I Come Not to Praise Rhaegar Targaryen


Original Artwork by Felicia Cano found in Fantasy Flight Games 

Of all the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire, few are as highly praised in the series as Rhaegar Targaryen. From his looks, intelligence and seeming nobility, Rhaegar nets an almost uniformly positive public image. But in our first full-out “Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire Podcast” episode, the full team (Nina, Jim, Hamish and Jeff) deconstruct Rhaegar Targaryen and come away with a much different perspective than what’s been laid out in the books.

In fact, we come not to praise Rhaegar Targaryen.
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63 responses to “I Come Not to Praise Rhaegar Targaryen

  1. I will not judge Rhaegar on Elia because I really don’t know what the hell was going on. Like this idea he didn’t tell Elia why he gave Lyanna the rose? Are you kidding me , like seriously he wouldn’t tell her why because I have a feeling he did. It just comes off has bizzare to me at least, Rhaegar being this obsessed with prophecy is George telling us that is NOT he full story behind him. I hate this interpretation cause it turns Rhaegar into this robot with no emotions whatsoever.

    The whole kidnapping itself doesn’t make sense cause why would Rahegar need Author Dayne and Whent to kidnap one person like seriously? Unless Lyanna saw something she wasn’t suppose to see from someone and Rhaegar happen to encounter her on the way.Sorry guys I just disagree a lot not because I like Rhaegar but because the story of Roberts Rebellion is very fishy. Now when it comes to Aerys II being removed I can understand why Rhaegar could not have been there to protect his mother because he was on Dragonstone. Elia was supposed to be in Dragonstone not in Kings Landing Aerys brought her there so Rhaegar was concerned for her safety.

    • Paul

      The “kidnapping” was far from the reason for the rebellion, many other causes. It’s like Helen of Troy in a way. Aery’s paranoia, some justifed, and demands for the Starks/Robert to come to KL following the execution were more of a legitimate reason than Lyanna. Ned and Robert at that point were facing a death sentence so it was either start a rebellion or die at that point. Whether or not the “Southern Ambitions” were a real thing, or just Aery’s paranoia being fed by Varys, was irrelevant at that point.

  2. Not to sound like a ass but HOW THE HELL do we know he was that prophecy obsessed, I hate his interpretation cause it turns Rhaegar into a robot.

    • leila

      We know he was prophecy obsessed because the text says so. That would be ok, had his obsession not led him to destroy a possible southron alliance.

      1. Rhaegar publicly humiliates his wife at the tourney at Harrenhal. Disturbs the Starks and the Baratheons, offers no explanation. That’s the day “smiles died,” according to Ned.

      2. He and Lyanna run off and stay away for a year, again offering no explanation to the houses involved.

      3. Houses involved, not being forewarned, react violently. Rhaegar knows his father is mad, and will be unable to deal with this reasonably. Sure enough, his father tortures and kills lords and heirs, and Robert’s rebellion begins.

      4. Rhaegar knows Aerys is paranoid and sees him as a threat, yet he leaves his wife and children on Dragonstone, where they are vulnerable to his father.

      5. The royalist armies are defeated in a series of battles, but Rhaegar stays away. He shows up for the final battle, tells Jaime that he meant to act earlier, and is defeated and killed on the Trident.

      • I says so but its not what we see so we don’t have the whole information and George hasn’t given us any. How the hell did Rhaegar know of this Southern Alliance, the only person that knew Rhaegar wanted to make his father step-down was Tywin Lannister.

        Which is why I think Tywin stuck around a little longer after just giving up on Aerys II. Tywin only acted after the Battle of the Trident. So the Lannister where not part of this plan and Rhaegar didn’t know about it unless he must be omniscient. Also lets not forget Rickards behavior when he went to get his son, he didn’t seem furious that Rhaegar had Lyanna cause there is a possibility before hand that he told Rickard but Brandon didn’t get the message or spread thru word of mouth that Lyanna was kidnapped when in reality that likely wasn’t the case.

        “Rhaegar knows Aerys is paranoid and sees him as a threat, yet he leaves his wife and children on Dragonstone, where they are vulnerable to his father.”

