Well, now that Game of Thrones’s fifth season has a release date, I figured it was time to revisit the book series and talk about another theory. I mean, hey, it’s going to be a few more years until the sixth book comes out, and maybe another decade before the seventh, so at this point, yeah, discussing theories is about all we can do to pass the time.
So let’s discuss my favorite A Song of Ice and Fire theory. Though it is by no means popular among the fanbase, there is a theory that King Aerys II Targaryen and Joanna Lannister, not Joanna and Tywin, are Cersei and Jaime’s real parents. This theory, commonly shortened to A+J=C&J, is one I desperately hope to be true. This is, however, probably not a popular opinion, since from what I can tell, most book readers hate it.
Spoilers for ASOIAF and a trigger warning for rape and sexual assault after the jump.
According to the A+J=C&J theory, King Aerys II at some point raped Tywin’s wife, Joanna Lannister. Then Joanna passed the children she had by Aerys off as being Tywin’s. We discover in A Dance with Dragons that Aerys always lusted after Joanna, and during her wedding to Tywin, Aerys complained that the first night was no longer law. “The first night” stated that a king could lawfully have sex with a lord’s wife before the lord could. However, despite this law’s revocation, we learn from Ser Barristan Selmy that Aerys still took “liberties” during the bedding ceremony. In this particular incident, “liberties” could mean a great deal of things, and like many fans, I don’t believe that Aerys raped her during the night of her wedding. It would have been near impossible to get away with without Tywin knowing the full extent of the violation. Instead I am more willing to believe that he raped her at a later date.
It’s also entirely possible that Aerys’s lust for Joanna ended up being one of the reasons he and Tywin had a falling out. We know the two of them used to be really good friends, until Aerys’s paranoia and unstable behavior drove a wedge between the two. So it’s not much of a stretch to believe that Aerys’s actions toward Joanna further fueled the divide. However, as we know very little about Joanna and her relationship to Aerys, it’s also entirely possible that she consented to him. We do learn that there are rumors that she willingly gave Aerys her maidenhood during King Jaehaerys II Targaryen’s coronation.
There are numerous incidents in the books to support the theory that not all the Lannister children are Tywin’s—and as I said, it simply makes more sense to me for Jaime and Cersei to be Aerys’s bastards and for Tyrion to be Tywin’s only true child. To start off, I love the idea that Tyrion, the child Tywin didn’t want or love, the child he actively went out of his way to torment and belittle, was his only true son, while the two kids he was… less disappointed in are the children of his hated rival. It also adds to all the parallels between Jaime and Tyrion. For example, like Jaime, Tyrion saves all of King’s Landing, but he still ends up hated and distrusted. If it turns out that Jaime is Aerys’s son, we end up with another parallel—they both killed their fathers.
Barring that, the books have already gone out of their way to make the Lannister twins fit the Targaryen mold. Not only were the Targaryens infamous for incestuous relationships, which more than likely contributed to their poor mental health, something else they were infamous for, the people of Westeros have a saying: whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin. One side is madness, and the other side is greatness. Between Jaime and Cersei, Cersei’s mental health is clearly deteriorating. She doesn’t trust anyone, imagines slights where there aren’t any, and is so caught up in her power struggle over the Iron Throne that she drives away what friends she does have. Jaime, meanwhile, has gone out of his way to help Brienne on her quest to find and protect Sansa, reevaluated certain beliefs he used to follow, ended battles through negotiations instead of violence, and actually wants to keep his vows to Catelyn Stark. While he is still no angel—he did push a child out a window—at this point in the books, it looks as though he’s headed for “greatness”, while Cersei is headed for “madness”. On top of all that, we learn during one of Jaime’s chapters that Cersei has a love for wildfire, something else the Targaryens were known for, when she burns down the Tower of the Hand. Other characters, such as Tyrion, have also compared Cersei to wildfire:
Their father [Tywin] had been as relentless and implacable as a glacier, where Cersei was all wildfire, especially when thwarted.
However, probably the biggest selling point for this theory comes during a dream in Jaime’s seventh chapter in A Feast for Crows. In it, he speaks to a woman. Though her identity is never stated, she is highly implied to be his mother.
“Who are you?” He had to hear her say it.
“The question is, who are you?”
“This is a dream.”
“Is it?” She smiled sadly. “Count your hands, child.”
One. One hand, clasped tight around the sword hilt. Only one. “In my dreams I always have two hands.” He raised his right arm and stared uncomprehending at the ugliness of his stump.
“We all dream of what we cannot have. Tywin dreamed that his son would be a great knight, that his daughter would be a queen. He dreamed they would be so strong and brave and beautiful that no one would ever laugh at them.”
“I am a knight,” he told her, “and Cersei is a queen.”
A tear rolled down her cheek.
To me, that passage comes across as his mother saying that he and Cersei are not Tywin’s children. To start off, she calls Tywin by name, instead of saying something like “your father”, which may well be nitpicking on my part, but she also implies that Tywin never had a son who was a knight, nor a daughter who was a queen. And of course, this is hardly the only passage that potentially foreshadows the twins’ real parentage. A few chapters earlier, we get this from their aunt:
“Jaime,” [Genna] said, tugging on his ear, “sweetling, I have known you since you were a babe at Joanna’s breast. You smile like Gerion and fight like Tyg, and there’s some Kevan in you, else you would not wear that cloak… but Tyrion is Tywin’s son, not you. I said so once to your father’s face, and he would not speak to me for half a year. Men are such thundering great fools. Even the sort who come along once in a thousand years.”
