Good news for the fans of the “One True King”–Stannis Baratheon lives! After watching the finale of Season Five of Game of Thrones, many viewers were confused by the ambiguous ending of Stannis’ storyline. We see everything but the claimant king’s death itself–Melisandre’s sudden loss of faith, the utter destruction of his troops by an overwhelming Bolton force, and finally, Brienne’s avenging blade coming down in a killing blow–before the camera cuts away to another scene. Technically, we never see Stannis die, and many were left debating whether there was any chance that he had survived the bloody finale. Even with the momentum of Brienne’s sword crashing down on his head, fans saw hope. So much could happen between the strike of the blade and the sword finding it’s mark. Perhaps Brienne reconsidered. Perhaps Stannis dodged the blow. Perhaps…perhaps despite terrible odds, Stannis Baratheon was still alive.
With the show out-pacing George R.R. Martin’s unfinished series and leaving questions in its wake, Stannis’ death has been the subject of healthy debate since the season finale. However, the matter can at least partially be put to rest, thanks to the very words of Martin–the author of the fantasy saga upon which the HBO show is based. Martin spawned a great deal of buzz recently when he answered a fan’s question on his Live-Journal blog, where he writes about a variety of subjects from football matches to the latest Hugo controversy. “alright [sic] Mr. Martin, let’s cut the crap,” read the rather brazen comment, “is Stannis alive or dead” The sentence was left without an ending punctuation mark, as if symbolizing the unsatisfying ending of Stannis’ story on the show. Martin actually showed up in the comment section to reply, stating, “In my books? Alive, beyond a doubt.”
There! You’ve heard it from the author himself. Stannis is alive in the books, at least, even if he’s not doing so well on the show. A lot of news sites have taken Martin’s words at face value, but one should be cautious of reading too much between the lines. Before you get your hopes too high, it is important to remember that Martin is famously cagey with his answers. The author could mean in his published books, Stannis is alive, which is undeniable. It is certainly true that Stannis will still be alive at the beginning of Martin’s next installment, Winds of Winter (a fact we know from the author’s released sample chapters), but whether Stannis is still alive at the end of the book…or even the middle is another question.
The good news is that, at least for now, Stannis is still safe from the clutches of death–if only in Martin’s series. This still doesn’t settle the matter of whether the character actually died on the show, but it does soften the blow somewhat, if we learn this spring that Stannis has truly met his death.
So! What do you think of Martin’s response? Do you think Stannis is alive or dead in the show? Comment below!