Winds Of Winter Plot: Book Stannis Isn’t Dead, Doesn’t Have To Die

Team Stannis is shrinking in Game of Thrones Season 5. HBO

The plot set in the North was, far and away, the worst part about Game of Thrones season 5—at least from the perspective of a huge fan of the books. The storyline set in the North (not counting the Wall) changed dramatically from A Dance With Dragons, both for Sansa and for my hero, Stannis Baratheon. The show’s changes led him down a dark road that led to his death. Well, Winds of Winter is a whole different animal. He’s still very much alive, and has a good shot to stay that way.



Winds of Winter Plot: Stannis Is Alive And Could Stay Alive


In Game of Thrones season 5, when things started looking sour, Stannis Baratheon sacrificed his daughter Shireen to the Lord of Light. That led to his wife’s suicide and the total collapse of the morale of all his soldiers. That, in turn, brought about a shattering loss in the Battle of Winterfell, and Stannis’s confirmed death at the hands of Captain Phasma. In the book, that won’t happen: Melisandre isn’t even with him near Winterfell; she’s still at the Wall. Stannis is in a different kind of bad situation: Stuck in heavy snows with little food outside of Winterfell. It looked grim enough that Ramsay Bolton wrote a letter to Jon Snow saying Stannis is dead right at the end of A Dance With Dragons. Well, Ramsay loves tricks, and nobody ever really took it all that seriously.

Besides, we have official word that Stannis is still alive as we go into Winds of Winter. It comes from George R. R. Martin himself, and was dug up by Salon back over the summer. He said on his LiveJournal that Stannis was “alive beyond a doubt” in the books, for now. That’s a pretty clear statement that the Bastard Letter isn’t true—as if there was much doubt on that account.

But will Stannis stay alive? On the one hand, he has a lot more going for him than Game of Thrones Stannis: He hasn’t and won’t sacrifice his daughter, for instance. But he’s still in a pretty sticky situation with regards to the upcoming Battle of Winterfell. His army is… not exactly in fighting shape. On the other hand, the Boltons aren’t doing too great either. It will be a war of attrition. But I’m no tactician; talk to the analyst Brynden Bfish for that, or just check out his stunning analysis of the upcoming battle.

In the show, Stannis’ war is over. In the books, he’s definitely still alive… and he still has a shot, if not necessarily an easy one. Hell, he could still not just survive, but become king. The show made huge changes to his storyline—why should we trust anything it has to say about Stannis, the rightful king?

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