1. Jaime Lannister, Sand Snake Lover!
It’s clear from the trailers that the show’s writers are sending Jaime to Dorne. In A Feast For Crows, Jaime never sets foot in Dorne, but rather goes off to end the fighting in the Riverlands. Meanwhile, Martin treats us to an entire Dornish subplot involving Arianne Martel, the daughter of Dorne’s ruling prince, and her love affair with Ser Arys Oakheart of the Kinsguard, who is in Dorne to watch over Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella. He also introduces the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell, who was killed in that duel with the Mountain last season. They are itching to get back at Cersei for their father’s death, even if it means starting a war with King’s Landing.
In the show, I predict Jaime will play the role of Ser Oakheart. I’d say he’ll fall in love with Arianne, but she doesn’t appear to be cast as a character for Season 5. So I’d guess it’s a Sand Snake, and if I had to pick one, I’d choose Nymeria. This would inject Jaime into the story line involving Myrcella and the Sand Snakes’ attempt to avenge their father’s death. This adds an extra twist because Jaime is actually Myrcella’s father, and who know how he'll react to a plot that might imperil his daughter, as well as his sister and his son Tommen back at King's Landing. Whether he will ever get back to the Riverlands for his ominous reunion with Brienne remains a mystery. For the first time in the series, knowing what happens in the books won’t spoil what happens on the show.
2. Tyrion and Varys, Traveling Duo
It’s also clear from the trailers that Tyrion will meet up with Varys across the Narrow Sea. In A Dance With Dragons, Tyrion joins Magister Illyrio, who is working with Varys to lead an expedition that would help put Daenerys Targaryen on the Iron Throne. Varys, however, is not there, and the book suggests he stayed in back in King’s Landing.
In Season 5, it looks like Tyrion will travel with Varys for a while, and it seems clear from the trailers Tyrion will actually reach Daenerys. In the books, this never happens. Instead, by the end of A Dance With Dragons, Tyrion is outside the walls of Meereen with the Yunkai army camped at the city gate. He gets there after being first captured by Ser Jorah, and then by slavers. He also meets Penny, a fellow dwarf who was among those who performed at the Purple Wedding. Whether any of this happens in the show remains to be seen, but one can only imagine what’s going to happen when Tyrion and Daenerys actually meet!
3. Forget the Ironborn
A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons feature elaborate story lines involving the Ironborn after the death of Balon Greyjoy. This includes Asha’s attempt to become king at a Kingsmoot (where the Ironborn elect their leaders) and the arrival of her ruthless uncles, Victarion and Euron Greyjoy. Euron even has a magic horn that can control dragons, and by the end of A Dance With Dragons, Victarian is sailing to Meereen to save Daenerys from the Yunkai and make her his bride.
Both of these facts suggest the Ironborn will play a big role in the outcome of The Winds Of Winter, but I don’t believe Euron or Victarion have even been cast for Season 5. And I also don’t think we’ve seen the death of Balon Greyjoy on the show, even though he dies in A Storm Of Swords, along with the other kings that Melisandre predicted would perish when she killed those leech’s filled with king’s blood.
My one hope is that the show keeps Asha’s story intact, at least after the Kingsmoot. In A Dance With Dragons, she ends up captured by Stannis, who is on a mission to take Winterfell from crazy Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay, meanwhile, has Asha’s brother Theon (aka “Reek”) captive, and I was looking forward to his and Asha’s reunion. Unfortunately, however, I’ve seen no evidence the actress who plays Asha (called Yara on the show) will appear in Season 5.
4. Farewell to the Other Contenders and Pretenders
A Dance With Dragons contains two fairly-involved story lines about princes who hope to capture the Iron Throne. The first is Quentyn Martell, the son of Doran Martell, the ruling prince of Dorne. In A Dance With Dragons, he and his friends meet up with Tyrion’s party on their way to Meereen. There, Quentyn hopes to marry Daenerys and help her reclaim the Seven Kingdoms. When he arrives, however, Daenerys wants nothing to do with him, so he ends up getting in some big trouble trying to prove he’s worthy of her love. His actions play a big role in the end of A Dance With Dragons, but there is zero evidence he’ll even appear on the show. His storyline also appears to end in A Dance With Dragons, so I don’t think the loss of his character will have a big impact on Season 6.
The other contender – or maybe pretender – to the Iron Throne is young Aegon Targaryen. He was Prince Rhaegar’s son, who was supposedly killed by the Mountain as a boy in the war that put Robert Baratheon on the throne. In A Dance With Dragons, he is part of Verys’ and Illyrio’s scheme to put a Targaryen back in power. He joins Tyrion on the journey to Meereen, along with Jon Connington, a former Hand of the King, in the hope of reaching Daenerys. Halfway through the book, however, Aegon and Connington decide to return to Westeros, along with a huge mercenary army, to capture the Seven Kingdoms without her. Whether Aegon is the real Aegon or an imposter, it’s clear his attempt to reclaim the Iron Throne will be a big part of The Winds Of Winter. But, as with Quentyn Martell, neither Aegon nor Connington appear to be cast for Season 5. As for how the show’s writers will deal with this in Season 6, only time will tell.
5. Sansa Stark as Lady Stoneheart?
The revelation of Lady Stoneheart at the end of A Storm Of Swords was shocking, though I was never comfortable with the fact of who she was or how she is existing in the world. Everyone who’s read the books knows who I’m talking about, but I won’t spoil it in case she eventually appears in the show. Yet I don’t think that will happen.
In A Feast For Crows, Lady Stoneheart is working with the Brotherhood Without Banners to enact revenge against Houses Frey and Lannister for the Red Wedding. This puts her conflict with Brienne in one of the book’s most troubling scenes. But if she’s not in the show, who will play the role of revenant?
Enter Sansa Stark. Her entire story line in A Dance With Dragons was wrapped up by the end of Season 4. Yet it’s clear by the end of that season that Littlefinger is encouraging her to become a player in the “Game of Thrones.” I could see her stepping into the role of revenge queen, and I might even see her turning on Brienne because Sansa hates the Lannisters and, as it so happens, Brienne is in love with Jaime and hopelessly loyal to him. I’m waiting to see if Sansa pulls a full Michael Corleone and becomes as ruthless as Lady Stoneheart, ready to settle all the family’s business. It may not happen, but I wouldn’t rule it out!
All of this said, I suspect the story lines of Cersei, Jon Snow, and Arya will remain largely intact in Season 5. I also predict that all three will reach their conclusion at the season’s end. What this means is that fans of the book will likely learn what happens next from HBO instead of George R.R. Martin’s pen. If you’ve read the jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end of A Dance With Dragons, you’ll understand how big of a deal this truly is. I’m not sure how I feel about this, except that it’s inevitable absent a surprise release of The Winds Of Winter early next year. The safe bet is that’s not going to happen. Though we can always hope, right?
But these are just my thoughts. What are your predictions on how Season 5 of Games of Thrones will diverge from the books?
* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes