This post will be talking about HBO’s Game of Thrones, but will also be talking partly about the source material A Song of Ice and Fire. If you’re only up on one, and are planning on reading or watching the other one day, it’s up to you if you want to have any of that experience spoiled.
Specifically, I’ll be talking about Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia of Dorne. Show watchers might recall the story that Aegon was killed along with his sister Rhaenys and their mother Elia. (Oberyn, Elia’s brother, brought this fact up a lot.)
Rumor has it that Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane crushed the infant Aegon’s skull.
Okay, you book readers know a slightly different story. Show watchers, now’s your chance to stop reading…
In the books, there’s a chance that Aegon wasn’t actually killed, but an infant was substituted for him to protect Rhaegar’s heir, and that baby met with an unfortunate end. Something like this might have happened:
Varys: Princess Elia, I think it might be a wise move if I take wee Aegon to a secure location while this mess gets sorted out.
Elia: And why have you brought along another child of similar age and size?
Varys: Things might get very messy. And take a long time to get sorted out. A long time.
Elia: I don’t suppose you have a young lady with you, of similar age to Rhaenys?
Varys: I’m afraid not. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Elia: Rhaenys, be a dear and hide under the bed.
That must have been a pretty messed up time, in the royal apartments of Maegor’s Holdfast with the Lannister men outside going crazy. Poor Elia of Dorne. And very sad for the children with her. (Some of that must have made an impact on Cersei, living with a man who would do something similar to her children if a certain truth came out.)
The details of Varys facilitating Aegon’s escape comes to us through Tyrion’s point-of-view chapters in the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons. As seen also on the show, Tyrion is smuggled to Pentos where he’s sent off to meet up with Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen.
In the show, Varys is taking him there. It’s a more complicated scenario in the books.
In A Dance with Dragons, Magister Illyrio (Varys’ boss/co-conspirator/patron/cyvasse buddy) takes Tyrion to Jon Connington, former Hand to King Aerys and close friend of Rhaegar. Connington is operating under the alias of Griff (a reference to the Griffin sigil of House Connington), Aegon Targaryen is masquerading as Griff’s son Young Griff.
Aegon is no longer a child, and has been trained to take charge of the Iron Throne and rule as a wise monarch. (A far departure from Viserys.)
Tyrion is soon separated from the expedition by Ser Jorah Mormont, in a move that is mostly faithfully adapted by the show. Eventually Aegon and his party cease heading to Meereen, and instead change direction and take a large mercenary force with them, sailing west for the southeastern coast of Westeros.
One question that has to be considered: is the young man that Jon Connington is trying to put on the Iron Throne actually Aegon Targaryen, or an imposter? (Presumably an unknowing pretender.)
It seems like everyone involved, particularly Jon Connington, is operating earnestly as if the young man is Rhaegar’s son. Tyrion saw through the masquerade of Connington and Aegon’s aliases, Sherlock Holmes-like via observation, and Tyrion is usually right on the money.
Young Griff has hard-to-fake Targaryen features: the purple-tinted eyes. I’ve read suggestions that if Young Griff is an imposter, he might be descended from the Targaryens via the exiled Blackfyre branch of the family, something that might be true of Magister Illyrio as well.
There has been a ton of analysis and debate about this, but anyone who has read my blog knows I tend to talk more about the show than the books. I’ll make some book speculations here, and then I will shift into a show-focus.
Book Thoughts: Aegon?
Regardless if Aegon is truly Rhaegar’s son or some far-removed cousin/pretender, I don’t think he’s in this for the long run. GRRM added him ridiculously late into the story, and my gut instinct has always been that Aegon was dropped in to deflect away from Jon Snow possibly being Rhaegar’s son. Jon is less important if an elder true-born son of Rhaegar is running about. But because Jon must be important to the story, I suspect that Aegon’s days in Westeros are numbered.
Is he actually a pretender? Unless llyrio shows up at the funeral at gives a long speech about the master plan of putting an imposter on the throne, I don’t know if we’ll find out.
But George might surprise me.
Since the show has completely avoided any hints of Aegon, has omitted Jon Connington in favor of Ser Jorah carrying some of his emotional beats, and executed Prince Doran before he could give a Serpent and the Grass speech, I am skeptical that the show will pull an Aegon on us. Which implies that GRRM won’t have anything important for Book Aegon really. (Unless tricksy George is going to make Aegon super important, to heavily differentiate the future books from the show.)
But, lets imagine that the show is going to give us an Aegon. (Strap in. This will mostly be batshit crazy.)
Show Thoughts: Aegon!
