella, sittin’ in a tree, making-a-savior-baby” – (the Woods Witch probably)
Although marrying brother and sister was once all the rage for the Targaryens, Prince Aerys and Princess Rhaella, never wanted to be married. Aerys had the hots for Joanna Lannister, and Rhaella had a fling with the noble Ser Bonifer Hasty. Yet the teenage prince and princess were forced to get married by their father Prince Jaehaerys. But why? Well, it was because according to a woods witch who receives visions from the old gods, (and was brought to court by Jenny of Oldstones the wife of Duncan the Small), which said that the fabled, “Prince That Was Promised” was supposed to come from their line. Now, this supposedly isn’t the origin of TPTWP prophecy, but at this point this prophecy begins to dominate the actions of the Targaryen monarchy. For example, despite the fact that King Aegon V was trying to put an end to sibling marriages, he allowed Prince Jaehaerys to arrange this marriage between his two children because Aegon V desperately wanted dragons to enforce pro-small folk reforms he had intended to enforce through marriage alliances (which his disobedient children let him down on). And according to legend, the Prince That Was Promised, was supposed to herald the return of dragons. And so the two siblings were betrothed. And even if you adamantly refuse to believe this prophecy is about anything other than a humble lone savior, then at least believe that characters in the story (the King himself, as well as Maester Aemon and seemingly Prince Rhaegar), believed this should result in dragons. We know this much, and we also know that this event happened around the time Bloodraven disappeared North of the Wall, taking the weirwood throne and becoming the Old God sending the visions.
Dreams Promising Dragons
“The old gods stir and will not let me sleep. I dreamt I saw…” – (The Ghost of High Heart, ASOS)
Now it is IMPERATIVE that we get this settled. Bloodraven WAS responsible for this situation. Given the timing, it’s by far the most logical conclusion here. Bloodraven disappears North of the Wall in 525 AC, 7 years before Summerhall, while Aerys and Rhaella are still 8 and 6 respectively. Jenny of Oldstones was controversial and thus not accepted at court right away when Duncan married her, so the Ghost of High Heart likely came to court long after the Storm King’s rebellion. All likelihood points to this event being right around the time of Bloodraven’s disappearance. Whether or not you believe that genuine prophecy exists independently of Bloodraven, or whether or not you believe the Ghost of High Heart is one of the children of the forest in disguise or not, or regardless of who you think the “actual” Prince That Was Promised is or will be, or whether or not you believe that Bloodraven can literally send dreams even… this particular utterance of this particular prophecy at this particular time and place is Bloodraven’s doing. Though the concept of a Prince That Was Promised supposedly predates this particular prophecy and is an old myth similar to Azor Ahai, we have no historical record of this prophecy (or any woods witch) driving the actions of Targaryen monarchy at any point in history, until this point, at which point the prophecy becomes central to the lives of 4-5 generations of Targaryens.
In one corner of the world we have an exiled albino sorcerer who was known for manipulating the Targaryen monarchy and promoting absolutism all throughout his life disappearing North of the Wall, where we know he gains the ability to at the very least manipulate dreams. And then in King’s Landing at roughly the same time we have an albino woods witch showing up and giving a prophecy we know she receives in dreams that come from the Old Gods, that ends up manipulating the Targaryen monarchy towards bringing back the most powerful weapon in existence for maintaining absolute monarchy….
“… she has her own ways of knowing things, that one. The weirwoods whisper in her ear when she sleeps.” – (Thoros of Myr, ASOS)
Coincidence? Nope. This was the Three Eyed Crow.
But why send this prophecy? Why a child of Aerys and Rhaella specifically? and what was supposed to make that child a savior? Did someone look into the future and see an action movie starring their baby kicking White Walker butt? Is this a cheap case of magic destiny plot armor? Is is this just an obligatory fantasy trope? What is it?
“They shall come day and night to see the wonder that has been born again into the world, and when they see they shall lust. For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.” – (Quaithe, ACOK)
Yes, it was about the return of dragons. I’d like to set aside the idea that magic, or the force, or cosmic out of this world predestination, are going to bring everything together to make a seemingly average youth the most especial person who ever dun’ lived. Even if you prefer that kind of convenient thing, work with me for a second. Let’s say the truth is a little bit less sunshine and rainbows, and that destiny doesn’t make a chosen hero, but instead power does. We are conditioned by fantasy to expect that all chosen ones must be underdogs who seem totally outmatched till at the very end they pull a magic sword made out of courage and truth, at which point they defeat the evil enemy in a duel for the fate of humanity. The idea that dragons or overwhelming power make a hero has been pushed out of our heads.
