Lord Varys

Plot developments / expectations for The Winds of Winter

154 posts in this topic

The purpose of this thread is to lay out realistic expectations about plot developments in The Winds of Winter. How far can we the story expect to go? Focus is supposed to be more on the amount of plot than can be covered than the direction you think the story should (or is) going to go.

There are certain uncontroversial plot elements we can reasonably expect to be covered in The Winds of Winter (e.g. the aftermath of Jon's assassination, the outcome and aftermath of the two battles that were moved to next book, the continuation of Prince Aegon's campaign, the meeting of Jaime and Catelyn Stark, etc.). It makes sense to discuss those here, especially in relation to the number of pages and chapters George might need to cover all those events.

As a book The Winds of Winter should be closer to A Storm of Swords than A Dance of Dragons because we are supposed to meet all POV characters again in that book, unlike A Dance with Dragons (which lacked both Sansa and Samwell; although we also have to keep in mind that A Storm of Swords was lacking Theon as a POV character). A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons greatly expanded the number of POVs so it is quite clear that The Winds of Winter should contain, on average, fewer chapters of each POV character than ASoS did.

The same should go for plot as well, with the possible exception of POV characters who spend time together and continue to remain together, essentially having the same story. Such characters could possibly include Theon and Asha Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, Tyrion Lannister, Victarion Greyjoy and Barristan Selmy, Jon Snow and Melisandre of Asshai, and Arianne Martell and Jon Connington.

However, there is no guarantee that these people will remain together for the entirety of TWoW, making it possible that the story of those apparent united characters isn't going to advance as far as one would assume because they part ways again. Another chance is that certain POV characters die, making it possible to tell the continuing story solely through the chapters of the 'survivor'.

In general, though, the fact that much more POV characters will be crammed into the about 1,500 manuscript pages we can reasonably expect The Winds of Winter to cover even less plot than A Storm of Swords did.

We know that George usually needs a lot of pages to cover battles, and we already have gotten sample chapters building up to and/or covering parts of the two battles that will open the next book. The Battle at the Wall and its aftermath in ASoS covered a lot of pages, just as the Battle of the Blackwater did in ACoK. The Winds of Winter will open on two major battles, with another violent conflict potentially brewing at the Wall, the prospect of another struggle for power in King's Landing, and the continuation (and eventual escalation) of Aegon's and Euron's campaigns in the Stormlands/Crownlands and the Reach.

How much space are the battles we can (reasonably) foresee to occur early on in the book to going to take in pages and chapters?

How many chapters do you expect for the main characters (Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister), the secondary characters who were given a lot of chapters in the last two books (Brienne of Tarth, Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister), and what about the children who should feature prominently but usually don't, at least not in the last two books (Arya Stark, Brandon Stark, Sansa Stark).

How far are those stories going to progress - thinking about the cases where we can reasonably predict what's going to happen? For instance, is Daenerys going to leave Essos for Westeros in the next book? Or is she even going to arrive in Westeros in the next book? Will the Wall still stand at the end of TWoW?

I don't see the story progressing very far. I think Daenerys might unite the Dothraki under her rule and start/conduct a campaign to punish her enemies in Essos with the help of the Dothraki (Qarth, most importantly, but also the Ghiscari cities still standing after the coming battles in Slaver's Bay). I could see Aegon's story in TWoW ending with his taking of KL and his formal coronation and installation as King Aegon VI, possibly also with his wedding to Arianne. I've great difficulty seeing the fall of the Wall in the next book because there was no buildup in that direction in ADwD. Could be that Bran's chapters are going to deliver in that department in the next book - if that's the case then the Wall could at least be attacked in the end of book.

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Posted (edited)

It's hard for me to separate how I think Winds will be how I'd like Winds to be. But I think (and hope) that the plot will advance more than you predict. Even George has expressed in interviews that he wishes that POV characters begin to reunite again in order to streamline the storylines and move things forward at a faster place..

But I'm very bad at predicting. I was convinced that Dance would include Tyrion becoming Dany's Hand, Euron stealing dragons with the horn and having actual dragon fights. Before Feast I (and many others) assumed that Sansa would marry Robert Arryn to become the Lady of the Vale. Before, the first Sansa chapter in ASOS was given as a sample, we were all convinced that she would marry Wylas and rule the Reach behind the curtains.

21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We know that George usually needs a lot of pages to cover battles, and we already have gotten sample chapters building up to and/or covering parts of the two battles that will open the next book. The Battle at the Wall and its aftermath in ASoS covered a lot of pages, just as the Battle of the Blackwater did in ACoK. The Winds of Winter will open on two major battles, with another violent conflict potentially brewing at the Wall, the prospect of another struggle for power in King's Landing, and the continuation (and eventual escalation) of Aegon's and Euron's campaigns in the Stormlands/Crownlands and the Reach.

How much space are the battles we can (reasonably) foresee to occur early on in the book to going to take in pages and chapters?

On the other hand, there have been other battles that have been dealt with rather quickly. The Battle of the Green Fork and the Whispering Wood are covered in a single chapter each. Of course that was in the first book, when George wrote in a somehow more direct, straight-to-the point fashion.

Another indicator that supports the thesis that the battles of ice and fire won't be very long in terms of characters: as Anne Groell told us in an old interview, they were intended to be part of ADWD and were only moved to TWOW at the last minute. Being ADWD already a huge volume, I can't imagine how one could ever consider that there was room for a couple of six chapters battle such as the Blackwater.

All that said, my guess would be that the Battle of Ice will be resolved rather quickly (as there is no POV available to fight in it), and the Battle of Fire will be much longer: If I were to bet, I'd say 2 relatively short chapters of Barristan, Tyrion and Victarion, and 1 Dany chapter.

21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

How many chapters do you expect for the main characters (Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister), the secondary characters who were given a lot of chapters in the last two books (Brienne of Tarth, Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister), and what about the children who should feature prominently but usually don't, at least not in the last two books (Arya Stark, Brandon Stark, Sansa Stark).

My guess is that Jon will be resurrected late in the book, so he won't appe. Most fans also seem to agree that Aeron, Victarion, Barristan and Theon will die early in the book, so they won't appear much. Samwell and Sansa, while not connected to the main stoylines, will need at least enough time to deal with the plots of Maester Marwyn/Alleras and Littlefinger/Mad Mouse Shadrich. And I'm not sure what Brienne and Jaime are supposed to do, but George seems to like both characters a lot, so we'll have a fair amount of them.

If I were to give numbers, I'd say something like:

  • Prologue: 1
  • Mereen: 20 (Dany 7, Tyrion 9, Barristan 2, Victarion 2)
  • Braavos: 4 (Arya)
  • North/Wall: 15 (Jon 3, Mel 2, Theon 2, Asha 3, Davos 2, Bran 3)
  • Vale: 4 (Sansa)
  • Oldtown: 4 (Samwell)
  • Riverlands: 8 (Jaime 4, Brienne 4)
  • Dorne: 2 (Areo)
  • KL/Stormlands: 13 (Cersei 6, Jon Connington 3, Arianne 4)
  • Iron Islands: 2 (Damphair)

This adds 73, which is the same number of chapters of Dance.

21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

How far are those stories going to progress - thinking about the cases where we can reasonably predict what's going to happen? For instance, is Daenerys going to leave Essos for Westeros in the next book? Or is she even going to arrive in Westeros in the next book? Will the Wall still stand at the end of TWoW?

I don't see the story progressing very far. I think Daenerys might unite the Dothraki under her rule and start/conduct a campaign to punish her enemies in Essos with the help of the Dothraki (Qarth, most importantly, but also the Ghiscari cities still standing after the coming battles in Slaver's Bay). I could see Aegon's story in TWoW ending with his taking of KL and his formal coronation and installation as King Aegon VI, possibly also with his wedding to Arianne. I've great difficulty seeing the fall of the Wall in the next book because there was no buildup in that direction in ADwD. Could be that Bran's chapters are going to deliver in that department in the next book - if that's the case then the Wall could at least be attacked in the end of book.

I might be wishful thinking on my part, but I still hope that Winds covers much more than that.

If only to justify the title, and to conform with an ideal structure than things should get as bad as possible in the next-to-last book in order get batter in the final one, I'd like to see the Wall fall by the end of Winds. And to allow at least one book for Dany to interact with the rest of the main cast, having the final Dany chapter depicting his arrival to Westeros would also be nice.

Edited by The hairy bear

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21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I don't see the story progressing very far...

I don't think this impression is appropriate. In fact I expect to see the opposite we saw in aDwD, where the groundwork for Winds was established. We are going to see quite a number of important events, even if the time covered is not as long

- Battle of the Ice, putting an end to the short Bolton's rule.

- Battle of Fire, defeating once for all the slavers, Dany has finally her fleet consisting mostly in Volantine ships.

- Dany unifying the khalasars, she is declared the 'stallion who mounts the world'. She marches west (but I don't rule out her marching to Qarth first). She doesn't leave Essos yet.

- Second red weeding, insurrection in the Riverlands. All Lannister gains there are undone.

- Aegon takes KL, bring Dorne into the fold. Cersei flees to the CR

- Defeat of the Redwyne fleet (Battle of the Sea?). Euron sacks Oldtown and burns the Citadel.

- The Wall falls. Possibly in the Epilogue. I always imagined a gloomy but fanny Dolorous Edd epilogue, taking a piss towards the Wall, hearing a distant horn and the Wall disappears under his feet.

So, it is actually quite a lot to pack in one book! You can barely breath and in between there are all juicy details. What happens with Jaime? Who wrote the PL? What happens with Jon? to Theon? to Arya? What awesomeness will Bran do? etc, etc , etc.

My main uncertainties.

- How the politics around Meeren work during Dany's absence.

- How the politics in the NW and then the North work during Jon's death and after the Battle of the Ice?

- How the Reach reacts to multiple threats. Do they get into Aegon alliance? Or do they fight against him?

- What shit will Euron actually do? Will he get a dragon or a kraken? or some different supernatural crap.

- How do you throw the Vale into the mix? I haven't paid enough attention to Sansa's chapters so I cannot say.

- Free Cities war? Grey Plague?

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59 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

It's hard for me to separate how I think Winds will be how I'd like Winds to be.

I know. That's why I started a thread where we can try to do this anyway ;-).

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But I think (and hope) that the plot will advance more than you predict. Even George has expressed in interviews that he wishes that POV characters begin to reunite again in order to streamline the storylines and move things forward at a faster place.

Oh, I'm somewhat optimistic that the plots where POVs have been united things will move along at a faster pace. He is most likely to switch back and forth between Arianne and Connington chapters, and the same would go for Asha/Theon, and so on. However, there are still too many plots in those books, and ADwD actually broadened the scope, giving no indication that things are approaching the grand finale.

If that was the case the Others would devastate the North right now, everything would have gone to hell, and we would be able to discuss a few hints to discuss potential twist how the heroes might be able to defeat the Others. But that kind of thing is still light years away.

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But I'm very bad at predicting. I was convinced that Dance would include Tyrion becoming Dany's Hand, Euron stealing dragons with the horn and having actual dragon fights. Before Feast I (and many others) assumed that Sansa would marry Robert Arryn to become the Lady of the Vale. Before, the first Sansa chapter in ASOS was given as a sample, we were all convinced that she would marry Wylas and rule the Reach behind the curtains.

Indeed. We can reasonably predict the development of the plot up to a point. Nobody foresaw Aegon's invasion in ADwD (at least I don't remember anybody entertaining this idea).

We have to keep in mind that there could be certain game changer moments in TWoW, too, but everything we know right now indicates that both Aegon and Euron have come to stay. The amount of supporting characters in Aegon's camp strongly suggests as much, and in Euron's case we have many hints indicating that he is supposed to become the great antagonist of the second half of the series.

Even the deaths of many important characters wouldn't necessarily reduce the number of the dangling plotlines. Even if Daenerys were to die right now her movement - then under the leadership of Tyrion, Selmy, Victarion, or other people - might still continue, just as House Stark didn't die with Robb and Catelyn.

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On the other hand, there have been other battles that have been dealt with rather quickly. The Battle of the Green Fork and the Whispering Wood are covered in a single chapter each. Of course that was in the first book, when George wrote in a somehow more direct, straight-to-the point fashion.

