Crow v. Raven: Why Bloodraven Not Being the Three-Eyed Crow Is Important to Understanding George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”

Order of the Green Hand on You Tube may be off about R + L = A and N + A = J and Arthur Dayne being Mance Rayder, but they did catch almost the entirety of the fandom including yours truly in a pretty important mistake – not being able to tell the difference between a crow and a raven. It is a biological fact that ravens are different from crows. Their tails are different. They group differently. And, they behave differently. They are different species. Crows are carrion feeders while ravens are hunters. As a result, humans characterize them differently both in mythology and use. Ravens are the traditional helpers of humans giving knowledge, tools, and conveying messages. Odin has two ravens for example that relay information. Crows on the other hand are tricksters often associated with evil and wrongdoers. What is also apparent is that George R. R. Martin knows the difference and has applied it in “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

 

Ravens are the messenger birds of Westeros with white ravens signaling the change of the seasons. They are also the helper birds to Brynden Rivers, known as Bloodraven for his birthmark and his character. Bloodraven, whether misguided or not, is attempting to serve the realm with the greater cause of humanity his larger motivation. Jeor Mormont’s bird, which helps Jon become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and utters suspicious words at various times (“king” being the most telling while looking at Jon), is a raven.

 

At the same time, crows also make several appearances, none of them favorable. The title of the fourth book in the series, A Feast for Crows, is about mass death. The Wildlings or Free Folk refer to the members of the Night’s Watch as crows for their black garments, but also to mock them as carrion feeders, harbingers of death, and targets. Crows show up at various times after battles to feed on the dead. And, then there is the most famous of them all – the three-eyed crow. The vast majority of the fandom mistakenly believe that Bloodraven is the three-eyed crow, but, as the Order of the Green Hand pointed out, that is not correct.

 

First and foremost is the distinction between Bloodraven and the three-eyed crow as laid out above. Bloodraven is associated with ravens, never crows except as a member of the Night’s Watch, and that is a label the Wildlings or Free Folk would call him, not something with which he associates himself or his role as a helper of humanity, not a carrion feeder or a trickster. Second, when Bran and company first encounter him, Bran asks him point blank whether he is the three-eyed crow, and Bloodraven and Leaf deny it. Specifically, Bloodraven does not recognize the creature, but relates that he was once a “crow”, that is, a member of the Night’s Watch. Leaf corrects Bran and calls Bloodraven the last greenseer. Thus, the three-eyed crow that has not only contacted Bran and Jojen, but also seems to have contacted Euron given his crow’s eye obsession, is a separate entity from Bloodraven with its own ability to enter into dreams and give people their third eye.

 

Given that crows opening a third eye is in order to take their souls in mythology, the three-eyed crow seems to be using Bloodraven’s greensight for nefarious purposes. In Jojen’s case, the three-eyed crow convinced him to secret Bran away from Winterfell. If Preston Jacobs’ analysis in his “Minds of Wolves and Robins” videos is correct, it also provided Theon and Ramsay the inspiration to bring Jojen’s greendreams’ predictions of Winterfell drowning to fruition. Also, Order of the Green Hand convincingly argues in “Game of Thrones: The Old Powers Are Waking: The Winged Wolf” video that the three-eyed crow used Bran to get into the crypts and unleash a powerful winged serpent. Combined with Lackadaddy’s deductions about the White Walker nature of the Starks in the crypts, we have the three-eyed crow manipulating Bran and company into taking the iron swords, which were holding the spirits within, out of the crypts unleashing the ice dragon serpent.

 

Last, but not least, Euron Greyjoy’s kingsmoot speech takes on an even more ominous meaning once we understand Euron not as a manipulator of events, but as a tool of the three-eyed crow. He proclaims that Westeros is dying, not weak, not enfeebled, but dying. He promises that the Ironborn will feast before the fall of the night. That is, they will feast before the end of days. Euron, as Preston Jacobs concluded in “The Forsaken: Finale” video, sees himself as a euthanizer. Only, in this case, Euron is seeking to euthanize Westeros. In other words, the three-eyed crow is not Bloodraven seeking to aid the realm, but an entity seeking to kill all of humanity.

