ByDaniel Blick, writer at
Arthouse Film/Superheroes/Tommy Wissou enthusiast
Daniel Blick
  • Warning, this article contains a lot of potential future spoilers!!

For those who already know about the fan theory commonly denoted as R+L=J, there were a lot of events in this weeks episode (episode 2) of season 6 in Game of Thrones that pointed toward this theory being proved true! Given that the TV series has now over-taken the books, it may be in fact the television forum where we finally find the definitive answer behind what really happened at the Tower of Joy.

However, despite the fact that the transpired events certainly point toward R plus L equating to J, it's still certainly not definite. For those unfamiliar to the concept here's what the equation could mean, and for those who are, here's why episode two's events might point towards the theory being correct, and also why it's not for certain either!

What R + L = J Actually Means

For those who've already read the first Game of Thrones novel, you probably already know what this equation means. For those who have only watched the series, this is a part of the books that they're only just now getting to. Those visions Bran Stark was of Lyanna Stark will very likely become a lot more important in future episodes. This is because the flashbacks will most likely, but not definitely, eventually lead to the infamous Showdown at the Red Mountain. This story is the incredibly important because it is set before the time that Game of Thrones started and not only depicts the final blow to the Targeryian dynasty, and therefore the rise of the Baratheon dynasty, but, more importantly, also potentially explains the true origins of Jon Snow and why he is so important.

The Official Story

Lyanna Stark, Eddark Stark's sister, was abducted by Rhaegar Targaryen, the son of Aerys II Targaryen, the ruling "Mad" King at the time. Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Barethon, and as such Robert declared war on the Mad King and sought to find his supposed kidnapped finance; Lyanna. Rhaegar took Lyanna to the Tower of Joy and left her in the protection of the King's Guard before he galloped off to war. It is here where Eddark Stark and six others travel to the tower to find Lyanna once the war sieged by Robert Baratheon is over, with him the victor. After a bloody brawl with the King's Guard, only two survive, Edd and his ally.... They travel up into the tower to find a bloodied Lyanna on her death bed where she forces Edd to make a promise before she dies. However, none knows what exactly this promise is, or even what exactly happened at the Tower of Joy because there were only two survivors. So technically the entire thing could be made up.

What we do know is that Eddark then returned to Winterfell with a bastard son that was apparently born out of wedlock during his time at war. This bastard of course being Jon Snow. The official line is we never know who this other woman that Eddark had an affair with is supposed to be or why she let Jon be taken to Winterfell or where she is now.

The Theory

The theory therefore is that Jon Snow is not in fact the bastard son of Eddark Stark, but the bastard son of Eddark's sister; Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. And the promise Eddark made was to protect Jon Snow from Robert Baratheon. As a result Eddark adopted the baby Jon Snow as his own child, took him to Winterfell and rose him there as his own. Here's the evidence as to why this may be the case:

  • Had Jon Snow really been the love-child of Lyanna and Rhaegar, Eddark Stark would both have reason to lie, and reason to keep the baby.
  • Being Rhaegar's son would mean that Jon Snow would be a direct threat to Robert Barethean's claim to the Iron Throne and therefore have Jon killed, just as he had Rhaegar's wife and other children killed.
  • Being Lyanna's son would mean that Eddark would have a vested interest in ensuring Jon Snow was not discovered and killed
  • Eddark has a history of putting the lives of children before his own. When he found out of Cersei Lannister's bastard children, rather than telling King Robert of their existence, despite being Robert's loyal friend, he warned Cersei and gave her a chance to escape. This of course is what led to Edd's death.
  • The fact that George R.R. Martin likes repeats in history means that the way Eddark died gives extra credence to the theory because it shows that something similar, i.e. keeping the truth away from Robert in order to keep children safe, most likely happened before, for example at the Tower of Joy.

Why R + L Could = J

Additionally to the points mentioned earlier, there is now growing evidence in the television series itself to prove who Jon Snow really is. Firstly, the picture shown above is a still taken from the trailer for season 6. Many speculate that this is the Tower of Joy and that therefore the Showdown at the Red Mountain is going to be shown, probably as a flashback through Bran's eyes. The only obvious reason the writers would have to show this flashback is to prove the fan theory is correct.

In this week's episode of GoT, Bran has a flashback of Lyanna Stark playing with Eddark Stark as a child. The fact that the Three Eyed Raven is showing this vision to Bran in the same episode that Jon Snow finally comes back to life cannot be a coincidence. This could be an indicator that we will see the Showdown at the Red Mountain and that in this flashback we shall see the true origins of Jon Snow, thus proving once and for all that R + L = J!

Jon Snow is the first main character in GoT history to be brought back to life. This didn't happen for Eddark Stark, Robert Baratheon, Khal Drogo, Robert Stark, the names go on and on. This again cannot be a coincidence. There has to be a purpose for why George R.R. Martin has chosen to bring this character back to life. And, once again, the only obvious reason is because R+L=J

Why R + L May Not = J

Of all the ways to bring Jon Snow back to life there is only one that would absolutely, definitively prove he was of Targaryen descent, and Melisandre's resurrection was not it. Alternatively, had Melisandre been inept in her ability to raise people back from the dead, Jon Snow's corpse would have had to be burnt to ensure he didn't become a white walker. It is this act that could have proved indisputably whether Jon Snow truly was the son of Rhaegar Targaryen. If his dead body burned as to be expected, or in this case unexpected, Snow would have never had Targaryen blood in him, and the theory would have been disproven.

However, if Jon Snow, much like Daenyerys Targaryen in the first season, had awoken from within the ashes, and walk out of the flames like a phenix from the ashes, there would be no doubt that this theory is true and Jon Snow has dragon blood running through his veins!

On the one hand, with GoT you should never make assumtions! Therefore until it's absolutely definitively proven Jon Snow is a Targaryan, I will always have my doubts. On the other hand, at this point, there is an over-whelming amount of evidence to suggest the fan fiction is correct. Furthermore, the writers would have reason to keep the final reveal until the season finale for dramatic purposes.

So there you go! Now hopefully you're all caught up on one of GoT's most important and infamous fan theory's! If the theory of Jon Snow is in fact true, this could have major consequences on the direction the series takes as we enter the final stages of it's story. There is only one way any of us will be able to find out however, and that's by tuning in to watch the next episode of Game of Thrones. I can think of worse ways of spending my time, that's for sure.


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