Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Will “The Battle of the Bastards” Actually Happen in George R.R. Martin’s “The Winds Of Winter”?

Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, titled “The Battle of the Bastards,” was everything I hoped it would be, and more: epic and thrilling, with an unexpected stopover in Meereen that was quite awesome to behold. And for once in a very long while, the episode ended better than many would have expected for Game of Thrones. But I truly wonder if any of this will play out similarly in George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, whenever it debuts.

Daenerys’ Tale

Last week, we finally saw something we’ve anticipated forever: Dany controlling her three dragons and using them to kick some serious ass! I have little doubt that Martin’s books will get to this point because nearly every sign since those dragons were but wee lizards has suggested this will happen. Although when it does, I doubt the circumstances will be the same as Dany found them when she arrived at Meereen’s pyramid courtesy of Drogon.

By the end of A Dance With Dragons, Tyrion has not even entered Meereen. Instead, he has just escaped the slavers camped outside Meereen’s walls, while Ser Barristan Selmy remains alive and well as the very competent Hand of the Queen. Also, while there is an Ironborn fleet approaching Meereen, it’s led by Victarion Greyjoy, who is Euron’s brother, coming to take Daenerys as his bride. Meanwhile, Yara Greyjoy (whose name is Asha in the books) has been captured by Stanis Baratheon and is bogged down with his army in the snow outside Winterfell. 

Somehow, in the books, Dany is going to need a fleet to sail to Westeros, but I question whether Asha and Theon will have anything to do with it.


The Battle of the Bastards

First, let me say, I loved how this played out on the show, even though it’s hard to understand why Sansa never told Jon about the knights of the Vale. Hopefully this little detail will be explained next episode. But for now, back to the books.

Assuming Jon gets resurrected, I believe The Winds Of Winter will cover this battle in some form or fashion. In fact, the end of A Dance With Dragons has already set up this conflict with Ramsay’s “pink” letter, which motivated Jon to go to war until his own men betrayed and stabbed him. Aside from this, however, there are some huge differences between the books and what’s been happening on the show. 

The biggest difference, in my view, is that Sansa Stark never married Ramsay, was never abused by him, and has never even left the Vale by the end of A Dance With Dragons. What this means is that the fitting end she gave Ramsay on the show will likely never happen in the books. It won’t surprise me if Ramsay dies at the end of the battle, but someone else is going to have do to the honors. 

The only way book Sansa would ever meet Ramsay is if he somehow captures her in The Winds Of Winter. But since she’s protected by the army of the Vale, I seriously doubt that would happen. That said, it would not surprise me if she and Littlefinger take the knights of the Vale to help Jon reclaim Winterfell. In fact, I’ll be a bit surprised if this doesn’t happen. Somehow book Sansa needs to go home, and getting there with an army of Vale knights makes plenty of sense.

Next, there’s the matter of poor Rickon, the most expendable Stark on Game of Thrones. Could I see book Rickon being captured by the Karstarks and turned over to Ramsay? Sure. Could I see Ramsay killing Rickon in a similarly sadistic manner? Absolutely. After all, Rickon has to play some role in the story, and being Ramsay’s victim might be it. But probably not.

In the books, Ramsay has Mance Rayder hostage, not Rickon Stark. Book Mance was never killed by Melisandre. Instead, Jon sends him to infiltrate Winterfell and rescue Jeyne Poole, whom Jon believes to be his younger sister Arya. In light of this, I think it’s more likely that we could see Ramsay take out Mance before the battle begins. Book Rickon will probably survive, and by the end of A Dance With Dragons, Davos Seaworth has even set off to find him. (Book Davos, incidentally, is never near Winterfell or the Wall.) As for what Martin ultimately has in store for the littlest Stark, only The Winds Of Winter will tell. 

All this said, the one thing I truly hope is that whenever this battle happens in the books, it will forever be known in Westeros as “The Battle of the Bastards.” A more fitting name could not be spoken.

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes


Bill said...

Thanks for the reminders of just how far the TV series has deviated in fundamental ways from the books. These are things that can't just be finessed in the next book.

The episode was deeply satisfying, although in a much more "conventional" manner of movie epics than one would get from Martin, I think. As you mention, though, why wouldn't Sansa tell Jon that Littlefinger is available? Did Jon have a problem with accepting help from him? I don't remember, but thought it was Sansa's problem. It could have avoided a lot of casualties.

Joseph Finley said...

I think we'll find out on Sunday why she didn't tell him. But I can't promise the explanation with be credible! The more the show strays from the books, the more plot holes keep popping up.