Aemon the Dreamer

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“Dragons,” Aemon whispered. “The grief and glory of my House, they were.”

I see them in my dreams, Sam. I see a red star bleeding in the sky. I still remember red. I see their shadows on the snow, hear the crack of leathern wings, feel their hot breath. My brothers dreamed of dragons too, and the dreams killed them, every one. Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wonders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend

– A Feast for Crows Samwell III

What if I told you that the person who inadvertently caused the crumbling of the Targaryen dynasty after Summerhall and the fall from Robert’s rebellion wasn’t a master manipulator, a greenseer, or a mad Targaryen. Instead the ancient, blind, and venerable maester of Castle Black Maester Aemon. As a young man he tried to wield a sword without a hilt and stoke embers back into fire made flesh. Instead he saw the Doom return for his family. Aemon chased prophecy, like many before him and after, and learned the consequences of reaching for the fire of the gods.

Understandably, you’re skeptical, but I’d like to present evidence for what’s led me to this conclusion and start at the beginning. Maester Aemon was born Aemon Targaryen, the son of Prince Maekar Targaryen and Lady Dyanna Dayne. Aemon was comically far from the Iron Throne at birth, the third son of a fourth Prince. Odds were he would live and die a prince.


Aemon ends up at the Citadel because of his grandfather, King Daeron II. Daeron has the bloodshed of the Blackfyre Rebellions fresh in his mind and remembers vividly what happens when there’s too many Targaryens vying for power. Looking at his ever expanding brood of Targaryen whelps, Daeron makes a decision about Aemon’s future.


My own father raised the same objections when I chose a life of service,” the old man said. “It was his father who sent me to the Citadel. King Daeron had sired four sons, and three had sons of their own. Too many dragons are as dangerous as too few, I heard His Grace tell my lord father, the day they sent me off.”

A Feast for Crows Samwell I


For Aemon though this is a blessing in disguise. While the other boys wish to be great heroes and swordsman, he wanted only one thing: books and education to sharpen his mind.


our Aemon lacked the Dragonknight’s martial nature. He likes to say he had a slow sword but quick wits. Small wonder his grandfather packed him off to the Citadel.

– A Clash of Kings – Jon I


But there was a downside, Aemon left his brothers and sisters behind. His younger, goofy brother Egg, his oldest brother and prankster Daeron, his two sisters Rhae and Daella. Aemon’s affection for those four carried all the way to his deathbed on board the Cinnamon Wind. His other older brother, Aerion “Brightflame”, is pointedly left out of his fond memories. Aemon goes anyways, although he regrets that later in life.


Aemon studies hard and earns his chain at a prodigious rate, becoming a full maester at the age of 19 and is assigned a castle much like we see from Maesters Luwin and Cressen where he serves for five years. In this time, tragedy has befallen House Targaryen. Against all odds, and some suspected foul play, Prince Maekar has been crowned King of the Seven Kingdoms. Maekar believes his son has spent enough time being a servant for some petty lord and summons him to King’s Landing. He offers the 24 year old Aemon a seat on the Small Council. Yet Aemon turns it down. Jeor Mormont claims it was out of respect for the serving Grand Maester. Instead Aemon makes an unusual choice and becomes the Maester for his troubled older brother Prince Daeron, the prince of Dragonstone and now heir to the Iron Throne.


Daeron as a child was a prankster, charming and good at getting people to like him. Over time, his mind and life turned dark, sinking into alcoholism and bouts of depression. Later Aemon wishes that he could see Daeron “whole and happy” indicating the intense pain the young man felt. The cause of his angst though is not what you might expect: his dreams. Daeron and Egg both insist that when Daeron dreams, his dreams always come true. The burden of his gift eats at Daeron and he turns to alcoholism preferring dreamless drunken stupor to sleep.  When we first meet Daeron in “The Hedge Knight,” the innkeep says:


The innkeep leaned close. “Never you mind that one, ser. All he does is drink and talk about his dreams.


“Maekar’s heir. Daeron, he’s named, after the king. They call him Daeron the Drunken, though not in his father’s hearing.

The Hedge Knight


Aemon’s choice is actually quite logical in this light. With Maekar on the Iron Throne, Daeron is now the legal heir. The brilliant Aemon would have helped many in Westeros from the Small Council, however perhaps a star pupil of the Citadel and Daeron’s own brother could mold Daeron into a passable king. And also giving Aemon a chance to take a hard look at what plagued his brother in the night.


After all, Daeron is not the only one who saw dragons in his dreams. As shown in the opening quote, Aemon and Egg did too. But Daeron’s gift went well beyond just seeing dragons. From this scene in the Hedge Knight, he saw the future in a strange, symbolic way like we see from the Ghost of High Heart, Maggie the Frog, Patchface, Jojen, and even  Bran do later in the story

“I dreamed of you,” said the prince.

“You said that at the inn.”

“Did I? Well, it’s so. My dreams are not like yours, Ser Duncan. Mine are true. They frighten me. You frighten me. I dreamed of you and a dead dragon, you see. A great beast, huge, with wings so large they could cover this meadow. It had fallen on top of you, but you were alive and the dragon was dead.

The Hedge Knight


Daeron’s dream ends up being exactly correct and is an impressive display of his gift. Later in “The Hedge Knight,” Prince Baelor Breakspear, heir to the Iron Throne at the time, dies in Duncan the Tall’s Trial by Seven against Aemon’s older brother Aerion.


A queer troubled look passed across Baelor Breakspear’s face, like a cloud passing before a sun. He raised his hand and touched the back of his head with two fingers, oh so lightly. And then he fell.

Dunk caught him. “Up,” they say he said, just as he had with Thunder in the melee, “up, up.” But he never remembered that afterward, and the prince did not rise.

Baelor of House Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone, Hand of the King, Protector of the Realm, and heir apparent to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, went to the fire in the yard of Ashford Castle on the north bank of River Cockleswent. Other great houses might choose to bury their dead in the dark earth or sink them in the cold green sea, but the Targaryens were the blood of the dragon, and their ends were writ in flame.


It’s also clear that this isn’t the first time Daeron has predicted the future. Aemon’s little brother Egg is also convinced of his sight.

“Egg lowered his voice. “Someday the dragons will return. My brother Daeron’s dreamed of it, and King Aerys read it in a prophecy. Maybe it will be my egg that hatches. That would be splendid.”

The Mystery Knight


Given how close Aemon, Daeron, and Egg were growing up, Aemon would have to at least be aware of Daeron’s gift.  He probably rummaged through every book in the King’s Landing library and the Citadel trying to find information on his brother’s curious ability. He may have even asked for help from his uncle and future King, Aerys I. Aerys shares the mental gifts and interests with young Aemon. In the Sworn Sword, Septon Sefton once quipped


“King Aerys will do less. Unless some maester writes a book about it, the whole matter may escape his royal notice.”


And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Maester in the family. We get the full rundown on Aerys’ interests from The World of Ice and Fire


Aerys was learned, in his way, though his interests were largely to do with dusty tomes concerned with ancient prophecy and the higher mysteries.


But Aemon wouldn’t take Daeron at his word. The Maester is a natural skeptic, as we see when he sniffs out the fake Lightbringer Stannis Baratheon carries.


The sword is wrong, she has to know that . . . light without heat . . . an empty glamor . . . the sword is wrong, and the false light can only lead us deeper into darkness, Sam.

A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


Seeing Daeron’s gift up close every day though he wouldn’t be able to deny the truth. And when he did, he saw the opportunity he had in his brother.


Imagine how excited Aemon might have been as he tried and tried to find other explanations for his brother’s dreams, poring over books, talking with maesters, failing at finding another explanation besides Daeron being a prophet. We see this same kind of passion when he learns of the return of the dragons and Daenerys.


On Braavos, it had seemed possible that Aemon might recover. Xhondo’s talk of dragons had almost seemed to restore the old man to himself. That night he ate every bite Sam put before him.

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


If Aemon could understand Daeron’s dreams, he could decode the future! Perhaps Aemon could even forestall the next Blackfyre rebellion, keep the realm and his family safe, bring back the dragons, even solve the great prophecies like the Prince that Was Promised.


On a more personal level, Aemon could even heal his brother’s broken mind by letting him know that his visions were not delusions but rather a gift. If only Aemon could crack the metaphorical egg. Aemon spends  the next few years with Daeron everyday between Dragonstone, Summerhall, and everywhere in between, until Daeron’s death from pox he supposedly picked up from a sex worker.


Years and years of dreams that could be documented, cross-referenced, analyzed. His interest at first seems though to be focused entirely on returning the dragons, which makes perfect sense given the ongoing Blackfyre rebellions. King Aerys had similar ideas as well. The King spent most of his time studying books and scrolls for the signs of prophecy and the return of the dragons so he could burn his enemies like Aegon the Conqueror come again.


