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Who Are Jon Snow's Mother and Father?

Spoiler Alert

You should not go ahead and read this article about Jon Snow's mother if you are just beginning with George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels, or if you're currently enjoying Game of Thrones season three on HBO- the article includes some information and Jon Snow theories that you will not yet have come across, and it would be a huge pity to ruin any of the surprises or story developments that you're going to relish deicovering while you read or watch this amazing work.

Jon Snow in HBO's Version of Game of Thrones


Jon Snow

One of the main characters in George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire cycle of novels, Jon Snow is the illegitimate son of Lord Eddard Stark, a Westerosi nobleman who is also known within the books as Ned Stark of Winterfell. He is unfailingly morally correct and decent, even when he has to make impossible choices, and this as well as his courage, unwavering dedication, considerable conscience and prowess in battle tends to endear Jon Snow to the reader all the way through the books. Jon Snow's parentage is withheld from the reader all the way through the series of novels, indeed it is unkown even by the character himself; since Ned Stark is executed at the close of A Game of Thrones, he appears to take the tantalising secret of who Jon Snow's mother is with him to the crypts beneath Winterfell. This leaves the reader pondering over many Jon Snow theories. So what is Jon Snow's lineage? Who is Jon Snow's mother? The Song of Ice and Fire books leave the reader desperate to know, and there are several Jon Snow theories around that might help us hazard a guess.

Morally staunch and thoroughly upright in everything that he does, Ned Stark's begetting of an illegitimate child so soon after his own wedding to Catelyn Tully, to whom he is still married at the start of the cycle of novels, is wholly out of keeping with his character. This surely only increases the intrigue concerning Jon Snow's parentage and makes us question the stories we are half told throughout the early books: none of these vague tales of Jon Snow's parentage really make sense, so just who is Jon Snow's mother? Initially, whenever he is asked the question concerning Jon Snow's mother, Ned Stark refuses to discuss the matter at all. The reader is left to wonder what kind of woman Jon Snow's mother must have been: who on earth could have tempted such a conscientious and honourable man as Ned Stark to stray so far from his habitual path, particularly so early into his marriage and while his young wife is already expecting their first child. Given Jon Snow's central and heroic role in the sprawling narrative of ASOIAF and the huge impact had on his prospects in life by the fact of his illegitimate birth, it's very tempting to speculate about whether Jon Snow's mother might not have been some important, noble Lady, possibly one who has since died.

There are a quantity of possible mother candidates among the huge number of characters and the detailed backstory of the Song of Ice and Fire series, and the many fans of the books are desparate to develop their own theories as to who is Jon Snow's mother.

Ashara Dayne

We are told that Jon Snow was conceived during the period that Lord Eddard Stark was away on a campaign in the South of Westeros during Robert Baratheon's rebellion. At that time, Ned spent a period of time staying at castle Starfall down in Dorne. We learn from the text that soon after Ned's departure from Starfall, Ashara Dayne, who was the daughter of the Starfall family, killed herself. Faced with this fact, the reader must speculate whether this was perhaps because she was desparately in love with Ned? Or possibly even, had she handed over her son to leave with him on his travels? So far, as with all the many Jon Snow theories out there, all we can do is speculate.


Another potential candidate for Jon Snow's mother, Wylla was a wet nurse working for the Dayne family at Starfall during Ned's time there. We first hear of Wylla early in the first novel, Game of Thrones, when the King Robert Baratheon asks Ned Stark if she was Jon Snow's mother. When Robert mentions Wylla in his typically lewd and bawdy style, Ned is similarly typical in his polite refusal to be drawn on the subject, neither confirming nor denying that Wylla is Jon Snow's mother. Is this because he is too polite to discuss a lady's honour, or because Wylla had nothing to do with Jon Snow's birth, and Ned is sworn to secrecy about who Jon Snow's mother really is?

Later in the cycle, Ned Stark's younger daughter Arya meets the young heir to the Dayne family, Lord Edric Dayne. He is travelling as the squire to the rebel hero Beric Dondarrion when Arya is captured as their prisoner. In the conversation between the two, Lord Edric announces that he and Jon Snow are "milk brothers" since Jon Snow's mother, Wylla, served as Edric's wet nurse. Arya makes a note to pass on to her half brother this invaluable little nugget of information should she ever get to meet him again, but beyond that the whole discussion goes almost unnoticed.

This Jon Snow theory has it that if a "patsy" were required, somebody who could be passed off as Jon Snow's mother in order to obfuscate the identity of his true parents, both as function of the narrative and as a catspaw in some noble scheme within its plot (ie to hoodwink the characters as well as hoodwinking the readers) then Wylla would be a perfect candidate- she was beautiful and worked in high service, she was in the right location at the right time, but was not so noble as to be denigrated by the implication that she was the mother to a bastard child. It is significant that at no point before his untimely demise does Eddard Stark, who it seems rarely if ever lies, say that Wylla is Jon's mother. It also seems unlikely and perhaps even a little unsatisfying that such an intriguing secret as Jon Snow's parentage would have such a softly whispered and relatively dull solution: one which is announced in an off-hand manner, third hand, to a character (Arya) who is not even direclty concerned. Surely we, the reader, will get to find out who Jon Snow's mother was in the same instance as Jon himself, so that we can share this revelation with him and derive far greater satisfaction than we could from seeing some random chap announce it to Arya several books before Jon himself finds out.