But realistically, a chosen hero monarch needs to lead armies into war and maintain a stable society afterwards, and the best possible weapon to do that with are winged fire breathing monsters. Especially for a Hobbesian philosopher King with a monopoly on the use of force. And again, this is about the Last Greenseer creating a Leviathan to stabilize a nation. Dragons fit perfectly into the metaphor of Bloodraven creating the leviathan. They are not only the most powerful weapon for a ruler in Westeros, but they are almost literally leviathans. In ASOIAF, dragons are synonymous with power. Every conflict over dragons is essentially an arms race, and the return of dragons is the return to power. If we think practically what is the most useful tool not only for conquest and warfare, but to defeat the Others, it’s dragons. Dragonsteel, dragon glass, dragon fire, dragons. Practically speaking, if a union between Aerys and Rhaella was meant to result in a generation of Targaryens equipped with dragons, then amongst them, whichever child happened to be the leader humanity rallied behind (doesn’t necessarily matter which one), would be considered by the people to be ‘The Prince That Was Promised.’
Planned Parenthood for Weapons of Mass Destruction
“Who do you think killed all the dragons the last time around? Gallant dragonslayers armed with swords? The world the Citadel is building has no place in it for sorcery or prophecy or glass candles, much less for dragons. Ask yourself why Aemon Targaryen was allowed to waste his life upon the Wall, when by rights he should have been raised to archmaester. His blood was why. He could not be trusted. No more than I can.” – (Archmaester Marwyn, AFfC)
(Take note of the bold. This quote is crucial.)
A big question seems to be what brought dragons back into the world. We have a pretty good idea that somehow the maesters got rid of them the first time, or at least prevented them from coming back after the Dance of the Dragons. (Check out Dragonless Ambitions by Preston Jacobs for more on this.) So what made Daenerys able to hatch her petrified dragon eggs at the end of AGOT? The red comet? The ritualistic funeral pyre? Mirri Maz Durr’s chanting? The death of Drogo and the stillborn Rhaego? If Preston Jacobs is to be believed maybe you’ll say genetics. But even if Mendelian genetics is a tough sell for you, consider at least that characters seem to think Dany is special before she hatches dragons, so I’m gonna say that although the ritual and deaths and chanting may have undone the petrification of the eggs, it was definitely something about Daenerys herself that hatched them.
See the Targaryens used to hatch dragons all the time before the Dance. They didn’t do this through funeral pyres every time. They didn’t sacrifice their husbands or children every time (Rhaella had constant stillbirths, and yet no dragons were hatched). They didn’t wait for a red comet every time. They just put dragon eggs in a cradle with their children and the dragons just hatched. So whatever hatched the dragons is more likely specific to the Dany, not any magic ritual the Targaryens forgot in one generation which she accidentally acted out.
Now when we look these two facts in conjunction, a narrative starts to play out pretty clearly. The Old Gods (at the time Bloodraven), sent the prophecy through the Ghost of High Heart that the line of Aerys and Rhaella was meant to result in the return of dragons, and so they were forced to get married and have children. Based on what Marwyn the Mage told Samwell Tarley, we have very strong reason to believe that the Maesters are the ones who put an end to the dragons. They have an integral role in the lives of royalty, serving as advisers, teachers, and doctors and thus can easily manipulate those they serve. Yet Maester Cressen‘s POV in Clash of Kings also gives us a pretty concrete idea that maesters don’t just heal people, but they know how to kill.
“The alchemists of Lys knew the way of it, though, and the Faceless Men of Braavos… and the maesters of his order as well, though it was not something talked about beyond the walls of the Citadel. All the world knew that a maester forged his silver link when he learned the art of healing – but the world preferred to forget that men who knew how to heal also knew how to kill.” – (Maester Cressen thinking about poisoning Melisandre, ACOK prologue)
“And how do I do that? the old man wondered. Once I might have silenced him forever, but now…” – (Maester Cressen thinking about Patchface)
Summerhall: Who Started the Fire?
After Rhaegar is born, Rhaella (the woman meant to birth the Prince That Was Promised) has 8 failed pregnancies in 17 years. So was Rhaella’s body failing her, or were the maester’s trying to prevent the birth of a child who would hatch dragons? Though stillbirths were far more common in medieval times, Rhaella’s is seemingly irregular to Aerys. Not to mention the circumstances around Rhaegar’s birth are clearly strange. Rhaegar was born in the Tragedy at Summerhall in 259AC. , which occurred at a celebration of his impending birth, thrown by King Aegon V. Now King Aegon V. was supposedly hell bent on bringing back dragons to impose his pro smallfolk reforms after his children had let him down by marrying for love rather than alliances with high lords. Anyways, “something” happens at this party, which results in a massive fire, and Rhaella barely makes it out and then she births Rhaegar right then and there after the commotion. So what caused the tragedy? Who started the fire? Was it just an accident? Was someone trying to emulate ‘salt and smoke’? Was Bloodraven the culprit? Somehow I doubt it, as none of the deaths that occurred at Summerhall (King Aegon V, Duncan the Small, Lord Commander Duncan the Tall) moved his plan forward at all, and the fire nearly have killed Rhaella herself. And this occured pre-Varys coming to King’s Landing, which would have been the only other conspirator I could suspect here. Were the maesters trying to thin the Targaryen herd in one fell swoop?
“… the blood of the dragon gathered in one … … seven eggs, to honor the seven gods, though the king’s own septon had warned … … pyromancers … … wild fire … … flames grew out of control … towering … burned so hot that … … died, but for the valor of the Lord Comman … ” -( Archmaester Gyldayn, TWOIAF)
I’m gonna go ahead and say yes, it was probably the maesters. A lot of people presume that Summerhall is what is bringing back the Others, but nothing we know about Summerhall is unheard of in Westeros. There was an attempt at hatching dragon eggs at Rhaegar’s birth which went horribly wrong and started a fire which killed several Targaryens. Yet Summerhall is in the Dornish marshes, where the Old Gods don’t really have as much power because Weirwoods don’t really grow, and the Maesters, (who are clearly against the return of dragons and magic), likely have the ability to turn a bonfire into a wildfire. The only other faction I suspect are the Faceless Men, as burning Valyrians reminds us of the Doom, and Arya reminds the Ghost of High Heart of Summerhall, which could also could potentially relate to Hardhome, but I don’t necessarily know who of anyone who had the motive to pay them (unless it was in fact the Citadel), but I see no other evidence of their involvement. Not that there would be. Either way, sounds like it was Maesters…. or it was Faceless Men.
So first Rhaegar’s birth is an ordeal, and Rhaella nearly dies, but for the valor of Duncan the Tall. Then Rhaella has 8 failed pregnancies over 17 years. After those 8 failed pregnancies, finally Viserys survives infancy after King Aerys II out right refuses to let anyone near the boy, being obsessively protective of him. And though Rhaella apparently dies in her final childbirth, the pregnancy with Daenerys happens almost completely after the sack of Kings landing and away from the Red Keep. Though this does beg the question of why the Maesters were unable to prevent Daenerys from being born. Was there no conspiring maester on Dragonstone? Was it Ser Willem Darry’s protection? Was there some kind of convoluted baby swap? Is Daenerys really Rhaella’s daughter? Lemon Trees in Dorne theory anyone? R+L=D? resemblance to Ashara Dayne? Personally I think she probably is Rhaella’s baby. But it makes you wonder, what happened to the maester on Dragonstone after the rebellion? As we saw with Maester Luwin when the Ironborn came to Winterfell, maester are charged to a particular castle and its inhabitants, usually remaining in service at that castle despite a regime change. Yet when Stannis takes Dragonstone, he brings Maester Cressen with him from Storms End. So again, after Dany and Viserys fled Dragonstone, where did the Maester on Dragonstone go?
The Perks of Being a Walys Flowers
“…Rickard Stark had great ambitions too. Southron ambitions…” – (Lady Barbrey Dustin, ADWD)
“That was how it was with Lord Rickard Stark. Maester Walys was his grey rat’s name….” “Once he forged his chain, his secret father and his friends wasted no time dispatching him to Winterfell to fill Lord Rickard’s ears with poisoned words as sweet as honey. The Tully marriage was his notion, never doubt it, he ” – (Lady Barbrey Dustin, ADWD)
Then there is the Southron Ambitions conspiracy. This is a subject that has been covered before by other theorists, but I will go over it a bit here.
