The week of April 12, 2015
ASOIAF books

Welcome to the world of ‘Game of Thrones’ fan theories

By Cooper Fleishman

I’m obsessed with a farting knight who’s not even real. That’s one of the hazards of marathon-binge-reading A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series on which Game of Thrones is based. It will consume your life like a fire sacrifice to R’hllor, the Lord of Light.

Look, I argue, as our reporter Michelle Jaworski shakes her head: If Baelor Hightower hadn’t let loose in front of Princess Elia, none of this would have ever happened.

I’m obsessed with a farting knight who’s not even real.

Elia Martell married Rhaegar Targaryen instead, a prince who was only sorta-kinda into her. She had two children and nearly died in childbirth. Lannister soldiers killed her kids; the Mountain killed her. Shit was brutal. In the present-day Game of Thrones universe, the political lines in the sand were all drawn in that precise moment.

But here’s a detail you won’t find in Game of Thrones: It didn’t have to be that way. Years before, Elia’s top suitor was a Hightower knight with bad gas known as Baelor Brightsmile. Elia’s brother Oberyn Martell nicknamed him “Baelor Breakwind,” and the princess just couldn’t deal. Were it not for that fart, Elia might have married Baelor. Rhaegar could’ve followed his heart and married Lyanna, Ned Stark’s sister, whom he loved. Robert Baratheon’s rebellion against the mad Targaryen king (Rhaegar’s father, Aerys II), which launched after the married Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna, may have never happened.

Here are the hazards of binge-reading A Song of Ice and Fire.

Baelor Breakwind is just one little gem of a detail you’ll find in A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). It’s a little reward from George R.R. Martin for taking a year out of your life to read more than 5,000 pages about dragons and twincest. (Another great passage you’ll find only in the books: a lengthy story about how Tormund Giantsbane had sex with a bear.) I recommend it. ASOIAF is a great subway read—even A Feast for Crows, 97 percent of which describes Brienne of Tarth walking in circles.

But the biggest reward of all is being able to dive headfirst into the tinfoil-hat-strewn bear pit of fan theories. This web is so labyrinthine, the hole so dark and full of terrors, I feel like Daenerys lost in the House of the Undying. Is Dany’s lover Daario really Theon’s uncle Euron? Is Ned’s long-lost brother Benjen Stark a semi-dead dude who rides a horse and saves people from wights? (No.) Is Jon Snow a secret Targaryen heir with hidden powers who can forge peace between the Others and men? Ha! (Wait, but is he?)

Dive headfirst into the tinfoil-hat-strewn bear pit of fan theories.

Look, let’s be real. You’re not a nerd for loving Game of Thrones. You’re one of 19 million people who tuned in last season to watch Tyrion talk about smashing beetles. The series is the most popular premium-cable show on TV. It is as mainstream as mainstream gets. But it’s also possible to appreciate Game of Thrones on a much more obsessive level. That’s the experience we’ve tried to capture in the Kernel’s “Issue of Ice and Fire”—an overview of the hidden gems, surprises, and Easter eggs that lie beneath every scripted line of dialogue. Prophecies! Gruesome deaths! Linguistics! GRRM’s marginalia! Economics! Dragons! It’s all here, along with essays that might make you rethink your favorite characters and infographics to break down some uncharted Westerosi data.

Valar morghulis. All men must die. But if you’re lucky, you’ll finish ASOIAF first.

Photo via Robert | Flickr (CC BY 2.0)