Red, Black, Green and Green, or from Ice and Fire to the Pact an Back Again
Ice and Fire
This series is called A Song of Ice and Fire. “Thank you, Captain Obvious!” you will probably say. But hear me out. People have long been wondering what this name is actually about or if it even is about something specific and not just about a lot of things having to do with either ice or fire. Dragons, ice zombies, R’hllor, the Wall. There is obviously enough stuff to work with to claim that there is not this one single thing that “Ice and Fire” relates to. Today, however, I want to put forward a theory that claims, that there is this one single thing.
The phrase “ice and fire” occurs nine[i] times in canon and semi-canon resources available at asearchoficeandfire.com. These occurrences fall into five categories: Rhaegar-and-Dany-related, Bran-and-the-Reeds-related, Davos-and-Mel-related, world of ice and fire (all lower case) and Pact of Ice and Fire. The first three categories again fall into the larger category of true canon material, while the latter two are from The World of Ice and Fire (upper case “T”, “W”, “I” and “F” this time). We want to analyze the information we can gather from these nine occurrences in order to see if they can help us find out what the title A Song of Ice and Fire actually refers to.
An Oath of Ice and Fire
We want to start with the occurrences in Bran’s chapters. Two of the three occur as part of an oath. Meera and Jojen swear by ice and fire (beside earth and water and iron and bronze),[ii] and it is the last thing by which they swear and therefore probably the most important part of the oath. It is left unclear if this is a common kind of oath or not, but we only ever hear it from the two, so it seems safe to assume that it is not used all over Westeros. The mention of bronze seems to indicate a relation to the First Men and generally it seems to be about opposites.
The third occurrence in a Bran chapter goes in the same direction and mentions ice and fire as a paradigmatic example of a pair of opposites:
“Because they’re different,” he [i.e. Bran] insisted. “Like night and day, or ice and fire.”
“If ice can burn,” said Jojen in his solemn voice, “than love and hate can mate. Mountain or marsh, it makes no matter. The land is one.”[iii]
I automatically imagine those lines in Preston Jacobs’s signature tone for citing mysterious characters here, but never mind. Jojen, however, doesn’t seem to have the same idea of opposites or at least of certain pairs of opposites that Bran has. Opposites do not have to shun one another, but can be intertwined, instead.
The Song of Ice and Fire
Daenerys not only hears the phrase “ice and fire”, but even “the song of Ice and Fire”. Capital “I”, capital “F”, no capital “S”, “the” instead of “A”. In the House of the Undying, a Vision of — most likely — Rhaegar Targaryen, her brother, says — most likely — about his son Aegon that “his is the song of Ice and Fire”.[iv] The other two occurrences from Dany’s chapters reiterate Dany’s vision in a conversation with Jorah who confirms that the two persons in her vision are Rhaegar and Aegon.[v]
Davos thinks about ice and fire roughly in the same way as Bran does: “Ice and fire, he thought. Black and white. Dark and light. Davos could not deny the power of her god.”[vi]It does not come as much of a surprise that he is talking about Melisandre here. Fire, white and light seem to be related to her, but also shadow, which might be a hint of dark, black and ice. Is Melisandre, therefore, also an example of ice and fire intertwined? An interesting thought, but not a central one to this essay, so I will not elaborate here.
The World of Ice and Fire
In The World of Ice and Fire, then, the narrator, Maester Yandel, tells us near the end of the book:
“As this history has shown, the world has seen many ages. Many thousands of years have passed from the Dawn Age to today. Castles have risen and fallen, as have kingdoms. Crofters have been born, grown to work the fields, and died of age or mishap or illness, leaving behind children to do the same. Princes have been born, grown to wear a crown, and died in war or bed or tourney, leaving behind reigns great, forgettable, or reviled. The world has known ice in the Long Night, and it has known fire in the Doom. From the Frozen Shore to Asshai-by-the-Shadow, this world of ice and fire has revealed a rich and glorious history — although there is much yet to be discovered.”[vii]
This, of course, may just be a lame reference to the title of the book and, therefore, also the series. Would I put it beyond Elio and Linda to do this for just the lulz? Hell no. I wouldn’t. Would I put it beyond George to let it slide? Same answer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. It is not trivial at all why Yandel calls the world he lives in a “world of ice and fire” and not, like, a “world of land and sea”. And why is it the Frozen Shore and Asshai? Asshai is, of course, the epitome of the distant east and the Frozen Shore is — very roughly — the other end of the world on an axis from east-southeast to west-northwest. However, how are Asshai and the Frozen Shore defining points of the geography of Martin’s world? And do they have anything to do with Ice and Fire? Asshai is not even the end of the world in any meaningful way, since it is commonly assumed that there are lands beyond. After all, the Doom has — supposedly? — nothing to do with Asshai and the Long Night has nothing to do with the Frozen Shore — no more than the rest of Westeros and other parts of the world, anyway. Is this more of a triangle? Are the Doom and the Long Night the defining events in its history? Let’s postpone this question for now.
The Pact of Ice and Fire
Then there is the Pact of Ice and Fire. Yandel writes about it:
“We have earlier discussed House Stark’s role in the Dance of the Dragons. Let it be added that Lord Cregan Stark reaped many rewards for his loyal support of King Aegon III … even if it was not a royal princess marrying into his family, as had been agreed in the Pact of Ice and Fire made when the doomed prince Jacaerys Velaryon had flown to Winterfell upon his dragon.”[viii]
The Pact of Ice and Fire is a pact of alliance binding House Stark to the cause of the blacks. While at face value referring to an alliance between House Stark ruling the icy lands if the North and House Targaryen’s dragonfire, the term “Pact of Ice and Fire” obviously sounds a lot like the Pact and the Song of Ice and Fire. Sounds weird? Maybe. But I think that’s more than just a coincidence. Our crown witness goes by the name of Mushroom. Mushroom has a slightly different idea of the Pact of Ice and Fire. Yandel writes about him:
“We can dismiss Mushroom’s claim in his Testimony that the dragon Vermax left a clutch of eggs somewhere in the depths of Winterfell’s crypts, where the waters of the hot springs run close to the walls, while his rider treated with Cregan Stark at the start of the Dance of the Dragons. As Archmaester Gyldayn notes in his fragmentary history, there is no record that Vermax ever laid so much as a single egg, suggesting the dragon was male. The belief that dragons could change sex at need is erroneous, according to Maester Anson’s Truth, rooted in a misunderstanding of the esoteric metaphor that Barth preferred when discussing the higher mysteries.”[ix]
Of course, we can dismiss the claim of a fool “thought to be a lackwit”,[x] right? Mushroom claims quite a lot of things in his Testimony, most of which we can’t confirm or refute. However, what he has to say about Prince Jacaerys offering to ennoble any dragonriders to emerge[xi] seems true enough from what we know from The Princes and the Queen.[xii] Generally, reading The World of Ice and Fire we get the impression that Mushroom might be quite reliable and that Yandel simply decides not to accept his more scandalous claims.
Where are the dragons?!
So, if we decide to believe Mushroom’s claim, what do we make of it? If Vermax indeed laid eggs that are kept somewhere below Winterfell, what was the purpose? Shortly after the Dance the Dragons were gone. Eggs in Winterfell — had they ever been hatched — could have meant the key to ruling the whole of Westeros, but nothing of that kind seems to have happened. So, why were the eggs put there, if not to hatch them and subsequently use the resulting dragons as instruments of power for House Stark, House Targaryen or both? There are a lot of possible reasons for that. Probably they just wouldn’t hatch. That seems to be the idea that comes up most naturally. After all, we don’t really know what it takes to hatch a dragon, although there are a lot of good ideas out there. However, why not go with an even simpler idea? What if those eggs were not meant to be hatched to produce new dragons for power’s sake?
