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"Everyone wants to know their future...until they know their future."
Maggy the woods witch to young Cersei Lannister, before reading her future.[src]

Prophecies, visions, and dreams – either of the past, present, or future – form an important part of the narrative in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Many of them were omitted from the Game of Thrones TV series, though several have gradually been introduced.

Prophecies are often made by those descended from the First Men who are gifted with Greensight, such as Bran Stark. In the novels, members of House Targaryen are famous for having prophetic dreams – indeed, the reason that the Targaryens are the only family of Valyrian nobility that survived the Doom of Valyria (along with the world's only living dragons), is because the daughter of the head of House Targaryen had prophetic dreams that the Doom was coming a few years before it occurred. Believing the prophecy to be true, the Targaryens relocated to Dragonstone island just off the coast of Westeros, and only a dozen years later Valyria was indeed destroyed in a single day by a massive volcanic explosion. Various other religious figures and alleged practitioners of magic 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; people always forget the many prophecies that turned out to be false, and the few that happen to coincidentally be true are held up as examples only in hindsight. Moreover, even when prophecies are true, they are often so vague that they can frequently be interpreted in contradictory ways, to the point that they are not useful as a guide to the future – save for the meanings that people themselves apply to their words.

As Martin himself 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?"[1]

Prophecies, visions, and dreams in the TV series

The Stark direwolves

Mother of direwolves

Ned Stark and his sons find a dead female direwolf, and her six newborn pups.

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 four eldest sons find six direwolf pups in the snow, recently orphaned when their mother was killed fighting a stag.[2]

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).[3]

Robb, Bran and wolves

The Stark children adopt the six direwolf pups.

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: there were six direwolf pups, exactly matching the number of Eddard's children, and the direwolf is the sigil of his House. For that matter, even the gender ratio of the pups aligned perfectly with Eddard's children (four male, two female). The sixth pup was even an albino 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.[2]

Summer

Bran is watched over by his direwolf, Summer.

While the full after-effects of the Starks adopting the direwolves have yet to be seen, the fates of the six Stark children seem bound to them. A few months later, Bran's own direwolf 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. Sansa's direwolf Lady was killed at the insistence of Joffrey and Cersei (even though Nymeria actually attacked him), the first major warning to the Starks of the pettiness and danger of Cersei and her son. 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.

Greensight: Bran Stark & his allies

The power of Greensight, sometimes called just "The Sight", is strong among those who descend from the blood of the First Men, such as among some of the Northmen. The most prominent character to have prophetic dreams and visions through Greensight is Bran Stark. After Bran was crippled and lost the use of his legs (from being shoved out a tower window by Jaime Lannister), Bran's greensight powers awoke, and after emerging from a coma he began to have prophetic dreams.

Three-eyed raven

Bran Stark is guided by prophetic dreams of a Three-eyed raven.

Chief among Bran Stark's prophetic visions was a recurring dream about a Three-eyed raven. He started having these dreams soon after he first woke from his coma.[4] After having the dream again, he becomes convinced the raven is guiding him to the crypts in order to somehow find his father there, even though he is supposed to be alive and well at King's Landing. Anxious to find out, he 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.[5]

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 eldest 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.[6] 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.[7]

Fall of Winterfell

Bran had a prophetic dream that the ocean swallowed Winterfell - then the ironborn came from the sea and captured the castle.

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

S03E4 - Bran & Jojen

Bran shares a greensight dream-vision with Jojen Reed.

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.[11]

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.[12]

S04E2 - Bran & Hodor

Bran wargs with a weirwood tree and experiences a burst of visions from the past and future.

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.[13]

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.[14] 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.

Game-of-thrones-season-4-finale-tree-man

Bran meets the Three-eyed raven in his real form.

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.[15]

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.

The Red Comet

Red Comet

The Red Comet appears in the world's skies, early in Season 2, but its significant is interpreted differently by different people.

The appearance of the 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 into even 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.[16]

House of the Undying in Qarth

Daernerys vision Iron Thrones 2x10

Daenerys in her vision of the ruined Red Keep around the Iron Throne.

Dany Drogo with Rhaego Valar

The warlocks try to distract Daenerys with a false vision of her husband Drogo and son Rhaego, both alive and well.

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 throneroom 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.[17]

The Dothraki

The Dothraki are a very brave but also a very superstitious people, believing in all manner of omens and portents.