        What last I checked Aerys was in Kings Landing and Elia and the kids where in Dragonstone. Aerys called her to Kings Landing which probably pissed Rhaegar off. Dragonstone was the safest place for Elia to be at has far has we know for gods sake.

        “Rhaegar publicly humiliates his wife at the tourney at Harrenhal. Disturbs the Starks and the Baratheons, offers no explanation. That’s the day “smiles died,” according to Ned.”

        Are we forgetting the fact that he likely apologized to Elia and told her the reason to why he gave her the rose because he figured oh crap she is the Knight of the Laughing Tree? I mean to think Rhaegar didn’t tell his wife WHY? This is ridiculous and in all honesty he likely told her why the Rose was given.

        Again how the heck does Rhaegar know of this Southern Alliance?

      • leila

        Hopefully this doesn’t look like I’m answering myself, but there was no way of direct replying your post.

        “How the heck does Rhaegar know of this southern alliance”

        Pattern of weddings and wardships, which Rhaegar would know, shows that certain houses are drawing together. These houses admire Rhaegar and detest Aerys, so there’s a point where Rhaegar could call a council, remove his father, and take the throne with their support. Rhaegar says he had meant to do that, but then chose to take another path.

        “What last I checked Aerys was in Kings Landing and Elia and the kids where in Dragonstone. Aerys called her to Kings Landing which probably pissed Rhaegar off. Dragonstone was the safest place for Elia to be at has far has we know for gods sake”

        Dragonstone is a Targaryen fortress. With Rhaegar mia, his wife and children come under Aerys’s control. The safest place for Elia would be Dorne.

        “Are we forgetting the fact that he likely apologized to Elia and told her the reason to why he gave her the rose because he figured oh crap she is the Knight of the Laughing Tree? I mean to think Rhaegar didn’t tell his wife WHY? This is ridiculous and in all honesty he likely told her why the Rose was given”:

        There is no evidence that Rhaegar apologized to anyone about the rose. As for WHY he wouldn’t tell his wife, spouses usually keep their affairs secret.

    • Paul

      We know he is prophecy obsessed because it’s how he is described in the books many times and by how other’s talk about him and by his actions… Elia and the children are brought from Dragonstone to King’s Landing. Aery’s ordered this so that he had them under his thumb in case Rheagar did try to go against him.

  3. megviers

    Tyrion was an outsider’s perspective at Winterfell. Daeny is arguably an outsider in Essos in generally; absolutely she is in every situation we’ve seen her in since she married Drogo. Every POV at the wall is an outsider. Arya is an outsider where she is, as is Sansa. I think we get an outsider POV in every location. Aerys is still arguably unnecessary for that role because we have a WAY better outsider POV in Dorne: Areo Hotah.

  4. You might want to consider a mic upgrade, or at least use a gate filter to reduce the amount of unwanted noise.

    Great podcast tho! Loved that point about the decision to send Ser Barristan in to save Aerys.

  5. Yes Dorne would be safe for Elia but at that point it was Dragonstone so I can’t buy Rhaegar would not be concerned since Aegon was born and he believed the prophecy was forfilled. The idea that he knew of the three heads only come from a DAMN DREAM from Dany doesn’t mean he knew about that portion. I am basing this on Georges idea that the characters themselves make the prophecy not not because they heard of one and attempt to accomplish it.

    “Pattern of weddings and wardships, which Rhaegar would know, shows that certain houses are drawing together. These houses admire Rhaegar and detest Aerys, so there’s a point where Rhaegar could call a council, remove his father, and take the throne with their support. Rhaegar says he had meant to do that, but then chose to take another path.”

