The War of the Five Kings, and its ignoble ending at the Red Wedding, eradicated a lot of the claimants for the Iron Throne or any regional thrones in Westeros.
As we prepare for the launch of season 6 GOT, let’s review where we left everyone at the end of A Feast for Crows/A Dance of Dragons – specifically, those main characters that many think (or hope!) will go on to be future pawns in the Game of Thrones, or major players.
NB: I’m not up to date on the TV show. I’ve monitored Buzzfeed and Tumblr, and have a reasonably good idea of the deviations in plot and major points, but I haven’t actually watched past season 2 GOT myself. It’s on my To Watch list and I recently got the 5 season box set… but I haven’t actually sat down and binged yet as I’ve had stuff to do.
The King on the Iron Throne: Tommen Baratheon
Adorable chibis by Hadibou
Tommen, First of His name, and his Queen Margaery Tyrell are currently on the Iron Throne.
Well… Tommen is, anyway. Marge is in the custody of the Faith, awaiting her trial for alleged adultery and “unlawful carnal knowledge” – or whatever the Faith is terming their crusade against lust. Tommen is still in King’s Landing, happily stamping his royal seal on papers and playing with Ser Pounce. Remember: Show!Tommen is considerably aged up, to make the marriage with an older Natalie Dormer less paedophilic to modern eyes. In the books, wee Tommen is only 8, and currently he is under the protection of the Hand of the King, his father-in-law Mace Tyrell. It will be very interesting to see how Cersei responds to the assassination of Ser Kevan Lannister, not just as the last senior Lannister who was keeping Cersei in check, but the last Lannister protecting Tommen from the “corrupting influence” of the Tyrells. With Grand Maester Pycelle also dead, Cersei has lost her long term Lannister cronies and influence over her boy king. Can she appeal to his love for his mother… bearing in mind that she’s been a pretty terrible mother to him in the past?
However Marge manages to untangle herself from this bed of thorns, it seems highly likely that Tommen’s reign will come to an abrupt and bloody end at some stage in S6 or TWOW. Before Jaime (who I think is the valonqar) will kill Cersei, all of their children must first die.
Margaery has learned from her grandmother Olenna, the “Queen of Thorns”, and I have no doubt that she will get herself out of her current predicament in some way – most likely through making some kind of deal with the High Sparrow. We have hints from S6 that Show!Margaery will become abruptly and unexpectedly pious and a convert to the Sparrow movement – is this just a foil to her true plans, or will it be a real conversion? Only time will tell.
DAKINGINDANORF – Snow Wight & A Shaggydog Story
Let’s just pause and remember this epic speech from Davos IV ADWD:
“Foes and false friends are all around me, Lord Davos. They infest my city like roaches, and at night I feel them crawling over me.” The fat man’s fingers coiled into a fist, and all his chins trembled.
“My son Wendel came to the Twins a guest. He ate Lord Walder’s bread and salt, and hung his sword upon the wall to feast with his friends. And they murdered him. Murdered, I say, and may the Freys choke upon their fables. I drink with Jared, jape with Symond, promise Rhaegar the hand of my own beloved granddaughter…but never think that means I have forgotten. The north remembers, Lord Davos. The north remembers, and the mummer’s farce is almost done. My son is home.”
Lord Manderly revealed to Ser Onion Knight his plans: Ser Davos is to retrieve Rickon Stark, and his direwolf companion (which will be frankly much better proof than anything that Rickon is who Manderly says he is!) and bring him back to the North to be crowned DAKINGINDANORF.
Sounds great in theory… but will Rickon’s story be less climactic than we hope? There is an ominous clue in the name of his direwolf: Shaggydog. As others have noted, the names the Starks gave their wolves tell us significant plot points: Bran is a boy of Summer, thrust into a harsh winter; Jon will live a second life in Ghost; Sansa’s defender Lady will be killed; Arya set loose a new warrior wolf queen in Nymeria; Robb’s rule puffed out like a (Grey) Wind…. and Rickon’s may be a “shaggy dog story” – something that appears to be hugely important but ultimately comes to nothing.
Lord Manderly has very thinly veiled hopes of being the power behind the Northern throne in restoring a Stark King to Winterfell – Rickon is younger than Tommen, and will need a long regency. Also, he’s been living with a wildling, Osha, and a wolf on the notoriously wild island of Skagos, where cannibalism is apparently common. We already saw in AGOT and ACOK before the boys left Winterfell that Rickon lashed out to the loss of his parents (the literal loss of Ned, and the slower loss of Cat after she never returned to Winterfell after she went to King’s Landing) was to grow wilder and wilder. Now he’s been living for his formative young years in Wild Town, Wild Island, with Wild People (and wooly rhinos or unicorns…)
Manderly might well find that his planned puppet king is an untamable, uncontrollable wild child, that cannot command the respect of the Northern lords who are tired of war and facing the second Long Night (whether they know it or not.)
Isn’t it convenient then that there’s another KINGINDANORF available?
After Jon is brought back from his long sleep, it’s highly, highly likely that he will abandon the Night’s Watch and ride for Winterfell to deal with Ramsay Snow as he planned to do before he was “For The Watch”-ed. Unknowingly, he commands the Free Folk – he is the King Beyond The Wall In Front Of The Wall. And if Robb’s will surfaces, the Northern lords will have proof of their previous king’s intention to legitimise his half-brother and make him DAKINGINDANORF. More discussion of that here.
Once the Bolton force is rekt, whoever is DAKINGINDANORF will have to get the North ready to fight the next war: not a war in the game of thrones, but a war for their survival. Expect the Wall to fall soon – both in S6 and TWOW. That last barrier is as doomed as the failed Night’s Watch that guard it, and Winter is Coming.
The Hidden Queen: Sansa Stark Lannister
This is a tricky one.
On the face of things, Sansa is powerless: hidden away as Alayne Stone, bastard daughter of Lord Petyr Baelish. But Littlefinger has his plans for her, as revealed in the TWOW sample chapters – he wants Alayne to woo and seduce Harry the Heir, in order to ensure that the heir is also under Littlefinger’s influence, as well as the weak Lord of the Vale, Sweetrobin.
Art by AnitaGarsiaLopez
But how exactly is Sansa going to marry anyone? She is already married: as Sansa Stark, to Tyrion Lannister (and in the show, to Ramsay Snow). Book!Sansa remains a virgin, as Tyrion refused to be bullied by his father into raping a vulnerable girl, and while in theory that marriage could be easily annulled by the High Septon as not consummated… in practice that’s a little more difficult, as Tyrion is in Essos and Sansa is still a suspect in Joffrey’s murder. As much as I don’t want to watch the show’s degradation of Sansa in S5, I am curious as to how they circumvented this bit. I’m told that the show just completed skipped over and ignored it to wed Sansa Stark to Ramsay Bolton… which is just bad storytelling. Sansa’s wedding to Tyrion was a big part of ASOS/season 3 – and the show just expects everyone forgot?
So ignoring Show!Sansa’s bigamy… how will Book!Sansa become a player in the game of thrones?
I really hope we see Sansa start to enact the lessons she has been learning, and seize control of the Vale forces – the only forces in Westeros untouched by the War of the Five Kings (apart from Dorne, which is likely to be caught up in southern conflicts soon.) Littlefinger’s days will be numbered once Sansa steps into her own as the leader of the Vale and North – perhaps even DAQUEENINDANORF?
Littlefinger’s ambitions and schemes have, in my view, peaked and he is soon to become a victim of his own greed and conspiring. I strongly, strongly suspect that the cause of his downfall will be his sexual attraction to Sansa, who he has been grooming in the manner of a sexual predator since AFFC to be a replacement for his fantasy Catelyn (remembering that the real Catelyn never returned Petyr’s love or lust, and Petyr’s “Only Cat” is really “Only the imagined version of Cat that I have misremembered that was in love with me and should have been mine.”) Littlefinger’s fall will (I hope!) be a glorious takedown of rape culture and the presumption of a man who assumed not only that his lust was reciprocated as a teenager, but that he can mould a new sex toy out of a young woman because he has all the power over her.
The Arsehole Pirates of Dickhead Islands
OK, I’ll be honest: I have literally no idea what GRRM has in store for us with the Ironborn. I really don’t.
Vince That Was Promised suggests that Euron Greyjoy is playing a long game, that will result in him gaining control of at least one dragon, with his brother Victarion being set up to die from honking the Dragonbinder horn, that Euron has in all probability ensured through blood magic is linked to him so that regardless of who blows the horn, the dragon it binds will be under Euron’s power. Poor Quentyn and others have speculated that Euron was also a pupil through dream training of Bloodraven, the Three Eyed Crow.
Me? I have no freaking idea at all what the relevance of the Ironborn is to the plot beyond one straightforward thing: Victarion’s Iron Fleet will give Dany the ships she needs to get from Meereen to Westeros during or at the end of TWOW. That’s my only prediction that I’m confident about with the Ironborn plotlines.
That’s not to say that I think the Ironborn sections of AFFC are a waste: I found them fascinating. But I’m just not sure how the Ironborn stuff links to the broader themes of the game of thrones, where people are trying to control the Iron Throne, and the song of ice and fire, which is dealing with the Others and the coming Long Night 2.0.
So where are the Arsehole Pirates of Dickhead Islands currently:
- Asha Greyjoy is in the captivity of Stannis Baratheon’s forces in the North
- Theon Greyjoy has escaped from Winterfell and Ramsay Bolton’s control with Jeyne Poole (or Show!Sansa)
- Victarion Greyjoy is en route to Slaver’s Bay with 2/3rds of the Iron Fleet (1/3rd having mysteriously disappeared) and the Red Priest Moqorro, who has seemingly made a convert out of the pigheaded idiot Victarion
- Euron Greyjoy has been crowned the King of the Iron Islands at the Kingsmoot, but has gone reaving… to places unknown but maybe following Victarion’s fleet? (Vince That Was Promised speculates that Euron uses a mix of glass candle magic and his experience as the Corsair King to manipulate the Redwyne fleet to the Stepstones, far away from the south west coast they would otherwise be defending, while the Ironborn raid and reave in ADWD. I like this idea because it ties together a lot of the loose ends of AFFC/ADWD that have puzzled me.)
- Aeron Greyjoy the Damphair has gone underground and is maybe planning a guerrilla revolution against the godless Euron