George R.R. Martin knew at the very beginning which of his major characters he wanted to make it through to the end of his great game.
Back in 1993, a few years before Bantam Books published A Game of Thrones, Martin submitted a three-page outline for A Song of Ice and Fire, which he originally intended as a trilogy. At the time, he had already worked out the ending for several of the big players, more or less:
"Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process. In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men and two women."
Martin even identified his lucky protagonists.
"The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard Jon Snow."
A list of winners suggests a list of losers, and we may fear for characters who aren’t on this list, like Sansa.
Of course, many things have changed in the decades since Martin wrote his outline. He’s now intending to finish the series in seven books, not three. Also, HBO’s massively successful TV adaptation has gone beyond the source material and moved into uncharted narrative waters, much of it sans GRRM’s influence. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss know how the story is supposed to go, but they’ve altered things before and could alter things again.
So while events may be different on Game of Thrones, it seems reasonable that Martin will largely stick to the character destinies he first established so far as ASOIAF is concerned. From that same outline:
"As you know, I don’t outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it. I do, however, have some strong notions as to the overall structure of the story I’m telling, and the eventual fate of many of the principle characters in the drama."
Twenty years is a long time, and Martin might throw a few unexpected twists into the two remaining novels. But I’ll bet that his original “five central characters” stand an excellent chance of seeing the end of A Dream of Spring.
h/t Business Insider