 

There is only one group that could use Bloodraven for that purpose. It is the same group that seeks the death of all humanity. It is the same group that is behind the Faceless Men who want to give the gift of mercy killing to all humanity – valar morghulis. It is the same group that has its consciousness absorbed into a collective mind that goes back hundreds of millennia. It is the same group that has been driven to near extinction by humanity and is harboring a grudge. They sing the song of earth and every song must have its balance. The Children of the Forest in the weirwoods are the three-eyed crow and they do not have benevolent motives. It is thanks to the Order of the Green Hand’s recognition of the difference between crow and raven that we owe this deeper understanding of what really is happening in “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

Willful Disregard: False Prophets, True Believers, and Misinterpreting George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

Melisandre is never right. The dreams are all deceptions. The gods are not gods. There is no magical realm. There are no deep ones. Barth is a guidebook not a bible. No matter how much evidence you throw at them, no matter how much background you give them, no matter how much direct contradiction there is in the text itself, you cannot dislodge a true believer’s conviction about A Song of Ice and Fire.

There is no possible way a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, a self-professed agnostic atheist whose writings are ALWAYS refutations of moral absolutism, extremism, and fanaticism is going to write even a Tolkien-like story, let alone a Lovecraftian one. Jon is not a hero on the monomyth journey. Bloodraven, etc., are not the Merlins seeking to raise a King Arthur. Sansa will not end up with Sandor. Daenerys is not going to die heroically fighting a second Battle for the Dawn nor is Tyrion (Targaryen, deal with it), nor Jon, nor Bran, nor anyone. The enmity between humans and “others” is a clear misdirection. The enemy is always the godhead, death, the collective parasitical organism.

The weirwoods are death trees feeding off the living. They take blood sacrifices. They drain the life off of other trees. The Singers of the Earth give themselves and join with them when they die. They are a hive mind that takes possession of living creatures and feeds off them. The oily black stone fortresses were to fight their hammer of the waters – an earth power that caused tsunamis. The Singers are their servants, their greenseers their telepathic commanders. There is no future sight, only deception and death.

Planetos is a world of four elements or humors: earth, ice (wind), fire, and water corresponding to the seasons of spring (water), summer (fire), autumn (earth), and winter (ice/wind), with corresponding animals sea serpents, dragons, weirwoods, and ice dragons. When the men and women destroyed the weirwood forests, they unbalanced the seasons. The ice dragons created the White Walkers. The White Walkers bred with the Singers to create armies of the dead and the Long Night. The Wall is the result of a second Great Pact among the three groups.

To regain the balance, men and women must honor the forests, keep within their realms, and seek peace. It will take all the efforts of our characters to realize this and enact it. There is no other path to peace, but peace.

The Others aka White Walkers Are Not Bullies

Sigh. He is at it again. There is a magic realm and a political realm. The Others are omnicidal. Martin brings his villains low. It does not matter that Martin is on record lots of times stating the exact opposite of all of it. But, now we have a useful slip. Now, we have the real reason this guy cannot get it right and goes ballistic when you argue with him. He thinks the Others are “bullies” and he wants his revenge. He wants them to die in their millions. Behind his oft-professed morality lies a genocidal bigot. Sound familiar? It should. (http://poorquentyn.tumblr.com/post/160231583493/if-we-accept-that-the-others-are-so-arrogant)

 

The Wall demarcates what is for the humans and what is for the Children of the Ice Dragon (COTID). When the Night’s Watch goes north in force or in groups, they are the invaders. When humanity failed to keep its side of the second Great Pact sealed at the heartwood grove just north of the Wall by providing “snows” (unwanted babies), it broke a treaty. When Mance Rayder dug up the fifty graves, he unearthed the Night’s King – what is dead may never die. When Waymar Royce arrogantly engaged in a duel with an opponent he knew not in the slightest, he exemplified the stupidities of the semi-feudal system. Just because you are superior and laugh at the idiocy of your opponent does not make you arrogant or a bully.

 

Keep your personal demons away from your analysis snowflake. They are leading you over the cliff whether you admit the existence of that cliff or not.

 

P.S. If you are his devotee, do not bother to strike at me or hurl the familiar insults. I have heard them all. When you are proved wrong, I sincerely doubt any of you will have the integrity to apologize or even acknowledge that you were wrong. Pity. It is a tragic waste of a human being.

No Cartoon Villain: Euron Greyjoy in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”

It seems quite incongruous for there to be a Euron in “A Song of Ice and Fire”. After all, George R. R. Martin does not do pure evil. Ever. There is always a backstory. There is always an understandable motivation. One does not agree with the villains, but one sees the motivation, the perspective, and recognizes it as a kind of genuine humanity. But, Euron does not seem to fit this at all. When he was young, he killed his greyscale infected half-brother, Harlon, by closing his nostrils, suffocating him, and another half-brother, Robin, who was sickly and mentally limited. Either before, after, or during those murders, he molested his brothers Urri and Aeron. After having sex with his brother, Victarion’s, salt wife, Balon, the eldest and Lord Paramount of the Iron Isles, banishes him. Suspiciously soon after Balon’s suspicious death from falling off of a bridge or the bridge collapsing, Euron returns on board his ship, The Silence, which is crewed by mutes (Euron has had their tongues removed.), has its deck painted red to obscure the blood, and a sail that emphasizes his nickname, Crow’s Eye, as well as his affiliation with that harbinger of death and trickery.

