Fire Beats Ice: Theories On “The Winds of Winter” And Beyond

In this special guest article, Norman “Skyline” Hittle – keyboardist for Colorado Springs electronic rock outfit Hydrogen Skyline – discusses a few theories on how George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series will progress in its final two novels: “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring”. He muses on which characters will make up the three-headed dragon, the widely debated legitimacy of Young Griff, and more. 

We should note that Norman reads the novels but does not watch Game of Thrones, so these theories are based purely on his knowledge of the books and GOT-only watchers should proceed with caution.    

In my third time reading through the series, a lot of speculation has come to mind in which I find myself trying to piece together what book six (The Winds of Winter) will encompass and how the main plots will tie themselves together.

One of the main things I notice throughout George R. R. Martin’s ASOIAF body of work is that fire seems to continually beat ice – both literally and metaphorically – while I cannot recall any time that ice beats fire. Some small examples of such are how the Mad King Aerys Targaryen burns Eddard Stark’s father and brother alive, and how Valyrian steel and dragon glass destroy the Others, and also the more metaphorical display of “Ice” (the great sword) being melted down by Tywin Lannister to create two smaller blades.

*As a caveat, I’m not living and breathing ASOIAF and I don’t have the space to list all my theories on the matter, so if there is proof otherwise, I gladly stand corrected.*

But I have to wonder if this concept is something that Martin considered. Because in the end, the only way Westeros seems to have a chance at defeating death and the Others is for fire to beat ice – as death and the White Walkers seem to be synonymous with ice.

Which leads me to the bigger point: who is the foretold savior of fire that will contend with the threat that arcs through every book?

There are a few prophecies that come up in ASOIAF of the “Three-Headed Dragon” and “Azor Ahai” and “Lightbringer”, all of which seem fairly linked by the “Prince that was Promised” prophecy. Keep in mind, any foretelling in ASOIAF is nothing like that of Tolkien’s where if it is stated, it will come true. We see that with the prophecy of “The Stallion that Mounts the World” in regard to Daenerys’ unborn son, Rhaego, and how those hopes were dashed to the wind.

Yet, if there were a purpose for the prophecy of the Three-Headed Dragon and Azor Ahai, it would likely be steering us in the direction of the impending conflict with the White Walkers (Others). For that to occur, it would be assumed that these three (along with Daenerys’ dragons perhaps) would have to lead the charge, or at least be in Westeros when the final conflict occurs.

It seems plain that Daenerys is one of the dragons’ three heads, and that seems to go without question. She is in fact of the Targaryen bloodline, she survived the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo, and she hatched the first known dragons in over a century. But she’s only one, and through the books, we get the sense that there may be others, and a long list starts to be compiled of potential characters.

Truth be told, the way Martin is creating this world, it’s anyone’s guess. He has modeled his writing as more of a historical fiction account than that of typical fantasy – so no matter how much we may speculate, there’s no way of even feeling half-certain of anything.

So here’s my wild stab:

I believe Rhaegar Targaryen is the key to the whole prophecy. He was initially considered to be “the prince who was promised”, but later was convinced himself that he wasn’t the promised one – and we see that with his death at the Trident. However, I believe that his direct bloodline is in fact where this prophecy will be fulfilled. My reasoning up front is that the easiest answer is oftentimes the correct answer. If there is any truth to the prophecies at all, they would likely have to be fulfilled by the actual blood of the dragon – which is the Targaryen bloodline.

The first head: Daenerys Targaryen – as stated above.

The second head: In book five (A Dance with Dragons) we meet Young Griff, the supposed son of “Griff” who is in actuality the exiled Jon Connington. We learn through some dialogue that Young Griff is thought to be Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar who is assumed dead from the sack of King’s Landing. However, we learn that the bodies of Rhaegar’s children we not identifiable by all as they were presented before the Iron Throne under Lannister capes, and as we have seen before with Bran and Rickon being thought to have been killed by Theon at the sack of Winterfell, things aren’t always as they seem. I think Young Griff is Aegon, and that he had been protected by Varys and Magister Illyrio for years much the same as Daenerys and Viserys were. Of course there is a ton of speculation and fan theories regarding Young Griff’s actual bloodline, and as I said, any theory is just as likely as another – no matter how wild – but I’m sticking with the simple answer. Young Griff is Aegon, son of Rhaegar, and he has been in hiding and protected across the Narrow Sea.

The third head: Since the beginning of the series, we have been privy to knowing about Eddard’s sister Lyanna and his promise to her, as well as knowing about Ned’s brief “fall from honor” in that of his bastard Jon Snow. I assumed for a long time during my first read through the series that Ned’s promise to Lyanna was to be buried in Winterfell’s crypts; however, it seemed odd that “the promise” always haunted Ned. It also seemed odd that there was so much secrecy behind who Jon’s mother was, especially considering other character viewpoints in him bringing his bastard back to Winterfell – which as we can see is highly uncommon in Westeros.

Of course this is leading to the Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon Snow theory (which fits nicely with my belief that Rhaegar is the key); however, let’s explore this further.

