[DISCLAIMER AND SPOILER WARNING: The following rant contains spoilers for those who watch the GoT television series, but don't read the novels. I, myself, have not read any books in A Song of Ice and Fire, but I am up to date on most plot-relevant stuff up to A Dance of Dragons, through friends who read the books as well as online sources. I know, I know. They're on my list. One of these days, I'll download Cancion de Hielo y Fuego so I can a) say that I've read them, and b) bolster my now dwindling Bastard Valyrian, er Spanish.]
I was going to write out a nice, long, researched post on the prophecies in A Song of Ice and Fire, and how they might play out in the Game of Thrones television series, but then I came across this old post from io9 and, well, why bother? I've kinda been beaten to the punch there. Sorta.
Ultimately, my goal was to show that George Martin has gotten his readers — and, by extension, fans of the HBO series — heavily invested in his characters, in the world of the series, and in the overarching plot: the person (or persons) who will ultimately prevail and take control of the Iron Throne. But to what end?
Martin seems to have put a lot on our plates, but he's also a fan of snatching our plates away just as we were beginning to tuck into all of the goodies he piled on to our plates in the first place.
Remember how the series began with Lord Eddard Stark and his quest to find out what happened to his friend and mentor, Lord Jon Arryn? So long Ned Stark. We hardly knew ye. No, seriously. We barely knew ye.
Or how Ned Stark's son, Robb, the Young Wolf, was winning all of these battles and it seemed like he would go on to march into King's Landing to avenge his father's death? Sorry, ain't gonna happen.
To take an example from the books: Jeyne Westerling's supposed to be alive and pregnant with a Stark grandchild, based on an offhand comment from a minor character about her appearance, and because she wasn't present at the Red Wedding in the novel, but we all know *that* can't happen because her TV counterpart was brutally stabbed in the belly at the TV version Red Wedding. *AND* this isn't some gaffe by a staff writer on GoT.
The Red Wedding episode was penned by Martin himself The Red Wedding episode, though not written by Martin, was vetted by him (Edited, per one of the comments), which means he *deliberately* placed Jeyne's TV counterpart in harm's way, thereby reducing Jeyne and the maybe-Stark-baby in the books to an amusing trivial footnote.
And if Martin is so cavalier with his plot points and characters, where does that leave the prophecies in the novels?
The major ones are:
- "The prince that was promised" and "Azor Ahai" — which are somewhat related; basically, the entire world will be plunged into darkness and will be overrun by a great evil that only the prophesied savior will defeat. Some folks think this refers to the Others invading Westeros from the North once the Long Winter arrives, and that either Jon Snow or Dany or a combination of both (see next prophecy) will defeat them.
- "The Dragon has Three Heads" — When Elia Martell gave birth to Aegon Targaryen, his father Rhaegar remarked that the Dragon has three heads; possibly an allusion to the Targaryen sigil, which is a three headed dragon. The sigil itself is an allusion to the conquest of Westeros by Aegon the Conqueror and his two sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya. Given that Princess Elia could not have any more children, and that Targaryens often took on second wives, this is possibly a justification of why Rhaegar took a sudden interest in Lyanna Stark: he wanted a third child after Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon and took on Lyanna as a second wife. Ergo, Rhaegar and Lyanna had a child together, and that child is Jon Snow. Lyanna made Ned promise on her deathbed that he would raise her child as his own and not divulge his parentage to keep him safe from Robert Baratheon's anti-Targaryen wrath. Moreover, now that Dany has three dragons, it's possible that Jon will be one of three dragon riders. The third dragon rider could be the newly discovered Aegon Targaryen, who was supposedly killed by the Mountain Clegane during the sack of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion, but who is now miraculously alive, thanks to the intervention of everyone's favorite busybody, Varys, the Spider.
- "The Younger and More Beautiful Queen and the Valonqar" — when Cersei was a girl, she went to a fortune teller in Lannisport who told her that she would have three children, that she would outlive her three children, that she would be queen until a younger, more beautiful queen casts her down, and that she would die at the hands of the valonqar. "Valonqar" is supposed to be High Valyrian for "brother," so possibly Jamie or Tyrion, will end up killing Cersei. As for the "younger, more beautiful queen," this could either refer to Margaery Tyrell or to Daenerys.
Given that, at the end of A Dance with Dragons, Dany and Drogon(*) are in danger of being ambushed and killed by Dothraki warriors in the Great Grass Sea, and Jon Snow has been stabbed six ways to Sunday, that pretty much kills any hope of these characters becoming the great dragon warriors we were all hoping they would be. As for the legitimacy of "Aegon's" claim, well, even the characters in the books aren't buying that this kid is an actual Targaryen, much less *the* heir of Rhaegar Targaryen and eventual husband of Daenerys (had Robert's Rebellion not taken place).
Is Martin's making shit up as he goes along? Has he planned out how ASOIAF will ultimately conclude, or is he simply the biggest troll in the universe?
Personally, I'm leaning toward the latter theory, since Martin's said in many, many, many interviews that he didn't approach ASOIAF with any kind of endgame in mind. He was just tired of having limitations placed on his creativity when he worked as a screenwriter on various shows, so he set out to write something that would be utterly and completely unfilmable.
I just want Dany to conquer Westeros with her dragons, burn each and every Lannister alive, and usher in a new age of peace, prosperity, and enlightenment in the Seven Kingdoms. But that's never, ever, ever going to happen. Because George Martin is the Petyr Baelish of authors: he just wants to watch the world burn.
(*) Unless I'm mistaken, there's nothing in the novels to suggest that a dragon cannot be killed, and while they've gotten rilly rilly big, Dany's dragons have not yet fully matured into the unstoppable killing machines that Aegon and his sister-wives rode into Westeros.