 

Once he connives his way into being crowned king at the kingsmoot, Euron embarks on a bizarre campaign of pillaging, raping, and killing with the ultimate goal of the Ironborn feasting to their fill before the night. He intends to get dragons, marry the dragon queen, and conquer Westeros all the time talking about death, flying by leaping from a tall tower, and becoming god as he mocks all gods and belief. He is presently torturing his brother, Aeron, and has his visibly pregnant lover, Falia Flowers, lashed to the front of the ship with her tongue newly torn out. Euron is not only a sadistic, sociopath, but seemingly a cartoonish villain of Nazi or Bolshevik level proportions. How can this be?

 

Although it is not within our purview to put Euron on the proverbial couch and psychologically analyze him, it is incumbent on us to try to understand Euron as an actual person. After all, Martin does not do cartoon villainy. There must be something more than pure evil. As it should, the analysis should start with Euron’s murder of his two ailing, innocent, vulnerable cousins. This is most foul on the face of it. But, there is more to it than that simple, initial impression, as Preston Jacobs theorized in his Forsaken analysis videos on You Tube. His cousins were suffering, dejected, and doomed. In other words, they were not his victims, but the recipients of his charity. How do we know this? It is because Euron has told us so himself in the Forsaken chapter. Euron was answering his cousins’ prayers for mercy. Those prayers, in some ways, have haunted him leading him to make recurring references to them.

 

Mercy killing is one of the recurring plots in “A Song of Ice and Fire” and matches the debate about euthanasia among American Roman Catholics, of which Martin was one. On the one hand, there is holiness in suffering, martyrdom, being like Jesus who suffered for humanity. On the other hand, Church doctrine recognizes that death can be a gift – just like it is for the Faceless Men – for it leads to a better place, heaven. But one may be asking how a greyscale victim and a simple-minded person, both of whom cannot speak, reached Euron to communicate, or pray, that they wished to die, that is, were silent.

 

Although the blogger Madeinmyr has done a fascinating job analyzing Euron (See https://madeinmyr.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/a-black-eye-shining-with-malice-thoughts-concerning-eurons-black-magic-and-potential-dark-powers/), it is worth our while to add to that picture. The first sign that something is special about Euron is his heterochromia – one eye is sky blue, the other black, which he covers with an eye patch. There are several characters in “A Song of Ice and Fire” with that condition, Shiera Seastar and Tyrion Lannister most notably, and they all have a connection with the magical world. (Tyrion’s is largely latent, but it is still there.) Second, Euron is constantly associating himself with crows and a crow’s third eye. It seems highly likely his dream of flying (The Reaver chapter, AFFC) contained the three-eyed crow that visited Bran, which wanted Bran to open his third eye.

 

Although YouTube video channel Order of the Greenhand has persuasively argued that Bloodraven is not the three-eyed crow, that Jojen, Bran, and Euron appear to have all received dreams involving the three-eyed crow makes it reasonable to conclude that they all share psychic abilities. It is not a far off leap, as it were, to suspect Euron also has skinchanging powers or, at least, has the talent for entering into others’ minds, hearing their thoughts, placing himself into others’ consciousness. It would explain, for instance, how he is able to coordinate a crew of mutes at sea, enter into Aeron’s head in the Forsaken chapter, and how he might be surveilling Victarion through the Dusky Woman. Furthermore, it might also be how he is entering Daenerys’ thoughts, her sex dreams notably, particularly the one where a blue, cold Hizdahr with Euron’s blue, bruised lips puts his cold penis into her. Euron’s Shade of the Evening usage might explain all of this. He is opening his third eye through drug use just as Daenerys had visions drinking it before entering the House of the Undying.

 

But, a key clue to understanding how Martin has crafted Euron’s character may lie in another of his characters – the mother from “Nightflyers”. Spoiler alert. The rest of this analysis reveals key plot points from that story. Royd Eris is the putative captain of the eponymous ship, Nightflyer, but his secret is that his Mother’s self is part of the ship’s computer system. Furthermore, the computer system also has her telekinetic power. On her home planet of Vess, she was institutionalized for her gift, tortured into not using it, and developed into a sociopath and a misanthrope. (Dreamsongs, I, “Nightflyers”, 603) She was born different, ostracized, and driven insane by societal prejudice. Euron’s psycho-pathology appears to be along similar lines.

