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George R.R. Martin has yet to write that brutal scene from ‘Game of Thrones’

His answer leaves us with even more questions.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 10, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 3:12 pm CDT

This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones fans are still debating that controversial death scene from the latest episode and whether it revealed a character’s fate in The Winds of Winter, leading George R.R. Martin to finally comment on the situation.

Fans were upset that the young Shireen Baratheon got burned alive in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, even though some book readers initially believed that it was a show-only death. But when showrunner David Benioff revealed that Martin told him and Dan Weiss about Shireen in an “Inside the Episode” video, fans of the books were outraged about the prospect of being spoiled for The Winds of Winter

Did the showrunner’s comments mean that Stannis survived the Battle of Winterfell and that Shireen would be sacrificed to the Lord of Light in the yet unpublished text? And if so, would Stannis be so desperate as to sacrifice his only child and heir to turn the tides?

The discussion even made its way into one of Martin’s posts on LiveJournal discussing signed books fans could purchase at the bookstore located at his movie theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Most of the time, he doesn’t allow off-topic Game of Thrones or A Song of Ice and Fire discussion on blog posts and directs fans to other sites where they can talk about it. Sometimes, such as his latest post, he’ll indulge fans with fairly non-spoilery answers.

In a post where Martin answered questions about of Frey inheritance, the Night’s King, and Mace Tyrell, a fan also asked about Shireen’s death and, because of Benioff’s comments, whether Stannis would be the one to do it or even allow it to happen.

“If I start to comment on what might or might not happen in scenes that I have not written yet, I will be ‘spoiling’ my own books,” Martin wrote.

Although Martin’s response didn’t answer that particular fan’s question, there now are a few possibilities that fans can chew on.

1) The scene doesn’t happen in the books

Fans are taking Martin’s suggestion to Benioff and Weiss as meaning it will happen in the books. Although Martin hasn’t written an episode of Game of Thrones since season 4’s “The Lion and the Rose,” he’s still involved in the planning process. Perhaps, at Stannis’s lowest point, doing something as unforgivable such as sacrificing made sense in the show, but not in the books.

2) It will happen but not how it did in the show

Martin would like to finish The Winds of Winter by 2016, but he’s likely got a ways to go until he does. Often, events that happen in both the books and shows aren’t exactly the same. Shireen might burn, but it might not be after a blow from the Boltons—or Stannis might not give consent for it to happen. With him marching on Winterfell at the beginning of The Winds of Winter while Shireen and Melisandre are at the Wall, Melisandre could very well make that decision.

3) It will happen, but he hasn’t gotten around to it or he’s saving it for last

Martin tends to write from one character’s perspective until he hits a wall and then changes viewpoint characters. Assuming that Shireen’s death is canon (even if the manner is in question), there’s a handful of viewpoint characters that could be witnesses, and it’s possible he just hasn’t hit that part in the particular character’s narrative yet.

He famously wrote all of A Storm of Swords before writing the Red Wedding chapter and called it “the hardest scene I’ve ever had to write.” Although Shireen isn’t nearly as big a character as Robb or Catelyn Stark, killing a young and innocent child in such a brutal way could make him wait to write it until he’s written everything else.

Maybe the Red Wedding comparisons aren’t so far off.

H/T Rob Price | Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Jun 10, 2015, 1:48 pm CDT