Speculations on A Song of Ice and Fire
A Dream of Spring
(This synopsis by necessity involves far more speculation than the last one. I have primarily used the concept of repeating events as a guide. GRRM is fond of Mark Twain’s quote ‘history doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes’. That does not mean that all previous events in the novels will be repeated, or that no new ones will take place. Also, events are not going to be duplicated in every detail, only in the broad patterns. Events do not necessarily take place in chapter order.)
A Dream of Spring jumps backward in time a few weeks. After surviving Dany’s test Jon is understandably angry. He accuses Arya of betraying him, an accusation that causes her a great deal of pain. Dany assures him that it was all her idea. The dragons are approached to obtain their approval. Much to Dany’s surprise, Drogon chooses Jon. Arya bonds with Viserion and Dany with Rhaegal.
Kings Landing has been invested. The Unsullied are besieging the city and Grey Worm has arrived at Dragonstone with a number of southern lords, Olenna and the Sand Snakes among them.
After some argument Jon agrees to marry the two. Benerro, the head red priest from Volantis and incidentally the highest priest of R’hllor, arrives rather unexpectedly. He has some sharp words for Melisandre and it is clear Mel has been going her own way for some time. Arya also sees through the glamor to reveal that Benerro too is ancient. He admits that he is the founder of the Faith of R’hllor and has lived longer than any other mortal on the planet. Benerro conducts the wedding ceremony according to ancient Valyrian tradition.
Quaithe, otherwise known as Ashara Dayne, appears. She gives Jon the sword Dawn. He is now the Sword of the Morning. She explains to him the reason for faking her own death and why Ned came to her after his birth. She had at first refused to take the baby, but then had second thoughts. She decided that she would be Jon’s adoptive mother even though he didn’t even know she existed. She went to Asshai to learn magic and dedicated her life to aiding him however she could. However, she also thought it unwise both for his sake and her own to aid him directly. So she chose to aid the two she knew would be his assistants. The Dragon must have Three Heads. Beyond helping him save the world they were to share his life and bear his children. She implies that she has connections with the Faceless Men. Quaithe obviously knows far more than she is telling. More even than any of the Red Priests.
Dark Sister had been found in Bloodraven’s cave by Meera. She gave it to Jon, who then gave it to Dany. Dany then hands it on to Arya, knowing she herself can't use it. Jon returns Long Claw to Jorah after he receives Dawn. Sam gives Heartsbane to the Hound because Sam is no good with swords. Tyrion, Sam, Gilly, Gendry, Ebrose, and Davos travelled with Jon.
Jon adopts a new name. His birth name was Jaehaerys. Wanting to recognize both his fathers he chooses a new family name that honors both. Arya and Daenerys are thus the last of their Houses, Sansa having married Harry Hardyng.
The three enjoy only a brief honeymoon and then separate; Jon going North, Arya flying off to run the siege of Kings Landing, and Dany remaining at Dragonstone to run the kingdom. Davos leaves to join Jon in the North and most of the collected High Born go with him. Lady Olenna returns to Highgarden to fix the mess Jamie left it in. The Sand Snakes go with her. The Hound and Thoros stay with Arya, who takes most of the remaining army to Kings Landing. Tyrion, Quaithe, Ebrose, Melisandre, Benerro, Moqorro, Gendry, Sam, and Gilly remain on Dragonstone. Sam, Ebrose, and the Red Priests invade the library hoping to find information.
Kings Landing I
Daenerys sent a sarcastic invitation to her wedding to Cersei. Cersei almost falls for it, but Jamie manages to convince her that it is a trap. The two are witness to a demonstration by Arya. As a means of breaking the city’s morale, Arya takes captured Lannisters who had been caught in banditry and then personally executes them in combat. Her against them all. She does this every single day, increasing the number of her opponents each time. But no matter how many she fights she always wins. It has the desired effect on the Lannisters. Jamie tells Cersei that Arya is the greatest fighter he’s ever seen. Better even than Arthur Dayne or Barristan Selmy. He urges her to surrender, but she will not hear of it.
Arya is feeling very lonely and sick from all the killing. She wants to go to Jon, but nobody knows where he is. So she flies off to Dragonstone.