    I call BS on that, there is no way he knew this was happening untill Harrenhal and the person that really supported his choice into being King was Tywin. I highly doubt he knew of this and TWOIAF never mentions has if he knew about this form of alliance. He would not again keep this a secret because Rhaegar isn’t the type to just not tell Elia Martell. He likely did give her the reason but everything during the kidnapping ( which I still don’t buy has him willingly taking Lyanna and Lyanna saying oh yeah lets go seriously)

    This whole Robert’s Rebellion in irony started IMO out of miss communication and its not the first time wars in history have started over miss communication. Of course there’s no evidence because where not in Rhaegar’s head or have a POV on Elia and Rhaegar. Read and analysed the books carefully and it still does not add up? I mean seriously he needs Whent and Dayne to take ONE girl unless something happened to which someone wasn’t supposed to see.

    He likely cheated on his wife yes when Author suggested the Tower of Joy ( I think Lyanna and Rhaegar’s affections where built over time while there and he was likely contemplating how to fix all of it) So I will ask you this your Rhaegar and you have Lyanna with you, the first person you will contact is Rickard over the matter, this assumes Rhaegar was an idiot and with the least amount of information we have, I will not buy this has the case he probably contacted Rickard to inform him he had his daughter and that no harm was done. Now Rickard gets news that his son is held prisoner for asking Rhaegar to come out and die. So while Rickard gets the news his son Brandon probably heard something else and thru miss communication there you go.

    I understand we have differing opinions on this Leila and I can see the bias between us but hey I understand. I don’t agree with some of the decisions he made when it came to his father Aerys II. The Elia thing to me is still foggy but we have no POV of Rhaegar who likely felt guilt over it for sure.

  6. Okay, wordpress is fucking with me, so you might get this comment twice!

    Great job – really loved how well you guys handled smart, persuasive arguments with four people! You hooked me with the Dany distaste and kept with with your excellent dense prophecy breakdowns. Love it, and can’t wait to listen to more!

  7. great analysis!!

    I love the part where you speculate whether Rhaegar would be a good king or not. Most of the westerosi nobility assume that Rhaegar was the perfect king who could be. And while I agree that Rhaegar had good qualities for being a king, his obsession with prophecy was just a different kind of madness. One has to wonder if Dany is falling in the same pitfalls.

    Perhaps Dany should study the works of Gorghan of Old Ghis in her self imposed exile.

    I know nothing of tourneys beyond what I read in ASOIAF and saw in a Knight’s tale. But I am assuming it takes a few days to wrap. And if the tourney was a smoke screen for political upheaval, then Rhaegar spent majority of the tourney scurrying favours from the great lords before pulling the Lyanna stunt, not only insulting most of the major regions, but also blind-siding them and recanting on his words. He really didn’t plan that one through. It seems both Rhaegar and Jon Snow have a blind spot for the negative impacts of their decisions.

    I usually avoid podcasts, this being the first one i actually listened to. It was great to hear from you guys. Very interesting points raised. Hoping to hear more…:)

  8. Stefan

    Hey, I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, and I loved this podcast (plus the other casts you did with the History of Westeros Podcast).

    It’s funny, because the Rhaegar and Robert comparisons you guys were making really reminded me of The School of Athens (that painting of Plato and Aristotle, where Plato is pointing at the sky, and Aristotle is pointing at the ground). It seems like Rhaegar’s chief fault was that he allowed his concern for otherworldly things prevent him from addressing the very real concerns of the present. Robert, on the other hand, was very much focused on immediate concerns (or at least, pleasures). Just as Rhaegar would have been better served by living in the everyday, now and then, Robert might have been happier if he could get a little beyond himself. I wonder whether Robert ever considered such esoteric (but practical) questions as “what would it mean for me to live a good life?”, or “is this the kind of living that will actually make me happy?”, or even “what would it be like to be king?”, and “do I actually want that?” Rhaegar and Robert are definitely opposites.

    Keep up the good work! I’ve got about ten things I need to look into now because you and your podcasters talked about them!

  9. Rhaegar was a douche, and Lyanna was arguably a worse person visa vi her family than Cersei

    • somethinglikealawyer

      I’m not so sure. Lyanna never tried to have one of her family members murdered.

    • KrimzonStriker

      If his/their actions saved the world then bleh to you. Cersei’s only ever cared about herself in the end, holding up her position without caring at all about the responsibility that comes with it. .

  10. Ser Friendzone

    Big fan of the site, but I have to downgrade the podcast a bit since it was so much of an echo chamber. No one was willing to give Rhaegar any benefit of the doubt, every single decision he made was cast in the worst possible light. Someone needs to be the devil’s advocate, at the minimum.

    I think no one took Lyanna Stark’s responsibility into account. My personal feeling, knowing what we know about her, is that she wasn’t going anywhere with anyone unless she wanted to. I always read the crowning of the Queen of Love & Beauty as a sign of respect, the only way he could honor the Knight of the Laughing Tree, & I don’t think he would’ve done something like that without giving Elia a head’s up, at the minimum.

    I have no textual basis for it, but I always had the feeling that Lyanna was desperate to escape a marriage to a philandering boor like Robert Baratheon, and after Rhaegar & Elia realized they could have no more children, he approached her with the offer of a position as his paramour, which Elia would be well aware of & would be no threat to her children’s inheritance.

    Keep up the great work, just try a little harder for more diversity of opinion next time.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      Rhaegar was a rather private person according to Barristan, so there’s more reason to believe that Elia didn’t know, rather than she did. We try to stray from the text as minimally as possible.

      As for diversity of opinion, I’d say that we measured his decisions fairly critically in light of his future role as King of the Seven Kingdoms, and the responsibilities thereof.

      • Ser Friendzone

        I still think it was a case of viewing things as uncharitably as possible. I know we’re all going off-page here, and there’s precious little textual basis one way or another, it just would’ve made for a better discussion if someone was taking a more positive interpretation, rather than uniformly negative.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        I disagree. We each measured him according to our own criteria and found him wanting.

      • Elyse Frances Enger

        I sugggest that at the moment at Harrenhal that Elia wanted more children, but she couldn’t bear any more. Have you ever given any thought to the possiblity that she was on board with the idea of surrogacy? It would definitely make sense with the fact of her non-voice of any disagreement, especially if Lyanna was able to take some of the burden off her.

      • Stargaryen

        somethinglikealawyer this is where you say thank you for the feedback instead of disagreeing multiple times with a reader and listener.

      • KrimzonStriker

        He included Elia in the whole prophecy thing according to Dany’s vision, so I would think that is a point to Rhaegar on just how much he shared with her on the matter. Plus she IS Dornish, and we all know how open they are about these kinds of relaitonships so….

    • That was what I was saying when it came to the situation in like how many comments I left lol.

  11. Archer

    So many things here that need to be pointed out and argued about.

    Should I just point out everything that’s wrong with this?

  12. Frostfangs Shredder

    Came for the great analysis essays, stayed for the killer podcast. Please get the whole team together for more of these :]

  13. Elyse Frances Enger

    I have a interesting idea… What if Elia realized that because she cannot bear any more children, have you thought that she might support the option of having Lyanna as a kind of surrogate womb?


    That’s the gist I am suggesting. I think Elia was in with it. Her problems with pregnancy to me suggest that she had a systemic weakening of her body related to it.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      If that were the case though, why have Lyanna Stark, a highborn noble whose children could threaten Elia’s own, as Rhaegar’s second lover? Why not a scullery maid or handmaiden, someone who could not threaten her own children?

      For that matter, why risk it being public?

      I’m not of the belief that Elia was in on the whole deal, if only that Elia risked public shaming with Rhaegar’s rather public crowning of Lyanna Stark.

      • Elyse Frances Enger

        Think about it. I think that for surrogacy to work it is possible that the woman carrying the child might have to be equal to the infertile person in question. There may have been cases in ancient history of noble women carrying a child for another, infertile queen when she was unable to do so.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        I am thinking about it. And given the background of the Blackfyre revolts, the risk seem an unnecessary burden. In an era where bloodlines and legitimacy are everything…no, it seems reckless. Not even in the vein of surrogacy, which seems a foreign concept to Westeros.

        This also doesn’t take into fact the indignity that Elia was to suffer. If Elia was to keep primacy, Rhaegar wouldn’t shame her in such a fashion. This looks more in line with Aegon’s awarding of Blackfyre, the sword of kings, to Daemon instead of Daeron, as opposed to keeping one firmly in a position lower than the other.

      • Elyse Frances Enger

        And have you thought that Rhaegar’s action, in awarding Lyanna the crown may ironically have saved his line from being snuffed out. You remember when Tywin had his men kill Aegon and Rhaenys, and Gregor Clegane raped and murdered Elia. Even if Rhaegar didn’t crown Lyanna, he would either be betrayed by Tywin because of the slights Aerys heaped upon him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he sent his men to kill Elia and her children as a way of making Cersei queen. But when Rhaegar’s ran away with Lyanna, it is certainly possible that he had Elia’s blessing because he needed a heir and a spare. In this case childbirth would be fatal for Elia and the baby if he needed a spare, and Rhaegar may have no choice to find another woman to bear his spare.

        So when Lyanna died, Ned had to honor her promise to protect Jon, because Tywin being the ruthless b****** would have tried to kill off any remaining vestiges of Rhaegar’s line, just to secure Cersei’s place as the queen.

        And I also realized one thing… Is it possible that Elia’s weakness may be related to autoimmune disease that is triggered by pregnancy?

      • Elyse Frances Enger

        And the references to “the black dragon becoming brown” may symbolize a Blackfyre’ namely, Jon rejecting the idea of pursuing power for power’s sake and choosing to help the people instead, and ironically, the brown dragon may succeed in usurping power because he cares about how the Targaryen’s and Blackfyre’s obsession with prophecy is endangering the world. And Sheepstealer’s name may be a metaphor for Jon stealing followers from Dany and Aegon IV Blackfyre.

        So in a essence legimitacy may become less important in TWOW and competence a priority.

        So in my word, the Blackfyre rebellion was a example of how people pursue power for power’s sake, and in that aspect it can foreshadow that both the Targaryen and Blackfyre’s will symbolically be supplanted by the Brownfyre because they treat power like a plaything and not a burden, just as it was demonstrated by Aegon IV, Daemon Blackfyre, Aerys II and the rest who squabble over the IT.

      • KrimzonStriker

        Elia was just as in on the whole prophecy thing as Rhaegar, three heads and all, along with the song of ice and fire according to Dany’s vision. Whose to say she didn’t share Rhaegar’s perception of the necessity of it being Lyanna on top of the overrall acceptance of the Dornish regarding marriages of love versus politics?

  14. Pingback: Robb Stark was More Lyanna Than Ned | notsostark

  15. Kyrion

    In defense of Rhaegar, Rhaegar didnt forget about the tournaments purpose, Aerys showed up so they couldnt really go through with the council. Also~

    Other people obsessed with Prophecy:

    Melissandre- Countless Prophecies
    Cersei- Maggy the Frog.
    Daenyrys- Mirri Mazz Durr, Red Comet, House of the Undying, Quaithe….wow shes going to be ****** according to GRRM’s rules with Prophecy. AWESOME lol

    • somethinglikealawyer

      Certainly, Aerys’s presence (and that Rickard Stark was the Stark in Winterfell) stopped Rhaegar from doing any plotting. But the crowning of Lyanna Stark only served to alienate many of Westeros’s most powerful families, and if he was trying to win them over…mission failed.

      However, you are correct in that we should have made our point clearer. Good observation.

      As for a prophecy obsession, it’s not to say that being fixed on prophecy is a bad thing. But being fixed on it to the point where it interferes with your duties, where it causes you to burn bridges with principal vassals in dramatic and public fashion, it means that as a prince, he might not have been as good as the fandom commonly holds.

      But it’s only one aspect of what makes a ruler. Cersei’s a terrible ruler, and would have been even if she wasn’t fixed on Maggy’s valonqar deal.

      • Elyse Frances Enger

        I also think Daenery’s prophecies will also drive her insane. I’ve noticed a bunch of similarities between young Cersei and Dany in that they received prophecies at a young age, was sold off to a man by their relatives, and at the same age Cersei received her prophecies she was blinded by naivety. It may be something that may foreshadow Dany’s blind trust in prophecies burning her badly.