What else could they have been meant for? There is one thought that inevitably comes to mind: fighting a greater evil that might or might not be the Others. Why would we think so?
1) The big topic of the whole series — even more so than the race for the Iron Throne — seems to be the mysterious threat of the Others and what to do about that threat. It is even something like a cliché of the series that characters as well as readers tend to see the smaller picture of the race for the Iron Throne instead of the bigger picture of what might turn out to be the War for the Dawn. It would perfectly fit this pattern for the Pact of Ice and Fire to secretly be about the latter instead of the former.
2) The War for the Dawn — if that’s basically what we are in for — is a war of Ice and Fire in at least two senses. Melisandre considers it a war of light (and fire and life) against darkness (and ice/cold and death). It would also be a war that is fought with the powers of fire as well as ice on the side of humanity, their most important weapons being dragonfire, wildfire, Valyrian Steel (Dragonsteel?), dragonglass (frozen fire!) and the Wall.
3) If there were people to worry about a threat from beyond the Wall, it would naturally have to be House Targaryen as kings of all Westeros and House Stark as Wardens of the North.
So, if we entertain the idea for now that parts of House Targaryen and parts of House Stark stowed away a number of dragon eggs and probably even the resulting dragons in Winterfell during the Dance of the Dragons, the next question has to be: Why Winterfell? Why would they put them there? Why not simply keep the eggs somewhere else? Why not simply keep them in Targaryen territory? What did the signatories gain from the Pact of Ice and Fire?
Winterfell, like the Wall, is said to have been built after the Long Night and if we take the name “Winterfell” into account, it seems even clearer that Winterfell is first and foremost not a castle to rule the North, but a stronghold against the Others. Is it the place where “winter fell”, as some claim? Is it the place where winter is worst?[xiii] The details are not so very important here, but we get the impression that Winterfell is one of those places, like Storm’s End, that have to do with the gods and the land and more.
In The World of Ice and Fire, it says:
“Indeed, the presence of the hot springs — which pepper the land around Winterfell — may be the chief reason why the First Men initially settled there. One can easily imagine the value that a ready source of water — and hot water, at that — would have had in the depths of a Northern winter. In recent centuries, the Starks have raised structures that have made direct use of these springs for the purpose of heating their dwellings.”[xiv]
Many people think that these hot springs have got something to do with dragons. Some say a dragon under Winterfell is causing them, as we will see. However, I think that there are more reasonable ideas about this, as the following passage also shows:
“Hot springs such as the one beneath Winterfell have been shown to be heated by the furnaces of the world — the same fires that made the Fourteen Flames or the smoking mountain of Dragonstone. Yet the smallfolk of Winterfell and the winter town have been known to claim that the springs are heated by the breath of a dragon that sleeps beneath the castle. This is even more foolish than Mushroom’s claims and need not be given any consideration.”[xv]
Mushroom again. The “furnaces of the world” seem way more plausible. It is very telling that the comparison used here is Valyria and its Fourteen Flames. Valyria is the home of the dragons, it seems. Winterfell could be the next best thing, a poor man’s (un-doom-ridden) Valyria. Volcanic activity seems to be important for dragons. Maybe you can hatch dragons with its help? I am really just guessing about the nature of the connection here, but its reality is not in doubt, I think.
Well, we know that the blacks brought House Stark to their side, which played a rather significant role in the war, but what did Cregan Stark get for his military effort? We don’t hear about a Stark riding a dragon or anything like that. And where is the actual link between stuffing away the dragon eggs and the Dance? The World of Ice and Fire is rather unclear about it:
“We have earlier discussed House Stark’s role in the Dance of the Dragons. Let it be added that Lord Cregan Stark reaped many rewards for his loyal support of King Aegon III … even if it was not a royal princess marrying into his family, as had been agreed in the Pact of Ice and Fire made when the doomed prince Jacaerys Velaryon had flown to Winterfell upon his dragon.”[xvi]
So, we know what Cregan Stark also did not get: blood ties to House Targaryen. He also left many of his northerners in the south and was Hand of the King for six days, which became to be known as the Hour of the Wolf. Let’s postpone the details for the moment once more.
