In which I put together a Tyrion Lannister dragon theory, based on Game of Thrones episodes and books.
MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 AND BOOK 1
Have you ever noticed on Game of Thrones, books or TV show, that there are three dragons? Everything I know about how stories goes tells me that, yes, even it took five books and five seasons, Daenerys Targaryen was going to ride a dragon. But that leaves the open question: Who is going to ride the other two dragons?
Themes on Children
Something that elevates George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series from beach read to a literary event is the constant use of tropes and metaphors, and then the undermining of those same things. Westeros is to George R. R. Martin, as Yoknapatawpha County is to William Faulkner. And, just like in Faulkner’s fabled land of the South, history happens again and again– themes– and one just has to keep their eyes open to see them addressed. In Westeros, children die, children are murdered, and some are kept secretly alive, sometimes under a veil of lies, sometimes in plain sight. I could talk about that all day, but in this case, I just wanted to talk about Tyrion Lannister and his, ahem, conception.
One of the key points of the first season is that children with Baratheon blood have brown hair and brown eyes, but Robert Baratheon’s children have blonde hair and blue eyes. This is the crux of the entire first season, the secret that people live and die for. Ned figures it out and is executed for his troubles. His predecessor, as Hand of the King, is poisoned for figuring it out.
So there’s the big secret of Season 1. But is Martin also just showing us how to read his book? Are there any other siblings or children in Westeros that stand out as being nothing like the rest of their family? I offer up Tyrion Lannister. His siblings, the twins, Jaime and Cersei, are beauty embodied — blonde and perfect. Whereas Tyrion is, let’s just say, very different from his two siblings.
So what has Martin taught us to think about standout characters? That they could have different parents. We think about what could have happened. How could Tyrion have been made so different? We know that Tywin Lannister and his wife, Joanna, were very happy together and that she died giving birth to Tyrion. So, although it’s possible that Jaime and Cersei were the result of a Joanna cheating on Tywin, I’m going to go with that being unlikely. Jaime and Cersei look like Lannisters — just look at Lancel Lannister, who is a slightly less good-looking version of Jaime. So, it’s far more likely that Tyrion is not Tywin’s actual son. I assume Tywin was a reasonably good looking young man, by the by.
So who else could have fathered Tyrion? Again, in the books, we hear time and time again that Tywin was happy with Joanna, so I’m going to guess that she wasn’t the cheating type. Again, that could be wrong. But my guess is that it’s not. There’s a nice poetry in the idea that a woman’s love made Tywin a better guy. So, let’s go back to the book.
Fact or Legend
Another theme running through the books is idea that the history is written by the victors. Certainly, not an Earth-shattering idea, but, as with Gone Girl, we learn that our narrators aren’t necessarily reliable.
One very public story that Robert Baratheon is always spouting about is how Lyanna Stark — Eddard’s sister — was carried off by Rhaegar Targaryen, and that Robert started a rebellion to save her. In the book, this story is right up front. Hell, Robert probably believes it. They mention that version of events in the TV show, as well. However, it seems obvious that Rhaegar and Lyanna were very much in love, probably married, and very probably had a son who ended up being named Jon Snow. Eddard took her home because Targaryen children were being murdered wherever they were found (although some may have been spirited off!). But that story — a woman gotten with child against her will — is a theme in the book and the TV show, the idea that a child will cement the relationship. Ramsey and Roose Bolton wouldn’t stop talking about how they had to get Sansa (Arya in the books!) with child to win the North.
(One curious thing that Tywin does, maybe the most out of character thing we hear about, is that he sides with the rebels in Robert Baretheon’s rebellion. And indeed, it is implied that Tywin turns the tide to the Baratheons by opening up the gates to King’s Landing.)
If you read the book and watch the show, there’s lots of weird moments where Tywin will tell Tyrion, “You’re no son of mine.” Although he also says that Tyrion is his son. But there is a hell of a telling moment, when a lot of Tywin’s wrath comes to the surface, and Tywin tells Tyrion that he will never, ever inherit Casterly Rock, the seat of House Lannister. Why does Tywin get so angry? He’s a reasonable guy and knows that women die in childbirth, so why such vitriol towards Tyrion? Because there’s something going on there.
This may be a bit of a leap, and there’s lots of reason to say it, but I’m going to say that the mad King Aerys raped Joanna Lannister, and that Tywin knew.
Tyrion Lannister Dragon Theory
So what would it mean if Aerys was Tyrion’s dad? It would mean that Tyrion is a Targaryen.
We know that Targaryens love dragons. In the books, Tyrion is always dreaming about dragons. The phrase “the dragon has three heads” comes up in the books a lot. In a very practical fashion, there are physically three dragons. And they need three people to ride them. Brave men don’t kill dragons, they ride them. The only logical riders for them are, for sure, Dani, of course, and Jon (since I think his dad was a Targaryen). But who rides the third dragon? Sansa, Ayra, Bran, Rickon, or someone who doesn’t really qualify as a main character? I’m going to say it has to be Tyrion, because those other people are Starks, and Starks don’t ride dragons. Neither do Lannisters. But if you’re a secret Targaryen, because your mom was raped by the mad King, then you can ride a dragon.
Even if he isn’t a Targaryen, it’s been a very interesting ride for Tyrion Lannister. He’s killed his father, arguably killed his mother, traveled the world, been a slave and the Hand of the King, and got all the plumbing on Casterly Rock in order. But the book tells us that people can be so much more than what they appear. And I think Tyrion is going to ride a dragon because he is a Targaryen. And I’m looking forward to it.
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