A Song of Ice and Fire

The Wild Cards in A Song of Ice and Fire

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No, not those Wild Cards! Instead, we thought it might be interesting look at some of the “wild cards” in the series—characters or groups that may well play a major role in the series. In a series with hundreds of characters (more than a thousand named characters, in fact, though many don’t actually have any lines), there’s bound to be some who are more important than others, who have a more significant role to play… but just what that role is is a mystery. Truth be told, even as we started kicking around names, we realized that at this stage the field is wide open… but here’s a few of our favorite wild cards. Note that there are spoilers below for all four published novels to date, as we discuss where we last saw the characters and speculate as to where they may be going. Also, note, this is in no particular order!

Note that there are spoilers below for all four published novels to date, as we discuss where we last saw the characters and speculate as to where they may be going. Also, note, this is in no particular order!

Lady Stoneheart: What a wicked author GRRM is, to do something like that to such a beautifully realized, realistically-flawed character. Death was not kind to Catelyn Stark, and suffering the destruction of her beloved family was simply too much for her mind. She was resurrected by Beric Dondarrion after she had been dead an entire day and then her corpse spent even more time in the river before Nymeria (yes, Arya’s direwolf) dragged it to shore. The strange magic that breathed fiery life into Beric (and slowly stripped away his memories and humanity) passed from him, giving him the final death he had begun to crave, and gave it to Catelyn. Made horrific by the ordeal, and apparently still mad, her rage knows no bound—she wants vengeance for what happened to her and hers, at any cost. Freys start dropping like flies… and then she gets her hands on Brienne. Lets just say that regardless of how Brienne’s cliffhanger goes, Lady Stoneheart isn’t done. How many more Freys will she bring down before the end? The family may be large, but by ones and twos its dwindling. Even in A Feast for Crows, she takes her toll, with her supporters being behind the death of Ser Ryman Frey, Lord Walder’s heir. More than that, though, what’s her place in the larger story? Let me put forward a very out-there theory: just as Beric was able to pass the fire of life to her, I believe her ultimate role (besides being a spirit of vengeance) is to finally give up her second life to resurrect someone else. Someone who we hope won’t actually become mad from the process. I hope that if that comes to pass, it’ll be one of her children—Sansa, say—because above all things else, she was a mother.

Arya Stark: Can’t leave out everyone’s favorite young sociopath. Having left the Hound to die, she’s now in Braavos, serving the Many-Faced God… and waking up blind one morning, unable to see. Now, if you paid attention to her chapters, it should be clear that this is part of her indoctrination or training into the Faceless Men, to sharpen her senses. But it does rather imply that she’s on that path. She’s very young, of course, so whether she’ll get the whole benefit of their training is enough. But just some of it could go a long way… or could very well be disastrous. Just enough to make her dangerous, too little to make her trustworthy, would be very, very bad for some. She’s a character that’s really quite loved by fans (even her cold-blooded killings are treated rather lightly), but it’s possible she grows up to be a nastier piece of work than Sandor Clegane. Our guess? She’ll make her way back across the Narrow Sea to Westeros, start whittling down that list of hers… and then she may well point her ire the wrong way, because ultimately, vengeance can get you only so far.

Jorah Mormont: The sullen, tough northern knight and exile is a difficult character to love or even admire. Besotted with and driven into penury and dishonor by one wife, he then becomes besotted with a budding young queen, and becomes increasingly jealous and possessive of her (never mind he’s about 30 years older than she is). Jorah’s actually one of Linda’s least favorite characters (right up there with the Hound and, yes, Tyrion), but I think his role in the story required that kind of roughness (as an aside, Iain Glenn as Ser Jorah presents an absolutely different personality, even as he has many of the same lines and background points!) He ultimately loses his queen, too, as Daenerys learns of his earlier spying on her, and recognizes that he tried to drive anyone else away who might displace him as her chief supporter, advisor, and protector. Where next? I’ve long speculated that he’ll take advantage of the chaos in Westeros to finally begin his return home. He could go to Oldtown, for example—a place that definitely needs every sword it can get, thanks to the Iron Islanders—and ask for asylum and help from his in-laws. If that were to pan out, I won’t be surprised if he’s one of the ones who manages to survive the series… and perhaps, after meeting another in-law (by the name of Samwell Tarly—his mother being Lynesse Hightower’s aunt), he’ll have learned that the Old Bear’s last wish was that he took the black.

