Fans of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy know that the TV show Game of Thrones, based on the Song of Ice and Fire book series, is due to premiere its final season on April 14. For the obsessed, theories abound (plausible and wild) about how it all ends, which we’ll get into in a bit.
But, if an obsession with Game of Thrones gets people to read the series of books, that’s a good thing, because research shows that reading improves vocabulary, and it can make people better writers. And as an editor, I much prefer editing good writing.
So my advice is if you enjoy it, watch the show, but then pick up the books and enjoy the much-richer experience of reading the stories. Among other things, you’ll experience new story lines, see new settings, and read about characters that the series didn’t have time for.
And what follows here is something for GOT fans: excerpts from the books that may help you make some educated guesses about what will happen in the upcoming season. The first series of these excerpts are focused on prophecies and warnings, and they’re all taken from the five published books. No discussion here, just make up your own mind about what you’re reading. But just in case, be prepared for SPOILERS.
From Book 1: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones
- (Ser Jorah to Dany) “The stallion is the khal of khals promised in ancient prophecy, child. He will unite the Dothraki into a single khalasar and ride to the ends of the earth, or so it was promised. All the people of the world will be his herd.”
- (Theon Greyjoy to Aeron Greyjoy) “I’ve heard it said that the red comet is a herald of a new age. A messenger from the gods, they say.”
From Book 2: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings
- (Melisandre) “In ancient books of Asshai it is written that there will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”
- (In the House of the Undying) “I have come for the gift of truth,” Dany said. “In the long hall, the things I saw … were they true visions, or lies? Past things, or things to come? What did they mean?”
- (Voices in the House of the Undying) … the shape of shadows … morrows not yet made … drink from the cup of ice … drink from the cup of fire … … mother of dragons … child of three …
- (In the House of the Undying) “Three?” She did not understand. … three heads has the dragon … the ghost chorus yammered inside her skull with never a lip moving, never a breath stirring the still blue air.… mother of dragons … child of storm … The whispers became a swirling song.… three fires must you light … one for life and one for death and one to love … Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt … three mounts must you ride … one to bed and one to dread and one to love … The voices were growing louder, she realized, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath.… three treasons will you know … once for blood and once for gold and once for love …
- (A warning) Dany’s wrist still tingled where Quaithe had touched her. “Where would you have me go?” she asked. “To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”
From Book 3: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords
- (A red herring prophecy, Melisandre to Stannis Baratheon): “You are he who must stand against the Other. The one whose coming was prophesied five thousand years ago. The red comet was your herald. You are the prince that was promised, and if you fail the world fails with you.”
From Book 4: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows
- (Maester Aemon Targaryen): “No one ever looked for a girl,” he said. “It was a prince that was promised, not a princess. Rhaegar, I thought … the smoke was from the fire that devoured Summerhall on the day of his birth, the salt from the tears shed for those who died. He shared my belief when he was young, but later he became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy, for a comet had been seen above King’s Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, and Rhaegar was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet. What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it.”
- (Maester Aemon Targaryen): “… we all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe. Melisandre most of all, I think. The sword is wrong, she has to know that … light without heat … an empty glamor … the sword is wrong, and the false light can only lead us deeper into darkness …”
- (Maggie the Frog to young Cersei): “When will I wed the prince?” she asked.
- “Never. You will wed the king.”
- Beneath her golden curls, the girl’s face wrinkled up in puzzlement. For years after, she took those words to mean that she would not marry Rhaegar until after his father Aerys had died. “I will be queen, though?” asked the younger her.
- “Aye.” Malice gleamed in Maggy’s yellow eyes. “Queen you shall be … until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”
- “Will the king and I have children?” she asked.
- “Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you …” “… Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds,” she said. “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
- (Cersei): “Tyrion is the valonqar,” she said. “Do you use that word in Myr? It’s High Valyrian, it means little brother.”
From Book 5: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons
- (A warning from Quaithe, the Red-Masked Woman): “Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”
- (About the words of the red priest Tyrion heard, speaking of Daenerys): “Benerro has sent forth the word from Volantis. Her coming is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. From smoke and salt was she born to make the world anew. She is Azor Ahai returned … and her triumph over darkness will bring a summer that will never end … death itself will bend its knee, and all those who die fighting in her cause shall be reborn …”
Yet, in the GOT world, prophesies are often misinterpreted and sometimes don’t come true, so beware of believing in them over much.
NEXT WEEK, the excerpts will be of visions and dreams.