When it comes to crackpot theories, A Song of Ice and Fire created the perfect storm. The key ingredients are all there: a large and devoted fanbase, a sprawling and intricate plot, and, perhaps most importantly, long waiting periods between books. The results show up in online forums with some of the most tinfoil-hat, off-the-wall conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen.
No, I’m not talking about the ones with firm basis in canon; “R+L=J” (the theory that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark) has even been confirmed in the show at this point. I’m not even talking about theories like the one suggesting that Tyrion Lannister is actually the son of Aerys Targaryen – a theory of which I am very much not a fan, but it’s still based on plausible extrapolations from the text. I’m talking full-on conspiracy board, off-the-walls idea for which the only evidence is: “Well you can’t prove I’m wrong.”
Image Via Know Your Meme
Bear in mind that I’m barely scratching the surface of most of these – click on the links to dive into the whole tinfoil-y mess yourself!
Let’s go down the rabbit hole, shall we?
Here’s the claim: George R. R. Martin has filled the books with hints, effectively a “code”, that tell the reader… well, all sorts of things. For example you’ll know if a character is going to die, where and when a major battle will take place, if a presumed-dead character is actually alive…
The “key” to the “code” is the repetition of words, hence the name of the theory. Jeor Mormont’s raven is known for warbling out words, often “Corn! Corn! Corn!”. According to the theorist, the hints are interpreted based on variables like whether the words are in quotes, whether they are broken up by narration, and which punctuation separates them.
The theory is incredibly intricate and absolute bologna. There’s also the fact that someone actually asked Martin about it and instead of being vague about his answer, he just said “no”.
R.I.P. The Corn Code.
When I saw the name of this theory, I spent several minutes trying to figure out what it could possibly be, and came up empty. Here it is: Daenerys and Drogo are the parents of Tyrion Lannister, who is actually Rhaego, the Stallion who Mounts the World.
Confused? Me too. The theory goes like this: Mirri Maz Duur, when working to “save” Drogo, did some really wild time-travel magic that transported Dany’s fetus and caused it to swap places with Joanna Lannister’s, years in the past. Joanna gave birth to Rhaego, and he was named Tyrion. Meanwhile in the future, Dany gave birth to the dead Lannister fetus, which Mirri tells her “has been dead for years”.
Also, this whole theory is based on parallels they draw between Tyrion and Oedipus of ancient Greek tragedy. Click the link to read the whole thing – it’s absolutely wild.
Roose Bolton is one of the creepiest guys in fantasy. This theory seeks to make him even creepier.
The theory is that there has only ever been one Lord Bolton over thousands of years, stealing the skins of his sons and assuming their identities so as to avoid tipping the world off to the fact that he’s an immortal… something. After all, the Boltons are infamous for flaying their enemies, and their sigil is the flayed man. Is it so outlandish to suggest that its lord is a flayed man himself? Yes, it is, but that isn’t the point. The creator of the theory even offers this quote in evidence: “Roose Bolton’s own face was a pale grey mask, with two chips of dirty ice where his eyes should be.”
The name of the theory is a pun on the name Bolton – the idea being that the immortal creature would “bolt” the skin of the heir “on” to his body. I think this theory is a byproduct of reading too much into Martin’s poetic language, but it sure is fun.
Yeah. Rhaegar Targaryen, the prince who ran off with Lyanna Stark and set off the events that led to Robert’s Rebellion, and who was killed by Robert at the Battle of the Trident… is the same person as Mance Rayder, King-Beyond-the-Wall.
The main arguments for this theory?
- They are both associated with music.
- Rubies are frequently mentioned as having embedded in Rhaegar’s armor on the Trident, and rubies are also used by Melisandre to magically disguise one person as another – the suggestion here is that the Rhaegar on the Trident was an imposter.
- Mance at one point uses the alias “Abel”, an anagram of the legendary bard Bael, who, according to myth, “stole” the daughter of a Lord of Winterfell long ago. Theorists say this connection means that this is in fact Rhaegar, who also ran off with a daughter of House Stark.
If this is starting to convince you, let me remind you that:
- Mance Rayder was a wildling taken in as a child by the Night’s Watch. He grew up on the Wall and became a brother of the Watch until he turned his cloak and defected to the free folk.
- There are brothers of the Watch who remember him, including Qhorin Halfhand.
- Their appearances are dramatically different.
- Martin has stated that Rhaegar was cremated.
King Aerys II Targaryen is almost universally known as the Mad King. This theory claims that his madness was actually caused by Bran Stark, decades in the future, using his powers of greenseeing to try to speak to him. This was to alert him of the coming threat of the White Walkers. This, according to the theory, is why all the king said in his final hours was “burn them all”, because fire would be an essential weapon against the army of the undead.
Theoretically, Bran’s attempts at communication throughout the years of Aerys’ reign only came through as whispers, which slowly drove him mad. Even though the descent into madness of the Mad King is well documented in The World of Ice and Fire. And even though the Targaryen line itself, thanks to centuries of inbreeding, has a well-known streak of madness… Oh, wait, some versions of this theory say that Bran’s whispers were actually responsible for all of the Targaryen tyrants!
Also, I have to ask: if Bran was going to try to change the past, wouldn’t he maybe start with something along the lines of “Hey Dad, don’t go south, that way you can stay here and build up the Night’s Watch for a war and also not get executed!”
Feature Image Via Bald Move