Robb Stark's Crown

Robb Stark is Ned Stark's eldest child and as such, according to the laws of primogeniture, the rightful heir to the Winterfell seat and the rights and incomes that go with it. Following Ned's death, Robb is claimed by his clansmen to be the King in the North, a title that the Starks were entitled to in Westeros' ancient past. Shortly before Robb's death, he announces Jon snow to be his chosen heir: Jon will stand to inherit the throne of the King in the North should Robb die, and on announcing this, Robb asks that all of his attendant lords accept Jon Snow's claim to the throne and swear to defend it, in writing. However, when Robb Stark does eventually pass away his force is fractured and his clansmen are either murdered with him or subsequently obliged to yield to the superior force of the Lannisters and so make their own individual peace with the Iron Throne of Westeros. However, the revealing of royal parentage for Jon Snow and the cleansing of his taint of bastardy, as well as Robb Stark's naming him as the heir to his throne, would perhaps provide the needed impetus to re-unite the North and provide a focal point for a force that could once again attack the Lannisters' hegemony over Westeros and possibly eventually unseat them from the Iron Throne. This re-dressing of the political situation within the nation is something that the narrative arc seems to demand as well as something that seems especially unlikely at the end of the fifth novel, thus suggesting the need within the story for the kind of rallying point that Jon Snow could become. It would also suit plot well to see Jon Snow on the throne of Westeros. The structure of the novels, as well as the likely force needed within their diegetic space to unseat the Baratheons, surely requires for the pulling together of the books' various strands into one united force- Jon's claim to Robb's throne provides one way in which the northern lords can be roped into the fray once more and pressed into service in one last final, epic battle for the Iron Throne.

Is Ned Really Jon Snow's Father?

One of the many Jon Snow theories discussed by readers and fans of the Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) books is that Ned Stark is not really Jon Snow's real father, and that instead he has out of some sort of selflessness or obligation taken on the dishonour and notoriety of philandering and has raised Jon as his son in a bid to conserve the honour of someone else, or more likely to protect someone else's memory. This would explain Ned Stark's affair being so out of character, with it turning out that he didn't really have an affair after all. This possible explanation could also help to account for the exceptionally nurturing and inclusive upbringing Jon had at Winterfell. If Jon isn't Ned's son this additionally raises the chance that Jon perhaps isn't illegitimate at all, opening up the possibility that he could inherit some important noble (or possibly even royal) role as the series of books continues. This may be unlikely given Jon's position as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, which demands of him that he set aside all inheritances and any claims to land or title, but it would definitely make it easier for him to assume a more prominent role in the story that, given his central position in the narrative, seems to be required structurally.

There is of course the important matter of Jon's physical similarity to Ned Stark: it's commented upon by the narration itself and by a number of the characters, including Catelyn Stark's internal thoughts, that Jon Snow very much resembles his father Ned. Therefore, in order for Jon Snow not to be Ned Stark's child, he must instead be the child of somebody closely related to Ned. The candidates here include Ned's older brother Brandon, who in fact died too long before Jon's birth to be his father; Ned's younger brother Benjen, who doesn't seem to be prominent enough within the story to be a realistic candidate, and Ned's sister Lyanna. Lyanna is a quietly shadowy yet hugely important figure in the recent past of Westeros- she died some years before the events of the first novel begin, yet she seems to have been the major cause of the battling that unthroned the Targaeryns and raised Robert Baratheon to their place. So far the prominence of Lyanna within the narrative of the stories seems disproportionately small compared to the massive impact she's had on the history of Westeros. Surely the revelation of the fact that Lyanna is Jon Snow's mother would redress this imbalance?

Lyanna Stark and the Targaryen Conspiracy

So we come to the big one, the major GRRM conspiracy theory, the huge Jon Snow Targaryen theory: Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, but, we're told, was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen before they could get married. It's therefore possible that Jon is either the bastard child of this couple, or that we will later be learn that Lyanna ran away with Rhaegar of her own volition and that Jon is therefor legitimate progeny of their secret wedding. If this is true, Jon Snow would be the legitimate heir both to throne in the North, through his cousin Robb Stark's nomination, and also the true heir of the Targaeryen's throne, as (potentially) the only still living descendant of Arys II Targaeryen's firstborn son, Rhaegar. Oddly, this would not only make Jon Snow a Targaryen, it would also make him Danaerys Targaryen's nephew. Vitally this would allow GRRM, through the agency of Jon Snow, to reunite Westeros under one legitimate and, frankly, worthy and benficent ruler. A ruler who is entitled to rule and thoroughly well equipped to do so. In England the War of the Roses was ended in a similar fashion, when Henry VII's fairly weak claim to the throne managed to unite both the Yorkists and the Lancastrians under the one banner.

Vital to the Jon Snow Targaryen theory is this: with her last breath, we are told that Lyanna extracted an oath from her brother Eddard. So far it hasn't yet been disclosed to the reader precisely what this promise entailed. It's possible however, and this is only speculation, clearly, that Lyanna was asking Ned to take care of her newborn baby: Jon Snow, and to keep secret his true parentage and raise him as a Stark bastard. Since Robert Baratheon despised the Targaryens in general and loathed Rhaegar in particular, and in view of Ned's close friendship with Robert, it seems possible that Lyanna would ask her brother to protect her baby from the man who would soon be crowned as King. If Ned were going to do this, the safest and easiest way would be for him to make out to everyone in the land, even his own wife, that Jon Snow was his bastard son. This, in a brief nutshell, is the crux of the Jon Snow Targaryen theory which is setting so many GRRM fans speculating the world over.

What Do You Think?

Do comment below and let me know what you think- who is Jon Snow's mother? Is Jon Snow really Ned Stark's son or is George R R Martin trying to sneak something by us? Are you sold on the Jon Snow Targaryen theory? Or do you have a Jon Snow theory of your own? Do let me know...


Wolerine91 on June 27, 2016:

.....and now we know, don't we.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 13, 2016:

But, Ned's wife was honestly hurt and resentful that her husband claimed an illegitimate son conceived after their wedding. Would he have done anything to hurt her, such as lie about an illegitimate child just to protect someone else? Bastard children happened very often in earth's feudal societies especially among noblemen, so I guess it's possible.

arya on November 11, 2015:

-scott thats impossible. if that were the case why did robert ask ned about his bastards mother. i dont think a father would joke about his son in that manner. another thing if that were also the case robert would have forbidden him to join the nights watch. whats the point of protecting your first born if you dont make him you heir! R+L=J FOREVER!!!!!!!

Scott on June 09, 2015:

Jon Snow is Cersi's "Raven haired beauty" . Robert realizing that Tywin would kill his baby, took Jon at birth, told Cersi the baby died, passed him to Ned, simple. As for the hair dilema, male heir's possess the hair of the father, hence raven haired. And as another poster stated Martin is too cryptic to make the baby Lyanna's, thay would be way too easy.

mongja on June 01, 2015:

Lyanna and Rhaegar's for sure. I don't know if he's 'legitimate' or not considering Rhaegar was married to someone else. Of course Lyanna and Rhaegar could have got married in secret, but would that make him legitimate since Rhaegar was still married? Idk.

