Book Recipes

Book Recipes: How to Write Grimdark Fantasy

Time for another book recipe! This time it’s on grimdark fantasy so everyone must be COMPLETELY SERIOUS FROM NOW ON, practice your glower.

 

Ingredients:

  • One dark and edgy protagonist
  • Big ol’ swords
  • The most evillest villain that ever did evil
  • Many angst-ridden backstories
  • A grab-bag containing all the worst parts of Medieval history
  • So much violence
  • One tender and innocent character who definitely won’t get crushed
  • Buckets of blood
  • Mud and rain, probably

 

Method:

  1. Empty out your grab-bag of all the worst parts of Medieval history and slather them in mud and rain. Ta-dah! Your scene is set.
  2. Your dark and edgy protagonist gets into a fight when someone makes a comment about their angst-ridden backstory. Talk in detail about all the teeth that get broken.
  3. But who’s this? It’s the tender and innocent character who definitely won’t get crushed! They want to take down the most evillest villain that ever did evil, change the world, and hand out puppies for everybody. It’s going to go GREAT.
  4. Rescue the tender and innocent character from a perilous situation, but it’s not because the protagonist cares, okay??

giphy ew
GOD WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO WEIRD ABOUT IT?? (image: giphy.com)

  1. Start the world’s worst road trip!
  2. Have some shenanigans in a passing village. It’s really gross.
  3. Uh-oh, you’ve been ambushed on the road! Defend the tender and innocent character with unreasonable amounts of violence.
  4. Hmm, the tender and innocent character isn’t looking so good. It’s probably fine.
  5. Teach the tender and innocent character how to fight, while saying a bunch of gritty things that put a serious dent in their optimism about the world.
  6. Look out! It’s some of the villain’s evil minions!
  7. Oh no, your protagonist has been wounded! Now the tender and innocent character must care for them.
  8. Bond over your mutually tragic backstories but it’s not like the protagonist likes the tender and innocent character or anything, GOD MUM, WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT
  9. You have reached the villain’s stronghold! Time to sneak inside, sneakily. Hope this won’t go –
  10. It’s all gone wrong! The tender and innocent character has been kidnapped and the protagonist is even more wounded!
  11. The protagonist fights to get back to the tender and innocent character, desperate to save them from what will surely be a really gross fate.
  12. But what’s this? The villain is dead, and the tender and innocent character is wearing their crown and a lot of black leather, suddenly!

giphy hmm
Now why would that be? (image: giphy.com)

  1. The tender and innocent character explains that the protagonist was right about the world being generally rubbish, so they killed the villain and have decided to run things themselves for a while, but in an even more evil way.
  2. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??
  3. Have an emotionally charged duel where they give each other matching scars. Twinsies!
  4. Your protagonist barely manages to escape with their life. Mope in the rain about the new villain you have created and gear up for the revenge-fuelled sequel.

THE END. Serve moodily.

 

Tips:

  • Never, ever trust a wizard. All magic will either require a blood sacrifice or create heinous abominations. Sometimes both! Magic is the worst.
  • Don’t forget the plague!
  • 99% of the time your society is just 12th century France, but with magic. Feel free to shamelessly crib from history for names, backstories, and plot points.
  • It’s totally fine to have an awful patriarchal setting as long as you’ve gone one (1) female character who fights people, refuses to even look at a dress and carries the contents of a small armoury in one hand. She’s got to be hot though.

Brienne-Of-Tarth-brienne-of-tarth-38259195-334-500
Brienne of Tarth is here to deliver. (image: http://www.fanpop.com)

  • Every background character has got to be at least 30% awful, because realism.
  • To differentiate the villain from the rest of this terrible, awful, no-good setting, they must be the Most Evil Villain Ever. To make this clear to your readers, describe their awfulness in abundant detail, and possibly with a powerpoint.
  • Everything is muddy.

 

And here’s one I made earlier…

 

Sir Rogarrim the Tired stared into the dregs of his ale. His vision was getting woozy. The old war wound on his leg was aching – a sure sign of the cold, and that he hadn’t drunk enough to blot out the pain. Slumped over his wooden trencher, he shifted a little closer to the fire. It hissed and spat.

Just like everyone does when they see me, thought Sir Rogarrim.

He had come to this tavern in the backwaters of Blackholde for the same reason as everyone else: to forget. But try as he might, he could not. Every time he closed his eyes he kept picturing it – the moment that his life had been turned upside-down.

Unbidden, the memory rose to the surface.

He had been younger then, still full of hope that Prince Grargolak might make a good God-Emperor. It had been at a tournament, before The War – he clenched his fist – and he had not yet been wounded. But he was about to be.

He had dismounted his horse, walked back to the stands, and seen a man sitting in his chair. He’d seen him at court once or twice – Lord Treville, one of Prince Grargolak’s hangers-on. Sir Rogarrim went up to him with a friendly smile.

“Excuse me,” he’d said, so full of hope and innocence, “you’re in my seat.”

And then came the words that had crushed him, that had shattered his illusions and redefined his whole life.

Lord Treville smirked. “I know.”

He had never been the same after that. Now that he knew what a cruel and dark place the world was, he almost pitied his younger self. Sometimes he yearned to believe in the time-honoured tradition of having his own spot – but that was foolish. He had seen too much of life now. He could never go back.

He signalled the barkeep for another tankard. It was the only thing that helped. Ever since that moment he’d known that Prince Grargolak – God-Emperor Grargolak now – was the purest of evils. No-one else could attract such rude allies.

The tavern door opened, and in the doorway stood a young woman in a hooded cloak. The hood was not enough to hide her beauty. Even from across the room, Sir Rogarrim could see her skin – free of buboes and sores, he noted approvingly – and her hair, which was very long and red and clearly hadn’t been cut off and sold in order to buy a hunk of mouldy bread. Sir Rogarrim turned back to his ale. What a lady of such distinction was doing in Blackholde, he had no idea. It definitely wasn’t to see him. Nobody liked him, he thought, not now he had been cast out by –

“Sir Rogarrim?” The lady leaned forward, a desperate look in her eye. “You are Sir Rogarrim, are you not?”

Sir Rogarrim grunted and the lady sat down.

“Thank the gods,” she whispered, “you are my only hope. I am Lady Alethobel; you knew my father in –” She clenched her fist. “ – The War. I beg you, in the name of the friendship you once shared, to help me.”

