[Warning: while the following article is entirely speculative, it may or may not contain future Game of Thrones spoilers]
Bran’s latest time traveling adventure with the Three-Eyed Raven has led him to the Tower of Joy, meaning that we may soon have the answer to one of Game of Thrones’ biggest mysteries: what happened to Lyanna Stark?
As readers and watchers of Game of Thrones alike will remember, Lyanna was betrothed to her brother Ned’s good friend, Robert Baratheon. During a tourney at Kings Landing, the victorious Prince Rhaegar Targaryen bypassed his own wife, Elia Martell, to wreath Lyanna Stark as the tourney’s Queen of Love and Beauty. Shortly after this event, Rheagar lit the spark that would fuel Robert’s Rebellion by allegedly kidnapping Lyanna and bringing her to the Tower of Joy in Dorne.
The Rebellion ended when Prince Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon during the Battle of the Trident. After the last sword had been swung, Ned Stark then traveled to the red mountains of Dorne to rescue Lyanna, where, as we saw in season 6 episode 3, he and his Northern crew defeated Ser Arthur Dayne and two other members of King Aery’s Kingsguard.
Viewers don’t yet know what Ned will find in the tower, but readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire series should have an inkling of what (or who) it may be.
In A Game of Thrones, Ned claims that he found Lyanna in the tower dying in a “bed of blood”, but the circumstances surrounding her death were never revealed, leading to a slew of fan theories, the most notable and widely accepted of which is known as R+L=J.
This theory asserts that Lyanna died as a result of childbirth related complications, but before she passed she made Ned promise that he would raise her child as his own and protect the babe from Robert’s imminent wrath. Ned returned home to Winterfell after the war with a baby in tow, which, if this theory is to be believed, would make Jon Snow not Ned Stark’s bastard, but the highborn son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
A reveal of this magnitude would be a total game changer for Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow is now released from his Night’s Watch vows thanks to a technicality (a brother’s watch ends when he dies), so he is free to lay siege to Winterfell and take his home back from the villainous Ramsey Bolton and declare himself Lord of Winterfell and King of the North. But if he is indeed the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, then by birthright he would have a claim to the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, as well.
For any of these scenarios to work, Jon Snow will need to be naturalized and rid of the surname “Snow” in order for him to rule anywhere. If Bran’s visions reveal that Lyanna and Rheagar were secretly wed, then Jon Snow will need proof of their union, and as it currently stands, there is only one living character who may be able to vouch for his Targaryen blood and any union between his supposed parents: Howland Reed.
Howland Reed’s location is unknown (his “castle” is said to move), but Bran is traveling with his daughter, Meera, who likely will be able to guide Bran (and Jon, if it comes to it) to the elusive and secretive Lord of Greywater Watch to verify the truth… if indeed that is the truth.
All will hopefully be revealed when Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven revisit the Tower of Joy, but for now, we can continue to happily drive ourselves crazy with fan theories.
What secret do you think the tower is hiding? Let us know in the comments!