[SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 5 ahead.]
Game Of Thrones is now a major award-winning piece of fantasy drama storytelling, but becoming attached to its characters is like sleeping with one eye open – waiting for the sword of betrayal to deliver a brutal blow. The show is fearless when it comes to serving up grizzly death, so when it shies away from the money shot in the final moment, fans are going to speculate. Although it is the fate of fan-favorite John Snow (Kit Harrington) that has caused the most uproar since season 5’s finale episode, there were several cliffhangers to induce debate – including that of house Baratheon claimant to the Iron Throne, Stannis (Stephen Dillane).
HBO may have just confirmed that Stannis’ fate is certain via a soon to be released book guide to the series, titled “Game Of Thrones: The Noble Houses Of Westeros”. Read on for the official details.
Since the show caught up with the book series, fans only have the word of its gleefully cryptic author, George R. R. Martin and show creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss to confirm or deny rumors for definite -when they choose to believe them that is. The no-one-is-ever-safe nature of G.O.T, turns its fans into armchair detectives, deciphering clues from actors spotted near filming locations and leaked set photos. This passage (revealed via Twitter) of the upcoming book is rare, concrete evidence that Stannis did indeed suffer his suspected fate:
Forget it though. One more nail in Stannis's coffin. From Game of Thrones: The Noble Houses of Westeros pic.twitter.com/6jLChXNZQZ— Sue the Fury (@Thrones_Fury) October 22, 2015
Martin appeared to throw a bone to Stannis’ fans in August when he verified that Stannis was still living within his books; this, however, would appear to only be a facetious reference to the show’s differing time line now that it has diverged from the published work to some extent. HBO had already confirmed his death by commissioning their customary “Beautiful Death” artwork from artist Robert Ball (see below) and the finale’s director David Nutter discussed the reasons for withholding the fatal strike in an interview with Variety:
“ Dan and David felt it best not to be gratuitous with that. You really got a sense that Stannis had nothing else to live for. Brienne’s life-long mission had come to an end. It’s a situation in which Stannis was ready to die and prepared to die. It would have been gratuitous.”
Despite this confirmation, the odd choice to deny us the death blow, labeling it as “gratuitous” still begs a lot of questions; for instance, G.O.T has never had such qualms before. The character had a strong arc, beginning this season as a savior and ending it as a child burning villain, so one might argue we deserved to witness his demise as much as his Murderess, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), deserved to finally get her revenge. Could this have just been a plot device to reinforce the avid speculation the show’s fans thrive on or another double bluff to distract from the John Snow intrigue?
With G.O.T and showrunners habit of deception to keep surprises under wraps, nothing will truly be certain until season 6 reaches our screens. Plus for anyone still rooting for Stannis, we know in the North, dead doesn’t always mean gone!
Game Of Thrones Season 6 is expected to air on HBO in spring 2016. Game Of Thrones: The Noble Houses Of Westeros will be available to purchase starting December 8th, 2015.