Okay that title is a little misleading. I genuinely hope and believe that GRRM will do a finer job of telling his own story than I or anyone else ever could. At the same time, we have been forewarned to expect much the same thing as the show. So, while I still think there will be better set up in the books, I don’t think it’s worth holding out too much hope for things being all that different. I’m trying to work very much within the existing framework and exploring slight differences- rather than writing an alternative ending (sorry if you got your hopes up 😉 ). And if you’ve been thrown into this post and are wondering where I’m coming from with this, feel free to check out my posts on the series:
Now that I’ve got my apologies out the way, *spoiler warning*, I’m gonna get into what I actually think…
Honestly, while I would like nothing more than for the White Walkers to be the final villain, with Dany having sacked King’s Landing and going North for a redemption arc- I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go down. A Song of Ice and Fire was never a typical fantasy story. If anything, the showrunners made it too epic by position the Night King as the Big Boss Villain (and then backtracking on that pronto).
My thoughts are more along the lines that Jon will fight the majority of the White Walkers in Winds of Winter and defeat most of their forces. BUT this won’t be a “Night King dies and army of the dead collapses”- rather he will find out the *real reason* they exist and thus will need a long term strategy to keep them from returning. With this promise of a future threat, Jon is motivated to go South and get more help for the Night’s Watch in case this threat arises again (that or he’ll have a “to hell with you all moment” and just abandon his post 😉). Either way, Jon’s character arc will definitely get darker, especially after having been brought back to life, but he will retain the respect of his men by defeating some of the dead (again #notall – if this is a metaphor for Global Warming, it stands to reason it is both a manmade threat AND an ongoing battle for mankind). Dany, by contrast, will spend most of the book entangled in conflicts with the Dothraki and then crossing the sea to Westeros.
Dream of Spring, in my mind, will cover Dany’s descent into “madness” and loss of her remaining forces. This is where SELMY will give her some appalling advice, which results in losing most of her armies. She will be backed into a corner AND have the added displeasure of having to fight someone she views as a fraud… the book’s Aegon Targaryen. Aegon will gain the support from Dorne that rightfully belongs to her. Driven by her anger and perhaps the spread of Greyscale in the city, she will burn King’s Landing to the ground as a last-ditch effort to win her war. People will then label her the Mad Queen and malign her as a monster in stories- somewhat unfairly (the benefit of having multiple povs means it doesn’t have to be black or white and significantly we’ll see it from Dany’s perspective).
Now I’d love to see Jon/Dany storylines elegantly tied up, but I have left this open-ended deliberately. It is possible that they meet and even that Dany becomes pregnant with his child (parts of her story were given to Cersei after all). I would love nothing more than the fulfilment of the Azor Ahai prophecy, where Jon kills his lover before turning to fight the rest of the White Walkers. HOWEVER, it is also possible that Jon hears of the Mad Queen and his heritage and it’s at this point where he turns to King’s Landing to defeat her. Either way, I would very much still expect him to kill Dany when she goes too far AND to turn away from the throne when it is offered to him (the main difference being he still has a mystical purpose in the North and it is HIS CHOICE!) Also, he’ll have Rhaegal, cos I’m not so flippant about killing dragons…
Turning to a *more wish fulfilment* part of the post, Bran will be Lord of Winterfell at most. NOT king. Seriously, I hate this twist and I don’t think even GRRM can convince me it will work. Now, this isn’t me side-lining Sansa- I still love her and would like/expect her to end up in Highgarden (bearing in mind where she is in the books is very different to the show). I also think she’ll be instrumental in bringing down Littlefinger AND that she’ll witness the Eyrie falling (because “impregnable” in fantasy is code for “definitely getting impregnated”). Notice the only person I haven’t mentioned is Tyrion- that’s because in the books he has been side-lined and I’m not sure what that’ll mean for his character. I think ultimately he’s probably going to regain Casterly Rock, but I don’t see him as anything more than an advisor to Dany. I don’t see him becoming Hand of the King. In fact, I still think there will be more of a council-type situation when it comes to the way power is balanced out when the books end.
One thing I am certain of is that the same people that died in the show will die in the books. I do think there will be differences in execution- most notably with regards to Jaime and Cersei (Cersei’s end will be closer to what was prophesised). Actually, this seems like a good time to see how accurate I was with previous predictions:
Not bad. The only main character that died who I didn’t mention was the Hound (not including Varys and Melisandre who we were told would die). I was definitely overcautious putting Jon on the list- especially when I thought he’d survive up until the eve of Season 8 (though given how his story ended I wish he had got it). Thankfully I was very wrong about Arya- I thought she was heading down a darker path. I suppose we should be grateful for the Hound’s wisdom.
Oh boy, thinking of what I got wrong already, this is definitely the kind of post that won’t age well 😉 As I said before, I could easily be wrong on all of this, but it was a little cathartic to get this out of my system. Perhaps my fumbling about can be seen as evidence for what a difficult job the showrunners had bringing it all together. And I’m sympathetic to that, really. I only wish we hadn’t been put through that fiasco of a finale. Also, because my job does not depend on it, I can safely say this is a democracy and I’m very open to suggestions you have here.
How do you think the books will end? Do you think it will be totally different or much the same as the show? Or are you like me- do you think it will probably be the same, but would like to entertain ideas of it being different? Let me know in the comments!