Welcome to the book readers’ edition of recapping Game of Thrones! As we established throughout the season, if you haven’t read all of the books (yes, all the way through A Dance of Dragons and the few chapters of Winds of Winter that have been released online) kindly either depart gracefully or accept that there will be spoilers in what follows.
I’ve written before where I think that the series as a whole is going, towards a discovery of the power of the population and the rise of non-professional forces and mass movements, a la the Napoleonic Wars. But here, I thought we could have a discussion of where the television series is going, both in terms of what is left in the books to adapt, and speculatively of where both series could be going. For ease of organization, I’ll break up my ramblings by point of view character, and limit them arbitrarily to the main ones.
By my very rough estimate, there are more or less ninety chapters of the books that haven’t made it on to screen yet. That sounds like an awful lot, except that somewhere around 250 have already been adapted, and as many book readers have noted, the later books have increasing amounts of padding and diversions that will likely get cut. I’ve noted how many chapters are left for each of the characters (and these eight represent 65 of the remaining chapters, so they’re definitely the bulk of what’s left untouched on the page).
Sansa: (remaining chapters: 0). Well, we start with one that is completely in speculative territory as Sansa’s in-print storyline finished last season, with three seasons of the show remaining. So her storyline is going to be the one to first venture deeply into unpublished territory, assuming that Winds of Winter isn’t released in the next nine months (it’s alright to pause and laugh for five minutes at the prospects of that happening).
So what’s up for Sansa? I think she’s going to play season five at Littlefinger’s feet, taking a more and more active role in the game. And then she’s going to betray him in the finale, have him killed, and end up de facto leader of the Eerie. They’ll give Littlefinger a shocked “so the student has become the master” look as he dies, both of surprise and admiration. My feeling is that the end game is for her to end up being the political master that all of her siblings and parents have been abject failures at. And given the show’s sending her on tour to meet all the normal people, I’m seeing my predictions of people power embodied in her ability to raise the people to support Jon in the long run.
Arya: (remaining chapters: 6). I might have missed a chapter there in the counting, since Arya’s are often under different names later. Basically, we start with her landing in Braavos and then get to her assassinations. My guess is that these chapters will be finished in the next season and that they’ll start to move her towards whatever waits for her in Winds of Winter since she’s a fan favorite.
Where will she go? I think after her training, she will be hustled back into the main storyline by being sent to kill someone we care about for some profound pathos in season six. And since she’s in proximity to the Iron Bank, I’d wager it’s going to be to knock off someone that gets in the way of their Stannis plans. I see four interesting possibilities here. Sending her to kill Melisandre on account of mysticism getting in the way of good governance is an outside possibility. Sending her to kill Dany has real potential, and hooking up Arya with Tyrion (more on that later) would be lovely to watch. Another outside chance is sending her to kill Ramsay since he’s in the way of Stannis, but that’s mostly appealing because it allows her to return to Winterfell and has the irony of having her kill the guy who’s married to “Arya”. The one I see as most likely though is that she’ll be sent to kill Cersei. Main points are that Cersei is on her list, that she’s a major destabilizer of the kingdoms, and in story terms, there’s already a prophecy that Cersei will be killed by one of the faceless, which would be perfect if that was Arya.
That said, I give very low odds of Arya surviving to the end of the story. I have a gut feeling that one more of the Starks is going to die, and my story sense argues that it’s going to be Arya, tragically and gut-wrenchingly, because I don’t see a way past the end of the story for her.
Bran: (remaining chapters: 1). And nothing really happens in it, just warging, and though I’m rooting for a montage with some fabulous eighties music, I doubt that will happen. I have not the slightest clue where this chunk of the story is going, though I really hope they don’t let him fly a dragon, because I just find him insufferable and he doesn’t deserve it whatever implications they’ve made to that effect.
Jaime: (remaining chapters: 8). There is just so little of plot substance to the eight chapters remaining to Jaime, that when in combination with the fact that they’ve not yet divided him and Cersei, in addition to the absence of Kevan Lannister from the show, I’ve got a feeling that they’re going to keep Jaime in King’s Landing and sort of graft Kevan’s role of running things onto him. Whether that also translates into getting assassinated is up in the air, but I can’t imagine that Jaime doesn’t make it to the last book/season. At some point the forces of the kingdoms have to turn North though to fight the Others and reforge themselves into one kingdom. Jaime, for all his faults, would be an ideal one to unite the militaries of the south. No one likes him, but everyone respects him. Ending as a brother of the Night’s Watch would be an interesting fate for him.
Tyrion: (remaining chapters: 13). Basically, we’ve got arrival in the East, the circus, and then hooking up with Jorah and the mercenaries. I found these chapters to be terrible, and I sincerely hope they speed all this up. I’d guess that the big season ending battle this year will be the one outside Mereen, and conclude with Tyrion entering service with Dany. In the long run, there is not the slightest chance that Tyrion doesn’t make it to the very end of this story. Dinklage is just too wonderful and the character to perfect, not to do so. I also have a feeling that he will survive the story, get a wife he loves, and end up hand of whatever king or queen ends up in charge at the end. In other words, I think Tyrion is going to get as happy an ending as anyone. And I can’t wait for the next conversation him and Jon get to have, possibly at the feet of newly arrived dragons.
Jon: (remaining chapters: 15). I am absolutely astonished that there are this many chapters left for Jon, given how little of note happens between getting elected and getting et tu’ed. I think they’re going to cliff hang episode one with Stannis offering him the north, and then episode three or so with his election. Then have him attract the knives in guts as a cliffhanger in his final episode of the season. Long run? We’ve got to find some way to get at his parentage. (We’re all agreed he’s not Ned’s son but is actually Rhaegar’s via Lyanna, right?). My feeling has always been that he and Dany end up married and in charge of everything after riding their dragons against the Others with Tyrion counseling them both. Plus, they’re half-siblings under this theory, and the Tygareon’s always married off siblings.
Dany: (remaining chapters: 10). Sort of. They’ve done big chunks of those chapters, but haven’t done other parts. My best guess is that they’re going to stretch Mereen to the breaking point next season, have her disappear with Drogon by episode seven, and have her return with a Dothraki horde at her back like Gandalf on the third freaking day to save her city. Then they’ll finally have her break the slave cities, and sail with the Dothraki and the Unsullied for Westeros. That point might be the one where Arya shows up to try to assassinate her.
Cersei: (remaining chapters: 12). Season five is going to be the season of Cersei, I think. Her chapters have the most plot of anyone else on this list, especially if you count all the stuff happening down in Dorne with Myrcella. I think next season we see Cersei descend into terrible rule, butting heads all the way with Jaime, and somewhere around the middle of the season giving the church all that extra power that ends up screwing everything up. But I think in the context of the story, the rise of the church and the power it seems to give to the mob is going to be critical to the story. I don’t think that it’s power that’s going to be given up or crushed by whoever else comes along, but will be something harnessed by Dany with Tyrion’s guidance.
Long term though? Arya kills her. I think that’s the best bet, and I don’t expect it will happen before season six.
Comments below, let’s hash this out, people!
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.