Let’s approach the issue from the opposite direction, instead. There is one thing that links House Targaryen to House Stark like no other and that ‘thing’ is Blackwood girls. The man who supposedly hid the dragon eggs or at least allowed them to be hidden, Cregan Stark, and the man who tried to bring dragons back to Westeros, Aegon V, called the Unlikely, both married Blackwoods. While Aegon must have married Betha Blackwood relatively shortly[xvii] after going to Winterfell to meet the infamous “She-Wolves of Winterfell”,[xviii]Cregan marries Aly Blackwood after the Hour of the Wolf, so both marriages are born out of Targaryen-Stark-encounters. A mere coincidence?
Let’s jump to another Targaryen-Stark-encounter — after a fashion — in which another pair of Blackwood “Teats”[xix] plays a major role. It’s the only one we have gotten to directly observe so far: Brynden Rivers and Bran Stark. The catalyst of this encounter — by being the mother of the former — is Melissa “Missy” Blackwood, the one mistress of Aegon IV Targaryen that everybody seems to have liked, even the king himself after having lost sexual interest in the girl.[xx] She did not only give birth to the man who would become known as Bloodraven, but also put him in a position to rise high at court. Is it a stretch to assume that her Blackwood heritage led Bloodraven to embrace the Old Gods? We have no idea how Bloodraven became that half-man-half-tree kind of existence that the reader encounters in Dance, but I, for one, think that he did not end up north of the Wall by chance. Was it all a plan to search for something up there, when he killed Aenys Blackfyre? I think it was. Are we really convinced that Bloodraven would not have found a way to kill Aenys without the blood being on his own hands? Surely he would have. From here it comes pretty naturally to think that somebody must have gotten him interested in the Old Gods, the Wall and the North, most likely his Blackwood kin.
So, let’s talk about the Blackwoods. What is the role House Blackwood has been playing in all this? To get one thing out of the way right away: House Blackwood is special. Let’s sum up why:
1) House Blackwood is the last Stark ally to give up the fight during the War of the Five Kings.
2) House Blackwood is the last house in the Riverlands to stick with the Old Gods.
3) House Blackwood owns probably the most impressive weirwood in Westeros — not counting the Isle of Faces that we did not get to see, yet.
4) House Blackwood is, as far as we know, the only house to hold separate kingships in the North and the South at different stages of their history.
5) House Blackwood never took the side of the greens or House Blackfyre or actively fought against Houses Stark or Targaryen at least until Robert’s Rebellion, in which the two houses were at war with each other.
So, House Blackwood is a house with an especially proud heritage that has special ties to Houses Stark and Targaryen, the North and the South. It’s the link between ice and fire. It might even be the case that House Blackwood was not so much driven from the North by the Kings of Winter, but rather sent south for a different purpose, acting as an envoy of House Stark. This, however, is shrouded in legend and we will most likely never know.
Let’s talk about Aegon V again. We have already established his connection to House Blackwood through his wife, Black Betha. He is, of course, also connected to Bloodraven. His very first action as a king after ascending to the throne was to arrest Bloodraven and subsequently send him to the Wall, accompanied by his own brother Aemon, Maester Aemon. Maybe Aegon sent Bloodraven to the Wall knowing that the former Hand had planned for it to happen or maybe not, but there certainly was a plan going on involving Aemon as well as members of House Blackwood.
Why did Aemon become a maester at the Wall, of all places? That question is the key to understanding what was going on. Do we believe that he went there for his own safety and that of his brother’s rule? The most serious threats to his reign seem to have been the Blackfyre pretenders. How would a Blackfyre pretender use Aemon against his brother if not by abducting him? And if it is about abduction, in how far would he be safer from that at the Wall? It does not really seem convincing.
