With two books to go by the self-admitted slow writer and the producers of the HBO show estimating the series to end at eight seasons the end game for A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones is far off. Still, I know how it will end, at least I know how viewers will perceive it to end. There will be no spoilers beyond conjecture, and no details of the fates of any characters.
The hype machine is still going strong for this series, with George R.R. Martin’s name constantly in the news, making appearances on Conan and casting confirmations as well unofficial filming footage constantly hitting the sites centered around pop culture. The show’s intention with each season is to build upon the overall arcs of each character with some ending as the seasons go on. The books likewise, because of the way they tell stories using third person limited point of view for different characters in each chapter, tell the stories of said characters as part of any overall story Martin is building towards.
Recalling an article from io9 speaking of Game of Thrones scratching that mystery itch that was left in the wake of Lost brings up the disappointment many felt by the end of series over the ending as it left questions unanswered and the overall conclusion deemed disappointing. Martin himself has said his intention is to avoid a Lost-like ending, proclaiming his disappointment and his hope to deliver on the high expectations of his fans. However, he also expects the ending to be bittersweet.
This is just conjecture but just as the story was inspired by the image of the two dying animals in the first episode and the first book, I expect Martin has had the ending in mind from the very beginning with obvious editing needing to be done as the plot changes and characters are added. While I’ve always expected a bittersweet ending given that the story for the majority a tragedy how satisfying will that ending be to it’s viewers and it’s readers? Let’s avoid questions of a production nature like it’s budget, it’s directing, the cinematography, the acting, etc and just explore it from a storytelling perspective.
Game of Thrones and the even more so the books it’s based on is a world full of characters. With this many characters the odds of satisfying every consumer is slim, but that is to be expected. Every character is someone’s favorite character including the antagonists but not every character is slated to have a complete story-arc as some of the secondary ones are doomed to be metaphorical and sometimes literal causalities to the major point of view ones. If we break it down even further using just the main characters we can expect that when they all converge once again as they did in the beginning of the series that some of these characters will come into conflict. As this is in a sense a political tragedy most of the characters fall into a morally gray area rather than one group being good and the other evil. Therefore, each character probably has a fanbase that’ll be disappoint and one that will be satisfied with how it’ll end overall.
How will it end though? I know how will it end in vague details, just going by what I've seen and what I’ve read from the source material plus Martin’s expectation of a “bittersweet” ending and his hope to avoid an ending like Lost. Here it is in the vaguest terms possible. Westeros will be left completely changed but stable in the political sense, not all the characters people hate will die and not all the ones people like will live. There will be sacrifices, sometimes that means a character’s life and sometimes that’ll mean a character’s power.
Questions that have had speculation surrounding them will be answered with obvious answers and ones no one expected. Questions people didn’t know they should be asking will be answered, which in hindsight viewers will believe that should of been obvious. Questions that everyone has been wondering about for ages will never be answered because stories, like life, don’t have to answer all the questions.
There will be love, sadness, tears, triumph, victory, tragedy, loneliness, isolation, and most likely satisfaction. Before it is over surely there will be fire and blood, you will hear some roar and some will pay their debts, there will be fury by some, sharp blades by others, and winter will most definitely come.