It is widely known that Rhaegar captured Lyanna Stark (though, it also seems possible that they ran off together), and through other dialogue it is believed that she was raped by him (or they ran off together and do what people who run off together do). That alone gives us the possibility. But we also know that Robb Stark was conceived during Ned and Catelyn’s wedding, and Jon Snow is “of an age with Robb”. A fortnight after the wedding, Eddard was already leaving again to continue the war, where we know he fought at the Trident, chased Targaryen forces back to King’s Landing, witnessed the Sack of King’s Landing, and then left to rescue his sister Lyanna at the Tower of Joy.

The Tower of Joy is interesting in and of the fact that there were three members of the Kingsguard defending it. This is interesting because at that time, Rhaegar was dead at the Trident and the King Aerys was dead in Kings Landing … so what were they guarding there? Lyanna wasn’t wed to Rhaegar, so there must have been some other reason that men of honor would’ve fought to the death against Ned and his companions. And I believe that to be due to Lyanna having birthed a son to Rhaegar, who at that point would’ve been in line for the throne (along with Viserys and Daenerys).

For Jon and Robb to be of an age, they must have been conceived relatively within the same year. Granted, a year is a long time and a lot can happen, but in Westeros between Eddard leaving Winterfell to him arriving at the Tower of Joy, is estimated to be 3,500 miles with a host of men in tow – and there’s little we can do to estimate how long that would take with all the prominent stops he would’ve made for battle and diplomacy. That plus 3,500 again for the return trip to Winterfell. That would mean Eddard would’ve had to have slept with Jon’s supposed mother soon after leaving his wedding or before he even got back to Winterfell from the Vale of Arryn well before he was married. If he had slept with someone, why would he act so dishonored when at the time he wasn’t event betrothed to Catelyn Tully, let that would seem the most likely case as he essentially was rescued by a fisherman’s daughter. Yet, in such a case, there would be no dishonor as he wasn’t even betrothed, much less thought to marry Catelyn Tully. In my opinion, the timeline also eliminates any possibility of Jon’s mother being Ashara Dayne or any other woman Eddard would’ve encountered beyond King’s Landing, as there wouldn’t have been the time between conception and birth before returning to Winterfell.

Plus, when he returns to Winterfell with Jon in arm, he tells Catelyn that Jon is “his blood” when he gets angered with her. An odd choice of wording. If he was already accepting blame of fathering a bastard, why not call Jon his son?

But the biggest point is how secretive Eddard is about Jon’s origin, to the point of Jon not even knowing. Combined with the aforementioned, Ned would have severe reasoning to keep such a secret. If it were just about dishonor to him or his House, the secrecy would’ve been highly unnecessary; yet if it were treason, betrayal, and treachery, it likely would’ve been a reason to keep quiet. Which also makes the most sense. If Jon was the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar, then Eddard would’ve been harboring a Targaryen prince in Winterfell right under Robert’s nose – which is bad in and of itself; however, given Robert’s romanticism about Lyanna, Jon’s true bloodline would’ve been insult to injury – and based upon how Robert is so gun-ho to extinguish the Targaryen line, Ned would’ve been saving Jon’s life by keeping the secret.

Speculation circles this theory a lot, and just as all ASOIAF theories, it really could be anyone’s guess (it is after all a fantasy series being created by a single man), but based upon the weak Valyrian physical attributes (which we can see come through with Balor Breakspear whose mother was a Dornish princess), the timeline, the locations, and the characters – to me it seems overly likely that Jon is a Stark/Targaryen.

As such, not only do I believe Jon is the third head of the dragon, but I also believe that he is the “Promised Prince” or Azor Ahai. The reason why I believe this is because Jon’s bloodlines are specifically Ice (Stark) and Fire (Targaryen) and the prophecy reads that the Prince is to have a “Song of Ice and Fire” (which also leads us to believe that this prophecy means something as Martin named the entire series after it). Songs in ASOIAF are not as we view them today, songs in this setting are stories and histories, and Jon’s history would then be of ice and fire.

Beyond that, we have to consider the interest Melisandre has in Jon Snow and that she sees him when looking into the fire for Azor Ahai. Not to mention, the Red God R’hllor seems to be the only god in all of Westeros that actually has power as we see with Melisandre and Thoros of Myr. Obviously the speculation that Jon dies in the Mutiny of Castle Black is possible, but then again, Melisandre is there and capable of reviving him – though to what end, we cannot guess.

And all in all, to me that adds up to my top three for supposed heroes of the series’ final conflict.

What any of this matters other than fan theories isn’t certain as Martin has repeatedly said that Winds of Winter will have some of the darkest chapters in the entire series – which says a great deal considering Ned’s beheading, the Red Wedding, and how unpredictably cruel this world he is creating seems to be. So maybe it all will amount to nothing and the Three-Headed Dragon will be as useless as the Stallion that Mounts the World.

Yet in conclusion, we can only hope that fire beats ice and in the meantime enjoy the journey of speculation!


Many thanks to Norman for sharing a few of his ASOIAF theories with us on Dead Screen. Who do you think will make up the three-headed dragon? Do you agree that “Young Griff” really is who he claims to be? Let us know in the comments below. 

Also be sure and check out Hydrogen Skyline’s head-bobbing electro-infused single “Inhale/Exhale” below and stream/purchase their latest album Photovoltaic via Bandcamp.

Follow Norman and Hydrogen Skyline on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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