I've aleays suspected Jon's parents would be something huge, considering Ned was secretive about his mother. Not to mention Ned wasn't the adulter'er type.

People seem to think he's not Targaryen because he doesn't have silver hair and purple eyes, but not all Targaryens had those trade marks. He wasn't incesutoulsy breed. He looks like a Stark because he took more after Lyanna in terms of looks.

Moses1119 on April 28, 2015:

Ned's honor gives legitimacy to the "Lyanna-Rhaegar"theory.Ned was unlikely to have been unfaithful to Catalyn but tells her Jon Snow is his bastard.To 1)deeply hurt his wife 2)damage his standing as honorable 3)knowingly subject Jon Snow to ridicule,to decide that it was worth the sacrifice to protect a secret.Protecting his sisters child from the likely wrath of Robert Baratheon.Not to mention the life of his sister.His honor was strengthened by sacrificing his trustworthiness,all around happiness of those closest to him.

John on April 19, 2015:

My theory is based on the books and the subtle hints that are mentioned in the first season of the program. Ned goes off to War for Robert Baratheon, he returns a year later with a child with BLACK hair in his arms, saying he is his child from a Whore, yet later in the series the Lannisters are looking to kill Robert Baratheon's Bastard, could it be that the blacksmith boy is Starks bastard and Snow is Baratheon's bastard and was taken by Ned because Robert knew one day someone would come for his Throne and his line of Heirs?

Edward William (author) from UK on April 19, 2015:

I agree, that seems really the only sensible conclusion.

tim on April 17, 2015:

I think snow is the true full blood heir to the throne. the first born son of Cersei and King Robert Baratheon "died". I think cersei had plan to put a full inbred blood Lannister from the beginning. Poisioning the black haired child she knew wasn't a Lannister.. but he didn't die.

okwolf on October 31, 2014:

Lynna. Jon Snow's mother. Rheagar the father. .but legitimate or still a bastard? Rheagar is married so how can he be legitimate?

dubol on April 14, 2014:

Ashara Dayne killed herself probably because Ned killed his brother Arthur Dayne the sword of the morning (Ned' s dream), and because Ned was promised to Cat. Hard to loose her brother and her lover I guess.

So John Snow is 50 per cent Stark Honour and duty blood, and 50 per cent Dayne the best blade in the kingdom (Arthur Dayne being the best according to Ned and others) = the perfect hero.

Thomas Green on April 08, 2014:

Ya Targaryan for sure.

Steven on October 21, 2013:

If Jon is a Targaryan, he would be reborn through fire yes? so if he is dead and they burn the body he will be reborn and also too if he dies his oath to the Night's Watch will have been fullfilled and thus he would be freed from it. Just a side theory I have on Jon Snow

GinaB on October 20, 2013:

I have come to the conclusion the Lyanna/Rheagar line is the correct one for Jon... Dany needs 3 riders...Aegon has appeared, concluding that Jon must be the lost Targaryan and rider #3. He is also a WARG/Skinchanger. I don't believe as some have commented he NEEDS Bran to wrangle the dragon for him. Its my opinion Bran's importance lies in the new powers that may be revealed I think in the old gods and the re-awakening of the legends of the children of the forest(ie. THEON in the present & NED STARK in the past HEARD HIM speak through a Wierwood tree when the "dead prince in the tree" said it was impossible). HE(Jon) will take control of the dragon himself...he already has that power (WARG). ALSO..GENDRY, based on comments through the HBO series...talks of his mother with BLONDE HAIR and SINGING TO HIM...may be the lost supposed dead baby of Robert /Cersei...she states through the series and book that Jaime was THERE with every delivery...thoughts of JAIME seeing the dark haired baby knew it wasn't HIS and got rid of it...or the conniving VARYS who wants a Targaryan back on the throne removed a true Baratheon's claim to the throne JUST AS VARYS removed the Targaryan baby from the court to protect him...EITHER WAY STARKS are STILL ALIVE and one I believe with sit the North-Winterfell Seat...Sansa is a good prospect for wife to Aegon, Jon is a good prospect for Husband to Dany if he does turn out to be Lyanna/Rheagar's son ( in a GROSS way based on the traditions of Targaryan marriages) THAT IS "IF" Jon is NOT DEAD(the last mentioned f him is being stabbed multiple times and hanging in the balance. Either way, it's MY PERSONAL perspective the houses to rule and unite the whole kingdom are Stark/Targaryan in some form. I WOULD SAY I do not like the changes made in the series by combining charcaters and making them one (Gendry/Edric) and changing who is actually still alive in the books as well; therefore losing A lot of the story that could be covered and therefore extend the series as to not overcome the true end of the books before they are written! CHOMPING AT THE BIT FOR THE LAST 2 BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steven on October 16, 2013:

My only really issue with Robert being the father of Jon Snow is. Ned would not have kept that from him as his friend. Keeping the fact Jon Snow was a Targaryan from Robert would be really important, especially since he wants to wipe the world clean of all Targaryan's

Tenzin on October 16, 2013:

You forgot one theory. While this is wholly rooted to how Ned treats Cersei in certain chapters in the books and scenes in the show, look at evidence for Ned/Cersei.

Arron on May 28, 2013:

I hope that the big twist of A Song Of Ice And Fire isn't that Jon is really a Targaryan. Because the thing is the whole story so far has had twists but they haven't been big ones, they've been little ones peppered throughout and they didn't exactly destroy our entire perspective of the books when we learn them. That kind of twist would be too huge and far too gimmicky if you ask me. It also negates the great importance that Ned held in Jon's life, and that would definitely be a crucial element.

David on May 27, 2013:

In the fifth book (A Dance with Dragons) Davos is sent to White Harbour but a "storm" causes him to have to stop at Sisterton, where he meets Lord Godric (Spoilers ahead) and he says that Ned Stark was here and that he was allowed to leave with his head on his shoulders and the boat he took there was a woman that Lord Godric said Ned left a bag of silver and a Bastard named Jon Snow.