 

Tortured by his gift – the ability to sense and be inside other people, a skinchanger, Euron answered the “prayers” of his suffering half-brothers. He sought comfort, like Sweetrobin seeking out Sansa, from the voices by molesting Urri and Aeron. His contact with the three-eyed crow has driven him to obsession with death. He does not love dragons for the power they wield. He loves them because they bring death. He is not a Valyria lover because he wants an empire, but because they were consumed in the Doom – mass death. He is not a sadist, but someone who is in love with death. He resembles what the three eyed crow serves and represents – a death cult, in other words, the weirwoods and the Children of the Forest. (See Order of the Greenhand, YouTube.)

 

In conclusion, while Euron is a monstrous person, he is still a person. Martin has written him that way so that we may view what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil”. Anything that makes him more or less is a misinterpretation of his true nature.

Kill the Boy: Lessons in Leadership from George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”

“Kill the boy and let the man be born.” This is Maester Aemon’s advice to Jon Snow in A Dance with Dragons. (113) By Samwell Tarly’s political maneuverings, Jon Snow is saved from Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt’s deadly intent by his ascent to Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, at least for a time. There is little doubt he, like Daenerys and Robb, is unprepared for leadership. Although Jon and Robb had it a lot better than Daenerys with their upbringing at Winterfell and her upbringing by abuse by Viserys, they do not have the maturity, experience, or knowledge of the hard game of politics necessary to win at the game of thrones. As a result, they die. But, if there is one thing we can count on, it is that Tumblr’s finest will not understand what Aemon was trying to tell Jon. (http://poorquentyn.tumblr.com/post/159688499128/is-kill-the-boy-with-or-without-foresight-this)

 

The rest of the advice is critical: “You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done.” (113) It was not eliminate your friends, forget who you were, and abandon your family. It is, arguably, the most important lesson in “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Maturity comes at a cost. Life hits you hard sometimes. You cannot curl up into a ball and ask for your mother. Similarly, you cannot ride off and slaughter everything in your path. Being a man or a woman, an adult, is accepting life’s disappointments, injustices, and losses and moving on. You must do what is right while thinking through the issues calmly, decisively, with a search for insight.

 

Daenerys commanded Meereen be peaceful. She murdered slave masters and called it justice. She moved first and hoped for the best, but did not prepare for the worst. She had no exit strategy. She then compromised, became something she was not by marrying Hizdahr. She chained up her children, the dragons Viserion and Rhaegal. She lost Drogon. Daenerys had lost herself. She had to go for a walk about in order to find herself.

 

“The dragons know who you are. Do you?” Quaithe asked her. “Dragons plant no trees,” Daenerys concludes. Correct. Dragons are for war, for conquering, and for subjugating to a common will. Let the farmers plant trees. Let the forest rangers plant trees. Daenerys does not have the gift for governing day-to-day. So, she should delegate that to others while she looks after the big picture at which she has a gift. Unlike the Meereeneese Blot blog’s assertion that Daenerys is turning into a destructive force, her path to liberator is now clear. She will prevail. But, only after she weds the kraken will she turn towards the blue flower.

 

As for that blue flower growing out of a chink of ice, he too had a steep learning curve. Per Max Weber and James Q. Wilson’s studies of leadership, while Daenerys is a charismatic leader, Jon is working as a bureaucratic innovator. The Night’s Watch is weak in numbers, commitment to mission, and esprit d’ corps. The Free Folk/Wildlings have all three, but need a place south of the Wall. Jon’s journey of discovery Fern Gully/Dances with Wolves/Avatar style has given him a foot in both camps. Unlike in the show, Jon is working within the system as Lord Commander to integrate the Free Folk into the Wall’s defenses. But, he is too trusting, brusque, and top down to properly manage the transformation of the Night’s Watch from its mission creep into fighting Wildlings back to fighting the Others. Because this is George R. R. Martin, he gets Caesared rather than displaced.

 

Jon has not followed Aemon’s advice in point of fact. He disregarded it entirely. He allowed his boyhood commitments to overrule duty, oaths, and higher calling. Although integrating the Free Folk into the realm without getting sufficient buy in from the Night’s Watch was a contributing factor, it was not the precipitating factor or proximate cause as lawyers say. Jon violated his oath to the Night’s Watch when he proposed to lead a force of Free Folk against the Boltons in the Shieldhall. The Night’s Watch is now his family and they take no part. They hold no lands, bear no crowns, take no wife, father no children, receive no glory. They are the shield that guards the realm of men. By declaring war on the Boltons and proposing a march on Winterfell, Jon refused to kill the boy – the bastard son of Eddard Stark, the brother to Arya, and the one who called Winterfell home. Jon violated Aemon’s advice. Thus, he had to pay the price.

