Ah, love is a sweet sweet poison.
What good is life if there aren’t faces that could launch a thousand ships, passions so desperate they seduce with the sweet escape of suicide, or stolen kisses so tragic they could start a rebellion and end a dynasty. We have Romeo and Juliet, Paris and Helen, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, Rose and Jack, Othello and Desdemona, Henry and Anne Boleyn, Aragorn and Arwen, Noah and Allie, and now Rhaegar and Lyanna. George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t only a gritty storytelling about politics and power, but love in all its glorious tragedy too. If the characters we root for don’t usually end up on the Iron Throne, you can bet that the lovers we admire don’t end with a happily ever after. To start this new compilation, here is a storytelling of, perhaps, the greatest and most tragic love story in ASoIaF…
The Last Dragon and the Wolf Maid
What better love story could there be than that of Rhaegar Targaryen and his lady love Lyanna Stark, a passion that started a rebellion and ended a great dynasty.
Who were they?
Lyanna Stark, younger sister of Eddard Stark and third child of Lord Rickard Stark, was often called “wolf maid” for being headstrong, courageous, and hot tempered. She had the dark hair and grey eyes of the Starks and was very skillful in riding horses. She was also very fond of blue winter roses that grew inside Winterfell. Though she wasn’t meek and conservative as other ladies of great houses, she was always considered very beautiful.
Rhaegar Targaryen, whom most people called the last dragon, was the eldest son of Aerys “The Mad King” Targaryen and his sister-wife Queen Rhaella and was to inherit the Iron Throne. He had the silver hair and dark lilac eyes of the Targaryens, but he was vastly different from his father. He was exceedingly intelligent and spent most of his childhood reading and learning. He was also a very skilled musician, often playing the harp, and later became a great knight. He was well liked by the common folk and respected by the great lords of Westeros.
What was their story?
The two fated lovers met at the Tourney of Harrenhal during the Year of the False Spring. All of the skilled knights and noble lords and ladies of Westeros gathered at Harrenhal, even the extremely paranoid King Aerys who only attended the tournament because he was suspecting that Rhaegar was plotting to overthrow him (which was true). Rhaegar won championship of the Tourney and he was given the right to name any lady Queen of Love and Beauty. Had he crowned his wife Elia, everything would have been okay. However, he crowned Lyanna Queen of Love and Beauty, igniting gossip all over the kingdom. It also enraged Robert Baratheon, who was then betrothed to the Stark girl.
During one of the feasts, when Rhaegar was asked to play his harp, it was said that Lyanna Stark shed a tear because the melody was too beautiful and yet melancholic. It was also known that Lyanna didn’t welcome the prospect of wedding Robert, knowing all too well his philandering ways.
So… what happened next?
Not long after the events of Harrenhal, Lyanna was “abducted” from Winterfell, prompting the rebellion of her father Lord Rickard Stark and her brother Brandon Stark. When they demanded Lyanna’s return, Aerys declared them traitors for challenging the king and the crown prince. When Lord Stark demanded trial by combat, Aerys proclaimed “fire” as his champion and burned the Lord of Winterfell alive. Brandon choked to death in his own chains when he struggled to help his father.
Lyanna’s disappearance and the death of the Stark lords prompted “Robert’s Rebellion”. His allies were the entire forces of the North led by Eddard Stark and the combined forces of the Vale, the Riverlands, and Storm’s End. After almost a year of battles, Ned Stark reached the Tower of Joy where Lyanna was found dying, defended by four of Prince Rhaegar’s personal guards. There, she asked Ned to promise to keep her “secret” safe. Until now, it is not known what that “secret” is.
Tell tale signs of their love
Because GRR Martin is GRR Martin, there’s no single side to this story. Implications vary depending on perspective, but certain clues and signs remain consistent in Rhaegar and Lyanna’s story, proving that theirs was indeed “love” and not “abduction” or worse, “rape”.
1. Lyanna Stark had always been headstrong, courageous, but incredibly beautiful. Even Cersei Lannister was at one point jealous of her.
Argument: It’s hard to believe that she’d be so easily abducted or raped. Remember, she was called “wolf maid” for a reason, often likened to her older brother Brandon Stark. She was a skilled rider, often times arrogant and fierce, and was also a fair marksman and archer. She was even rumored to be the Knight of the Laughing Tree who bested three skilled knights and eluded the curiousity of King Aerys. Someone with that level of courage and wit definitely can’t be kidnapped without some form of struggle. If she was with Rhaegar, it was because she ‘allowed’ herself to be.
2. Rhaegar Targaryen had always been gentle, gallant, but often melancholic, prompting most people to blame his circumstance of birth at the Shadow of Summerhall. As a kid, he’d been fond of reading books and being alone with himself; until one day he decided to train as a knight and became one of the best swordsman and knight Westeros has known. Although he was married to Elia, there was never any love in the union. More importantly, Rhaegar had a keen obsession with the prospect of “the dragon has three heads” and “the prince that was promised”. He was determined that the lineage would be his and that it was his duty to provide the dragon with three heads.
Argument: Someone as brave and noble as Rhaegar couldn’t be capable of kidnapping a woman, much less glorying in the death of her brother and father. His best friend was Jon Connington (*HINT 😀 ) and most trusted guard was Ser Arthur Dayne, who was later killed in the Tower of Joy where Lyanna was found.
3. Daenerys’ visions in the House of the Undying gave clues to the past, how Rhaegar died, what his motivations were, and clues to what really happened between Rhaegar and Lyanna.
Vision #1: A prince in the throes of death, rubies falling out of his armor and into the river, whispering the name of a woman for his last breath.
Vision #2: A blue rose growing in a chink at The Wall. (*HINT 😀 )
Vision #3: A prince with silver white hair hovering over a mother and her newborn child, calling the child Aegon. Then, the prince whispered “the dragon must have three heads”
Argument. Vision #1 speaks of Rhaegar’s death after Robert smashed his chest with his war hammer. The name he whispers is said to be Lyanna’s. Vision #2 talks about Jon Snow, being referenced as a “blue rose” because he is Lyanna’s son. And why is he part of Dany’s vision? Because he’s also Targaryen, that’s why. 😀 And vision #3 refers to Rhaegar’s obsession with having 3 heirs in an attempt to fulfill some prophecy about a “dragon with three heads”.
Rhaegar and Lyanna’s love story is perhaps one of THE most tragic in Westeros. Theirs was a passion so forbidden, it destroyed the powerful Targaryen dynasty, it started a war, it nearly extinguished the long lineage of Targaryens, it ended many lives, and changed the destiny of everyone.
Rhaegar loved his lady Lyanna. And thousands died for it.
1. I’m worried that I did not have to Google ANYTHING. I know too much, I’m getting weird. K bye.
2. I laugh at all the Huffington and Buzzfeed posts about “Jon’s True Parentage”. It’s not news LOL. I knew about this theory like years ago. K bye.
3. Next epic story will be about Argella the Storm Queen and Orys Baratheon, the Targaryen bastard.