So thus far we’ve talked about how The Three Eyed Crow is instigating war between mankind and the Others in order to establish a stable monarchy. In Part V we’ve talked about how Bloodraven and Quaithe are manipulating the mother of dragons, pushing her on to embrace her conquerors side and bring her dragons to Westeros. They want her to mistrust all potential suitors and political allies that might pull her into their conspiracy. Including, her supposed nephew Aegon…
Young Aegon’s Precious Little Life
This is the beginning of the essay…
If he’s real, Aegon VI Targaryen, son of Rhaegar, would be the Targaryen heir to the throne. He’d be King ahead of the Mother of Dragons, ahead of R+L=Jon Snow, and Moonboy for all we know. Yet Quaithe, and by extension Bloodraven, seem pretty against Daenerys lending him any military aide to take back his rightful throne. Which begs several questions. Why not? Is Aegon who he claims to be? Is he who Jon Connington thinks he is? Is he who HE seemingly thinks he is? And how much does that really matter? Because one way or another the Old God’s are against him.
Now, for those of you who haven’t heard Aegon Blackfyre theory, here is one of the many assertions of it. It’s pretty convincing, and for some this theory is enough a reason for Brynden Rivers, (who spent his entire tenure as Hand fighting off Blackfyre Rebellions orchestrated by his envious half brother) to be against Young Griff. But is it really? If Aegon were a Blackfyre, would it be enough reason for the the Three Eyed Crow to be against him? I mean, this made sense for the young Brynden Rivers, but does it make sense for the Last Greenseer? Does it make sense for a telepathic shaman working with the Children of the Forest? Does an ancient race of nature people care about Targaryen legitimacy and the line of succession?
No. Absolutely not.
With Leaf for example being over 200 years old, we can pretty much presume that the 300 years since Aegon the Conqueror established dominion over Westeros is relatively short for the Children. So, to think they would care whether the person who sits the throne is a descendant of some human named Daeron or some human named Daemon, is kind of silly actually. In fact I’d propose that whether the ruler is legitimate in terms of male primogeniture and Andal religious customs at all is totally irrelevant to the Children.
So then why is the Bloodraven (and Quaithe) Old Gods conspiracy opposed to a Dany and Aegon alliance? Is the 125 year old Greenseer letting petty personal grudges define nation building political policy? I’m gonna say no. Not only would it make the Children relatively irrelevant, it also goes against how Brynden Rivers talks about himself to Bran.
“I have my own ghosts. A brother I loved, a brother I hated, a woman I desired. In my dreams I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them.”- Lord Brynden, ADWD
This quote really indicates that the guy has moved on from selfish personal desires, and it really wouldn’t make sense for him to be lying about that to a little kid when really it’s something he could easily just not mention. (This quote also heavily indicates that Quaithe is actually not Shiera).
But still, Bloodraven and Quaithe, and the Children, are against Young Aegon. Now this is where we could drive into some deep, deep, deep tinfoil, about the origins of the Blackwood/Bracken feud being a proxy war between the Children of the Forest and their Greenseer’s, and the Deep Ones and their Stone Men, in some kind of land vs. sea conflict which underpins the story. But I’m going to steer away from mountain of tinfoil.
Dresses and Dragons: The Color Conundrum
“In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me – who lives and who dies?” – Varys’ Riddle
Now far be it by me to debunk Blackfyre theory, because it’s very probably correct. But I think Aegon’s identity is a bit more complex than a simple “ah ha!” Scooby Doo revelation. I think the case of Young Griff speaks more to the difficulty or even impossibility in defining paternity under feudalism in the middle ages, and more specifically, to Varys riddle.
You See, Aegon is the living embodiment of Varys’ riddle, as he is a character who is either the most powerful person in Westeros, or no one, or anything in between, based on who people believe he is. Because Jon Connington, the closest living person to Rhaegar Targyaryen, believes Aegon to be true, and the only person who could bear witness otherwise, Gregor Clegane, is unable to speak, there is no person with more credibility on the matter who could debunk his identity. Aegon is able to be whoever he needs to be, for whoever he needs. For Jon Connington and most of Westeros, he is Aegon VI Targaryen, son of Rhaegar. For the Golden Company, he is likely Aegon Blackfyre. For the Dornish, he is the surviving son of Elia Martell. And on the flip side, Daenerys may be turned against him by Tyrion Lannister based on the BELIEF that he is a Blackfyre.