The North I
Jon arrives at Winterfell to organize the defense. He has his work cut out for him. Most of the High Born still don’t believe in the Others. He gets little cooperation and even less from the southern lords when they finally arrive. Aside from sending more food to the Night’s Watch, he is unable to get them to move. Until he starts visiting them on his dragon.
Dragonstone II/The North II
Arya arrives to have more sexy time with Dany, who is more than willing to take a break. It is not only Jon who keeps running into intransigence. Dany happily dumps the problem in Tyrion’s lap as she and her sister-queen enjoy each other’s company. Arya’s sudden disappearance alarmed their followers and they sent a message to Jon. He also flies to Dragonstone expecting an emergency, but the two ladies make clear that what they want is more time together. With him.
It is now that Hardhome explodes. Sam explains what likely happened, that there was a volcanic eruption. Everyone else has a hard time believing it. When ash starts to fall from the sky and a huge wave wrecks the harbor they begin to. Seeing the ash, Dany goes to see Quaithe.
Jon and Arya fly off north to find out what’s happened. They run into Tormund as he flees the Wall. They continue only to fly into an ambush. The Others are waiting for them with special weapons made specifically to kill dragons. Arya and Viserion are wounded, but they all manage to escape. Arya is dying from a powerful attack by the Others that has, as Benerro says, ‘Put the cold of winter in her.’ Only by feeding her dragon’s blood is Arya’s life saved. The fact the Others were ready for them is not lost on anyone.
Arya sees Quaithe, confronting her over her ties to the Faceless Men. Quaithe tells her that she managed her accomplishments all on her own. Quaithe only provided the opportunities. Arya is shocked to find that Quaithe has stolen Dawn. Quaithe tells her that she will answer all her questions, but first Arya must do her a favor. Arya suddenly cannot move. Quaithe, having given Dawn to Arya, proceeds to impale herself on it. Understandably, Arya is horrified. Quaithe had used her as a puppet and she was helpless to stop her. Her suicide mystifies them all. Melisandre speculates that it is because she believed in the Azor Ahai prophecy. Quaithe didn’t want Jon to have to sacrifice one of his two wives. Jon doesn’t believe in the prophecy. Later, as they burn her body, the Red Priests discuss Quaithe’s motives. It is Moqorro who says that she wanted to die. She didn’t want Jon or anyone else relying on her for answers.
Sam says he has discovered the way to make Valyrian steel. Despite doubts, Gendry tries it. The result isn’t quite as good, for they don’t know the spells the Valyrians used when making it and wouldn’t want to use them even if they did. They require human sacrifice. It is, nonetheless, far better than castle forged steel. Sometimes it is referred to as dragon steel, but most people just call it Valyrian steel. Due to a lack of materials Jon has the Iron Throne melted down to make more of it.
The North III
Nobody doubts the Others now. The Night’s Watch is gone along with the Wall. There is nothing holding the Others at bay. Jon orders the entire North abandoned. This is not at all popular, but Jon knows there is nothing, not even castle walls, that can hold back the Others now. He sends the Dothraki, who have marched north to join him, to harass the dead army and hopefully slow it down. He then orders all the armies of Westeros with the exception of those needed at Kings Landing, to form a line at the Neck. They are to build a New Wall from The Bite to the Cape of Eagles.
Kings Landing II
Arya has recovered sufficiently to retake command of the siege of Kings Landing. Against objections, she infiltrates the Red Keep. After finding and killing Qyburn, she goes after Cersei. Cersei manages to buy enough time by revealing Littlefinger’s treachery in order to unleash the Mountain. Arya escapes with the help of Viserion.
The Vale I
Arya flies to the Vale where she spills the beans to Sansa. Sansa then stabs Littlefinger with the Catspaw Dagger and has Brienne throw him out the Moon Door. Sansa gives the Catspaw Dagger to Arya and pledges the Vale to Jon.
Kings Landing III
While Arya’s gone Cersei sends a message to Dany inviting her to a meeting at the Dragonpit. It is a trap, but unfortunately for Cersei, Dany, who has several times her brains, knows it. Cersei ignites the wildfire under the pit, but Dany is easily able to fly away. The fire spreads to Kings Landing. Cersei then sets off more wildfire under the Red Keep to cover her escape. She sails away as Kings Landing is burned to the ground. Jamie refuses to go with her and instead tries to escape on his own. He is captured by Bronn. The Mountain has vanished along with the rest of Cersei’s Queensguard.
