Did George R. R. Martin Just Confirm 'R+L=J'? (Spoilers!)

"R+L=J" is geek shorthand for one of Game Of Thrones' most enduring fan theories. (Hint: It surrounds the true parentage of a certain character that could drastically alter the course of the novels and TV show.) Today, the books' author dropped the biggest hint yet that our speculation is right on the money. It seems "R+L=J" is totally legitimate -- just like a gloomy bastard we could mention.

Photo: Devientart, Henning

Earlier today, Game Of Thrones author George R. R. Martin was the guest of honor at the Edinburgh international book festival. During the event, Martin took questions from fans ranging from his chief creative influence (Tolkien, natch) to why there are no gay sex scenes in his books (there are currently no gay "viewpoint" characters).

While ruminating about internet speculation and fan theories, Marin appeared to let Ser Pounce out of the bag as to how the overarching plot will unravel. This is probably the closest he has ever come to an all-out "R+L=J" admission:

I struggle with this because I do want to surprise my readers, delight them and take them in directions they didn’t see coming. I hate predictable fiction as a reader. I want to surprise and delight my reader and take the story in directions they didn’t see coming. Some readers in internet boards got the clues. Do I change it? No, I can’t, as I had planted them and it would be a mess.   I've been planting all these clues that the butler did it, then you're halfway through a series and suddenly thousands of people have figured out that the butler did it, and then you say the chambermaid did it? No, you can't do that.

To the few Game Of Thrones fans who haven't been paying attention, "R+L=J" posits that Jon Snow is not the bastard son of Eddard Stark, but rather the product of a doomed love affair between Ned’s sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen (the older brother of Daenerys who was killed during King Robert's rebellion). This would essentially make Jon Snow half-Targaryen and a potential claimant to the Iron Throne.

As Martin alludes in the above quote, there are many hints sprinkled throughout the books that lend credence to this theory. Chief among them is a mystery promise that Lyanna made Eddard agree to before she died under vague circumstances. (There's mention of blood and a bed, which would make childbirth complications seem a pretty good bet.)

Tellingly, Martin included a minor character at the scene of the alleged birthing, which means the secret will eventually have a way of reaching Jon's ears, even though Eddard, Lyanna and Rhaegar are all dead. That's just the tip of the ice berg -- this video does a pretty good job of gathering up all the clues.

Despite all the carefully planted evidence, many fans continue to challenge the validity of the "R+L=J" theory which Martin himself has helped along by inserting an occasional red herring. However, the above quote from the man himself seems to all but confirm it. If he's not talking about "R+L=J", then what else?

[The Guardian]

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    Spoilers from the last book inbound, don't read.
    Does it really matter all that much? I mean, Jon got stabbed in the back several times and people don't normally survive things like that in this series. I guess Tyrion could be pointed to as evidence that they can but I don't think an axe to the face is the same as a knife in the back.

    Last edited 12/08/14 11:44 am

      There's no way Jon is dead meat. One compelling theory is that he will warg into Ghost for a time before returning to his own body with the help of Melisandre. This would also tie into the "reborn savior" prophesies floating about in the books. (Also, I'd totally choose knife in the back over axe in the face!)

        I haven't kept up with the show or read the books, I just wanted to join in on the spoilers.

          Dude, that one needed double spoilers!

            You know, I actually considered it, but wasn't sure if that would work.

      people don't normally survive things like that in this series

      Yeah they do...

      Lady Stoneheart for example. I also think it is an interesting way to get around Jon's oath "It shall not end until my death". If he dies and is reborn, then is he still a member of the night's watch?

        His watch would end, I suppose. And if R+L=J is right, that would make him Dany's nephew?
        He'd be a dragon, and probably a Dragon RIder. If the Targs took back Westeros, Jon'd be the rightful King.

          If Lyanna and Rhaegar didn't have a wedding, then Jon would still be a bastard, which means that he has no rights to the Iron Throne. Up till this point, Dany still has the strongest claim to the throne. About the dragon rider thing, I agree. Since the dragon has three heads, Jon would probably be one of them. Dany rides Drogon, and Jon rides Rhaegal. The other rider might be Tyrion, if Aerys + Joanna= Tyrion is true (there's a lot of hints).

      what about a cut throat?
      he could be brought back to life!

      Azor ahai 'reborn'

      How about lady stoneheart being around even though she had her throat slit? Also to point out, no character death that has occurred in the book in that characters point of view has stuck. All deaths that have actually been deaths and stayed deaths have been in other character view points. Red wedding was in Cate's pov, Robb died and stayed dead, Catelyn did not stay dead. Every time Martin has done a character where their fate is unknown and they end up saving themselves or being saved last minute has been their own pov: Brienne, almost hung to death; Tyrion, the battle at the castle. Pay attention to the way Martin writes and you will clearly see that Jon Snow may have been killed, but he will not stay dead. His death was important, now that he has died he is no longer vowed to the night's watch, he can take the throne.

    But Arya also had a similar few chapters after the red wedding when the hound in fact had knocked her out. I don't think he will die from those injuries.

    Last edited 12/08/14 12:32 pm

    had a friend call this couple months back, something along the lines of

    "promise me ned"

    spolier test
    dammit stoopid work using old internet explore can hide spoiler content grrraaagh

    Last edited 14/08/14 9:41 am

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