Tag Archives: A Dance with Dragons

Game of Thrones Books vs. Show: House Stark

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

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.

Sansa

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

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.

Jon Snow

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

 

Game of Thrones Books vs. Show: An Introduction and House Targaryen

Another season of Game of Thrones is in the books (no pun intended).  There is only one more season of the show left, but eventually, maybe, supposedly, if the legends hold true, we’re due for two more novels.  The reality is that a good chunk of the major plot points of the future books have already been revealed to us on the show.  But how much, and what are they?

I should point out that eventually I’m going to get into major spoilers from the show and the books.  If you’re interested in keeping either unspoiled you should stop now.

The show began diverting from the books in a major way in season two.  In seasons two through five, and to a lesser extent season six, it was readily apparent what was changed from the source material.  Most notably, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons (books 4 and 5) were collapsed into one season.  Whereas creative license was taken in adapting A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, the adaptations of books 4 and 5 completely re-arranged characters and storylines.  Some of these edits had creative justifications such as fewer travelogues.  Other edits had clear financial/Hollywood reasons, like cutting new characters so they could pay the current cast more money, and reducing the role of the direwolves to save special effects money for dragons.

With the changes in the television adaptation, patterns have emerged.  My central hypothesis is that we can separate what plot developments from the last two seasons are probably from George R.R. Martin and what are probably the show’s writers/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Generally, the different writers have different flaws.  Martin is great at character development and world-building, but not so great at crafting concise plots.  The show’s writers are good at big, flashy set pieces and great images, but not as strong on characterization and world-building.  Their plotting is flawed for a different reason than Martin’s – whereas Martin meanders too much, the show’s writers have a tendency to take shortcuts and rush things along.

Now, let’s take some of the main groups and try to predict what’s going to be in the books from seasons 6 and 7 and what is probably a show-only development.  If I try to do everything in one post, it’s going to be take forever, so I’ll go one group at a time, starting with House Targaryen.

Here are the major developments in seasons 6 and 7 for Daenerys and Company:

  • The Dothraki

Daenerys needs the Dorthraki to wrap up her story in Meereen and expand her army for Westeros.  However, I don’t think Daenerys will do so by burning the khals.  When she meets the Dothraki in the book she has a healthy, menacing Drogon right by her side.  There will probably be no need for any further demonstration of power.

  • Tyrion

Most of Tyrion’s season 6 plot is given to Barristan Selmy in the books (more on him in a moment).  Tyrion still hasn’t met up with Daenerys at the end of A Dance with Dragons, although he’s getting closer.  Besides it doesn’t make sense for Tyrion to get into Daenerys’ good graces so quickly when she still has Ser Barristan by her side.  However she returns to Meereen, we can expect a long series of interactions between Tyrion and Daenerys before she places her trust in him.

  • Ser Barristan

Ser Barristan may not be long for this world in the books, but I doubt he goes out so easily as he did in Season 5.  The way the show’s writers dispatched him didn’t make a lot of sense for his character and felt like one of their shortcuts to 1) trim the cast and 2) make way for Peter Dinklage to take a more central role.  He may even make it back to Westeros.

  • Grey Worm and Missandei

As all book readers know, this entire subplot is new on the show and impossible in the books.  Grey Worm isn’t much of a character in the books and Missandei is like 12.  This just isn’t going to happen, and was probably developed whole-cloth to give the actors something to do.

  • Daario

Daario may not even be alive right now in the books.  If he is, however, it  does kind of make sense for Daenerys to leave him in Meereen.  She has other allies in the books to take up the administrative slack, so she won’t give him as much power, but it doesn’t make sense to take the sellsword to Westeros for the same reasons she articulates  on the show.

  • The Battle of Meereen

Pre-released chapters of The Winds of Winter indicate a much longer, more complex battle than portrayed on the show.  Daenerys might join the fray at some point, but it won’t be as simple as the three dragons roasting some ships.

  • Hizdaar

Hizdaar is dispatched quickly and easily on the show.  It won’t be so easy in the books.  He’s still alive and might have tried to murder Daenerys.  He’s also already married her, so there would be that thread to untangle.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the Meereenese nobleman that Daenerys fries with Drogon like the she did to the nameless, redshirt one on the show in season 5.

  • Allies

The alliance situation is far more complicated in the books.  Doran Martell, who in the books is a brilliant puppet master rather than a lame sad-sack, wants Fire and Blood, but he won’t soon forget that his son got fried.  The released Arianne chapters show that Doran is going to be in the Aegon camp, at least for the time being.  As for the Tyrells, there has been no indication that they will ally themselves with Daenerys.  The Iron Born on the other hand, might end up following a similar story-line, with Victarion replacing the Theon/Yara one on the show.