Who Aegon’s actual parents literally are, isn’t technically what matters. What matters are who people believe his parents are. The irony of Young Griff is that both his allies and his enemies will be completely defined by the unverifiable belief in who his parents are, but not who he actually is as a human being. Heck Illyrio himself could potentially be being deceived as to the boy’s true parentage. We may never get proof.
And even for us as readers, if we were able to surmise that Aegon was indeed a Blackfyre, then that takes us back to the initial question of whether Daeron II truly was the son of Aegon IV at all, or if the legitimized Daemon Blackfyre truly was the legal heir. Determining legitimacy in feudalism is just endlessly problematic for the time. And thus Varys riddle truly does rule the politics of Westeros…. Until it doesn’t.
Where Varys’ Riddle Goes to Die
Let’s reexamine Varys’ riddle, but this time let’s change one thing about it. Let’s give the King a dragon.
Varys: “In a room sit three great men, a king with his gigantic fire breathing dragon, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler and if you don’t this fucking dragon will eat all three of you.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me – who lives and who dies?”
Tyrion: The King lives. The priest and the rich man obviously fucking die.
Varys: Ah, but my dear friend, what if the sellsword believes..
Tyrion: Are you serious? then he’s an idiot, and the dragon eats him too. The King still lives.
Varys: But… but what if… what if I don’t believe dragons have power?
Tyrion: Good luck with that.
Belief is power, money is power, knowledge is power, but Cersei was right too.
Ultimately Vary’s riddle is still relevant, and it serves as a critique of the nature of power as it manifests through societal, political, financial, and military structures. As long as you need various independent wills to believe something in order to utilize power, Varys’ riddle applies. This is particularly true under feudalism, where all power came through oaths, which ultimately rested on human belief in the necessity of the social contract. But it also applies to everything from the power of the church, which draws power from people’s faith, to the power of money, which only has value because human institutions trust that it has value.
But things can happen whether you believe in them or not.
Now yes, a monarchs ability to control dragons is a powerful intimidation tactic, and that human belief in the power of dragons can indeed be used as a diplomatic tool to get one’s way. But that belief is rooted in a capital F-FACT. A fact which doesn’t really depend on the loyalty or belief of any human beings. If you have control over a flying fire breathing monster, you have an enormous military advantage, and no one has to agree with you, or be afraid of you, or believe it, for it to be true. Of course they will believe it…. because of just how blatantly true it is.
And this is a major problem for Young Aegon, the narrative embodiment of Varys riddle. Because Aegon is NOT intended to be one of the Three Heads of the Dragon.
The Clash at Dragonhead
The following is a streamline explanation of why Aegon, Tyrion, and Victarion, are not intended to be Heads of the Dragon. Since both Dany and the audience are hearing and trying to interpret the prophecy, Dany and the audience will be together.
Dany + Audience: “I just wanna get to Westeros. What do I do with all these prophecies?”
Quaithe: “Dany, everyone is going to try to take your dragons. Remember the Undying okay?”
Undying: “Yea Dany, remember how we showed you Rhaegar with his newborn baby saying there needed to be one more, because the dragon has three heads.”
Dany + Audience: “Got it. Everyone wants dragons. But there’s gotta be 3 heads.
Quaithe: Yes. Also, don’t trust Aegon, Tyrion, or Victarion.”
Dany + Audience: “But who are the heads of the dragon who I should share my dragons with? Is it be Aegon or Tyrion or Victarion?”
Quaithe: “Did I fucking stutter.”
Essentially, right there are three of the most popular proposed 3 heads of the dragon, and Quaithe has essentially vetoed all of them. In the last part we established that Quaithe and Bloodraven are most likely working together. Even taking Quaithe alone though, Tyrion, Aegon, and Victarion are clearly not intended to be among the 3 heads of the dragon.
