In Westeros, prophecies are often made by descendants of the First Men who are gifted with Greensight, such as Bran Stark. Members of House Targaryen are famous for having prophetic dreams – indeed, the reason the Targaryens were the only Valyrian noble family that survived the Doom of Valyria (along with the world's only living dragons) is because the daughter of the family's then-patriarch had a dream that predicted the Doom before it occurred. Believing the dream to be true, the Targaryens relocated the island of Dragonstone just off the coast of Westeros, and only a dozen years later Valyria was destroyed in a single day by a massive volcanic explosion. Various religious figures and alleged practitioners of magic also claim to possess powers of prophecy, from Red Priests such as Melisandre to woods witches such as Maggy.
George R.R. Martin's views on prophecy in the storyline
Author George R.R. Martin has pointed out that not every prophecy is true, and that people tend to forget the many prophecies which turn out to be false. The few that coincidentally turn out to be true are held up as examples only in hindsight. Moreover, even when prophecies are important, they are often so vaguely worded that they can easily be interpreted incorrectly, to the point that they are not useful as a guide to the future. As Tyrion Lannister remarks in the novel A Dance With Dragons, "Prophecy is like a half-trained mule. It looks as though it might be useful, but the moment you trust in it, it kicks you in the head."
Martin himself has said:
- "Prophecy is a staple element in Fantasy, but it's tricky...You want to play with the notion of prophecies coming true but in an unexpected way. You want to be unpredictable about it. Shakespeare is the ultimate example of that — when the forest of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane Castle, MacBeth will fall. Everybody laughs — how can the forest come to the castle. [Malcolm] came camouflaged with branches and so on. Also, during the War of the Roses, one of the lords was prophesied that he would die at a certain castle. So he always took pains to avoid that castle. But then in the First Battle of St Albans, he was wounded and died outside a pub that had that castle on its pub sign. You have to look at prophecies carefully and look at the weasel-wording. Maggy the Frog tells Cersei a prophecy, but could Cersei make it happen through her efforts to avoid it?"
Prophecies, visions, and dreams in the TV series
The Stark direwolves
While returning from executing a deserter from the Night's Watch (who had in fact gone mad with fear at seeing the returned White Walkers), Eddard Stark and his three eldest sons find six direwolf pups in the snow, recently orphaned when their mother was killed fighting a stag.
The older men wordlessly take this as a terrible omen, as the sigil of House Stark is a direwolf, and the sigil of the royal House Baratheon is a stag. Doom does later come to Lord Eddard when King Robert Baratheon visits Winterfell and insists that Ned come back to King's Landing to serve as his Hand of the King – setting into motion a chain of events that leads to the assassination of Robert by his own wife and execution of Ned by Robert's alleged son Joffrey Baratheon (who is in truth a bastard born of incest).
When they found the dead mother direwolf and her six pups, however, Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow urged that they should save them and raise them. While not claiming any visions, Jon argued that this event must be a sign from the Old Gods: not only were direwolves rarely (if ever) found south of the Wall, but there were six direwolf pups, exactly matching the number of Eddard's children. Even the gender ratio of the pups aligned perfectly with Eddard's children (four male, two female). The sixth pup was also an albino, physically set apart from the others – matching the outsider status of Eddard's bastard son. Jon claimed this was surely a sign that the gods meant the Starks to have these direwolves, and Eddard agreed.
Not only did the direwolves themselves often play important roles in the Stark childrens' storylines, but their fates and those of their masters shared many links and similarities:
- A few months after discovering the pups, Bran's direwolf Summer saved him from an assassin sent by the Lannisters – and according to the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran is very important to the upcoming conflict against the White Walkers. This notion is further reinforced when Summer apparently sacrifices himself to save Bran from an onslaught of wights - Bran's role in the conflict is not yet completed.
- Sansa's direwolf Lady was killed at the insistence of Joffrey and Cersei, even though Arya's wolf Nymeria actually attacked Joffrey. As well as a symbolic loss of Sansa's innocence, this was also the first major warning to the Starks of the pettiness and danger of Cersei and her son, and something that Sansa would carry with her from then on.
- Arya sent her wolf Nymeria away to prevent her being executed for attacking Joffrey, and Nymeria has seemingly been wandering the Riverlands ever since. This mirrors Arya's journey after she escapes from King's Landing, continually moving around Westeros as well the time she spent training in the Free City of Braavos. When Arya later returns to Westeros and encounters Nymeria on her way home to Winterfell, the wolf doesn't recognize her, indicating that she has changed as much as her mistress.
- Robb's direwolf Grey Wind became his fierce war-dog taking part in several of his victories in the south and adding to his fame in the war – a shared fate that ended with the death and combined mutilation of them both.
- Jon's direwolf Ghost followed him to the Wall and has been his companion throughout his adventures.
- When House Umber betrayed the Starks and handed Rickon over to Ramsay Bolton, they presented his direwolf Shaggydog's severed head as proof of his identity, and soon afterwards Rickon himself was killed in a perverse game orchestrated by Ramsay.
Greensight: Bran Stark & his allies
The power of Greensight, sometimes just called "The Sight", is strong among those descended from the First Men, such as the Northmen. The most prominent character to have prophetic dreams and visions through Greensight is Bran Stark. After Bran was shoved out a tower window by Jaime Lannister and lost the use of his legs, his greensight powers awoke, and after emerging from a coma he began to have prophetic dreams.
The most prominent of Bran's visions was a recurring dream about a Three-Eyed Raven. He started having these dreams soon after he first woke from his coma, and he becomes convinced the raven is guiding him to Winterfell's crypts in order to somehow find his father there, even though Eddard is supposed to be alive and well at King's Landing. Anxious to find out, Bran asks Osha to take him down to the crypts. There, they are surprised by Rickon, who admits to having had the same dreams. Outside, Osha is still trying to tell Bran that it could be a coincidence when a saddened Maester Luwin appears, holding a letter announcing Eddard's death.
When word first came to Winterfell that Eddard Stark was being held prisoner in King's Landing, his eldest son Robb Stark called up the armies of the Northern bannermen to march south to war, along with their mother Catelyn Stark. When they left, Eddard's youngest son Rickon Stark also seemed to display the Sight: Bran tried to console his little brother that Robb and his army would come back from the south, but Rickon firmly insisted that they would never see them again. This later came to pass in the betrayal known as the Red Wedding, in both Robb and Catelyn were killed and the entire Northern army massacred.
As his brother Robb continues fighting in southern Westeros, Bran discusses his dreams with Maester Luwin who reassures him that magic has been absent from the world for centuries. Bran dreams of the Three-Eyed Raven again and seeks advice from Osha. She questions him further and he reveals another dream about the sea flooding Winterfell and drowning Winterfell and its people, including Ser Rodrik Cassel. She does not offer any explanation. Ser Rodrik brings news that Torrhen's Square has been besieged and Bran orders him to take the remaining garrison to relieve the siege. Bran is awoken by Theon Greyjoy, who tells him that he has seized Winterfell. Theon tells Bran that he should yield the castle to protect his people. Bran reluctantly complies with a public announcement. Rodrik is captured on his return from Torrhen's Square. He insults Theon, calling him a traitor to Eddard Stark, and spits at him. Theon is pressured to execute him by his men. Theon ignores Bran's pleas and carries out a botched execution. Osha tells Bran that his dream came true; the Iron Islands (represented as the sea in the dream) have come to Winterfell. Bran escapes with Osha's help. They are accompanied by his brother Rickon, their direwolves and Hodor.
On their way north to Castle Black, Bran sees a strange boy in one of his dreams. Soon afterwards, Bran and his party are met by Meera and Jojen Reed, loyal Stark vassals. Jojen is the same boy from his dream: he has also been having greensight visions, much longer than Bran, and understands them somewhat better. Jojen explains the Sight (and also being a Warg) to Bran, that they are visions of the past, present, and future. Jojen says that he had a dream that Eddard Stark was being killed King's Landing, and his father Howland Reed wept when he told him about it, because he realized that the vision must be true. Jojen says that he also had dreams about the Three-Eyed Raven, and believes that they were to guide him to Bran, so he could protect and guide the young Stark. Jojen convinces Bran that the visions are calling them to travel beyond the Wall to find the Three-Eyed Raven itself, and it has something to do with fighting the return of the White Walkers.
While Bran’s visions come mostly in the form of dreams, Jojen’s have become so advanced that he often experiences them by falling into seizure-like fits while he is awake. After one of them, Jojen then tells Bran that he saw Jon Snow surrounded by enemies – and indeed, Jon Snow had infiltrated a group of wildlings at the time, and was preparing to cross back over to the south side of the Wall.
After they cross north of the Wall, Bran attempts to warg with a weirwood tree, and due to their latent magical power he has a burst of visions, not all of which he understands. He sees a dragon flying over King’s Landing, his father Eddard imprisoned in the dungeons of the Red Keep before his execution, the Night's King of the White Walkers, and a large Weirwood tree atop a hill. When he recovers, Bran realizes that the Three-Eyed Raven is guiding them to meet him, as he lives in a cave beneath the weirwood grove's hill, somewhere further north.
While captured by the group of Night's Watch traitors at Craster's Keep, Jojen brushes off their threats to kill him, saying he has already seen his death in a vision and it isn't now. Jojen sees a vision of his hand on fire, implying that his death will involve being burned. As they press farther north, Bran and his companions finally reach the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, but are attacked by wights just outside of the entrance. One of the surviving Children of the Forest, Leaf, emerges from the cave to help fight off the wights by magically casting fireballs at them. Jojen is mortally wounded by a wight and urges the others to keep going, so Meera slits his throat to spare him further pain. Just a few seconds later, as he is dying, Leaf casts another fireball at Jojen so his body will burn and not be turned into another wight – his death involving fire, just as he saw in his vision.
The rest flee into the cave where the wights cannot follow, and deep underground Bran meets the "Three-eyed-Raven" – really the Last Greenseer, an old man enthroned on a weirwood tree growing into his body, who took the form of a Three-Eyed Raven when he appeared in Bran's dreams in order to guide him here. Meera is upset that her brother died to bring Bran to the cave, but the Greenseer tells her that Jojen always knew he would die helping Bran reach his destination, Jojen saw it in his visions, but he chose to come anyway because he believed in how important it was to aid Bran in his quest.
Under the guidance of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran has visions of the past. He sees Winterfell when his father was a young boy. He also sees a young Brandon Stark, Lyanna Stark and Hodor (known as Wylis back then, which puzzles Bran). The Three-Eyed Raven brings Bran back to the cave, to his annoyance. Later, he has another vision of the Tower of Joy in Dorne, shortly after Robert's Rebellion. He sees his father and six men confront the last two of the Targaryen Kingsguard. After a short fight, with Eddard and his companion, Howland Reed, the only survivors, they hear a scream coming from the tower. Ned rushes in, but before he enters, Bran shouts at him. He attempts to follow Ned, but the Three-Eyed Raven brings Bran back, which he is furious with.
While the Three-Eyed Raven is sleeping, Bran wargs into a weirwood tree on his own. He finds an army of wights, led by the Night King. He approaches the Night King, however, but he touches Bran, meaning they have access to the cave. Later, as they swarm the cave, Bran has a vision of Winterfell. In the vision, Bran watches Ned Stark say goodbye to his father, Rickard Stark, before being sent to the Vale as a ward. While still in the vision, Bran hears Meera's cries to warg into Hodor and the Three-Eyed Raven tells him to listen to her. Bran wargs into both the present-day Hodor in the cave AND Wylis, the young version of Hodor in his vision. After Meera flees the cave with Bran, he has visions of past and future events. He sees visions of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, preparing to use wildfire to burn King's Landing. He sees him slayed by Jaime Lannister. He sees the Mad King's daughter, Daenerys Targaryen, after giving birth to three dragons. He witnesses the events of the Red Wedding and Hardhome, among others.
Bran later discovered the truth of what was in The Tower of Joy; his aunt Lyanna, dying after giving birth to Bran's "bastard half-brother" Jon Snow. Bran discovered that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, visually stunning him.