Jamie is brought to Daenerys and Arya. Arya does her best to provoke him, but he manages to keep his cool. To the surprise of all, she then announces that, out of consideration for his brother, Jamie’s life will be spared. But he is stripped of all his lands and titles. Jamie pledges his loyalty to Daenerys.
Cersei has made it to Essos and joined forces with Illyrio Mopatis. He is organizing the slavers into an attack on Dany to take advantage of the situation. The fact that the War for the Dawn will also engulf Essos is not yet apparent. Cersei certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade him. She cares nothing about the Others. Revenge is now her sole motivation.
Most sellswords in Essos, especially the Golden Company, have joined them. Only those companies which serve Dany in the Bay of Dragons are exceptions.
Kings Landing IV
Arya is sent to Essos to fight the slavers. Unfortunately, Jon has already summoned the Unsullied and most of the troops in the south. Only those Dothraki who are actually at Dragonstone and a small contingent of Dornish spearmen are available. Bronn and his sellswords get included. When they leave Dragonstone will be defenseless, except for Rhaegal. With her go Sandor, Jamie, and Jorah.
Asha has unified all the remaining fleets of Westeros into one great fleet. She is to clear the narrow sea of slavers and pirates and aid Arya as best she can. This is not a duty Asha relishes, for she has not forgiven Arya for the death of Theon.
The North IV/The Neck I
Things are going wrong for Jon already. His men have no effective weapons against the wights than fire. Thousands of Dothraki are killed trying to stop them, but they only add to their numbers. Fortunately, most of the people have managed to reach the south. Unfortunately, they aren’t very welcome. Food is already running short, even in the Reach. This is compounded by the ash cloud, which is rapidly covering Westeros in an unbreakable blanket, blotting out the sun.
The Wall at The Neck soon proves its worth. Jon has devised it well. He makes extensive use of pitch and tar to form a barrier of fire in front of it. Plus, he institutes a policy of having each man on duty for only a few days before switching them. Thus, he maintains a strong defense that the Others have yet to break. But Jon does anticipate problems. He sends an order to the pyromancers for all the wildfire they can make.
Jon has already noticed that the Others only move when it’s dark or there’s bad weather. Obviously, the Others hate the sun, but he doesn’t know why. Bran tells him that sunlight is lethal to the Others. Jon speculates on whether they caused Hardhome. Bran tells him that not even the Valyrians were powerful enough to do that.
Arya’s army arrives outside the city. Pentos surrenders immediately. Illyrio has already fled. Arya gives Pentos an ultimatum: end all forced servitude or face dragonfire. There is no argument. Ships from Braavos arrive just in time to offer Arya their support to defeat their old enemy after the city has already fallen. She adds the Braavosi to her army.
Arya next sends Jamie and the Hound after Cersei. Jamie knows the Hound has orders to kill him if he should revert to his previous allegiance.
Arya leads her army into the Disputed Lands knowing she is surrounded by enemies. But Arya has a plan. Her first challenge is the very Golden Company she allowed to leave Storms End. Her battle plan is one she uses repeatedly; as Jorah explains to Bronn – ‘Most commanders try to have their army achieve what they want. She plans her battles according to what her army can do.’ It’s rather simple. Arya understands, as even Daenerys seems to forget sometimes, that a dragon’s greatest advantage isn’t its breath, but its wings. She takes maximum advantage of this. She follows their march and counts their numbers. Knowing her enemy is used to facing the Dothraki and their tactics, she places them on a convenient hill. The enemy assumes the Dothraki will attack them, because that is the nature of Dothraki and you don’t use cavalry to defend anyway. With her opponents attention thus distracted, she flies around them using the terrain to stay hidden. She targets any siege weapons they have as these are the only ones capable of harming her dragon, for Viserion is now old enough and large enough for mere arrows to bounce off his scales. She then pummels her opponent. With the enemy in chaos Jorah gives the signal and the Dothraki charge. The end is a massacre. Arya personally hunts down Harry Strickland and takes back Blackfyre. After the battle Jorah hands Arya the banner of the Golden Company. She flings it into the fire.