I’ll repeat that I really don’t think we’ll be seeing an Aegon, but indulge the hypothetical that the show-runners might think that they can introduce Aegon at this late date in the story. Maybe they can. But I don’t think it’ll fly very well if it’s someone we’ve never met before.
The show is already going to have to work hard to amp up Euron Greyjoy, who they introduced out of the blue last season.
So one possibility is to repurpose an existing character on the show to be Aegon (probably a legit Aegon, and not a fake-Aegon aka Faegon, fAegon, etc.) The television show has already demonstrated that it’s not afraid to conflate characters, like giving Bronn the roles played by various book-characters, or even dramatically re-engineering Sansa Stark’s storyline to incorporate the elements of tragic Jeyne Poole.
So, let’s consider some possible Aegon candidates.
Scenario 1: A Northern Lad
Let’s assume Varys managed to smuggle little Aegon out of the capital, and delivered him to Jon Connington. Since the show isn’t following the Jon Connington character, we have some freedom in how he might raise this son of Rhaegar. Probably the last place anyone would look for a Targaryen would be way up north. (Well, there is Aemon Targaryen at the Wall. And it certainly appears that a Targaryen child was being raised at Winterfell… don’t pay too close attention…)
So, maybe Connington took the infant Aegon up near the Wall (oh! Maybe hoping to one day introduce the boy to his great great uncle Aemon.) He took a wife who was good at boiling potatoes, which didn’t do much nutritionally for the child, since in twenty years, he looked like a boy of only ten. That’s right, I am talking about Olly.
Relax people, put down those pitchforks. Olly is clearly too young to be Aegon. But it entertains me to think that Olly and Jon Snow could both be kinslayers, for fratricide. (AegonOlly gets a pass since Jon didn’t stay dead, but Jon would now be accursed.)
And this way Jon Connington makes an appearance in the show as Olly’s “dad” who gets an arrow through the throat.
But no one would buy Olly as actually Rhaegar’s son, so let’s move on. I clearly did this to irritate my friends who hate Olly. Poor Olly.
Scenario 2: Go West, Young Man
A candidate Aegon should be around Jon Snow’s age (well, a bit older) and have some plausible explanation for getting out of the Lannister-controlled situation during the sack of King’s Landing. Maybe Varys had some leverage on one of the lesser Lannister family members who were taking over the city, and who then took the boy into the Westerlands and raised him as a lion and not as a dragon.
In the second season, show watchers were introduced to Alton Lannister, a young man invented by the show who more or less was analogous to Jaime’s cousin Cleos Frey from A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords.
Alton didn’t really look much like a Targaryen, but he also didn’t look much like a Lannister. And both names follow an A–on pattern.
Could Alton have really been Aegon, saved from the Lannisters during Robert’s Rebellion, raised by a sympathetic minor Lannister (Ser Jaime was fuzzy on who Alton even was or how they were related), and then killed by a Lannister during the War of the Five Kings?
Probably not. I mean, I appreciate the irony of it all. But Alton is dead. It’s not that significant that he be Aegon for the story. (Don’t let that stop you theorists from embracing it.)
I kind of think that if Aegon is going to make it into the show, he should be alive.
Scenario 3: The City Slicker
Alton and Olly were both show-invented characters, and the idea that Aegon could be masquerading as a show creation would have the advantage of fooling book readers until the reveal. There’s another show-created character who could be a candidate Aegon.
Olyvar, Littlefinger’s agent and Ser Loras’ downfall actually looks like he could be the son of Rhaegar Targaryen. We also don’t know anything about him, so there’s very little to contradict that notion that he was spirited away as a child before getting his head crushed.
I’m not exactly sure how he ended up not being raised by Jon Connington, or why he ended up working for Littlefinger who isn’t likely to be an ally of Varys in playing the kingmaker game (unless the king being made is named Baelish.) I mean, I can certainly invent some crazy backstory if I really wanted to.
But just like Olly and Alton, I’m pretty sure that Olyvar is dead. We didn’t actually see him die in the Great Sept but since Loras was on trial, I expect that the High Sparrow had Olyvar nearby, to trot out and testify against Loras if needed. So RIP Olyvar. If you were Aegon, you were one of the dragons who died by fire.
(Unless he was fireproof like Daenerys. Uh oh. Let a thousands goofy theories fly free!)
I think I’ve run out of show-invented male characters. But maybe one of the book characters can be re-purposed to be Aegon. And is alive.
Scenario 4: Like his dad, he loves books.
