As of the seventh season of the HBO show Game of Thrones, we're down to a final few contenders for that titular metal chair. Cersei is currently sitting on the Iron Throne, with Daenerys gunning for her spot, and Jon Snow moping around in the background. We might get a few wildcards thrown in there at the last minute (Queen Sansa, anyone?), but for the most part, it's down to these three for ultimate ruler of the frigid, zombie-infested land of Westeros.
But, as the season finale confirmed, Jon might actually have the best legal claim to the throne: He's not a bastard. after all. He's secretly the legitmate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and his true name is Aegon Targaryen.
This is the precise moment when all the fans of the books hurled their televisions out the window, and not just because Jon got it on with his auntie Daenerys.
Aegon, you see, was the name of first Targaryen in Westeros, so it's a common Targaryen name. So common, in fact, that Rhaegar Targaryen named his first son Aegon. Aegon Targaryen is the name of Jon's biological brother. Who names two of their freaking sons Aegon? Even for Westeros, that's a lot.
Even more confusingly, Aegon Targaryen is an actual, active character in the books. Or at least... he probably is?
Allow me to explain.
Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was Dany's much older brother. He was married to the Dornish Princess Elia Martell. They had two kids, Rhaenys and Aegon, and Rhaegar was super convinced that li'l Aegon was going to be the Prince Who Was Promised, a super special prophecy baby who was going to save everybody from the snow zombies.
But then, Rhaegar got bored of his old wife and "kidnapped" Lyanna Stark, sister of Ned Stark. The show has revealed that they fell in love and married in secret (Targaryens are pretty chill about polygamy). Lyanna gave birth to their son, also Aegon Targaryen, later re-named Jon Snow to hide his identity. Some version of similar events will probably be confirmed in the books as well, because George R.R. Martin loves his complex and torrid backstories.
With me so far?
Elia Martell and her two kids were then murdered by The Mountain and his buds, with baby Aegon's head smashed to pieces. That should have been the last we heard from li'l Aegon.
But then, while Tyrion is on his river tour of Essos, he winds up traveling with this weird blue-haired hipster kid named "Young Griff."
After some sleuthing, Tyrion discovers that this kid is Aegon Targaryen, alive and well. He even has the silver hair (hidden under that rad shade of blue), and blue eyes that are almost purple. Apparently, baby Aegon was switched with a commoner's baby and smuggled out of the country by Varys the Spider, to be raised in safety by Varys' BFF Illyrio Mopatis and "Griff," a disgraced Westerosi knight.
The commoner's baby was the one murdered, and li'l Aegon was raised to one day take back the Iron Throne, with his aunt Daenerys as his queen.
In the books, Aegon and Griff have already hired The Golden Company, an army of fierce sell-swords, and taken over a castle in the Westerosi Stormlands. He's firmly in the running for the Iron Throne, as well as for the position of Special Prophecy Dragon Boy.
Throwing another Targaryen-shaped wrench into the works is obviously going to change the race for the throne in the books.
Except that there's a popular fan theory that he isn't a Targaryen at all. Illyrio Mopatis, if you recall, was that dude from way in the beginning who gave Dany her dragon eggs. It seems like he should have maybe... given one of those to his adopted Targaryen son? Maybe? He did have three.
Also, while Tyrion is hanging with Illyrio, he sees a portrait of Illyrio's dead wife. She had big blue eyes, and silver and gold hair, like the Targaryens. Some fans theorize that Illyrio's wife was related to the Blackfyres, a family of rebel Targaryen bastards who fled to Essos way back in the day. They're frequently described as being "extinct in the male line," but no one ever says anything about the Blackfyre ladies.
The Golden Company was also on the Blackfyre side, and now they're working for li'l Aegon.
So, could Aegon be the son of Illyrio and his Blackfyre wife? Is he a fake Targaryen? Is he going to marry Daenerys? Or Jon Snow? Or one of the dragons?
And more importantly... does it matter?
On the one hand, Aegon might radically shift the plot in the books because he's yet another contender for the throne with shiny white hair and his very own army. But, on the other hand, he radically shifts the plot of the books because the more Targaryens you have, the less powerful it is to be a Targaryen. Even if Aegon turns out to be a fake, Martin seems to repeatedly show us that a blood claim on the throne isn't actually all that important. There is no "rightful" ruler of Westeros, because monarchy is a made-up institution. The Targaryens don't actual have the divine right to rule — they just have huge egos.
Aegon's presence, real or fake, destabilizes the whole of Westeros. We don't have a clear-cut heir to the Iron Throne anymore. We're starting to question if anyone even should be on the Iron Throne.
After all, it's the show that's called Game of Thrones. The show is almost certainly going to boil down to an epic battle with one certain winner, and that's perfectly fine. The books, however, are A Song of Ice and Fire. There's no contest to win. There's no clear goal. There's only the constant back-and-forth between two opposing forces, and a bunch of stressed out people caught in the middle of it all, Targaryen and commoner alike.