With the Golden Company ashes her army then goes on to smash the ones from Norvos and Qohor in turn. (No mention is made over whether Qohor’s Unsullied are included in this.) Her victories are so total that word of them is slow to get out.
The main army of Volantis marches toward her. It is the largest army Essos has seen in centuries. Cersei and Illyrio are with them. When the Volantene commander brags how his army will destroy the Valonqar, the derisive term the slavers are calling Arya, Cersei tells him ‘by this time tomorrow your army will be ashes. And so will you.’ She abandons the army and Illyrio goes with her. When he asks her why she says ‘I underestimated the Starks once. Not again.’ Her prediction comes true. Changing her tactics, Arya launches a sneak attack in the middle of the night. The end result is the same as before.
Arya never sits on her laurels. Driving her army hard, she immediately sets out to destroy the combined forces of the Three Daughters - Myr, Tyrosh, and Lys. They are unprepared for her arrival and she annihilates them with ease. Her victories have not brought her joy though. Jorah asks her why. She has won more victories than Robert Baratheon ever did. And with a smaller army. Arya knows this, just as she also knows that every man she kills is one less to fight against the dead.
The three cities of the Triarchy each race to make peace with Arya first. What follows is something of a comedy of errors as they don’t know that Dany taught Arya High Valyrian. Qohor and Norvos also send envoys. That leaves only Volantis, for in the east Daario has led the army of Meereen to victory against Volantis’ other allies.
Volantis still has an army to send though. Their first army was composed of slave soldiers. The second is entirely of free men. They have also gathered every war elephant they can. Arya has once more stationed her Dothraki to meet it. But this time there is a catch. There is no hill for them to stand on. Another arrogant Volantene noble believes victory is assured and sends his elephants charging at her. But unlike him, Arya has taken note of the ground and of the wind. Viserion burns the grass in front of her army, which the wind sends racing at the elephants. They panic, stampeding back through the Volantene army, causing it more harm than to their enemy. The flames now hit the army as well and, in its wake, come the Dothraki with Viserion above them. It is a final massacre.
Cersei finds being on the run not to her liking. Illyrio might have used Salador San to aid her escape, but that doesn’t mean he actually considers her to be of any value. She finally learns what it means to be truly powerless. She has no friends. No allies. The slavers keep her alive, but only in the hopes of using her as a puppet and to annoy Dany. They do not listen to her and ignore all her advice. Nobody cares that she was the daughter of Tywin Lannister.
She hears repeatedly of the Valonqar, but has too much pride to ask who it is. Only by listening to Illyrio’s servants does she realize it is Arya. It is a derisive nickname the slavers have given her, but it is one she embraces, along with the more appropriate She Wolf of Winterfell. And the more Cersei hears about her the more afraid she becomes.
She flees from one place to another, convinced enemies are on her tail. And she’s not wrong. The Hound and Jamie are just one step behind. She even plans an ambush to kill them, but they fight through it. In their effort to chase her down the duo go from Pentos, to Myr, to Lys, all the way to Volantis itself. They even run into Daario, who is plotting to make a deal with the Volantene leader. They succeed. The leader of the Volantene army, who has escaped the destruction of his force, betrays Cersei in return for Arya sparing the city. The two men drag her back to Arya, who locks her in a cage. Then, after ordering Jorah to bring the army back to Dragonstone, she flies off with Cersei.
Dany’s problems haven’t improved. The lords of Westeros are very up on her living up to her responsibilities. They aren’t so good at living up to their own. Aside from a plague of bandits and deserters making the realm a living hell for most people, she also has to deal with a rep from the Iron Bank. The Bank is demanding that Dany pay back the debts owed by the crown. But as Dany correctly mentions, she never borrowed anything from the Iron Bank and those who did were all her enemies. They don’t care. To them the debt is owed by Westeros. She does care. She will not be indebted to people who until very recently helped to fund those trying to murder her.