Note: Regardless of Tyrion’s parentage (I believe it’s Joanna and Tywin), Tyrion not being a head of the dragon doesn’t in my opinion define his parentage, and doesn’t even necessarily mean he won’t ride a dragon. It just defines how he fits into the Old God’s plan.
See a common misconception is the idea that everything in the House of the Undying is to be read as clues from Martin to the reader, but in fact they are more specifically visions meant for Daenerys, and in our story it is Daenerys who interprets them, is shaped by them, and must act based on them. It’s Quaithe who pulls Dany towards internalizing and acting upon the sentiments expressed in the House of the Undying (where the Three Heads of the Dragon are mentioned), and Quaithe is, again, pretty clearly against the idea of Dany trusting in Tyrion, Aegon, or Vic. So it follows, that for Quaithe, and Bloodraven (who may actually be the reason Rhaegar was intent on a 3 headed dragon in the first place), those 3 characters are not heads of the dragon.
So who are?
Prophecy is Providence: The Three Heads of the Leviathan
“Aegon… What better name for a king… He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire“; When Rhaegar’s eyes meet Daenerys’s, he says either to her or Elia, “There must be one more… The dragon has three heads“, and he picks up a silver harp and begins to play.” – Vision in the house of the Undying of Rhaegar speaking to Elia, (Daenerys IV, ACOK)
Appearing right next to the only in text mention of the series title, “the dragon has three heads” is one of the most heavily speculated on quotes in the series. But the vision (and clarifications by Martin on it) actually tells us a lot. It tells us Rhaegar was expecting to have a 3rd child who would be a third head of the dragon, and it tells us Rhaegar believed Aegon was the Prince That Was Promised. We also know from an SSM that the Third Head of the Dragon doesn’t have to be a Targaryen.
Side Note: Given that Martin has gone on record that R’hllor is based on the Zoroastrian faith, the ‘Three Heads of the Dragon,’ aside form mirroring the Targaryen sigil and the events of Aegon’s Conquest, actually reference the Zoroastrian ‘Azi Dahaka.’ The Azi Dahaka is an evil three headed dragon of the winter apocalypse.
Based on the fact that Rhaegar Targaryen was largely being influenced by prophecy from the Old Gods/Bloodraven, and the concept of a song of Ice and Fire, can presumably be attributed to those who sing the song of the earth. So the Song of Ice and Fire, and the Three Heads of the Dragon, can all be looked at as prophecy which Bloodraven, Quaithe, and the Children of the Forest are using.
When we look at it through this lens, things become a little more clear. Who decides the Three Head of the Dragon? well Martin aside, on one level it’s Daenerys Targaryen who is actively trying to make sense of the prophecy and apply it towards her conquest of Westeros. But on another level, it’s the Old Gods, the Children, Bloodraven, and Quaithe, who are using this prophecy to manipulate events. And using this line of thinking, we can actually narrow this down a bit. Instead of just asking who the Three Heads of the Dragon are in terms of ‘who will ride a dragon?’ maybe what we should be asking are ‘who are the Three Heads of the Dragon for Bloodraven?’
“Perhaps we can fly. All of us. How will we ever know unless we leap from some tall tower? No man ever truly knows what he can do unless he dares to leap.” – Euron Greyjoy (The Reaver, AFFC)
Well the first candidate I’d like to get out of the way is Euron ‘Crow’s Eye’ Greyjoy. His personal sigil, and a lot of his dialogue, have often been theorized to indicate a connection to the Three Eyed Crow. Afterall, he seems obsessed with flying. He also seemingly appears in the ‘Bride of Fire’ segment of the House of the Undying, Quaithe might not be warning Dany against him, he claims to have got a Dragon Binding horn from the ruins of Old Valyria, and he seems hell bent on marrying Daenerys and producing an heir with her. So, he might our guy. Except he isn’t.
So why isn’t it Euron? Well, because Euron is fucking crazy, is trying to use a horn to steal dragons, and he is hell bent on marrying Daenerys, and yet the last part of the Bride of Fire prophecy is about Jon, and so Jon is supposed to be King. Which means at some point, the mad man Euron Crow’s eye probably has to die.
Still we have Daenerys, and we have Jon. So who is the third head of the dragon?