        When Cersei received her prophecy she was expecting King Rhaegar not Robert. But this naivety hurt her, as Robert was abusive toward Cersei. And she took her resentment by cuckolding him. She tried to forestall the prophecy after Joff’s death by blaming Margaery for her own adultery. But this backfired. Her further attempt to consolidate Tommen’s position and in extension her own may indirectly lead to his death, and subsequently Myrcella’s as well.

        Dany’s attempt to force prophecy to follow her own interpretation may also backfire, as I’ve noticed that maybe the “Slayer of Lies” part may actually involves events that end up exposing Daenerys’s shortcomings, and show that she isn’t as great as she thought she is. And my perspective on her is that because of her dependence on prophecy, she is easily manipulated.

      • delinear

        I’m a little late to the party as I only just discovered these. It’s an interesting (and more importantly, entertaining) discussion.

        “As for a prophecy obsession, it’s not to say that being fixed on prophecy is a bad thing. But being fixed on it to the point where it interferes with your duties, where it causes you to burn bridges with principal vassals in dramatic and public fashion, it means that as a prince, he might not have been as good as the fandom commonly holds.”

        Interestingly all of the above comments could be leveled at Aenar, who basically destroyed every shred of standing his family ever had in the greatest city in the known world and went to live on a desolate rock. He didn’t just make a move based on prophecy that “interfered with his duties”, he essentially removed his family entirely from the ranks of the ruling elite of Valyria, all because his 12 year old daughter had a bad dream. If the series was set in the years leading up to the Doom it would be easy to call Aenar all kinds of idiot, nevertheless his actions saved his family from sharing the fate of the rest of the dragon lords.

        This is the problem with making an assessment of Rhaegar’s actions at this point in the timeline without knowing what the prophecy said and what the end result will be. Here’s an interesting thought that just occurred – maybe the prophecy said TPTWP would be born in a time of war between the north and south, so Rhaegar was actively trying to achieve that by his actions, not realising at that point that he’s not TPTWP and that the actual war between north and south that was important to the prophecy would come 15 years later. If that turns out to be the case it would shed a new light on his actions and make them less politically naive and more plain old misguided (much the same as Stannis green-lighting Renly’s death to prevent the prophecy of him in his armour smashing Stannis at Blackwater).

        In Rhaegar’s defence on the whole “prophecy obsessed” front, imagine the weight of expectation he must have had dumped on him from a very early age. He’s probably told the only reason their entire family still exists is due to prophecy, so he likely has the importance of prophecy drummed into him from an early age. He’s then told that the only reason he exists is that his father was forced into a loveless marriage in order to fulfill TPTWP prophecy (a marriage which, BTW, at least appeared to contribute greatly to his father’s decline into horrendous cruelty and madness) – we can assume he’s been told this since it explains how he came to know of and is actively researching said prophecy. He then finds something which makes him believe he is said TPTWP.

        That’s got to mess with anyone’s head, I mean as heir apparent he already has the expectation of the future weight of the realm on his shoulders, then he learns he’s maybe got the very existence of mankind on them too? Most people faced with that kind of pressure either knuckle down and do their best to work through it or just go off the rails.

        Anyway, I don’t necessarily disagree with your assessment of the man, I just think it’s worth adding the caveat that there may have been reasons for his actions we don’t yet know (and one of them may just have been that he was just a normal human put in a pretty unenviable position), so it’s worth at least keeping an open mind as we (hopefully) learn more of him in the future.

        Off to listen to the rest of the podcasts now 😀

  16. I have followed this website for a while now, and was very pleased to see that Podcasts are going to be a new feature. Good team, with great analysis and discussion. I look forward to future episodes, keep up the good work !