That is true, but we already know that there are multiple chapters covering the Battle of Fire, and the same seems to be the case for the Battle of Ice. At least insofar as we seem to be getting Theon 1 as a buildup chapter, followed possibly by Asha 1 as another buildup chapter, concluding the battle with Theon 2. Or perhaps only the first phase of that battle. Whatever happens at Stannis' village isn't going to decide who is going to hold Winterfell in the future.

But I agree with you that the Battle of Ice is most likely going to be covered in less total chapters than the Battle of Fire.

Although it will depend whether there is going to be a second battle at Winterfell and whether the arrival of the Volantenes at Slaver's Bay is going cause another battle. I'm optimistic that the latter won't necessarily be the case if get a straight forward rebellion by the tiger soldiers, but we cannot be completely sure of that. Thinking about that, I'm pretty sure Archmaester Marwyn is going to arrive in Meereen aboard one of the Volantene ships.

And the outcome of the Battle of Fire can necessitate quite a few chapters to resolve things/deal with the fallout depending who dies and who survives and what the various factions intend to do in the wake of the defeat of the Yunkish Allies.

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Another indicator that supports the thesis that the battles of ice and fire won't be very long in terms of characters: as Anne Groell told us in an old interview, they were intended to be part of ADWD and were only moved to TWOW at the last minute. Being ADWD already a huge volume, I can't imagine how one could ever consider that there was room for a couple of six chapters battle such as the Blackwater.

Well, George may have intended to give us some sort of cliffhanger immediately after or in the middle of the battles. Say, ending things with Theon getting hit on the head again and Tyrion claiming Viserion (or Victarion getting ripped to pieces by Rhaegal). 

From a storytelling POV it should be rather difficult to keep the pace after the battles because nobody will be in the mood (or the need) to press on. Dany's people should consolidate power in Meereen just as Stannis (or Roose/Ramsay) should consolidate power in the North after his victory.

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All that said, my guess would be that the Battle of Ice will be resolved rather quickly (as there is no POV available to fight in it), and the Battle of Fire will be much longer: If I were to bet, I'd say 2 relatively short chapters of Barristan, Tyrion and Victarion, and 1 Dany chapter.

I think we have good reason to expect Asha to fight, and Theon to be dragged along by Stannis as his personal prisoner so that he can oversee what happens to him. Keep in mind that George revealed last (or two) year(s) ago that he had been recently working on another Theon chapter, presumably not Theon 1 (which looks very polished and essentially finished).

That makes it very likely that Theon Greyjoy is not going to die at the weirwood and is also not unlikely to survive the coming battle (although the Theon chapter George was talking about could very well have been Theon 2, a chapter depicting Theon's death in battle).

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My guess is that Jon will be resurrected late in the book, so he won't appear.

I expect that we'll get at least 1-2 Ghost chapters while Jon is trapped in his body. Hopefully not that many, though, because that's likely to be an even more frustrating way at storytelling than the Bran chapters in AGoT and ACoK.

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Most fans also seem to agree that Aeron, Victarion, Barristan and Theon will die early in the book, so they won't appear much.

I don't consider that very likely, actually. Victarion may die, Aeron could die (although he is in an ideal position right now to escape Euron simply by wiggling out of the wet leather straps tying him to the prow of the ship, trusting his god to save his life once again), but I doubt Barristan and Theon will die soon. Without Barristan things in Meereen will quickly deteriorate, and Tyrion cannot hope to take over the people there without being properly set up for that eventual role by Selmy.

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Samwell and Sansa, while not connected to the main stoylines, will need at least enough time to deal with the plots of Maester Marwyn/Alleras and Littlefinger/Mad Mouse Shadrich. And I'm not sure what Brienne and Jaime are supposed to do, but George seems to like both characters a lot, so we'll have a fair amount of them.

Whatever Oldtown/Reach plots we are going to get certainly will be told through Sam's POV. He might be joined by Aeron there if he actually survives his ordeal and is later drawn out of the water by a Hightower ship surviving the destruction of the Redwyne fleet. That way we could have two POVs at Oldtown.

Brienne and Jaime clearly are involved in Riverland affairs for the time being. I expect at least one (or both) of them to return to KL in the foreseeable future to join Aegon's Kingsguard. If that happens there could certainly be a reason to kill Jon Connington (whose greyscale is likely to be discovered in TWoW, anyway, leading to his disgrace/death).

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If I were to give numbers, I'd say something like:

  • Prologue: 1
  • Mereen: 20 (Dany 7, Tyrion 9, Barristan 2, Victarion 2)
  • Braavos: 4 (Arya)
  • North/Wall: 15 (Jon 3, Mel 2, Theon 2, Asha 3, Davos 2, Bran 3)
  • Vale: 4 (Sansa)
  • Oldtown: 4 (Samwell)
  • Riverlands: 8 (Jaime 4, Brienne 4)
  • Dorne: 2 (Areo)
  • KL/Stormlands: 13 (Cersei 6, Jon Connington 3, Arianne 4)
  • Iron Islands: 2 (Damphair)

That is pretty good set of numbers.

My own calculation was something like that:

Daenerys: 7

Tyrion: 8 (in addition to 4 Selmy chapters; depending on whether Tyrion is remaining at Slaver's Bay)

Ghost/Jon: 3 (possibly 5 if he is resurrected in the second half of the book and getting POV immediately thereafter)

Melisandre: 4 (I think she will be our window into events at the Wall, and think a lot is going to happen there in the aftermath of the assassination)

Cersei: 6 (I guess she might get 2-3 chapters at KL, dealing with the trials and one covering her escape at sea, and the remainder of them her dealings with Euron, possibly ending the story with her delivering Lannisport and Casterly Rock to her new husband)

Jaime/Brienne: perhaps 10 combined, if they stay together.

Asha/Theon: 8 combined if they stay together

Sansa: hopefully 5

Arya: hopefully 5 as well

Samwell: 5, too

Davos: 4, possibly 5.

Bran: 5 - George should take his time in actually establishing the origins of the Others and informing us about their present movements/intentions

Areo: 4 (I think his story is going to lead into important Dayne stuff)

Arianne/Connington: 8 combined (that's necessary if the Aegon story is going to go anywhere in TWoW - we have already three Arianne chapters and one Connington chapter and Aegon has only taken Storm's End)

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I might be wishful thinking on my part, but I still hope that Winds covers much more than that.

If only to justify the title, and to conform with an ideal structure than things should get as bad as possible in the next-to-last book in order get batter in the final one, I'd like to see the Wall fall by the end of Winds. And to allow at least one book for Dany to interact with the rest of the main cast, having the final Dany chapter depicting his arrival to Westeros would also be nice.

I think we should drop such ideas. ADwD was supposed to be about Dany's conquest of Westeros/the Second Dance of the Dragons. Instead all we got was some dude getting fried by a dragon. TWoW was supposed to be about the fight against the Others. Now it is likely to be about the mundane effects winter has on everyday life in Westeros and Essos. The Others might show their hands some more but we are not likely to see their campaign to destroy mankind in Westeros in that book.

But there could be an Epilogue dealing with the downfall of the Wall.

43 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

I don't think this impression is appropriate. In fact I expect to see the opposite we saw in aDwD, where the groundwork for Winds was established. We are going to see quite a number of important events, even if the time covered is not as long

- Battle of the Ice, putting an end to the short Bolton's rule.

Is that truly going to be the end of the Boltons? It is possible, sure, but I'd not bet on that.

43 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

- Battle of Fire, defeating once for all the slavers, Dany has finally her fleet consisting mostly in Volantine ships.

To utterly defeat them they have to destroy them all. That means Yunkai and Meereen both have to go (eventually), along with Qarth, the other Valyrian cities allied with the Yunkai'i against Dany (especially New Ghis, but also Tolos, Elyria, Mantarys, Bhorash, etc.) and eventually, of course, also the slaver Free Cities, especially Volantis, Lys, Tyrosh, and Myr.

This is going to take time. Victory over the Yunkish allies is not going to ensure that. They will have to continue the war.

43 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

- Dany unifying the khalasars, she is declared the 'stallion who mounts the world'. She marches west (but I don't rule out her marching to Qarth first). She doesn't leave Essos yet.

That is pretty likely. I don't think she will reach those goals quickly. Her voyage to Vaes Dothrak should take quite some time, as should finding the means to bind the Dothraki to her will. For instance, all Dothraki have to come to Vaes Dothrak to recognize her as their supreme ruler, and that's going to take time, too.

43 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

- Second red weeding, insurrection in the Riverlands. All Lannister gains there are undone.

I'm pretty sure there won't be another red wedding. However, the Riverlands are likely to free themselves from the Lannisters, restoring the Tullys to Riverrun (Edmure or Catelyn) and destroying the Freys. Many Riverlords will also declare for Aegon (Hasty-held Harrenhal definitely) because that's going to help with dealing with the Lannisters and Freys.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Is that truly going to be the end of the Boltons? It is possible, sure, but I'd not bet on that.

The Boltons are a bloody annoyance, they could survive in the Dreadfort only to be swallow by the Others. The main issue after the Battle of the Ice is how to put any semblance of order in the North, with all these factions and no Stark in Winterfell, with the winter in full swing, the wildings, the NW collapsing and a self declared king who may be respected but not loved and has no enough resources by himself.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

To utterly defeat them they have to destroy them all. That means Yunkai and Meereen both have to go (eventually), along with Qarth, the other Valyrian cities allied with the Yunkai'i against Dany (especially New Ghis, but also Tolos, Elyria, Mantarys, Bhorash, etc.) and eventually, of course, also the slaver Free Cities, especially Volantis, Lys, Tyrosh, and Myr.

This is going to take time. Victory over the Yunkish allies is not going to ensure that. They will have to continue the war.

I think this should be the second part of Dany chapters in the book. Maybe she doesn't reach Volantis by the end of tWoW. But after the defeat of the Yunkai most should be easy victories

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

That is pretty likely. I don't think she will reach those goals quickly. Her voyage to Vaes Dothrak should take quite some time, as should finding the means to bind the Dothraki to her will. For instance, all Dothraki have to come to Vaes Dothrak to recognize her as their supreme ruler, and that's going to take time, too.

I always had the impression that something is awry in the Dothraki sea (ghost grass?) and Khal Jaqho was sent to retrieve Daenerys instead of fighting her. Khal Pono may be in the same quest. Maybe Dany broke some sacred rule by not going to Vaes Dothrak? But supposedly Mago would be an antagonist for Dany.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

I'm pretty sure there won't be another red wedding. However, the Riverlands are likely to free themselves from the Lannisters, restoring the Tullys to Riverrun (Edmure or Catelyn) and destroying the Freys. Many Riverlords will also declare for Aegon (Hasty-held Harrenhal definitely) because that's going to help with dealing with the Lannisters and Freys.

Oh, I'm sure about a second red weeding, we won't have a PoV though. A lot of Freys have to die so BW is few steps behind the succession.

But, you are right about people declaring for Aegon and this will be also the sad part for Dany. Many if not all hiding Targaryen supporter will rally behind Aegon.

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Posted (edited)

Interesting discussion.

As a starting point, I acknowledge that two more books won't finish this story. But at the same time, if Dany really goes on to conquer all the way from Vaes Dothrak to Qarth to Volantis, then I don't think three more books will do it either, and then I'm afraid the series will never get done.

So for the sake of an eight book series, I don't think Daenerys is going to do an Alexander the Great in Essos. Also, I thought part of the learning curve in Slaver's Bay was that you can't change people just by conquering them, and that Dany will finally realise that freeing the slaves is not her destiny, but that conquering Westeros is her destiny. The whole Blood and Fire revelation and all that. She is not Mysa (Mother). She is Aegon the Conqueror reborn.  In effect, win the battles she has to, to get to her destination, but then leave Essos to take care of itself and head to Westeros.

In fact, I thought the whole purpose of the Ironfleet was to give her a fleet to sail to Westeros on, rather than having to march overland, conquering cities all the way to the Narrow Sea. There simply isn't time for all of that. Not if the Others are to be the main conflict of this series.

