Send the Ravens: The Tower of Joy, Jon Snow’s Future and the Return of Rickon Stark

In our latest Send the Ravens column, we answer your Game of Thrones questions about the Tower of Joy, Jon Snow’s future and how many direwolves are still alive….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

If you’re anything like me, through the first five seasons of Game of Thrones, Bran Stark’s storyline has been one of more tedious and less interesting journeys for anyone on the show. Maybe it’s because he spent the better part of 30 episodes walking to get north of the Wall with very little payoff over those multiple seasons.

But now that Bran is back, his role is becoming much clearer and it’s likely that he’ll have a major part in the war that’s coming from the White Walkers as well as potential influence on who eventually sits on the Iron Throne (hint — no one believes it will be Tommen when this show is over).

The preview for this week’s upcoming episode of Game of Thrones titled “Oathbreaker” showed a pending battle that looks a lot like a younger Ned Stark squaring off with some adversaries as Bran Stark watches from a distance.

“And now it begins,” says one knight to the other.
“Now it ends”

Most believe that this will be a scene from an infamous showdown that took place during Robert Baratheon’s uprising against the Targaryens when Ned Stark went on a mission to Dorne to find his kidnapped sister Lyanna.

Lyanna’s kidnapping by the eldest Targaryen prince was the exact moment that sent Robert into war against his king and eventually led to the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty.

Now the kidnapping itself has been called into question by many fans of the books over the years because many signs point to the fact that Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually in love but because each of them had been promised to another, they could never be together. Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell while Lyanna had been betrothed to Robert Baratheon since she was just a girl.

Either way, her disappearance sent Robert storming after the Targaryens and it eventually led to the death of Prince Rhaegar in a fight known as the “Battle of the Trident” where Baratheon smashed the future king with his warhammer and killed him dead.

Meanwhile, Ned Stark was sent on a mission to retrieve his sister that took him to Dorne where he was accompanied by Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, Ethan Glover, Mark Ryswell, Howland Reed and Willam Dustin. Howland Reed, you’ll recognize as one of the noble leaders from the North who is the father to both Meera and Jojen Reed — the two children who escort Bran north of the Wall.

When they arrived at the Tower of Joy — a great tower in the northern mountains of Dorne — they were greeted by Rhaegar’s personal security force left behind to protect Lyanna in his absence. Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and Ser Gerold Hightower guarded the tower and the ensuing battle ended with only Ned Stark and Howland Reed still alive.

The Tower of Joy Game of Thrones

The Tower of Joy in Dorne

Following the battle, Ned rushed inside the Tower of Joy where he found his sister Lyanna laying in a “bed of blood” where she was already dying. Ned clutched his sister in her dying moments as Lyanna uttered three words to her brother just before she passed away.

“Promise me, Ned”.

Howland found Ned in the room still holding onto his sister after her death and to this day no one is sure what promise Lyanna made her brother keep, but the most popular theory is that she gave birth to a baby and that’s what left her laying in a pool of blood on the floor. The baby — as theories go — would grow up to become Jon Snow and the promise was that Ned would care for the boy as his own son to protect him from Robert’s wrath because he would have Targaryen blood pumping through his veins and thus a claim to the Iron Throne.

Jon Snow as a son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark would not only be a noble born child but he would have the strongest claim of anyone still alive to the Iron Throne because he would be the last born son of the future king — which technically puts him ahead of even Daenerys in terms of claims to the throne. Of course, that all depends on whether or not Jon Snow is actually Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son and we might find out a lot more about that this week and in future episodes this season.

With that said, let’s get to your questions this week!

That’s a very interesting question because in the teaser for this week’s episode somebody shows up at Winterfell with a present for the new Lord Ramsay Bolton. What could that present be? A living Stark child perhaps?

Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, confirmed in an interview just recently that Rickon Stark would make a reappearance in Game of Thrones this season after being taken off the show after season three when he left with Osha to hide to avoid capture from numerous enemies flooding the North and also because the journey beyond the Wall would be too treacherous for such a little boy.

