George R.R. Martin Has A Twist Planned That 'Game Of Thrones' Fans Will Never Get To See
This time, winter really is coming. No, I'm not talking about the upcoming Season 6 of HBO's Game Of Thrones. Rather, I'm referring to the storm of hand-wringing and wild theorizing that is about to ensue now that George R.R. Martin teased a Game of Thrones twist, a confounding little nugget sure to infuriate fans of his books and the show alike. We all know that the show has now surpassed the latest book, A Dance With Dragons, but, during a recent interview with IGN, the author of A Song Of Ice And Fire revealed a new wrinkle: he has come up with an exciting and crucial new plot twist… and the character it involves has already been killed on Game Of Thrones.
It involves a couple of characters, one of whom is dead on the show but not dead in the books. The show can't do this stuff, because they killed a character that I have not killed. [That] doesn't narrow it down much because at this point, there are like 15 characters who are dead on the show but not in the books.
Martin has a point — but that's not going to stop us from trying to suss out the identity of the character in question, is it? For the sake of brevity, let's temporarily eliminate some of the more minor characters whose arcs on the show ended early, characters like Rakharo, Irri, Pyp, Grenn, Rattleshirt, or Selyse. Instead, let's focus for now on the more major characters that have bit the dust on Thrones but are still kicking and screaming (and scheming) in Martin's novels.
1. Pyat Pree
Although the evil warlock of Qarth was flambéed by Dany's dragons in the Season 2 finale, in the books Pyat Pree isn't one of the extra crispy corpses the Mother of Dragons leaves in her wake during her escape from the House of the Undying. In fact, Pyat Pree is waiting for her when she exits and vows revenge upon her for destroying his temple. It's hard to imagine that Martin has forgotten about the man with magical powers and a sworn vendetta against one of his main characters.
2. Xaro Xhoan Daxos
On the show, the wealthy Qartheen merchant turns out to be in league with Pyat Pree and the warlocks, and so Dany punishes him by locking him — and her traitorous handmaiden Doreah — into Xaro's own (empty) vault. But Martin's version of the character simply wined and dined and wooed the Targaryen queen, asking for her hand in marriage, which she declined. It wasn't until he sought her out again in Meereen and she turned down his proposal again that he declared war on her. His lingering threat is one of the loose threads that is left dangling in anticipation of TWOW.
3. Jojen Reed
It was shocking for book readers to see young Jojen struck down by a wight on his way to the One-Eyed Raven, since the greenseeing Reed sibling is very much still alive in the books… or is he? One popular theory surrounding the character, referred to as "Jojen Paste," involves the character being killed by the Children of the Forest and turned into a bloody paste for Bran to eat to augment his telepathic abilities. If that's true, then Jojen is actually dead in the books, too — we just don't know it yet — and he can't be the character Martin is referring to.
4. Mance Rayder
Mance's death scene happens exactly the same in the books, as the King Beyond The Wall is burned at the stake by Melisandre… only later it's revealed that the Red Priestess swapped Mance with wildling warrior Rattleshirt, "glamored" them to look like each other, and then had Rattleshirt killed instead. Mance is now off attempting to rescue Arya (who is actually Jeyne Poole in disguise) from Winterfell and Ramsay Bolton's clutches. But, on the show, Mance isn't fake-dead, he's just dead-dead — which we know because we saw Tormund Giantsbane beat Rattleshirt to death in Season 5, putting an end to any possibility that he was the King Beyond The Wall in disguise.
5. Barristan Selmy
Dany's stalwart advisor was cruelly felled while taking down a horde of Sons of the Harpy, ending his time on Thrones before the show had even reached the character's first point-of-view chapter in Book 5. Once the queen disappears on Drogon's back, Barristan the Bold is basically left in charge of Meereen, and is preparing to defend the city against a Yunkish invasion when ADWD ends. Trustworthy Ser Barristan doesn't really seem like the shifty type of character who would have a huge twist in store for him, but it is clear that Martin had plenty of plans left in place for the character, so anything's possible.
6. Shireen Baratheon
Surely only a sadist like George R.R. Martin would write a scene involving an innocent, lovable young princess screaming in agony while being burned at the stake in front of her cold and unyielding father, right? What's that? Shireen is still alive in the books and that whole horrifying scenario was dreamt up by Thrones showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss? Oof. There had been plenty of theories over the years about the princess' greyscale and what the significance her affliction might have. (Would it make her immune to White Walkers, for example?) Now that she's dead on the show, all those theories are moot. But maybe Martin actually intended to follow through on that line of thinking…
7. Myrcella Baratheon
Given the prophecy a young Cersei received that foretold all of her children would die before her, Myrcella's death was only a "shock" because it happened onscreen before Martin had gotten around to writing it down in his books. We all know the character is doomed to die on the page sooner or later, so the only question is: what does Martin have planned for her in the meantime? In the books, she's horribly disfigured after a failed Dornish coup that aimed to crown her as Queen of Westeros in opposition to her younger brother, Tommen. Will the two young siblings have an epic cage match for the crown? Alas, this is a sight Thrones viewers will never get to see.
8. Stannis Baratheon
Shireen wasn't the only Baratheon to unexpected bite the dust last season. Her mother Selyse soon followed in a grisly suicide, and then her father Stannis was struck down after the Battle of Winterfell by a vengeful Brienne of Tarth. This is arguably the most major death on the show that hasn't happened in the books yet (unless you believe Ramsay's letter), given that Stannis is one of the last remaining contenders for the Iron Throne. What will the show do without him? And what does Martin have in store for him? We're all so obsessed with Jon-is-Azor-Ahai theories at this point that the biggest twist would be if Stannis did turn out to be the Prince That Was Promised after all.
Will it be one of these eight dearly departed characters? Could it be Gendry, who appears to have drowned offscreen sometime after we last saw him paddling his sad little rowboat into the distance? Or will it be some minor character we never expected to have a huge part in the story? We'll find out in… well, whenever Martin decides to publish The Winds Of Winter, honestly. Could be years from now. Only R'hllor knows. Meanwhile, Thrones Season 6 premieres on April 24, giving us all just enough time to rewatch the first five seasons. Again.
Images: Helen Sloan (4), Screengrab (3), HBO/HBO