If GRR Martin died before finishing his series, and on his deathbed he tasked you with finishing his series, how would you end it?
Rachel Adkins Alvarado, techno-crane operator, should read more.
ASoIaF fan since 2011. I: @radk1ns
If George RR Martin Died and Rachel Became Queen of Westeros
-Jon Snow is resurrected by Melisandre. Abandons the Night’s Watch. Heads south to confront Ramsey Bolton. He is unable to confront Ramsey before the night of winter falls and the Others invade with a giant army of wights. Shireen Baratheon lays claim to the Iron Throne as Stannis’ daughter and leads the remainder of Stannis’ army, along with Asha Greyjoy in fighting the Others. She frees Theon and Jeyne Pool and eventually links up with Jon Snow. The threat of the Others FINALLY makes Howland Reed emerge from Graywater Watch. He joins Jon Snow and tells him of his true parentage (R+L=J) Everyone tries to the Others but they are losing as Jon Snow ponders his Targaryen roots. CUE:
-Daenerys, armed with a dragon, fulfills the dosh khaleen prophecy, which was misappropriated toward her unborn child (book 1), and becomes “the stallion who mounts the world” uniting all the Dothraki into one khalasar (BECAUSE DRAGONS). She returns to Mereen, links up with Tyrion and Victarion Greyjoy (who offers her use of his ships). Rather than take her Dothraki army to Westeros, she takes only a small group of Unsullied, trusted advisors, and her dragons. She realizes she doesn’t need an army to invade Westeros and the Others (BECAUSE DRAGONS) En route, Victarion tries to kill her, but fails and is eaten by her dragons. She lands on Dragonstone and hears of the destruction up north. She flies with the dragons where Jon Snow and Friends are in much need of aid. CUE THE BEGINNING OF BIG FIRE ICE BATTLE in which Theon dies to save Jon and regains his humanity and dignity. Shireen rides Viserion and Jon discovers he can warg into Rhaegal.
-Sansa: Inspired by Littlefinger’s plan to marry her to heir to vale, Sansa takes it upon herself to murder Robyn Arryn by pushing him out of the Moon Door. She marries the new heir to the Vale and reveals her identity to the Lords of the Vale. She seduces Littlefinger and continues to conspire with him. They ride north to reclaim Winterfell and hear about the BIG FIRE ICE BATTLE. Littlefinger thinks they should GTFO, but Sansa, hearing Jon is alive and leading the defense against the wights, tries to break away from Littlefinger to find Jon. Littlefinger tries to stop Sansa and she kills him.
-Cersei: Though safe inside King’s Landing with Tommen, the Faith nonetheless persists with Cersei’s trial by combat. Ser Robert Strong represents her and kills whoever the hell the Faith chooses to oppose him. Cersei is vindicated. She eggs on Margaery’s trail, making the Tyrells super angry. At the start of her trial, Margaery declares the only person she ever slept with was her HUSBAND TOMMEN and is pregnant with his child. The maesters confirm she is pregnant and Tommen confirms she inappropriately seduced him. Cersei is furious, but they were married after all, so the Faith acquits Margaery. Cersei tries to sneakily have Margaery killed, but she flees kings landing with the Queen of Thorns and they take refuge with Mace Tyrell’s army. The Queen of Thorns brokers a deal with Dorne to invade King’s Landing… CUE
-Dorne: Anticipating Quentyn Martell with have success wooing Daenarys, they Martells have been looking for an opportunity to invade King’s Landing, paving the way for an alliance with Daenerys who will look favorably on they if they take out her biggest enemy in Westeros (LANNISTERS). They With Myrcella as hostage, they make an alliance with the Tyrells and plan to attack King’s Landing. They hope to rile up the Faith again and take advantage of all the chaos and Cersei’s bad luck. They hope Dany will let them have Dorne back as a separate country if they take out the Lannisters. Conveniently, they do not mention anything about dragons to the Tyrells, and instead, tell them they will help them put Margaery and her baby on the throne and get rid of Cersei in return for them gaining Dornish sovereignty back. They Tyrells think this sounds grand, and they agree.
-Brienne/Jaime/Lady Stoneheart: Brienne agrees to kill Jaime Lannister. She lures him into the woods, tries to fight him, but she is still very jacked up from her injuries and with Jaime one handed, the fight ends in a draw. Jaime cannot kill Brienne, and she cannot kill him. Ashamed and broken, Brienne, flees from the Brotherhood and Lady Stoneheart with Jaime and miraculously is able to escape. Lady Stoneheart takes her vengeance out on poor Podrick and hangs him. Jaime hears of the commotion in King’s Landing with the impending Dornish/Tyrell attack. He races there, not for Cersei, but in the hope of saving his children Tommen and Myrcella. He arrives just before the attack, and tries to persuade Cersei to abandon her dreams of power, flee the city, and live happily in a cottage in the Neck with him and their children, leaving the name Lannister behind. Cersei obviously says no and is enraged Jaime has feelings for Brienne and that Jaime seemingly abandoned her in her hour of need, so she has Brienne killed. They Dornish fleet attacks and a huge battle rages in King’s Landing. Cersei discovers the Dornish boat Myrcella was on was actually sunk by her own defenses and Myrcella has drowned. The Red Keep is sacked. Jaime attempts to smuggle Cersei and Tommen out of King’s Landing when the battle is obviously lost. Tommen dies dramatically. Jaime is searching for Brienne and Cersei tells him she killed her. In anger, Jaime strangles Cersei and then kills himself.
-Back to Jon and Daenerys: Jon and Dany and Shireen defeat the Others. Bran, sends a sonic pulse from the tree he lives him in one final last attempt to do good. Sansa rides Rhaegal/aka warging Jon to Winterfell and burns all the Boltons and destroys everyone who hated and betrayed the Starks. Everyone goes to Kings Landing where the Martells and Tyrells are waiting and cowed into submission BECAUSE DRAGONS. Jon, drunk with power decides he wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms with Dany as his Queen, two equal rulers and their dragons. He is in love with her and feels entitled to all she has because he is part Targaryen. Dany is not cool with this at all, and Jon becomes angry and resentful and leads and uprising against her. In one last final battle, Jon and Daenerys have an epic showdown to see who will control the Seven Kingdoms. Jon wargs into Rhaegal and the only way Dany can defeat him is by riding Drogon and killing Rhaegal/Jon, sacrificing one of her beloved children to have total control and get ride of her domineering ex-boyfriend. Tyrion remains as Dany’s Hand of the Queen and Sansa becomes Warden of the North and goes back to Winterfell. Shireen goes to live at Harrenhal and becomes Warden of the South. Dany allows Dorne to be sovereign again as a show of good faith because of poor Elia Martell and because they helped her out A LOT.
Arya lives a happy life in Bravos as a Faceless Man and has no interest in ever returning to Westeros because everything that happens there is AWFUL. Varys somehow survives all of this and returns to King’s Landing and still has all his little birds.
Jay Campbell, pilot, likes nonfiction.
ASoIaF fan since 2010. I: @william_bigmac
I had been a bit conflicted about merging the book storyline with the ongoing show storyline, especially with how divergent they could be at times, so I decided to paint my ending with rather broad brushstrokes. The following are 3 grand plot points that I have inferred from both; feel free to fill in the gaps with your imagination. Unfortunately, I won’t have the time or space to touch upon Sam and Gilly, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick, the Ironborn, or countless others; they will play they their part on their own world’s stage, to be sure, but all of it will be in the context of what I lay out below. At any rate, I feel like it is more fun to see the big picture and fill in the details with the mind’s eye rather than having the story laid out word for word before you.