The Red Comet
The appearance of a Red Comet in the sky soon after the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings is interpreted as a sign by many characters – but highlighting how "tricky" it can be to read meaning in natural events, different characters from different factions each interpret the arrival of the comet differently.
At Winterfell, Bran and his companions discuss the appearance of the comet and what people are saying about it: Some say that it means Robb will win a great victory in the south. Others say it is Lannister red, and indicates that the Lannisters will win and rule all of the Seven Kingdoms before long. A stableboy was overheard saying that the comet was the color of blood to mark the death of Eddard Stark. Osha the wildling woman says that stars don't fall for men, and the coming of the red comet heralds only one thing: that dragons have returned to the world. Indeed, though they did not yet know it, Daenerys Targaryen had just succeeded in hatching three live dragons, the first seen in a century and a half.
House of the Undying in Qarth
In Qarth, Daenerys Targaryen enters the House of the Undying, headquarters of the Warlocks of Qarth, to recover her dragons. She enters alone carrying a torch, and finds herself in an illusion of the charred remains of the throne room of the Red Keep in King's Landing – the roof collapsed and everything around the Iron Throne covered in snow. Then she finds herself in another illusion in which she emerges from the Wall in a snowy storm and then enters a tent where she meets with Drogo and their son Rhaego. Aware of the illusion, she leaves and finds herself in a room with her chained dragons, and soon Pyat Pree chains Daenerys up as well. The warlock states that he intends to keep her prisoner forever. However, as the dragons are not muzzled, they are able to burn Pree to death at Daenerys's command.
The Dothraki are a very brave but also a very superstitious people, believing in all manner of omens and portents.
Soon after they enter the Dothraki Sea, Jorah Mormont tells Daenerys about the strange "Ghost grass" that grows in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, how it glows in the dark and kills all other plants. The Dothraki believe that one day the ghost grass will spread out and cover everything, and that is how the world will end.
One major prophecy of the Dothraki tells of the coming of a great leader, the "Stallion Who Mounts the World". It is said that one day this great Khal will unite all of the Dothraki into a single khalasar (as they have not been united since the Century of Blood) and lead them to conquer the entire world.
When Daenerys Targaryen becomes pregnant with Khal Drogo's child, she undergoes a special religious ceremony conducted by the dosh khaleen - Dothraki priestesses/wise-women - in Vaes Dothrak, which involves eating a Stallion heart. After successfully eating the entire heart, the dosh khaleen prophesy that Daenerys and Drogo's unborn son, Rhaego, will be the Stallion Who Mounts the World.
After Drogo took a minor wound while raiding a Lhazareen village, he became gravely ill from infection and his life was in danger. The captive Lhazareen healer Mirri Maz Duur offered to treat him using blood magic, but she actually betrayed Drogo and Daenerys: she only healed Drogo enough to keep him physically alive but in a catatonic state, and when she said that she would use a life to pay for life, instead of using Drogo's horse's life she actually took the life of Daenerys's baby. Mirri cursed Rhaego and he was stillborn, as well as horrifically deformed – covered in scales, with bat-like wings, and the flesh fell from his bones when he was touched. Mirri said she did this to prevent Rhaego from becoming the Stallion That Mounts the World and bringing the same suffering that Drogo brought to her village onto others.
When Daenerys asked if Drogo would ever regain consciousness, Mirri sarcastically said, "When the sun rises in the west, sets in the east. When the seas go dry. When the mountains blow in the wind like leaves.' Daenerys subsequently euthanized the comatose Drogo by smothering him with a pillow, and then burned Mirri Maz Dur alive on Drogo's funeral pyre.
The Red Priests of the Lord of Light
According to legend, when the Long Night cataclysm occurred 8,000 years ago, a winter that lasted a generation descended upon Westeros, and the White Walkers first appeared and attacked from the furthest north. Similar tales of ancient conflicts are hazily preserved in various forms around the world; in the religion of the Lord of Light, it is said that a great darkness descended upon the world, which was eventually defeated by a hero known as Azor Ahai.