Joe on May 24, 2013:

One more thing.....In game of thrones I'm pretty sure Ned's promise was to bring her back to Winterfell to be buried in the family crypt. I'm almost positive it's in writing in the first Ned Stark Chapter of Game of Thrones book 1

Joe on May 24, 2013:

Targaryen's all have silver hair because they wed brother to sister for generations. I read Game of Thrones and Ned said his sister died of a fever. So I'm hoping he is a Targaryen/Stark, but I'm not fully convinced just yet......

AdhesiveRaptor on May 22, 2013:

I think Jon Snow is Lyanna Stark's kid by Robert Baratheon because he is "black of hair" like Gendry (remember when Ned was tracing Baratheon's bastards) and why else would Rhaegar kill his lady love Lyanna. Targaryens have silver hair.

David Trujillo Uribe from Medellin, Colombia on April 17, 2013:

He would. And he is also the disciple of Maester Aemon, A Targaryen.

In this webpage they go into a further analysis John Snow´s mother being Lyanna and Rhaegar with some key points that reinforce th theory heavily.

1. Rhaegar and Lyanna disappeared together to the Tower of Joy early in Robert's Rebellion

2. hree of the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy: Lord Commander Ser Gerold Hightower, Ser Oswell Whent, and Ser Arthur Dayne... defending the unborn son of the Heir Apparent would be a good reason to have been posted.

3. Jon and Arya have similar feautures. Arya is said to resemble Lyana.

4. Eighth chapter of A Game of Thrones, in which Ned contemplates the significance of King Robert's bastards. As he muses, Ned's thoughts drift to Jon Snow, a logical segue, but also to his sister Lyanna, the promise he made her, and to Rhaegar Targaryen, implying some tacit link between the three individuals. (BINGO!!)

5. Daenerys Targaryen's visions in the House of the Undying include an image of Rhaegar with his newborn son Aegon, proclaiming that "there must be a third" because "the dragon has three heads"

Taken from: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Jon_Snow/Theo...

Sophia on April 17, 2013:

He would have ice and fire in him.

David Trujillo Uribe from Medellin, Colombia on April 09, 2013:

I´m going with the Targaryen story. It seems to fit with R.R. Martin´s plot twist style. Their hair color is silver (the Targaryens), not blond like the Lanisters. And John Snow´s moral personality seems similar to what has been described so far about Rhaegar. It would definitely create a great conflict between all the Targaryen siblings fighting for Westeros on the last book.

Holly Kline from South Jersey on April 01, 2013:

My money's on Robert Baratheon and Lyanna Stark; been saying it for years. :) Good article!

wapsy on March 30, 2013:

maybe Ned and Lyanna committed incest like the Lannisters and got Jon Snow...big maybe

Stark Raving Mad on March 29, 2013:

I doubt that Robert is the father. He probably would have known that Jon Snow was his son and have no need to question Ned about his affair.

CrazyHatFireDrill on March 23, 2013:

I also think Jon is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. It seems like the big culmination will be Dany bringing an army north just in time to join Jon in saving the whole kingdom and the two will marry etc.

Audrey on February 23, 2013:

Why would Ned lie to his wife,aren't they super close?

Avapop on February 13, 2013:

Continued: The BLUE flowers that Rhaegar gives Lyanna is represented again in Daenary's vision of a BLUE flower growing out of the wall. This also did occur during what is referred to as the "false spring" shooting forward, the last book of the series is already known to be "A Dream of Spring" So, after the the winter, if you will.

Any opinions?

Avapop on February 13, 2013:

So clearly Lyanna did not truly love Robert, and Rhaegar was not the evil man who Robert made him out to be. So it seems likely that the pair fell in love, and we have some proof to support this. For example, at the tourney at Harrenhal in the year of the false spring, Rhaegar won the jousting contest. But instead of crowning his own wife Elia the queen of love and beauty, he crowned Lyanna (SoS, pg. 486). Ned reflects on this while hallucinating:

Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, as blue as frost.

Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals, the thorns lay hidden...

--GoT, pg. 631

Zack on February 10, 2013:

Bran also sees through the godswood in winterfell a women praying for a son to avenge her... They also say john looks like arya with his long face and arya is supposed to resemble Lyanna stark... I think that bran will be able to save john by controlling the giant like he controls hodor.

Rory on February 08, 2013:

I have to believe that Jon is not Ned's child but Lyanna's. There are multiple allusions to it in the books, the promise that Lyanna extracts from her brother (there are few things she could ask of him), the mention of Lyanna's bed of blood (might imply she died in childbirth and not of another wound), plusI think they mention at one point that Rhaegar loved her and that she might have been with him willingly and not by force (not uncommon for prisoners to fall for their captors).

I think this theory is the most likely because Ned was a most honorable character, he goes to great lengths to protect the secret and did intend to sit down with Jon to tell him the truth. It fits with Jon's looks, it throws a big twist when later he is revealed to be a Targaryen (ironically on the wall with Aemon) and could lead to more plot with Dany.

Chrissy on February 06, 2013:

Chris.. Lyanna (Ned's little sister) is a Stark as well. If she is Jon's mother, she could have passed on the Stark's warg capabilities. Many of the Stark Kings seemed to have been warg's as they have dire wolves in the crypts, who's to say the Stark women can't pass on the warg capability to their offspring. I do like the Lyanna/Rhaegar theory.. ice and fire. We know Rhaegar liked to strum a tune on his harp, perhaps the song of ice and fire (Daenerys dreamed of such a song) was composed by Rhaeger of his feelings toward Lyanna or of the child that they conceived?

Chris on January 02, 2013:

I don't know if anyone else said this, but Jon is a Stark. We know this because he is a warg. This also makes me believe that Ned really is the father since Bran is a warg and it was hinted that the other Stark children were as well.

Kris Oller from Modesto, Ca on January 02, 2013:

I really like the idea that he's actually the son of Lyanna, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if we found out that Jon was a Targaeryen.