Daeron also has dreamed of the return of the dragons, and his family members are already wondering years before Summerhall if it will be them who brings back their great fire-breathing weapons. Between their time on Dragonstone and at Summerhall, Aemon had ample time for trying to hatch the eggs himself. The Targaryens had a custom of placing the eggs in their children’s cribs, and Daeron’s daughter, Princess Vaella Targaryen, was born in 222 only a year after Aemon became Daeron’s maester. And, as royalty and on Dragonstone, Aemon has eggs to spare.


“No, but there are eggs. The last dragon left a clutch of five, and they have more on Dragonstone, old ones from before the Dance. My brothers all have them too.”

The Mystery Knight


We can see from the last days of Maester Aemon that he still believed in his brother and his dream and that even after many failures, he still held a secret hope they would come true.


“No,” the old man said. “It must be you. Tell them. The prophecy . . . my brother’s dream . . . Lady Melisandre has misread the signs.

He spoke of dreams and never named the dreamer, of a glass candle that could not be lit and eggs that would not hatch.  

A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


From all of this it is reasonable to surmise that Daeron’s visions of dragons returning convinced a younger Aemon of a truth he never let go of.  


The dragons never hatched though. Daeron died, and Aemon returned to the Citadel in failure refusing another post. Aemon’s return to the Citadel was not permanent. When his father Maekar died a Great Council was called to determine who would be the next monarch of the Seven Kingdoms.


Among the names put forward was Daeron’s “feeble minded” daughter Vaella. Also Aemon’s brother Aerion had died by now from drinking Wildfire believing it would turn him into a dragon. Also put forward was Aerion’s infant son Maegor, Aemon himself, and the young Egg. However there was a surprise fifth claim to the throne, Aenys Blackfyre, fifth son of Daemon Blackfyre.


Bloodraven, Hand of the King, offered Aenys safe passage to Westeros to put in his name to the council. However, Bloodraven captured Aenys as soon as he landed and executed him in King’s Landing. The first two children were put aside, and despite his vows to the Citadel, the lords of Westeros offered Aemon the Iron Throne.


First they offered it, quietly, to Aemon. And quietly he refused. The gods meant for him to serve, not to rule, he told them. He had sworn a vow and would not break it, though the High Septon himself offered to absolve him.

A Clash of Kings Jon I


As with the Small Council, Aemon turned the position down and the crown fell to Egg, who became known as “Aegon the Unlikely.”


In context of what we know about Aemon’s devotion to knowledge, prophecy, magic, and the return of dragons, his decision makes sense. A King can’t search for lost knowledge or experiment with dragon eggs. He has a Kingdom and people to rule. King Aerys I’s example made that clear. The realm was neglected while Aerys searched book after book for his answers. Aemon too has many questions that need answering, especially after his time with Daeron. It’s the words of Han Solo, Aemon has discovered it’s true. All of it.


Aemon’s chain freed him to fully explore his goals and pursuits. Rather than dealing with state affairs, Aemon could focus on finding the Prince that Was Promised and the dragons. If the end of the world was coming as the prophecies claim, Aemon would need to find this man (or woman) and help them as best he could. Exactly like we see him try when he learns about Dany and her dragons.


Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it.” Just talking of her seemed to make him stronger. “I must go to her. I must. Would that I was even ten years younger.”

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


The new King Aegon V’s first action is to imprison Bloodraven for the murder of Aenys Blackfyre. However, a very puzzling sequence of events follows. Rather than following through on the death sentence, Aegon orders Bloodraven released so he can join the Night’s Watch.


More puzzling, Maester Aemon and Duncan the Tall accompanied Lord Bloodraven as part of an “honor guard” on a ship called the Golden Dragon along with every prisoner in King’s Landing. What convinced Aegon to reverse Bloodraven’s death sentence and send them all to the Night’s Watch? And why send his own brother surrounded by criminals with only Duncan the Tall to protect him?


The story the realm knows is that Aemon joined the Night’s Watch so that he could not be used against the new king Aegon.


Aemon knew, and rightly, that if he remained at court those who disliked his brother’s rule would seek to use him, so he came to the Wall.

– A Clash of Kings Jon I


However, Aemon gives a different reason to Sam. He did not want to help Egg rule the Kingdom.


I was five-and-thirty and had been a maester of the chain for sixteen years. Egg wanted me to help him rule, but I knew my place was here.

A Feast for Crows Samwell II


He did not need to go the Night’s Watch to not be a threat. Aemon was a Maester while his uncle and father were King, as well as his brother the heir. There’s no reason to infer that Aemon represented any kind of threat or weak point for his brother. There’s a lot of places between the Red Keep and the Wall Aemon could’ve gone instead, even back to the Citadel. And yet he chooses the Night’s Watch. Why?


I believe the answer is two-fold. The first one is that despite all his time with Daeron, time in the Citadel, the King’s Landing library, likely looking over King Aerys’ scrolls and research, those eggs still would not hatch. Perhaps the problem was that he did not have the right books. From Tyrion, we learn how difficult it can be to find rare books in the times before printing presses.


Tyrion had read much and more of dragons through the years…..What he really wanted was the complete text of The Fires of the Freehold, Galendro’s history of Valyria. No complete copy was known to Westeros, however; even the Citadel’s lacked twenty-seven scrolls…


There’s one book in particular though that everyone interested in dragons wants. The holy grail of dragonlore: Septon Barth.


He was less hopeful concerning Septon Barth’s Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History…Baelor the Blessed had ordered all Barth’s writings destroyed when he came to the Iron Throne. Ten years ago, Tyrion had read a fragment of Unnatural History that had eluded the Blessed Baelor, but he doubted that any of Barth’s work had found its way across the narrow sea. And of course there was even less chance of his coming on the fragmentary, anonymous, blood-soaked tome sometimes called Blood and Fire and sometimes The Death of Dragons, the only surviving copy of which was supposedly hidden away in a locked vault beneath the Citadel.

A Dance With Dragons Tyrion IV


Following the royal purge of Septon Barth’s writings, books further from King’s Landing were more likely to have survived. Since Aegon’s Conquest, the North been only loosely ruled by the dragon kings. And again from Tyrion, George tells us that Winterfell and the Night’s Watch have particular interest for scholars:


On the eighteenth night of their journey, the wine was a rare sweet amber from the Summer Isles that he had brought all the way north from Casterly Rock, and the book a rumination on the history and properties of dragons. With Lord Eddard Stark’s permission, Tyrion had borrowed a few rare volumes from the Winterfell library and packed them for the ride north.

A Game of Thrones Tyrion II


And from Samwell:


“Sam, you’re a sweet fool,” Jon said. “You’ll miss that bed when we’re sleeping on the cold hard ground, I promise you.”

Sam yawned. “Maester Aemon sent me to find maps for the Lord Commander. I never thought . . . Jon, the books, have you ever seen their like? There are thousands!”

He gazed about him. “The library at Winterfell has more than a hundred. Did you find the maps?”

A Clash of Kings Jon I


However, in particular the Night’s Watch and Castle Black are of interest to Aemon. Again, the reason comes back to Septon Barth.


Though considered disreputable in this, our present day, a fragment of Septon Barth’s Unnatural History has proved a source of controversy in the halls of the Citadel. Claiming to have consulted with texts said to be preserved at Castle Black, Septon Barth put forth that the children of the forest could speak with ravens and could make them repeat their words.

– The World of Ice and Fire – Ancient History: the Dawn Age


Barth himself went to Castle Black for research, likely during King Jaeherys and Queen Allysane’s visit, and came back with knowledge that we as readers know is true. Even if Aemon couldn’t find the actual book Unnatural History, surely following Barth’s example and reading his sources could be a treasure trove of information long forgotten beneath the shadow of the frozen Wall. Perhaps tucked away between the pages of some ancient tome he’d find writing from Barth or a forgotten copy far from the clutches of Baelor the Blessed.


And, against all odds, it appears Aemon found it. On his deathbed Aemon asks Sam read to him a passage from a book written by Septon Barth:


He asked Sam to read for him from a book by Septon Barth, whose writings had been burned during the reign of Baelor the Blessed. Once he woke up weeping. “The dragon must have three heads,” he wailed, “but I am too old and frail to be one of them. I should be with her, showing her the way, but my body has betrayed me.”

A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


Sam writes it off as the ramblings of a dying man. But Aemon believes he found a copy or fragments of *Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History*. This book details the biology and all the accumulated knowledge of the Dragonlords and their dragons while they still lived. He even believes he still has it as he lay dying.


Also keep in mind that Aemon thought the dragons were coming. This explains why he accompanied  Bloodraven, his men, and the prisoners to the Wall. They were reinforcements for the dwindling Night’s Watch against the coming endless Winter that only the PTWP could beat back.


Bloodraven single-handedly masterminded an entire kingdom and multiple wars. Should the Others return, there would be no better choice in Westeros as to who would lead the armies. Brynden Rivers is even one of the very few characters that fits the “Ice and Fire” moniker being part Targaryen and part Blackwood. The fire being obvious, the ice from the Blackwoods. The Blackwoods are originally from the North in the Wolfswood next to Winterfell and have married with the Starks in the past giving him ice.


