Much like the characters in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, we've been waiting years for winter to come to Westeros. And this year, at long last, it looks like we might finally get our hands on The Winds of Winter, the sixth installment in Martin's wildly popular and even more wildly complicated fantasy series. In the six long years since A Dance with Dragons came out, we've had plenty of time to stew over fan theories and freak out over the major changes in the HBO show (WHERE is Lady Stoneheart?). So now that we're in the home stretch, here are the biggest questions we have before The Winds of Winter comes out.
Now, of course we have a lot of questions for book number six. Martin loves his cliffhangers, after all (remember, you can't assume that anyone is dead unless you have seen their head separated from their body). GRRM is in an especially weird position, since the HBO show has barreled on past the end of A Dance with Dragons and (presumably) spoiled all sorts of plot points for readers. Is Martin going to follow the show's plot exactly? Is he going in a completely different direction? Are Jon and Dany going to hook up even though she's probably his aunt? Only time with tell.
For now, here's what we want to know (SPOILERS for books 1-5):
1Is Jon Snow alive?
Jon Snow just can't catch a break. If his girlfriend isn't getting shot full of arrows, then he's getting stabbed in the back by his own brothers. But did those stab wounds kill him? Will Melisandre bring him back from the dead? Will he warg into Ghost and wolf around for a while? Given that A Dance with Dragons opens with a dude warging into his wolf right before he dies, it seems like a distinct possibility.
2Is Aegon for real?
What's up with baby Aegon being alive all of a sudden? If he's actually the surviving son of Rhaegar and Elia, then all the Sand Snakes in Dorne are going to freak out and join his cause. But he could just as easily be the fake "mummer's dragon" from Daenerys's vision. Is he a Blackfyre? Ilyrio's son? We'll just have to toss a dragon at him and see what happens.
3Is Cersei going full mad queen?
We know that Cersei is super into wildfire and that her new best friend Qyburn is a Frankenstein-style mad scientist. We also know that her "little brother" is going to choke her to death. Is she going to turn on King's Landing? And is Jaime going to have to murder yet another whacked out ruler?
4Will Davos find Rickon?
Davos is road-tripping to Skagos to rescue the most forgettable Stark, baby Rickon. But a lot can happen on a rescue mission. Will Davos find Rickon, and will Rickon be normal enough to return home? Or is little Rickon a unicorn-riding cannibal by now?
5Will Stannis take Winterfell?
Everyone's least favorite Baratheon is still kicking it in the North, claiming he's the king. Will Stannis take Winterfell from the Boltons? And will he and Melisandre burn little Shireen as a sacrifice when they find out that the "Wildling Prince" is a fake?
6What’s up with all these magic horns?
Sam has an old, cracked war horn that may or may not be (but definitely is) the Horn of Winter, capable of knocking down the Wall. Euron Greyjoy has some kind of nutso dragon-taming war horn thing that he claims can be used to steal one of Dany's dragons. So... when do we get to see these horns in action, George??
7Are Jaime and Brienne going to kill each other?
Are they?? Is Lady Stoneheart going ruin the only good and pure friendship in all of Westeros? It seems like Lady Stoneheart is going to make Brienne kill Jaime... but they might also team up to take down Zombie Mom Stoneheart instead?
8What is even happening at the Citadel?
Sam's finally at the Citadel... but so is a creepy new version of faceless man Jaqen H'ghar. What's he doing there? And Alleras is definitely Sarella Sand disguised as boy, right? Why does this subplot have its own subplots??
9Is Tyrion ever going to meet Dany?
C'mon, guys. Dany saw his "performance" in the fighting pit, but they still haven't officially met. We're waiting.
10Is Arya ever coming home?
I know, I know, the Stark kids are probably not going to reunite until the end of the series... if ever. But Arya's been running around Braavos for a while now. Is she going to be a career assassin? Or is she going to return to Westeros and take care of those names on her list?
11Is Bran going to live in a tree forever?
Is sweet little Bran going to turn into that corpse guy rotting in the tree? Or is he going to learn all the Greenseer powers and then return to the Seven Kingdoms with crucial time-traveler info? And is Hodor going to meet the same fate as his TV counterpart??
12Is Littlefinger going to murder Robert Arryn horrifically?
Oy. I just have a sinking feeling that as soon as Sansa marries Harry the Heir, bratty little Robert Arryn is going to get it. Is Sansa going to turn into a baby Littlefinger and go along with it, though?
13Is Dany ever coming home?
We've been waiting five books, Dany. You've spent plenty of time bumming around Slaver's Bay. When are you dragging those dragons home to Westeros?
14Who is Azor Ahai?
Stannis? Jon? Dany? Aegon? One of the boring Greyjoys? Someone has got to be the Prince (or Princess) who was Promised, who's going to roll up with dragons and a flame sword to kill all the snow zombies. All signs point to Dany or Jon, but you can usually only have one messiah figure... so who's it going to be?
15When is it coming out?
Don't leave us hanging George! When are we going to start getting answers??