Another knight swaggered up to their table. Sir Rogarrim recognised him at once: Sir Khristoph the Sweaty, suborned to one of God-Emperor Grargolak’s viziers and already drunk. Sir Khristoph leered at the lady.

“Don’t waste your time with Rogarrim, m’lady,” he slurred, “he’s never known real hardship. Now, me, I once –”

Sir Rogarrim drew his sword. It took a couple of goes – he really was quite drunk – but when he got it out of its scabbard he pointed it at Sir Khristoph and gave him his steeliest glare. “How dare you, sir!” he roared. “Never known hardship? After my spot was cruelly and heartlessly taken by Lord Treville, who never once apologised?”

Sir Khristoph tried to take out his own sword, but he kept losing his grip and letting it slide back into the scabbard. “Call that hardship?” he spat, as he missed the pommel again. “My family has been locked in a deadly feud for centuries after the dirty, treasonous head of the Duchamp family cut in line ahead of my forefather! The shame! The humiliation! You, sir, have never known such –”

Someone else lurched to their feet. Sir Rogarrim squinted; it was Sir Ragenaldt the Onerous, limping slightly from his old war wound. “I leant Lord Treville my favourite scroll and he never gave it back! Imagine the betrayal, the years of waiting, the –”

Sir Godfric the Bulbous burst through the tavern door. “God-Emperor Grargolak forgot my birthday! From that moment I knew that I must seek revenge for the dishonour he had put upon my house, my family, my –”

“My cat scratched me! Betrayed, by my only pet!”

“God-Emperor Grargolak said he didn’t like my handwriting!”

“Lord Treville said he liked my armour but then I found out he’d told God-Emperor Grargolak that it was ugly behind my back! Why would he say that? Why??”

“SILENCE!” roared Sir Rogarrim, waving his sword around a bit for effect. The tavern went quiet.

He knelt before Lady Alethobel, who was looking around the tavern with her eyebrows raised. “Lady,” he said, “we have all borne many sorrows, but without knowing your quest we cannot say which of us is most fitting to attend you in your hour of need. Tell us: what tragedy has brought you here?”

Lady Alethobel looked down at her hands, clenched tightly in her lap. “God-Emperor Grargolak killed my parents,” she said.

There was a long, long silence.

“Oh my gods,” someone said.

Sir Rogarrim could feel a lump in his throat. His eyes were prickling. He tried to take a deep, manly breath to steady himself; it came out sounding like a sob.

“But that’s so sad.”

“Yes,” said Lady Alethobel, “and I have come here to –”

Sir Khristoph dropped his sword. His eyes were shining with tears, both hands pressed over his mouth. “You poor baby,” he whispered, “you’re all alone…”

“Yes, which is why I need a –”

Sir Khristoph burst into tears. “All alone!” he wailed. Sir Ragenaldt limped over to him and gave him a hug, stroking Sir Khristoph’s greasy hair.

Don’t cry, Sir Rogarrim told himself, don’t cry, don’t cry, you are big and strong and tough, so tough, DO NOT CRY.

Lady Alethobel looked him straight in the eyes. He felt his bottom lip start to wobble.

“Will you help me?” she asked.

Sir Rogarrim burst into tears.

 

My full book-cookbook can be found here. Let me know what you’d like me to look at next – and as always, take this recipe with a pinch of salt.

alice-in-wonderland-i-see-what-you-did-there

General

Game of Thrones Season Eight: Prediction Tally

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post to talk about Game of Thrones, because we all need more of that in our lives. Specifically, let’s talk about whether I was right. Before the series started I made ten predictions (plus one wild card) – let’s see how psychic I am.

for-the-night-is-dark-and-full-of-spoilers
Just gonna leave the spoiler warning here. (image: memegenerator.com)

 

  1. Jon will sacrifice himself

I mean. Kinda? I was full-on expecting Jon to actually die for the greater good and he didn’t, but he did sacrifice his freedom and his love (otherwise getting off scot-free). I’ll give myself a half-point.

 

  1. Dany will go full Mad Queen

AND DID SHE.

I was actually pretty unhappy with the way the show handled this. I liked that they went for Dany being convinced of her own righteousness rather than a more literal descent into madness, but overall it was just way too rushed to be believable. Even though Dany was pushed into it by loss (RIP Missandei, you deserved to live happily ever after on a beach with Grey Worm) her gradually changing character should’ve been something that was made the central focus of both season seven and season eight. Coming on the heels of Missandei and Jorah’s deaths, it felt much more like a sudden snap than the culmination of the inevitable, which is what we really needed.

 

  1. All of Dany’s dragons will end up dead

Two out of three ain’t bad.

 

  1. Jaime will kill Cersei, then die

Ugh, no. Instead Jaime went back to Cersei (breaking Brienne’s heart in the process, someone call the police) and they died together. Personally, I don’t think that this really fitted with Jaime’s overall redemption arc, as the show seemed to be steering him towards a permanent spot on Team Goodies, but I can see how this would’ve worked if it had been brought out more over the course of the series. If we had been shown a bit more of Jaime’s indecision, or his regret at leaving Brienne, then this would have been more believable. As it stands, however, it just looks like he went back to Cersei and King’s Landing because the showrunners just wanted him to die.

 

  1. Cleganebowl

It was hype.

 

  1. Bran will possess a wight

Lol, no. He did absolutely nothing with his three-eyed raven powers and still somehow wound up being King of Everything in a scene I absolutely hated. Boooooooo.

(Side note: what if Bran/three-eyed raven was actually evil and this was his master plan all along? It’s already been stated that the three-eyed raven can’t die because he’s ‘the memory of the world’, whatever that means, so what if when the next king is chosen Bran makes them the next three-eyed raven and he just continues to rule the kingdom forever, using his weird future powers to eliminate threats Minority Report style? I’d read that fanfic.)

 

  1. The White Walkers will not be defeated – a truce will be necessary

This one did not come true, largely thanks to Arya’s classic bait and switch.

giphy arya
LIKE A BOSS. (image: giphy.com)

I also didn’t really like the way that the show handled the White Walkers. When you look at the show thematically, the larger message has been about how people need to put aside their petty human concerns and concentrate on fighting the larger threat. But it turns out it’s not actually a larger threat, because the White Walkers are defeated no problem in episode three, with minimal character deaths and damage to resources, and we go right back to the petty human squabbling. I really think the show should’ve done the two battles the other way around – so Dany conquers King’s Landing first, and then you get the battle of Winterfell – because this way round it just felt like an anti-climax.

 

  1. Something will come out of the crypts at Winterfell

 ZOMBIES, THAT’S WHAT.

(Oh no, who could have predicted that the worst place to hide from an enemy that can raise the dead is in a ROOM FULL OF DEAD BODIES, DID NOBODY THINK THIS THROUGH)

 

  1. A beloved dead character will come back as a wight 

My money was on Stannis or Hodor, but it was Lyanna Mormont.

 

  1. Samwell Tarly will survive and be revealed as ‘the author’ of the history of the series

Eh, kinda? He did survive but he didn’t write the book (although he was involved somehow and did come up with the title). I’ll give myself a half point here.

Also, it’s completely unbelievable that Sam is now Grand Maester – that’s the top rank in the order of Maesters and you’d have to train for years to reach it. Sam was at the Citadel for a few months, during which time he pushed around a book trolley and cleaned chamberpots, then ran away. Not exactly an impressive CV. Also, Maesters aren’t allowed to get married or have children SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO GILLY, YOU MONSTERS

 

WILD CARD: The Starks will be remembered as the villains in years to come

Haha, no. Maybe Jon will, but the rest of them definitely won’t be.

 

SMUGNESS LEVELS: 5/10

giphy shrug2
I’ll take that. (image: giphy.com)

And there you have it! I won’t be setting up a crystal ball business any time soon, but that’s probably for the best.

It’s a little bit weird to think that Game of Thrones has ended, but I have to say that this last season has made saying goodbye an awful lot easier. The show has always been quite problematic, but I stuck with it because I wanted to see how it was all going to play out. Now that it’s over, I’m kind of wondering if I shouldn’t have given up earlier. The show had so much potential going into the final season that just didn’t end up getting used at all, and all the things that had been carefully set up over a number of episodes – the reveal of Jon’s parentage, Bran’s incredible time-and-space powers, the Night King’s mysterious goals – just didn’t really go anywhere. Overall it felt like something which came to prioritise shocking its audience over telling a good story, and was at times (the ‘importance of stories’ scene) pretty self-indulgent. I’m pretty disappointed by how it all ended, and definitely won’t be watching it again or watching any of the spin-off series – but I might still glance at the final two books, should they ever get published.

I won’t be signing that petition, though. I’ll just write fanfic instead.

General

Game of Thrones: Ten Predictions for Season Eight

We interrupt your regular programming to GEEK OUT. No writing advice or musings this week – it’s time to get nerdy. The final season of Game of Thrones is coming up and just like with season seven, I’m going to have a stab at predicting what’s going to happen.

Let’s jump right in!

for-the-night-is-dark-and-full-of-spoilers
Just gonna leave the spoiler warning here. (image: memegenerator.com)

 

  1. Jon will sacrifice himself

I feel like this one doesn’t need much explaining, because Jon Snow – curly-haired darling of the North – is about two steps away from sacrificing himself at any given point. It’s kind of his thing. The show seems to be setting him up for an epic duel with the Night’s King, so I think that’s probably how he’s going to do it.

 

  1. Dany will go full Mad Queen

Quick recap for those of you that don’t have time for a binge-watch: Danaerys Targaryen is the daughter of the famed Mad King – an insane despot whose penchant for burning people alive eventually cost him his throne and the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty. Speaking of the rest of the Targaryens, they have a strong family history of mental instability, so there’s a decent chance that our girl Dany has inherited this too.

The show has been setting this up for a while now. Aside from the very regular reminders about how bad the Mad King was, several characters have openly discussed the possibility that Dany might follow in her father’s footsteps. As I said in my previous predictions post, the Mad King didn’t start out mad – just like Dany, he seemed brilliant at first, but then got worse as he got older and after a couple of key events pushed him over the edge. We’ve already seen Dany burn people alive – remember poor old Dickon –

giphy snigger
Heh heh heh. (image: giphy.com)

– and that was followed by a scene where Tyrion and Varys discussed Dany’s similarities to her father. She’s already found it much easier to just set people on fire than to resort to more conventional military strategies, so who’s to say that a serious setback – such as discovering that a certain broody Northerner actually has a better claim to the Targaryen throne than her – won’t send her down this path?

If that doesn’t convince you, then look at how Game of Thrones treats its characters’ overall story arcs. As a general rule of thumb, most of the characters start out wanting something, have a serious setback, and reassess their goals and dreams as a result. If they don’t have that moment, they’re usually the ones that get killed off – look at poor Robb Stark, for example. Dany hasn’t really experienced a moment like that, where she’s had to seriously question what she wants. She decided early on in the story that she was going to retake the Iron Throne and so far, everything she’s done to further that end has, by and large, worked. This makes me think that there’s a nasty twist planned for her story arc and that when it ends, Danaerys won’t be sitting on the Iron Throne.

 

  1. All of Dany’s dragons will end up dead

It’ll save money on CGI.

I’m kidding, but I do think that Drogon and Rhaegal are goners. Realistically, giving Dany two dragons (RIP Viserion) would make things too easy for her, so in order to keep the stakes balanced I don’t think Dany’s lizard-y friends are going to be around for that much longer. I expect they’ll come in handy in the battle against the White Walkers but I doubt they’ll survive it.

 

  1. Jaime will kill Cersei, then die

After the end of season seven, there’s a massive rift between Jaime and Cersei. She is staying in King’s Landing as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, and he has betrayed her and gone to fight the undead – despite the fact that Cersei is pregnant with his baby. Regardless of that, I think that this split is going to end very badly for both of them.

This has its roots in both the show and the books – namely in the ‘valonquar’ prophecy that we geeks have been discussing for some time. To summarise: Maggy the Frog predicted that Cersei’s children would all die before her, and then she would be strangled by the ‘valonquar’ – which is High Valyrian for little brother. In the books, Cersei suspects Tyrion will play this role, which goes a long way to explaining their terrible relationship. However, as the eldest sibling, Cersei has two little brothers.

