'Game Of Thrones': George R. R. Martin Gives Us Hope For A Major 'Dead' Character

Could Brienne have spared Stannis' life?

Another day, another reason to doubt that a "Game of Thrones" character we'd previously thought was dead (we see you, Jon Snow and The Hound) actually bit the dust, despite what producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are telling us.

But this time around, our doubt don't come from an actor being spotted on set -- instead, the theory that Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) might have spared Stannis Baratheon's (Stephen Dillane) life comes from George R. R. Martin himself. During a break from writing "The Winds of Winter" (one would hope) on Wednesday (August 26), Martin took the time to answer a fan question about Stannis' fate after his rumored (by Ramsay Snow) demise at the end of "A Dance With Dragons" on LiveJournal.

"In my books? Alive, beyond a doubt," Martin wrote, after said fan asked him to "cut the crap" and reveal Stannis' fate.

Now of course, "Game of Thrones" has made it clear by now that it's taking a somewhat different route than Martin's books -- Myrcella is still alive (and a growing-in-importance character) in "A Song of Ice and Fire," for example, and so are Stannis' family members, Shireen and Selyse. So it's totally plausible that the show has killed him off, but Martin's words coupled with the fact that he "died" offscreen -- on a show that has proven time and time again that it's not afraid to show violence -- gives us pause. Martin revealed his "end game" to Benioff and Weiss, and spent years building up the importance of Stannis' character, so wouldn't it be a shame to completely eliminate the Baratheon family tree (bastards not included) from the map?

And another thing... with Stannis' army eliminated in all of five minutes, what the actual heck are Roose and Ramsay going to do in season five? Chase after Theon and Sansa? Do all of that fake-Arya stuff from the books? Disappear altogether?

... Actually, never mind. If Ramsay Snow can disappear altogether, we're maybe okay with prematurely saying goodbye to Stannis "The Man-nis" Baratheon.

But what say you -- do you think Brienne might have spared his life on "Game of Thrones?" If so, what would be Stannis' next move? And if he is dead, does that mean it's time for the only remaining kinda-sorta Baratheon to row his way back to the damn show?