  • Invasion of Westeros

This will be longer and more complicated in the books.  The entire Aegon story-line was cut from the show, so  it’s unclear how that will play out.  What I can predict is that the fight to bring Cersei to heel will be longer and bloodier than the shortcuts taken on the show.

  • Daenerys and Jon

It’s inevitable that we’ll see some version of this coupling in the books.  They’re both the Blood of the Dragon after all.

  • Ice Dragon

The entire “let’s get a wight and bring to Cersei” feels like a contrivance to rush along the plot, a hallmark of the show’s writers.  I seriously doubt it happens at all in the books.  Additionally, the book has the Horn of Joramun, which the White Walkers are searching for.  They won’t need a dead dragon to bring down the Wall.  Additionally, the books have the “dragon has three heads” prophecy and have mentioned legitimate ice dragons.  It is unclear to me that Viseron will die and be resurrected by the White Walkers, or if he’ll even need to be.  If it does happen, I expect it to be under completely different circumstances.

Next time we’ll talk about the Starks.

(c) 2017 D.G. McCabe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Book vs. Show: The Fate of Jon Snow

One of the fun things about the show diverging so much from the books is that it opens up an entirely new line of theorization and discussion.  Instead of just asking how Dave Benioff and D.B. Weiss are going to adapt something, we can now debate what they are going to keep and what they are going to toss from the books.  I have a particular theory below relating to the fate of Jon Snow.

As I did last week, I’m about to get into the changes in Season 5 from the books. Please only proceed if you have 1) read all of the books, 2) do not plan on reading the books, or 3) have started reading the books but don’t care about spoilers.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Night's Watch-2

Waiting for George R. R. Martin to complete one of his ponderous tomes can be a long process.  What makes his audience especially anxious this time around is the cliffhanger that ends the fifth book, “A Dance with Dragons.”

So What Happens?

In summary, Jon Snow has made hard decisions as the leader of the Night’s Watch.  He has enlisted the aid of the Wildling army to join or work with the Watch, sent men to rescue Wildlings trapped at Hardhome, and made other controversial decisions.  Most of his cover is gone as he has promoted most of his allies, sending them to rebuild other castles along the Wall.  Still, he feels confident with the inner circle he’s left behind.  It is a shock to both Snow and the reader when that inner circle gangs up on him and stabs him.

So is he dead?

This is the main theory that book readers have been debating since 2011.  Is Jon Snow dead, and if not, how did he survive multiple stab wounds in an era when medical care was, well, less than adequate?

Okay, how are they going to do this on the show?

Now we’ve made it to my central theory.  They aren’t going to end this season with the same cliffhanger, or at least they aren’t going to do it in the same way.  Here are my reasons why:

1. Kit Harrington’s Schedule

It’s pretty easy to end a book with a cliffhanger questioning whether a character is dead or alive.  A television series has another problem entirely, especially a show with Game of Thrones’ popularity and herculean filming schedule.  You could stab Jon Snow at the end of the season and hold that cliffhanger over the course of the offseason, but you can’t hide the actor who plays him.

Even if HBO closed the set for the Wall scenes, you can’t hide Kit Harrington for six months.  If Snow is dead, Harrington will be working on other projects.  His role in Game of Thrones has been great for his career and he’s in high demand.  If Snow isn’t dead, it’ll be pretty obvious what Harrington is up to for the second half of this year.

HBO especially likes to release a bunch of trailers and behind the scenes specials before Game of Thrones seasons.  They can’t cut an entire plot from their promotional materials and do so effectively.

2. Benioff and Weiss Haven’t Laid the Groundwork for Snow’s Stabbing to Have the Same Effect it has in A Dance with Dragons

The stabbing is a shock to the reader because we are experiencing Snow’s story in A Dance with Dragons from inside his head.  In hindsight, Snow should have known something was up, but since we are limited to his perspective, we are as shocked as he is when he’s stabbed.

So far, this season of Game of Thrones has made it all too obvious that something like this could happen.  It’s established that half the Watch hates Snow, and the other half is now pissed at him because he wants to rescue the Wildlings.  It will be a lot less surprising, and therefore less effective, if everyone gangs up on him at this point, especially if he loses a bunch of guys at Hardhome.

3. It Could Still Work if Snow is Simply Dead, but that Seems Unlikely at this Point

Snow probably isn’t dead in the books.  First, Martin himself has hinted as much.  When asked why he killed off Snow, Martin responded, “So you think he’s dead do you?”  He’s been a lot more upfront about his reasons when other characters have died.

Furthermore, there are numerous reasons that the story would fall apart if Snow were dead.  Without touching upon Snow’s likely history and destiny as foreshadowed throughout the series, he seems to have an important part to play in the future events of Westeros.  He is also the only point of view character at the Wall (except for one Melisandre chapter), and the story at the Wall isn’t over yet.

