Game of Thrones theory corner: Is Euron Greyjoy the Valonqar?


The internet is rife with Game of Thrones fan theories, many of them revolving around a certain prophecy. In both the show and in the Song of Ice and Fire novels, we learn that a young Cersei Lannister bullied the witch Maggy the Frog into telling her fortune. On the show, Maggy prophesied that Cersei would be Queen, that she would have three children she would live to see die, and that she would be replaced by a younger, more beautiful queen. In the books, Maggy also warned Cersei that “the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” “Valonqar” means “little brother” in High Valyrian. Who, the theorists ask, is the Valonqar?

It’s widely assumed that the Valonqar will be one of Cersei’s little brothers—either Jaime, who is her twin but was born shortly after she was, or Tyrion. Cersei has always thought it would be Tyrion, which is one reason for her hatred of him. Many fans think it will be Jaime. However, Maggy did not specify anything.

What if there’s a third option? Prophecy, after all, is “a tricky business,” as George R.R. Martin put it. Valonqur needn’t necessarily mean Cersei’s little brother. It could be any little brother. It could even be a little brother Cersei has been working with a lot lately: Euron Greyjoy. Or, as we’ll see, it might not be a brother at all. Let’s take a closer look at this theory.

Valonqar as a Gender Non-Specific Language

When Melisandre told Daenerys about the Azor Ahai prophecy in “The Queen’s Justice,” we learned from linguist Missandei that in High Valyrian, the term “Azor Ahai” has no gender. So while the general consensus was that Azor Ahai referred to the mythical Prince Who Was Promised, a messianic figure destined to save the world from darkness, it could in fact mean Prince or Princess.

Is “Valonqar” similarly gender non-specific? Does it mean “little brother” or “little sibling?” If it’s the latter, the field of candidates widens. There  younger sisters in play are Sansa, Arya, and Daenerys.

The Valonqar Candidates

Tyrion: Tyrion is the most unlikely Valonqar candidate because Cersei herself has always believed he would be the one to fulfill the prophecy. For that reason, Cersei has not and will never allow herself to be vulnerable around him. In every one of her interactions with him, she has had physical protection and/or the upper hand. If the Valonqar prophecy can be interpreted figuratively, Tyrion could be the instrument of her demise by engaging an assassin, but he himself will not be the one to wrap his hands around her throat and snuff out her life. Cersei will never allow him to have that kind of access to her, and even if she did, she could probably overpower him. Tyrion is not the Valonqar.

Tyrion was never going to be the Valonqar

Jaime: Until the last episode of season 7, Jaime seemed the most likely candidate. Throughout the series, Cersei has been both emotionally and physically vulnerable to him. It’s been clear since “The Winds of Winter,” the final episode of Season 6, that Jaime has been torn by his loyalty to his sister and the realization that she is an amoral despot whose methods he can’t countenance. He tried to support and counsel Cersei throughout season 7 in an attempt to curb her monstrous tendencies, but in the end realized that he, like everyone else, was expendable to her, and left.

Not only did he leave, but he left incognito, in peasant clothes with his gold hand concealed, suspecting that if Cersei’s henchmen found him he would be executed as a traitor. Unless Jaime reunites with Cersei and somehow regains her trust, he will not be the Valonqar.

Once the most likely Valonqar candidate, Jaime has finally abandoned his sister.

Sansa and Daenerys: As open enemies of Cersei, it’s unlikely that either Sansa or Daenerys will ever get close enough to Cersei to fulfill the prophecy, so they can both be discounted.

Arya: Thanks to her training with the Faceless Men, Arya has the ability to don anyone’s face and impersonate them. But again, the question is access. Whose face can Arya wear to gain the requisite physical proximity to Cersei? At this point, the only people who appear to be in her inner circle are Qyburn, the Mountain and possibly Tycho Nestoris from the Iron Bank. None of them have cause to get near enough to Cersei to fulfill the prophecy.

Qyburn is deferential to Cersei, and it would raise her suspicions immediately if Arya, wearing his face, attempted to touch her. One small signal to the Mountain and Arya/Qyburn would be toast. The same goes for Tycho Nestoris—any attempt by Arya as the Iron Banker to approach Cersei would set off alarm bells.

While it’s hard to fathom what the Mountain is thinking these days, he also doesn’t have the kind of relationship with Cersei that would allow him to approach her physically. He is strong, but he doesn’t appear to be fast, so if Arya as the Mountain made an uncharacteristic move toward Cersei, she could probably outmaneuver him. Also, taking the Mountain’s face would be difficult job even for Arya. He is, after huge, huge and nigh-invulnerable.

Arya’s best bet would be to pose as one of Cersei’s handmaidens, subordinates whose intimate duties require them to have physical access to her. Pretending to brush Cersei’s hair or fasten one of her strategically placed collars would present Arya with a golden opportunity to strangle her and thus fulfill the prophecy.

Arya could be the Valonqar, but for now, she is in Winterfell, leagues away from King’s Landing and, like everyone else in the North, soon to be occupied by the war against the Night King.

Cersei is at the top of Arya’s hit list, so maybe she’ll use one of her faces to fulfill the prophecy.

The Case for Euron Greyjoy

Euron Greyjoy, however, is on his way to King’s Landing and possesses many qualities that make him a likely Valonqar. He is a little brother, which we know because we saw him toss his older brother, Balon Greyjoy, into the sea. He is power-hungry, which is why he killed Balon. He has no scruples and is completely unfettered by any kind of morality or loyalty, as he has demonstrated time and again by betraying anyone—family, friend or foe—who threatens his pursuit of power. Most importantly, once he returns to King’s Landing, he will most likely have intimate access to Cersei.

Cersei dangled the sex carrot in front of Euron throughout season 7 in order to get him to do her bidding. Once he returns to the capitol after ferrying the Golden Company to Westeros, he will expect her—lout that he is—to make good on her promise. She probably will, because she’ll think that having sex with Euron will wrap him around her finger and cement her role as his puppet master.

But Cersei underestimates Euron. Euron is not Jaime, and will not submit to her demands and emasculating ways like her brother did. Euron is a cunning psycho who is at least as bloodthirsty as Cersei is, and she will overplay her hand with him. He does not want Cersei—he wants a queen, and to him, Cersei is just a means to an end. His goal is to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and once he realizes that Cersei has no intention of abdicating her position, he will betray her. Cersei’s overconfidence will be her downfall. Euron will play along with her until one night, while she’s asleep, he’ll wrap his hands around her milky throat and—voila!—the Valonqar prophecy will be fulfilled.

You’re welcome, Westeros.

That is one way it could go down, but we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see who the Valonqar will be, or even if there will be one at all. Until then, happy speculating.

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