Now imagine this: The king’s brother, the former Hand of the King (accompanied by a significant number of his personal guard!), and the future Lord Commander of the King’s Guard travel north with a number of other future men of the Night’s Watch (only Duncan the Tall, the future Lord Commander, would return). Do we really buy the version of events in which this only serves the purpose of getting rid of one of those guys and sending the other one to safety? To me, it rather sounds like tremendously boosting the power of the Night’s Watch while also preparing to get it under Targaryen control — which would indeed happen subsequently. Who is running the place, when we first get a glimpse of the Night’s Watch? A staunch Stark loyalist, who also joined the Watch under mysterious circumstances and will hand his family heirloom to a Stark bastard that might actually be a Stark-Targaryen-mix (Jeor Mormont), a staunch Targaryen loyalist (Alliser Thorne) and, well, the very same Maester Aemon.
Having sent who are probably his two most useful family members to the end of the world, Aegon would go on to rule the land for about 26 years, before dying in the Tragedy at Summer Hall, along with many members of the royal family. We are told, of course, that Aegon wanted dragons to enforce his domestic reform agenda and died in the attempt of hatching some. The reasoning behind this seems sound enough: Dragons are unrivaled instruments of power. A Targaryen king with dragons can command a level of respect and subordination that a dragonless one simply cannot. But what if there is a larger issue and this story is, while not actually wrong, rather incomplete?
The War for the Dawn
What if, in other words, Aegon wants to reform the realm to better prepare it for an upcoming war against the Others or whatever might be coming down from beyond the Wall? In that scenario, it suddenly makes sense to send off that very useful puppet master of domestic politics that is Brynden Rivers and Aegon’s learned and skilled maester-brother Aemon. Both are men whose loyalty Aegon could be sure of[xxi] and whose usefulness is not in doubt. Why send them away in troubled times if not for a real purpose up North?
So, do Aegon’s reform plans fit the bigger picture of a War for the Dawn or a similar realm-threatening conflict? Actually, they do. Improving the lot of the smallfolk would be a key issue in this, because a war against the Others would most certainly mean starving smallfolk. Starving smallfolk entails a realm thrown into chaos with armies starving, too, sooner or later and generals no longer being able to lead successful military campaigns. Therefore improving the smallfolk’s lot is basically a program of spending the realm’s wealth on a better rural infrastructure rather than on banquets and luxury items. The more the smallfolk have to spare, the more ready they will be for a crisis of such enormous proportions. His other goal seems to have been to increase the Iron Throne’s power (not least to better put through his other reform ideas). This, of course, is another very important factor toward an effective defense against the Others, as can be seen in post-War-of-the-Five-Kings Westeros, where there is no strong central power, no unity.
From Aegon III to Aegon V
So, how do we make the connection between the two Aegons, III and V? The Dragonbane, ascending to the throne at the end of the ance, died 43 years before the Unlikely was born. Notice, by the way, how the name “Dragonbane” is in sharp contrast to our wannabe dragon hatcher. The issue here is that Cregan’s alliance with the Iron Throne and House Targaryen might have endured, but the deeper common cause was lost due to the Dragonbane’s fear and even hate of dragons that resulted from his terrible first — and last — flight and the horrible death of his mother, who was devoured by her half-brother’s dragon.[xxii]
Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture again. Cregan Stark and Rhaenyra decided to forge an alliance. They wanted to get dragon eggs to a safe place far from King’s Landing. They must have feared for the existence of dragons in Westeros — and rightly so, if we consider what happened under the Dragonbane’s rule. I go with the theory of an anti-magic coalition[xxiii] here. There were forces among the greens that wanted to get rid of the dragons. Let’s leave it at that, because it should suffice for our purposes here. The blacks — or at least their leaders — knew that the dragons as a race were in danger and stashed away a batch of dragon eggs (or even living dragons) at Winterfell. The blacks finally won the war, but ended up with a king who hated dragons on the throne. Therefore, Cregan Stark ended up with no real ally in the capital. He did what he could during the hour of the wolf and, after that, the Pact of Ice and Fire as we defined it was basically off.