This would also tie into Jaime’s character arc too. Over the course of the show it’s become clear that Jaime is on a long and rather wobbly redemption arc. He started off as a fairly out-and-out villain, but as the series progressed he’s become a more complicated hero. Much has been made of his backstory, too, where it was revealed that his reputation as the Kingslayer only came about through necessity – if he hadn’t killed the Mad King, then the Mad King would have burned the capital city of King’s Landing, and everyone in it. However, he’s still done bad things, and when it’s all over I don’t think he’ll be waltzing off into the sunset for a happily ever after with Brienne.

tenor tormund
GET IN THERE TORMUND (image: tenor.com)

Cersei has already been giving off some pretty strong ‘Mad Queen’ vibes after indirectly causing her son’s death and blowing up part of her own city, so perhaps Jaime will find himself in the position of Kingslayer once again. The show really likes to remind us that Jaime and Cersei came into the world together – perhaps they’re going to leave it together too.

 

  1. Cleganebowl

I JUST WANT THEM TO FIGHT LET ME HAVE THIS

 

  1. Bran will possess a wight

This is actually one of my predictions from season seven, so I won’t go into too much detail – skip down to prediction number eight for the part where I show my working. I still think there’s a decent chance that this might happen, though, and not just because it’d look really cool. The show has gone to great pains to impress the extent of Bran’s powers onto the viewer, but we’ve yet to see him use them on a grand scale. If Bran can do this, he might be able to control multiple wights and turn them on the Night’s King’s own army – and that would just be sweet.

 

  1. The White Walkers will not be defeated – a truce will be necessary

The White Walkers and their army of wights are a massive threat. Even Dany’s three dragons could only put a dent in their army in season seven – and now, one of those dragons is all zombified. Add to that the fact that the Night’s King can resurrect the dead and turn them into his soldiers, and you’ve got a nigh-on unstoppable army. I don’t think one pitched battle is going to do it.

That’s not to say that the White Walkers are going to win, though – it’d be a really unsatisfying ending to the story. But the show has also made it clear that the White Walkers aren’t just mindless zombies. They are capable of wanting things and honouring agreements – just look at Craster sacrificing his sons to guarantee his own safety. There’s also more than a few hints that the Starks might have intermarried with the White Walkers at some point in the very distant past (check out this video if you want more detail on that). This is significant, because in Game of Thrones one of the surest ways to cement a truce is with a marriage.

Of course, none of this applies to the wights, who are mindless zombies that only the Walkers can control. But this ties into prediction one and my friend Claire’s theory – perhaps Jon will be the one to sacrifice himself so that this truce can happen and the Night’s King will retreat. Perhaps he’ll even become the new Night’s King. Who knows?

 

  1. Something will come out of the crypts at Winterfell

There’s been all sorts of hints in both the books and the show that the crypts at Winterfell contain hidden secrets. Parts of them are completely inaccessible and there’s all sorts of rumours about what could be hidden inside. I reckon this season, we’re going to find out, as so far the crypts have shown up in both the teaser and the show’s first official trailer.

I think this could go in two different ways. The first is that they find something in the crypts that will help the living – like dragon eggs, which were rumoured to be hidden there, or something that could be used to prove Jon’s true parentage. The second is that whatever’s down there will help the dead – whether that’s just something that the Night’s King wants or a spooky spooky monster that he’ll wake up.

 

  1. A beloved dead character will come back as a wight

This is exactly the sort of really nasty surprise which Game of Thrones just loves to spring on the viewers. Given that the Night’s King can resurrect the dead, I think we’ll definitely see a few familiar zombie faces when he descends on the living. My money is on Stannis or Hodor – not counting Viserion the dragon, of course.

 

  1. Samwell Tarly will survive and be revealed as ‘the author’ of the history of the series

I think this would be a really nice way to round off the series. We’ve already had a few scenes where it’s been hinted that Sam might record the events of Game of Thrones and it’d be a nice nod to Bilbo Baggins recording his own adventures at the end of The Hobbit. All Sam needs is a catchy title…

GoT book set
HMMM WHAT COULD THAT BE (image: theworks.com)

 

And now, just to make things interesting…

WILD CARD: The Starks will be remembered as the villains in years to come

Let’s lay out the facts here:

  • Ned Stark: Started the War of the Five Kings by meddling in Robert Baratheon’s succession. Revealing Cersei’s incest wasn’t a bad thing, but if he’d acted quickly and decisively he might have a) survived and b) overseen a smooth transition of power rather than sparking off a civil war.
  • Catelyn Stark: Made the War of the Five Kings worse by a) capturing Tyrion Lannister and b) letting Jaime Lannister go, which eventually led to the decimation of the North’s fighting men.
  • Robb Stark: Fought a protracted war in the Riverlands, laying waste to a vast swathe of the realm when they should have been preparing for winter. People starved because of his actions. Also broke his oath, which is not a good thing in Westeros
  • Sansa Stark: Largely seen as King Joffrey’s ‘poisoner’ after the Purple Wedding. Covered up her involvement in the murder of her aunt. Had her uncle by marriage executed in front of everyone, with no real evidence to back up her charges. (He deserved it though.)
  • Arya Stark: HOO BOY. Literal assassin. Wiped out an entire house (who also kind of deserved it). Carries around a bag of dead people’s magic faces. I MEAN.
  • Bran Stark: Terrifying mind powers. Literally drove the person he depends on mad through time and space (RIP Hodor). Can totally possess people, animals, and hopefully also zombies. Supervillain in the making.
  • Rickon Stark: …okay fine.

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The rest of you are NOT OFF THE HOOK (image: fanfest.com)

When you look at what the Starks have done it’s clear that they’ve been making some pretty bad decisions – both for themselves and for the people they rule. They have basically spent the series creating a bunch of really messy drama which has distracted everybody from the much more important task at hand – preparing for winter and the coming of the White Walkers. Under their leadership, the North lost the vast majority of its fighting men, the Riverlands were all but destroyed, two noble houses (who sort of deserved it) have been completely wiped out, the Night’s Watch was deprived of men and supplies, and a massive civil war has wrecked the country. Now the North is facing the worst winter it’s ever seen and nobody is prepared for it, and this is directly because the Starks weren’t there. I expect that how the Starks get remembered will depend on what they do in this final season, but I doubt they’ll be remembered kindly.

 

And there you have it! My ten best guesses for what’ll happen on the next season of Game of Thrones, plus one rubbish guess thrown in. Let’s see how this plays out.

General

Game of Thrones Season Seven: Prediction Tally

Time for a brief intermission before I go back to talking about Mary Sues. Know why?

 

 

So Game of Thrones series seven has come to an end and I’m still reeling. Before the series started I made ten predictions (plus one wild card) about how the series would go. Let’s see how my fortune-telling skills measure up.

 

  1. Stark family reunion

I’m counting this one as it’s been confirmed that Jon isn’t a Stark. As I suspected this season held the reunion of the surviving Stark children and, despite the fact that Bran is a tree now, it was pretty great. This one was fairly obvious though, so I won’t gloat too much.

 

  1. Daenerys will lose a dragon

MY HEART.

giphy tears
I’ve just got something in my eye… (image: giphy.com)

This didn’t happen in the way I expected as my money was on Euron Greyjoy and his magical horn (stop sniggering). But I wasn’t disappointed, mainly because of THAT ENDING. My God.

 

  1. Jaime will break with Cersei

I feel like I can’t really take too much credit for getting this one right as it has already happened in the books. However, I’m still smug. I have to say I’m surprised it still happened after Cersei told Jaime she’s pregnant, but this one’s been a long time coming.

 

  1. Jorah will die of greyscale

Unexpectedly not! What a nice reprieve for everyone’s favourite chocolatey-voiced third wheel. I don’t think he’s got much to look forward to, though. Aside from watching Jon and Dany mooning over each other he’s got an army of zombies to contend with.

 

  1. The Wall will be compromised

 

 

 

’Nuff said.

 

  1. Sam will find an important secret about the White Walkers in the Great Library, but die before he can deliver the information to Jon

I was really expecting Sam to die this season, but I’m so glad that he didn’t. Game of Thrones is at the point where it needs to start trimming down the cast so all that delicious final-series drama can be properly savoured. I’m really glad that Sam wasn’t on this season’s hit list as I’ve got a real soft spot for his and Gilly’s little family.

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I just want them to settle down on a little farm and make jam together. (image: wikiofthrones.com)

That said, he did discover quite a few important secrets in the Great Library – the dragonglass mines on Dragonstone, and, thanks to Gilly, the proof that Jon is the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. All these secrets will come to fruition next season. I can’t imagine Jon’s Aunty Girlfriend is going to be all that pleased.

 

  1. Littlefinger will die

…and it was GREAT. Sansa came into her own, the Starks all banded together and everything was awesome. I did think it was all a little on the convenient side, though. The Starks had no real proof of their accusations against Littlefinger and he didn’t really try and defend himself. I’ve no doubt that if this scene had happened in the books it would’ve played out very differently. But I’m willing to forgive all of that because LOOK AT HOW BADASS SANSA IS:

SHE’S COME SO FAR YOU GUYS SHE’S GROWN SO MUCH AND LEARNED FROM HER MISTAKES AND I’M SO PROUD

 

  1. Bran will possess a wight

Unfortunately this one didn’t happen, which is a shame because it would’ve been really cool. Perhaps in season eight. I did appreciate the insights we got into how wights work though. The showrunners went for the classic ‘Dracula’ monster structure: kill off the creator and all its minions (createes? Not sure if there’s a word) will die too. They’ve written in an easy kill-switch, but hopefully this will lead to a killer duel with the Night’s King. We’ve never really seen him fight, just stand around being scary, so I’m hoping this will mean we’ll get an opportunity to see what he can do.

 

  1. Daenerys will begin exhibiting signs of her father’s madness

Daenerys set two people on fire when she didn’t need to: Randall Tarly and his son, Dickon.

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Heh heh heh.  (image: giphy.com)

This was a hallmark of her father, the Mad King, who took a weird and creepy pleasure in killing his enemies by setting them on fire in various horrible ways. While this could have simply been a demonstration of her power, the show then included a scene where Varys and Tyrion discussed the implications of their own role in witnessing these kinds of executions.

 

This is quite clearly intended as foreshadowing. The writers want viewers to make the connection between Dany’s actions and her father’s, and consider the implications this may have for her rule. I’m not surprised that this comparison is being drawn. As I mentioned in my original post, Daenerys hasn’t really suffered a storyline-changing setback. All the other characters have. While you could put the loss of Viserion in this category, I’m not sure it would really count, as it hasn’t really dented her resolve to ascend the Iron Throne. She hasn’t had to radically re-assess her goals and beliefs in the way that many other characters have done so far. I think this means she’s in for a strong dose of the Targaryen madness, and I doubt she’s going to take the Iron Throne at all.

 

  1. Cleganebowl

There was no hype. Maybe next season, though.

 

WILD CARD: Jorah’s greyscale has already been passed to Daenerys. She and her court get infected by the disease

Haha yeah, this didn’t happen. I’m glad, though – this would’ve been a lame way for the series to end.

 

SMUGNESS LEVELS: 6/10 

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Gloating all day every day. (image: giphy.com)

 

And there you have it! Sixty percent of the time, it worked every time. Probably not quite fortune-teller standard just yet, but there’s always season eight.

General

Game of Thrones: Ten Predictions for Season Seven

Tomorrow, the first episode of Game of Thrones season seven airs, and I’m displaying the amount of enthusiasm that is appropriate to a respectable adult.

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YES BRUV (image: giphy.com)

I’ve been watching the show for a few years now and one of the things I like most about it is the way it can keep me guessing. I never know what’s going to happen, especially since the show started veering away from the books. I’ve always had a bit of a knack for guessing where plots end up going, so the element of surprise is a huge draw for me.

I’ve got no clue what’s going to happen in season seven but here are my ten best guesses, plus a wild card thrown in. Spoilers are coming.

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Seriously, EVERYTHING. (image: imgur.com)

 

  1. Stark family reunion

Ever since Jon and Sansa were reunited in season six, there’s been talk of a full Stark reunion. Now, it looks like the surviving Starks are at least heading to the same place. Arya is heading north and Bran is turning back towards the Wall. It looks like both of them are heading to Winterfell, and shots from the trailers appear to support this.

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She looks really chilly, she must be heading north. (image: HBO/showsnob.com)

I think this is probably one of the most likely things to happen in season seven, and not just because I want an excuse to cry big ugly tears and eat my feelings. The Stark family split up right at the beginning of the series: Jon headed for the Wall; Ned, Sansa and Arya went to King’s Landing; Bran and Rickon stayed in the north; Robb and Catelyn went off to war (which really didn’t end well). As the series went on they were split up even further: Ned was executed, Robb and Catelyn were murdered, Sansa was held hostage in King’s Landing, Arya ran off to Braavos via the Riverlands, Bran went beyond the Wall and Rickon wandered into a trap with Osha. With the series as a whole coming to an end, I think it’s likely their storyline will come full circle and we’ll see them reunite.

The showrunners have used this particular quote from Ned in this season’s promo material: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” Ned originally says this to Arya when he’s trying to explain the importance of family – it’s essentially a wolfier version of ‘untied we stand, divided we fall’. I think that’s a pretty strong hint that the Starks will get back together and be a much more serious threat. How long that reunion lasts is another matter.

 

  1. Daenerys will lose a dragon

There hasn’t been much hinting for this one in the season seven promo material, so this is mostly speculation. Hear me out. Remember Euron Greyjoy?

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You know, the damp one with the sideburns. (image: gameofthrones.wikia.com)

He became king of the Iron Islands last season when he won that special clifftop election. In the books this is pretty significant, as Euron has a magical horn called Dragonbinder that he claims can control dragons. This hasn’t been tested yet, as the horn hasn’t got close enough to any dragons to have an effect. We know it has some magical properties (it kills the man who sounds it from the inside out) but the dragon thing hasn’t been confirmed. This is what wins him the election, and Euron and his Ironborn start making plans to reach Daenerys and take the Iron Throne. Euron’s storyline in the show is obviously different to the books, but his end goals are still the same: he wants to marry Daenerys and conquer the Seven Kingdoms.

I’m pretty sure that Daenerys won’t marry him. She’s already allied with Yara and Theon and promised to overthrow Euron in their favour. I also don’t think she’d respond well to Euron’s particular brand of charm, mainly because he has none. So Euron’s only option would be to take a dragon by force using magic. This probably wouldn’t be all that difficult, as Daenerys’s control over her dragons is shaky at best. She can command them to burn things, but she can’t always get them to stop – just look at season four.

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Pretty sure that this incident isn’t going to be a one-off. (image: gameofthrones.wikia.com)

The show hasn’t actually confirmed that Euron has Dragonbinder, so this may not happen exactly as I laid out. Regardless, I think it’s still a likely twist. At the moment Daenerys has an army of Unsullied, an army of Dothraki, Varys, the Sand Snakes, Tyrion Lannister, and three fully-grown fire-breathing dragons. None of the other Westerosi lords can compete with the kind of firepower she has (heh heh literally). It’d be far too easy for her to sweep in and take the entire continent, and there’s still two more series to go. Something’s got to level the playing field. If it’s not Euron, it could be Bran warging into a dragon, or even just a dragon being killed by normal people – this has happened before in Westerosi history, when dragons were trapped in confined spaces. But my money’s on the Euron storyline, mainly because it would make things so much more interesting if someone else had a dragon on their side.

 

  1. Jaime will break with Cersei

A rift has grown between Jaime and Cersei over the past few seasons. Since Jaime lost his hand (and met our precious warrior angel, Brienne) he’s redefined his notions of honour and bravery. He helped Tyrion escape when he knew Cersei wanted him dead. He obeys her orders, but it’s become increasingly clear that he’s not happy about it.

Cersei has changed too. She’s become more paranoid and scheming than ever, but she’s also not very good at it. She blamed Jaime for being taken prisoner and has repeatedly mocked him for things that are beyond his control. She’s become incredibly twisted since her humiliation at the hands of the Faith of the Seven. What’s more, all three of her and Jaime’s children are dead, so aside from their secret relationship (which has been floundering, given the time they’ve spent apart) the bonds between Jaime and Cersei are starting to crack.

I think that in the next season this will only get worse. It’s pretty clear that Jaime wasn’t happy with Cersei’s decision to declare herself queen – just look at his face:

It’s not hard to see why. Aside from the fact that Cersei’s terrible decisions have actively made everything worse (i.e. arming a group of religious fanatics), Cersei is responsible for the death of their uncle, Kevan Lannister, and indirectly responsible for the death of their son, Tommen. I’m not sure that Jaime will be able to forget that.

There are a few shots of Jaime and Cersei together in the trailer, so I don’t think this will happen right away. But in the second trailer there’s more shots of Jaime on his own, which could be a nice little bit of foreshadowing from the showrunners. Let’s not forget that Tyrion is also heading back to Westeros this season, and fans have speculated that there’s some shots of Casterly Rock. I wonder if this means we’re in for a Lannister reunion as well as a Stark one. Given that Jaime loves Tyrion enough to set him free against Cersei’s orders, I’m really excited to see if Jaime will have to choose between his two siblings. There is also the little matter of the valonquar prophecy mentioned in the books – but personally, I think that’s one for season eight.

 

  1. Jorah will die of greyscale

Yeah, he’s a goner. It’s an incurable disease and he knows it’s spreading. He’s a dead man walking.

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Jebediah and I would be best mates. (image: reviewtoakill.wordpress.com)

 

  1. The Wall will be compromised

In the previous season Bran’s time-bending vision quests were all fine and dandy until the Night’s King showed up and ruined everything. In a vision where he sees an army of White Walkers and their ice zombies, the wights, this incredibly creepy thing happens:

The mark the Night’s King leaves on Bran’s arm lets him get past Bloodraven’s magic. The one safe place north of the Wall that was supposed to be safe from the Night’s King was blown wide open, and of course our favourite ice zombie came storming in and tried to kill everybody. The show makes it explicitly clear that it’s the mark that has made this possible. Who’s to say that this magic won’t work on the Wall itself? We know that Bran is heading south, and there’s no reason to suggest that the mark would only work once. The Wall isn’t made of just ice; there’s magic holding it together too. If it’s the same kind of magic that protected Bloodraven’s hideout, Westeros could be in trouble.

