…Jeyne Westerling, lately bereaved widow to Robb Stark.
Jeyne, as book-readers know, does not technically appear on the show at all. Instead, a new character, Talisa Maegyr, was created to replace her. Martin recently told IGN that this upcoming plot twist , which will feature in The Winds of Winter, will involve a character who is dead on the show but alive in the books. Commenters like Golladan and David H pointed out that, since Martin doesn’t consider Jeyne and Talisa to be the same character, she’s disqualified from consideration.
I think that argument holds some water, although I also think it’s possible that, in the moment of the IGN interview, Martin included a Jeyne/Talisa amalgam on his informal list of qualified applicants anyway. And the idea that Jeyne is pregnant would certainly rock the world of Westeros—it would mean that Robb had a potential heir on the way, which could provide someone for the north to rally behind.
My main problem with this theory is that it doesn’t line up with what Martin has told us about this twist. Here’s what he said 11 months ago, when he first talked about it:
"It’s a great twist…this is something that seems very organic and natural, and I could see how it would happen. And with the various three, four characters involved…it all makes sense. But it’s nothing I’ve ever thought of before. And it’s nothing they can do in the show, because the show has already—on this particular character—made a couple decisions that will preclude it, where in my case I have not made those decisions."
Martin already established in A Feast for Crows that Jeyne was not pregnant. If we take that at face value, Jeyne’s plot twist potential is limited. If he was misleading us, it’s something he probably thought of long ago.
Stannis Baratheon was another popular choice, but I’m not so sure about that, either, for largely similar reasons. Here’s how Young Dragon puts it:
"I personally think Stannis’s story is finished. He’s been presented as a false messiah, so those characters don’t normally have happy endings. Besides, from how it sounds, Martin just came up with the twist idea, shortly before season aired. If the twist has to do with the Pink Leter, would that mean he was intending to kill Stannis off, and then changed his mind?"
Again, the plot twist is an idea that Martin came up with, at the earliest, around a year ago, when he probably already had a good solid chuck of The Winds of Winter written, or at least planned out. I doubt Stannis’ downfall will play out exactly as it did on the show, but I think it’s coming. Game of Thrones showruners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have admitted to changing things about the books, but maintain that they’re going to follow the big beats. Stannis’ death qualifies. To use commenter David H’s words about Martin: “It seems VERY unlikely that he’d make a MAJOR change in the most important storylines so late in the game.”
Of course, I could be wrong. We could all be wrong. However, something tells me that the twist will involve someone less obvious than Jeyne or Stannis. This is George R.R. Martin we’re talking about, and if he has a gift for anything, it’s for subverting audience expectations. Commenter lylebot put it eloquently:
"GRRM’s conception of “important character” is very different from the fans’. To George, Alys Karstark is an important character. Rorge and Biter are important characters. Quentyn Martell, to GRRM, is important enough to get his own POV from which to tell a one-and-done story. Trying to guess who’s going to get a twist based on “importance” is pretty futile when you’re dealing with an author who considers every character to be important."
I agree with this. And I’m happy about it. It means the twist is more likely to surprise us when it finally comes.
George R.R. Martin, you crafty minx.
And now, some other thoughts worth having:
- Firannion: “It is fairly apparent in the books that Pyat Pree is one of the four warlocks captured by Euron, so he’ll likely pop up again. But he doesn’t seem to be important enough to be the one George is writing this big twist for.” Pyat Pree was killed of on Season 2 of the show. If he were to come back in a big way in the books, it would bear out everything Martin has ever said about the butterfly effect.
- A couple of commenters mentioned Mago, one of Khal Drogo’s riders. He was memorably killed off in Season 1 of the show, but is still alive in the books, and Martin has said he’ll have a recurring role in The Winds of Winter. However, he said that back in 2011, so he’s presumably known what he’s going to do with the character for a while. I’m not sure what kind of Mago-related twist he would of come up with just recently.
- chucknorrissinspiration: “It’s Roz… So obvious.” Well, yeah. Why didn’t I think of that?