There is one more aspect to this. If we believe Preston Jacobs,[xxiv] for example, with the death of Rhaenyra there also was no longer a dragon hatcher at hand. This might or might not be true. If true, it might have been true for the reasons Preston is giving or not, but nobody seems to be hatching dragons anymore at that point. That seems true enough, anyway. So, there would have been less of an incentive to revive the Pact of Ice and Fire from Cregan’s side. We can assume that the Pact was more or less forgotten in the following decades, at least in King’s Landing, until a young prince happened to travel to Winterfell to find something there that made him want to bring dragons back to this world. That prince, of course, is Aegon V.
So, what might have happened at Summerhall? My best guess is that Aegon knew that he and his family lacked the possibility to hatch dragons, but he also knew that there would be a need for dragons in the future — also keeping the slow growth rate of these animals in mind[xxv] — and decided to try and cheat nature to hatch dragon eggs (probably from Winterfell) without a biological dragon hatcher,[xxvi] but with the help of the Alchemists’ Guild.
And then, during the ensuing tragedy, Rhaegar was born, who is known to have kept in contact with Aemon and, if what we have already said in this essay is accurate, also with Bloodraven.[xxvii] The same Rhaegar who fathered Jon Snow with Lyanna Stark. It would, of course, be his sister who would finally bring dragons back.
Back to the beginning
There are more connections that present themselves if one is prepared to look closely, but that we have not made, yet. Let’s go all the way back to the beginning, back to Jojen and Meera Reed. Is it a coincidence that the Reed kids swear by ice and fire? Or is House Reed one more piece to the puzzle we are trying to solve here? House Reed is connected to Bran (and Bloodraven) via Jojen and Meera and to Eddard Stark via Howland Reed, who is known to be the only co-survivor of the Tower of Joy. On the other hand, Jojen and Meera don’t seem to have known about Bloodraven as such. There is obviously no grand scheme that the Reeds know about, no big network. Can we explain, why the the Reeds swear by ice and fire, but don’t seem to be aware of a coalition of Houses Targaryen, Stark, Blackwood and probably their own House Reed at some point?
First, I think, that the Pact of Ice and Fire was probably not so revolutionary a development. It is reasonable to assume that there have always been at least somepeople around having an eye on the balance of the powers of ice and fire and all those things, still knowing about the Others and the Children and their continued existence. If there is one candidate to have kept that tradition, it is House Reed, probably closely followed by the Green Men and House Blackwood.
The Green Men and the Warrior
The Green Men. Let’s not forget about them. Howland Reed seems to have visited the Green Men around the tourney of Harrenhal according to his children, even If they don’t explicitly say that the crannogman in their story is their own father.[xxviii] There is one more person we know who has also visited the Green Men. This man is Addam Velaryon of the blacks during the Dance of the Dragons.[xxix] It was about a year after his half-brother had brokered the Pact of Ice and Fire in Winterfell.[xxx] Can we really deny that it seems like there is a connection here?
Let’s add the demise of another young Velaryon brother to the mix:
“Young Joffrey Velaryon, the Prince of Dragonstone, plummeted to his death when trying to ride his mother’s dragon, Syrax, to the Dragonpit in order to save his own dragon, Tyraxes. Neither dragon survived. Wild tales and rumors followed about the deaths of the dragons: that some were hewn down by men, others by the Shepherd, others by the Warrior himself. Whatever the truth, five dragons died that bloody night as the mobs broke into the huge dome and found the dragons chained, and people perished in droves. Half the dragons that began the Dance were already dead, and the war was not yet over. Rhaenyra fled the city shortly after.”[xxxi]
There seem to have been people slaughtering dragons in the name of the Faith, while others — members of the blacks — seem to have tried to save those dragons. In the middle of this were the Old Gods, or rather their priests, if we can call them that. The Dance of the Dragons might, on some level, even have been a religious war between the Seven and the Old Gods.