So for the sake of Martin not starting to repeat himself, I suspect that the Battle of Fire will be the final major Essosi battle involving Daenerys. I'm assuming it will involve the arrival of the Volantene fleet too, to not have another repeat battle with them a few hundred pages later.

So let's say 12 Chapters combined, to wrap up the battle of Meereen and its aftermath. Split between Tyrion, Barristan and Victarrion.

Then another 4 Chapters to wrap up Daenerys in Vaes Dothrak.

Then maybe 8 Chapters of Daenerys and Tyrion finally united, split between the two of them.

So that's 24 Essosi chapters in the book, probably ending with the united forces of Daenerys moving westwards, perhaps ending with her arriving in Volantis after an offscreen slave uprising there, and consolidating her strength for the voyage to Westeros (which will occur early in Dream of Spring).

So that's Essos covered (excluding Arya) in  say 24 Chapters. A third of the Book.

Right, then we have about 50 Chapters for Westeros. So how do we allocate them?

Well, I'd say about 10 Chapters covering Aegon's story until he gets to King's Landing, split between Arriane, Connington and Hotah. Remember that this will be complemented by say 4 Cersei chapters, giving us the view of Aegon's conquests from inside King's Landing. These chapters will also give us a bunch of insights into developments in the Riverlands at the same time.

So say 14 Chapters to get Aegon into King's Landing and maybe a 15th to get him crowned and seated on the Throne.

That leaves us about 12 Southron Chapters for Jaime/Brienne, Sansa, Samwell and Damphair. I suspect 2 Damphair chapters, 3 Sam chapters, 4 Sansa Chapters and 3 Jaime/Brienne Chapters. Giving us 14+12=26 Chapters in the South of Westeros.

That brings us to 24 Essosi Chapters, 26 Chapters in the South, and 50 Chapters in total. Two thirds of the Book.

And now we have say 26 Chapters left for the North and Braavos.

I would split them as follows:

Theon/Asha 5 - Cover the Battle of Ice and its immediate aftermath.

Davos 4 - Bringing Rickon back into play and my bet, joining up with a resurrected Jon, like Sansa did in the Show.

Mellisandre 2 - Covering the Wall until Jon's resurection, which I think happens early, rather than later.

Jon/Ghost 10 - (2 as Ghost, 8 as Jon Reborn), covering his awakening, "walk through the valley of death" moment, and conquest of Winterfell.

Bran 3

Arya 3

That takes us to 27 Chapters in the North and Braavos, and 77 Chapters altogether for the Book.

I also expect the Prologue to cover some kind of prison break in the Riverlands, and the Epilogue to perhaps have the Others arrive at the Wall, perhaps even breaching it for the first time.

That's a first stab at it. Might require some juggling around once I've applied my mind to the breakdown a bit more. But who can really say, after all.

EDIT

As for deaths: Aeron, Hotah, Connington, Victarrion and Theon.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

The Boltons are a bloody annoyance, they could survive in the Dreadfort only to be swallow by the Others. The main issue after the Battle of the Ice is how to put any semblance of order in the North, with all these factions and no Stark in Winterfell, with the winter in full swing, the wildings, the NW collapsing and a self declared king who may be respected but not loved and has no enough resources by himself.

Something like that is likely to happen. Although I must say that the final resolution of this question is likely to make the story in the North rather boring. Aside from the Others it would then be about a lot people starving and freezing to death in winter and the issues between the NW/Northmen and the wildlings which are obviously not yet resolved.

On the other hand, this could finally enable them to focus on the task at hand: the Others. ADwD sucked completely in that field.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

I think this should be the second part of Dany chapters in the book. Maybe she doesn't reach Volantis by the end of tWoW. But after the defeat of the Yunkai most should be easy victories.

That is certainly true but this kind of thing has still to happen in the chapters, and is thus material that has to be dealt with one way or another.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

I always had the impression that something is awry in the Dothraki sea (ghost grass?) and Khal Jaqho was sent to retrieve Daenerys instead of fighting her. Khal Pono may be in the same quest. Maybe Dany broke some sacred rule by not going to Vaes Dothrak? But supposedly Mago would be an antagonist for Dany.

The idea that Jhaqo has actually been looking for Dany to worship her due to her dragons would make things easier. It is most likely not going to be exactly this easy, though. Dany certainly could fly to Vaes Dothrak on Drogon now but the Dothraki aren't dragonriders so it is going to take time to get them all there.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

But, you are right about people declaring for Aegon and this will be also the sad part for Dany. Many if not all hiding Targaryen supporter will rally behind Aegon.

That is pretty obvious right now. The news about Daenerys' alleged death in Daznak's Pit will soon reach Westeros, and that's going to fully commit all the Targaryen loyalists to Aegon's cause, Dorne first and foremost.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Interesting discussion.

As a starting point, I acknowledge that two more books won't finish this story. But at the same time, if Dany really goes on to conquer all the way from Vaes Dothrak to Qarth to Volantis, then I don't think three more books will do it either, and then I'm afraid the series will never get done.

So for the sake of an eight book series, I don't think Daenerys is going to do an Alexander the Great in Essos. Also, I thought part of the learning curve in Slaver's Bay was that you can't change people just by conquering them, and that Dany will finally realise that freeing the slaves is not her destiny, but that conquering Westeros is her destiny. The whole Blood and Fire revelation and all that. She is not Mysa (Mother). She is Aegon the Conqueror reborn.  In effect, win the battles she has to, to get to her destination, but then leave Essos to take care of itself and head to Westeros.

And why should she decide that being Aegon the Conqueror reborn means her destiny is only to conquer some backwater kingdom she has never even seen? Yes, the Targaryens forged the Iron Throne but they also were Valyrian dragonlords for thousands of years. And if Dany becomes the leader of the Dothraki she would be connected to Essos even more.

She should eventually realize that she also has to go to Westeros but with Tyrion and Marwyn not reaching her in ADwD to tell her about the real danger (and neither of them likely to reach her early on in TWoW) such a scenario is just not very likely. The idea that Dany has some deep insight on her destiny in Essos while going through some magical ritual at the Womb of the World doesn't exactly sound very plausible.

But even if she had such an insight in TWoW at one point she is still not likely to even begin her journey to Westeros. At best we can expect her to return to Slaver's Bay by the end of the book.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

In fact, I thought the whole purpose of the Ironfleet was to give her a fleet to sail to Westeros on, rather than having to march overland, conquering cities all the way to the Narrow Sea. There simply isn't time for all of that. Not if the Others are to be the main conflict of this series.

Only if we go with this two books left notion. Which is essentially not very realistic. And the Iron Fleet is only part of Dany's navy, it seems. We have the Volantene ships - hundreds of them, actually - in addition to Victarion's about seventy ships. Yet this doesn't give us any indication when the decision to go to Westeros will be made.

There is a possibility that Tyrion/Victarion/Selmy (or some of them) might start for Westeros without Daenerys, but whether that's going to be realized remains to be seen.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So for the sake of Martin not starting to repeat himself, I suspect that the Battle of Fire will be the final major Essosi battle involving Daenerys. I'm assuming it will involve the arrival of the Volantene fleet too, to not have another repeat battle with them a few hundred pages later.

Dany is most likely going to be at the Battle of Fire. That is going to be fought by her people while she is in the Dothraki Sea.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So let's say 12 Chapters combined, to wrap up the battle of Meereen and its aftermath. Split between Tyrion, Barristan and Victarrion.

Sounds like too few to me. Especially in light of the fact that Tyrion usually gets the most chapters in a book.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Then another 4 Chapters to wrap up Daenerys in Vaes Dothrak.

That is not unlikely.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Then maybe 8 Chapters of Daenerys and Tyrion finally united, split between the two of them.

It doesn't seem as if Tyrion and Dany are going to hook up in the foreseeable future. They might mean in the last quarter or so, but then they wouldn't be as many chapters as you suggest be split up between these two.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So that's 24 Essosi chapters in the book, probably ending with the united forces of Daenerys moving westwards, perhaps ending with her arriving in Volantis after an offscreen slave uprising there, and consolidating her strength for the voyage to Westeros (which will occur early in Dream of Spring).

That is way too optimistic for me. Just compare what happened in ADwD. Tyrion barely got to Slaver's Bay. Dany would have to go to Vaes Dothrak, back to Slaver's Bay, and then on to Volantis is a book that's go feature her into fewer chapters than ADwD did.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So that's Essos covered (excluding Arya) in  say 24 Chapters. A third of the Book.

Right, then we have about 50 Chapters for Westeros. So how do we allocate them?

Well, I'd say about 10 Chapters covering Aegon's story until he gets to King's Landing, split between Arriane, Connington and Hotah.

Hotah is not likely to be part of that story, at least not if the story changes direction after they reach High Hermitage.

Ten chapters for Arianne and Connington sounds convincing to me.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Remember that this will be complemented by say 4 Cersei chapters, giving us the view of Aegon's conquests from inside King's Landing. These chapters will also give us a bunch of insights into developments in the Riverlands at the same time.

Not sure how Cersei could get good information on the Riverlands. And I'm not sure she will have four chapters in KL, either. Perhaps only three. One about the aftermath of the murders, a second about her trial, and a third about her escape.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So say 14 Chapters to get Aegon into King's Landing and maybe a 15th to get him crowned and seated on the Throne.

That leaves us about 12 Southron Chapters for Jaime/Brienne, Sansa, Samwell and Damphair. I suspect 2 Damphair chapters, 3 Sam chapters, 4 Sansa Chapters and 3 Jaime/Brienne Chapters. Giving us 14+12=26 Chapters in the South of Westeros.

Well, the idea of only three Jaime/Brienne chapters is completely unrealistic in light of the amount of space those characters got in ASoS and AFfC. They are obviously among the most important POV characters and it makes no sense to assume that those characters just featured prominently in two books only to be downgraded to extras for the remainder of the series. And they are also not likely to die - if George wanted to kill them the last Jaime and Brienne chapter could have wrapped up their stories.

8-12 chapters is much more likely for these two characters. And Sam and Sansa should get some more. Aeron is difficult to say but I doubt he'll only get two. That would only make sense if he dies (which is still a possibility).

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

That brings us to 24 Essosi Chapters, 26 Chapters in the South, and 50 Chapters in total. Two thirds of the Book.

And now we have say 26 Chapters left for the North and Braavos.

I would split them as follows:

Theon/Asha 5 - Cover the Battle of Ice and its immediate aftermath.

Davos 4 - Bringing Rickon back into play and my bet, joining up with a resurrected Jon, like Sansa did in the Show.

Mellisandre 2 - Covering the Wall until Jon's resurection, which I think happens early, rather than later.

I doubt Mel is only going to get two chapters. She is most likely the most important of those new POV characters. Even if Jon comes back sooner rather than later she could still have chapters, especially if they go separate ways.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Jon/Ghost 10 - (2 as Ghost, 8 as Jon Reborn), covering his awakening, "walk through the valley of death" moment, and conquest of Winterfell.

Even if Jon came back earlier I can at best see him have 6-7 chapters. There shouldn't be any character getting 9-10 chapters if we get chapters of every POV character.

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Bran 3

Arya 3

That's too few. Bran and Arya (and Sansa) should finally get important for the plot. That's not going to happen if they don't get any chapters.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

And why should she decide that being Aegon the Conqueror reborn means her destiny is only to conquer some backwater kingdom she has never even seen? Yes, the Targaryens forged the Iron Throne but they also were Valyrian dragonlords for thousands of years. And if Dany becomes the leader of the Dothraki she would be connected to Essos even more.

She should eventually realize that she also has to go to Westeros but with Tyrion and Marwyn not reaching her in ADwD to tell her about the real danger (and neither of them likely to reach her early on in TWoW) such a scenario is just not very likely. The idea that Dany has some deep insight on her destiny in Essos while going through some magical ritual at the Womb of the World doesn't exactly sound very plausible.

But even if she had such an insight in TWoW at one point she is still not likely to even begin her journey to Westeros. At best we can expect her to return to Slaver's Bay by the end of the book.

Only if we go with this two books left notion. Which is essentially not very realistic. And the Iron Fleet is only part of Dany's navy, it seems. We have the Volantene ships - hundreds of them, actually - in addition to Victarion's about seventy ships. Yet this doesn't give us any indication when the decision to go to Westeros will be made.