 

Once again, we must wonder why Tumblr bloggers are getting this wrong. The advice is neither hard to understand or unusual. The misreading of the advice into “deny who you are” seems to be of a mindset common among young people. They think the call to maturity is to deny them a fundamental part of their identity – their jejune natures. There is a saying that youth is wasted on the young. In my experience, so is advice, on me, on others. Usually, you have to learn it by doing. We can only hope those learning experiences are not fatal.

Bloodraven’s Leadership

You have to give the cognoscenti of Tumblr credit. When you want them to violate George R. R. Martin’s fundamental principle of characters who are “shades of gray”, they have no problem condemning leaders as terrible with no merit whatsoever. Consider the attack on Bloodraven as Hand of the King. Bloodraven ensures that the greatest threat to the realm, the Blackfyres, are nullified. Despite a series of catastrophes for which he bore no responsibility – a prolonged summer leading to draught and the Spring Sickness, Westeros, with the exception of Ironborn raids, remained peaceful, ordered, and intact.

 

But this is Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”, so there are going to be negatives. Bloodraven used all of the mechanisms at his disposal to ensure this peace. He instituted a surveillance state, forced peasants into a form of serfdom, temporary but nasty, and enforced horrific punishments on those who spoke out against him. If one believes, as one should, in Bloodraven’s manipulations to bring back dragons to fight the Others, he is certainly guilty of some pretty terrible crimes as well including, but not limited to, sending greendreams to Daeron and Aerion Brightflame to drive them to suicide, arranging for Maekar to unknowingly kill Baelor Breakspear in the Tournament at Ashford (“The Hedge Knight”), and convincing Aerys I to not consummate his marriage with his wife to prevent unwanted heirs. In some respects, Bloodraven is operating very much in the vein of a Richelieu. He is violating human rights right and left in order to serve what he believes is in the best interest of the regime, the best servant of the realm in the face of larger threats.

 

Of course this nuanced, complex view of Bloodraven’s tenure as Hand does not find favor with the social justice warriors of Tumblr. They assert that Bloodraven’s policies worsened the realm, contributed to further Blackfyre rebellions, and was a contributing factor in the lead-up to Robert’s Rebellion – the breaking of the “social contract” theory. (http://asoiafuniversity.tumblr.com/post/159534304805/it-was-the-targaryens-who-crushed-dagon-brs) None of these assertions are justifiable. First, the nature of the Targaryen state remained almost entirely the same both before and after Bloodraven’s tenure as Hand. Once more, as one fan wrote, one can conceive of Martin’s rendering of semi-feudal, medieval monarchy as a “love letter to democracy”. The rule of the Targaryens was simply a larger scale tyranny than the warring states patchwork it superimposed itself upon.

 

Second, even if Bloodraven had placated everyone, the Blackfyre threat would have persisted. It is entirely possible that Aegon “Bittersteel” Rivers’ led Golden Company and its allies would have been emboldened by this perceived softness. Martin is constantly posing leadership dilemmas. Too hard, you will foment revolt. Too soft, you will foment revolt from perceived weakness. That is why leadership is hard. Condemning one choice without considering the effect of the other is avoiding the consideration of the real quandary Martin is posing.

 

Third, Aerys II’s reign would have been a continuation of Targaryen rule, but for Rhaegar and Lyanna, and, more importantly, Aerys the Mad King’s beyond the pale reaction. Without his unjust and arbitrary execution of the innocent Lord Paramount, Rickard Stark, and his heir, Brandon Stark, there would have been no support for Robert’s rebellion. Aerys went on to demand Jon Arryn’s forfeiture of his wards, Eddard, now Lord Stark, and Robert, Lord of the Stormlands, fomenting an alliance of three of the seven kingdoms with a fourth, the Riverlands, soon to come in on the side of the rebels with the consummation of the marriage alliance between the Tullys, Starks, and Arryns. Though Aerys still had the Reach, the most populous area of Westeros, and the reluctant Dorne and crownlands levies, this was still a losing proposition particularly in light of the unreliability of the Lannisters and their Westerlands due to Aerys’ ongoing feud with Tywin Lannister. The rebellion, thus, and its ultimate success had little to do with what had happened roughly a hundred years before, but stemmed almost entirely from its immediate context. Aerys II broke what there had been of the social contract, if any, not Bloodraven.