If Rickon is indeed the gift presented to Ramsay, it could be a game changer for the future of the show.

Assuming Ramsay takes possession of Rickon, he could taunt his brother Jon Snow at Castle Black to force his hand to come get him, which would also give the new Warden of the North an open shot at taking back Sansa Stark as well. It’s an interesting theory and one that I tend to believe could be true. If Rickon Stark is returning this season, it doesn’t make much sense for him to just reappear for no reason without his story intertwining with the current war brewing in the North between Ramsay Bolton and the remaining Stark family.

As much misery as George R.R. Martin has heaped upon this family since the very beginning of his books, it’s hard to imagine the Starks not having some sort of happy ending. Of course then again no one seems to have a happy ending in this series.

When it’s all said and done, don’t expect all of the Stark children to live because there’s going to be some serious carnage before Game of Thrones is over and it’s hard to believe that at least one of them — Jon Snow, Sansa, Arya, Bran or Rickon — are going to die before it’s all over.

Still, it’s clear the children are closer than ever to reuniting with Sansa trekking towards Castle Black to reunite with Jon right now and Bran Stark eventually making his way south again after his training with the Three-Eyed Raven is complete. It might be harder to find Arya reuniting with her family but considering she’s training to become an assassin, her return could happen at any time as well.

As noted, Ghost, who belongs to Jon Snow is still very much alive alongside his now living best friend.

Grey Wind — who belonged to Robb Stark — was killed at the Red Wedding alongside his owner

Lady — who belonged to Sansa Stark — is put to death after Arya’s wolf bit Joffrey but ran away and could not be found. So Queen Cersei asked for this direwolf to be put down instead.

Nymeria — who belongs to Arya Stark — was sent away after she bit Joffrey. Her whereabouts are unknown but most believe she is still alive.

Summer — who belongs to Bran Stark — accompanied him north of the Wall and he often times “wargs” into her body, which only further strengthens the bond between the two of them. Summer is still with Bran.

Shaggy Dog — who belongs to Rickon Stark — left with him and Osha to seek refuge in the North after leaving Bran to go beyond the Wall. It’s assumed Shaggy Dog is still alive.

One thing that Game of Thrones has done (and I prefer it honestly) is whittle down the sheer number of characters that George R.R. Martin has introduced through the books, so I don’t expect many of them to show up at this point. As each book has progressed, Martin has continued to flood the stories with new characters and in many ways it has muddied the plot just a bit.

Chances are with only this season and potentially two more seasons to go until Game of Thrones is over, it’s doubtful we’ll see a character like Young Griff introduced at this stage but anything is possible!

This was my favorite question of the week because of the ramifications that come along with Jon Snow’s death and sudden resurrection. It’s a very valid question also because it raises an interesting point — if Jon Snow died, doesn’t that release him from his vows to the Night’s Watch?

Well let’s look at those vows below:

“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come”

The key thing to remember is that second line — “it shall not end until my death”.

Well Jon died so does that release him from his vows as Lord Commander?

Technically, yes it should because he was deader than dead for a few days after Alliser Thorne and the other mutineers killed him at the end of season five. If that does release him from his vows, it would allow Jon to lead the Wildlings against the White Walkers or even head south to gather an even bigger garrison to battle the army of the dead. Or it could free Jon to face off with Ramsay Bolton to take back the North for the Stark family.

Because all those scenarios seem rather interesting it’s hard to imagine Jon not exiting the Night’s Watch at this point after his miraculous resurrection. Then again, no new Lord Commander was elected so technically Jon could slip right back into his old role as well. This week’s episode will tell us a lot about Jon’s future going forward.

Thanks again for all the questions this week — if you have any more please direct them on Twitter to @DamonMartin or @NerdcoreMOV and enjoy the new episode this week!

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