There is a possibility that Tyrion/Victarion/Selmy (or some of them) might start for Westeros without Daenerys, but whether that's going to be realized remains to be seen.

Dany is most likely going to be at the Battle of Fire. That is going to be fought by her people while she is in the Dothraki Sea.

Sounds like too few to me. Especially in light of the fact that Tyrion usually gets the most chapters in a book.

That is not unlikely.

It doesn't seem as if Tyrion and Dany are going to hook up in the foreseeable future. They might mean in the last quarter or so, but then they wouldn't be as many chapters as you suggest be split up between these two.

That is way too optimistic for me. Just compare what happened in ADwD. Tyrion barely got to Slaver's Bay. Dany would have to go to Vaes Dothrak, back to Slaver's Bay, and then on to Volantis is a book that's go feature her into fewer chapters than ADwD did.

Hotah is not likely to be part of that story, at least not if the story changes direction after they reach High Hermitage.

Ten chapters for Arianne and Connington sounds convincing to me.

Not sure how Cersei could get good information on the Riverlands. And I'm not sure she will have four chapters in KL, either. Perhaps only three. One about the aftermath of the murders, a second about her trial, and a third about her escape.

Well, the idea of only three Jaime/Brienne chapters is completely unrealistic in light of the amount of space those characters got in ASoS and AFfC. They are obviously among the most important POV characters and it makes no sense to assume that those characters just featured prominently in two books only to be downgraded to extras for the remainder of the series. And they are also not likely to die - if George wanted to kill them the last Jaime and Brienne chapter could have wrapped up their stories.

8-12 chapters is much more likely for these two characters. And Sam and Sansa should get some more. Aeron is difficult to say but I doubt he'll only get two. That would only make sense if he dies (which is still a possibility).

I doubt Mel is only going to get two chapters. She is most likely the most important of those new POV characters. Even if Jon comes back sooner rather than later she could still have chapters, especially if they go separate ways.

Even if Jon came back earlier I can at best see him have 6-7 chapters. There shouldn't be any character getting 9-10 chapters if we get chapters of every POV character.

That's too few. Bran and Arya (and Sansa) should finally get important for the plot. That's not going to happen if they don't get any chapters.

As I said, a bit of juggling around to make it fit properly is inevitable. I agree that something like 6 Arya Chapters and perhaps 4 Bran Chapters would be far more satisfying. But if we accept that a Chapter count of the mid-seventies is pretty much the maximum, then that would mean a few less Chapters for some of the other storylines.

We should not forget that something like the Aegon storyline will be moved forward in multiple viewpoints, including ones that focus on Euron's conquests, such as Sam and Aeron, as these will impact the Tyrells and in turn have a knock on effect on Aegon's progress. So for example a devestating defeat at Oldtown and perhaps raiding up the Honewyine might well lead to the Tyrells being weakend for Aegon to make fast gains on the other side of the continent.

So it may well be that the Aegon storyline can spare a few Chapters. Perhaps for Brienne and Jaime. Regarding Brienne and Jaime, their roles need not occupy a large number of chapters, if the chapters that they do share end up being hugely significant turning points in the story. It seems likely that Catelyn is going to coerce them into some kind of major payback action, and you don't need a lot of Chapters for that to have a huge impact. Especially if it happens in the Riverlands itself.

So maybe 5 Chapters combined for them might be plenty.

Anyway, it is fun to speculate. I think though that it is quite safe to say that we won't be dealing with the Others south of the Wall in this book. Nor will we be dealing with Daenerys in Westeros. That much is clear.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As a starting point, I acknowledge that two more books won't finish this story. But at the same time, if Dany really goes on to conquer all the way from Vaes Dothrak to Qarth to Volantis, then I don't think three more books will do it either, and then I'm afraid the series will never get done.

I think the main uncertainty is how Dany deals with the Dothraki. I confess I have no idea. I suspect (but may be wishful thinking) that there is something awry in the Dothraki Sea and he Dosh Khaleen sent for her. Why else Khal Jaqho would willingly approach a dragon?

Once she is elevated to her new status, she will have the most powerful army in the World and many will just bow down. So, it should be easy conquest and many can be described as flashbacks. For example Volantis, I have the suspicion that it will fall even before Dnagging any reaches them, they are sending an huge army against Dany, another contingent to face the Dothaki and they have the red priests inciting to rebellion. Maybe all Dany needs to do there is to break inside the Black Walls.

Quote

So for the sake of an eight book series, I don't think Daenerys is going to do an Alexander the Great in Essos. Also, I thought part of the learning curve in Slaver's Bay was that you can't change people just by conquering them, and that Dany will finally realise that freeing the slaves is not her destiny, but that conquering Westeros is her destiny. The whole Blood and Fire revelation and all that. She is not Mysa (Mother). She is Aegon the Conqueror reborn.  In effect, win the battles she has to, to get to her destination, but then leave Essos to take care of itself and head to Westeros.

I think a march of conquest is unavoidable.  For geographical, political and religious reasons. As I said in another post

The question is whether she will able to convince the Dothraki to change some customs so they can enforce certain rules. Together with the Red Priests (who have already declared her AA) and empowered FreedMen they can change the politics of Essos forever.

But Dany will have huge problems in conquering Westeros, political ones, not military. She is coming with no allies in Westeros, nor as a friend or savior. All of this was stolen by Aegon. She is coming backed only by overwhelming military force, against nobody will be able to stand and a legion of foreigners who don't even speak Westerosi. She will be hated and feared. Only when she heads north to defeat the Others, things will change, but she will remain a controversial figure in Westeros for centuries to come

Quote

In fact, I thought the whole purpose of the Ironfleet was to give her a fleet to sail to Westeros on, rather than having to march overland, conquering cities all the way to the Narrow Sea. There simply isn't time for all of that. Not if the Others are to be the main conflict of this series.

The Others have barely showed up in full force, we still need to see that and we still need to wait for the Wall to fall. I guess that what will make Dany to come to Westeros will be the news of Aegon VI, who she will recognize as he mummer's dragon.

The Iron Fleet is not enough. The Volantine Fleet might be. But she needs to convince the Dothraki to cross the acursed water. Won't be easy.

Quote

So for the sake of Martin not starting to repeat himself, I suspect that the Battle of Fire will be the final major Essosi battle involving Daenerys. I'm assuming it will involve the arrival of the Volantene fleet too, to not have another repeat battle with them a few hundred pages later.

The Volantene fleet is posed to rebel, maybe at the sound of the horn? Basically everybody will freak out but they won't fight against Dany forces.

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As I said, a bit of juggling around to make it fit properly is inevitable. I agree that something like 6 Arya Chapters and perhaps 4 Bran Chapters would be far more satisfying. But if we accept that a Chapter count of the mid-seventies is pretty much the maximum, then that would mean a few less Chapters for some of the other storylines.

Well, I'd certainly be willing to reduce the amount of Theon/Asha or Jon Snow chapters to have additional Bran chapters. I think it is time for us to get some decent enough back story as well as a view into the present actions and plans of the Others, and Bran's all-seeing certainly could accomplish that up to a point. Although I very much doubt there are weirwoods growing in the Heart of Winter.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

We should not forget that something like the Aegon storyline will be moved forward in multiple viewpoints, including ones that focus on Euron's conquests, such as Sam and Aeron, as these will impact the Tyrells and in turn have a knock on effect on Aegon's progress. So for example a devestating defeat at Oldtown and perhaps raiding up the Honewyine might well lead to the Tyrells being weakend for Aegon to make fast gains on the other side of the continent.

I don't think that's actually necessary for the Aegon story to progress. All he needs is Dorne and some Reach lords and Stormlanders. Once he has KL (and Tommen/Myrcella are dead or in his custody) everything will resolve itself. The Reach lords who are right now occupied with the Ironborn have no way of interfering with things in the Stormlands or Crownlands regardless how things turn out with Euron.

But even there we'll have four chapters (three Arianne and one Connington chapter) just covering events up to the taking of Storm's End. To take KL Aegon needs to defeat the Tyrell army, gain the support of Dorne (which is possibly happening in Arianne 3), and actually march against the city. That is going to take time, too.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So it may well be that the Aegon storyline can spare a few Chapters. Perhaps for Brienne and Jaime. Regarding Brienne and Jaime, their roles need not occupy a large number of chapters, if the chapters that they do share end up being hugely significant turning points in the story. It seems likely that Catelyn is going to coerce them into some kind of major payback action, and you don't need a lot of Chapters for that to have a huge impact. Especially if it happens in the Riverlands itself.

Well, those are still major characters. They story is important and George is not suddenly going to treat them as extras. Jaime and Brienne aren't Davos, Areo, or Asha.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So maybe 5 Chapters combined for them might be plenty.

More like ten. Their story is very likely going to be important, not just window-dressing for somebody else's story.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Anyway, it is fun to speculate. I think though that it is quite safe to say that we won't be dealing with the Others south of the Wall in this book. Nor will we be dealing with Daenerys in Westeros. That much is clear.

That is very likely indeed.

The falling of the Wall essentially depends on the kind of story George wants to tell with the Others. One imagines he knows when exactly that's going to happen but we have no idea what's supposed to have happened up until that point. If things resolve themselves in the North pretty quickly now there is a chance that the Epilogue is going to cover the fall of the Wall.

But then, one really wonders where the whole Shireen story is headed and whether that's going to take prior, during, or after the fall of the Wall. It has to be at a point in time where the situation is really dire, and it is more likely that such a point is reached after the fall of the Wall and not before. But we'll have to wait and see.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

But Dany will have huge problems in conquering Westeros, political ones, not military. She is coming with no allies in Westeros, nor as a friend or savior. All of this was stolen by Aegon. She is coming backed only by overwhelming military force, against nobody will be able to stand and a legion of foreigners who don't even speak Westerosi. She will be hated and feared. Only when she heads north to defeat the Others, things will change, but she will remain a controversial figure in Westeros for centuries to come.

That really depends on the timing of her arrival, and in that light is the timing for the fall of the Wall also important. Daenerys Targaryen won't be hated nor widely opposed by the people of Westeros if she arrived only after the Others had made their move and were recognized as a threat to the existence of humanity. In such a setting she, her dragons, and her vast army would be universally hailed as welcome allies and saviors.

Now, if she arrives before the fall of the Wall things might be very different indeed. The whole talk about a Second Dance strongly suggests that this is going to happen (although a fight between Daenerys I and Aegon VI isn't the only interpretation of the Second Dance thing) but then the fall of the Wall most certainly won't occur in TWoW because Dany will not yet be in Westeros and certainly not yet done with her war with Aegon. And we still have no clue how Euron figures into all that. Is he going to take the Iron Throne from Aegon before Dany arrives?

The attack of the Others could also cut short the Second Dance before it is over.

But with the fact in mind that the next two books should actually not yet see the fall of the Wall there is actually a pretty good chance that the conflicts in the North aren't wrapped up all that quickly, allowing Roose and Ramsay to live and fight another day and the Weeper finally making his move, crossing the Bridge of Skulls and destroying the Shadow Tower.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

The Others have barely showed up in full force, we still need to see that and we still need to wait for the Wall to fall. I guess that what will make Dany to come to Westeros will be the news of Aegon VI, who she will recognize as he mummer's dragon.

The news about that aren't going to reach her all that quickly, and his mere existence doesn't exactly mean that he has to be her enemy. There has to be some kind of buildup for this whole Second Dance thing because that's not some obvious conflict. These people don't know each other. They have to grow to resent/hate each other before there can be any violence.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

The Iron Fleet is not enough. The Volantine Fleet might be. But she needs to convince the Dothraki to cross the acursed water. Won't be easy.

Indeed. And I doubt she is going to take all the Dothraki. To thirds of her Dothraki might remain behind in Essos to conquer the lands west of the Bones in her name. Many of those might march west to conquer the Qohor, Norvos, Myr, and Pentos in her name.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

The Volantene fleet is posed to rebel, maybe at the sound of the horn? Basically everybody will freak out but they won't fight against Dany forces.

The fact that Dany is no longer in Meereen could be a complication for the tiger soldiers. But then, Moqorro and the dragons will be there so things most likely are going to go the way Moqorro and Benerro want them to go. Not to mention that the victory of Dany's people over the Yunkish allies will definitely mean the resurrection of the 'end of slavery' policy.

