Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How Would You Finish George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire?

George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire currently stands at five books, with book six, The Winds of Winter coming soon, and then likely another two books to “wrap the story up.” I’m using the quotes there because like many readers, I’ve noted that the story is becoming increasingly complex, with more than 24 viewpoint characters and counting. Even with his penchant for killing characters off, Martin has no easy chore before him to wrap up the story.

How in the world can Martin resolve so many storylines to the satisfaction of readers? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, I’ve asked a handful of authors how they would finish the series. Please share how you would finish the series in the comments section. Just subject yourself to the same restraints I placed on the contributors here: try to keep it under 400 words!

With the coming of winter, magic is alive again…

Garrett Calcaterra. Author of The Dreamwielder Chronicles.

In Meereen, Victarion Greyjoy uses the horn Dragonbinder to take control of the dragons Viserion and Rhaegal. He finds Dany is gone, though. Barristan Selmy and Tyrion convince him to go rescue Dany. This he does, and Dany agrees to marry him, but she calls upon on Drogon to bathe them in flames during the ceremony, burning Victarion alive. Dany sets out with the horn and the dragons on the Greyjoy ships for Westeros.

Meanwhile, Lady Stoneheart has been on a rampage, killing the Frey’s and anyone else involved with the Red Wedding. She continues her rampage north, intent on killing the Boltons, but finds that Arya has beat her there. Arya has killed Roose and Ramsey, but is mortally wounded in the process. Lady Stoneheart breathes new life into her, thereby sacrificing herself.

In King’s Landing, Cersei is freed from the Faith Militant by Ser Robert Strong, who is a reanimated corpse with Gregor Clegane’s body and Robert Baratheon’s exhumed head. Ser Strong fends off the forces of Prince Aegon and Jon Connington, killing them both in battle. All seems well for Cersei, but then Arya shows up wearing Jaime’s face and kills her.

At the wall, Melisandre brings Jon Snow back to life. The Others attack, using the real Horn of Winter to topple the Wall. Melisandre dies trying to fight them, and Jon retreats south. Bran is moved to action by this event, and inhabits Drogon, stealing Dany away too, who in turn commands the other dragons to follow her. Bran, meets with Jon, Dany, and the dragons at the Neck. They each ride a dragon and annihilate what’s left of the North, which is now inhabited by wights and white walkers. When it’s over, they go to King’s Landing, where their troops are waiting.

Sansa marries Jojen Reed to become Protector of the North. Sam is sent from Oldtown to oversee rebuilding of the Wall. Jon, revealed to be the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Eddard's sister Lyanna Stark, marries Dany and they become rulers of Westeros. Tyrion is named hand. Dany thrives, but Jon is brooding and distanced, never having recovered from dying at the wall. When Khal Drogo arrives in their chamber one night, Jon doesn’t even try to fight and is slain. Dany is wracked by conflicting emotions and is killed by Drogo also, who turns out to really be Jaqen H’ghar, called upon by the Many Faced god to avenge the wrongs of old Valyria. As Snow’s eldest sibling, Bran takes the throne. His claim is contested, but he alone now controls the dragons…

The three-headed dragon…

Ahimsa Kerp. Author of Cthulhu Kaiju, Beneath the Mantle, and Empire of the Undead.

First of all, young Griff really is Aegon Targaryen, the prince that was promised. He is the third head of the dragon, along with Daenerys and Jon Targaryen. Allied with Dorn, he makes short work of what is left of the Lannisters and unites the Kingdom just in time.

The Wall crumbles and the Others surge southward.

The tattered remnants of Westeros's armies, allied with Dragons and Unsullied, the Golden Company, and the Wildlings are a mighty force. In fact, Fire overwhelms Ice easily and the Others are wiped the hell out before they even reach Winterfell. The Targ triumvirate rules supreme and establishes a dystopian reality now as Old Valeria returns. For the small folk, it's worse than ever before as lords of fire and ash become virtual demigods.

But there is resistance to this overwhelming force too. Bran Stark can warg into a dragon and he can steal into the mind of one of them. Jaqen H'ghar has robbed the Citadel of their dragon knowledge and the Faceless Men may even have a dragon of their own (courtesy of Euron). And speaking of Euron, he has a horn that gives him power over dragons. Three heads also have the foes of the Dragon. And they have an unexpected leader: Stannis, who survived his battle despite the lies of Ramsey.

With the dragons defeated, the hitherto undefeatable forces of New Valeria are vulnerable. Their leaders are young and inexperienced, no match for Euron and Stannis and people like Howland Reed too.

Alliances shift and old friends are torn apart. Sam fights Jon, Uncat is killed by Arya just as Sandor kills Frankengregor and is finally free. And in the end, Jaqen H'ghar reveals that he is none other than Rhaegar Targaryen, who learned of the prophecies back when he was a careless minstrel prince. Since then, he and Varys have been the driving force behind everything that happened in Westeros. And now, in order to save the Kingdom, he must oppose all three of his children. It is a midwinter nightmare, but in the future is…

A dream of spring.

The undeserving...

Craig Comer.  Author of the forthcoming gaslamp fantasy novel The Fey Matter and co-author of the mosaic fantasy novel The Roads to Baldairn Motte.

Of ASOIF’s many themes, two of the most prominent are 1) a mother’s love—Catelyn, Cersei, and Olenna all drive their decisions around the fate of their children and in grief are altered to their core—and 2) identity—Arya, Sansa, and Theon all assume multiple names and personalities as they struggle to find safety.

So it won’t be a shock when Daenerys chooses to protect her “children” and remove them far from the world of men rather than use them as tools to become Queen of Westeros. Likewise, Jon will take on the identity he never wanted, as the leader of the fight against the Others, but he’ll never achieve his heart’s desire, the small comforts of a close family.

The spoils of the war between Ice and Fire will go to those who least deserve it. While at the same time, the new power players in the Game of Thrones will learn nothing from those who fell before them. It is a dire fate for a dire world, and though Sansa may reclaim the Stark mantle, and Sam become a Maester, Arya’s list will grow ever long. For while the bite of Winter will leave its scars, its lessons are soon forgotten.

Lest we take all this too seriously…

Robyn Bennis. Author of The Guns Above, forthcoming from Tor Books.

Daenerys returns to Westeros at the head of a khalasar of Dothraki, gets engaged to her nephew Aegon (who is Aegon), and their armies assault King's Landing. The battle goes well until Drogon the Dragon eats an undercooked peasant and dies from salmonella (145 F for 3 minutes, people.) In desperation, Drogon is rebuilt to run on clockwork and spit wildfire. Alas, Mecha-Drogon requires two pilots, and no two soldiers are small enough to fit into the space left in the carcass.

In the north, Bran's direwolf contracts rabies, so Bran has to take it behind the weirwood tree and shoot it in the head. Appalled, Meera forks him to death. Brynden and Coldhands abandon her and Jojen to the wilds, and they have to eat Hodor.

Most everyone in the North freezes to death, because they don't have the sense to stay indoors during a blizzard. Roose Bolton stays in and lives, but it turns out he has seasonal affective disorder, so he won't feel up to doing anything until summer. Unopposed, the White Walkers march ever southward, eventually reaching Dorne. Turns out they just like to take a vacation at the beach every few thousand years.

The Sand Snakes return home, go on a cruise with the White Walkers, catch norovirus, and die.

Tyrion and Arya arrive in King's Landing. Together, they pilot Mecha-Drogon to victory. The city is taken, but they accidentally crash into the Sept of Baelor, and so burn to death alongside Cersei, the High Sparrow, Varys, Margaery, Margaery's parole officer, Margaery's boobs, and Margaery's boobs' parole officer. Daenerys and Aegon (who is Aegon) are married in a lavish ceremony, but while screwing atop the iron throne, they're both poked by rusty swords, get tetanus, and die.

At the funeral, Sansa is eaten by a shark.

And because the TV show is sure to struggle trying to wrap all this up too…

Connor Drexler. Author of Mad God Walking.

Internal HBO Memo: Get JJ the fuck in there! Our toy sales have gone severely downhill ever since we sold out of the mutilate me Melisandre body pillows. We need to #makewesterosgreatagain, bring back those fond memories of Robert just Bro’ing out with Eddard.

JJ: Listen, you want the JJ treatment, you got it. First off, dragons? We need more dragons. In the next book, we open on Castle Black, there is a stern ruler (Jon Snow maybe) and he has a kid, climbing up one of the walls and catches two totally hot people going at it. Turns out the two people totally doing it are related to the plot, but we don’t know that till later. Actually we don’t know why they are important to the plot till the end of the book because #twist, bitches. Every time we do an unsupported plot twist, we get the internet points for how smart we are. Do Dragons’ lens flare? ‘Cause when JJ’s here those dragons’ lens flare. Is it too late to add a parallel universe where Ned Stark wasn’t an idiot? Just spitballing here, what if not-an-idiot Ned Stark and his best bro Robert were trying to make it in Hollywood?

George Argh Argh Martin: I had a different idea for the book, respectively. Though I understand my editor has started to wonder aloud, if he could improvise some sort of Neuromancer technology by jabbing a usb2 cable into my brain, the book is almost completed. You will all worship at my feet.
An entire book on genealogy and medieval heraldry. Also titties. Also I kill of whichever character you still enjoy reading. You know the one. And this book, no dragons. I really want to expand the world some more; my plan is to stretch out all the plot strings so far they loop around. Should be ready for the battle between R’hllor and the Other, main baddie I still haven’t really introduced, in another five books.

HBO: …New phone, who dis?

JJ: Hobbits, is it too late to add hobbits?

HBO: Fuck it. We’re calling Steven Erikson.

JJ: We are green-lighting your Ned and Robert in Hollywood show for 8 seasons. By contract, only 4 of them can we watchable.  Call up Dinklage, see if he can play Tyrion Lannister, power agent. Opening scene, they are bro’ing out, driving their dragon down Ventura Blvd and see a totally hot babe.

HBO: We are currently drowning in a pile of money, call you back.

George Argh Argh Martin: Guys? This is not analogous to the War of the Roses at all!

JJ: New phone, who dis?

Please share what you think will happen in the comments below. Need some help remembering who’s who and what’s happened so far? Head to the ASOIAF wiki for more info than you could ever need.

-Garrett Calcaterra

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