Why Neither Dany Nor Jon Will Win 'GoT' According To This Book Clue

Helen Sloan/HBO

For years, the defining mystery at the heart of Game Of Thrones has been: who will sit on the Iron Throne when the series is over? Sure, fans also want to know who the valonqar is or which candidate is The Prince That Was Promised or how the Night King will be defeated. And sure, petty political squabbles seem unimportant compared to hordes of ice zombies. But when it comes down to it, the word "throne" is right there in the title, so it's natural to wonder whose royal bottom will be occupying the titular chair when the credits roll on the series finale. Well, if this one detail from the books is any indication, neither Dany nor Jon will rule when Game Of Thrones is over.

Unlike the television show, which is able to maintain an omniscient viewpoint across a sprawling ensemble cast, George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire novels are told from a strict third-person perspective, with each chapter told from a specific character's singular point-of-view. That means the books can never feature scenes between non-POV characters like the fascinating conversations between bitter spouses Robert and Cersei in Season 1, or the compelling interaction between the Hound and Beric Dondarrion in the Season 7 premiere.

What does this have to do with the Iron Throne? Well, once you've read all five of Martin's novels, it becomes apparent that the author never writes from the point-of-view of a monarch. In another example of the ways in which Martin subverts traditional fantasy tropes, he is less concerned with the affairs of monarchs than with the struggles of the people around them.

King Robert was never a POV character; none of the would-be rulers involved in the War Of The Five Kings were POV characters; neither King-Beyond-The-Wall Mance Rayder nor young King Tommen were ever POV characters. Rather, Robb's story was told from the perspective of his mother Catelyn, Stannis' through Davis, Mance's through Jon, Tommen through Cersei, etc. So, unless Martin suddenly decides to change the fundamental way he has approached his story for five novels, thousands of pages, and 21 years, nobody who has been a POV character will end up on the Iron Throne.

In the end, it's likely that A Song Of Ice And Fire will end the same way it began: As the story of "cripples, bastards, and broken things" and not the story of kings and queens. So if none of the story's protagonists are destined to rule Westeros — if even Dany and Jon exist in service to some larger story — then who will win the game of thrones? The assumed requirement that it be a non-POV character certainly lends credence to the theory that Gendry will be king, claiming the throne as the sole surviving offspring of King Robert Baratheon.

Of course, with the show now so far off-script from Martin's source material, there's no guarantee that things will play out the same onscreen as they will on the page. While it seems doubtful that the showrunners would change anything so major as who ends up on the Iron Throne, it is at least possible that they have a totally different ending in mind. After all, based on this guideline, it's unlikely that Cersei will ever become queen in the books the way she did on the show, since she started getting her own POV chapters in Martin's fourth novel, A Feast For Crows.

Westeros has been so devastated by the events of the series, with so many major houses wiped off the map, that there will be few people left to pick up the pieces if both Dany and Jon ultimately perish in the Great War to come. If neither of them are destined to rule the Seven Kingdoms, maybe the most pessimistic fan theory has been right all along, and nobody will win the game of thrones… because the title of the series itself is just one big red herring, and there will be no throne left to sit on when all is said and done.