As much as I love A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s one of those infuriating series that tends to leave you with more questions than answers. Since we still have approximately eight years till the next book in the series drops (don’t you dare die on me George), it looks like some speculation is in order. Here are five of the biggest questions facing us in Westeros, and what I believe the answers are.
Who killed Joffrey?: Let’s start with the easiest one. Joffrey Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, and probably the biggest douche ever written about. Nobody was sad to see Joff eat it, but there were some major questions surrounding his death. Tyrion is blamed, but we know he is innocent of the crime. At first it appears he only choked on his food, but upon closer examination poison seems to be the likely culprit. The question then becomes who killed him. I’m sure a lot of people wanted him dead, but who had the means, the motive and the cajones to pull it off.
Likely Answer: Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns. She may be old, but she has quite a sting to her, apparently. Of course, she had a little help. During Joffrey’s final banquet, Sansa can be found wearing a special hairnet given to her by Dontos. He calls it magic, but it’s really a poison called “the strangler”. At one point, Olenna approached Sansa and messes with her hairnet, ostensibly taking a dose of the poison from it and depositing it in Joffrey’s drink. And no, she wasn’t putting Margaery at risk; she was in on it too. But surely she didn’t conceive this on her own, or employ Dontos herself, right? Correct. The plan was likely masterminded by Littlefinger. We know Dontos was in his employ the whole time, and he as much as admits the whole plan to Sansa. If you’ve learned anything from Game of Thrones, it’s don’t trust Littlefinger.
Who is Coldhands? First encountered in a Storm of Swords, the dark figure Coldhands assists Samwell Tarly and Gilly as they are surrounded by wights. Saving their lives, he then directs them back to the wall, but is held back by the magic of the Black Gate. He later helps Bran Stark, Hodor and the Reed siblings make it to the greenseer Bryndon, going so far as to murder some members of the Night’s Watch to ensure Bran’s safe travel. This is significant, because there is strong evidence that he himself was a black brother. He still dresses himself in the black of the Watch, and calls Samwell “brother” when calling out to him. It is also clear that he, in some ways, a wight himself. He clearly displays autonomous behavior and speech, capabilities beyond regular wights, but he doesn’t breathe, eat or sleep, and the protective barriers that keep the white walkers out repel him as well.
Likely Answer: He is Benjen Stark. He recognizes Sam as a black brother, but he knows Bran by name. He should, Benjen is Bran’s uncle. The Starks obviously have strong magical blood flowing through their veins, which could account for Coldhands special abilities. There are still a number of other people who he could be, no shortage of missing Night’s Watch men, but Benjen seems like a perfect fit. Knowing George R.R. Martin, though, that could be some misdirection.
Who is Robert Strong?: Poor Cercei. After the events of A Dance with Dragons, you almost feel sorry for her. Almost. After her walk of shame, she is lifted into the arms of her shining giant, Ser Robert Strong. However, he refuses to take off his helmet, until her enemies are defeated Qyburn assures her. He neither eats, nor sleeps, nor even uses the privy, instead standing a constant, silent vigil by Cercei’s side. He is easily the biggest man in Westeros, although nobody but Qyburn has seen him out of his armor. Ser Kevan expresses his concern of the knight, and even believes he knows who he is, although he is sadly murdered before he can share it with us. So who is this mystery knight?
Likely Answer: The Mountain That Rides, Ser Gregor Clegane. After being mortally injured by the poisoned spear of Oberyn Martell, Qyburn takes Gregor into his custody. Tyene Sand, Oberyn’s bastard daughter, assures us that the poison he used is indeed poisonous, even to a monster like Clegane. Qyburn is a known necromancer, and he has clearly used some dark art to bring Ser Gregor back from the dead, albeit with a new identity. But what about the skull that the Lannisters sent to Doran Martell, you object plaintively (I heard you). That was, in all likelihood, Ser Gregor’s skull, as they remark upon its massive size. Ser Robert Strong is kind of like the Westerosi version of the Headless Horseman, except he’s a lot fonder of rape and murder.
Who are Jon Snow’s parents? Obviously we know his father; Lord Eddard hasn’t exactly hidden his bastard, but who is poor Jon’s mother. Some say it is the Lady Ashara Dayne, sister to the greatest knight of the time, The Sword of the Morning Arthur Dayne. After slaying Ser Dayne in single combat during Robert’s rebellion, Lord Eddard returned his sword to his grieving sister, even though he was gravely wounded. Taking pity on the noble lord, Lady Ashara took him into her bed, and later bore him a child. After the war, Lord Eddard chose to honor his pledge to his new wife, and so, distraught, Lady Ashara killed herself, leaving Jon in Ned’s hands. Still others claim it was a common woman named Wylla, a wench chanced upon during the war. As of right now, his lineage is still open. Except, it’s probably not.
Likely Answer: Eddard probably isn’t even the father. A large amount of evidence exists that Rhaegar Targaryen is actually the father. Lord Eddard’s sister Lyanna would be Jon’s mother, which is where he gets his Stark heritage and skill with the wolves. Follow closely: Robert started his war because Rhaegar absconded with Lyanna, his bride-to-be. Upon learning of the rebellion, Rhaegar and Lyanna retreated to Dorne, with the three finest knights of his Kingsguard. With the biggest war the realm had ever known going on, Rhaegar leaves his three finest knights to defend Lyanna. Doesn’t sound like she’s just a spoil of war. After Ned and his band defeat Rhaegar’s Kingsguard, he finds a dying Lyanna covered in blood begging Ned to promise her…something. Plainly, Rheagar deployed his Kingsguard to defend the heir to the realm, and Lyanna made Ned promise not to tell anybody. You may think the truth would be lost forever, but there is still one person alive who knows what really happened: Howland Reed, the father to Bran’s companions Jojen and Meera. And speaking of that bastard…
Is Jon Snow really dead?: I mean, surely not, right? It’s not like George would ever murder off such a main…oh. Yeah, he’s probably dead. I mean, he got stabbed at least three times, and there isn’t a maester in sight. Healthcare isn’t exactly universal in Westeros, and even if it were, I doubt the Wall draws the best minds in the world. Jon is probably done for, right?
Likely Answer: Not a chance. If we follow the logic that Jon is Rheagar and Lyanna’s child, than he is also probably the “prince who is promised”, or Azor Ahai. With his Stark (Ice) and Targaryen (Fire) lineage, his is truly the Song of Ice and Fire, and the whole series centers around him. The legend said he will be reborn amidst smoke and salt. Well, as Jon Snow was being stabbed to death, Bowen Marsh’s tears supply the salt, while the clear reference to Jon’s “smoking” wounds” seems to provide the other half. Melisandre seems convinced that it is Stannis, but whenever she looked in the fires for Azor, all she saw was snow. Jon Snow. Get it? Jon becomes reborn, destroys the others, and will, in all likelihood, come back and rule the realm with Daenerys as his queen. Lucky bastard. Oh, and speaking of dead people who aren’t dead, mark my words: Sandor Clegane is still alive. I think he went pious (ugh).