The Stranger comes for us all eventually, and soon, it'll come for some of your favorite characters in the world of Westeros.
George R.R. Martin, author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels that inspire "Game of Thrones," recently spoke about how the upcoming sixth book in the series, "The Winds of Winter," will have no trouble lopping off the heads of some of the more prominent figures in the ongoing feud between the men and women north, south and east of the Wall.
"The way my books are structured, everyone was together, then they all went their separate ways and the story deltas out like that," he said, "and now it’s getting to the point where the story is beginning to delta back in, and the viewpoint characters are occasionally meeting up with each other now and being in the same point at the same time, which gives me a lot more flexibility for killing people."
Well, that's alarming. Not unexpected, but alarming. Which viewpoint characters are in close enough proximity to other viewpoint characters to be considered endangered? Here are a few possibilities, based on where everyone is at the end of "A Dance with Dragons."
BUT FIRST, A WARNING!
All events through the end of "A Dance with Dragons," and preview chapters from "The Winds of Winter," are fair game from this point forward. If you only watch "Game of Thrones" the show, and haven't read the books, there are big-time spoilers ahead. Proceed carefully!
WITH THAT OUT OF THE WAY...
Barristan the Bold is in a pickle in Meereen, as war wages all around Slaver's Bay, with Victarion Greyjoy of the Iron Islands on his way for some good, extra-brutish measure. Barristan is the kind of character that can only die during legendary battle. And his perspective chapters are new, only instituted once Daenerys rides Drogon out of Meereen. With Dany presumably on her way back at some point, and with Tyrion nearby, does Martin need Barristan's perspective anymore? Or will a quick sword to the face take the Bold POV out of the picture for good?
If he doesn't eat dragon fire within his first three chapters in "Winds of Winter," then there is no justice in the world. Then again, this is "Ice and Fire," where justice is a tricky beast.
No. Not Tyrion. Can't be Tyrion. Well… it can be. The possibility has to be considered. He's Martin's favorite character, so Tyrion's demise doesn't seem imminent, but he's one of many POV characters in Slaver's Bay. It would be a gutting shock to lose Tyrion in the penultimate book of the series, but gutting shocks are kind of Martin's bread and butter.
Jaime Lannister and/or Brienne of Tarth
Doesn't look good for one of Westeros' best wish-they-were-a-power-couples. Brienne is leading Jaime directly to his death at the hands of Lady Stoneheart, and the one-handed Lannister isn't exactly in top fighting form. Unless Brienne has a trick up her sleeve, or a change of (stone)heart, Jaime could be toast. And Brienne could certainly die in the process of saving the Seven Kingdoms' (former) greatest swordsman. Either way, these are two POV characters hanging out, side-by-side, on the same narrative path. One can go, very easily.
He's in Stannis' clutches, he's likely to be executed soon, and he doesn't have much to live for — not much, other than sweet revenge against Ramsay Bolton. As long as he makes it that far, Theon's death will not only make sense to the story, but it'll probably be a sigh of relief for the character himself. But he's our eyes and ears on Stannis' war with Ramsay right now, so until that's resolved, he's likely to stick around.
Yara Asha Greyjoy
For the same reasons as her brother, Asha is one of two POV characters we have inside of Stannis' camp right now, so she's valuable. But Theon could snag that spotlight in an instant, and Asha is just as likely to die, given her thirst for battle.
As far as we know, he's the only one with any lead on where Rickon Stark is. And Rickon isn't a POV character. So it seems like Davos is safe, unless he just blows up randomly and we completely abandon the Search For Rickon story, which isn't impossible. If Martin needs to shave down a storyline, Davos isn't the worst candidate in the world. After all, he did lose his bag of luck all those chapters ago; perhaps his luck has finally run out.
The kid's too powerful! Through his Bloodraven-guided eyes, there's so much story we can see, so many mysteries that can be resolved. And who wants to see more stories and mysteries resolved? Well, all of us! Except, that would be telling. If Martin wants to withhold information from us, he could kill Bran off, disabling our eyes and ears in the past, present and (potentially) future. Or, he could just stop Bran's perspective altogether, without killing the poor kid. It seems that Martin has already taken that route, giving us no more than three Bran chapters in "A Dance with Dragons."
She's one of the newest POV characters, and currently, our only conscious perspective on the Wall. Given that all Seven Hells has broken loose among the Night's Watch, and with White Walkers most certainly coming, someone has to be our eyes on the Wall, and right now, Melisandre's our gal. But if Jon Snow is alive, poor Mel could be taken out of the picture in a flash of betrayal. Then again…
No one wants to say it, let alone think it, but it's a possibility that must be considered: What if Jon Snow is really dead? What if his betrayal at the hands of Bowen Marsh and other Brothers in Black is really the end of the line for Lord Commander Snow? Most fans expect he'll come back, either via Ghost or resurrected ala Beric Dondarrion. Certainly, there are R+L=J reasons to believe he's still a factor in the story. But in "Ice and Fire," nothing is certain. It's entirely possible that dead is dead is dead, Jon Snow included.
So, Who's Safe?
For now, these characters seem like they'll be alright, at least for a chapter or two:
Arya Stark: She's too busy slitting throats and having no name out in Braavos to be bothered with anything so pesky as death. Besides, there are no POV characters in her vicinity.
Areo Hotah: Our one man in Dorne. He's fine until GRRM decides Dorne no longer needs our attention.
Cersei Lannister: Unless George gets someone to King's Landing quick, the embattled Queen Regent is our only perspective in the Capitol of Westeros. We need her alive — for now, at least.
Samwell Tarly: He's our only POV character anywhere near Citadel intrigue, and if things in Oldtown are as mischievous and important as they seem to be, we'll need him alive a little while yet.
Sansa Stark: Much to the chagrin of MTV's Jonathan Goldner, noted Sansa hater, Sansa is going to be just fine for the time being. Someone has to have eyes on Littlefinger in the Vale. And someone has to make sure Lord Baelish takes a swift trip out the Moondoor.
Jon Connington: He's only safe until one of our other POV players comes into contact with Aegon "Young Griff" Targaryen. Until then, he's our eyes on one of the story's pivotal new players. Once Aegon comes into someone else's circle (say, Arianne Martell, who also seems safe), then Lord Connington can succumb to Grayscale, and kill us all.
Daenerys Targaryen: Safe until she makes landfall on Westeros or so help us Gods we will riot.
Who do you think will die in "The Winds of Winter"?