There must be a cute literary nickname for this.

The Wars and Politics of ASOIAF peeps are doing the Seven’s work, and if you don’t already follow their WP/Tumblr/Twitter, I suggest you start, but I don’t ever seem to respond to them when I agree. Mostly because when I think they’re right, I have nothing to add. But when I think they’re wrong…well, that’s the sort of occasion where I think a little disagreement can be productive.

Today there was an ask from someone asking about where Jaime’s headed in the last two books, and Queen Regent’s answer was basically, “Of course I could be wrong about this, but what I’m picturing is…”

  • Jaime will be taken by Brienne to see Lady Stoneheart
  • Brienne will argue for Jaime, Stoneheart will demand he be executed
  • Jaime will demand a trial by combat; Stoneheart will agree but call on her old sworn shield Brienne to be her champion
  • Brienne will purposefully lose, sacrificing herself for Jaime
  • Jaime will kill Stoneheart with Oathkeeper
  • Jaime will go back to King’s Landing
  • Cersei, under siege in the Red Keep, will (having been told about the wildfire caches) try to explode the city to keep Aegon and crew from taking it
  • Jaime will stop her, strangling her even while Cersei kills him

If you’re not new around here, you probably see my answer coming. I don’t agree with this.

Actually, I do mostly agree with Queen Regent’s logic here: 1. One way or another, Jaime and Brienne will have to deal with Lady Stoneheart and her goons. 2. Stoneheart will demand Jaime’s execution. 3. IF there were a trial by combat, and IF Stoneheart commanded Brienne to be her champion, Brienne would step up to the fight, and 4. with that situation established, she WOULD sacrifice herself to get Jaime out alive.

Where I see the situation differently, in the present, is that 1. I don’t think Stoneheart and her goons are still transparent enough to honor a demand for trial by combat, and if they allowed the combat, I don’t think they’d respect the outcome if Jaime won, and 2. I think Jaime will be perceptive enough to understand that, which means he will not be so foolhardy as to demand a trial by combat., 3. Unless he is a) actively trying to sacrifice himself to let Brienne escape with Podrick and b) has already figured out how they’ll make it out after he loses. 4. But no, Brienne won’t be in a position to throw herself on Jaime’s poorly-wielded sword to save his life, even if she would be happy to do so.

I once semi-joked on Twitter that neither Jaime nor Brienne can die until after they’ve fucked each other’s brains out, and I suppose the scenario quoted above could happen after they’ve had a nice roll in the hay in some abandoned Riverlands cottage, but seriously, I think their relationship will be a lot more substantial than that. I think they’ll be alive at the end, and still together. And I think so because I put a lot of work into figuring out what they mean to each other.

There was another ask right after that, from someone arguing Brienne’s arc must surely be more substantial than that, and Queen Regent’s answer was thoughtful and interesting. I still disagree, but I don’t really have a solid argument against it except that I think other things will happen, and I think those other things will happen partly because I’m fairly sure Brienne and Jaime will survive the series together.

And with all this in mind, I think we should have some language to describe how the small, soft things (romances, friendships, family dynamics) affect the big, hard things (wars, politics, ascensions) in ASOIAF and other epic stories. If a relationship has been foreshadowed, then at the very least, the characters will need to live long enough for the relationship to happen. It’s a similar rule to Chekhov’s Gun: if a wedding gown has been measured, cut and sewn, then surely someone will have to wear it down the aisle.