Taking a step back again, we must assume that there either has always been or has been for a long time contact between the Green Men and the Children north of the Wall. This coalition of the Old Gods seems to have interacted with Westerosi politics at different moments of its history. What we lack is a clear concept of the scale and continuity of this, while it is quite clear that Houses Targaryen, Stark, Blackwood, Reed and Velaryon have been involved. It is also pretty clear that all of this significantly influences the main story ofA Song of Ice and Fire and will continue to do so in the remaining books.
Jon, Bran, Dany (and Aegon?)
Jon Snow, Bran Stark und Daenerys Targaryen are central here, because all three of them are intimately related to the core of what we have said in this essay. Are they the Prince That Was Promised, the Last Hero and Azor Ahai reborn? Hell, if I know. But they are central to the Song of Ice and Fire, which is the story on the conflicting forces of Ice and Fire finally getting balanced again. While Jon carries on his father’s — Rhaegar’s, of course — legacy, Daenerys carries on Aegon V’s legacy, while Bran carries on Bloodraven’s. What we are reading is the story of the Pact of Ice and Fire and of the Dance of the Dragons, which are both still continuing, a story which actually started with the submission of Oldtown during the War of Conquest, when House Hightower and the Faith decided, not to oppose Aegon I. We read about it in The World of Ice and Fire:
“And on the seventh day, the Crone had lifted her golden lamp to show him the path ahead. If Oldtown took up arms against Aegon the Dragon, His High Holiness saw, the city would surely burn, and the Hightower and the Citadel and the Starry Sept would be cast down and destroyed.”[xxxii]
This is the three-century-long story of the Faith and its allies fighting the Iron Throne without actually openly fighting it. Since the Faith has recently taken up arms again, things could become interesting with one or two of Aegon’s successors incoming.
Aegon VI is the only dark horse in all this. What is his role in this? After all, we have argued here that ice and fire and the Pact of Ice and Fire are overridingly important to the story as a whole. Aegon’s is the song of Ice and Fire, after all. But what does that mean? Is he ice? Is he fire? Is he both? Is he neither? We would probably be tempted to consider Dany the paragon of fire and Bran the paragon of ice, while Jon might be in the middle. But where does Aegon fit in this?
I can see two answers to this. The first one is: nowhere. I am convinced that Aegon is not really Aegon VI Targaryen, not Rhaegar’s son, but rather not only the descendant of Bittersteel and Daemon Blackfyre, but also the one person to carry on Bittersteel’s legacy. I elaborate on this idea in an upcoming article. If that’s actually the case, the Song of Ice and Fire is not Aegon’s, but Jon’s. Jon is Rhaegar’s second son and Rhaegar probably knew simply that his son would be very important, but not that it would not be Aegon and that he would have another.
The other possible answer I see, however, is that the song of Ice and Fire could still be Aegon’s. The prophecy that Rhaegar received might have been about the person that everybody thinks is Aegon VI, Rhaegar’s son. Aegon might then be another Dragonbane, come to stomp out the new fire that Dany’s dragons have brought to Planetos. If that’s accurate, the song of Ice and Fire will turn out to be a swan song and Aegon will be the one to bring about the end of dragons and magic, once and for all this time.
Epilogue — The even bigger picture?
George R. R. Martin has said that the extended seasons on Planetos are not of a natural origin and that they will eventually regain their natural state, which we can assume is similar to the situation on Earth. These strange and at times cruel seasons are magical and seem to be related to other magical things, especially the Others. “This world of ice and fire”[xxxiii] is a world whose seasons have been messed with by the magical powers of ice and fire. That’s about what we know. What we don’t know is, how this situation is going to be resolved. That is because we don’t know if Ice and Fire are merely out of balance like a broken spinning top or if ice magic and fire magic will simply have to go for good. Can there be a balance that leaves this magic intact?
The Pact of Ice and Fire seems to be related to the Pact in this respect. The Pact was about a balance between the Children and the First Men and there is a good chance that the Others were somehow involved. The Pact itself might have been about the balance of Ice and Fire in a way. We would have to answer, if the Others started out as a tool of the Children to try to actually answer that question, however.[xxxiv]
We said above that it seems tempting to call Bran a paragon of ice. A bit of caution is due here. Are the children and Bloodraven really part of the ice faction? Are they using powers of ice? They are in the far north in an extremely icy environment, that’s true, but there seems to be nothing distinctly icy about what they do. Telepathy has nothing to do with ice, the same is true for trees. Furthermore, they are not exactly good friends with the Others.
I only want to outline some possibilities here: The Children could indeed be completely unrelated to ice. If so, Bran might not be related to ice in this sense, either. The Others would then be the only force of ice we know. The Children would then be part of a third force, probably trying to keep the other two more or less balanced. Or maybe not. Another possibility would be that the Children are indeed related to the ice-part of the equation. Then we would have to explain why they are fighting the Others. Well, maybe they aren’t. We don’t really know if the Children around Bloodraven are the only Children there are. Leaf and the Others might have gone rogue as much as Bloodraven has. There could, after all, be Children backing the Others, like there were men backing the Others, like Craster.
[i] There Is a tenth occurrence that doesn’t really count, because there it says “from ice to fire” referring to a north-to-south orientation. A Game of Thrones, Daenerys X.
[ii] A Clash of Kings, Bran III; A Storm of Swords, Bran I.
[iii] A Storm of Sword, Bran II.
[iv] A Clash of Kings, Daenerys IV.
[v] A Clash of Kings, Daenerys V.
[vi] A Storm of Swords, Davos III.
[vii] The World of Ice and Fire, The Glorious Reign.
[viii] The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
[ix] The World of Ice and Fire, The North: Winterfell.
[x] The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
[xi] The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
[xii] The Princess and the Queen, S. 728.
[xiv] The World of Ice and Fire, The North: Winterfell.
[xv] The World of Ice and Fire, The North: Winterfell.
[xvi] The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
[xvii] Aegon marries Betha in 220AC and is born in 200AC, so he is 19 or 20 at the time.The Mystery Knight takes place in 212AC, The Sworn Sword in 210AC or 211AC and The Hedge Knight in 209AC. There are eight years between The Mystery Knight and the marriage. It makes perfect sense to assume that The She-Wolves of Winterfell is supposed to take place in about 214, 215, 216 or something like that. He might very well have met her somewhere along the way.
[xix] A Dance with Dragons, Jamie I.
[xx] A Dance with Dragons, Jamie I; The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
[xxi] There might be some readers doubting Bloodraven’s loyalty. I find that absurd, since Bloodraven is basically making sure Aegon becomes king in the first place and seems to see something in him. Some even argue that he might have killed a lot of their kin, which I do not agree with, however. Preston Jacobs is among those.Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTh2ZwmdVeI.
[xxii] The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
[xxv] Dany’s dragons are growing way too fast for reason we don’t know. Aegon could not have expected his to grow as fast, if he’d ever gotten some.
[xxvi] Again following Preston Jacobs here for the moment, which is not necessary actually, but it’s a good theory, I think. The link is in endnote xxiv. Even if we don’t agree, it’s plain that Aegon lacks the tools to hatch a dragon whatever these might be and the Alchemist’s guild is promising him dubious ones.
[xxvii] A Feast for Crows, Samwell IV.
[xxviii] A Storm of Swords, Bran II.
[xxix] The Princess and the Queen, S. 770.
[xxx] The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
[xxxi] The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
[xxxii] The World of Ice and Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest
[xxxiii] The World of Ice and Fire, The Glorious Reign.