I don’t think that this passage implies that Genna knows Aerys is the twins’ real father; I think that she was just making an observation that Tyrion is more like Tywin than Jaime is. However, Tywin’s anger is notable. It’s entirely possible that Tywin knows the truth and simply refuses to acknowledge it, and so what Genna said struck a nerve. Tywin is, after all, the one person in the Seven Kingdoms who did not readily believe that his children were incestuous when everyone else found out the truth. So I find it perfectly within his character to adamantly deny that his golden children are not really his, even if it’s staring him in the face. And these are hardly the only passages out there. At one point in A Clash of Kings at Renly’s camp, someone mistakenly refers to Jaime as a “kinslayer”, and Renly has to correct the person to say “kingslayer”.
I desperately hope this theory is true, because for starters, not only do I think that it would add more depth to the Lannister children and their relationship with Tywin, I also think it adds a sense of irony to the story as well. Robert rebelled against the Iron Throne and overthrew the Targaryens, wanted to wipe their family from existence, and instead ended up marrying a Targaryen bastard, who then had Targaryen children with her brother. And if Cersei and Joffrey are any indication, mental illness is a real concern for their family. However, at this point in time, this is still just a theory, and it’s just as plausible or implausible as any other theory about this series. But if it does turn out to be false, I’ll be rather disappointed.
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Well, you’ve converted me. I see now why A+J=C&J is more appealing than A+J=T. But what does this mean for “the dragon has three heads” prophecy? If R+L=J is true (which it almost certainly is), that means that between Dany, Jon, Jaime, and Cersei, there are now FOUR living Targaryens, plus Cersei and Jaime’s children (who I honestly don’t know how much longer they have to live so I didn’t count them). I don’t want Dany to ally with Cersei! I’d much rather she ally with Tyrion! But if Tyrion is not one of the dragon’s heads…what role will he play instead?
Also…who’s still alive to tell us that this theory is true? Aerys, Joanna, and Tywin are all dead.
If this theory is true, then the only people I can see knowing the truth are either Barristan or Ilyn Payne. I didn’t touch on it, but some people have mentioned that maybe Payne knows the truth and that that is the reason Aerys ripped his tongue out. Of course, Aerys could have just killed him, but whatever. Barristan could also know the truth. He clearly had more to say when talking to Dany about this issue.
There’s also yet another theory I heard that states that all three Lannister children are Targaryens, in which case, the dragon having three heads can still be fullfilled without Jaime and Cersei. Also, in that case, Daenerys is the third of Aerys’s legitimate children, Jon is Rhaegar’s third child, and then Tyrion would be the third child of Aerys’s illegitimate children.
I can’t find myself ever subscribing to this theory, or any where any of Joanna’s kids are not Tywins (specifically Tyrion), mainly because these theories, in my mind, don’t add to the story, rather, they take away from them. First, I wholeheartedly believe that Joanna was as proud a Lannister as her husband, and arguably possessed a good deal of agency (as much as was allowed to her). It’s emphasized many times by characters how deeply Joanna and Tywin loved each other, and how much he regarded her as his equal and listened to her counsel and ideas. Unfortunately in the world of Westeros, a lot of agency is stripped from women, specifically noble women. However, Cersei hinted to the fact that she knew of many women who went to Magi the Frog and other places to get potions that would result in an abortion. I can’t really believe that if Joanna thought she was pregnant with the child(ren) of a man who disgusted her and (according to the theory) raped her, she WOULDN’T get an abortion.
On another note, the Targ!Tyrion theory honestly repels me. It follows the same themes of my opinions on Joanna (it’s fairly clear she was very weak after having the twins and becoming pregnant again would endanger her–would she really risk her life to have a child that wasn’t fathered by her husband?), and reeks of ableism and totally dismantles the fact of how much Tyrion is similar to Tywin.
And, to be honest, narratively I can’t subscribe to this theory. The fact that Tywin is so obsessed with his family surviving and becoming the most powerful is almost entirely WHY it is so important that Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion are Tywin’s trueborn children. He spends so much of his and their lives trying to secure their house and its power, but it is his actions and his children that undermine his efforts (Cersei is an insufficient ruler and suffers from inferiority complexes due to her father’s treatment of her vs. Jaime, Jaime comes into a position where he cannot become the head of the Lannisters as he was born to be, Tyrion kills his own father, etc.). It is the fact that they are HIS children, HIS legacy, that gives such weight to the fact that his treatment of them and their resulting, destructive actions are leading to the downfall of their house. It is the fact that the Great Tywin Lannister is the father of these toxic, incestuous twins that makes it so shocking.
If anyone wants to read more on the secret Targ!theories, I highly recommend joannalannister.tumblr.com. She’s got a lot of great stuff on the theories and the implications that come with them.
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This is literally my favorite theory ever and there is actually a lot of evidence for it in the books, plus I prefer it to Tyrion being a Targaryen a lot. For one thing, the irony would be great if this was true, both with Tyrion, the son Tywin hates, being the only true Lannister heir and also that Cersei has literally said “We are not Targaryens.” Also, the incest is definitely a Targaryen trait, and we find that the people Cersei is attracted to other than Jaime are generally at least somewhat Targaryen (Rhaegar, Aurane Waters). The madness/greatness idea is also very prevalent in the twins, with Cersei representing madness, including her slightly creepy obsession with wildfire, and Jaime representing greatness. Finally, something I’ve thought of while reading these involves Tywin more. Perhaps his supposed hatred of whores comes from a whore from his past that gave him a disease that made him have fertility issues, resulting in Joanna dying at Tyrion’s birth and Tyrion’s deformities, and implying that the “perfect” twins aren’t his children. Anyway, I really hope that this theory is true
This would honestly be one of the best plot twists, if true.