Of all the battles waged across the war-torn land of Westeros, none is more bitter or bloody than the one between fans of HBO’s Game Of Thrones and those of its parent book series, A Song Of Ice And Fire. Show fans tend to think book readers are smug and prone to spoilers, while the irate literati just can’t believe their boob tube-addicted brethren don’t know who Lady Stoneheart is.
Now, even as fans of the show await their moment of ultimate triumph—the April 24 debut of a new season of the show, covering material the oft-delayed books have yet to reach—author George R.R. Martin has emerged from his Distraction Bunker to offer new ammunition to the readers of his sprawling novels: A plot twist the TV show won’t be able to cover, because the Game Of Thrones incarnation of the character in question has already been killed.
Given Martin’s murderous reputation in regards to his fictional children, it may comes as a surprise to learn that he’s actually been a lot more merciful than Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. But it’s true: By the author’s own count, there are roughly a dozen characters still alive in the books who’ve met a grisly end on the show, including major figures like would-be king Stannis Baratheon, who was cut down at the end of the show’s latest season. According to an interview Martin gave to IGN recently, at least one of those lucky few has a part to play in the upcoming The Winds Of Winter, which is still set for a release date of Elaborate Shrug.
Martin had apparently been debating whether to include the twist, but ultimately decided to go ahead with it. Of course, given both the wide number of characters in question, and the absolutely boggling number of fan theories floating out there about them—which range from “Outlaw king Mance Rayder is secretly Daenerys Targaryen’s long-dead brother Rhaegar” to “prophetic waif Jojen Reed has been turned into nutrient paste and fed to Bran Stark to enhance his psychic gifts”—Martin could likely give clues like this all day without anybody actually working it out in advance.