Mikoli on December 29, 2012:

I have a strong feeling that Jon will end up sacrificing himself to defeat the others. Melisandre believes that someone with kings blood will have to be sacrificed to wake the stone dragon. Although she believes this literally, I think it's metaphorical. I don't think Jon will end up ruling the seven kingdoms though.

Alex on December 16, 2012:

The Targaryen theory is really the only one that makes sense in my opinion. All you have to do is look at the Tower of Joy scene from the first book and that pretty much confirms it. Why would there have been Kingsguard protecting Lyanna Stark during a time when the king was in immediate danger? They were protecting Rhaegar's son. Also Lyanna had to have come willingly, if you look at the way Rhaegar is described by everyone who knew him (besides Robert) he never would have kidnapped and raped anyone, especially a women he was in love with. Also I believe Jon Snow is Azor Ahai reborn and Melisandre just hasn't noticed because she has convinced herself that it is Stannis.

Anny Silva from United States on December 10, 2012:

I am gonna go with the Targaryen theory. It would be so FREAKING awesome if he was! Then, he could tell everyone who has been mean to him to go blow!

Kristin17 on November 29, 2012:

I just read an interview with Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Grayjoy (and is also singer Lily Allen's sister.) GRRM told him that the issue of John Snow's parents would be like Luke Skywalker. So that tells me that it is not going to be Ned Stark, and that it is going to be something along the lines of a Targaryen/Lyanna parentage. I think that Daenarys and the young lost Rhaegor will get married, but not take over the seven Kindgoms when it is discovered John is the true heir. Also, I am wondering if there is a correlation between the blue roses and the others, with their blue eyes.

Karen from The Garden of Eugene (Oregon) on September 28, 2012:

Voting for "not Ned's son"... pretty sure Lyanna is the mother, and probably Rhaegar is the father.

As for Aegon - has anyone found Tyvek yet? The Lannister who was married to the baby girl and got lost in the riots?

lilly on September 18, 2012:

I'm just wondering if anyone knows what happens to the wives of the Starks when they die. Why are they not in the crypt.

morningstories on September 17, 2012:

Originally when I read the first book and watched the first season of the show, I had thought that Jon Snow was actually Robert's son. I mean, all his other children were scattered and the way they were described to look made me think of them as all siblings and Robert's spawn. Of course, after I actually read all of the books and looked more into it, I realized that it was probably far from the truth and I am one of many who believe that Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. I just hope the secret gets revealed soon so that I can put this question to rest in my mind.

Wildfire on September 14, 2012:

There are enough reason to say that Jon is Rhaegar's son . There's something most of you forgot. to mention. Aemon Targaryen, one of last survivors of house Targaryen , who had long since let his identity to be drown by time, sees Jon's struggle to remain in the Night's Watch after Eddard Stark's untimely dismiss and reveals to him that his real name is Aemon Targaryen, and that he is a long forgotten uncle of the Mad King.I wonder why he was so tempted to tell that life depending secret to a newbie in the watch and a total stranger.

Oathkeeper on September 11, 2012:

To answer the question:" is there a woman in the series who is entirely a positive character?" There are not that many... It's especially difficult to find mothers as positive characters. But I can think of Daenerys, Meera, Ygritte, Tysha, Val, Osha, Gilly

Jennifer Foster from Arnold, MO on August 27, 2012:

I have thought from early on in the series that there is much more to the story of Jon Snow. From the hints that have appeared, like the "bed of blood" and the secret promise Ned made to Lyanna, I have to believe that Lyanna is Jon's mother. If that is the case, the most likely father would be Rhaegar, who made no secret of the fact that he was attracted to her. The "meat" of the promise still has not been revealed, and could prove to be more important than a simple promise to keep the boy safe. Imagine you were Lyanna, dying from childbirth, knowing your son was in danger not only from the Baratheons, but possibly the Targaryans as well, what would you ask of your devoted brother? Just to keep him safe in Winterfell, or perhaps to groom him to one day be a king?

Lady wolf on August 23, 2012:

I think Jon is definitely the son of R+L. I think his dream in the wak points to him being Azores Ahi. The fact that he dies releases him from his oath do when he is resurrected he no longer is held to that . The blue rose keeps coming up , it always signifies a bastard child .Remember the story Mance told Jon about the blue rose. Also what did Dant dream blue rose coming out the wall = Jon

YouKnowNothing.... on August 23, 2012:

Some great ideas here, though a few hints from GRRM that haven't been mentioned in this thread:

-John Snow's dream of wearing dragon glass armor and swinging a glowing red sword alone on the wall at the Others.

-Commander Snow is a warg with a dire wolf, so more than likely a Stark whether descended from Eddard or Lyanna.

It's my musing that GRRM will end the book with peace among the kingdoms without one king, but a handful of rulers who generally get along. So as to who gets Winterfell (Rickon!) or who gets Kings Landing (Tommen?) or who gets Harrenhal (Shagga?) is anyone's guess and GRRM's answer.

Dirty Mike on August 23, 2012:

I think Jon is going to be resurrected like dondarion and will die again after his "mission" is done, which will be to put rickon back in winterfell and help the other targaryans

Grimm on August 22, 2012:

cold could simply mean the floor. snow is pretty cold and after taking 3 stabs your not likely to stay standing. also mallisandre wouldn't create "cold hands" that just doesn't make sends. shes devoted to the lord of light. a god who loves fire. but i do agree that malisandre will resurrect him. a man of the nights watch serves until his death. doesn't say he has to stay dead.

faulther on August 18, 2012:

Everyone is forgetting the RED PRIESTESS... forgot how to spell her name... Jon has 4 daggers to get over before anything happens and i think she might have something to do with him being a Cold Hands kinda thing. As for his mother he was trying to retake Winterfell before getting shanked and i think Lyanna will be learned and validate his taking it.... along w him being undead being a counterpoint...... cmon.... 4 daggers and COLD

Stormborn on August 18, 2012:

Raven LOL! hahaha :) I'd pretty much love to do the same if that happens :)

padme4000 on August 15, 2012:

Since not all targaryens have the white/gold hair I find this even more possible. Since Baelor Targaryen had brown hair (as seen in The Hedge Knight) having got the colour hair from his mother who was of dorne. So it is entirely possible that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna and got her hair colour like baelor had gotten his mothers hair colour.