Her mood is not helped by the arrival of Sansa. It is hate at first sight. Sansa clearly has no love for the Targaryens, Jon included. And she is deeply offended by Arya pledging her loyalty to Dany. But what most ticks her off, as Dany correctly surmises, is that Jon married Daenerys instead of her. Dany is his aunt. Even though marriage between aunt and nephew or uncle and niece is not unheard of, it is uncommon. Besides, Sansa has never given up on being Queen and views Dany as having usurped her place.
The Sand Snakes, who are acting as Dany protectors, don’t help. They don’t like Sansa either and take every opportunity to antagonize her when possible. This puts them on Brienne’s bad side. More than once Brienne and Obara nearly come to blows.
All of this makes Dany, who has lost most of her former companions, feel more and more lonely. She spends increasing amounts of time with Rhaegal. Tyrion fears she is neglecting her duties. Tyrion himself becomes a problem. He has fallen in love with Dany and is intensely jealous of Jon. The revelation of Jon’s true parentage has only increased Tyrion’s resentment. He is one of the few who welcomes Sansa.
Dany has formed her own Small Council. Tyrion remains as Hand, though Jon and Arya aren’t too happy about it. Olenna returns to act as Master of Coin, though she insists that she doesn’t want the job. Asha is Master of Ships and spends most of her time at sea. Davos is made Master of Laws, but he acts more like Jon’s overseer. Arya is named Master of Whisperers, but until she returns from Essos the job remains unfilled.
Dany isn’t as alone as she believes. The direwolves, Ghost and Nymeria, came south with Jon and Arya. The two left the direwolves on Dragonstone specifically to protect Dany. The two don’t like the dragons much and avoid them when possible. But they are allowed to wander the castle freely. They appear at very uncomfortable moments for people, not least Sansa.
Before Arya returns from Essos there is at least one assassination attempt on Dany, which Tyene sniffs out. Dany accuses the Iron Bank of being behind it, but Tycho denies involvement.
Arya’s triumphant return is the first good news Dany has gotten in a long time. Cersei didn’t like her trip and tries to attack Dany, though it is a little difficult. Nobody has any sympathy for her except Tyrion. Ironically, he is the only one who cares about how his sister was treated. Arya returns Blackfyre to its rightful owner despite Dany not knowing how to use it. After renewing her acquaintanceship with Dany, Arya flies off north. She leaves Jamie and Sandor to protect Dany.
The Neck II
Jon welcomes Arya’s arrival, but it doesn’t change anything. Even though the ash cloud makes it impossible, the Reach lords are demanding that their men be allowed to go home to grow crops.
Reports have come in that the sea itself is beginning to freeze over. Something which has not happened since the last Long Night. Asha arrives too. She has been just as successful defeating the slavers at sea as Arya was on land. Having no opposition, Jon assigns her to ship food to Westeros. As part of their agreement with Arya, the Free Cities agreed to supply food to Westeros for the length of the Long Night. This does not sit well with Asha as she sees it as beneath the dignity of Ironborn. So is shuttling refugees, which Jon also gives her. Many have fled to the Iron Islands, believing them safe. But when word reaches Jon that both Bear Island and Skagos are no longer inhabitable due to the sea freezing, he knows the Islands are no longer safe either. In addition, the New Wall is not likely to hold back the dead for much longer as the ice will allow them to bypass it. Jon sends men south to build a new New Wall for when this one falls.
Dany suddenly appears and, after driving out all Jon’s underlings, announces to her spouses that she’s pregnant. The three allow themselves a short celebration.
Jon has the court move to Harrenhal, not only to put it closer to the action, but also to turn over Dragonstone to the refugees. Dragonstone is the only place south of Winterfell that stays warm in even the coldest weather. Most refugees though keep going south to Dorne or take ship for Essos.
Harrenhal I/Kings Landing V
All the named characters now conglomerate here. A messenger arrives with Daario. Stories and refugees are now showing up in Meereen. People say that the dead have suddenly awakened in Yi Ti. The Five Forts are being besieged by demons. Jon and co now know that this Long Night is covering the world. Nowhere, not even Dorne is safe. The messenger tells Dany that the Dothraki too are being assaulted by the dead. Only warriors went to Essos. The Dothraki’s families and slaves remained in the Dothraki Sea. But not even the Sea can protect them. With great reluctance, Jon agrees to allow the Dothraki to return to their homeland.
