Rethinking Arthurian Influences in ASoIaF

Illumination from "Histoire de Merlin", Robert de Boron. France, c. 1280-1290

Illumination from “Histoire de Merlin”, Robert de Boron. France, c. 1280-1290

Many of us recognize a great many Arthurian parallels in ASoIaF, although they don’t all seem to go in straight lines. Of course GRRM has given us a work that also reflects English history and the Wars of the Roses, but not in clearly defined or lineal parallels– so why would his Arthurian references be any different?

“Standard” assumptions of Arthurian parallels based on received wisdom of the events of ASoIaF are: Rhaegar and Lyanna as Uther and Igraine and their son Jon, as King Arthur, the “hidden king” raised unknowing of his birthright under an assumed name. However, Rhaegar also has strong Arthurian parallels as a noble and universally respected Prince with a lovely yet barren wife (Elia/Gwenhyfar) We assume non-lineal parallels to be the norm with GRRM. In other words, he takes the elements he likes and applies them where he will. 

With that in mind some time ago I embarked on a comparative analysis of the main characters in ASoIaF with regard to Arthurian legend. This journey led me to some ideas that raised more questions than they answered. There are many parallels and inversions suggested below, and one can get the feeling of standing on constantly shifting ground.

The project was originally hosted at the forums. However, since a recent upgrade led to issues with formatting and data loss of older posts, I’ve decided to transfer it here. In the process I may be revisiting and revising some installments, and ultimately plan to continue the series with new installments never before published.  Because Radio Westeros keeps me pretty busy these days, this will be a meandering and occasional project once the initial posts are transferred. As always I welcome comments and thank you for reading!


Arthur Dayne as Sir Lancelot

Rhaegar Targaryen: The Many Faced Abductor

Lyanna Stark: Elaine of Corbenic into Gwenhwyfar

Jon Snow: Arthur/Galahad, The Prince that was Promised/Azor Ahai Reborn

Elia Martell: Gwenhwyfar Redux

Sansa Stark: The Maiden in the Tower/Grail Maiden

Ashara Dayne: The Lady of Shalott

Lord Stark: The Fisher King


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