Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Song Of Ice And Fire: Who's Going To Die Next?

Please note that 'everyone' is not an answer. Even if it is probably true.

Following a reply on this post, I've been thinking a lot about which favourite characters we're going to have to say goodbye too in books six and seven. And when I say 'say goodbye to' I mean 'watch helplessly as they're graphically killed off.' I want to make absolutely clear that said reply was well thought out and intelligent and that I am in no way trashing that person's opinion (I'd credit them but the comment was anonymous). I just disagree about the likelihood of that many named characters surviving.

There wil be MASSIVE SPOILERS from this point on. Seriously, if you haven't read the full series then don't read anymore. This will ruin so many surprises. Apologies to people who follow the TV series: I'd like to predict something for you but seeing as I already know what happens in the next three books I can't see that working out.

The Living:

Theon Greyjoy: Theon is an interesting character and I'm not just saying that because of the crush I have on Alfie Allen who plays him on the show (fun fact: he's that Alfie Allen). After what went down at Winterfell it seemed like there was nothing GRRM could do to make him sympathetic again.

Enter Ramsay Bolton.

Theon has had such a long, painful character arc, it's difficult to believe there isn't going to be some kind of pay off. Like maybe, just maybe, a bittersweet ending.

[In fact, if it wasn't for the fact it's going to be OMG so obviously Daenerys, I'd believe that there was a chance that the Greyjoys might stop squabbling and just take the Iron Throne together. This isn't so much a prediction as a hope but I really want to see Theon and Asha bond as siblings and learn to appreciate each other's strengths. Because as a team they could be unstoppable.]

Tyrion: I'll be brutally honest: after his rape threat against Cersei (I don't own that volume so I can't look up the page number but it's when he's trying to find Daenerys) I have major issues with considering Tyrion 'one of the good guys'. Because someone who uses sexual violence as a weapon is a hateful person, no matter how many funny lines they get or how much parts of the fandom hate the intended victim. I can see him plausibly becoming a complete monster and/or being exposed to some kind of horrific catalyst while in slavery that makes him realise that revenge isn't worth becoming said monster.

That being said, I don't think GRRM will kill him. There isn't really an ending that seems right for Tyrion that doesn't involve being crushed by an elephant at the moment of climax while lying between twin prostitutes fresh from the pleasure houses of Lys. And that's before you even get to the jackass and the honeycomb.

From the first book I was convinced that Tyrion would not only outlive the rest of the cast and five books on his chances are only improving. Mainly because everyone else is dying.

The Dead:

Theon Greyjoy: I haven't ruled out the possibility of a bittersweet death.

Jon Connigton: Although since he has terminal greyscale I see this surprising no one.

Walder Frey: He's really old and he's pissed off a lot of people. Something's got to kill him.

Ramsay Bolton: I have a theory he's going to set his dogs on Theon, forcing them to choose between their friend who used to roll around on the floor with them or Ramsay Bolton. And who could blame them for biting the hand that fed and (probably) whipped them? I've never yet met a person who doesn't want to kill Ramsay Bolton by fire. In fact I'm kind of worried just because I typed out his name three times...

Lady Stoneheart: The psychotic break and recent spate of hangings not withstanding, Catelyn Stark was a good person and I believe a few things could bring her back and persuade her to finally let go of life. These are, in no particular order:
-being reunited with one or more of her children
-killing Petyr Baelish (for murdering her sister and grooming her daughter)
-receiving Ned's remains.

This theory depends a lot on the dramatic principle of catharsis. Simply said, in a tragedy focussing on one character a fatal flaw will lead to a catalyst and from there lead to a series of increasingly bad events that escalate until things reach breaking point. From there there are two possible outcomes. Either the character will recognise his/her flaw and attempt to put things right but die anyway or (and this is the real tragedy) s/he won't learn anything and will either die not having learn or live and continue to go on making the same mistakes. In the first option the audience leaves feeling cleansed because the dangerous elements have been wiped away and the survivors (both of them) are free to go about establishing a better world. That's catharsis. I don't know the technical term for the second option (unless you count 'downer ending') but if you do then please let me know.

When there's an ensemble cast like in ASOIAF there aren't so much character flaws as flawed characters (there's a distinction in there somewhere). Robert's selfishness, the Lannister's ambitions, Cersei's complete and utter inability to accept she doesn't know everything, Ned's honour, Joffry's sociopathy, Theon's daddy issues, everyone's treachery... Catharsis here won't be measured in the death of one character but the death of dynastys. And for Catelyn Tully Stark to rest in peace, Lady Stoneheart has to die.

Under that logic I should also probably predict the deaths of: Petyr Baelish, Cersei Lannister, the uncles Greyjoy, the Freys, the Boltons, maybe even cuddly, lovely Ser Jorah everyone-forgets-he-traded-slaves-that-one-time Mormont. And hell, even Daenerys has killed a metric fuck ton of people.

Of course I don't believe for a minute that GRRM of all people is compelled to give us a happy ending.

The Undead:

Bran Stark: Meera's too old for him, Jojen's pining for home and he still hasn't managed to find a way to walk again. I see him retreating more and more into his warg powers (every fibre of my wants to call it Borrowing but then I was a Terry Pratchett fangirl before I'd ever heard of George R.R. Martin). Plus his whole family are either dead, presumed dead or zombies. Even the servants who raised im have been slaughtered and I suspect, if it comes to it, Meera will choose Jojen over him because he's family. The brutal fact is that Bran doesn't have much going on for him in Westeros. I wish it wasn't true. Warging allows him not only to walk but to fly. I don't think he'll want to give that up.

Jon Snow: Melisandre isn't going to let him die... Is she?

Benjen Stark: Consensus seems to think he's Coldhands and I see no reason to disagree.

A suggestion it is physically hurting me type: Please, please not Brienne. Jaime said she "looked older" (I hear hanging can add ten years) and while I believe absolutely in her honour, there's no denying that she was behaving suspiciously. Perhaps she did hang and was resurrected. Perhaps she can't stand to see Podrick die.

Normally I'd believe that no writer could possibly be so cruel as to have a character as good as Brienne killed by the zombie abomination of their former liege lady for a crime which she not only didn't commit but which she would never commit and being given a choice between killing the man she loves and letting two innocents (and herself) die. After she went through hell, high water and sexual harrassment trying to find her killer's damn kids. I also believed that Ned Stark was probably going to make it, King Robert wouldn't let his wife butcher a twelve year old girl's pet in front of her and that J.K Rowling wouldn't kill just one of the Weasley twins. And look where that got me.

What are your predictions for the next two books? Who will live and die? Have I missed out your favourite character? Let me know in the comments.

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