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5 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So for the sake of an eight book series, I don't think Daenerys is going to do an Alexander the Great in Essos. Also, I thought part of the learning curve in Slaver's Bay was that you can't change people just by conquering them, and that Dany will finally realise that freeing the slaves is not her destiny, but that conquering Westeros is her destiny. The whole Blood and Fire revelation and all that. She is not Mysa (Mother). She is Aegon the Conqueror reborn.  In effect, win the battles she has to, to get to her destination, but then leave Essos to take care of itself and head to Westeros.

The stuff in Meereen isn't about her commitment to the freedmen, it's about her returning to the way of the dragon in dealing with her enemies.  ADWD was her gradually selling out more and more to the slavers, before being carried away by Drogon.  When she returns with the Dothraki, she's going to totally break the Slave Power in Essos.

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If there is any hope for the series finishing in two (or even three) books, certain things are going to have to happen.

He is going to have to focus on the main characters (Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, Arya, Sansa, and Bran).  This means merging storylines and pruning unnecessary subplots (I'm looking at you, Aegon ... and Sam ... and the Faceless Men, etc.).  It's time for him to become a real gardener and clear out some of the underbrush, or this thing is never to get done.  I also anticiipate that variious plots and characters will merge.  Specifically, Sansa will not remain in the Vale, Arya will not stay in Braavos, and Sam will not stay in Oldtown

Meereen:   Meereen needs to be wrapped up, and quickly.  Either Tyrion manages to settle things down and establish peace, or the Volantene fleet comes in and crushes Dany's allies.  I expect the latter, in which case Tyrion, the unsullied, and other Dany supporters will be forced to flee aboard the Iron Fleet.  In other words Dany moves west because she has to.

Dothraki:  I expect Daenerys to claim some of the Dothraki and meet the fleet partway to Westeros.  She may or may not go overland, but her story is in Westeros, not Essos, so the less time spent in Essos, the better.  I expect her in Westeros by the end of TWOW.  If not, the series is in trouble.

Arya:  I expect that Arya will leave braavos, probably after about 3 chapters (including preview).  I think the preview chapter is paving the way for her departure.  She will not be active FM, but will remain in touch.

Sansa:  The vale is a temporary resting spot for Sansa.  When she is ready, she will move on, most likely North.  She will not marry Harry or Aegon.  Littlefinger will be gone by the end of the book.

Aegon:  I anticipate he will be exposed as a fake or killed before too long.  If he was important, I think we would have seen him long before now.   If any character is going to play Henry Tudor, and save the day in the end, it will be Dany, who has been present from the beginning.

Kings Landing:  Cersei will continue her downward spiral, and the Sand Snakes will do all they can to help

Oldtown:  Sam gets involved in the fight for Oldtown.  After that, probably re-connects with the Wall.

Jon/Wall:  Jon is either not dead, or is resurrected rather quickly.  I do not anticipate we will go very long without him.  I think maybe 1 or 2 chapters in Ghost.  Mel will probably have a few chapters.  I anticipate that the Others will breach the Wall at around the 3/4 markk of the book, and occupy large parts of uninhabited North by the end of WOW.

North of the Wall:  Bran will develop his skills, and then head south of the Wall, probably via the underground river.  Davos will head north, and will probably get involved with Hardhome.  I anticipate he will wind up going North, and we will see the Far North through his POV.  Rickon ain't showing up anytime soon.  Sorry, Lord Manderly.

Battle of Ice:  Likely over relatively quickly, as there are limited POVs available.  My guess is that the Boltons are forced to retreat to the Dreadfort, and this story merges with the Wall.  I think Theon hasn't got much longer, and Asha will become a major POV.

Jaime/Brienne.  Brienne survives.  I am less certain about Jaime.  if he isn't the valonqar, his story might be done.  In any case, I anticipate Brienne connecting to one of the Stark girls.  

On 1/9/2017 at 5:07 AM, The hairy bear said:

If I were to give numbers, I'd say something like:

  • Prologue: 1
  • Mereen: 20 (Dany 7, Tyrion 9, Barristan 2, Victarion 2)
  • Braavos: 4 (Arya)
  • North/Wall: 15 (Jon 3, Mel 2, Theon 2, Asha 3, Davos 2, Bran 3)
  • Vale: 4 (Sansa)
  • Oldtown: 4 (Samwell)
  • Riverlands: 8 (Jaime 4, Brienne 4)
  • Dorne: 2 (Areo)
  • KL/Stormlands: 13 (Cersei 6, Jon Connington 3, Arianne 4)
  • Iron Islands: 2 (Damphair)

This adds 73, which is the same number of chapters of Dance.

 

On 1/9/2017 at 6:56 AM, Lord Varys said:

That is pretty good set of numbers.

My own calculation was something like that:

Daenerys: 7

Tyrion: 8 (in addition to 4 Selmy chapters; depending on whether Tyrion is remaining at Slaver's Bay)

Ghost/Jon: 3 (possibly 5 if he is resurrected in the second half of the book and getting POV immediately thereafter)

Melisandre: 4 (I think she will be our window into events at the Wall, and think a lot is going to happen there in the aftermath of the assassination)

Cersei: 6 (I guess she might get 2-3 chapters at KL, dealing with the trials and one covering her escape at sea, and the remainder of them her dealings with Euron, possibly ending the story with her delivering Lannisport and Casterly Rock to her new husband)

Jaime/Brienne: perhaps 10 combined, if they stay together.

Asha/Theon: 8 combined if they stay together

Sansa: hopefully 5

Arya: hopefully 5 as well

Samwell: 5, too

Davos: 4, possibly 5.

Bran: 5 - George should take his time in actually establishing the origins of the Others and informing us about their present movements/intentions

Areo: 4 (I think his story is going to lead into important Dayne stuff)

Arianne/Connington: 8 combined (that's necessary if the Aegon story is going to go anywhere in TWoW - we have already three Arianne chapters and one Connington chapter and Aegon has only taken Storm's End)

I think the POV structure will be different from this.  For one thing, I think there will be over 80 chapters.  His chapters have been getting longer.  Given the number of characters, he is going to have to have more shorter chapters than the last two books. SOS had 82 chapters, and could have had more if the chapters were the length of those in GOT or even COK.

Also, given the necessary focus on the main characters, I think the big 6 will have about half the chapters.

Daenerys:  9

Tyrion:  7

Arya:  7 (3 in Braavos, 4 in Westeros)

Sansa: 6

Bran:  6

Jon:  6

Cersei: 5

Sam:  5

Davos:  5

Brienne/Jaime: 6 total

Theon/Asha;  7 total

Barristan, Victarion: 2 each

Aeron: 1

Arianne/JonCon; 4 and 2

Mel: 2

Areo Hotah:  2

Prologue at Casterly Rock: 1; No epilogue

85 chapters sounds doable

Edited by Nevets

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12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Now, if she arrives before the fall of the Wall things might be very different indeed.

This depends how people in the south takes the rumors of the Wall falling and whether they interpret it correctly. Dorne, the Reach, Stormlands will unlikely care much. The North is different

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The whole talk about a Second Dance strongly suggests that this is going to happen (although a fight between Daenerys I and Aegon VI isn't the only interpretation of the Second Dance thing) but then the fall of the Wall most certainly won't occur in TWoW because Dany will not yet be in Westeros and certainly not yet done with her war with Aegon.

The war against Aegon will be short. Fighting capabilities of Westeros are dwindling at an alarming pace.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

And we still have no clue how Euron figures into all that. Is he going to take the Iron Throne from Aegon before Dany arrives?

Indeed. Euron is a great unknown. He is toying with powerful forces.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The news about that aren't going to reach her all that quickly, and his mere existence doesn't exactly mean that he has to be her enemy. There has to be some kind of buildup for this whole Second Dance thing because that's not some obvious conflict. These people don't know each other. They have to grow to resent/hate each other before there can be any violence.

I tend to agree. This whole Moqorro prophesy of dragons old, young, true, false, dark & bright probably means that there are other actors we don't know or characters to develop.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Indeed. And I doubt she is going to take all the Dothraki. To thirds of her Dothraki might remain behind in Essos to conquer the lands west of the Bones in her name. Many of those might march west to conquer the Qohor, Norvos, Myr, and Pentos in her name.

100k seems to me a fair number with about the same number in infantry, mostly freedmen (including Unsullied).

11 hours ago, Nevets said:

If there is any hope for the series finishing in two (or even three) books, certain things are going to have to happen.

If GRRM is reading here, I'd tell him I prefer to have five more books and wait 20 years more than a quick wrap out of the story lines, with clumsy endings. Three more books seems to me a bare minimum.

11 hours ago, Nevets said:

Meereen:   Meereen needs to be wrapped up, and quickly.  Either Tyrion manages to settle things down and establish peace, or the Volantene fleet comes in and crushes Dany's allies.  I expect the latter, in which case Tyrion, the unsullied, and other Dany supporters will be forced to flee aboard the Iron Fleet.  In other words Dany moves west because she has to.

There are already five twow chapters on Meeren and the battle is not even half a way. Five more is indeed a minimum to end the battle and describe its immediate aftermath. And then we need the politics.

And how does she move west without  defeating its enemies? Dany is not even there, she is heading to Vaes Dothrak.  If the Volantine fleet doesn't rebel, they are done. Including the Iron Fleet.

11 hours ago, Nevets said:

Dothraki:  I expect Daenerys to claim some of the Dothraki and meet the fleet partway to Westeros.  She may or may not go overland, but her story is in Westeros, not Essos, so the less time spent in Essos, the better.  I expect her in Westeros by the end of TWOW.  If not, the series is in trouble.

Why?  I don't understand this argument.

Dany cannot go to Westeros unless she has an overwhelming military force that allows her to march West. You cannot simply board the ships 'somewhere' with an smallish khalasar. This means she needs getting the support of the whole Dothraki horde and practically every slave in Essos. 

About her story being in Westeros... there must be something first that makes her thinks so. Otherwise she will content with her march of conquest and her role of the tSwMtW and AA (by the red priests).

11 hours ago, Nevets said:

Aegon:  I anticipate he will be exposed as a fake or killed before too long.  If he was important, I think we would have seen him long before now.

We have seen Aegon since aCoK, the built up has been slow with the reveal in aDwD,  but he has been there.

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Interesting clue, for what its worth:

If the Book titles were originally intended to mean what we think they do, then the Dance of the Dragons (Dany's war with Aegon) was meant to happen before the Winds of Winter (the fall of the Wall and the invasion of the Others).

If so, then Danerys can be expected to arrive when Aegon is still in his prime, and loved by all. And while the Wall is still standing. Maybe the Wall falls just as she defeats him, or perhaps Martin will adjust it so that it falls in the midst of their war. But it seems unlikely that the Wall will fall before she even arrives in Westeros.

Most likely Dance with Dragons was meant to focus on Dany's war with Aegon, with the Wall falling in the Epilogue of that book, just after she ascends the Throne. With Winds of Winter then focusing on the effects of the Other's invasion.

Now, since Aegon will only ascend the Throne by the end of Winds, does that mean that the Wall cannot fall until well into Dream of Spring? Possibly.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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12 hours ago, Colonel Green said:

The stuff in Meereen isn't about her commitment to the freedmen, it's about her returning to the way of the dragon in dealing with her enemies.  ADWD was her gradually selling out more and more to the slavers, before being carried away by Drogon.  When she returns with the Dothraki, she's going to totally break the Slave Power in Essos.

Indeed. The last chapter is about her methods/approach to resolve conflicts not about where the hell her destiny awaits her. The latter thing has not yet been touched upon.

I assume that she might be reunited with Quaithe should she go to Qarth herself after she is done in Vaes Dothrak. She could certainly give her a lot of information that she needs to have. In addition we have every reason to expect that Marwyn and Tyrion will eventually reach Dany, with the former giving her actually good information on the existence of the Others, the prophecy, and its interpretation by her great-granduncle, Maester Aemon.

But it is going to take quite some time to get to that point.