Despite the danger of the situation, ordinary intrigue hasn’t abated. Word of Dany’s pregnancy is not a cause for celebration for some. Both Sansa and Tyrion are most unhappy about it. Sansa learned a lot from Cersei and Littlefinger. And she’s going to demonstrate it. Tyrion realizes what she is up to, but does nothing to stop her. Sansa tries to trick Dany into drinking moon tea. Arya though catches her in time. Outraged, Jon banishes her back to the Eyrie. Brienne and Pod go with her. Not as her followers, but as her jailors. Tyrion is stripped of his office and is cast out of Dany’s service.
Before he leaves he sees his sister, who was thrown into the dungeons of Harrenhal when the court moved. She begs him as her brother to deliver a note to a child in what is left of Kings Landing. Because the note appears to be nonsense, and because she is obviously losing her mind as it is, he agrees. After all, what harm could it do? What he doesn’t understand is that the Mountain and Cersei’s former guards are hiding in the ruins. So are several of Varys’ Little Birds. And they’re all different. Qyburn, before he died, did something to them. He instructed Cersei on how to control them.
The Neck III
Jon’s army is forced to abandon the New Wall. Grey Worm is killed. As they flee south they are saved by Arya and Jon on their dragons. The troops make it to the next New Wall, but the sea is already freezing even further south. Jon has his men make even more defenses, concentrating on the Kings Road for they no longer have The Neck to protect them.
While Jon is away the Mountain, the Little Birds, and Cersei’s guards invade. Their objective is Daenerys. None of the dragons are there because Jon needs all of them to slow down the dead. He demonstrates that he can control all the dragons at the same time.
Jamie is killed by the Mountain while protecting Dany. Jorah and Tyene are killed too. Dany is almost killed, but she is saved by the direwolves. Ghost especially. Incredibly, his fangs burn the flesh of the dead, even the Mountain’s. Arya arrives in time to fight the Mountain. To the shock of all, when she stabs him with the Catspaw Dagger he falls down dead. Permanently this time. Bran tells her that Visenya made the dagger herself. Dany goes into premature labor because of the battle. Both she and the babe survive.
Obara takes great delight in telling Cersei that her precious brother was killed by her own monster. For Cersei this is the last straw. She has gone totally mad.
Arya discovers Cersei’s note on one of the Little Birds. She accuses Tyrion of treason. He demands a trial by combat. She points out that Tommen outlawed the practice. He replies that Tommen wasn’t a legitimate king. Dany allows it, but declares Arya the crown’s champion. Nobody in their right mind would fight her for his sake, even if they were so inclined. He is forced to fight her himself and he is very nimble. Still, he has no hope against her. After toying with him, she finally decides to finish it. When she is on the verge of killing him Dany yells ‘STOP!’ She says that this was all part of Cersei’s plan. Dany pardons Tyrion, but he has to go.
Expecting the dead to march straight to Harrenhal, they are surprised to learn the Others have changed course. They are going north to the Vale instead. Jon wants to burn them in the pass, but Bran tells him he has to go to Winterfell. With the aid of the Red Priests, Bran finally convinces Jon that he must go into the crypts for there is a secret there he must learn. And he has to take the horn he found with him.
Jon, Arya, and Dany fly to Winterfell, which is abandoned. Bran warned them that the Others will know of their journey and will send whatever forces they have to stop them. The three go into the deepest depths of the crypts, having to work hard to get past obstructions. They are surprised to find Dawn glowing with its own light, something it hasn’t done before. On reaching the bottom most level they are shocked to find greenseers tangled into the roots of Winterfell’s weirwood tree. The eldest of these creatures, who has barely any life left in him, excoriates them. They broke the Pact. When asked why, he tells them that one of their blood must always remain in Winterfell. When Bran and Rickon fled there were no Starks left. This broke the spell holding up the Wall. It matters not that they left unwillingly. Once the spell is broken it can never be remade. The Wall was doomed from that moment. Hardhome merely speeded up the process.