Well, assuming it’s not Bran Stark and has to be a dragonrider… I think on order to figure out the answer, the best thing to do is pretend you’re Bloodraven, and you want to put someone on a dragon to fight a war against the Others. Who would you want? Preferably someone already strategically located for that war. You’d want someone who can fight. Someone less focused on the civil wars of mankind and more focused on the war of ice and fire. Heck someone from a House who swears by it would be nice right? And someone who can ride a dragon would be a plus, though dragon rider blood might not be totally necessary, as you do have Bran, who can probably warg dragons… so maybe you want someone who Bran would want riding him……?
Anyways, the anwser is Meera Reed.
Yes really. The Third (or perhaps first?) Head of the Dragon is none other than Meera Reed.
(and no, despite Kit and Ellie’s absurdly similar hair I don’t think she is Jon’s twin sister or the daughter of Lyanna Stark at all.)
The Dragonfly Among the Reeds
“He (Dunk) sat naked under the elm while he dried, enjoying the warmth of spring air on his skin as he watched a dragonfly move lazily among the reeds. Why would they name it a dragonfly? he wondered. It looks nothing like a dragon.” – Dunk, The Hedge Knight
So in The Hedge Knight, there is this really odd quote. Ser Duncan the Tall makes a comment about dragonflies, wondering why they are called that despite not actually looking like dragons. Now, Duncan’s Squire eventually becomes King Aegon V, and his eldest son Duncan Targaryen, or ‘Duncan the Small’ (who is named after Dunk), eventually gives up all claim to the throne to marry a common girl called Jenny of Oldstones, earning him the title ‘Prince of Dragonflies’. Now Jenny of Oldstones and Duncan the Small’s love is famous, they are together for some 20 years till Duncan dies at Summerhall, and they are the subject of many songs, including the one Rhaegar sang at the Tourney of Harrenhall. The histories don’t mention them having any children, but they also don’t mention that they didn’t. It seems likely though that any children they have would remain under the radar, as they would never be granted any land nor titles.
Now Jenny of Oldstones, was a peasant woman. ‘Oldstones‘ is not actually a family name, but rather a ruined castle in the Riverlands where Jenny supposedly hung out, once belonging to House Mudd. She could have been a distant descendant of House Mudd, but there’s no real evidence for that. That said, we do get the sense that Jenny of Old Stones has a connection to the Old Gods, as she was a friend to the Ghost of High Heart, who brought her to court to deliver the infamous Prince That Was Promised Prophecy. Yet especially after Duncan’s death, any child of Duncan and Jenny would be almost like commoner, who could hold no lands or titles. But they could marry the Lord of Greywater Watch.
The spouse of Howland Reed is one Jyana (no family name given). We know next to nothing about her, but that she and Howland supposedly have their first child Meera around the same time as Jon and Dany are born. Given that Howland spent a lot of time at the Isle of Faces directly before going to the Tourney at Harrenhall, and he and his son Jojen seem deeply influenced by the Old Gods, it wouldn’t surprise me that Howland also at some point married the daughter of the Prince of Dragonflies, and Jenny of Oldstones. This would not be a smart political match necessarily, but then again Howland Reed’s son and heir basically went North on a suicide mission. Howland and House Reed seems relatively disinterested with politics, and far more so in serving his liege lords and the will of the Old Gods. So if Jyana were the daughter of Duncan and Jenny, then Meera Reed’s grandfather on her mother’s side would be half Valyrian blooded, and though not a Targaryen nor in any way royalty, could have the ability to ride a dragon passed down to her. She would be a Dragon flying among the Reeds, yet she would look nothing like a dragon, and would fit perfectly into Bloodraven’s plan as our third head.
Now I realize that might be a tough sell for some, but even if we put aside the ‘Meera Reed = Dragonfy theory’, let’s consider the other facts…
Meera Reed was taught by her father to be a skilled fighter, like her brother she is keeps and is loyal to the will of the Old Gods, and she is disinterested in political squabble or entitlement yet loyal to the Starks of Winterfell, going so far as to call Bran her prince. Beyond that, considering that a war is coming to the war North, Meera Reed is already in the far North with seemingly nothing else left to do. Even from a narrative standpoint, though it’s certainly not essential she be given a dragon to justify her continued existence in the story, it would be efficient to utilize this central character to Bran’s story who has nothing else to do for the last two books but watch Bran (that said, I totally acknowledge there are other possibilities there). Clearly Hodor has some mysteries left to uncover, why not Meera?
Oh yea… there is one more clue I should mention about Meera Reed. You see long ago when Lord Commander Brynden Rivers disappeared North of the Wall, he brought with him one of the two remaining Valyrian steel swords of House Targaryen, the slender Dark Sister.
In Dark Sister, we have a famous Valyrian steel sword which went missing with Brynden Rivers, once used by one of the original Three Dragon Riders who conquered Westeros. Now, many think that Dark sister is meant for Arya, as the original outline for ASOIAF had Arya North of the Wall killing White Walkers with Needle. Except Arya’s story has totally transformed since then, and she already has a sword, which has too much sentimental value to get traded in for another. Still, Dark Sister is a sword meant to be wielded by a woman, and it carries the rare power to kill the Others. And at the same time, North of the Wall, in the Cave of the Last Greenseer, we have a young female warrior, herself essentially drafted into the fight against the Others, with a potential ability to ride dragons, or at the very least she has young Bran Stark (who is in love with her) and who can likely possess dragons. Can we think of a more advantageous dragon rider for the battle between Ice and Fire than this old god keeping warrior crannogmen who swears by Ice and Fire?
And there you have it. Though we don’t know who will end up riding dragons, Dany, Jon, and Meera serve as the likely candidates to act as the Three Heads of the Dragon in the war against the Others. That said, we have to understand there is a difference between who is intended by the Old gods to ride a dragon, and who will ride them. Plans don’t always work out like they are supposed to. Still, if Bloodraven and Quaithe have it their way, neither Tyrion, Victarion, Quentyn, nor Aegon, are meant to have the dragons they seek in order to accomplish their personal ends.
EDIT: Never mind. All three heads of the dragon are Bran.
Unfortunately (for him), the odds seem pretty stacked against Young Aegon, and even if he can defeat the weakened Lannisters, even an alliance with the Faith Militant won’t likely help him against the plot of the Weirwood Leviathan. Though I haven’t gone into it, I think Bloodraven’s lack of support for Aegon is less about who he is and more about who he isn’t.
All Hail Henry Tudor
Though he doesn’t write straight allegory, our author has gone on record as being heavily influenced by the events of the War of the Roses. Though the War of the Roses has no parallel to the White Walkers, things like the Yorks and Lancasters seem to influence the Starks and Lannisters. And in looking at comparisons between the War of the Roses and our story, Young Griff actually parallels Henry Tudor, the real historical figure who ultimately comes out on top.
Henry Tudor had a claim to the throne yet seemingly came out of nowhere. He crossed the English Channel(like the Narrow Sea) and he brought with him English exiles (like the Golden Company), he gathered support from his Welsh ancestry (like Aegon’s supposed Dornish side). He landed at the seat of his uncle Jasper, who raised him (Jon Connington and Griffins Roost), who was his biggest political supporter. His invasion was prepped for across the sea by his mother Margaret Beaufort (Varys), and he lived in the Court of Francis Duke of Brittany (Illyrio Mopatis). And in fact, Henry Tudor even had attributed to him the Welsh prophecy of Y Mab Darogan, The Destined or Prophesised Son, or Son of Destiny. Everyone see the parallels here?
So is Aegon legitimate? Will we ever really know? Was Daeron II ever legitimate? Does it matter? Will Aegon crash and burn in the face of 3 dragons? Will the 3 heads of the dragon really be Dany, Jon, and Meera? is Meera Reed a dragonfly? And will 5th suitor theory come true and give him the edge he needs? Could Aegon be proclaimed the story’s black sheep candidate for Azor Ahai? And in the end, could Aegon, if you-want to call him Aegon, come out on top after all?
There you have it folks. Two Princes for Westeros. In Part 7 we’ll talk about the other prince, The Prince that Was Promised, and the big tropes behind Jon and Daenerys, and the political consequences and advantages of them.