Now that Game of Thrones has finally revealed Jon Snow’s real name (Aegon Targaryen) fans have started going back to George R. R. Martin’s novels to search for clues that might have foreshadowed the big reveal.
The show itself certainly wasn’t subtle about the potential connection — Jon’s ancestor, Aegon the Conqueror, was frequently namedropped in Season 7, so much so that we put together a handy explainer about the legendary king’s significance.
But fans have now dug up two pivotal scenes from the books that seem to tease Jon’s true name, hinting that Martin has been hiding the secret in plain sight for years.
The first is a conversation that Jon recalls having with Maester Aemon, whose older brother was Aegon V Targaryen, aka “Egg,” a former squire-turned-king who was the father of Jaehaerys II Targaryen (another name that gained popularity among fans as Jon’s true title), grandfather of the Mad King Aerys, and great-grandfather of Rhaegar, Daenerys and Viserys.
Subtle, yes, but no more cryptic than some of the prophecies that fans have been analyzing for years.
Speaking of which — the next clue concerns a vision that Daenerys had in the House of the Undying, featuring her brother Rhaegar and an unidentified woman and child.
This theory suggests, Star Wars style, that Dany and Jon together will bring balance to the world through their eventual child. Plus, it would admittedly make a lot more sense for Jon to be associated with “the song of ice and fire” than Rhaegar’s first son Aegon, who was the product of a Targaryen and a Martell (whose house sigil is a sun pierced by a spear).
But what about “fAegon”?
It’s worth noting that Martin’s books haven’t yet mentioned Jon’s real name or his true parentage — since the HBO adaptation has been ahead of its source material for two seasons now — and there are some fans who believe that Jon might even have a different name in the novels once GRRM gets there — partially because there’s already a character strutting around claiming to be Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar’s first son from his marriage with Elia Martell.
In the books, this “Aegon” (who some fans refer to as fAegon, on account of him probably being a fake) publicly goes by the name Young Griff, and tells Tyrion that he was saved from being killed by The Mountain along with his mother and sister by the quick wits of Varys, who switched him with another baby and snuck him out of the city before The Mountain came to murder Rhaegar’s family during the Sack of King’s Landing.
Varys and Illyrio Mopatis (the dude who was hosting Daenerys and Viserys in Pentos back in the first episode of the show) then hid the child away until he could be adopted by Jon Connington, an old friend of Rhaegar’s, and raised in secret. While “Young Griff” dyes his hair blue to keep his supposedly signature Targaryen hair hidden, Tyrion does observe that the young man’s eyes are purple, which is a Targaryen trait in the books.
Young Griff informs Tyrion that he intends to marry his aunt, Daenerys, and consolidate their forces to retake Westeros, which would seem to align with the trajectory that the show is setting up for Jon Snow, leading some fans to believe that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss might have amalgamated fAegon’s story with Jon’s to save time and streamline the narrative in their adaptation.
While Martin has shown great willingness to give his characters similar names (there are at least eleven Aegons of note mentioned in A Song of Ice and Fire), the show has shied away from anything that would potentially confuse viewers, so it would make sense for the writers to excise the Young Griff storyline from the show and keep the focus on Jon and Daenerys’ relationship.
In Martin’s novels, fAegon hits pause on his plan to align with Dany and instead teams up with the Golden Company — yes, the same band of sellswords that Cersei plans to employ to defeat Dany in Season 8 — and invades Westeros to reclaim the Iron Throne, all of which happens while the Mother of Dragons is still cooling her heels in Meereen.
As a legitimate son of Rhaegar’s — just like Jon Snow apparently is — fAegon would have a stronger claim on the Iron Throne than his aunt, so he feels like he doesn’t need her help conquering the Seven Kingdoms.
Other fans believe that the omission of Young Griff from the show is a signal that fAegon is indeed an imposter, and Martin is simply using him to pad out the novels with extra intrigue.
Another popular theory suggests that fAegon isn’t actually a Targaryen but a Blackfyre, a branch of the Targaryen family tree that contested the Targaryens’ claim to the Iron Throne, resulting in a civil war between the houses.
The line was supposedly wiped out when Ser Barristan Selmy killed Maelys Blackfyre, who was the leader of the Golden Company at the time. If Young Griff was indeed a secret Blackfyre, it would explain why the Golden Company chose to back him despite his appearances as a Targaryen, since the sellswords have historically opposed the Targaryens, dating back to the founding of the company by Aegor Rivers, a Targaryen bastard who teamed up with another illegitimate Targaryen, Daemon I Blackfyre, to try and overthrow King Daeron II Targaryen.
Which is all to say, fAegon probably isn’t important to Martin’s endgame, and while fans are annoyed by the possibility of the books introducing two dueling Aegon Targaryens this late in the game, there’s no reason to assume that Martin would want the show to reveal a different name for Jon than the one he’s been planning for decades — unless he simply doesn’t want to be scooped by his own adaptation.
Considering we’re still waiting for Martin’s next novel, The Winds of Winter, and could be in for an equally long wait for Season 8 of Game of Thrones, it might be a while before we know the whole truth about Jon’s destiny. We’ll just be over here theorizing madly ’til then.