Bloodraven also came to the wall with many of his loyal, private army the Raven’s Teeth and the future Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Duncan the Tall. These odd decisions make perfect sense when seen with Daeron’s dreams and the prophecy of the Prince that was promised/Azor Ahai. Aemon and Bloodraven weren’t being punished or sent away, they went to ready the Watch for war against the return of Winter.


With Bloodraven’s gifts as a greenseer and connections with the Children of the Forest, it’s plausible that he aided the young Maester Aemon in interpreting or suggesting the validity of what Daeron saw. Bloodraven’s half sister and lover Shiera Seastar was well known for her study of magic and had a large arcane library could’ve been consulted as well.


With all of that as a backdrop, let’s turn back to the Tragedy of Summerhall. How did it go so wrong? I believe we only have to look at the timeline to see what really happened. Not a Maester conspiracy, or a plot from the Faith of the Seven, but messages from the Wall.


  • 233AC: Aemon and Bloodraven reach the Wall.
  • 252AC: Bloodraven goes missing during a ranging, although we know he sought and found the Children of the Forest staying with them. In this time frame, Aemon continues his research at Castle Black’s library. He likely discovers writings of Barth.
  • 258 AC: The War of the Ninepenny Kings erupts. King Aegon is concerned about his chances, and gets the idea somewhere that he needs dragons to win and unite the Kingdoms again, likely remembering that Daeron said they would hatch one day.


Remember, it wasn’t just Daeron that dreamed of dragons, Aegon did too. If Aemon was successful in recovering some works from Septon Barth, he may have shared what knowledge he found with Egg. While we don’t know exactly what was communicated, looking at the only record of what happened at Summerhall we can make a logical inference: wildfire and/or heat is necessary for hatching.


A quote from Archmaester Gyldayn about the event:


 the blood of the dragon gathered in one …

… seven eggs, to honor the seven gods, though the king’s own septon had warned …


wild fire

… flames grew out of control … towering … burned so hot that …

… died, but for the valor of the Lord Comman

– The World of Ice and Fire


Egg turned to the pyromancers and the alchemist guild’s love of wildfire as a desperate solution. Like his brother Aerion before him who drank wildfire believing it would turn him into a dragon, Egg used wildfire to try and return the dragons to life. It can’t be a coincidence that wildfire killed two brothers who believed it would bring back the dragons.


And this is Maester Aemon’s great shame.


Aerion was supposed to be the crazy one for chasing dragons, and Daeron had been plagued by the beasts in his dreams until he died. Aemon thought he could be the one to break the cycle. And despite finding hidden books, having time with Daeron and his dreams, all the time in the Citadel and at Castle Black to puzzle the clues Aemon failed. When Egg needed him most, Aemon was stuck at the Wall unable to help. Egg asked Aemon to stay and help him rule, and Aemon turned him down for what he thought was duty. Had he been there advising Egg the tragedy may have been averted. Instead, Aemon was left alive, cold, and alone at the Wall while his house burned.


Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wonders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend . . . or . . .”

 “Or?” said Sam.

 “. . . or not.” Aemon chuckled softly. “Or I am an old man, feverish and dying.”

A Feast for Crows Samwell III


At this point in Aemon’s life, Bloodraven has gone missing beyond the Wall, the Others are nowhere to be seen, much of his family is dead, there’s no dragons, and Aemon is stuck at the Wall chained by two separate vows. In a thematic sense, Aemon has paid a price for his look behind the veil. He tried to parse the future and like an Icarus figure he paid a heavy price for it. Or like Prometheus, who stole from the fire from the Gods and was tortured daily for his crimes.


It’s easy to see how these failures would’ve been like torture for him. Not only were the Targaryens severely diminished, but his own research had seemed useless and cost him most of his future. He turned down the Crown, a family of his own, and warmth itself with nothing to show for his sacrifices. Despite this, Aemon kept at his research by amassing more rare books, studying everything in the Castle Black library voraciously, and continuing to try and decipher the riddles.


Back in his own chambers, he asked Sam to set a fire and help him to his chair beside the hearth. “It is hard to be so old,” he sighed as he settled onto the cushion. “And harder still to be so blind. I miss the sun. And books. I miss books most of all.”

– A Storm of Swords Samwell V


And there’s evidence that Aemon had not given up his quest in finding the Prince that Was Promised and saving the world despite it all. While in Braavos, Aemon revealed that he had once believed that Prince Rhaegar would be the prophesied savior.


“No one ever looked for a girl,” he said. “It was a prince that was promised, not a princess. Rhaegar, I thought . . . the smoke was from the fire that devoured Summerhall on the day of his birth, the salt from the tears shed for those who died.

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


It’s also revealed that Aemon corresponded with Prince Rhaegar about this topic and they were, for some time, of the same mind about the identity of the Prince.


He shared my belief when he was young, but later he became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy, for a comet had been seen above King’s Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, and Rhaegar was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet.

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


How did this relationship via raven ever sprout up between the Crown Prince and the maester several kingdoms away? And what made Rhaegar, a very secretive and private person, believe that he could trust Aemon with his innermost thoughts and motivations? Let’s take a brief look at Rhaegar’s young life to see.


The best description of the young prince’s life comes from Ser Barristan Selmy to Rhaegar’s younger sister Daenerys,


As a young boy, the Prince of Dragonstone was bookish to a fault. He was reading so early that men said Queen Rhaella must have swallowed some books and a candle whilst he was in her womb. Rhaegar took no interest in the play of other children. The maesters were awed by his wits, but his father’s knights would jest sourly that Baelor the Blessed had been born again.

– A Storm of Swords Daenerys I


It’s fair to say that Rhaegar was a book nerd, a trait close to all our hearts and Aemon’s. Private, kept to himself, preferred the company of the written word to real people. He’s an unlikely candidate to reach out to anyone, especially not a distant relative on the Wall he’s never met. So what changed? Again we get the details from Barristan.


Until one day Prince Rhaegar found something in his scrolls that changed him. No one knows what it might have been, only that the boy suddenly appeared early one morning in the yard as the knights were donning their steel. He walked up to Ser Willem Darry, the master-at-arms, and said, ‘I will require sword and armor. It seems I must be a warrior.”

– A Storm of Swords Daenerys I


While on his own, Rhaegar discovered something that made him completely change his way of looking at the world. Instead of being an introverted seeker of knowledge he instead MUST become a warrior. Not that he wanted to, he had to. One possibility is that Aemon wrote young Rhaegar and told him about the Prince that Was Promised, how he fit the prophecies, and Rhaegar changed his life in response to these revelations.


However, there’s a few issues with that. First, according to Barristan he found something in scrolls in a library not a raven. And second, why would Rhaegar ever believe him? The same as Aemon skeptically viewing Stannis and his “lightbringer”, there should be proof to back up this incredible claim for Rhaegar to change his mind. Something Rhaegar couldn’t deny. If a relative wrote you a letter saying how you are destined to become a savior out of nowhere, you would think they were crazy, not instantly believe them and change your life.


For this, I have a couple candidates for what Rhaegar read in the scrolls of King’s Landing. One, we have from Archmaester Marwyn in his book “Book of Lost Books” that there exists a fragment of the legendary book Signs and Portents that saved the Targaryens from the Doom of Valyria.


Lord Rodrik tapped the book with a long nail. “See here? Marwyn claims to have found three pages of Signs and Portents, visions written down by the maiden daughter of Aenar Targaryen before the Doom came to Valyria.”

– A Feast for Crows The Kraken’s Daughter


Since Signs and Portents is described as a book, Daenys wrote quite a bit more than just the Doom of Valyria. The prophecy of The Prince that was Promised—along with many others—may lie in those pages.  Perhaps Rhaegar found some pages as well and saw something specific that would make him a believer. If Marwyn actually has three pages, they may be what Rhaegar read.


However if Rhaegar could read them, so could many other interested Targaryens through the years, and it doesn’t appear that the most bookish of them like Aerys I and Aemon made such drastic life changing decisions as Rhaegar. They certainly didn’t walk out and announce they must be warriors. Aerys I was a famous bookworm who is said to have spent his life in the library like Rhaegar did when he was young. King Jaeherys II, also obsessed with learning and prophecy as well, ordered his children Aerys II and Rhaella to marry because a woods witch told him that from their line the Prince That Was Promised would be born. Jaeherys didn’t pick up a sword and begin training to become a warrior either despite following the word of seers.


It’s also unclear what about these pages would endear Aemon to the shy bookworm in Rhaegar as well. Remember, they’ve never met each other and whatever Rhaegar read that made him change his life also made him willing to trust Aemon with his secrets. We get stories of Rhaegar from those who knew him such as Barristan Selmy, Jon Connington, his own brother Viserys—and he told none of them anything about his beliefs in himself as a savior or his children. People he spent decades with, that counted him as their best friend, his own family: not a one were worthy of Rhaegar’s true intentions yet Aemon was.


I propose what Rhaegar could’ve read in scrolls that would not only convince him of his destiny but trust Maester Aemon enough to share his innermost thoughts and plans is the late Daeron’s  dreams. Aemon is nothing if not extremely studious and in love with the written word. The opportunity to record the visions of another dragon dream like Daenys is a dream come true. Not only to cross reference and test the veracity of the dreams, but as a scholar it would behoove Aemon to preserve the dreams for future generations. Daenys saved the Targaryens from the Doom, perhaps Daeron could do the same for the world.


How would Rhaegar find these notes though? Aemon may have left some of these records or copies behind for his brother Aegon to study. Or he may have sent particularly useful ones to Egg from Castle Black. It’s easy to imagine the notes of Maester Aemon being overlooked and misplaced with other personal writings and scrolls rather than treated like a treasured manuscript as Signs and Portents or Unnatural History certainly would be. The notes tucked away in some dusty corner of the library.


Within these records of dreams, there had to be some information so specific to Rhaegar’s life it could not be dismissed as mere chance. We don’t have a timestamp of exactly when Rhaegar declared he would become a warrior so it’s tough to tie specific events to what was in Aemon’s records of dreams. It could’ve been the death of a major figure like Tytos Lannister, the details of Summerhall, or something specific to his family like the number of pregnancies and miscarriages by his mother Rhaella—similar to the trick Maggie the Frog pulls on Cersei regarding Robert’s total number of children.


“Will the king and I have children?” she asked.

“Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you.”

– A Feast for Crows – Cersei VIII


Whatever it was, it worked. Rhaegar was a believer


Whether it was Aemon or Rhaegar who reached out first, they implicitly trusted each other and risked the variance and lack of privacy in letter writing to communicate. If the scroll Rhaegar read was Aemon’s personal notes, it could create the necessary trust and connection. Who else could you talk to about it other than the man who recorded and analyzed these prophetic visions?


My last piece of proof for the scroll that Rhaegar read being Daeron’s dreams is in the unique way Aemon and Rhaegar link together the three heads of the dragon and AA/TPTWP.


Once he woke up weeping. “The dragon must have three heads,” he wailed, “but I am too old and frail to be one of them. I should be with her, showing her the way, but my body has betrayed me.”

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


“He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany’s, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. “There must be one more,” he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. “The dragon has three heads.” He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings.

– A Clash of Kings Daenerys IV


Both men are the only ones who make this connection between the two. They specifically are tying the identity of the PTWP with the number of dragons aka Targaryens that will be involved. Not one prince instead a trio of Targaryens. The other characters that mention AA/TPTWP make no mention of the three heads of the dragon as identifying information, instead assuming it will be one person.


When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone. The bleeding star has come and gone, and Dragonstone is the place of smoke and salt.

– A Storm of Swords Davos III


“Born amidst salt and smoke, beneath a bleeding star. I know the prophecy.” Marwyn turned his head and spat a gob of red phlegm onto the floor. “Not that I would trust it.

– A Feast for Crows Samwell V


Haldon nodded. “Benerro has sent forth the word from Volantis. Her coming is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. From smoke and salt was she born to make the world anew. She is Azor Ahai returned … and her triumph over darkness will bring a summer that will never end … death itself will bend its knee, and all those who die fighting in her cause shall be reborn …”

– A Dance With Dragons Tyrion VI


None of the other characters chasing saviors seem to know about this. Including Marwyn, who claims to have seen three pages of Signs and Portents. If the three heads of the dragon were included in those pages, Marwyn would’ve mentioned in his dismissive way right after Sam mentions Daenerys and her dragons. The same for Bennero High Priest of the Red Temple in Volantis and Melisandre. Something that important would be included in their proclamations, that three dragons would fulfil a key portion of the AA/TPTWP prophecies that Rhaegar and Aemon reference. This indicates the three heads of the dragon identification originates with information Rhaegar and Aemon have alone.


From these conversations by letter, the fate of Westeros grew. Had Aemon never convinced and encouraged Rhaegar to believe he was the PTWP, Rhaegar never would’ve sought out a destiny as savior which led him down the path to marrying Elia Martell and eventually having a relationship with Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar stayed South trying to prepare for the war with the Others and relying on Aemon to tell him when the invasion started. As the years passed and there’s no hint of the icy invasion, Rhaegar branched out his ideas and became convinced it hadn’t happened yet because it was his unborn children not himself who would save the world.


This is a primary problem that Aemon struggles with in his old age that we are told over and over: Prophecy in this world is neither clear nor easily understood. Rhaegar and Aemon got their guesses tragically wrong.