@Nevets

You are treating the story as if this 'two more books' thing is a given law and as if it makes sense that George would suddenly cut down all the plots he introduced in the last two books just to wrap up the story as quickly as he can. That's not going to happen.

The only reason to introduce Aegon, Euron, the Faith Militant, the Faceless Men and Iron Bank, Dorne, etc. is because those factions are going to play a big role in the story to come. If George had been aiming to reach the end after he was done with ASoS he would have just kept the Tyrells, Martells, Ironborn, etc. as featured extras. But that's clearly not the plan.

In that sense, a lot of your suggestions would drastically change the story as it present itself right now. Granted, some people might die but the idea that it is going hit Aegon now shortly after his introduction and before he can challenge Daenerys is very far-fetched indeed.

I tended to use similar arguments like you prior to ADwD. I said Dany has to begin her journey to Westeros in that book and I said that the Others have to attack the Wall in that book to allow George to end the series in two more volumes. Then TWoW would have been about Dany's conquest of Westeros and the beginning of the war against the Others while the last book would have resolved everything in the grand finale.

With the turn the story took it is simply impossible for the story to be wrapped up this quickly, at least not if it is not supposed to be some travesty where the Others are dealt with in a few chapters and we never get the feeling that they are a threat to all human life in Martinworld.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

This depends how people in the south takes the rumors of the Wall falling and whether they interpret it correctly. Dorne, the Reach, Stormlands will unlikely care much. The North is different.

I agree with you there up to a point. However, if the Wall falls then the people in the South will inevitably receive a lot of ravens from the castles in the North informing them about this incident. They cannot reasonably dismiss all those as superstition, especially not if refugees telling the stories come down through the Neck. Not to mention that they will have to believe the stories if the corpses in the South also begin to rise (a possible scenario after the Wall is destroyed).

This doesn't mean that they have the means to help the people in the North, of course, but Dany and Aegon are then rather unlikely to continue to their petty war. And if that war is supposed to be fought to the bitter end the attack of the Others has to be postponed.

Still, George could spin the story in a way where news travels slowly - say, because everybody at the Wall dies in its collapse. Then nobody can be warned for quite some time. But some people will survive up there and they will inform others.

Quote

The war against Aegon will be short. Fighting capabilities of Westeros are dwindling at an alarming pace.

I'm with you there, but this Second Dance is supposed to be a thing. Now, winter should end conventional warfare quickly enough in the North, the Riverlands, the Vale, and the West. It is snowing in the Crownlands right now, too, but the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne are still free of snow. And warfare could continue a little bit in winter as well, as the first Dance effectively proved (although that winter most certainly wasn't as bad as the winter that has come now).

The Reach, Dorne, the Stormlords, the Crownlands, the West, the Ironborn, and especially the Vale still have troops to spare. How many of those troops will remain by the time Dany arrives is an open question, of course.

Technically it is not unlikely that Aegon will be completely unable to oppose Daenerys upon her arrival.

However, there is a good chance that this Second Dance thing is going to begin as a war before Dany even arrives in Westeros, with Varys/Illyrio deploying assassins to kill Dany (or activating their sleeper agent, Strong Belwas, to kill her) and attacking her navy before she can land in Westeros.

That's where Euron could come into play. If he is not going to marry Daenerys (unlikely right now, if you ask me) then he could be the main obstacle on her way to Westeros, trying to kill her and her dragons on their way to Westeros. We have reason to believe he is going to use some magics to destroy the Redwyne fleet. He could try to use similar spells to destroy Dany's armada. We would expect to meet his end in such a battle but he could still destroy half of Dany's army before she lands.

That could then put Aegon in a much better position to challenge Daenerys. But if we assume that he is going to do that he must have the allegiance of the entire Reach (whose forces shouldn't be all that destroyed by that point), all Dorne, the Stormlands, the Crownlands, the Riverlands, and especially the Vale. Possibly even portions of the West (I expect Cersei to team up with and marry Euron, but not all the Lords of the West to follow her lead and declare for the mad Ironborn king) led by the Plumms might declare for Aegon sooner or later, following the example of Lord Titus Peake and his lady wife, Margot Lannister.

Quote

If GRRM is reading here, I'd tell him I prefer to have five more books and wait 20 years more than a quick wrap out of the story lines, with clumsy endings. Three more books seems to me a bare minimum.

Indeed. We all want the books as quickly as possible. But we all should want the best ending and the best possible story on the basis of the previous published books. Nothing would hurt the story more than it being sort of cut down in size back to the original trilogy concept in the last two volumes. Then it should better remain unfinished.

Quote

There are already five twow chapters on Meeren and the battle is not even half a way. Five more is indeed a minimum to end the battle and describe its immediate aftermath. And then we need the politics.

Correct. There is a lot of unfinished business in Meereen. Who poisoned the locusts? Why? What's the Shavepate up to? Does he plan to close the gates on Barristan's army should the war turn against them now that his brazen beasts are manning the walls of the city? What's going to happen to Hizdahr? Who is the Harpy? Will she get away with her actions now that team Dany is going to win?

One expects that Tyrion is going to play an important role in the new government of Meereen, dealing with many of those issues. But to do that Selmy has to properly install him there, suggesting that Barristan will stick around a while longer. Tyrion is not going to talk to Dany soon, so Tyrion has to talk to Selmy about Aegon, Connington, the Golden Company, etc. Selmy was the one who slew Maelys the Monstrous and he might have known more than one Blackfyre by name. Together they and the Tattered Prince could begin to unravel the mystery behind Prince Aegon and Varys/Illyrio.

Quote

Dany cannot go to Westeros unless she has an overwhelming military force that allows her to march West. You cannot simply board the ships 'somewhere' with an smallish khalasar. This means she needs getting the support of the whole Dothraki horde and practically every slave in Essos. 

I'd say she cannot leave before all the slavers are destroyed. Just taking on Slaver's Bay wasn't enough because the slave trade and the slaver societies could survive this and try to reverse things. They all have to go now, and once they are all gone the people can begin building new societies.

We can be pretty sure, I think, that the Ghiscari cities will all be destroyed and that Dany's enemies will be all killed. Those who accept her new ways (freedmen, reformed Ghiscari) will leave Slaver's Bay with her people to either accompany her to Westeros or settle in the Free Cities regions upon their conquest.

One also assumes that Dany will be smart enough to only take Dothraki warriors in their prime with her to Westeros rather than entire khalasars. That way she should have fewer mouths to feed.

Quote

About her story being in Westeros... there must be something first that makes her thinks so. Otherwise she will content with her march of conquest and her role of the tSwMtW and AA (by the red priests).

Indeed. It could be Quaithe and/or Marwyn, probably both. Possibly in combination with her having another set of visions/prophetic dreams.

Quote

We have seen Aegon since aCoK, the built up has been slow with the reveal in aDwD,  but he has been there.

Yeah, it is the same with Aegon as it is with Stannis. They and Dany are connected since the House of the Undying, and there is most certainly a reason why Stannis hasn't heard even a rumor of Daenerys and her dragons as of yet. That's going to have an impact on his story. I'm not sure he'll stick around long enough to actually meet Dany but I'm pretty sure him learning that she has hatched herself three dragons from stone is going to be a huge blow to his belief that he is the savior.

8 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Interesting clue, for what its worth:

If the Book titles were originally intended to mean what we think they do, then the Dance of the Dragons (Dany's war with Aegon) was meant to happen before the Winds of Winter (the fall of the Wall and the invasion of the Others).

Back when there was only a trilogy Aegon might not yet have been part of the story. Then the second book of the series, ADwD, would have been about Dany's conquest of Westeros, possibly fighting against 'evil Jaime' in the process (cf. the original outline for that).

But it is quite clear that originally TWoW was supposed to then be the book about the fight against the Others, suggesting that the Wall would have fallen or attacked by the Others at the end of ADwD.

8 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

If so, then Danerys can be expected to arrive when Aegon is still in his prime, and loved by all. And while the Wall is still standing. Maybe the Wall falls just as she defeats him, or perhaps Martin will adjust it so that it falls in the midst of their war. But it seems unlikely that the Wall will fall before she even arrives in Westeros.

That is more or less what I've been saying for years. If we interpret the Second Dance as a war primarily between Dany and Aegon. It could also greatly feature Euron (as a dragonrider?), even Stannis (as a man who has sellswords from Essos invade the South?). Or it could take take place, at least in part, in Essos or at sea while Dany is traveling to Westeros.

8 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Most likely Dance with Dragons was meant to focus on Dany's war with Aegon, with the Wall falling in the Epilogue of that book, just after she ascends the Throne. With Winds of Winter then focusing on the effects of the Other's invasion.

Now, since Aegon will only ascend the Throne by the end of Winds, does that mean that the Wall cannot fall until well into Dream of Spring? Possibly.

There could be a little bit of tweaking going on there as I've tried to lay out above. News could travel slowly, etc. And if we get a pandemic in Westeros (the grey plague, for instance) then people might not only have to deal with mundane matters like continued warfare, starvation, and cold, but also with the fact that many people are dying. Properly responding to the news of the Others might get rather difficult in that setting.

However, it is very unlikely that Dany is not going to receive information about the existence of the Others and the threat they pose to mankind before she reaches Westeros. Which should, in turn, suggest that she is not going to insist on continuing a war when she has reason to believe the Wall has fallen.

The fall of the Wall should inevitably mark the beginning of a change in the game. Politics and vengeance are no longer that important, now the survival of mankind is at stake. That doesn't necessarily mean everybody is going to agree on the methods how the Others can be defeated, nor will all people be able to ignore their own petty ambitions and vendettas, but they should take a back seat for the time being (at least until a perfect opportunity to stab somebody in the back presents itself).

In that sense we have to guess how much time it is going to take for things to unfold in the South so that Dany can finally arrive (and there can be Second Dance) when we are speculating what might happen in the North in the meantime up until the fall of the Wall. That is my main reason why I'm not so confident that the coming battles will mark the end of the Boltons. They might get away, or at least Roose might, so that things are not all that easily resolved.

At the Wall the aftermath of Jon's death, the NW-wildlings enmity, and the Weeper beyond the Wall (not to mention Hardhome, and the wights/Others beyond the Wall) should give our characters more than enough to do. Hopefully not so much in the department of further infighting but rather in forging some preliminary alliance from which then the final alliance of people who defeat the Others can be formed.

The fall of the Wall will mark the end of that alliance, possibly resulting in the deaths of Stannis, Melisandre, and their followers, with Jon Snow and a reasonable portions of his allies getting away in time. They might by then be in possession of knowledge that could eventually help them to defeat the Others after they have teamed up with Daenerys.

A huge question mark there still is what Bran is going to do in the meantime. To what extent will he involve himself in mundane affairs (I expect him to play a role in the coming Battle of Ice) and will he be able to forge a lasting alliance with Stannis despite the fact that Melisandre right now clearly sees him as a servant of the Great Other? And how is knowledge about the Others going to affect the strategies people come up with to defeat them? If it turned out that the (or some) Children of the Forest are responsible for the creation of the Others then people are possibly not likely all that willing to trust Bran or the Children in the whole war against the Others. The First Men's (and wildlings) belief in the old gods themselves might be shaken to the core. As far as we know that people of Westeros have no idea that the Children might be behind the Others. If they had known that one should assume it would have been a key part of the stories about the Others, a part the First Men and the later singers would have never forgotten.

R'hllor might look much more promising a god to many people than the old gods if Melisandre actually happens to resurrect Jon Snow (or rather his body) while the Children and their allies (like Bran) might still in cahoots with the Others.

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19 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Indeed. The last chapter is about her methods/approach to resolve conflicts not about where the hell her destiny awaits her. The latter thing has not yet been touched upon.

I assume that she might be reunited with Quaithe should she go to Qarth herself after she is done in Vaes Dothrak. She could certainly give her a lot of information that she needs to have. In addition we have every reason to expect that Marwyn and Tyrion will eventually reach Dany, with the former giving her actually good information on the existence of the Others, the prophecy, and its interpretation by her great-granduncle, Maester Aemon.

But it is going to take quite some time to get to that point.

@Nevets

You are treating the story as if this 'two more books' thing is a given law and as if it makes sense that George would suddenly cut down all the plots he introduced in the last two books just to wrap up the story as quickly as he can. That's not going to happen.