At the same time that Rhaella is having miscarriages for 17 years, Rhaegar is secretly obsessed with prophecies about dragons coming back and him being a savior child, and the Mad King is repeatedly alienating his former best friend and powerful ally Tywan Lannisters; a bastard born maester from the Reach by the name of Walys Flowers is supposedly filling (Ned Stark’s father) Lord Rickard Stark’s head with thoughts of rebellion, and it seems to be working. Rickard Stark, Jon Arryn, and Hoster Tully, (who all met during Westeros, only foreign war, the War of the Ninepenny Kings in 260 AC) are setting up a series of highly unusual alliance building political marriages prior to Robert’s Rebellion. Additionally Lord Rickard and Lord Jon Arryn is fostering Ned and the orphan Bobby B. at the Vale to strengthen relations between the North and the Vale.
We have to bear in mind that at this point in time, marriages between High Lords of Kingdoms is still pretty unheard of, as High Lords tend to arrange marriages between sons and the daughters of their vassals, or in rare cases with the Targaryen royal family (since they are technically the vassals of the Targaryens). Marrying your daughters to your vassals is a way to join a House to you by blood, furthermore cementing loyalty by having their next generation raised by one of your daughters. Having your son and heir marry the daughter of your vassal is their way to be exalted as a House and have the next liege lord be of their own House.
If you look at the family trees of House Stark and Lannister from TWOIAF, there is not a single marriage to another great House (with marriages between the heir and someone from outside of the kingdom occuring extremely rarely), and so it seems pretty likely the Maesters are preparing an alliance between the great Houses. So to see the North, Vale, Riverlands, and Stormlands arranging marriages all at once is highly unusual. In fact, this goes beyond those who met during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, as even before Tyrion’s birth, the Martells and the Lannisters (who did not meet in the war), try to arrange a marriage between Oberyn and Cersei, and Elia and Jaime. But when they arrive Joanna has died, and Tywin has resolved to hold out for a better marriages for Cersei and Jaime, offering Tyrion instead. It’s unclear whether he had a plan for Jaime at this point, but it’s definitely clear that his plan for Cersei was for her to be Queen.
Still, years later, all at once, Robert Baratheon heir to Storms End, is engaged to Lyanna Stark, Brandon Stark heir to Winterfell is engaged to Catelyn Tully, and Jaime Lannister, heir to Casterly Rock is engaged to Lysa Tully (though this one falls through when Jaime joins the Kingsguard and Tyrion is refused as a backup, and so Lysa marries the older Jon Arryn at the start of the rebellion). It seems Tywin Lannister is only half in the fold and consequently doesn’t join the rebellion till it is essentially won, which makes sense as Tywin was the closest to power already and had little to gain from rebellion till late in the game. Tywin was hand of the King and was essentially already arguably the most powerful man in Westeros, so getting him to participate in a rebellion or reformation was naturally difficult. The idea that all of these kingdoms had the same groundbreaking idea at the same time is unlikely, but when you consider that there is an order of scientists who connect these great houses together, advising them and raising their children, things start to feel a little less incidental.
The Winterfell of Our Discontent
Since we at first see the Starks as being particularly loyal to the crown, many assume that loyalty to the crown has always been the Stark way. But this is really only the case at the start of the story because Ned and Robert are best friends. Northern disapproval of the Targaryen rule seemed to be growing over the last few generations of Starks, ever since Dagon Greyjoy(seriously his name was Dagon) raided the Western coast of the continent, and the North and Westerlands joined together to defend themselves. This event created anti-Targaryen sentiment throughout the realm, but particularly in the North, because in his fixation on preventing Blackfyre rebellions, then Hand of the King Brynden Rivers neglected the crown’s feudal oath to come to the aide of the North, and the Northerners lost their Lord Beron Stark (apparently leading to a minor succession crisis). Then, a generation later, Beron’s own son Lord Willam Stark (Rickard’s grandfather), also dies horribly, beheaded while repelling a wildling invasion by the King-Beyond-the-Wall Raymun Redbeard. And though the invasion is thwarted when Willam’s younger brother Artos kills Redbeard, as the Night’s Watch supposedly arrived too late to help and were simply asked to dispose of the dead by a distraught Artos. Did the crown neglect to sufficiently supply the Night’s Watch with men? Raymund Redbeard thought so, as he attacked specifically because the watch was dwindling. Did Targaryen negligence once again leave the North to fend for itself and result in even more Stark widows? Bran’s vision in his last ADWD chapter seems to indicate that one of the She-Wolves of Winterfell wanted to be avenged.