Raven on August 14, 2012:

I definitely think that Jon is Rhaegar's and Lyanna's son. All the evidence say the same thing(to me at least), although knowing GRRM, something completely different will probably happen in the end.

But despite all this, Jon still can't be the king of Westeros or the king of the North. He gave up those rights when he joined the Night's Watch, plus I don't want him to leave the Wall. He belongs there. I'd like to see Dany coming to the Wall with her dragons, and then he will ride one of them and then together they will burn every single White Walker, with the help of the third rider of course.

And I really like the theory about Bran riding one of the dragons, even though it's highly unlikely because he has no connection to the Targaryens (as far as we know), despite his abilities. I just want Bran to come to the South already so he can do something big and important. And I also want to see more of Rickon.

AND if Dany dies, I will visit GRRM one night and rip out his heart with my bare hands.

Neil on August 10, 2012:

Kevin - because it makes sense doesn't mean it will be so, the only thing in this series that i am certain of.

Jon's parentage will be revealed through bran and his weirwood flashbacks, once he learns to control them and what not.

acorral1 on August 08, 2012:

I love the Game Of Thrones!!!!

Kevin on August 07, 2012:

I believe John Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. It makes perfect sense as Dany, Aegon, and Jon will be the three Targaryens for the three dragons.

Vicki on August 02, 2012:

I believe this theory to be correct. There was a very interesting and touching scene when Ned and Jon part company as Jon heads north to the all and Ned south to become the Kings Hand. Ned tells Jon that he may not have his name, but he does have his blood. Note the\at Ned did not say that Jon was his son. It could really be that Jon is his nephew and bears royal blood. Since Jon was betrayed and supposedly killed by his own Nightwatch, I think he will be resurrected somehow by Melisandre or by some other magic. He will become king of the seven kingdoms with Daeneris as his queen.

Dirty Mike on August 01, 2012:

My theory is that Jon is indesputably the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. I believe his lineage will be revealed when the dragons take a liking to him because of his Targaryan blood. I also believe a dragon will allow him to ride it because Bran will take control of the dragon and of course allow Jon to ride it.

ld on July 30, 2012:

I have had the same theory since book one. Just a hunch but, then Barriston the Bolds musings in the 5th book that made suspect all the more. However, we will see. The author does like to toy with his readers.

emik@myspot on July 28, 2012:

I had came to the rhagar conclusion so I agree.... Im rising to read winds of winter and my best conclusion the only bastard is george martin .....he should change his name tgeorge snow........

longclaw on July 24, 2012:

ned finds lyanna in a pool of blood and she says "... promise me, ned..."

it may signify childbirth and she wanted to be sure about the safekeeping of her child.

rheager kidnapped lyanna or may be she ran off with him.

but i don't think rheager would order to kill lyanna( may be sensing his defeat- but victor was his brother: so no mortal danger).

so no other explanation about the pool of blood.

but it is rather astonishing that robb named jon his heir, though he was already in watch....

Anna on July 22, 2012:

Rhaegar's daughter Rhaenys had dark hair and eyes like her mother Elia. Other Targs in the past have had non-silvery coloring (Baelor Breakspear for one). So Rhaegar's son with a dark-haired woman (Elia) produced a dark haired child (Rhaenys). Ergo, it is entirely possible that Rhaegar's child with another dark haired woman (Lyanna) could produce another dark haired child (Jon).

Edward William (author) from UK on July 12, 2012:

Yes, I think you're right- I was starting to think he'd be in that cave forever and found it oddly disappointing.

Virginia on July 12, 2012:

I'm thinking Bran might end up being a dragon wrangler. So much type has been given over to him that I can't imagine he is just going to sit passively now and watch events unfold. Plus, he was told he would "fly" and flying as a crow seems a pretty pitiful exchange for all he has given up. Flying as a dragon though, now that may be worth it......

Edward William (author) from UK on July 09, 2012:

Bit of a cheeky plug... here's a link to a hub I wrote that gives a plot synopsis at the close of Martin rr's Dance of the Dragons.


Cory on July 02, 2012:

*Spoiler alert*

I've been of the opinion since before the end GoT (and totally convinced by the end of CoK) that Rhaegar and Lyanna are Jon's parents. The "bloody bed" and "promise me" bits.. the story Bran tells of Lyanna being "carried off and raped" (a bit of Nothern dogma, I think) and Robert's chase after him.. The story about the ubiquitous tourny where Lyanna is named Queen of Love and Beauty.. Arya looks like Ned who looks like his sister.. Dany's vision in House of the Undying (I think) with the blue flower growing out of a crack in the Wall.. there are plenty of other tidbits, too.

There's too much evidence, though Martin's done plenty to try to convince readers otherwise. Lord Dayne's story of being milkbrothers is a big one. There's also a discussion Davos had (I can't remember if it was Manderly or the guy from Sisterton) where they mentioned Ned having a bastard named Jon Snow on the coast. There are a few other examples, but those stick out in the front of my mind at the moment.

As for Jon's situation at the end of ADWD, I see two obvious (and there unlikely) paths: 1) He dies. However, if a formerly fat and drunken priest is able to give someone the spark of life, I think Melisandre may be able to do the same. I just don't like the idea of Jon being an undead like Dondaryon (excuse my spelling.. I listened to them all on audiobooks, haven't seen a page of the actual books) and Caitlin. 2)He survives in secret. He's near enough dead that it wouldn't be hard to pull off.. and as Eamon said while at sea, the Wall tends to preserve things. This would pretty much free him to lead whatever people he can band together to go after the Bolton bastard, though I'm about 80% certain that letter was a ruse. If they truly had defeated Stanis and taken his head, it's very likely they would've found Theon, his sister and Jayne Poole with the army as that was their last known location. Wow.. this was a lot more than I intended to post.

Ben on July 01, 2012:

I like the idea of Jon Snow being a Wolf turned Dragon, He would be one of the greatest Kings to sit on the Iron throne, A noble man though seemingly not of noble birth groomed with humility and a great swordsman. With Tyrion on his council and Aunty Dany and her dragons, what army would dare.