 

However, the overall significance of some on Tumblr condemning Bloodraven’s leadership unequivocally is the more important observation. It is twofold. First, it is a reflection of the youth and background of those doing the criticizing. Many young people have very strident, moral absolutist, rebellious attitudes towards governance as well as other issues. There are no shades of gray, no moral quandaries that do not admit of cut and dry solutions, and no countenance of worthy differing views. This is not true of all young people, but certainly the most vocal. Second, the millennials that predominate online fora like ASOIAF University are the 9/11 generation. The prevailing narrative of 9/11 is the clash of civilizations/us v. them/civilization v. barbarism line of describing a conflict that ripped apart the USA’s post-Cold War self-satisfaction. Though many now reject the moral absolutism of that narrative, the shocking nature of the demise of the Twin Towers still lingers in their zeitgeist. Particularly when it comes to discussing how fantasy novels should work out, this way of thinking comes out in force.

 

In summary, Bloodraven’s leadership is typical of “A Song of Ice and Fire”’s harsh realities. Damned if you, damned if you do not, does not make for good sloganeering, but that is pretty much the point. Leadership is choices. Choices always have consequences. It is the judgment of history whether they were right or wrong. Anyone who tells you life is a song is trying to sell you something. Do not buy it.

 

Why People Reject the Tyrion Targaryen Theory

Tyrion Targaryen has all of the makings of an R + L = J level theory – that which is accepted as canon with all of those who disagree dismissed as tinfoil. It provides a third dragon rider, is a hidden twist that Martin loves to put into his work, prompts questions about identity that are common in “A Song of Ice and Fire”, and engenders a poignancy to Tyrion’s relationship with his parents. However, it has not even come close to that level. Contrariwise, although there are no extant surveys, Tyrion Targaryen is rejected by almost all of the notable theorists. Why?

 

The Evidence

Unlike R + L = J, the evidence for Tyrion Targaryen occurs over several books including The World of Ice and Fire. R + L = J was neat and tidily presented in just one book and it was the first, A Game of Thrones. Tyrion Targaryen crept on us slowly, quietly, with not a little speculation.

 

Until The World Book, the evidence for Tyrion Targaryen was also scant. He had the mismatched hair and eyes that indicated an issue with his parents being two blondes with green eyes. He had dragon dreams and a fascination with fire. We learned that Aerys the Mad King lusted after Joanna Lannister, but, other than some “improprieties” at her bedding and some envy of her twin children, there was no basis for an Aerys/Joanna relationship that would be anything other than a rape, and a rape was ludicrous even for Aerys. And how was the contact to have happened with Lady Joanna Lannister in Casterly Rock and Aerys in King’s Landing?

 

But, The World Book changed all of that. It removed the geography issue by placing Lady Lannister in King’s Landing for the 10 year anniversary tournament at a time when it was possible for her to conceive Tyrion with Aerys. More tellingly, it noted that Aerys and Joanna were in a sexual relationship prior to her marriage to Tywin though when Aerys was already in a loveless, arranged marriage to Rhaella. The missing pieces of motive and opportunity came into place in one fell swoop. Now, a liaison between the former lovers was possible as Lady Joanna would have had no reason at all to tell Tywin or not to conceal it.

 

There was still the supposed strength of the Tywin/Joanna relationship and The World Book’s conveyance of an insulting remark about Joanna’s appearance before the entire court (wondering if breast-feeding had “ruined her breasts which were so high and proud” TWOIAF, 116). However, on closer examination neither of these two lines of argument stand up to scrutiny. The affection between Joanna and Tywin is actually entirely one sided. Tywin smiled for her, doted on her, but there is nothing about her regard for him.

 

Similarly, The World Book is ostensibly written by a maester, Yandel, seeking to curry favor with a Tywin Lannister-dominated court. As a result, Yandel very much takes that position on everything he sculpts about Aerys II and his former friend and hand who ultimately ruthlessly betrays him. At times, Yandel’s text bends over backwards to paint Aerys in a bad light and Tywin as completely and wholly good despite massive evidence to the contrary. For example, it states that Aerys raised the port fees against Tywin’s advice, then lowered them and blamed it on his hand. This is unlikely given how Tywin is portrayed as being completely in charge and a check on Aerys. If anything, it was more likely the reverse. Also notable, Tywin behaves despicably during the Defiance of Duskendale even remarking publicly how it would be fine for his king and childhood friend to be killed and replaced with Rhaegar. Yet, Yandel persists in portraying the resentment as entirely on Aerys’ side and unjustified. Even the sack of King’s Landing by Tywin’s troops and his ordered killings of Elia and her children are glossed over completely. With an account this biased, can we rely on the accuracy of that supposed remark that “humiliated” Lady Joanna? The more probable remark, given their history, is a compliment on her beauty in spite of or maybe because of her motherhood. While Tywin would have resented it, Lady Joanna Lannister would have blushed, fondly remembering her former lover.

 

Then, there was the introduction of chimerism to the theory. The World Book reinforced the tendency of the inbred Targaryens to have strange birth defects in their children. Once that was combined with the increased likelihood of a woman to have twins after having had twins, a commenter on a Preston Jacobs’ video on the genetics of dragon hatching noted than Tyrion’s physical appearance matched the chimera condition where two blastocysts or zygotes merge together into one creating an individual who has some traits from one, other traits from the other. Tyrion’s mismatched hair and eyes now showed that both Tywin and Aerys were donors to his genetic make-up. Finally, the dark hair and eyes that Targaryen descendants of Betha Blackwood and of Aegon “Egg” V occasionally exhibited according to The World Book were the Aerys II contribution to Tyrion, rather than the light blond hair that Tyrion shared with Tommen. This eliminated another counter to an element of the Tyrion Targaryen theory that had relied on the blond hair being the wrong shade of blond.

 

Do note, however, that, in direct contrast with R + L = J, the reader has to work harder, longer, and more skeptically to reach the conclusion. Second-guessing the author of The World Book does not come naturally to people. Wondering about first person narratives is hard enough, but official histories are supposed to be reliable. One also has to read between the lines to discover the omissions unlike Ned’s point of view chapters in which he is constantly dropping hints about Jon’s true parentage. Most notably he omits Jon when he lists his children, the recurring “Promise me Ned” when he thinks about Targaryens like Daenerys (With all due respect to Preston Jacobs, Ned is not thinking about a promise he made regarding Daenerys, but about killing Targaryens, which then links up to his promise to Lyanna about Jon.), Lyanna’s bed of blood, and fourteen years of lies when Jon is fourteen years old. Tyrion Targaryen has no living witnesses who could relate the information in a point of view. The reader has to piece it together from fragments. Last, but not least, chimerism is not a well-known condition and the reliance on the wrong hair color from Aerys added unnecessary doubt to the theory’s credibility.

 

First Impressions

In the time it took to get all of the information needed to prove more conclusively Tyrion Targaryen, readers had already formed set impressions of the relationships involved. Not at the level of an idee fixe, but similarly lodged, these impressions are hard to dislodge. Tywin and Joanna were a couple. Theirs was a love affair. Aerys II was a mad tyrant who cheated on his wife. After Duskendale, he abuses her sado-masochistically. There was no way that there could be a voluntary liaison between Aerys and Joanna. As any Google image search will reveal, literally, the portraits of Joanna and Aerys are invariably of Aerys creeping on a Joanna, who is being assaulted by his unwanted attentions.

 

Similarly, the Tyrion/Tywin relationship had gained the level of a legendary tragedy. Tywin’s hatred of his son made Tyrion’s desperate need to prove himself a Lannister all the more poignant. Lady Gemma Lannister’s remark to Jaime that Tyrion was a true son of Tywin more than Jaime was became a sacrosanct observation rather than a commentary on fathers and sons. Tyrion’s dwarfism engendered sympathy from many, outright empathy from all those who saw themselves in Tyrion’s plight. Tyrion’s wit, his intelligence, and his heroic qualities shown even brighter in contrast to his father’s outright disdain. When Tyrion requests Casterly Rock as a fief, Tywin’s statement “because I cannot prove you are not mine” is cutting if patently absurd. (Tyrion does not have to have Tywin’s consent to inherit Casterly Rock. It is his by birthright. All Tyrion has to do is wait for Tywin’s enemies to kill him or for a rock to fall on him. Living in a carved out mountain is a terrible idea.) For the denialists, Aerys as Tyrion’s father would undermine the nature of the Tywin/Tyrion dynamic with one blogger opining that it would somehow lend credence to Tywin’s behavior. For example, the Alt Shift X video on the theory gives all the evidence supporting it, but then rejects it because it would undermine the Tyrion-Tywin dynamic.

 

Confirmation Bias

People have a tendency to view selectively evidence that supports their own view while dismissing evidence that does not. This is especially true when we read, interpret, and analyze text. We see it from our perspective, which includes socio-economic background, ethnicity, religion, nationality, age, and time period. The Tyrion Targaryen denialists frequently express their love of Tyrion, the Lannisters, and distaste for anything that detracts from those positions. On several occasions they will also baldly state that readers have to use their present day sense of morality to interpret the text.

 

As a result, the World Book’s new information only served to reinforce these first impressions. Aerys was a resentful, scheming, profligate. His relationship with Joanna merely another fling. Tywin looked even better than he had in the books. The ruthless tyrant of “The Rains of Castamere” and the architect of the Red Wedding was a good family man. Besides, there was already a way for Tyrion to become a dragon rider and join the holy trinity of Jon and Daenerys without being a Targaryen. He could “Nettles” a dragon the way Nettles had in the Dance of the Dragons with the dragon, Sheepstealer, as told in the short story, “The Princess and the Queen”. Simply ply a dragon with whatever meat it likes and you can get it to accept you.

 

There are two major problems with these confirmation bias interpretations. First, they ignore the rather amazing bias of Yandel’s work especially concerning Aerys II and Tywin. Second, The World Book clarifies “The Princess and the Queen”’s ambiguity about whether Nettles was dragonseed – a Targaryen bastard. She was. (81) Thus, the only dragon riders we know of have Valyrian blood, the way the magic seems to work in “A Song of Ice and Fire”, through blood. As for Martin’s remark that you did not have to be a Targaryen to ride a dragon, the natural response is of course. There are lots of Valyrians who are not Targaryens who conceivably could ride dragons as well as those who have different last names who have Targaryen blood in them like the Baratheons, Jon Snow, and any offspring who have the last name of their parents despite having genetic material from Aerys II.

 

The Power of Authority

Although there are many commentators on Reddit, Westeros.org, Tower of the Hand, You Tube, and Tumblr, a few have gained greater prominence than others. The community that reads and writes about “A Song of Ice and Fire” respects their acknowledged expertise in the interpretation of the texts that comprise the writ of the story. Interestingly enough, in a story that is skeptical at best of organized religion, one could view its community on-line as a kind of religious group. There are the holy texts, the commentaries from the prophet (“Thus Spake Martin” is the tongue in cheek label for Westeros.org’s collection of Martin’s interviews and comments.), and a group of priests/rabbis who create the interpretations/Talmud of the texts. Like a religion certain theories, interpretations, and views become “canon” and others are dismissed as tinfoil.

 

When the elite formed in places like ASOIAF University on Tumblr, they took their membership from avid fans who were also in conformity with the established dogmas of their particular group. Because it skewed millennial and left of center, the consensus that developed had certain rules. For example, one could not speak ill of a respected blogger. One could not view women’s plights in “A Song of Ice and Fire” as anything except something to be condemned and/or Martin’s biases. One had to always lament the lack of People of Color in the story and never seem to defend Martin’s choices. And, one always had to be completely accepting of and always sympathetic to the differently abled. Tyrion Targaryen advocates, by the nature of the theory, would always be in contravention of one or more of these rules. Thus, the theory was not only tinfoil. It was heresy.

 

Inconvenient Truths

Societies form upon a foundation of common understandings. In turn, membership is a test of the individual’s knowledge of and acceptance of those understandings. When a new idea challenges those understandings, there is an existential crisis. Thomas Kuhn termed the understandings within science “paradigms”. If new set of concepts challenged an accepted paradigm, they would be rejected, but, eventually, thanks to the evidence-based approach of science and the scientific method, there would be a “paradigm shift”. The new ideas would become the new paradigm. As with Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”, that presented the global warming theory’s challenge to the petro-economy, Tyrion Targaryen constitutes a fundamental challenge to the Ice and Fire community’s understanding of the story in many important ways. However, there is a way to incorporate Tyrion Targaryen such that it does not fundamentally challenge what many, if not most, readers appreciate about “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

 

Relationships with one’s parents are one of the central operating dynamics in the story. However, just because one is not biologically descended from a person does not mean that person ceases to be the parent. Parents who adopt children are those children’s parents. Similarly, Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark is in fact Jon’s uncle, but has been the only father Jon has ever known. When Jon looks for a male role model, he first looks to Ned Stark. When Jon executes Janos Slynt, he is following his father’s example. In most important respects, it does not matter that Rhaegar supplied the genetic material. Ned Stark is Jon’s true father. It is the exact same situation between Tyrion and Tywin. It does not matter if all of Tyrion’s male contribution came from Tywin. Tywin was Tyrion’s father to all intents and purposes.

 

At the same time, one cannot help but wonder about the fundamental debate between nature and nurture that “A Song of Ice and Fire” raises. Are we our genes? How much does biological parentage matter compared to who actually raised us? Three of the USA’s most recent presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – have had contested relationships with their parents with Clinton and Obama both having had substitute parents from their biological ones. There is no doubt that influenced how they became the men they were and the leaders they were. It will be the same with Tyrion regardless of whether Tywin contributed all of the male material to his genetic make-up. In this way, fans of the books can accept Tyrion Targaryen as a theory, but not the name. For Tyrion is and always will be a Lannister and Tywin’s true son.