Why did Rhaegar Targaryen choose his best knight (Ser Arthur Dayne) for Lyanna’s protection at the Tower of Joy? Why was he absent at the Battle of the Trident and not protecting his prince? Check out this fan theory by Redditor therapy which suggests that Dayne was under strict instructions from Rhaegar to keep Ned and only Ned alive:
Sorry if this is an old theory, but I haven’t seen it. A few things about the Tower of Joy scene puzzled me:
- Why is there any fighting at all? Ned is Lyanna’s sister and can be trusted with her and her baby.
- Before fighting, Arthur Dayne tells Ned, “Good luck in the wars to come,” a strange thing to say to someone you are about to fight to the death with.
- When only Dayne and Ned are left, Dayne could easily kill Ned at any time (as the Three Eyed Raven said, he wasn’t just better than Ned, but far better) – why delay?
My theory is that Arthur Dayne’s commands were to leave Ned, and only Ned, alive. The reason is simple: Rhaegar knew that Ned could be trusted with Lyanna and her baby, but also that the identity of the baby must be kept a secret. Ned can keep a secret, but if 5 other men see Ned come down out of the tower with a baby, the secret is much more likely to get out eventually. The best course of action is for Ned to return North alone, with no one else seeing where the baby came from.
If true, then regarding the three puzzling points above,
- Fighting is necessary because Dayne can’t just tell Ned, “Your men need to die in order for an important secret to be kept.” Even after seeing Lyanna and promising her to keep the baby safe, Ned wouldn’t have his men murdered – it’s not in his nature. Therefore Dayne must kill them.
- Dayne knows Ned will survive the battle, since he won’t kill him. Ned’s life was never in peril. But Dayne doesn’t know if he himself will survive (he’s amazing, but you never know for sure). So he takes the opportunity to wish Ned luck, since he and Rhaegar honestly do hope he succeeds.
- I’m less sure of why Dayne keeps fighting after only Ned is left. I would guess that Dayne is trying to prove to Ned that he could easily kill him, for example, by disarming him and then sparing his life (which is harder than killing him and takes more time). Then Ned would believe what he tells him about his orders from Rhaegar, after which Dayne would “vanish”, leaving Ned with Lyanna and the baby.
Instead, Howland Reed wasn’t actually dead, and he surprised Dayne, leading to his death. But Rhaegar’s plan still worked, since Ned promised Lyanna to keep the baby safe, as expected, and while another person knew the secret, Reed could in fact be trusted with it.