The only reason to introduce Aegon, Euron, the Faith Militant, the Faceless Men and Iron Bank, Dorne, etc. is because those factions are going to play a big role in the story to come. If George had been aiming to reach the end after he was done with ASoS he would have just kept the Tyrells, Martells, Ironborn, etc. as featured extras. But that's clearly not the plan.

In that sense, a lot of your suggestions would drastically change the story as it present itself right now. Granted, some people might die but the idea that it is going hit Aegon now shortly after his introduction and before he can challenge Daenerys is very far-fetched indeed.

I tended to use similar arguments like you prior to ADwD. I said Dany has to begin her journey to Westeros in that book and I said that the Others have to attack the Wall in that book to allow George to end the series in two more volumes. Then TWoW would have been about Dany's conquest of Westeros and the beginning of the war against the Others while the last book would have resolved everything in the grand finale.

With the turn the story took it is simply impossible for the story to be wrapped up this quickly, at least not if it is not supposed to be some travesty where the Others are dealt with in a few chapters and we never get the feeling that they are a threat to all human life in Martinworld.

I agree with you there up to a point. However, if the Wall falls then the people in the South will inevitably receive a lot of ravens from the castles in the North informing them about this incident. They cannot reasonably dismiss all those as superstition, especially not if refugees telling the stories come down through the Neck. Not to mention that they will have to believe the stories if the corpses in the South also begin to rise (a possible scenario after the Wall is destroyed).

This doesn't mean that they have the means to help the people in the North, of course, but Dany and Aegon are then rather unlikely to continue to their petty war. And if that war is supposed to be fought to the bitter end the attack of the Others has to be postponed.

Still, George could spin the story in a way where news travels slowly - say, because everybody at the Wall dies in its collapse. Then nobody can be warned for quite some time. But some people will survive up there and they will inform others.

I'm with you there, but this Second Dance is supposed to be a thing. Now, winter should end conventional warfare quickly enough in the North, the Riverlands, the Vale, and the West. It is snowing in the Crownlands right now, too, but the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne are still free of snow. And warfare could continue a little bit in winter as well, as the first Dance effectively proved (although that winter most certainly wasn't as bad as the winter that has come now).

The Reach, Dorne, the Stormlords, the Crownlands, the West, the Ironborn, and especially the Vale still have troops to spare. How many of those troops will remain by the time Dany arrives is an open question, of course.

Technically it is not unlikely that Aegon will be completely unable to oppose Daenerys upon her arrival.

However, there is a good chance that this Second Dance thing is going to begin as a war before Dany even arrives in Westeros, with Varys/Illyrio deploying assassins to kill Dany (or activating their sleeper agent, Strong Belwas, to kill her) and attacking her navy before she can land in Westeros.

That's where Euron could come into play. If he is not going to marry Daenerys (unlikely right now, if you ask me) then he could be the main obstacle on her way to Westeros, trying to kill her and her dragons on their way to Westeros. We have reason to believe he is going to use some magics to destroy the Redwyne fleet. He could try to use similar spells to destroy Dany's armada. We would expect to meet his end in such a battle but he could still destroy half of Dany's army before she lands.

That could then put Aegon in a much better position to challenge Daenerys. But if we assume that he is going to do that he must have the allegiance of the entire Reach (whose forces shouldn't be all that destroyed by that point), all Dorne, the Stormlands, the Crownlands, the Riverlands, and especially the Vale. Possibly even portions of the West (I expect Cersei to team up with and marry Euron, but not all the Lords of the West to follow her lead and declare for the mad Ironborn king) led by the Plumms might declare for Aegon sooner or later, following the example of Lord Titus Peake and his lady wife, Margot Lannister.

Indeed. We all want the books as quickly as possible. But we all should want the best ending and the best possible story on the basis of the previous published books. Nothing would hurt the story more than it being sort of cut down in size back to the original trilogy concept in the last two volumes. Then it should better remain unfinished.

Correct. There is a lot of unfinished business in Meereen. Who poisoned the locusts? Why? What's the Shavepate up to? Does he plan to close the gates on Barristan's army should the war turn against them now that his brazen beasts are manning the walls of the city? What's going to happen to Hizdahr? Who is the Harpy? Will she get away with her actions now that team Dany is going to win?

One expects that Tyrion is going to play an important role in the new government of Meereen, dealing with many of those issues. But to do that Selmy has to properly install him there, suggesting that Barristan will stick around a while longer. Tyrion is not going to talk to Dany soon, so Tyrion has to talk to Selmy about Aegon, Connington, the Golden Company, etc. Selmy was the one who slew Maelys the Monstrous and he might have known more than one Blackfyre by name. Together they and the Tattered Prince could begin to unravel the mystery behind Prince Aegon and Varys/Illyrio.

I'd say she cannot leave before all the slavers are destroyed. Just taking on Slaver's Bay wasn't enough because the slave trade and the slaver societies could survive this and try to reverse things. They all have to go now, and once they are all gone the people can begin building new societies.

We can be pretty sure, I think, that the Ghiscari cities will all be destroyed and that Dany's enemies will be all killed. Those who accept her new ways (freedmen, reformed Ghiscari) will leave Slaver's Bay with her people to either accompany her to Westeros or settle in the Free Cities regions upon their conquest.

One also assumes that Dany will be smart enough to only take Dothraki warriors in their prime with her to Westeros rather than entire khalasars. That way she should have fewer mouths to feed.

Indeed. It could be Quaithe and/or Marwyn, probably both. Possibly in combination with her having another set of visions/prophetic dreams.

Yeah, it is the same with Aegon as it is with Stannis. They and Dany are connected since the House of the Undying, and there is most certainly a reason why Stannis hasn't heard even a rumor of Daenerys and her dragons as of yet. That's going to have an impact on his story. I'm not sure he'll stick around long enough to actually meet Dany but I'm pretty sure him learning that she has hatched herself three dragons from stone is going to be a huge blow to his belief that he is the savior.

Back when there was only a trilogy Aegon might not yet have been part of the story. Then the second book of the series, ADwD, would have been about Dany's conquest of Westeros, possibly fighting against 'evil Jaime' in the process (cf. the original outline for that).

But it is quite clear that originally TWoW was supposed to then be the book about the fight against the Others, suggesting that the Wall would have fallen or attacked by the Others at the end of ADwD.

That is more or less what I've been saying for years. If we interpret the Second Dance as a war primarily between Dany and Aegon. It could also greatly feature Euron (as a dragonrider?), even Stannis (as a man who has sellswords from Essos invade the South?). Or it could take take place, at least in part, in Essos or at sea while Dany is traveling to Westeros.

There could be a little bit of tweaking going on there as I've tried to lay out above. News could travel slowly, etc. And if we get a pandemic in Westeros (the grey plague, for instance) then people might not only have to deal with mundane matters like continued warfare, starvation, and cold, but also with the fact that many people are dying. Properly responding to the news of the Others might get rather difficult in that setting.

However, it is very unlikely that Dany is not going to receive information about the existence of the Others and the threat they pose to mankind before she reaches Westeros. Which should, in turn, suggest that she is not going to insist on continuing a war when she has reason to believe the Wall has fallen.

The fall of the Wall should inevitably mark the beginning of a change in the game. Politics and vengeance are no longer that important, now the survival of mankind is at stake. That doesn't necessarily mean everybody is going to agree on the methods how the Others can be defeated, nor will all people be able to ignore their own petty ambitions and vendettas, but they should take a back seat for the time being (at least until a perfect opportunity to stab somebody in the back presents itself).

In that sense we have to guess how much time it is going to take for things to unfold in the South so that Dany can finally arrive (and there can be Second Dance) when we are speculating what might happen in the North in the meantime up until the fall of the Wall. That is my main reason why I'm not so confident that the coming battles will mark the end of the Boltons. They might get away, or at least Roose might, so that things are not all that easily resolved.

At the Wall the aftermath of Jon's death, the NW-wildlings enmity, and the Weeper beyond the Wall (not to mention Hardhome, and the wights/Others beyond the Wall) should give our characters more than enough to do. Hopefully not so much in the department of further infighting but rather in forging some preliminary alliance from which then the final alliance of people who defeat the Others can be formed.

The fall of the Wall will mark the end of that alliance, possibly resulting in the deaths of Stannis, Melisandre, and their followers, with Jon Snow and a reasonable portions of his allies getting away in time. They might by then be in possession of knowledge that could eventually help them to defeat the Others after they have teamed up with Daenerys.

A huge question mark there still is what Bran is going to do in the meantime. To what extent will he involve himself in mundane affairs (I expect him to play a role in the coming Battle of Ice) and will he be able to forge a lasting alliance with Stannis despite the fact that Melisandre right now clearly sees him as a servant of the Great Other? And how is knowledge about the Others going to affect the strategies people come up with to defeat them? If it turned out that the (or some) Children of the Forest are responsible for the creation of the Others then people are possibly not likely all that willing to trust Bran or the Children in the whole war against the Others. The First Men's (and wildlings) belief in the old gods themselves might be shaken to the core. As far as we know that people of Westeros have no idea that the Children might be behind the Others. If they had known that one should assume it would have been a key part of the stories about the Others, a part the First Men and the later singers would have never forgotten.

R'hllor might look much more promising a god to many people than the old gods if Melisandre actually happens to resurrect Jon Snow (or rather his body) while the Children and their allies (like Bran) might still in cahoots with the Others.

Why would Bran share the true origin of the Others with the general public? He has no need to do that. But either way, that is just a side comment.

More importantly, regarding the Boltons, I agree with you that it will not be their end after the Battle of Ice. That's why I suggest that Ramsay's letter is largely true, and that the Boltons are still in charge of Winterfell. Meaning the rest of Winds is spent on Jon rallying the North and finally taking back Winterfell at the end of the Book. Surely the Show could not have deviated so far from the Books to make that plotline up in its entirety.

And the general agreement that the Wall won't fall until Dream of Spring means that there is now enough time for this to happen, for the Starks to retake Winterfell and for a King in the North to be waiting to meet - and possibly marry - the Queen of Dragons. In fact, might we not end up with a repeat of the original Dance of Dragons, where a new Cregan Stark is this time ready and in place to assist the Targaryen faction of his choice to win the war against Aegon?

Maybe even with the Pact of Ice and Fire as its price, and this time one that is fulfilled. The fact is that the delayed fall of the Wall makes a lot of things possible that would otherwise not have been feasible if the Wall's fall was imminent.

It gives purpose to the long political buiildup in the North, the quest for Stark restoration, the familial links the Starks will soon have in the Vale and already have in the Riverlands. And ultimately leads to a plausible justification for Daenerys to marry Jon, just like we think will happen in the Show.

In short, the Show just took large shortcuts to get there, but it is a way to make it all tie back together. But for that to happen, the fall off the Wall needs to be delayed until deep into Dream of Spring, and the North-Vale-Riverlands powerbloc needs to become influential again. Furthermore, Aegon needs time to become strong enough - and possibly obtain some dragons - that Daenerys needs the King in the North's alliance to defeat Aegon.

And the price of this alliance is then that they unite to face the Others.

I think this approach makes a far more complete storyline than Daenerys arriving to a devastated North, and just flying in to save them all in one sided fashion. And it shows why Martin needs to delay the fall of the Wall and Daenerys's arrival so much. Because he needs all the pieces to fall into place first.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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Assuming TWOW is the second last book (if it's not, I give up on making any guesses) I expect the ending will be bleak on all fronts, ready for ADOS.

At the Wall/North: my guess is that Stannis will win the Battles of Ice & Winterfell within the first 1/3 - 1/2 of the book, and the latter part has him trying to hold back the Others at the Wall with the armies of the north and mercenary reinforcements from Essos. He'll become increasingly desperate, burn Shireen, lose regardless, and the Others will overrun the Wall and have an open path into the lands to its south.

It'll serve as something like a Worf Effect. The Others have so far driven the wildlings south and defeated 300 rangers, neither of which is very significant. By defeating Stannis - a great general in control of the Wall and commanding many thousands of soldiers - they'll establish themselves as being incredibly deadly, and now there'll be no one ready to stop them (who is capable of doing so).

In the South: my guess is that Dany vs Aegon will be in full swing, Cersei will be clinging to power and Euron will be ascendant (maybe in control of a dragon?). Dorne will have thrown in with Aegon, and the Vale is probably involved in some sort of fuckery thanks to Littlefinger. In short, it will be completely unprepared to face the threat posed to their north. 

In ADOS: my guess is that Jon and Bran will be conducting some kind of holding action in the North while the southern players learn of what's happening. Dany will probably conquer the south, Euron will keep being Euron (maybe hitch himself to the Others?), Sansa might use her position to reroute the Vale forces into helping Jon. Regardless of the specifics I expect there'll still be infighting up until it's almost too late, as a whole book of people joining hands and patting each other on the backs while they fight zombies would be boring. 

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Why would Bran share the true origin of the Others with the general public? He has no need to do that. But either way, that is just a side comment.

Well, Bran might not but one assumes that this truth is going to come out. And Meera (who might learn the truth from Bran/Bloodraven/the Children) might still make it back to the Wall/North in one piece.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

More importantly, regarding the Boltons, I agree with you that it will not be their end after the Battle of Ice. That's why I suggest that Ramsay's letter is largely true, and that the Boltons are still in charge of Winterfell. Meaning the rest of Winds is spent on Jon rallying the North and finally taking back Winterfell at the end of the Book. Surely the Show could not have deviated so far from the Books to make that plotline up in its entirety.

Well, I guess you then also assume that 

Spoiler

Sansa is going to marry Ramsay?

The book story would be completely repetitive if Jon had to do the same thing Stannis had been doing in the books already (but not in the show) namely recruiting Northern houses to his cause. If Stannis loses at Winterfell he will be killed (do you think he is death, as per the Pink Letter?) and the clansmen with him. Stannis leads from the rear, not the front, if he loses a battle he will die in the end, not in the beginning, and the clansmen are likely going to lead the charges against the Freys and especially against the Boltons.

In addition, we could also reasonably assume that the Northmen - who essentially were willing to accept Bolton rule prior to the battles - will certainly stick to them if they actually defeat (and kill) Stannis. Winter has come and they would see no reason to continue the plotting and backstabbing if there was only a very small chance that they could take on the Boltons.

If Stannis loses at Winterfell then Lord Wyman and his knights are most likely not going to make it alive out of there, too. That would have ripple effects on the Rickon plan, and Davos' prospects to leave Skagos alive, etc.

But in general I simply don't see two campaigns to take Winterfell in two successive books, at least not if pretty much the same factions are leading such campaigns. 

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And the general agreement that the Wall won't fall until Dream of Spring means that there is now enough time for this to happen, for the Starks to retake Winterfell and for a King in the North to be waiting to meet - and possibly marry - the Queen of Dragons. In fact, might we not end up with a repeat of the original Dance of Dragons, where a new Cregan Stark is this time ready and in place to assist the Targaryen faction of his choice to win the war against Aegon?

Why the hell would Jon Snow, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, make war on his half-brother Aegon? I'm pretty sure Howland Reed would drop him a line before he killed his half-brother in battle. Neither of those has a way to find out that Aegon might not be Rhaegar's son.

We should also keep in mind the possibility that 

Spoiler

the show only has Jon as a new king because they cut the Aegon story. Jon is now more or less in the same position as Aegon, able to challenge Dany's claim - even the claim to the Iron Throne once he finds out who he actually is - and he might never end up in that spot in the books. The idea that Jon could ever muster enough strength to become a danger to Daenerys (or Aegon) is completely out of the question in the books.

 

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Maybe even with the Pact of Ice and Fire as its price, and this time one that is fulfilled. The fact is that the delayed fall of the Wall makes a lot of things possible that would otherwise not have been feasible if the Wall's fall was imminent.

Some things should be possible but not everything is realistic. The focus of the people up in the North should be on protecting the Wall/the North and possibly even carrying the war to the Others before they have gathered all their strength.

But if we got two campaigns to take Winterfell then simply a lot people will die. And the Battle of Ice alone is going to kill a lot of people. Most/all of the Freys, for sure, and if Ramsay sort of wins a victory at the village then most/all of the clansmen should die, too. Else there is not going to be a victory for the Boltons.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

It gives purpose to the long political buiildup in the North, the quest for Stark restoration, the familial links the Starks will soon have in the Vale and already have in the Riverlands. And ultimately leads to a plausible justification for Daenerys to marry Jon, just like we think will happen in the Show.

Love always finds a way, this doesn't have to be some sort of political alliance. In fact, if Dany and Jon are both dragon heads then whatever bond there is going to be between these two should not be based on political necessity but kinship, love, and destiny.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

In short, the Show just took large shortcuts to get there, but it is a way to make it all tie back together. But for that to happen, the fall off the Wall needs to be delayed until deep into Dream of Spring, and the North-Vale-Riverlands powerbloc needs to become influential again. Furthermore, Aegon needs time to become strong enough - and possibly obtain some dragons - that Daenerys needs the King in the North's alliance to defeat Aegon.

If there were a North-Vale-Riverlands power bloc then there is not going to be a King Aegon. Aegon cannot be King of Westeros if the Riverlands and the Vale don't accept him as king. Dorne and the Stormlands aren't enough, not even the Reach if Euron is going to remain in the story. In addition, King Aegon certainly would declare war on the Riverlands and the Vale if the lords there wouldn't recognize him as their king.

The dragons are a different story. Viserion and Rhaegal could have multiple riders some of which might go to Westeros before Dany arrives there on Drogon. And Aegon might have dragon eggs of his own which might hatch, or old dragons like the Cannibal might return to be claimed by either Aegon or Euron.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I think this approach makes a far more complete storyline than Daenerys arriving to a devastated North, and just flying in to save them all in one sided fashion. And it shows why Martin needs to delay the fall of the Wall and Daenerys's arrival so much. Because he needs all the pieces to fall into place first.

Dany isn't going to save anyone. They will have to work together to defeat the Others. Although we can be reasonably sure that Dany's dragons and her army will be of paramount importance - else her entire story would have been a huge waste of time.

This won't be about the North, it will be about Westeros and the entire world. And the North doesn't matter all that much. You care about the North for some reason but you fail to realize that while Brandon, Arya, and Sansa Stark can be considered main characters the North as a political entity certainly isn't at the core of the plot.

Brandon Stark is on the way of transcending mundane political matters, championing the cause of the survival of humanity. Arya Stark's ultimate desires are still a complete mystery to me (vengeance? power?) and Sansa might actually end up aiming at the Iron Throne (and thus true power), following Littlefinger's example, rather than being content with Winterfell and the Vale.

One would expect that the core characters (Starks and others, like Dany, Tyrion, Brienne, perhaps even Jaime) deserve their importance as being the heroes of the story by realizing what's at stake sooner rather than later, trying to overcome the petty political struggles, before everything goes to hell.

Even the question who the hell should be the guy in charge during the fight against the Others shouldn't all that important. They could have some sort of coalition not caring about titles and claims at all. The whole feudal society in itself should quickly fall apart when the dead rise to slay the living. I'd no longer care about paying taxes, doing fealty, or caring who presumes to be my better in such a scenario. Would you?

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Battle of Winterfell - Manderly seemed very confident before the altercation with the Freys. I expect that Rickon was revovered and Glover has a host moving secretly towards or is already near winterfell with Rickon, Shaggy, Davos. Stannis has 3 days to set trap for the approaching Frey/Bolton Forces. Winterfell out of Bolton hands. Rickon is coming home. However, Ramsay may survive and be playing games from the safety of Winterfell's walls. Roose and Walda I think already, off page.

The Vale - Sansa after staying in place there may be on the move and not by choice, that or, she gets married and stays there a while more. I lean on her leaving against her will. I expect the Mad Mouse to make a move/kidnap attempt and with help to bring her to Cersei for a huge reward.

Bran - His powers/abilities should really expend and we should bare whitness to them but will he remain there or return home. GRRM promissed that we would see what REALLY lies in the Far North. So I expect Bran to show us some mind blowing things. I also expect to learn Coldhands identity and find out what happened to Uncle Benjen.

Jon - I have absolute faith he will rise but how long will he be "out". Will the Wildings, who dramatically outnumber the Watch and Queen's men combined, take over Castle Black and if so, will they take over the whole wall, therefore render the "warding" effect keeping the others from crossing it? Jon is revived but I think the Watch is finished over his assasination/attempted.

Mereen - Will Ser Barristan survive, doubtful as Tyrion is there now and will this finally end the Essos Drag and allow Dany to come to or want to come to Westeros? I expect her to win and by the end of the book, land in Westeros.

Dorne - News of Quentyn's death may cause Doran to keel over and die on the spot. Arianne is going to meet Aegon or the person claiming to be. She will soon rule Dorne, will she seduce and marry Aegon, her supposed First Cousin? Either way, I expect Dorne to Join Aegon's cause and one army marches on The Reach and Oldtown, the other into the Stormlands.

Aegon - will he fall for Arianne's almost certain plans to seduce him? How will he take Storm's end and will he gain defectors from other part of Westeros? I expect him to gain Storm's End, gain defectors and possibly take King's Landing by the end of the book.

The Riverlands - I expect the prologue to be one of a few people, Sybella, Jeyne, Edmure or the Blackfish - I expect this also to tie in with Lady Stoneheart, Brienne, Jaime and the Twins.  A lot of hostages are being taken on guarded march and it is the best time for rescue attempts. I expect one. These hostages include high Northern Lords like Great John Umber, Edmure Tulley and many others. They recovery/resoultion of these lords would untie many houses from rising against the Freys, Boltons and Lannisters and no doubt that they would. Jaime reacting to Lady Stoneheart and him possibly answering for the words that Roose Bolton said to Robb in front of Cat before he killed the Young Wolf; "Jaime Lannister sends his regards". She remembers.

Arya - I expect her to do what she has to do and get out of there. I am sick of Braavos, Essos and I think GRRM is too.

King's Landing - I expect the untimely deaths of the Epilogue to throw things in chaos. Will Margeary die in her trial or will there be one. I do not know if Cersei would allow herself to be tried, even though she has the Mountain on her side. Between the trials and murders, Aegon in the Stormlands and the Iron Born attack at the heart of the Reach, I expect the Tyrell/Reach faction to fracture and some defect to Aegon, also, many will return to fight off the Iron Born. Ser Loras's fate may be revealed as I do not believe he was in the shape after Dragonstone as was reported.

 

Edited by A Ghost of Someone

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1 hour ago, A Ghost of Someone said:

However, Ramsay may survive and be playing games from the safety of Winterfell's walls. Roose and Walda I think already, off page.

In the novels, kinslaying is a thing.  Ramsay murdering Roose and Walda would precipitate his downfall, not a rise to new power.

Quote

The Vale - Sansa after staying in place there may be on the move and not by choice, that or, she gets married and stays there a while more. I lean on her leaving against her will. I expect the Mad Mouse to make a move/kidnap attempt and with help to bring her to Cersei for a huge reward.

What would be the narrative point of that?  That would just lead to Sansa being executed by Cersei, and at best returned to her former status of powerless hostage.  Sansa's not going to be separated from Littlefinger anytime soon, he's both her mentor and her chief antagonist.

Quote

Will the Wildings, who dramatically outnumber the Watch and Queen's men combined, take over Castle Black and if so, will they take over the whole wall, therefore render the "warding" effect keeping the others from crossing it? 

The Wall didn't fall when the Night's King reigned for several years in league with an Other.  I don't think it would fall if the garrison changed.  Indeed, the whole idea that the Wall will fall unless it's manned is purely speculative.

Quote

Dorne - News of Quentyn's death may cause Doran to keel over and die on the spot. 

Doran's not a weak person.  I'm not sure why you'd expect that.

Quote

A lot of hostages are being taken on guarded march and it is the best time for rescue attempts. I expect one. These hostages include high Northern Lords like Great John Umber, Edmure Tulley and many others.

No.  The assorted Northern hostages are at the Twins, not being sent with Edmure and the Westerlings.

Quote

I do not know if Cersei would allow herself to be tried, even though she has the Mountain on her side. 

Cersei doesn't have a choice about being tried, and in any event, she should want that when it's a guaranteed win for her.

Edited by Colonel Green

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