Edward William (author) from UK on June 29, 2012:

... and another, this one about whether Jon Snow is dead or not (don't read this sentence if you haven't yet got to the end of ADWD)


Edward William (author) from UK on June 13, 2012:

Here's another piece I've cobbled together, discussing the ever-fascinating Jaqen H'Ghar....


Edward William (author) from UK on June 08, 2012:

No, it's suggested that Jon is dead but not stated. Can't see him being killed off, and until I see a body..

T'Leah on June 07, 2012:

I think the Lyanna & Rhaegar theory is the strongest. The only person I can see Ned taking a hit to his honor for is his own sister. And the 5th book also implies, in one of the chapters from Selmy's pov. that there is more to their story than we know. Ned has shown that he is willing to debase himself for the sake of his family, which is the only reason he admitted to treason in the 1st place. No Jon isn't silver haired, but he also wouldn't be the product of incest, and the Starks all have dark hair with the exception of Sansa, suggesting that the Start genes, like the Baratheon's, tend to produce dark haired children.

Didn't Jon die in the 5th book? I never even thought of Arya and Aegon! I think Dany will die in the end, but if not I do not think she will end up on the throne. I am also entertaining the idea that Bran becomes an enemy. He's already taken over Hodor's body, and in the prologue of Dragons, that warg is someone evil who tries to take over a human body. It would be just like GRRM to do something like that too. All the Starks can't be protagonists, that just isn't his style.

Edward William (author) from UK on June 06, 2012:

Em that definitely would make sense. I think I would be a little disappointed for Tyrion though- he seems to be in the process of being set up for the job of dragon wrangler, with all his book learning on the topic. But I also suspect that he might have to die heroically at some point in order to be fully vindicated and widely loved by the general populous that seems to loathe him so much. Perhaps if that happened there would be room for a warg too.

(I love all this speculation- you can bet that GRRM hasn't even decided half of these things yet, so we're essentially wondering over what someone else might decide to think at some ill-defined point in the future).

Em on June 06, 2012:

A lightbulb clicked on in my head one day.. speculation that Daenerys needs a Stark (or other warg) to control her dragons. It makes sense for Jon Snow to be Lyanna and Rhaegars child, as it pulls together the theme of ice and fire, I agree.. and since the Targaryans intermarry, well.. it would make Jon/Daenerys a good match.

Edward William (author) from UK on June 05, 2012:

SkeetyD- That's it exactly, it's so out of character for him. I know that GRRM delights in changing what a character's "character" is- making us hate the Kingslayer one book and then pity him a couple of books later, but Ned's dead now- he's pretty much a constant, unchangeable certainty (about the only one the book has- apart perhaps from Tyrion and Jon Snow himself) and him cheating just doesn't ring true.

Mill- I think the pairing of Jon Snow's parents proving to be the Ice and Fire alluded to in the series title is a genius touch and I really hope it turns out to be true.

Johann- Agree totally, Catelyn is pretty unlikeable even when she's not yet turned horrible. Her devotion to her (own) children is supposed to be admirable in her but develish in Cersei, when actually it's just what people are supposed to do (as per Chris Rock I suppose!),and doesn't really excuse the frankly horrid stuff that both of these mother figures get up to. That's one constant in all the books I think, the absence of a good mother figure- made all the more prominent by the fact that The Mother is one of the seven gods. In fact now that I think about it, is there a woman in the series who is entirely a positive character? There's Brienne, but then she's also deliberately unwomanly. There's plenty of admirable male characters - Ned, Tyrion, Varys, Jon Snow, Robb Stark etc etc.

Johann on June 04, 2012:

Someone here has said that if Jon Snow were Rhaegar's son he would have white hair. Actually that is not true, and according to our knowledge of genetics would be impossible considering that there has never been a Stark without dark hair, making the Starks have a hair colour composed of dominant chromosomes (HH) whereas the Targaryens have been imbreeding for centuries so their hair colour would be entirely composed of recessive chromosomes (hh) When hh goes with HH the only results can be Hh which is phenotypically H, that is, dark hair.

johann on June 04, 2012:

I knew from the moment I realized that Lyanna Stark died around the time of Jon Snow's supposed birth that he must be her son and not Eddard's. Also Lyanna's dying wish "Promise me..." is further proof. In fact whenever a story of any kind has someone saying "Promise me..." it almost always has something to do with "you find a safe place for my baby to live". Besides, there is no way in hell that Eddard would cheat on his wife. Although I would like to take this opportunity to say that Catelyn Stark is perhaps the least honourable character in the series, given her total mistreatment of Jon Snow and given her betrayal of Robb in the release of Jaime. Could she really think that once Jaime was returned to the Lannisters, they would return Sansa? Of course you could say even Eddard is in a sense unhonourable, as he bows down to that "cunt" (to put it in the lanuage of GRRM)Joffrey, disgracing himself for eternity. I don't know. I suppose that is life, and I have to admit, when things don't go perfect it is better, and more realistic. For example who wants to see a heist movie where every part of the plan goes perfectly? We want to see human mistakes and things mess up.

Connie j. on June 03, 2012:

OOOHHH Mill.....the song of Fire and Ice...Brilliant! Let's just hope George RR Martin pulls it together and completes the stories,especially this one, instead of just killing the main people off and making new characters....

Mill on June 01, 2012:

in the books Ned reflects on promises he made hes sister as she was dying her her "blood bed", the same phrase is used later to describe a mid-wifes knowledge, as her experience of the "blood bed", so its pretty much a given that Lyanna gave birth just before she dies and that Ned had time to speak to her before she died, so its very likely that Jon Snow is her son and equally likely to be Rhaegars, seeing as how she was taken by Rhaegar as to have sparked the war in the first place. there is no way that she had Roberts child, as so much importance had been placed on the bride remaining a virgin until after she was married.

