Tyrion Lannister has been through a lot, but if The Winds of Winter ever comes out, it could turn his world upside down (again).
As one of the most beloved characters in the entire series, die-hard and casual fans alike were disappointed to see Tyrion’s character arc take such a nosedive in the final seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones. (Peter Dinklage’s character was sidelined from the action and drama for much of the show’s last two seasons and seemingly lost the sharp intellect and cunning that had made him such a stand-out character in the first place.)
Fortunately, fans are pretty confident that author George R. R. Martin won’t take Tyrion in as disappointing a direction as Thrones did. One popular Winds of Winter theory even suggests that the book will hit Tyrion with a revelation that could change his story forever.
The Theory — A vocal section of Game of Thrones book readers believe that The Winds of Winter will reveal that Tyrion’s first wife, Tysha, is still alive in Braavos. But not only do they think Tysha is still alive, they also think she’s a famous courtesan that was mentioned several times in both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons known as The Sailor’s Wife.
The same fans also believe the Sailor’s Wife’s daughter, a 14-year-old blonde girl named Lanna, is actually Tyrion’s daughter. As a result, many readers believe The Winds of Winter will reveal the relationship that both The Sailor’s Wife and Lanna have to Tyrion, whether by having him cross paths with the pair, or another character learning the truth.
Tyrion & Tysha — Tyrion’s marriage to Tysha ends in a truly tragic and brutal fashion, with Tywin forcing Tyrion to watch as each of his Lannister guards force themselves on her and then pay her in silver coins (the books even go a little further) just moments after Tyrion is told by his brother Jamie that Tysha and Tyrion’s chance meeting was just a set-up to get Tyrion to lose his virginity. Jamie tells Tyrion that Tysha was a paid prostitute all along, which greatly informs Tyrion’s whole personality in the years after his failed first union.
What Game of Thrones did not reveal though, which Martin’s books did, is that Tysha was not ever actually a prostitute. That was just a lie Tywin forced Jamie to tell Tyrion. In fact, Tysha really was a common girl that Tyrion and Jamie saved on the road, and her feelings towards Tyrion were genuine. In the books, the scene when Tyrion kills Tywin even revolves around Tyrion demanding to know where Tysha was sent after she was assaulted by the Lannister guards.
So it’s implied — although never confirmed — that Tysha is still alive in the books and likely used the money she had after her assault to go somewhere far away… which brings us to the theory that she is The Sailor’s Wife.
Tyrion’s Secret Daughter — The Sailor’s Wife is a courtesan in Braavos who requires all her clients to marry her before sleeping with them. She does this, apparently, in a tribute to her first husband, who is rumored to have been lost at sea (hence her nickname). It’s even said that she prays every month at temples for the gods to return her husband to her.
Assuming that Tysha really did use the money she had after her marriage to Tyrion to get out of Westeros — a logical desire considering what she went through — it’d make sense for her to go to Braavos. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to consider that she became a courtesan at some point either, and The Sailor’s Wife’s tradition of marrying before being paid for sex feels like a strange and dark nod to Tyrion and Tysha’s marriage.
Therefore, many believe that the husband The Sailor’s Wife supposedly “lost at sea” is actually Tyrion, who she’s still in love with and wishes would find his way to her.
But what really makes this theory compelling, is the presence of Lanna, the daughter of The Sailor’s Wife. She’s said to have long, fine golden hair — a defining trait of the Lannisters — and her name is one typically used only by female Lannisters. She’s also around the age she’d need to be to conceivably be the daughter of Tyrion and Tysha, hence why many believe Tysha might have had Lanna in secret after escaping Westeros and might have given her a name typically connected to Tyrion’s family.
The Inverse Analysis — There are a few things going against this theory. The first is that Tyrion has little-to-no connection to the sea or to sailing, which goes against the story about The Sailor’s Wife’s first husband. Secondly, another prostitute in Braavos — who practices blood magic — says that The Sailor’s Wife’s first husband has already died.
Of course, it’s possible that the other prostitute is wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time a practitioner of magic has made an error in the series), and Tysha very easily could have made up the story about a sailor husband in order to conceal the real identity of her first husband. Both of those possibilities offer up pretty logical explanations for the few questions that threaten the legitimacy of this theory.
All of this is to say that readers should at least prepare themselves for the possibility of Tyrion reuniting with his first wife and discovering he has a daughter in The Winds of Winter. One can only imagine how that might alter or inform the rest of his arc in the books.
The Winds of Winter will be released whenever George R. R. Martin finishes writing it.