Edric Storm: The last we saw of Robert’s bastard son, he was being sent to safety by Davos Seaworth and his compatriots, who were saving him from Melisandre’s machinations that would have made him a sacrifice to her dreams of awakening dragons from stone. Where’d he end up? It seems pretty safe to say that Salladhor Saan’s ship carried him off to the Free Cities, perhaps Lys, the pirate’s city of origin. Maybe he’s out of the story for good… or maybe he’ll end up in Daenerys Targaryen’s retinue when she finally makes her way west. Having one of Robert’s acknowledged sons at her side might help win a few stormlords, who may be feeling the combined sting of Stannis’s abandonment and the Lannister boot on their throat. Whether Edric would agree to any of this is a question, but may be moot: he is, after all, just a boy. We foresee Illyrio Mopatis getting a hold of him for Daenerys to make use of to further her own goals.

Alayne: Best known as Sansa… well, we’ve already speculated where her story might be going a bit. The last we saw of her, she was disguised as Littlefinger’s bastard daughter (despite the fact that Littlefinger seems to have a hard time keeping his hands off of her) and he was intending to marry her off to the present heir to the Vale, rather obviously known as Harry the Heir. Littlefinger even reveals the plan, that after the wedding’s done, she’ll be revealed as Sansa Stark so that the knights of the Value might be caught up in amazement and offer them their swords to help her win back her ancestral seat. An amazing plan… but there’s a wrinkle in it, and that’s Alayne. Littlefinger is clearly educating her in how to read political situations, in how to manipulate people, but how long before she fully recognizes how deeply involved he was in her family’s own downfall? The Ghost of High Heart dreamed of Sansa killing a savage giant in a castle of snow… and a prosaic answer is given to that in A Storm of Swords: she tears apart Robert Arryn’s giant doll as he smashed up her snow-castle recreation of Winterfell, leading to Lysa’s assault and ultimate death. But what if that’s not actually it? What if… it’s Littlefinger? Remember, his grandfather’s original arms was the stony head of the Titan of Braavos, as frightening a giant as you’ll ever see. One way or the other, she’ll probably spell the end for Petyr Baelish.

The Faith: Last, but not least, A Feast for Crows introduces us to a revitalized Faith, led by a zealous High Septon who restores the orders of the Faith Militant and feels justified, and able, to seize not just one but two queens to charge them with sundry crimes. After centuries of being little more than puppets to the Targaryens, suddenly the Faith is a major force. Are they going to be the final arbiters of who controls the Iron Throne? We suspect not… but they’re likely going to support someone against Daenerys, with her foreign army that worships a bevy of foreng gods (but not the Seven). It seems unlikely that this High Septon will accept Daenerys with open arms, as his predecessor 300 years ago did with Aegon the Conqueror. How will that end? In blood, we expect.

There’s certainly many and more we can look at. We haven’t even wondered about “Pate” in Oldtown, or Samwell right next to him, or the Greyjoys Asha and Victarion, or….

Have a favorite “wild card” and an interesting speculation about their ultimate role? Share them in comments!


Having met on a game (yes, on the internet), Elio crossed an ocean to join Linda in her native Sweden. Establishing their “A Song of Ice and Fire” fan page, Westeros, in 1998, they now host the largest fan forum and oversee sub-sites covering all facets of George R.R. Martin’s works, including a wiki. Westeros.org can also be found on Twitter and Facebook, where they provide official syndication of George R.R. Martin’s blog updates. They are co-authors, with Martin, of the in-progress The World of Ice and Fire, an official guide to the setting.

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