15 Mysteries In The 'Game Of Thrones' Books That Might Never Get Solved, Even When George R.R. Martin Finishes The Series

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

Anyone who reads or watches Game of Thrones is probably quite familiar with George R.R. Martin and his intricate mysteries. Fans are all waiting for answers to a few key questions, such as "Who will win the Iron Throne?" or "What do the White Walkers want?" or "How did the TV show mess up the Dorne plot so badly?" And while fans may not be able to answer those burning questions right now, they know that those answers are coming at some point (for my money, the answers are "Jon," "something magical," and "sexism," respectively). But what about the questions that won't get answered?

The real question everyone should be asking is "Which mysteries are just never going to be solved, even if Martin finishes the series?" There are a lot of weird little plot threads in A Song of Ice and Fire, after all. And Martin isn't the type of author to give us a neat, buttoned ending with a "Where are they now?" montage as the credits roll. He's promised us an answer to the weirdness behind the screwed up seasons in Westeros, but beyond that all bets are off.

Here are a few of the more interesting mysteries in Westeros and Essos that may very well go unsolved all the way to the end of the series:

1What’s across the Sunset Sea?

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Westeros is, as its name suggests, the western-most point of the known world. The Iron Islands out in the Sunset Sea are as far west as anyone's ever gone. But what's across the Sunset Sea? Is there a fantasy version of the Americas in this universe? Can you sail from far eastern Essos to western Westeros? The Ironborn claim that their ancestors came to the islands from across the Sunset Sea, but we may never know for sure if that's the truth.

2What’s up with that oily black stone?

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OK, but really. What is this stuff? The Seastone Chair of the Iron Islanders is made of a strange, oily black stone, and apparently existed *before* any humans arrived on the islands. The same is true of the base of the Hightower at Oldtown, where Sam goes to grad school. There's also an oily black stone toad on the Isle of Toads, and an abandoned black stone city in Sothoryos, and Five Forts made of fused black stone way out in eastern Essos. Asshai is also said to be made of black stone. No one knows what this stone is or where it came from. What's the connection? Will we ever find out? Probably not, but it's sure going to keep me up at night.

3How did Dany survive Drogo’s funeral pyre?

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Don't you come at me with your theories about how all Targaryens are fireproof. They are not. A whole mess of them burned up when Dany's big brother Rhaegar was a lil' baby. The TV show seems to have decided that Dany is made of asbestos, but in the books we still don't know how exactly she magically survived Drogo's funeral pyre and hatched her dragons eggs (although the answer is probably something to do with blood magic).

4Why was Jaqen in the Black Cells?

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Jaqen is a Faceless Man from Braavos. He's a highly trained assassin who can change his face and identity at will. So why was he in the Black Cells? Why did he need Arya to help him escape en route to the Wall? It might have all been part of his diabolical plan... but he did pay Arya back for saving him, which implies that he was actually in danger. What happened, Jaqen?? Why did you get caught in the first place? That wasn't very faceless of you.

5Who is Quaithe?

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Dany first runs into this weird, masked lady near Qarth. Quaithe seems to be from mysterious Asshai, like Melisandre, and she keeps spewing warnings and prophecies at Dany. She also seems to be able to appear to Dany even when she's miles away. But why is she interested in helping (or hurting) Dany? What does she want? Who is she? And what's behind the mask?

6What caused the Doom of Valyria?

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Valyria, the Targaryen homeland and origin of their dragons, went up in flames several hundred years ago. It seems like the Doom of Valyria was some kind of volcanic eruption, but we don't know for sure. After all, in a world full of funky seasons and fire/ice monsters, the volcanoes might have been affected by all the magical shenanigans going on in Old Valyria.

7What’s up with that book that Roose burns?

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Roose Bolton, Ramsay's daddy, is a real creepy guy. He's way into leeches and betraying the Starks. But the weirdest thing he does by far is calmly, quietly burn up a thick, leatherbound book while Arya watches. We never get any explanation as to what was in the book, or why he burned it before he even finished reading it. So... what's up with that, Roose? Was that a magical sacrifice kind of deal? Or... do you just not like reading?

8Where is Tyrion’s first wife?

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There are plenty of theories about what happened to Tyrion's first wife, Tysha... but I think there's a good chance that George will never confirm that Tysha is, in fact, the Sailor's Wife. Or at the very least, chances of a happy reunion are pretty slim. Sorry, Tyrion.

9What’s up with Sothoryos?

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There's a whole unexplored continent down south! With mysterious abandoned cities and whatnot! Maybe even more dragons! But George only has so much time, so I doubt we'll get to see much of Sothoryos, or find out why settlers who try to live in the ruins there always seem to disappear.

10Did Oberyn poison Tywin?

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Oberyn Martell blamed Tywin Lannister in part for the murder of his sister and her kids. But did he poison him? We'll never know for sure, since Oberyn was killed by the Mountain, and Tywin by Tyrion, before any poison drama came to light. We do know that Oberyn likes his poisons, though, and Tywin's body seems unnaturally foul and toxic after he dies, leaking strange fluids and stinking up the sept.

11Did the Maesters kill off the dragons?

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The Maesters are, for the most part, not down with magic. They seem pretty anti-dragon. And we know that before Dany, the Targaryen dragons gradually became smaller and weaker until they died out entirely. Was this just because of bad dragon-keeping practices? Or did the Maesters do some science at them, to ensure that there would be no more horrific dragon wars?

12What happened at Summerhall?

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Speaking of dragons, what happened to all those Targaryens at Summerhall? Right around the time that Rhaegar Targaryen was born, the Targaryen king decided to try and hatch the family's remaining dragon eggs. Whatever ritual they tried, however, went horrifically wrong, resulting in a huge fire at Summerhall, the Targaryen's summer palace. The king, his oldest son, and a number of other Targaryens were all killed in the process, but we might never know just what they tried or how it failed.

13Is Gerion Lannister still alive?

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Gerion was Tyrion and Jaime's favorite uncle, until he peaced out of Westeros to explore the ruins of Old Valyria... and was never heard from again. Knowing Martin, we can't count on any characters to stay dead... but also Gerion seems fairly minor, so there's a good chance his mystery will stay a mystery.

14What’s up with Patchface?

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Boy do I hope we actually find out what the heck is up with Patchface. He's the only character who seems to genuinely scare Melisandre. Patchface is Stannis Baratheon's fool, but he was in a terrible shipwreck in his youth. As a result of being "drowned" for several days, Patchface speaks mostly in nonsense rhymes... that always seem to come true. Melisandre thinks he's evil. Is he truly an agent of the Great Other? Is he related to the Drowned God of the Iron Born? Or is he just a fool who was in a terrible accident? Let's hope George gives us an answer.

15Who is Coldhands?

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Again, I hope we find out who Coldhands is... but I'm not holding my breath. In the show he's revealed to be the missing Benjen Stark, but in the books he appears to be very, very old... and undead. He's probably not Benjen, since he was killed "long ago" according to the Children of the Forest, who are pretty ancient themselves. All we know is that he's the friendliest Ice Zombie we've met so far, and that he wants to help Sam and the Starks, for reasons unknown.