4. The Series Hasn’t Set Up the Path for Snow’s Possible Survival

The most common theory on how Snow survives his stabbing is that he “wargs” his consciousness into his direwolf and Melisandre and/or Val heals his broken body.  It’s always possible he could simply just survive the wounds, but the way the passage is written (along with plenty of foreshadowing) makes most readers believe that the Ghost/Melisandre/Val route is the way he will survive.

The show has not established Val as a character.  As for Melisandre, while she becomes something of an advisor to Snow in the book, she’s going with Stannis to attack Winterfell on the show.  Finally, the show has not established Jon’s warging ability.

Conclusion

The show has not established the elements needed for the stabbing scenario to work the same way it does in the book.  It has made it too obvious that there is dissent and dissatisfaction with Jon’s command.  It has not established the elements necessary for Jon’s most likely survival route.  Like in the books, there is far too much for Jon to do for him to be “just dead.”

Finally, they can’t hide Kit Harrington for an entire filming schedule unless they plan on cutting him from an entire season.  If Benioff and Weiss took that route would completely shut down any viewer interest in the already tangential-seeming plot at the Wall.  It would also raise the same problems with the cliffhanger if they bring Harrington back the following season.

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe

 

 

Game of Thrones Power Rankings Season 5 Episode 2

The first time that the television version of A Song of Ice and Fire deviated from the books was in Daenerys’ story in Season 2.  Most of the deviations since have either condensed storylines or raised the stakes in plotlines that would be difficult to adapt to television.  Last night the plot of A Feast for Crows was essentially thrown out in favor of a new storyline.  I’m looking forward to how it plays out.  In the meantime – Power Rankings:


Lannister

1. House Lannister (Last Week – #1)

It isn’t perfect, but Cersei is consolidating her power.  She’s assigned members of the Small Council that she can control.  She’s manipulated Jaime into leaving King’s Landing and her uncle Kevan is on his way back to the Rock.  There is no one left to oppose her at the moment.

Targaryen-22. House Targaryen (Last Week – #3)

Daenerys is finding that ruling isn’t easy.  Her actions last night won’t appease the former masters and have angered the former slaves.  Drogon’s appearance reminded the audience that she isn’t without a reserve of power though, so no matter how much of a mess she makes of Meereen there are always other options.

Martell-2

3. House Martell (Last Week – #7)

Dorne is angry, and when the Dornish are angry they are at their most dangerous.  Doran Martell will do his best to keep the fire under control – for now.  In any event, now that the television show has introduced more of House Martell we can give them their proper due in these Power Rankings.

Night's Watch-2

4. The Night’s Watch (Last Week – #6)

Jon is in high demand.  He can either become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch or Lord of Winterfell.  His decision will affect the destiny of both Stannis’ army and the brothers in black.

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5. House Tyrell (Last Week – #2)

Margaery may be working on something, but her father is still the head of House Tyrell.  As long as he is good and bribed by Cersei, his daughter’s ability to maneuver will be limited.

Baratheon-3

6. House Baratheon (Last Week – #3)

Stannis’ momentum has stalled.  The Wildlings won’t fight for him, so he’s trying to use Jon to get the North on his side.  He might be out of moves if that doesn’t work.

Bolton

7. House Bolton (Last Week – #5)

The Rooster still holds Winterfell.  No one has moved against him yet, but it’s clear that he has enemies on all sides waiting to strike.

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8. The Meereenese (Last Week – #8)

On the minus side, the Unsullied are making progress in hunting the Sons of the Harpy.  On the plus side, Daenerys is now less popular with the former slave class than she was a week ago.  It’s a wash.

Arryn

9. House Arryn (Last Week – #9)

What is Littlefinger up to?  We’re through the looking glass here people (a.k.a. really far off-book).

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10. House Stark (Last Week – NR)

Arya is making progress in Braavos. And who does Brienne of Tarth serve – Stark or Lannister?  I think she’s allied with Sansa at this point whether Sansa wants her or not.

Also receiving votes: House Lannister in Exile, House Greyjoy, The Free Folk, the White Walkers, the Titan of Braavos, Littlefinger’s goons, Ser Pounce, snake-in-a-box, Drogon the Dragon, and hopefully being done with setup episodes.

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Power Rankings – Season 5, Episode 1

And we’re back!  As usual, the first episode of the season was primarily showing us the aftermath of the final events of last season and setting the pieces for the titular “Wars to Come.”  With that said, let’s jump right into the Power Rankings:

Lannister

1. House Lannister (Preseason Ranking – #1)

Jaime is right.  He was never his father’s biggest fan, but without Tywin scaring everyone in Westeros into their place, Jaime’s son is surrounded by enemies looking for an opening.  Try telling that to his sister – who is still obsessed with Tyrion.

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 2. House Tyrell (Preseason Ranking – #3)

First among the enemies plotting against the Lannister twin hegemony is House Tyrell.  Lady Margaery sees an opening and is thinking about how to exploit it.  First she needs an ally.