1 All Good Things Must Come to an End
Some storylines and character arches must inevitably come to a head. I feel like Tyrion must be running to an end – his end – among others. As the show in particular left off, Tyrion is providing counsel to Khaleesi regarding the situation at King’s Landing. Specifically, we must cross the bridge as to when Daenerys and Tyrion confront Cersei and Jamie regarding the Whitewalker’s and the unresolved reign over Westeros. I think it will eventually come to a point in which they meet, and that meeting will be filled with abrasive confrontation, backhanded deceit, and the downfall of major power players. Whether the outcome of that meeting be good or bad for plot movement – decidedly left up to the reader’s interpretation – I think it will lead to Tyrion’s death and/or capture. His character arc will be fulfilled upon returning to the land and family he once fled, after serving another for so long. It’s probably no stretch of the imagination to say that his probable end will come at the hand of a spiteful Cersei, and this would undoubtedly turn conflicted brother Jaime against her. This will in turn fulfill his character arc, pulling him from his dark journey of professional betrayal and incestuous love into the noble good of brotherly love. To be sure, there will be other countless deaths in the coming power struggle, but I also think it will lead to another incredible plot twist.
2 Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
The last of major characters to fall will be the most deserving and least expected, Cersei. Filling the power void will be Daenerys. In a delicious display of irony, Daenerys will bring in a reign of oppression far surpassing what the Lannister’s previously wrought. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. She will have been a Breaker of Chains only where it served convenient to further her cause, but it truly remains to be seen whether or not she is well-received as the new ruler of Westeros. There is often the haughty belief that the people of Westeros will welcome her reign with open arms because she is a member of the cast-out Targaryan family. However, consolidating her ascension to the Crown with a land invasion will undoubtedly win her enemies. Her penchant for burning enemies of her state alive, in addition to her flirtation with class warfare, are a dangerous cocktail; she can only run so far with the dichotomy of being people’s champion while likewise burning them at the veritable stake. It remains to be seen whether or not this leads to her capitulation, but it won’t do her any favors. Honestly, the best thing she has going for her after the invasion of Westeros is rallying the troops against the impending threat from Beyond the Wall. Even then, I doubt she will be successful, and that will lead into the next major plot point.
3 All Hail the Bastard King
Jon Snow stands as the last bastion for morality and virtuosity in the Kingdom. His life has been one of selfless service shaped by the life lessons of his father, Ned (yeah yeah, biological father of The Bastard aside). From his time at the Wall to his return as steward of the North, he has led, albeit in a reserved nature, with clear vision and integrity. Daenerys’s unbridled ambition will drive a wedge between what was once a brief and fiery love affair, and Jon will be forced to bring her down. His army, backed by the houses of the North, the hardy Free Folk, and a supply of Dragon Glass, will lead through a bloody confrontation to victory. Jon will reluctantly accept the crown out of civic duty, not because of ambition. At the risk of being too historically heavy handed, Jon steps into the role of a President Lincoln, where his land and people needed him most, yet when he wanted it least. Truly, this is what the people of Westeros have deserved all along. To be sure, Jon will not be able to do all of this himself – Sansa, Arya, and Bran will serve their purpose faithfully to the family and the people they lead, all in their own way. In the end, I think that the Starks climbing to the throne, and Jon in particular, would be a perfect bookend to the series.
I remember starting the first book of the series not knowing what to expect (as one does with all books, I’m sure). The difference between this series and others, however, was that I the more I read (and eventually watched), the less I knew what George had up his sleeve for the best and worst of them. What I did know is that I started it expecting Ned Stark to be the protagonist, only to have his head removed from his body not some 70 pages later. It blindsided me. Whatever happened after that I knew I couldn’t possibly predict with any accuracy (so take all I have said with a grain of salt!), but what I did know is that I wanted justice for the Starks. The Starks needed justice because they deserved justice, and the people of the Kingdom by proxy. To begin the series with a tumultuous slap in the face and end it with his progeny rising above it all would be the perfect summation.