This might require some setup. There’s a theory that Meera Reed is actually Jon Snow’s twin sister. That Lyanna Stark gave birth to twins, Ned took Jon with him, but since wars are easier than daughters, made Howland Reed take Meera.
In general, I’m not a fan of that theory, and I often insist to be contrary that it’s just as likely that Lyanna gave birth to triplets. That she died giving birth to Jon, Meera, and enormous Sam. (We all know that Sam Tarly must have been a huge baby.)
Howland: That’s one huge baby. I don’t know if the North has enough food.
Ned: I know that Randyll Tarly isn’t home yet, and there’s plenty of food in the Reach. I’ll see if I can get Lady Tarly to take this giant infant off our hands.
I don’t believe that Sam is Jon’s brother, anymore than I believe that Meera is Jon’s sister. But since I’ve opened the door that maybe Sam isn’t a natural born Tarly…
Maybe infant Aegon was smuggled from the city, taken to Horn Hill, and Lady Melessa Tarly was willing to pretend Aegon was her own, and not tell Randyll Tarly the truth. (It’s not like we didn’t have a similar situation happening with Ned, right?)
Randyll: Wow, that was quite a long war. Glad to be home.
Melessa: Welcome back! Look, while you were gone, I had a son! I would have sent you a raven, but I knew you wanted to focus on war and stuff.
Randyll: That kid is huge!
Melessa: It’s because I feed him so much! Not because he’s older than he should be. I’m going to feed him all the time to justify his size.
Randyll: I hope the next child is more normal.
Okay, that is a crazy theory, but Rhaegar was quite a sensitive soul, and loved reading books more than fighting (although he was crazy awesome at fighting.) Maybe Sam inherited some of his love of reading from Rhaegar.
The best thing about this (totally wrong) theory: Sam and Jon would be half-brothers. So yay!
Actually, this would be the best thing about Sam being Aegon Targaryen and unexpected inheritor of the Iron Throne:
Randyll: *grumble* Your Grace.
King Sam: Hello, Lord Tarly.
Randyll: Thank you for not calling me “father.”
King Sam: Oh, you’ll always be the man who raised me, I won’t forget that any time soon.
Sam Tarly as King Aegon Targaryen? That’s the craziest theory. I wonder if I can up the crazy even more.
Scenario 5: Rhaegar had one son.
There are people who were hoping against R + L = J (do I need to spell that out?) because they assumed that if the book reading community had figured out Jon’s parentage, then it couldn’t really be true. That GRRM had something else in mind. Or that he had originally planned for Jon to be Lyanna and Rhaegar’s son, but since practically everyone figured that out years ago, that he might course correct and pull a fast one.
Maybe the show already did.
In the final episode of the sixth season, Bran has a vision where Ned is presented with a baby at the Tower of Joy, but maybe it’s not Lyanna’s. Maybe it’s Elia’s infant son Aegon. I can imagine one of the Kingsguard smuggling Aegon out of King’s Landing under King Aerys’ nose (Elia would have to be in on this, of course) and having the heir safe with them at the Dornish Marches while they watch over the pregnant Lyanna.
Maybe Lyanna is dying of birthing complications (either no viable baby, or maybe Meera – we’ll allow that option) but loved Rhaegar so much that she wanted his son Aegon to be protected. So she lied to Ned about him being her son.
So Jon isn’t just the son of Rhaegar, he’s the only son. He’s the legitimate King of the Seven Kingdoms! No bastard legitimization or polygamous justification required.
Rhaegar, your ladies were quite devoted to you.
Do I believe this? Of course not.
Is there a point to all this speculation?
Nope. Just having fun. (I hope this was fun.) I mean, it’s interesting to see how easy it is to crank out Game of Thrones crackpot theories. But that really wasn’t the reason I wrote this post.
On Facebook, one of the Game of Thrones groups that I’m in asked me to write something about Aegon Targaryen, and I felt honor-bound to oblige them. I mean, they voted and everything.
Challenge accepted! Hopefully they’ll find this satisfactory.
But while we’re all here, anyone have opinions on Aegon? (From the books, I mean, because I feel pretty confident that in the show’s history, he died with his mother and sister during the fall of King’s Landing.) Feel free to share them with me. And if anyone thinks he’ll be in the show, and I haven’t covered who he is in my crackpot attempts above, drop that knowledge on me as well.
I doubt I’ll be convinced of anything other than Aegon = Nay Gonna Happen, but you never know.
I usually only post a Game of Thrones article every other week in the months after the season finale (I ramp up to weekly in January before the new season) but this has been a bonus post for July, so expect a new post next week.
Next week’s post might also be a bit crazy.
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Most images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text.
If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.
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