Jon could be legitimate as the first Dragon conqueror took both his sisters to wife, but i wouldn't count on it. also another point, Daenerys is fire resistant but Jon is not, but Viserys wasn't either, so its clear that Jon takes after his mothers side in more than just looks. theres also the visions that Daenerys had of her brother, talking to a woman Daenerys assumed was her sister in law, but was probably Lyanna, "his would be a song of fire and ice" stark + Targaryen

SkeetyD on May 29, 2012:

I think you have hit the nail on the head! Perhaps Lyanna did not reciprocate the feelings Robert had for her and fell in love with Rhaegar instead and had his son. I have always been suspicious of the story that Ned fathered a child out of wedlock. It does not hold true with his character. But he loved his sister and he would do anything to keep a dying promise he made to her. Sigh! Finding out Jon is of royal blood would be a wonderful revelation. Maybe that's why his last name is Snow! A hint of his Targaryen heritage.

deven8703 on May 29, 2012:

I think it is pretty much a given that Jon Snow is Lyanna's son. The question is whether he is legitimate, and who the father is. If it is Rhaegar, why no white hair, though he does have a white wolf, which is a point not many have taken into consideration. If it is Robert, why would he be hidden away if he were the first born son of a king, it should have offered him plenty of protection, even from the Lannisters.

Taylor on May 20, 2012:

The title of the series tells me that the Starks and the Targaryens will inevitably be pitted against one another. Jon Snow emerging as the true heir to the Baratheon by virtue of being the son of Lyanna and Robert, would allow him to take the iron throne and have to defend it against the return of Danaerys, but remember Danaerys will never have a living child, so how could the Targaryen line continue? As much as the storyline calls out for the restoration of the Dragon kings, prophecy so far has turned out to hold pretty damn true, and Mirri Maz Dur spoke the words already.

klyaksa on May 15, 2012:

The title got my attention right away. I love Games Of Thrones. This been a question I've been wondering about for a while.

Claire on April 22, 2012:

I'd love Jon and Dany to end up living on the Wall together raising dragons like an alternate Sybil and Vimes.

Edward William (author) from UK on April 21, 2012:


I've been wondering whether GRRM has even decided yet about Jon Snow's mother, and if not, whether all the forum chatter and different theories might influence his decision.

scottmurray on April 20, 2012:

Great post, really well written and thought out. I subscribe to the R + L = J theory. I think it just closes a lot of holes. Of course, this is Martin we are talking about, so the real answer is probably something completely unheard of. I also believe that Aegon, is a Blackfyre, not a Tarq.

MarcB on April 20, 2012:

Agree on Rickon, he is definitely the Shaggydog of the Stark family, an unruly Warden of the North, but as long as there is a Stark on the Iron Throne, he'll be loyal. Going back to Jon's parentage: if the Rhaegar/Lyanne theory proves true, it makes him Aegon's half-brother and Arya's cousin. With him (presumably) warping into Ghost, he is thus not only a union of ice and fire, but also of the undead and the living, man and beast. Not throne material, then, but "very handy in a tight spot".

Edward William (author) from UK on April 19, 2012:

Surely, it has to be a conciliatory ending? I know he loves a nasty surprise, but imagine if you got to the end of at least 7 massive books and the ending saw some horrid king on the throne and didn't see all the most likeable characters end up where you wanted them.

I do very much like the idea of Arya and Aegon ending on the throne: Arya is another of those characters where you can't tell where she's going, but you can tell that the story demands a prominent place for her.

Aegon seems too obvious a new king though, I wouldn't be surprised if he's dead within a book or two- it seems too pat for GRRM that someone who has been groomed for kingship ends up being King.

The idea of Jon Snow as some sort of protector is very strong, I think: it gets around the issue of his vows as a member of the Night's Watch which ought to prevent him from inheriting anything or holding rank. (Although perhaps the Watch's treatment of him at the end of the last book has already gor around those).

Rickon is definitely going to return as some half-wild heir to Winterfell, but I imagine him as defiant and rebelious, staunchly northern, mischeivious rather than out-and-out evil. What do you think?

MarcB on April 19, 2012:

Assuming the story is headed for a conciliatory ending, you will need someone who transcends the enmities and structures of the World of Ice and Fire as we know it. Neither Jon nor Daenerys fit that bill, but Aegon and Arya do - both have gone through an exile fullo f learning, education and development. If you consider that the story of Rhaegar and Lyanne is a tragic Romeo-and-Juliet kind of thing and causal to the chaos that follows, in Aegon (Rhaegar's son) and Arya (often likened to Lyanne), the story comes full circle. Daenerys and Jon could be killed off tragically, or end up as protectors of the realm somehow. The dark horse in this scenario is Rickon. What do think GRRM intends to do with him?

Edward William (author) from UK on April 19, 2012:

I like the idea of him being King Robert's son very much, but I think the story tends to treat him as a usurper: seeing his line restored at the end of the cycle would seem a bit hollow perhaps. The arc seems to ask for the restoration of the Targaryens as much as it asks for great things for Jon Snow.

Kat on April 18, 2012:

I also toyed with the idea that Jon Snow was Robert and Cersei's raven haired first boy that was taken away... I know the books say he was more stark like than Eddards other children but I wonder if this is to put people off? I know it seems there is no reason not to tell Robert his son lived but perhaps the lannisters had something to do with it and when Eddard found out and covered it up? Even when Eddard was going through the barathian lineage they all come up as black of hair and he didn't seem to shocked at the idea the blonde children could not be Roberts - which would be possible as blonde hair is actually a strong gene?

Evanna on April 18, 2012:

I love Jon Snow!!!!

xo on April 09, 2012:

I think he is King Robert's son, that Lyanna was already pregnant when she was kidnapped. The Targaeryens are all blond, I believe.

frank on March 26, 2012:

Jon, the 3rd dragon rider

alicynx on January 26, 2012:

I LOVE the idea of Lyanna and Rhaegar being the parents, and it would tie SO much together. Is GRRM really known for a happy ending though? ^_^ I am on the 4th book so there may be some pieces I'm missing, but I learned early on not to hope for anything to turn out well; just call me Sansa ^_^

brielise on January 06, 2012:

I finished the series a few months ago, right after the end of the first season of Game of Thrones on HBO. This has been a question I've been pondering ever since. I do tend to think that it is very out of character for Ned to have an affair and I think the Lyanna theory is very interesting. You've laid out all the possibilities well and I think this is a great Hub!

Planky on December 17, 2011:

Agree 100%

Couldn't have said it any better =)

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