As promised, volume 2 will focus on the Starks. This will focus on four characters: Arya, Bran, Sansa, and Jon Snow. Spoilers abound below the sigil.
Arya’s Braavos storyline will probably be pretty similar in the books. The pre-release chapter describes her time with the mummers and her dispatching of Meryn Trant. It follows that the Faceless Men would then try to kill her for going rogue and she would fight them off, earning the right to quit.
However, the Waif-fight sequence feels like a show contrivance. It would be out of character for the Faceless Men to kill for their own purposes, and hard for them to get the drop on Arya, who is a warg in the books. It’s more likely they just kick her out.
That’s where her plot becomes hard to predict. Maybe she finishes off Walder Frey, but the Northern Lords might take him out first. There’s no Great Northern Conspiracy on the show after all. She’s been warging Nymeria since A Clash of Kings, so a meeting probably will be unnecessary. Finally, this season’s conflict between Sansa and Arya feels like a show-only thing, although there might be some tension when they meet in the books.
The show threw out Sansa’s story from the books and gave her Jeyne Poole’s in Season 5. That was a shortcut rightly savaged by critics at the time. Instead, except her to continue climbing the ladder in the Vale, eventually turning the Lords of the Eyrie to her side. Robin isn’t quite as gross in the books either, he’s like 6. I think she dispatches Littlefinger long before heading North too.
From there her story could match up well. She might save Jon’s hide, become Lady of Winterfell, and be there when Bran and Arya return.
She’ll be there when Davos brings Rickon to Winterfell too I’d suspect. Yeah, he’s not going to die due lack of zigzagging in the books. I predict that was a shortcut to stop paying two actors. Shaggydog might be fine too for similar reasons – no need to decrease the direwolf effects budget in a book.
Bran’s story probably matches up okay. I suspect the only show contrivance so far was the “let’s kill the mutineers” sequence from Season 4. He’ll continue to train with the Three Eye-Raven/Brynden Rivers until something happens forcing him to flee. Hodor will die holding a door. Jojen will probably die somehow too. Summer may or may not. If he does, he’ll die doing more to protect Bran.
Otherwise, Bran hasn’t done much on the show. It’s hard to predict how his story would play out in the books beyond the part where he’ll have to escape the tree cavern for some reason.
Here’s one of the predictions you’ve probably been waiting for. The key thing to remember about Jon Snow in the books is that he’s significantly more intelligent and less impulsive than Jon Snow on the show. He’s been called more dull in the books too, so maybe the show made him more impulsive to liven things up. He can also warg Ghost. With that understanding, predicting Jon’s actions in the books becomes a bit easier.
Warging Ghost will have something to do with how Jon survives his assassination. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the a chapter or two with him inside the direwolf. His body might still be resurrected by the Lord of Light, or it might be another kind of magic. Also, expect Val to play the Davos role for a while.
Once he’s back, he will execute the traitors and hand off his Lord Commander role to someone else. That’s a bit more complicated since Castle Black is crowded at this point with Stannis’ people. Additionally, Jon has sent his closest allies to man other castles. Jon won’t just impulsively hand over the duties to Ed, he’ll take the temperature of the remaining Night’s Watchmen first.
I think Ramsey’s letter is legit in the books. Jon will have to gather his forces and fight the Boltons. To make this work, the Great Northern Conspiracy would have to fail to a certain extent, and Stannis would have to lose the Battle in the Ice. Jon’s depleted force might be on the brink of losing too, until Sansa rides in with the Lords of the Vale to turn the tide.
Don’t expect Jon to rush the Bolton lines himself or do anything dumb in planning the battle. The books have proven him to be a competent strategist. He just won’t have the manpower to outmatch the combined Bolton/Frey forces without the Vale coming in to save the day.
After Jon and Sansa take Winterfell, he may be summoned to Daenerys. Some of their interaction seems Martinesque in Season 7, so it might track fairly closely. I would not, however, expect a dumb plan to capture a wight and bring it to Cersei, that screams shortcut.
Jon will be King in the North too, but it won’t be just because everyone loves him that much. In the books Robb wrote a will legitimizing Jon and making him heir to the North. Robb’s wife, Jeyne Westerling, is still alive too, and might play a role in delivering said will to Winterfell.
Anyone, next up are the Lannisters.
(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe