Hanging Plot Threads as at the end of AFFC/ADWD

This post earned me 2015 Runner Up Post of the Year on /r/asoiaf. Only minor editing here, just remove reddit related links!

What plot threads have been left hanging from AFFC/ADWD (or all the books in general)?

The short answer? LOTS…

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Assumptions behind this post

A Song of Ice & Fire is ultimately about two things: who will sit on the Iron Throne, or the “Game of Thrones” which 90% of characters think is the most important thing of all time, and the more important War for the Dawn or whatever we’re going to call the upcoming fight against the Others, which we as readers think/hope is the bigger picture – the Song.

It’s unclear right now how much overlap there will be between The Game and The Song. Maybe lots, maybe none. But I am making the assumption that everything in Westeros is going to be affected by one or both of these major themes, and that The Game & The Song is the story that GRRM is telling.

So where are we left with various plots?


THE NORTH including the Wall & the Land of Always Winter

  • The Others
  • Jon – is he dead or not quite dead? if he’s dead, will he stay dead or be resurrected? If resurrected – how?
  • Jon – is he Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son, how will this be proven and why is it relevant? (i.e. TPTWP – what is the Prince promised for?? Is there something of Rhaegar’s in Lyanna’s tomb – like his harp, dragon egg or a marriage cloak?)
  • what does Howland Reed know and WHEN WILL HE COME AND SHARE THAT INFO WITH PEOPLE like Jon
  • The Watch – da fuq do you think you lot are doing? Stop killing your Lords Commander! The wildlings fighting with you are not your enemies right now!
  • The wildlings – do they consider Jon their king or leader? If so, how are they going to react to the Watch knifing him?
  • The Pink Letter and all the theories around that – who wrote it? If Ramsay, does he actually expect Jon as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch to have the faintest idea who “Reek” is?! is Mance a prisoner or not? Are the spearwives flayed or alive?
  • Stannis’ attempt to drive out the Boltons
  • Stannis’ play for the Iron Throne generally
  • will Shireen burn like she did on TV?
  • is Stannis gonna die, like he seemingly did on TV?
  • the Boltons have got to get some just desserts
  • what will Stannis do with Theon and Asha?
  • What is Melisandre’s end game? What’s she really playing at? Why does she believe Stannis is AAR when her church says otherwise? (See below – Essos)
  • What else will Bran (and thus us readers) learn about relevant history from the Weirwood.Net and Bloodraven?
  • What are Meera and Hodor and Jojen (if he’s not paste) doing while Bran’s warging into the weirwoods?
  • Who or what is Coldhands?
  • What do the Children of the Forest want?
  • Winterfell – is there something important in the crypts that will help the Watch/Jon defeat the Others again?
  • the Night’s King – just a story or something more?
  • How many more times can Patchface creep us out?
  • THE NORTH REMEMBERS
  • Rickon and Osha on Skagos with unicorns/wooly rhinos and cannibals
  • Davos sent to Skagos by Lord Too Fat To Sit A Horse Manderley
  • Lady Dustin’s anger about Southron Ambitions taking her One Twoo Wuv/guy who fucked her once Brandon Stark from her
  • WHERE IS BENJEN?
  • Who is the Hooded Man in Winterfell?
  • poor Jeyne Poole – what will become of her?
  • will SNOWBOWL be a thing? (for non-redditors: like the much hyped Clegane-bowl, Snow-bowl is a response to set picture leaks that suggest S6 Game of Thrones will feature a battle between Jon’s forces and Ramsay Snow’s forces. AKA Snowbowl 2016!)
  • “dead things in the water” at Hardhome and the 1000s of wildlings who foolishly followed Mother Mole there
  • if history is a wheel (as stated in one of the D&E books), then do we need to know more about the first Long Night? Specifically, who was the Last Hero? Was he a Stark?
  • why must there always be a Stark in Winterfell? And what are the consequences now there isn’t?
  • where have Ned’s bones vanished to?
  • where is Robb’s will? Grand Northern Conspiracy
  • Hodor why do you hodor?
  • the small busted horn Sam and Jon found – is that the Horn of Joramun?
  • that small cache of obsidian arrow heads – will it be enough for the Watch to hold back the Others?
  • did any of the obsidian that Stannis’ ordered to be mined on Dragonstone ever make it to the Watch?
  • does Valyrian Steel stop the Others?
  • are there ice dragons? or other icy fauna? (Spiders etc)
  • any and all missing Night Watch personnel – did everyone die or get back to Castle Black after the Craster’s Hill debacle? Where is Allistar Thorne’s ranging now? Do we assume that anyone missing North of the Wall is dead or Others-ised? Or are they all hanging out in caves with Benjen?

THE VALE

  • Littlefinger’s political scheming is leading to…???
  • Littlefinger is also Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount of the Riverlands (see below)
  • Littlefinger grooming Sansa to be Cat2.0 – the perfect love, as this time she won’t turn her back on him (ugh… creepy)
  • When and how will Sansa get her revenge on LF?
  • Will the Vale lords work out that “Alayne Stone” is really Sansa Stark, and what will they do with that knowledge?
  • How long until Sweetrobin shuffles off this mortal coil at the hand of Littlefinger?
  • marriage plots with Harry the Heir
  • how will Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion be annulled so that Littlefinger can make use of his pawn through marriage pacts, with Tyrion over in Essos exiled from Westeros, and Sansa hiding in the Vale with no High Septon to inspect her maidenhead? (which is a revolting concept BTW)
  • the armies of the Vale – the only force in Westeros untouched by the War of the Five Kings
  • the Eyrie itself as an impregnable fortress safe from everything but a dragon flying there as proven by Visenya Targaryen during the Conquest…
  • the Mountain Clans
  • Sansa Stark, Queen in the North and the Vale? (C’mon Sansa… channel Boudica…. you know it makes sense)

THE RIVERLANDS

  • the continuing fallout of the War of the Five Kings (as this is the region hit hardest)
  • Nymeria and her epic wolf pack Chekov’s gun
  • where is the Blackfish?
  • Edmure Tully as a prisoner of the Lannisters en route to Casterly Rock
  • The Brotherhood Without Banners’ base at the Crossroads Inn with Gendry and the orphans
  • is Gendry going to do more than just be eyecandy in the Crossroads forge?
  • Lady Stoneheart and her crusade against the Freys
  • Brienne and Jaime’s quest to save the Starks – have they figured out yet that Sansa is in the Vale??
  • will the septons and high brothers on the island make a reappearance, or have we said adieu to the Gravedigging Hound?
  • will we ever see the Isle of Faces or Green Men? This island full of weirwoods in the Riverlands that Howland Reed visited before going to the tourney of Harrenhal. It’s mystical – but is it relevant to the Song?
  • What will happen to Lady Darry with Lancel Lannister joining the Warrior’s Sons?
  • will more smallfolk join the Warrior’s Sons and the Sparrows to overthrow the nobles who have fucked them over with the War of the Five Kings?
  • Littlefinger is the absent Lord of Harrenhal and technically the not present Lord Paramount of the Riverlands. What will he do with that power? Will he take up his seat at the blackened castle?
  • Will people in Westeros/Riverlands/the North put it together as we readers have and realise that the Westerlings and the Spicers were likely bribed by Tywin Lannister to throw Jeyne Westerling at Robb Stark, setting up the groundwork for the Red Wedding?
  • Freys. Exterminate them. ALL of them. #TheNorthRemembers
  • Where did Jaime’s sword hand go? Roose took it from Vargo Hoat, and it’s since disappeared. If Melisandre can glamour finger bones…. what would the Kingslayer’s swordhand go for?
  • a conveniently placed minstrel (Tom o’Sevens) hears things like Jaime’s orders to transfer all Riverrun/Twins-Red Wedding captives to Casterly Rock – BWB action pending?

THE IRON ISLANDS

I resisted titling this section the Asshole Pirates of Dickhead Islands… just 😉

  • Asha and Theon are with Stannis (see The North)
  • Aeron Damphair’s guerilla movement against the “godless” Euron
  • What is Euron’s endgame anyway?
  • Victarion’s mission to Dany – it’s unlikely to end well, but how will it end?
  • what is that dragonhorn, and does it work? (or how does it work?)
  • what’s Moqorro’s game?
  • are there giant krakens and can the Ironmen command them? (That kinda freaks me out to be honest… have been terrified of giant kraken ever since I saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a kid…)
  • What is the broader point to fleshing out the Iron Islands so much? i.e. who are these people as players in the Song or the Game?
  • where is Red Ralf Stonehouse and the 1/4 of the Iron Fleet he had with him?

BRAAVOS

  • Arya’s continued training
  • what is the Faceless Men’s real plan?
  • the Iron Bank of Braavos and their connections to other plots
  • will Arya come back to Westeros or Winterfell?

THE REACH/CROWNLANDS

I’m combining these because other than producing the Tyrells, the Tarlys and being where Oldtown is based, the Reach isn’t doing much in terms of the broader plot as a region apart from being reaved by Euron’s ironborn fleets to keep the Asshole Pirates happy for a while.

  • Cersei’s trial
  • Margaery’s trial
  • Qyburn’s necromancy aka WHAT IS UNDER SER ROBERT STRONG’S VISOR? #FrankenGregor
  • the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant
  • Tommen’s regency: when will beets be banned? This is the really important question, come on!
  • fallout from Kevan Lannister’s killing
  • more fallout from Cersei’s shitty regency choices – the current Small Council couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery! Now that Kevan is dead, will it go back to that level of incompetence?
  • how does King’s Landing cope if Varys goes underground?
  • what is Varys’ (and Illyrio Mopatis’) endgame? (Is it to put a Blackfyre or descendent of Aerion Brightflame on the Iron Throne?)
  • what is the true origin of Varys?
  • the wildfire caches of Mad King Aerys + Mad Queen Cersei possibilities
  • Cersei + the Valonquar – who will kill her and her children, who is the “younger, more beautiful queen”?
  • …. sigh…. Cleganebowl get hype….. this isn’t going to happen!
  • how many more bums will sit on the Iron Throne before the end?
  • what is the Citadel’s real game? Are they a massive anti-magic conspiracy?
  • Archmaester Marwyn – will he get to Dany and why did he take the Night’s Watch books with him?
  • what is Jaqen/Pate’s mission in Oldtown?
  • what will we learn of the Citadel in exposition as Sam has his maester training?
  • Sarella Sand as Alleras the novice – why is there a Sand Snake in Oldtown too? Taking after Daddy or doing something else?
  • glass candles – are they important?
  • the continuation of House Lannister v House Tyrell battling for control of Tommen’s regency
  • Aurane Waters’ pinching the royal fleet and setting himself up as the Pirates of Stepstones
  • when will these selfish pricks consumed with playing the Game of Thrones realise that the War for Dawn is coming???
  • WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AT SUMMERHALL???????
  • will Bronn be accepted as Lord of Stokesworth?
  • Who will succeed Gyles as Lord of Rosby – will his money go to the crown as Cersei wanted Pycelle to arrange, or will his bastard be made his heir/take it anyway to offend Falsythe Stokesworth?
  • are the remaining members of the Bloody Mummers/Brave Companions in Oldtown, and if so, why?

THE STORMLANDS including Dragonstone

  • Young Griff – is he really Aegon or he is “fAegon” (a fake Aegon)?
  • if fAegon – is he just a conveniently alike Valyrian boy trained to be the perfect king or is he a Blackfyre or Brightflame?
  • continuing the Blackfyre thing – what is Illyrio’s motivation to back any Targaryen if fAegon is not a Blackfyre? Why does he care about the Iron Throne at all if fAegon is not his son to a Blackfyre wife?
  • Aegon’s continued invasion with the Golden Company
  • JonCon’s greyscale – ticking bomb for disease to wipe out Westeros from the bottom up?
  • Loras’ “injuries” at Dragonstone – convenient cover story or truthful?
  • Randyl Tarly and his opportunities to be an even bigger dick to more people
  • Where is Edric Storm? Do any of Robert’s surviving bastards have a role to play in the future of House Baratheon?

DORNE

  • Ashara Dayne. Is she important to the plot or was she just described in huge detail for shits and giggles?
  • Actually Starfall/House Dayne generally. Does Dawn need to be wielded by a new Sword of the Morning in the War for Dawn? Is it Lightbringer?
  • Tower of Joy
  • Doran Martell’s long simmering plans for revenge against the Lannisters for Elia’s murder. Has he waited too long? Or does he have a bigger plan?
  • Which Targaryen will House Martell back – the one already here (fAegon) or the one with the dragons (Dany)?
  • Sand Snakes everywhere – Oldtown, King’s Landing, the Myrcella plot. Is Doran holding their leash or not?
  • Arianne and her ambitions. Where to next for the would-be Queen?
  • who blabbed on her plan to crown Myrcella?
  • will Myrcella escape Maggy the Frog’s prophecy as she’s in Dorne, or is she going to die too?
  • Is Darkstar really all he’s cracked up to be?

ESSOS

I’m probably going to regret lumping everything on this continent in one basket but here goes….

  • the Red Temple of Volantis believe Daenerys is Azor Azai Reborn – is she?
  • Will Dany and her dragons get to Westeros?
  • The Meereenese Knot including all and any plot points relating to locusts, Hidhzar Harzoo, harpies, Green Grace, Jorah, Dario, Barristan, the Battle for Meereen, slaves, Unsullied, the pale mare, fighting pits, and how the hell Dany GRRM is going to get herself one of his main characters out of her rule of Meereen which is more or less pointless to the big picture of the Song or the Game apart from Dany’s personal character development but now she’s stuck in plot mud on the wrong continent and on to Westeros
  • Dany will need to choose between being Mhysa and taking what is hers with Fire and Blood. Can she be a gentle queen and a conqueror at the same time? Probably not – her final ADWD chapter suggests she’s realised this (all credit to the Meereenese Blot)
  • Dany, Drogon and Khal Whatsisface and the Dosh Khaleen. Will Dany take control of all the Dothraki and be the Dragon Who Mounts The World?
  • Tyrion plans to get back to Casterly Rock and is promising sell swords shares of Lannister gold and land
  • Quentyn Martell is dead right? If he isn’t, Barristan just set a bunch of beetles to eating a not-dead man’s flesh to reveal his bones to send back to Dorne. Oops
  • Dany only has control of one dragon right now. What will become of Viserion and Rhaegal?
  • WTF happened in Valyria anyway?
  • and what’s the deal with Asshai?
  • who is Quaithe and what is her deal?
  • does Tyrion also have greyscale? (JonCon believes he contracted the disease while rescuing Tyrion from his fall into the Rhoyne. Tyrion keeps pricking his fingers and toes, so far so good but will it last?)

METAPHYSICAL or NO KNOWN LOCATION

  • There is magic, but are there any gods?
  • The Faith has a lot to say about people’s daily lives (e.g. their war on unchaste behaviour – Cersei and Margaery’s trials are both based on fundamentally anti-sexuality and sexist notions about “proper conduct becoming a lady”) but doesn’t seem to have much to say on the Others. Will this be a problem when 80-90% of Westeros has forgotten the threat that comes with Winter?
  • R’hollor. The Night is Dark and Full of Tinfoil. What is actually going on?
  • The Old Gods. Are there gods, or are there just greenseers like Bloodraven? What powers do Weirwoods have?
  • Where do whores go? (or will Tyrion’s question be confirmed to be nothing more than his own meandering thinking?)
  • Why do the Maesters want to extinguish magic?
  • How did the Valyrians breed dragons anyway? Why was it important to keep the blood “pure”/inbred through incestuous marriages? Why do Dany’s dragons seem to like Brown Ben Plumm for his “drop or three” of dragonblood? What relevance does all of this have to “the dragon must have three heads”?
  • Exactly how did Valyria go boom?
  • How old is Melisandre? And is she Bloodraven and Shiera Seastar’s daughter?
  • Are the Others evil, good or indifferent?
  • Are the Children of the Forest good, evil or indifferent?
  • are there hidden dragons like Cannibal and Sheepstealer?

Conclusions: no wonder it’s taking GRRM so long to write The Winds of Winter. So many plot threads, only a few books to get them all down in (assuming 2 more ASOIAF + 3-5 more Dunk and Egg novellas + the supposed Fire and Blood Targaryen-focused history in the vein of The World of Ice and Fire)

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