Jorah Mormont remarks to Daenerys soon after she enters the Dothraki Sea about the strange "Ghost grass" that grows in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, that glows in the dark and kills all other plants. He says that the Dothraki believe that one day the ghost grass will spread out and cover everything, and that is how the world will end.[18]

One of the major prophecies believed in by the Dothraki is that one day a great Khal will united all of the khalasars once again (as they have not been united in the centuries since the Century of Blood) and lead them to conquer the entire world. This prophesied leader is known as the "Stallion Who Mounts the World".

Dosh khaleen and Daenerys

Daenerys takes part in a religious ceremony with the dosh khaleen, who interpret that her unborn son will be the "Stallion Wh oMounts the World".

When Daenerys Targaryen becomes pregnant with the son of Khal Drogo, she undergoes a special religious ceremony with the dosh khaleen 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.[19]

After Drogo took a minor wound while raiding a Lhazareen village, however, it became badly infected and threatened his life. The captive Lhazareen healer Mirri Maz Duur offered to treat him using blood magic, however she actually betrayed Drogo and Daenerys: she only healed Drogo just 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.[20]

The Red Priests of the Lord of Light

Melisandre burns the letter

Red Priests, such as Melisandre, believe they receive visions of the future from the Lord of Light by communing with His flames.

The Red Priestess Melisandre claims that she receives ecstatic visions from her god - R'hllor, the Lord of Light – by gazing into and communing with his holy flames.

According to legend, the Long Night cataclysm occurred 8,000 years ago – a winter that lasted a generation, when the White Walkers first appeared and attacked the world from the furthest north. Tales of this ancient conflict are hazily preserved in various forms around the world, such as Old Nan's tales about it at Winterfell. In the religion of the Lord of Light from the eastern continent, it is said that the great darkness that descended upon the world in the Long Night was defeated by a great hero known as Azor Ahai.

As the Red Priest Thoros of Myr recounted:

Lightbringer

Stannis Baratheon's flaming sword Lightbringer is meant to copy the legendary original sword.

"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[src]
Stannis Melisandre 2x10

Melisandre shows Stannis a vision in the flames of a great battle in the snow.

Melisandre says that the ancient holy texts of her religion prophesy that after a long summer ends, a terrible long winter will begin, darkness will fall upon the earth, and "the dead shall rise in the North." Moreover, 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, Azor Ahai come again, who will lead the forces of Light against the forces of Darkness in the coming battle for the fate of the world.[21]

Melisandre became convinced that Stannis Baratheon was the Prince That Was Promised. Despite his defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, she shared one of her visions with Stannis to reaffirm his faith, gazing into her flames until he too claims he saw images of a great battle in the snow.[17]

Maggy's prophecy to Cersei Lannister

MaggyTheFrogHD

Maggy, a woods witch that Cersei Lannister visited in her youth.

YoungCersei

Young Cersei pricks her finger with a knife, so Maggy can use a drop of her blood to tell her future.

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 agreed to read Cersei's future, but mocked the prideful young girl that she wouldn't like the answers. Maggy let Cersei ask three questions:

  • 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.
  • 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 (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.[22]

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 Drogo and Rhaego alive (the producers said they included this because they greatly missed actor Jason Momoa (Drogo) 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 throneroom 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's name with his last breath.
  • The gruesome death of her brother Viserys, when Drogo poured molten gold over his 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.

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 carred 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.

The Prince That Was Promised

When Daenerys Targaryen was in the House of the Undying, she saw a vision of the past, in which her older brother Rhaegar Targaryen 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. So far it is unknown what "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 heraldry is a three-headed dragon to represent 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. Baby Aegon was Rhaegar's second child, following his daughter Rhaenys. It was said that he wanted a third child (the dragon of House Targaryen needs "three heads") but Elia had very difficult pregnancies, and after her second child the maesters all said that another pregnancy would 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. Moreover, given that the Targaryens used to practice polygamous marriages, Rhaegar might not have seen this 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.

Melisandre's prophecies about The Prince That Was Promised also strongly match up with these descriptions.

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 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.

Generally 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 members of the Targaryen bloodline can bond with and ride dragons – and they do seem to be inherently more friendly around people with at least some Targaryen blood. If Jon Snow is actually the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, he may also be one of the three heads of the dragon, though there is rampant speculation about who the third head could be.

All she sees is snow

After the Battle of Castle Black in the TV series, Melisandre looks through the flames, but all she sees is Snow.

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 leyline/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.

Dragon dreams

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 she explained 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 forgot or would not consider that Jaime is technically also her younger brother, given that 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 (but 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).

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:

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References

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