Game of Thrones has long been known as a show that can kill off favourite characters on a whim, a ruthless attitude to its cast inherited from George RR Martin’s original series of novels – and according to the original pitch letter for the books, that’s sort of the point of the whole endeavour.
“The cast will not always remain the same,” Martin wrote in the letter, which first re-emerged in 2015 in a series of photos posted by UK book chain Waterstones.
“Old characters will die, and new ones will be introduced. Some of the fatalities will include sympathetic viewpoint characters. I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.”
Mission accomplished – RIP Oberyn, Ned, Shireen and our nerves – and the outline also sheds some light on where the TV series could go from its current state, suggesting that certain characters will make it all the way to the end – and that certain others may not…
From hereon out, beware – this article may contain spoilers…
“Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process,” Martin wrote.
“In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men and two women. The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard Jon Snow.”
So far so accurate (apart from the rather optimistic “three volumes” part) but the eagle-eyed fans among you may have noticed someone fairly notable missing from that list – Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark, another of the “children of Winterfell.”
Is Sansa doomed?
This detail is why this letter has emerged once again, with many fans speculating that it means we could be seeing a surprise death for Sansa sometime before the end of the series – perhaps as a result of her feud with sister Arya (Maisie Williams) or the coming war with the White Walkers. But could it be true?
Our verdict is, take this with a pinch of salt. The letter was written decades ago, before Martin had even started writing his “trilogy” (currently five books long with at least two more to go), and in it he notes that his plans could change in the process of writing.
“As you know, I don’t outline my novels,” he said. “I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it.”
And considering the outline also includes a love triangle between Jon, Arya and Tyrion, Sansa bearing Joffrey’s child and Catelyn Stark being killed by White Walkers, we’d say the books ended up going in a VERY different direction – so it could be that Sansa will now make it to the end after all.
Or maybe now every one of those final survivors will be stamped to death by an undead mammoth in the last episode of this series. This is Game of Thrones, after all – expect the unexpected.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on Mondays on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV at 2am, repeated at 9pm