"Game of Thrones" has a long back history of events before the current start of the show. These pre-events that were mentioned only briefly, will help viewers ("non-bookies") understand more about the characters and the story. More of "House Stark", and Jon Snow will be explained.
One of the most notable characters in the Starks is Lyanna Stark. She was Ned Stark's sister, and according to the George R. R. Martin's book of "A song of Ice and Fire", she was a beautiful, strong, skilled in the sword, and "wolf-blooded" (hot-tempered) woman. She mostly resembles Arya Stark in many ways. Lyanna, was already betrothed to former "King Robert Baratheon", as arranged by "Rickard Stark", head of the Starks at that time. Robert, only seeing Lyanna for a few times, fell in love and was very into the marriage.
Some time after Robert and Lyanna's engagement, a jousting tournament was held in Harrenhall. This is where Lyanna first met Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar won the whole tournament, and as tradition dictates to do, was to crown a woman with "the Queen of Love and Beauty". This happening in history is what started the whole "War of the Usurper". Rhaegar who's already married to "Elia" of Dorne (recently mentioned in GOT season 4, episode 2), instead passed by his wife in the crowd and gave the crown to Lyanna. Everyone was surprised, turning celebration in to awkward silence.
Rhaegar and Lyanna, amidst the war and commotion happening in Westeros, had fled to the "Tower of Joy" in Dorne. Ned Stark has already prepared and gathered the army of Winterfell to join in the rebellious war against the mad king, Aerys Targaryen. Ned, seeing that his numbers won't be enoug, has decided to go to Riverrun and marry Catelyn Tully so he could have more soldiers in his disposal. Jon Arryn, being with Ned, also married Catelyn's sister Lysa Tully for the same reason.
As the war went on, Rhaegar has finally come out of his hiding to face Robert in the decisive "Battle of the Trident". Robert eventually ends up winning the bout by smashing his huge war hammer to the chest of Rhaegar, killing him in their glorious battle. Robert sustaining great injuries had Ned lead the Baratheon troops to push the royal army back to King's Landing. To Ned's surprise upon arriving at the royal palace, Tywinn Lannister's army has already sacked the city, and Jaime killed the Mad King Aerys.
Ned being a very honorable man wasn't very happy of the events that transpired in King's Landing. He hated how Tywinn only showed up when the war was almost already won the time Robert has killed Rhaegar, how Jaime back-stabbed the king ( therefore being given the monicker "Kingslayer"), and how Tywinn has ordered "The Mountain" to murder Elia Martell of Dorne (reason why Oberyn Martell hint some deep-rooted grudge for the Lannisters, seen in GOT 4x2).
Ned afterwards went to the South to help with Stannis Baratheon's siege for a brief time, and finally strode to find his sister Lyanna in Dorne. Upon arriving at the "Tower of Joy" in Dorne where Lyanna was being held, Ned was met with a little resistance which he won afterwards. Running up to his sister's aid, Ned finds Lyanna already in the state of dying. As the book describes it, she was drenching in a pool of blood. Lyanna's last words to Ned, holding her in his arms, were "promise me Ned", and then she died. Avid readers say the book may have intently not given this instance solid detail, because this could be the time when (possible theoretical spoiler) Jon Snow was born.
Possible Spoilers, Theories Ahead
During the war, Ned was said to have an affair, and Jon Snow was the bastard son. Considering Ned's nature and honorable character in the books, it is very unbecoming of him to break his vows to Catelyn. Most readers and critics say that in Lyanna final moments, "promise me Ned" could be mean for Ned to take care of her newborn son and keep his identity.
Ned took the responsibility for the child and made a story that Jon Snow was a bastard son bore to him during the war. Readers' speculations add that the whole book series of "the Song of Ice and Fire" could be about Jon Snow all together. His theoretical parents Lyanna, coming from the Stark's "cold" roots, and Rhaegar, from the Targaryen's "fire" symbolism, very well explains this notion.
After the war's won, Ned's back in Winterfell to become warden of the North. Also, a "Greyjoy" rebellion took place and Ned triumphed. This is where he found Theon and made him his squire. Some number of years later, Jon Arryn was murdered in King's Landing. That's the time when King Robert visited the Starks in Winterfell and asked Ned to be the King's hand. Thus Game of Thrones season 1 started, and all the current Westeros events connect to the past.
CREDIT: GameofThrones/ YouTube
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