Sarah Diehl, runs this blog, reads a lot of trash.
ASoIaF fan since 2013. I: @sweetandsarahsauce
Note: This ending is inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry V. Nature doesn’t care about rights to the throne or prophecies. Nature doesn’t care about happy endings. Winter comes and goes, but it will come again. Dragons and White Walkers can terrorize, but sometimes the end comes in much simpler ways. ASoIaF is a big story telling a little story. I think this end justifies the heart of it…. So we begin.
In the South, Margaery becomes pregnant with Tommen’s child. Once she is sure, she murders Tommen to become Queen Consort, with her unborn child as heir. The Tyrells plan to overthrow the Lannisters, and The Reach sieges King’s Landing. Cersei gets the better of them before her trial and regains a shaky control. Dorne is held by Lannister armies as well and many people die. In a show of power, Cersei is trying to wipe out as many families as she can. Brienne leads Jaime to Lady Stoneheart. Stoneheart threatens but does not kill Jaime, but makes him swear to protect her daughters, sensing Jaime’s guilt and hoping for a Lannister on her side. As Sansa is departing The Vale, Jaime and Brienne intercept her. Not trusting Littlefinger’s plan, Jaime and Brienne follow her to the North to reclaim Winterfell.
In the North Bran wargs into a raven to spy on people and send information. Jon is resurrected by Melisandre, in sacrificing Ghost’s life for his. Jon rides south to Winterfell, to find that Stannis had in fact beat the Boltons with the help of the Iron Islands. Jon returns to Wall with Melisandre, narrowly missing Sansa who is riding North with Jaime and Brienne. Stannis allows Sansa to stay there as a safehaven; Brienne and Jaime leave to try and find Arya. Arya gets her shit together and returns to Winterfell from Essos. She arrives shortly after Sansa does, missing Jaime and Brienne. Stannis holds both Starks in safety but he does not tell Jon that Arya has arrived. Meanwhile, Melisandre hears word that Dany has landed in Dragonstone, and decides to take Jon and Davos with her to meet Dany to discuss the White Walkers.
In Essos Dany is saved by Dorthraki, and spends the first half of the books gathering her armies. She runs into Tyrion and Young Griff (Aegon). Like in the show, Tyrion gains her trust, becomes Hand of the Queen. However Dany does not trust Aegon when he reveals himself to her as her nephew. Convinced he is a usurper, and trying to steal her throne, she has him assassinated before making her move on Westeros. It’s the reader’s first time really questioning Dany’s motives. Tyrion is shocked – but in awe of Dany’s move. He decides to stay with her, and together they sail for Dragonstone.
Cut to Euron, as he reaches Valyria. He finds a whole sea of baby dragons, living in volcanic ruin.
Jon goes to Dragonstone. Dany and Jon create an alliance against the White Walkers, but Dany wants a show of power, so she rides Drogon across the Reach to Kings Landings, burning just enough to create panic. Knowing her larger battle may lie elsewhere, Dany flies back North to meet up with Jon. Shireen meets the dragons and bonds with them. But then the White Walkers attack the Wall. In the meantime, Littlefinger rides North to find Sansa. Bran wargs into a raven to tell Arya that Littlefinger was responsible for the start of the war. Arya escapes Stannis and intercepts Littlefinger on the road. She kills him, and feels that by killing him, the bellwether of the war, she can finally move on. She rides North, finding Jon, Dany, and Tyrion on the eve of a giant battle.
In the South Jaime returns to Kings Landing to confront Cersei after finding that Arya was safe with Stannis. During his wanderings, Jaime has seen Dany’s dragons first hand and hopes Dany will be a kinder ruler than the father who he killed. Everyone in the South has heard what’s going on up North and they’re terrified. They have wasted their resources on wars, and are terribly unprepared for winter. Jaime tells Cersei there won’t be a kingdom left to rule if they don’t give into Dany. Cersei refuses to back down. Then, just because I think it’d be cool, her kills her while having sex once last time, and then he kills himself, right before Brienne shows up with news that Arya has been seen in Winterfell. Brienne is heartbroken and returns to Lady Stoneheart to tell her her daughters are safe.
I am horrible at battles, but I assume there is one hell of one. The White Walkers are very good at what they do, which is killing people. Our Heroes are losing. Howland Reed knows his time is near comes out of nowhere and announces Jon is a Targaryan. Sam comes back with all sorts of information about dragons and Jon’s parentage. Jon rides Viserion into battle. Rhaegal (who does not have a rider) dies in battle and Dany knows she will loose without more dragons and dragonglass. Then who sends a message but Euron! He has found all the dragons you need. Dany and Jon agree that Jon and Melisandre (And Ayra and Shireen cause why not?) should sail back Valyria and collect themselves some dragons.
* Five Year Interlude *
Westeros is a hot mess. Dany, Tyrion, and Sansa are living in Kings Landing with her dragons. Other survivors are there. The North has fallen and the Others have made it down to The Vale. Winter has killed thousands. Jon has not returned. The only people left in Westeros have fled to Dorn because they think it’s safest. Essos is too scared to help. Dany refuses to leave Kings Landing and Tyrion refuses to leave her side. They have a tiny army and the dragons Harrenhal but there is little hope.
In the meantime, Jon and company has successfully trained several dragons in Valyria. Jon and Shireen have trained several dragons, but it takes longer than planned. Since they have no way of sailing back because their ship wrecked, they have to wait till they can all ride dragons back. After five years of training and grooming the dragons, Melisandre, Arya, Shireen, Jon, and Euron, along with other dragons and lots of swords, fly over Essos, gathering help. A mass army of Dorthraki, dragons, and armies from the Free Cities. As Jon leads the armies to Westeros, Melisandre knows that Jon is the promised one, heading to fight the Other. They fight against the Night King and win. Jon kills the Night King with Longclaw while riding Drogon. Without their leader, the Others scatter. Tyrion and Ayra both die heroically in the final battle. The dragons fight the White Walkers while being led by Dany and Jon, and after pushing them back, they rebuild the Wall, fortified with Valyrian steel. The Night’s Watch is reinstated. Westeros is finally at peace. Dany reclaims the Iron Throne, and this time the Dorthraki, Wildings, and Free Cities kneel to her too. Dany instates Jon as the Hand of the Queen. They try to put the world back together.
*Three Year Interlude*
Dany is pregnant with Jon’s Targaryan baby (the three-headed dragon). The pregnancy is dangerous and she dies giving birth. The baby lives for a few days, then dies as well. Jon, heartbroken, convinces himself he never should have abandoned his post at the Wall and broken his oath. He believes he has brought it upon himself. He announces that the Free Cities and Dorthraki Sea are free once more. The true Last Targaryn, he travels north to the Wall with his dragon Viserion and Drogon. He sends the rest of the dragons back to Valyria. Shireen, who has become a keeper of dragons, goes to Valyria too, to try and rebuild. Jon leaves Sansa in charge of Westeros while he goes North. He tells her he will return when he has recovered from his grief, but she knows he doesn’t mean it.
Time passes. Sansa (Stark) marries Gendry (Baratheon). Many of the great houses have been wiped out entirely. By the time the two of them have a child, Westeros’ population has finally regrown after the destruction of the war against the White Walkers. They are still coming out of Winter. By the time Spring comes, many people can no longer remember a time before the war. They accept their new rulers without question, and Dany and Jon’s short rule quickly dissolves into a myth, the Last Targaryan King and Queen. Sansa and Gendry rule Westeros. They are the Lyanna and Robert that should have been. Spring has come. The dragons are gone. Until they are needed again….
Epilogue: Bran is still in the tree.
Please leave a comment with your preferred ending!