This is all but confirmed in the books through the character of Coldhands (which the show morphed into Benjen Stark). Coldhands is essentially a good wight: he’s a member of the undead that has somehow been enchanted to regain his sense of self. The books make it explicitly clear that Coldhands cannot enter Bloodraven’s cave or cross the Wall due to the magic imbued in both. If Bran’s mark was enough to break the wards on Bloodraven’s cave and let the undead through, why wouldn’t it do the same to the Wall?

 

  1. Sam will find an important secret about the White Walkers in the Great Library, but die before he can deliver the information to Jon

This is exactly the kind of thing that Game of Thrones would do. In fact, they’ve done it before, in pretty much every series. But I won’t just leave it at that.

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OR WILL I (image: tumblr.com)

Sam was sent to Oldtown to become a Maester for the Night’s Watch after Maester Aemon’s death. He goes to the library at the Maester’s Citadel, and it’s been made very clear that Sam will read anything that stays still long enough. In previous seasons he read about the White Walkers before the rest of the cast encountered them, and has also read about the history of the Night’s Watch. I think it’s extremely likely that in his time in Oldtown, he will go to the library and look up those subjects again, if only to see how he can help Jon.

However, that’s not all Sam has been up to. He stopped to visit his family on the way, and while he was there he got into a fight with his awful father. He stole the family sword, a Valyrian steel greatsword called Heartsbane. This was a terrible decision all round, because not only is Sam not very good at using a sword, Heartsbane is a highly recognisable and valuable heirloom which his father, Randall Tarly, is deeply proud of. Randall has been adamant that Sam will never inherit Heartsbane, and he hates the idea of him having the sword.

So here’s what I think will happen. Sam will use his time in the library to look up White Walkers, the Wall, wights, and the Night’s Watch – anything that could be useful in the fight against terrifying ice zombies. I think it’s likely he’ll discover something important: the Citadel’s library is the largest in Westeros and is rumoured to have all sorts of secret knowledge. But just as he’s found his secret, Randall Tarly will pop up and kill him, take back Heartsbane, and prevent Sam from ever delivering his very important message. Because that’s just the kind of show this is.

 

  1. Littlefinger will die

I’m not entirely sure if Littlefinger is going to pop his clogs in season seven or season eight, but regardless of which I think his days are numbered.

Despite the fact that he’s only second to Varys in terms of craftiness, when you actually look at Littlefinger’s assets he doesn’t have as much as you might think. He was in a very different position at the beginning of the series: Master of Coin, Lord of Harrenhal, and the owner of at least a third of Westeros’s most thriving industry – brothels. When he married Lysa Arryn he also became Lord of the Vale. For a while it looked as though he might have control over three of the Seven Kingdoms: the Vale, the Riverlands and the North (mainly because he kept on trying to marry Sansa).

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Would you, Sir Ian? (image: giphy.com)

But things have changed. Littlefinger isn’t Master of Coin or Lord of Harrenhal any more; he lost both of those titles when he defected from the Lannisters. He doesn’t have anywhere near as much money to play with, either, as his wealthiest brothels (ie. the ones in King’s Landing) were destroyed by the Faith Militant. He’s now Lord Protector of the Vale, but that isn’t a position that can really last. He’s acting as Protector for Robin Arryn, who is Lord of the Vale in name only, but Robin is fifteen and won’t need a Protector for that much longer. Littlefinger doesn’t have much loyalty from the other lords of the Vale either; the interactions we’ve seen have been marked with tension and hostility on both sides. House Tyrell has also been destroyed – and this is significant, because in a scene at the end of season five, Olenna Tyrell tells Littlefinger that if her grandchildren are harmed, she will reveal his involvement in Joffrey’s murder.

What’s more, Sansa has shown absolutely no interest in marrying Littlefinger, which scuppers his future plans. This is understandable considering he betrayed her father, murdered her aunt and arranged Sansa’s marriage to a rapist and psychopath – oh, who was also the son of the man who murdered and betrayed her mother and oldest brother. It’s going to take a lot of roses and chocolates to make her forget that.

heartbreaker
Dogs really are a woman’s best friend. (image: gurl.com)

Littlefinger is now in Winterfell. He has the Knights of the Vale with him, but they aren’t loyal to him personally. Olenna Tyrell may be about to make his involvement in Joffrey’s murder public knowledge, which would turn the Lannisters against him for good (along with a few other families besides). He’s cut off from what resources he has and winter is fast approaching; when the snows get deep he might not be able to leave the castle at all. Littlefinger is a southerner with a reputation for deviousness and trickery, which wouldn’t exactly sit well with some of the more straight-talking northerners. He’s surrounded on all sides by people who neither like nor trust him. I’d be surprised if he left Winterfell alive.

The trailers have dropped a few hints about this. There’s a couple of brief shots of Littlefinger being attacked which have got people talking, and as I mentioned earlier there’s been a lot of focus on Stark family values. Littlefinger is trying to sow discord between Sansa and Jon, but given the strong hints we’ve been getting about Starks banding together I don’t think this’ll work. Besides, with the show eventually gearing up for the inevitable dragons vs ice zombies battle, sooner or later the political stuff is going to have to be set aside – and that’ll probably mean the end of Littlefinger’s story arc.

 

  1. Bran will possess a wight

Bran is becoming an incredibly powerful character. His weird mind-hopping powers (aka. warging and greenseeing) give him the ability to access knowledge no-one could have dreamt of and to jump in and out of other beings’ minds. Since last season it’s not limited to animals any more; he can now possess human beings. Why not a wight?

Of course, there are a few flaws in this theory. We don’t actually know how Bran’s powers work but so far, all that’s been confirmed is that they can work on living things. As the wights are reanimated ice zombies this presents a problem: we don’t know if it’ll work on the dead. There’s a good chance that they wouldn’t. Wights are reanimated corpses, but whatever magic holds them together doesn’t seem to stop them from decaying at the normal rate. I don’t know much about mind control, but I’m willing to bet that it’s much more difficult to pick someone’s brain when it’s literally rotting out of their skull.

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It is. (image: giphy.com)

But Game of Thrones is fantasy, and as such Bran’s powers are more likely to be limited by magical restrictions than biological ones. With that in mind I think this theory stands a better chance. If you look at the way the wights and White Walkers interact, it’s pretty clear that the White Walkers are the ones calling the shots. Wights seem to be creatures ruled by their killing instinct; left to their own devices they attack on sight. It’s only when a White Walker is around that they move like a more intelligent being, whether that’s by waiting for their prey or trying to herd it. Instructions are clearly being given. Odds are they aren’t verbal, as we never see a White Walker speak, and we rarely see them communicate with gestures. The White Walkers’ interactions (in general, not just with the wights) are marked by an unnatural kind of stillness, with very few visible signs of communication. As they clearly are communicating in some way, this leads me to assume it’s telepathic.

So if the White Walkers can control wights with some kind of telepathic connection, why can’t Bran? He clearly has very powerful abilities; we’ve seen him possess a fully-grown man in the present while his own consciousness was trapped in the past. The Night’s King has also left a brand on his arm. So far this has only been negative, as it allowed the Night’s King to break Bloodraven’s magic seals and track Bran down. But what if there are benefits to this that Bran hasn’t yet discovered? What if, in marking Bran, the Night’s King left a little piece of himself behind – and perhaps, some of his powers?

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…who left that there? (image: quirkybyte.com)

 

  1. Daenerys will begin exhibiting signs of her father’s madness

Quick recap for those of you that don’t have time for a binge watch. Daenerys’s father, Aerys II, was the king before Robert Baratheon took the throne. He started off all right but then went mad, which is mainly due to the fact that the Targaryen kings were really into the concept of sister-wives.

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Shut up, Cersei. (image: memegenerator.com)

Madness has been a pretty consistent feature of the Targaryen dynasty, and after centuries of incest it’s not hard to see why. If you look through Game of Thrones lore there’s a few other Targaryen kings who went mad too, and they were often pretty cruel along with it. So there’s a reasonable chance that Daenerys could’ve inherited this from her father. Much like Daenerys, Aerys started out as a promising ruler; it was only later that these tendencies began to surface. Daenerys’s parents were siblings, so her chances of inheriting some of this behaviour will be much more likely than if they weren’t already related.

What’s more, the show has set another precedent: we’ve actually seen Aerys. Before season six we never actually saw his character in action, he was only ever talked about. But thanks to Bran’s crazy mind powers, we got a brief glimpse of Aerys in the full grip of his madness. Now that an actor has actually been cast, I can’t help but wonder if we’re in for more flashbacks, which could serve as a parallel to Daenerys’s own storyline.

Daenerys has changed a lot over the course of the show. She’s gone from a sweet, naïve girl to a competent and determined ruler, but she’s had to be brutal to get there. She’s crucified people, fed people to her dragons, and burned people alive – which was something that her father was famous for doing. She’s slowly become a much more violent person. It’s a necessary part of her journey to becoming a ruler – she has to prove that she’s just as brutal as the rest of the Westerosi knights and lords, or they won’t accept her claim – but it’s not clear if she’ll know when to stop.

I think this is exactly the sort of thing that Game of Thrones would do to mess with the viewers. So far Daenerys’s storyline has been pretty standard: the exiled ruler returns to take their rightful place on the throne. Dany’s journey hasn’t really been thrown off course. A few people have died along the way, but ultimately she’s still doing exactly what she set out to do – unlike any other character on the show. That sweet and simple storyline is far from the kind of nasty surprise that Game of Thrones likes to spring on us.

 

  1. Cleganebowl

IN THE RED CORNER: The Mountain. Ser Gregor Clegane, over eight feet tall and strong enough to rip a man’s jaw off (no, really). He’s back from the dead, he’s got new Darth Vader armour and he’s out for blood.

IN THE BLUE CORNER: The Hound. Sandor Clegane, back in the game after he was left for dead. His wounds are healed, he’s got a sweet new Brotherhood to hang out with, and he’s all out of chickens. You know what that means.

Get hype.

 

And now, just to make things interesting…

WILD CARD: Jorah’s greyscale has already been passed to Daenerys. She and her court get infected by the disease

Do you remember this shot from season five? Daenerys has just been attacked in the fighting pits of Meereen, and in swoops Jorah the Explorer, ready to save her:

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Side note: this is just a really lovely shot. (image: cinematiccorner.blogspot.com)

That moment was very sweet, but it might have a nasty sting in the tail. In season four Jorah is banished from Daenerys’s service. He wonders around being miserable for a bit until he kidnaps Tyrion and decides to bring him to Daenerys as a gift. Most men go for flowers, but whatever. On their way back to Meereen, Jorah and Tyrion fight some men infected with greyscale (aka. the Stone Men) and Jorah contracts the disease.

No-one really knows how greyscale is spread. Most people in Westeros think it could be through touch, but this hasn’t actually been proved. It could be spread by anything – rats, water, air, contaminated food, you name it. But it’s infectious and incurable, and Jorah’s got it.

And right after he was infected, he touches Dany’s hand.

Jorah didn’t touch Dany with his greyscale hand, so there’s a chance that she might not have been infected. But we can’t actually rule that out. Jorah appears to have caught the disease after one of the Stone Men touched him in the fight, so it’s likely that skin-to-skin contact will spread the disease. It’s also not clear how long the disease will take to manifest itself: Jorah has seen his symptoms appear pretty quickly, but that might well be for dramatic effect. Game of Thrones likes to keep its timeline a bit fuzzy, so the incubation period hasn’t really been confirmed.

So there is a chance that Daenerys could have been infected with the disease and it hasn’t manifested itself yet. At the moment, Daenerys and her massive army are on their way to Westeros – in a fleet of ships, where they will be stuck together for weeks at a time in very close quarters. That is exactly the kind of conditions that infectious diseases thrive in. If anyone’s got greyscale it’ll spread through the lot of them like wildfire.

This would be a pretty unsatisfying end to Dany’s story, but in some ways I can see it working. It mirrors how Khal Drogo died – a great warrior brought down by an infection that’s impossible to cure. On the show, Daenerys is often hailed as the most beautiful woman in the world, so for her to catch a disfiguring disease would be quite symbolic, in a nasty kind of way. And it’s exactly the kind of curveball that the show likes to throw at its viewers. It might be a little bit ‘rocks fall and everyone dies’, but I wouldn’t put that past the showrunners.

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I still haven’t forgiven them for the Dorne storyline. (image: giphy.com)

 

And there you have it! That’s my ten best guesses for what will happen on the next season of Game of Thrones, plus one mediocre guess just for the hell of it. Let’s see how this turns out.