We see the grief and shame Aemon feels at spending his life chasing dragons and a prince that never arrived. There was no ice invading from the North, no dragons and their riders swooping from the South to beat them back— Just an old man in the freezing cold.


I see them in my dreams, Sam. I see a red star bleeding in the sky. I still remember red. I see their shadows on the snow, hear the crack of leathern wings, feel their hot breath. My brothers dreamed of dragons too, and the dreams killed them, every one. Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wonders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend . . . or . . .”

“Or?” said Sam.

“. . . or not.” Aemon chuckled softly. “Or I am an old man, feverish and dying.” He closed his white eyes wearily, then forced them open once again.

– A Feast for Crows Samwell III


Going with the earlier idea of Aemon being divinely punished for his pursuits, at some point Aemon loses the one thing he still treasures: his sight and his ability to read. From a thematic perspective this echoes characters like Tiresias the blind prophet from Greek mythology and figures like Odin. Tiresias according to legend was blinded by the Gods for crimes ranging from seeing Aphordite and Adonis have sex to revealing the secrets of the god. The common thread in his tale is that he saw things no mortal man should and had his sight removed as punishment. But, in exchange for his loss of sight he gains the gift of foresight and to understand the world like few can. Odin losing an eye is a similar idea, he gives up one of his eyes into the Well of Urd from beneath Yggdrasil and gains knowledge of what would be called the “higher mysteries” in ASOIAF. With Aemon, this is most on display when he notices that Stannis’ Lightbringer gives off no heat while all others are dazzled by the sight of it.


By chasing prophecy and seeking forbidden knowledge, Aemon and these blind wise men figures have much in common. The blindness is meant as a punishment or cost for them for crimes or secret knowledge. Instead, these blind seer figures see more clearly than ever with their minds. Aemon’s immense knowledge of the higher mysteries and wisdom are much the same. Although we’re meant to understand his blindness as a hindrance from his lamenting about losing books, in time he’s gained the kind of perspective and knowledge  that make all revere and respect his insights.


But, right at the end of his long life, Aemon is given a gift by his creator. A mercy from the God of Death himself GRRm and he  holds back unlike he does for so many of his other characters. George gives Aemon a peaceful death knowing that his life’s work was not in vain, that he was right and his efforts may still save the world and his house. Daenerys Targaryen hatched three dragons and survived to become a queen of a great city.


The Stranger waits outside my door and will not be denied. Steward, you have served me faithfully. Do this one last brave thing for me. Go down to the ships, Sam. Learn all you can about these dragons.”

What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it.” Just talking of her seemed to make him stronger. “I must go to her. I must. Would that I was even ten years younger.”

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


The old man had been so determined that he had even walked up the plank onto the Cinnamon Wind on his own two legs. Aemon is temporarily re-energized, his passions ignited once again. A dragon awakens in the frail and dying body. All of his plans, his research, his memories, his guesses, they have to be passed on to Sam and delivered to the Citadel so they can help Daenerys save the world.


we all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe. Melisandre most of all, I think. The sword is wrong, she has to know that . . . light without heat . . . an empty glamor . . . the sword is wrong, and the false light can only lead us deeper into darkness, Sam. Daenerys is our hope. Tell them that, at the Citadel. Make them listen. They must send her a maester. Daenerys must be counseled, taught, protected. For all these years I’ve lingered, waiting, watching, and now that the day has dawned I am too old. I am dying, Sam.” Tears ran from his blind white eyes at that admission. “Death should hold no fear for a man as old as me, but it does. Isn’t that silly? It is always dark where I am, so why should I fear the darkness? Yet I cannot help but wonder what will follow, when the last warmth leaves my body. Will I feast forever in the Father’s golden hall as the septons say? Will I talk with Egg again, find Dareon whole and happy, hear my sisters singing to their children? What if the horselords have the truth of it? Will I ride through the night sky forever on a stallion made of flame? Or must I return again to this vale of sorrow? Who can say, truly? Who has been beyond the wall of death to see? Only the wights, and we know what they are like. We know.”

– A Feast for Crows Samwell IV


Daeron was right after all. Aemon’s sacrifices weren’t a waste, the the three heads of the dragon of House Targaryen did rise again from the flames but at a terrible cost. Aemon ignored the many warnings he would’ve come across about the fickleness and uncertainty in following prophecy and paid dearly for it. As the wildlings say, magic is a sword without a hilt. But out of the smoldering coals of House Targaryen the world may be saved, and that is the fundamental question in the end for Maester Aemon and Rhaegar both. Is it worth risking your family, children, life, happiness, and legacy if you have a chance to save the world? Aemon believed so.


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