This blog is published after the Game of Thrones simulcast. If you haven’t seen season six, episode three of Game of Thrones, get watching, then come back.
Game of Thrones fans have long thought Jon Snow is actually a Targaryen. It’s fairly convoluted, but the basics of that idea are as follows: Daenerys’ (much older) brother, Rhaegar Targaryen, was married to Elia Martell, but he was in love with Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna. At the end of what’s known as Robert’s Rebellion – which eventually put Robert Baratheon on the Iron Throne, long before the main events of GoT – Rhaegar was still keeping Lyanna in a tower called the Tower of Joy.
When Ned came back from the Rebellion, his sister Lyanna was dead and he returned to Winterfell with Jon Snow, who he called his bastard son. Nothing was said of Jon’s mother. But the long-standing theory goes that Jon is not Ned’s son at all – that he’s actually Lyanna and Rhaegar’s illegitimate son, and is therefore both Stark and Targaryen. The name of the series is A Song of Ice And Fire, and smug theorists think they’ve solved the mystery of the series’ key character – Jon Snow – because he combines both ice (Snow/Stark) and fire (he has ‘fire’ blood of the dragon-riding Targaryen family too). That he’s risen from the dead would appear to confirm the idea that he’s pretty key to the story.
Anyway – thanks to the show’s focus on the Tower of Joy, a three-year-old theory has resurfaced, which suggests Jon Snow wasn’t the only child born in the Tower of Joy. Ned went to the Tower with six men, and the only other survivor of the battle with the two members of the Kingsguard was Howland Reed. He’s father of Jojen and Meera Reed, the ‘crannogmen’ who helped Bran reach his new mentor the Three Eyed Raven. But there are a few reasons to believe that Meera is actually Jon’s twin sister, and that Howland Reed took her as his own to his home in Greywater Watch. Here they are:
She’s the same age as Jon Snow
According to George R.R. Martin’s appendices, Meera and Jon were both born in 283AC (After the Conquest), the year Lyanna Stark died in the Tower of Joy. (The following year Daenerys Targaryen was born.)
All we know about Meera’s ‘mother’ is her name
Jyana Reed doesn’t appear in the books at all – she’s only referred to.
Lyanna died in childbirth
Theorists believe it’s more likely that Lyanna would have died in childbirth if she was giving birth to twins.
Howland Reed owed a debt to Lyanna Stark
Ned was Lyanna’s sister, so the reason he’d take in a child of Lyanna’s is clear. But why would Howland Reed take the baby Meera back home with him? He owed her. There’s a story set at the Tourney at Harrenhal which explains why. In this story, Howland was being set upon by a group of teenage squires. As he was being beaten up, Lyanna intervened and beat them off with a tourney sword. She took him back to her tent, bandaged him up, and introduced him to her brothers, Ned, Brandon and Benjen.
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Later in the tourney, a figure known as the Knight of the Laughing Tree fought on behalf of Howland, defending his honour, and beating the three squires who had fought him. No one ever found out who the Knight was, but many fans believe it was Lyanna. If this is the case, Reed would have felt even more indebted to her.
Like Lyanna (and Arya) she’s a good fighter
There’s often a point made about Arya being unusual – and similar to her aunt Lyanna – because of her enjoyment of fighting and her skill with weapons. At one point Ned remarks that Arya reminds him of his sister (he tells her Lyanna would have carried a sword if her father had allowed it). Likewise, Meera is accomplished with weaponry – much more than her brother. At one point she uses a spear and a net to overpower even Bran’s direwolf Summer, and direwolves eat people.
Meera looks a bit like Arya and Lyanna Stark (and Jon Snow)
She’s got long brown hair, and in the show it’s as curly as Jon’s. Arya and Lyanna are often compared to one another, and in the books their physical prowess is much of a focus than looks for both Arya and Meera’s descriptions (though Lyanna is described as beautiful).
Contradicting the idea that Meera’s looks confirm her heritage are some negative points: Meera’s short, something neither Lyanna nor Rhaegar was. Another thing to note is that Meera has green eyes, something associated with neither the Starks nor the Targaryens. Rhaegar’s eyes are purple, while Lyanna and Jon have grey eyes, and neither the Stark family nor the Targaryen family is known for the trait in George R.R. Martin’s books.
What fans are using to counter these drawbacks is Howland Reed’s time on the Isle of Faces – where Arya is currently training with the Faceless Men. There’s a possibility Meera’s ‘father’ Howland learnt how to disguise appearances there, and has turned Meera’s eyes green to trick everyone – including readers of the books and watchers of the show. Maybe he has used the same abilities to make her look shorter too. If the theory’s true, it’s possible that like Jon, Meera doesn’t know her heritage.
So what does Ellie Kendrick, the actor who plays Meera, say? “I genuinely don’t have any idea as we don’t get told anything! But I don’t know. I think people might just be thinking that because we’ve both got curly hair. In the books, our characters are described quite differently… I think there’s definitely a mystery to Meera and Jojen and their parentage, but I think it’ll unwind itself eventually.”
What could it mean for the show?
Meera’s far beyond the Wall, which the White Walkers are getting dangerously close to crossing. Fans think Jon Snow’s fate is to take one of Daenerys’ dragons eventually, and Meera could do the same, especially since the show’s just made a point of how much of a loose end she’s at: “I sit in there, and I watch [Bran] have his visions,” she says, “and nothing ever happens.” In response, she’s told, “He isn’t going to stay here forever, and out there… he needs you”.
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