The greenseer tells them that the magic that made the Wall still exists, even if weakened. And if the Others get their hands in it there will be no way to defeat them. Jon asks if he can use the magic, but the greenseer tells him that trying it will only destroy Westeros. He must destroy the Black Stone, located in that very room, to prevent it from ever being used again. Jon wants to know how to defeat the Others, but the greenseer doesn’t know, telling him only that his blood will find the answer. Jon uses the Horn, the Horn of Joramun, to smash the Stone. The crypts collapse, taking all of Winterfell with them. Jon, Arya, and Dany barely escape in time.
On exiting they find the Others waiting for them. Jon holds them off as the women mount. Dawn is like a new sword. It shines brighter the closer it gets to the dead. Wights combust with just a touch. The Others discover that it is their weapons which shatter on hitting Dawn and not the other way around. Jon has to be practically dragged to Drogon to get him to leave. Unfortunately, Drogon is wounded as they fly away. The wound appears minor, but it is poisoned. As Benerro later tells them, there is no antidote. Drogon barely has the strength to get back to Harrenhal.
The Bloody Gate, which has stopped all human armies, stands no chance against the dead. They use their own bodies to get past it. The wights are unstoppable. Not even the Eyrie’s great height can stop them. The Others also invade from the North, for The Blight has completely frozen over. Pod is killed fighting to protect Brienne. Brienne and Sansa are the last ones left, having fled to the highest tower. Arya, unable to abandon her sister, flies in the save them. Jon rescinds his banishment, at least for now.
Harrenhal III/The God’s Eye
The dead are now marching on Harrenhal. Obara is killed. Most of the court flees. Because of Bran, Jon and co go to the God’s Eye. For some reason Bran doesn’t go with them. Meera stays with him and is killed. Bran’s body also dies, but when Jon gets to the God’s Eye they discover that Bran’s mind is still alive.
He tells them that he has transcended his body. He no longer has any mortal limitations. What Bran does not tell them is that when he lost his body his mind entered the weirwood's. He engaged in battle with it, a struggle which almost killed him. He overcame the weirwood mind and severed its link to the Others. But the Others still need to be dealt with.
Jon demands that he tell them how to defeat the Others. Bran tells him this will cause his death, but Jon doesn’t care. Bran tells him that there is a great wierwood tree, the largest of its kind, north of where the Wall once was. This is the Focus, the mind, of the Others. It is the being that gives them life and if it is destroyed they will all die.
But where is it? Nobody has ever seen anything like that. Not even Bran knows. Sam now adds his greatest contribution. He recalls reading in one of the forbidden books an account from thousands of years ago. It was of a traveler north of the Wall who reported seeing a giant tree with dead bodies hanging from its branches. The maesters believe he was mad. Arya believes it was because the tree must have some kind of glamor shielding it. The Focus is located very close to the Fist of the First Men.
Jon is all set to go and find it. But Dany begs him not to. She doesn’t know if this really is the only way to stop the Others, but she does know that she doesn’t want their child growing up without his father. Arya holds him back too. Strangely enough, Sans does also, perhaps finally seeing him as family. He tells them he will find another way.
Arya goes to Cersei, who has been dragged along behind them. Using almost the exact same words as Maggi the Frog, she announces to Cersei that she will kill her. She wanted Cersei to suffer and the best way to do that was not by torture, but by making her feel her utter helplessness. Arya puts her hands around Cersei’s throat and strangles the life from her.
Jon lied. After his queens are asleep he loads up all the wildfire he has on Rhaegal’s back and flies north. Bran will be his eyes, allowing him to see through the glamor over the Focus. When they find him gone the queens follow, though Tormund tries to stop them. Melisandre goes with them.
Jon finds the Focus is not near the Fist of the First Men. It IS the Fist of the First Men. Bran allows him to see through the glamor and when he does he is appalled. The weirwood is not only the biggest ever, it is so large that literally thousands of corpses hang from its branches. Bran tells him that the bodies are actually the remains of the infants the Others have kidnapped. Once they are attached to the Focus it is able to create a new body made of ice from each one. The bodies are then inhabited by the minds of the weirwoods. In other words, the Others were the wierwoods all along.
Rhaegal tries to burn the Focus, but it is covered in an invisible dome of ice that not even dragonfire can melt. Jon is forced to land. He discovers that the Focus is hardly undefended. There are dozens of Others and thousands of wights surrounding it. Using the last kidnapped infant the Focus makes a new body for itself: a Queen of the Others. With their magic, the collected Others create an ice dragon, one larger than even Balerion.