“…woman heavy with child emerged naked and dripping from the black pool, knelt before the tree, and begged the old gods for a son who would avenge her.” – (Bran, ADWD)
Did Rickard see himself as that avenger? Now we don’t know who this woman in Bran’s vision was exactly, and it’s unlikely that she was Rickard’s mother specifically, (a very complex and drawn out analysis of the situation indicates that it was Rickard’s grandmother Melantha Blackwood rather), but those two incidents and Bran’s visions of praying for revenge and the older vision of Brandon Snow attempting to assassinate dragons, point to a deep seated and growing climate of discontent with Targaryen rule in the generations leading up to Rickard Stark and Robert’s rebellion.
And that’s not even to mention the unfulfilled Pact of Ice and Fire to Cregan Stark (but we’ll get to that…).
Rhaegar Targaryen: The wrong kind of nerd
So there is reason for Stark discontent aside from a Mad King, and even Baratheon discontent from a few generations prior, and there is reason to believe the Maesters of the Citadel are anti-dragon. Now for the Maesters you might still consider this simply a result of the madness of Aerys II, but if that were the case, then why weren’t the maesters putting their faith in Rhaegar like Tywin Lannister seemed to be?
“he may or may not, but if he does, we have a better king right here” – Tywin Lannister, speaking about the potential Lord Darklyn may put Aerys to death during the Defiance of Duskendale in 277 AC, TWOIAF)
In 276 AC, Tywin Lannister was hell bent on marrying Cersei to Rhaegar (the most advantageous possible political marriage for Cersei and House Lannister). So he seemed to be pinning the future of his House on the Prince of Dragonstone to make Cersei Queen. We have to remember that King Aerys II was clearly mad, but he is just one man who would eventually die, and Prince Rhaegar was reported to be intelligent, well read, and seemingly ideal for maester’s scholarly sensibilities. Particularly when compared to Robert Bro-ratheon or Bro-nden Stark. Yet the plan for the Maesters seemed to be getting a whole new family dynasty on the throne.
Which begs the question, with the dragons dead for 150 years, why did the Maesters choose this specific time to attempt to swap out one dynasty for another?
Because Rhaegar wanted to fulfill prophecy. Rhaegar wanted to get a dragon.
Which begs another question we all need to ask ourselves. Why do the maesters hate dragons so much? I think I have an answer. Several actually.
Let’s make a pros and cons list!
The Advantages of Dragons:
- Since Aegon’s landing, dragons served as a tool to unify the disparate kingdoms, ethnic groups, and factions of Westeros.
- The time in which a dragon wielding dynasty presided over Westeros was relatively peaceful and stable.
- Using the might of dragons, the Valyrians were able to cultivate an advanced civilization that excelled in nearly everything from steel, to magic, to transportation, to architecture, to long distance psychedelic communication.
- The peace of dragons existing within the hands of a single ruling family was only disrupted with the Dance of the Dragons when the outside influence of Westerosi custom created a succession crisis and divided said family against itself.
- The 150 years since the death of the dragons has resulted in a weaker central monarchy, and consequently has been at war almost constantly. 4 Blackfyre rebellions, 2 Greyjoy Rebellions, a secession by the Stormlands, unrest in the Westerlands, the king himself kidnapped in the Defiance of Duskendale, 2 wildling invasions, and then Robert’s rebellion, and the War of 5 Kings.
- Dragons, dragon fire, steel, and glass are ideal for fighting Others and wights.
Reasons to be Anti-Dragon:
- They are wild, vicious fire breathing monsters that eat people.
- Aegon’s conquest through dragons resulted in a decrease in freedom for the individual kingdoms.
- Powerful dragon wielding monarchy resulted in a massive decrease in power to the Faith and their capacity to define laws and morals. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that Maegor the Cruel massacred and banned the faith militant.
- The Maesters, an inherently logical and scientifically minded group, who are also a relatively accessible group, would logically not be in favor of a system in which sorcerers use glass candles to send visions to manipulate monarchs, and the unpredictability of blood magic reigns, rather than their systematic, cold hard logic.
“Ask yourself why Aemon Targaryen was allowed to waste his life upon the Wall, when by rights he should have been raised to archmaester. His blood was why. He could not be trusted. No more than I can.” – (Marwyn, ADWD)
“Your blood makes you a greenseer,” – (Lord Brynden to Bran, ADWD)
- Control over dragons and magic seems to have a large hereditary component, making these things inaccessible to most maesters and really everyone who isn’t a part of the royal family.
- PROBABLY THE MAIN REASON RIGHT HERE: Old Valyria is actually really, really, really fucked up. It’s a Nazi’s wet dream. With the proliferation of dragons, the Valyrians created a highly stratified society where advancement was achieved through tireless and inhumane slave labor, and the fruits of that labor were enjoyed primarily by an ethnically pure aristocracy/master race. The Valyrian elite families who were able to control dragons viewed one another as relative equals and vied for power in a subtle and relatively diplomatic way, while everyone who was not Valyrian as essentially a slave. We often forget that the Citadel was likely aware of this, and probably fearful of it. Before the doom, the Valyrians were gradually expanding outwards, and reaching Westeros was likely an inevitability. I’m gonna go ahead and say that Aegon the Conqueror was a pretty unremarkable guy. He just did what the Valyrians eventually would have done anyways, as the Valyrians had dragons and subjugation was very much their game.
- Beware the Blue Eyes Wight Drogon (maybe)
Maester VS. Greenseer
In conclusion Robert’s Rebellion can actually be looked at as a conflict between Maesters and Greenseers. Science vs. Magic. An age old struggle of Doctors vs. Wizards. Bloodraven and the Children of the Forest are manipulating the Targaryens into bringing back dragons, while the maesters are doing everything they can to make sure this doesn’t happen by putting an end to the Targaryen dynasty. The basic dichotomy here seems to be liberty vs. sovereignty.Whether the Maesters of the Citadel in Oldtown are alone in this conspiracy, or not, they are clearly deeply invested in preventing a dragon dynasty. And when you consider how dragons have historically taken power away from the Faith and the great Houses of Westeros, it wasn’t all that hard for them to find conspirators.
History tells us that the war just happened to be sparked by an act of Targaryen aggression in Rhaegar kidnapping Lyanna, or alternatively Lyanna running off with Rhaegar. This follows how we historically we tend to simplify wars down to inciting incidents, forgetting about all the build up and vested interests. Though it would be foolish to say that accidents and black swan events do not occur in the real world or in Westeros, it would be equally foolish to look at so many out of the ordinary marriages, alliances, and conflicting interests, and presume that accident reigns supreme. The Rebellion was not an accident, it was the human heart in conflict with itself. The result of various conflicting human interests, each tugging a nation in the direction they prefer.
Now in this essay I’m barely gonna touch R+L with Rhaegar’s 30 foot pole of overcompensation, as it’s always a controversial subject because everyone has talked it to death and has their own vision of it which they feel passionate about, and I feel relatively conflicted on how I think it transpired. Though I will say that Howland Reed is obviously involved as the Old God’s man. The Tourney happens near Harrenhall, and Howland had just spend a year at the Isle of Faces right near there. But more on that later.
Every great lord has his maester, every lesser lord aspires to one. If you do not have a maester, it is taken to mean that you are of little consequence. The grey rats read and write our letters, even for such lords as cannot read themselves, and who can say for a certainty that they are not twisting the words for their own ends? – (Barbrey Dustin)
Yet look at how the war really starts. Brandon Stark doesn’t witness but hears about the supposed abduction of his sister Lyanna by Prince Rhaegar and then rides off to the challenge crowned Prince Rhaegar to a duel. But who told Brandon the version of the story he heard? Especially if Lyanna went willingly, why not send word? And to think, this could have been avoided if Brandon had been told Lyanna went by choice, or if Lyanna had sent a raven with her true intentions to her family. Who receives the ravens again? Right, the maesters. Now she may or may not have sent word, but it’s an important consideration. The Histories tell us this was all bad luck, but in reality politics is more complex than that. More intentional. King Aery’s all out madness towards the situation sparked an ill-advised war that was already being set up, and when it’s all said and done it’s actually the grandmaester Pycelle (a Lannister man), who puts the nail in the Targaryen dynasty coffin by convincing Aerys to let in Tywin Lannister, who sacked the city. Maester’s shoot, they score.
Now let’s put 17 years back up on the clock because magic is putting in the subs.
Thanks for reading! In the next part we are finally going to get into the events which actually happen during the main story. Part 5 is about the Mother of Dragons.