Having a hard time coping with the idea that yet another season of Game of Thrones has come to an end? Does the thought of enduring another full year of waiting for answers leave you as indiscriminately ravenous as the late Ramsay Bolton’s caged hounds? Well, your appetite for answers may not be satisfactorily sated until Season 7 arrives in 2017, but there might be a small silver lining of prescience within the existing pages of the show-inspiring novels of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.
With revelations galore, the recently-concluded Season 6 widened the awkward lead currently enjoyed by the HBO television phenomenon well past Martin’s five existing novels, last represented by 2011’s A Dance with Dragons and a handful of preview chapters from the (long-awaited) next book, The Winds of Winter. Yet, while the deadline-dreading Martin watches as HBO unveils the jaw-dropping book secrets he divulged to showunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, fans of the Ice and Fire novels know that there are numerous instances in which the show either missed or contextually-altered notable storylines, some of which might be potent enough to serve as a compass pointing to the show’s future.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at distinct moments from the novels that Game of Thrones has not yet covered that just might give book-savvy fans some residual Season 7 spoiler mojo.
Sam advocates for the Targaryen cause
Whether it’s in the books or the show, it's clear that Samwell Tarly has no real dog in the Iron Throne fight, save for anything involving the Night’s Watch or his friend and Lord Commander, Jon Snow. However, in A Feast for Crows, the maritime trip on which Jon sends Sam to Oldtown for maester training was far more elaborate, with the most notable difference being that Maester Aemon Targaryen tagged along. This becomes a crucial aspect to Sam’s next mission when the ill and elderly Aemon makes a dying request of Sam to convince the Citadel on his behalf to aid the cause of his descendent, Daenerys.
While elements of Aemon’s death were used on the show in Season 5, the books originally depicted his passing during the voyage, rather than at Castle Black like on the show, which builds on a unique plot element. Aemon concluded through the gender-neutral vagueness of Valyrian prophecy that his relative Daenerys is actually Azor Ahi, “the prince that was promised,” destined to save the world. However, too old and ill to physically do anything with this revelation, he tasks Sam to pass on this news at the Citadel of Oldtown. Upon the advice of a mysterious maester trainee named Alleras, Sam carefully relays the story to Archmaester Marwyn, a part-time mage who not only believes it, but immediately sets off to seek Daenerys at Mereen, ordering Sam not to discuss the issue with anyone.
The show mixed the order of events, jumping ahead of the books to depict Sam’s (yet-to-occur) homecoming at Horn Hill with Gilly and baby in tow (a long story in its own right). However, it seems likely that Sam’s Oldtown arrival and awe-inspiring massive library moment in the Season 6 finale “The Winds of Winter” will ultimately lead him towards playing a significant part in the grand narrative, and it isn’t maester training. Story variations aside, a library-binging Sam could similarly come across a major revelation affecting all of Westeros that either rallies support for Daenerys or gives substantive proof that Jon Snow is actually the trueborn son of a secretly-eloped Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, publically legitimizing the show’s (confirmed) “R + L = J” provenance and Jon’s place as the rightful Iron Throne heir.
Littlefinger’s Iron Throne machinations fully revealed
On the show, Littlefinger made some vexing moves while climbing his “ladder” of chaos, notably selling Sansa Stark into an abusive, humiliating (and controversial) ordeal with the Boltons. However, his book counterpart avoided this move. In A Storm of Swords, he arranged for Sansa’s childhood friend Jeyne Poole to be used as an ersatz Arya Stark for Ramsay to marry (and abuse even more disturbingly), solidifying the Boltons’ hold on Winterfell. That aside, Book Sansa’s path generally lined up with her show counterpart, with Littlefinger parading her around the Vale willingly as his bastard daughter, Alayne Stone, watching him push Lady Lysa Arryn out the Moon Door and eventually gaining the trust of the irascible young sickly heir Robin (Robert) Arryn.
However, in A Feast for Crows, Littlefinger’s hobby of marrying off Sansa took a different form when he revealed to Sansa a plan to promise “Alayne” to the second heir of the Vale in Harrold Hardyng; a union that would relieve debts Littlefinger incurred and afford him the benefit of being in line to control the Eyrie. With young Robin soon eliminated, the (yet-to-occur) book plan is to have Sansa arrive at her wedding to Harrold clad in a Direwolf cloak, revealing her true parentage as the (presumed) heir of Winterfell and now Lady of the Vale, wielding the prospective influence to send the Knights of the Vale to retake Winterfell from the Boltons in yet another Littlefinger loyalty flip.
Presumably, after Harrold also meets “an unfortunate accident,” Sansa becomes heir to both the Vale and Winterfell, freeing her to marry faux-father Littlefinger in a North-unifying act that would wield regal prospects amidst the other chaos being stirred in King’s Landing. By contrast, on the show, the angrier, abuse-afflicted, (and smarter) Sansa somehow managed to achieve one component of this plan herself in the Vale army’s Winterfell rescue by way of her secret letter calling on Littlefinger’s influence of Robin, resulting in the cavalry arriving to save the day in the “Battle of the Bastards.” However, elements of the elaborate book plan could still surface.
The show is now past Winterfell scenarios that are still theoretical in the books, with the Boltons dead and Jon Snow’s victory with his new title as King in the North. Yet, if Show Sansa, like Book Sansa, fully acquiesces to Littlefinger’s plans, then we can presume that a Stark betrayal is imminent. While each Sansa had different experiences, they both seem to share a slight entitlement to power. It’s something that her book-diverging traumatic ordeal with Ramsay Bolton might be used to justify and create empathy for a power move she might pull on her brother Jon, especially if all that “R + L = J” business comes to light.
Jaime finally rejects Cersei, ignoring her plea for help
Season 6’s finale gave us an epic Lannister moment as Cersei assumed the Iron Throne in the aftermath of wanton wildfire-exploding vengeance reaped against the Faith Militant, destroying the sacred Sept of Baelor and all her enemies – and Lannister family members –trapped within; an act that drove King Tommen Baratheon, her despondent true believer son secretly-sired by brother Jaime, to commit suicide. It was all the more enthralling as Jaime stood from the balcony flummoxed, witnessing the power-grabbing betrayal of what he thought their relationship represented. While the books are nowhere close to this stage, they have an intriguing advantage since Jaime has already rejected Cersei.
Season 6 managed to play catch-up with A Feast for Crows, in which Jaime was sent to help expedite a Siege of Riverrun and the remnants of House Tully conducted fecklessly by the Freys. Save for the show’s apparent (offscreen) death of Blackfish Brynden Tully and a few details that are no longer consequential, the show generally lined up with the crux of how that event played out in the book…at least, until the aftermath.
While on the show, the Siege of Riverrun seemed to represent a moment of false clarity for Jaime as he declared to a captured Edmure Tully the depraved depths to which he would sink to get back to his sister/lover Cersei, the book had him in a different mental state. Just after her initial imprisonment by the Faith Militant, Cersei composed a desperate letter for Qyburn to send Jaime over at Riverrun, begging him to return quickly and be her champion in a prospective trial by combat. However, after lengthy contemplation, Jaime has a bleak epiphany about Cersei, who carried on with an array of infidelities and was last seen blaming him for the death of their father after he freed Tyrion. After years of undertaking unconscionable actions in the name of their love, he finally decided that he was done, telling the letter-delivering maester to toss the paper into the fire.
Whether that powerful rebuke depicted in the books ultimately sticks remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it stands as a signature turning point in Jaime and Cersei’s relationship. Thus, it is possible that Season 7 could see an analogous scenario where Cersei might again find herself captive, perhaps awaiting another trial in the aftermath of the arrival Daenerys Targaryen’s massive siege fleet, and reaches out to a far-dispatched Jaime for help. Given Jaime's state in the closing moments of Season 6, such a plea would likely go up in a fire as symbolic as the one Cersei used for her reckless retribution. With all their children dead and dire prophecies already fulfilled, it doesn’t seem likely that the Lannister siblings are headed for anything close to a happy ending on the show or the books.