As the Red Priest Thoros of Myr recounted:
- "According to prophecy, our champion will be reborn to wake dragons from stone and reforge the great sword Lightbringer that defeated the darkness those thousands of years ago. If the old tales are true, a terrible weapon forged with a loving wife's heart. Part of me thinks man was well rid of it, but great power requires great sacrifice. That much at least the Lord of Light is clear on."
- ―Thoros of Myr
Melisandre says that the ancient holy texts of her religion prophesy that at the end of a long summer, a terrible winter will begin; darkness will fall upon the earth once again, and "the dead shall rise in the North." In the ancient books "it's written that a warrior will draw a burning sword from the fire. And that sword shall be Lightbringer." This warrior is The Prince That Was Promised, a reincarnation of Azor Ahai, who will lead the forces of Light against the forces of Darkness in the coming battle for the fate of the world.
Melisandre was convinced that Stannis Baratheon was the Prince That Was Promised. Despite Stannis' defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, she shared one of her visions with him to reaffirm his faith, gazing into her flames until he too claims he saw images of a great battle in the snow.
Maggy's prophecy to Cersei Lannister
When Cersei Lannister was a young teenager, she sneaked out into the forest outside of Casterly Rock one night with her tag-along Melara Hetherspoon to visit a reputed woods witch called Maggy who could read people's fortunes. Cersei entered Maggy's hut uninvited, but when Maggy woke and demanded that she get out, Cersei arrogantly pointed out that Maggy was on her father Tywin Lannister's lands, and threatened that she would have her eyes gouged out if she refused her. Maggy relented, and asked for a taste of Cersei's blood - by having Cersei prick her finger with a knife, then literally letting her taste a drop of her blood, as part of her blood magic. Maggy allowed Cersei to ask three questions, but mocked the prideful young girl that she wouldn't like the answers:
- First, Cersei's father had promised that she would wed Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and she wanted to know when they would marry. Maggy responded that she wouldn't marry "the prince" but she would marry "the king" - which Cersei at the time mistook to mean that she would simply marry Rhaegar after he succeeded his father to the throne. As it turned out, Cersei was made to marry Robert Baratheon in a loveless political marriage after Robert personally killed Rhaegar in single combat during Robert's Rebellion, in which he overthrew the Targaryen dynasty.
- Worried, Cersei used her second question to confirm that she would indeed be queen someday. Maggy confirmed that she would, but that in time she would be cast down by another, younger and more beautiful queen, who would take all she held dear. While at first, Cersei suspected that it was Margaery Tyrell who would replace her as queen consort, this queen appeared to be, in fact, Daenerys Targaryen, who replaced Cersei as the reigning Queen of the Andals and the First Men after she died in the Battle of King's Landing.
- Third, Cersei asked if she and the king would have children. Maggy cryptically replied that the king would have 20 children, but Cersei would have only three children. Cersei didn't think that made sense (apparently not realizing that a king can have bastard children), but Maggy continued to say of her three children that gold would be their crowns - and gold their (burial) shrouds, implying that all of Cersei's children would predecease her. The prophecy was fulfilled when her son Joffrey was poisoned at the Purple Wedding, her daughter Myrcella was poisoned by Ellaria Sand, and when her final son, Tommen, committed suicide after witnessing the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor. While Cersei fell pregnant with another child after losing all her children, Cersei died during her final pregnancy, and thus there was no fourth child.
In the books
The TV series removed many of the prophecies given in A Song of Ice and Fire novels – up to and including the prophecy from which the actual title, "A Song of Ice and Fire", takes its name.
The TV producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have explained that they felt reluctant to introduce prophecies that would only pay off many seasons in the future, given that they never know for certain if the TV series will be renewed more than one or two seasons in advance. Moreover, they have been reluctant to rely on the audience to remember information mentioned one or more TV seasons in the past.
Many of these prophecies are inherently spoilers from the books, so only a few major non-spoiler examples will be listed here:
The House of the Undying
Daenerys Targaryen's visions in the House of the Undying in Qarth were drastically condensed from what she saw in the novels. In the books, Daenerys doesn't see a vision of standing in the ruins of the Red Keep, blanketed by snow. The TV series also invented the detail that she was tempted by a vision of Khal Drogo and Rhaego alive (the producers said they included this because they greatly missed actor Jason Momoa and wanted to provide him with a cameo in Season 2 somehow).
Daenerys sees some visions of the past:
- The red door of her childhood home in Braavos, which she and Viserys were thrown out of.
- Her father the Mad King sitting in a throne room decorated with dragon skulls, giving the order for his pyromancers to burn the city with wildfire rather than let it fall to the rebels during the Sack of King's Landing.
- Daenerys's silver horse, the first gift Drogo ever gave her, trotting through grass to a stream under the stars.
- A cloth dragon (a Targaryen banner) swaying on poles amidst a cheering crowd.
- A room where a silver-haired man (apparently Daenerys's older brother Rhaegar Targaryen) names his infant son "Aegon" and says he will be "the prince that was promised" (see below).
- Rhaegar dying at the Battle of the Trident, rubies flying from his armor after Robert Baratheon dealt him a fatal blow with his warhammer. Rhaegar mutter's Lyanna Stark's name with his last breath.
- The gruesome death of her brother Viserys, when Drogo poured molten gold over his head.
Daenerys also sees several visions of the future, cloaked in symbolism and metaphor:
- A beautiful naked woman being ravished by four of the dwarf servants of the House - possibly indicating how the multiple factions in the War of the Five Kings are destroying Westeros.
- A blue-eyed king who casts no shadow raising a red sword in his hand - possibly Stannis Baratheon and his sword, Lightbringer.
- A great stone beast rising from a smoking tower, breathing shadows (Multiple other characters have also had visions of "stone dragons" being woken in the war to come.)
- A corpse standing at the prow of a ship with bright eyes and grey smiling lips - possibly indicating that a massive outbreak of Greyscale is going to be carried to Westeros from across the Narrow Sea.
- A Blue winter rose growing from a chink in a wall of ice - possibly representing Jon Snow at the Wall, who is hinted to actually be the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark.
- A feast hall where slaughtered corpses lay dead, still holding their cups, spoons, and food. In the middle of them is a dead man with a wolf's head sitting on a throne wearing an iron crown.
- Daenerys assumed this vision was a metaphor - in truth, in turned out that her vision was a foreshadowing of what literally happened later during the Red Wedding. It wasn't a man with a wolf's head, but actually Robb Stark's horrifically mutilated corpse, decapitated with his direwolf's head sewn in its place, and his crown mockingly nailed to the animal's head.
Daenerys also sees a vision of a future which will now never be, of her son Rhaego as he would have been had he lived and grown to manhood: she sees a tall lord with the copper skin of a Dothraki but the silver-gold hair of a Targaryen, beneath the banner of a fiery stallion, with a burning city in the background.
The Prince That Was Promised
When Daenerys was in the House of the Undying, she saw a vision of the past, in which her eldest brother Rhaegar was sitting with his wife Elia Martell as they named their infant son "Aegon". Rhaegar says: "Aegon...What better name for a king...He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire." When Rhaegar's eyes meet Daenerys's, he says either to her or Elia, "There must be one more...The dragon has three heads", and he picks up a silver harp and begins to play.
So far this is the only time in the first five novels that the actual title of the book series has been referenced. It is not known what exactly "the song of ice and fire" is, though it seems to foretell the conflict between the White Walkers and their powers of ice, and the forces of life represented by fire – perhaps literally in the form of the reborn dragons being used to fight the White Walkers and their hordes of the undead (which are very vulnerable to fire).
It is repeatedly mentioned that "The dragon has three heads" – the Targaryen sigil is a three-headed dragon, representing Aegon I Targaryen and his two sister-wives, who conquered and united the Seven Kingdoms for the first time. The phrase seems to imply that the upcoming war will require three persons of the Targaryen bloodline in order to ride all three of Daenerys’s dragons. In his youth, Rhaegar apparently read in an arcane book about The Prince That Was Promised, a prophesied savior who would defeat a great darkness. For a time it seems that Rhaegar thought he himself was the Prince, but later he thought it would be his children: noting that "the dragon has three heads" (again referring to the Targaryen sigil), Rhaegar seems to have been convinced that the prophecy about "the" Prince actually referred to three people acting together. Baby Aegon was Rhaegar's second child, following his daughter Rhaenys. It was said that he wanted a third child, but Elia's pregnancies were very difficult, and after her second child the maesters all said that another one would likely kill her. According to the theory that Jon Snow is actually Rhaegar's son by Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar had an affair with Lyanna because he was convinced that he needed to produce a third child to fulfill the prophecy. Moreover, given that the Targaryens used to practice polygamous marriages, Rhaegar might not have seen this liaison as shaming his current wife Elia - and given that the Dornish often openly keep paramours alongside their formal spouses, Elia might not have been opposed to it either. None of this has been confirmed, however, and much of it may have been misdirection by the narrative.
In the books, the R+L=J theory has not been confirmed yet, thus there are currently only two live Targaryens - Daenerys and Aegon (son of Rhaegar and Elia). It is possible that they and Jon are the "three dragon heads" Rhaegar mentioned.
Others, however, begin to suspect that Daenerys Targaryen is herself the Prince That Was Promised. When Maester Aemon makes the connection, he explains to Samwell Tarly that in High Valyrian, "Prince" is actually a gender-neutral word (like "leader" in English) and can equally refer to a man or a woman.
It is also mentioned that Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King, was made to marry his own sister Rhaella Targaryen even though they didn't love each other, because his father heard a prophecy from a woods witch that the Prince Who Was Promised would be born from their line.
In all cases, the prophecy seems to indicate that the Prince Who Was Promised needs to be of the Targaryen bloodline. Stannis Baratheon actually meets this qualification because his grandmother was a Targaryen – as did the other surviving members of the Baratheon bloodline, Stannis’s daughter Shireen and King Robert's bastard son Gendry. It is also more widely believed that only those who possess the blood of Old Valyria (as the Targaryens do) can bond with and ride dragons – and they do seem to be inherently more friendly around people with at least some Valyrian blood. If Jon Snow is actually the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, he may be one of the three heads of the dragon, though there is rampant speculation about who the third could be.
When Stannis heads south with his army from the Wall to begin his campaign against the Boltons, in the novels Melisandre stays behind - explaining that the Wall is one of the "hinges of the world", a ley line/focal point where her magical powers are magnified. However, while she sees more vivid visions while at the Wall, she doesn't admit to others that what she sees is very confusing and she doesn't know how to interpret it. As the weather worsens, eventually Melisandre can't see many images anymore. She repeatedly implores the Lord of Light in her prayers to show a vision of the Lord's Chosen, because no news is reaching them about Stannis. Melisandre stares into the flames, but all she sees are images of snow.
Members of the Targaryen bloodline are noted for often having prophetic dreams. This extends all the way back to when the Targaryens originally fled from the Valyrian Freehold, motivated by the prophetic dreams of the Daenys the Dreamer, daughter of the family's leader Aerion Targaryen. Only a few years after moving to Dragonstone island, the Doom of Valyria wiped out their entire civilization and killed all other known dragons.
Daenerys herself has had several prophetic dreams throughout the novels. Even prior to her wedding day with Drogo, Daenerys frequently had dreams about dragons – even though she had never seen a living one. She continues to have dreams about large adult dragons, even when her newly hatched dragons are still small.
Maester Aemon also tells Samwell that he has dreams about dragons, even though he has never seen a live one. Aemon notes that his brothers also had dreams about dragons, but in the end it killed them. Aemon’s eldest brother was Daeron, called "Daeron the Drunken" – it is implied that Daemon drank himself into a stupor so often as self-medication, as he was haunted by the strange prophetic dreams he had. Nonetheless, it was Daeron who left Aemon's younger brother "Egg" at an inn, where he first met the hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall – setting into motion the entire chain of events in the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequel novellas, leading to Egg becoming King Aegon V Targaryen. It is implied that Daeron "abandoning" Egg at the inn was actually no accident, but guided by his prophetic dreams. Daeron also prophesied that one day the dragons would return.
Other members of the Targaryen bloodline not from the main branch of the family also had dragon-dreams, including several members of the cadet branch of the dynasty known as House Blackfyre. The pretender Daemon II Blackfyre had prophetic dreams, and urged Ser Duncan to join his proposed Second Blackfyre Rebellion because he saw in a dream that Ser Duncan would one day rise to be Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Dunk scoffed at this, but due to a string of unfortunate deaths in the Targaryen dynasty, Egg later came to rule as King Aegon V the Unlikely (even though as the fourth son of a fourth son he was originally thirteenth in line to the throne), and it indeed came to pass that as king he named his great friend Ser Duncan to the Kingsguard. Even Stannis's daughter Shireen Baratheon says she has vivid dreams about dragons – and she does have some Targaryen blood, as her father's grandmother was a Targaryen.
Incidentally, Jon Snow also has vivid dreams in the novels in which he is wandering through the massive unexplored crypts underneath Winterfell and he finds a dragon whose egg was hidden there long ago.
Maggy's prophecy to Cersei: the valonqar
In the novels, Maggy's prophecy to Cersei about her future said that King Robert would have sixteen bastards, not twenty. The TV version might have just been rounding – and no one is sure exactly how many bastards King Robert ever produced (many of whom were later killed on Cersei's orders).
Maggy's prophecy in the novels also included another major warning, absent from the TV series:
- "Three [children] for you. Gold shall be their crowns and gold their [funeral] shrouds…and when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you."
She later asked a septa what valonqar means, and was told that it is the High Valyrian word for "little brother". This convinces Cersei that her little brother Tyrion is going to try to kill her – however, in her fog of paranoia, Cersei either forgot or would not consider that Jaime is technically also her younger brother; while they are twins, he was born a matter of moments after she was. Then again, Jaime no longer has two "hands" to strangle her with (it is possible to strangle her one-handed, but the prophecy specifically mentioned two hands). Another possibility is that the prophecy was simply being figurative, and whoever kills Cersei won't literally strangle her bare-handed at all (maybe kill her with a sword, etc.). Moreover, it is possible that the prophecy just referred to someone who is a "little brother" in general, not Cersei's own little brother. If Jon Snow really is Rhaegar's son, he is the "little brother" to Rhaegar's older two children. Loras Tyrell is also a "little brother" and might want to harm Cersei for her machinations against Margaery (Loras is the third Tyrell son in the novels; the TV series moved this around so that the other two brothers might not exist, but also changed Margaery to be his older sister – so he still qualifies as a "little brother"). Sandor Clegane is also a little brother to Gregor Clegane. Basically anyone in the narrative who is the younger brother of someone else could potentially fit the prophecy (Cersei has alienated a lot of people).
A key factor in the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised is that the word for "Prince" in Valyrian is actually a gender-neutral term, but the same is probably not true of valonqar: Maggy herself says in Common Tongue that the valonqar will wrap "his" hands around her throat.
For that matter it was never entirely clear if the "younger queen" that would overthrow Cersei’s rule was intended to be Margaery Tyrell, as Cersei assumed. Other potential figures are Queen Daenerys Targaryen returning to Westeros with her dragons, or even Sansa Stark becoming Queen in the North and taking revenge on Cersei.
For other prophecies and dreams see the external link below, but be warned that they are inherently massive spoilers for book information:
- ↑ "Valyria's Last Scion: House Targaryen"
- ↑ 
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Winter Is Coming"
- ↑ "Baelor"
- ↑ "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
- ↑ "Fire and Blood"
- ↑ "The Pointy End"
- ↑ "The Rains of Castamere"
- ↑ "What Is Dead May Never Die"
- ↑ "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "The Old Gods and the New"
- ↑ "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
- ↑ "The Climb"
- ↑ "The Lion and the Rose"
- ↑ "First of His Name"
- ↑ "The Children"
- ↑ "The North Remembers"
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 "Valar Morghulis"
- ↑ "The Kingsroad"
- ↑ "A Golden Crown"
- ↑ "Fire and Blood"
- ↑ "The Night Lands"
- ↑ "The Wars To Come"