It is now that Dany, Arya, and Mel arrive on Viserion. Drogon has managed to fly after them, though he is too weak to take wing once there. Mel commands them to burn her as she casts a spell. The spell protects them from the magic of the Others, but it is only temporary. Bran links Arya and Dany’s minds together so that Dany will benefit from Arya’s training.
The battle commences with Jon facing the Ice Queen, while Rhaegal and Viserion fight the ice dragon. Drogon and the two queens hold off the wights. Powerful as it is, not even Dawn can break through the Ice Queen’s defenses. Jon has to struggle for his life. The ice dragon manages to pin Viserion to the ground. It freezes the beige dragon with its breath. Arya is heartbroken, but Bran tells her to strike now. With Bran’s help, Arya throws the Catspaw Dagger into its eye, killing it instantly. With the death of his brother Rhaegal does a suicide dive right at the Focus. He smashes through the shield protecting it, but the tree collapses on him when he hits it. This breaks his back. Knowing he won’t last, Rhaegal ignites the wildfire he’s still carrying. The flames destroy the Focus and the Others. Jon cuts down the Ice Queen as she screams in agony.
The death of the Others has not ended their danger. A storm, as if held back by the Focus, is unleashed with its death. After retrieving the Catspaw the three climb aboard an almost dead Drogon. Bran skinchanges into the dragon and manages to fly them south.
With the storm pelting them Bran/Drogon gets them to Winterfell before the poor beast breathes his last. They take shelter in what’s left of the crypts. The castle itself is beyond repair. They find Lyanna’s statue still intact. Jon sarcastically introduces his queens to his mother and asks if marring them was all right with her. The ladies want to share warmth, but Jon has other ideas. They search what’s left of the crypts and find a tomb Ned built for Jon. It has his real name on it. Deciding he can’t desecrate his own tomb, Jon opens it to find three dragon eggs and a note from Ned. In it Ned explains about his birth and why he kept it secret. The eggs were a gift from his father for when he was born.
The storm is gone by the next day. Soon after Sandor leads a party to take them back to Dragonstone.
Just because the war is over doesn’t mean the world is renewed. Winter is still on them, though the eruption ends as soon as the Focus was dead. The sun shines once more. The number of widows and orphans is almost beyond counting and it will take years to rebuild. Jon pardons Sansa, but forbids her from ever being in his presence. She remains Lady of the Vale, though that has little meaning now.
Dany has restructured the whole of Westeros. She takes most of the land from the High Born and gives it to the Small Folk, though there are few High Born left to complain. She forbids them from ever having their own personal armies again and makes it impossible for them to create one. She even strips her own family of power. Following the precedent of Valyria, all freeborn men are granted a vote on local councils to run their affairs. There are a progression of larger councils until there is a High Council for all of Westeros. Sort of like a parliament. She creates an independent judicial system too to assure fair and honest justice for all. The King is now more of a chief executive; more like a constitutional monarchy. The Small Council remains and she names herself Hand of the King.
Asha is granted the title of Princess, as per her agreement with Dany, but it too has little meaning. Tyrion finally gets his greatest wish. He becomes the lord of Casterly Rock. He will continue the Lannister family’s wealth, but as a wine merchant. He and Sansa choose to remarry, though their marriage remains unconsummated. (I have no idea what Tyrion’s future relationship with Penny is or even if she survives.) Tormund becomes a lord of the North. Benerro and Moqorro return to Essos. Thoros stays drunk. The Hound becomes the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. It is expanded with a Queensguard and each queen gets her own. Brienne is on Arya’s. The restriction on maesters having families is ended, so Sam makes one with Gilly and eventually earns his chain. Missandei returns to Meereen with the remains of the Unsullied, for as long as slavery exists anywhere their work is not ended.
The unnatural seasons are over. A year after the Second Long Night ends Jon will look out from his balcony on Dragonstone, because Kings Landing was never rebuilt, with his two wives next to him. Dany will hold her son and Arya will be expecting one. And all three will have dragons on their shoulders.