  17. King of Valyria

    Hey there guy’s long time reader, starting at the Jon Arryn essay, first time commenting let me start by saying how much I enjoyed this podcast and you guy’s take on things. There are just a few things I wanted to comment on:

    1) Rhaegar’s actions at Harrenhal: TAWOIAF brings up the possibility that Rhaegar was the secret puppet master behind organizing the tourney as a way to gather the great lords of Westeros to discuss a way to deal with his father but, if it’s true, the plan was scraped Aerys got wind of it and showed up. Now if Rhaegar was plotting against his father he could have still salvaged his plan by doing exactly what he did win the tourney by winning the tourney and defeating opponents such as: Brandon Stark, Arthur Dayne, and Barristan Selmy showed himself to be a great warrior and had he crowned his wife as he should have he shown himself to be a Prince and Knight worthy of respect but his mistake in crowning Lyanna instead of Elia sent the message the he saw her as a potential paramour at best and a whore at worst.

    2) The Southron Ambtions and the Lannisters: Rhaegar also made a mistake in not trying to join the forming Stark-Arryn-Baratheon-Tully alliance which he could have done through the Lannisters. In ASOS chap 11 it is revealed that after Rhaegar’ marriage to Elia that the reason Cersei was still at court was because Tywin wanted to arrange her marriage to Prince Viserys just as he was arranging for Jaime to marry Lysa Tully. Rhaegar could have made the offer to Tywin in exchange for his support in removing Aerys from the throne he would betroth Viserys and Cersei. think about the powerful new powerbloc that Rhaegar could have had to depose his father with:

    Rhaegar & Elia: brings the Lords of the Narrow Sea and Dorne

    Viserys & Cersei: brings the Westerlands

    Jaime & Lysa: brings the Riverlands and ties the Targaryen-Martell-Lannister alliance to the Tully-Stark-Baratheon-Arryn alliance

    3) I completely agree that the Three Heads of the Dragon was Rhaegar’s undoing and to people who say that “well Elia must have been OK with it cause she was from Dorne and may even help plan it”. First off just because having a paramour is OK in Dorne doesn’t mean she personally would have been. Also Rhaegar did more than take a paramour, which my the way is basically a girlfriend on the side, he eloped with the daughter of a Lord Paramount who was engaged to another Lord Paramount and exactly because he left to hide it the Dornish mountains he was able to do anything as things spiraled quickly out of control. If satisfying this prophecy was so important he should have used another woman as the vessel for his third dragon someone close by who could have his child quickly. Someone like Ashara Dayne she’s the sister of his best friend, she’s a friend of his wife, as Elia’s handmaiden she’s on Dragonstone so this hand be handled privately, and since the Dayne’s are vassals of House Martell her children by Rhaegar would definitely come after Elia’s.

  18. alex1

    after enjoying podcasts about Daenerys, this was such disappointment,whole thing is on stark fanboy level…

    “if Tywin or Rob had 3 dragons….”?…like 3 little lizards are big deal(still far from full strength after 5 books)
    Daenerys “entitlement” ? she is rightfully queen,its not like bunch of drunk northmen crowned her while on rampage
    Rhaegar actions led to his family destruction?
    his father was king not Rhaegar, actions that led to downfall of Targs are mostly(treason of Tully was unprovoked) done by King : war with north was caused by killing 2 Starks, treatment of Tywin caused West not to help him….
    since you love history of wars here is historic parallel : WWI started by assassination of Duke by Serb terrorists,but true reasons for war were long time in making just like in Westeros downfall of Targs was: southern ambitions of Starks,treacherous
    nature of Tullys,Jon’s control over Roberts & Ned,fake allies in HG……and Kings madness, none were Rhaegar’s doing

    i stopped listening after 20 minutes

    • Elyse Frances Enger

      Here’s something you should mull over: there are some similarities between Cersei and Dany. Pay close attention to these, and you might find that in hindsight, Dany’s path is more likely to follow Cersei’s than Jon’s. Maggy’s prophecy have done nothing good for the lioness, and this foreshadows Dany’s prophecies hurting her, too.

  19. Just listened to your podcast, nice job guys! So many questions about why, why, why would Rhaegar make the decisions he did.

    What if the only purpose of his terrible decisions in the False Spring were solely to get an heir by Lyanna, and then to disappear (i.e. fake his death). If that was his plan, he accomplished it, and though the consequences were terrible, his part in the prophecy was fulfilled.

    Then, as Mance, he has to start a new chapter in exile to unite the kingdom beyond the Wall, in defense of the realms of men, while his heir comes of age.

    People get all riled up about that idea, but nobody ever really explores it seriously.

    “We want no songs about the gallant exile. Those who die heroic deaths are long remembered, thieves and drunks and cravens soon forgotten.”

    • Elyse Frances Enger

      Actually I think Mance Rayder is more likely to be Quorgyle’s bastard son.


      This thread have a ton of evidence to sum it up.

      • Eggshell Joe

        @Elyse, definitely compelling to think about and regardless, Mance has a mysterious background.

        It just seems to me that Rhaegar’s decisions were so dumb if they weren’t for any grander purpose than to spend his life interpreting prophecy, make a baby, and die anticlimactically.

        If he were to continue pursuing his world-saving arc as Mance, it gives explanation to Mance’s capabilities and his Targaryen/Bael similarities, as well as a bigger narrative for Rhaegar and Jon.

        It might just be that Rhaegar was a one-track idiot, but I like to think that wasn’t so.

  20. I’m not buying that Elia was okay with her husband knocking up another woman. I think that’s a rationalization that some fans use because they want to think of R+L =J as being the result of some grand, doomed, love affair.

    But Rhaegar’s sympathetic wife gets in the way of such a scenario. So they have to bend the narrative to suggest that Elia was okay with her hubby abandoning her and his children to hookup with Lyanna because he and Lyanna just couldn’t help themselves and they just knew they were meant to produce a savior to mankind. .

    • delinear

      The only thing for me that perhaps hints that Elia may have been complicit in the whole deal is that the Martells don’t seem to have the same anger toward the Targaryens that they do toward the Lannisters.

      Not only did Rhaegar snub Elia in front of the whole kingdom, but Aerys’ and Rhaegar’s actions directly brought about the war that resulted in the death of Elia and her children, and Rhaegar was unable to protect them as he was off in hiding with his new paramour. The Targaryens ought to share at least some of the blame in Martell eyes, but this doesn’t seem to be the case at all, and in fact the Targareyns seem to be looked upon favourably and Doran even wants to marry one of his children into the Targaryen line (and I don’t think this is a “let’s infiltrate and destroy them from the inside” kind of deal, because he wants this even when Viserys was just the beggar king and any competent hired sword could have gone and wiped the Targs off the face of the planet).

      This, along with Dany’s vision which seems to suggest Elia knew about the prophecy (and it would have been incredibly difficult for her knowing there had to be a third child but that she couldn’t bear any more children), are the strongest hints – but I agree it’s far from compelling at this point, just a vague possibility.

  21. ashara

    Thoughts: Isn’t it quite possible that Rhaegar crowned Lyanna because she would never have been able to win the tourney herself because she was a woman? Because I thought it was some time between when Rhaegar and Lyanna met up, like months after. I was under the assumption that Aegon was born after the tourney and, if Rhaegar was trying to fulfill the prophecy, he would have gone after Lyanna discovering Elia couldn’t birth another child. I don’t agree with what Rhaegar (and Lyanna) did, but I also don’t think that at the time he crowned Lyanna it was because he loved her or was infatuated with her.
    Aerys sent Rhaegar to find the Knight of the Laughing Tree and he discovered it was Lyanna he wasn’t going to turn her in because she was a woman and daughter to the Warden of the North. Perhaps he recognized her as the Queen of Love and Beauty because her gender prevents her from legitimately winning the tourney.

  22. Pingback: Transcript: I Come Not to Praise Rhaegar Targaryen | Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire

  23. Zasumbadji


    Great podcast! I came here from the radiowesteros podcast after hearing their recommendation. I think in one of their episodes they mentioned a very good reason for Rheagar to “abduct” Lyanna would be because of a rescue or some emergency. That’s a very good suggestion IMO, as it could explain why Rheagar would do something that could obviously have such major consequences. In addition, it could add another very romantic element to their relationship if Rheagar and Lyanna had to join together against some foe in the Riverlands.

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