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3. House Baratheon (Preseason Ranking – #4)

Stannis needs a bigger army.  He tried convincing his newly conquered foes to join him through diplomacy, but now he’s trying scaring the living hell out of them.  Even so, he now has a legitimate power base and a plan that goes beyond hanging out on the beach and lighting his allies on fire.

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4. House Targaryen (Preseason Ranking – #2)

Who is Daenerys if she can’t control her dragons?  She hasn’t figured that out yet.  Right now, she says that she isn’t a politician, but she’d better start becoming one if she wants to get Meereen under control.

Bolton

5. House Bolton (Preseason Ranking – #6)

The Rooster has taken residence in Winterfell but he is surrounded by dangerous enemies.  His strongest ally is about to become worm food.  Sure he has an unpredictable psychopath at his side, but he can only rely on that particular tiger for so long before he finds himself eaten.

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6. The Night’s Watch (Preseason Ranking – #10)

The Night’s Watch hasn’t chosen its Lord Commander yet, but Jon Snow has the ear of Stannis and the loyalty of his men.  We’ll see what happens but they are in a solid position for the time being.

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7. House Martell (Preseason Ranking – #7)

We have to wait until next Sunday to visit Dorne for the first time and learn the next moves of House Martell.  I wish they would have rolled it out in the premiere but I can wait another week (I think).

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8. The Meereenese (Preseason Ranking – NR)

Here come the Sons of the Harpy to sow uncertainty and doubt.  The Mother of Dragons has shown she can defeat armies and sack cities, but can she handle guerrilla resistance?

Arryn

9. House Arryn (Preseason Ranking – #5)

What is Littlefinger up to? He’s left the Lords of the Vale with the unenviable task of training Robin Arryn and left with Sansa to parts unknown.  Can we even describe him as in control of these guys anymore?

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10. House Lannister in Exile (Preseason Ranking – #8)

For Tyrion’s sigil, I’ve flipped the Lannister colors in the tradition of rebel houses in Song of Ice and Fire.  I’ve also changed the “house words” to the unofficial Lannister motto since it better suits Tyrion.  That being said, he’s not going to find what he’s looking for in the bottom of a bottle.

Also receiving votes: House Stark, House Greyjoy, the White Walkers, the Free Folk, Ser Pounce, Pod’s magic pod, and too much information about a month in a box.

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 5 – Preseason Power Rankings

Here we are! Tomorrow’s Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones will begin our descent into A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.  But first, preseason power rankings:

Lannister

1. House Lannister (End of Last Season – #10)

Chaos is the real ruler of the Seven Kingdoms these days, but as long as Tommen Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne he will be little more than a puppet to Cersei Lannister.

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2. House Targaryen (End of Last Season – #6)

Daenerys has demonstrated that she has the ability to command armies.  Does she have what it takes to rule a city? We’ll find out.

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3. House Tyrell (End of Last Season – #8)

The Lords of Highgarden escaped last season largely unscathed – even after they took care of Joffrey.  No one in this world remains unscathed for long though.

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4. House Baratheon (End of Last Season – #3)

Right now, anyone who has an established base of operations is in a good position.  Stannis got himself one of those in a big way at the end of last season.

Arryn

5. House Arryn (End of Last Season – #2)

Littlefinger has secured himself a power base for the time being.  His control is entirely dependent on Sansa and the Lords of the Vale playing along, so his position isn’t as strong as the the top four above.

Bolton

6. House Bolton (End of Last Season – #7)

The Boltons just moved into Winterfell.  We’ll see how long they can rule the North through brute force and fear without Tywin Lannister backing them.

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7. House Martell (End of Last Season – NR)

Rounding out our players with a real base of power comes House Martell.  They are in the back of the pack for now because they haven’t made very many moves in the game – yet.

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8. House Lannister in Exile (End of Last Season – #1)

Now we get into our Wild Cards.  The first is Tyrion Lannister.  He’s pretty far removed from the game at the moment, but made a huge exit.  He’s far more dangerous now than when he was playing along.

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9. House Stark (End of Last Season – #4)

Bran Stark just met up with the powerful Bloodraven, but we won’t be seeing him this season apparently.  Arya is the main focus this season for the direwolves.

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10. The Night’s Watch (End of Last Season – #5)

Jon has less than 100 men and now has to make friends with an emotionless potato and his fire-worshipping minions.  Oh boy.

Also receiving votes: House Greyjoy, the Meereenese, the White Walkers, The Free Folk, Ser Pounce, necromancy, pyromancy, Lollys Stokeworth, Cthulhu, and George R.R. Martin hopefully finishing Winds of Winter soon.

Oh and there are new, original sigils for a few other groups!  The Free Folk/Wildlings, the White Walkers/Others, House Greyjoy, and Meereenese:

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe