Game of Thrones ended up diverging significantly from author George R. R. Martin’s original Song of Ice and Fire.
HBO’s series was faithful to Martin’s source material in its early seasons, but the further the series progressed past the point of Martin’s published books (which at this point include five of seven planned novels), the more it started to change. By the time Game of Thrones was entering its endgame, some characters from Martin’s books were excluded from the series, while others ended up dying differently than they had on the page.
One popular fan theory about The Winds of Winter, Martin’s highly-anticipated sixth installment in the Song of Ice and Fire series, is that it’ll reveal the shocking circumstances of one character’s still-unconfirmed demise.
If true, this twist would be the latest in a long line of differences between Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire.
The Theory — In Game of Thrones, Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) dies in the show’s Season 4 finale at the hands of some deadly wights, just several yards away from the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow). It’s a shocking moment — one that brutally puts an end to Jojen’s story. However, some fans believe Martin has something very different in mind for the character.
One of the biggest Winds of Winter theories argues that the long-awaited book will reveal Jojen was secretly sacrificed in Martin’s most recent Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons, though this wasn’t outright confirmed on the page. The theory, informally known quite disturbingly as “Jojen Paste,” goes on to speculate that Bran Stark may have even been unknowingly fed Jojen’s blood by the Three-Eyed Raven and the Children of the Forest in order to enhance his greenseeing abilities.
Jojen’s Alternate Fate — While this is an undeniably weird, dark theory, there’s some legitimate evidence to back it up. In Bran’s final chapter in A Dance with Dragons, he is fed a bowl of weirwood paste with red veins that he says look “remarkably like blood.” Bran is told that the paste will enhance his greenseeing gifts; after consuming it, he connects to the weirwood trees and begins to see visions of the past.
This moment itself comes after several instances in which Jojen was shown to be increasingly depressed and despondent. To many fans, this felt like a sign that Jojen, who had foreseen his death, knew that his end at the hands of the Children of the Forest was near. It’s also worth noting that the last time Bran sees Jojen in A Dance with Dragons, he’s going to the mouth of the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave to look out at the surrounding landscape.
After Bran consumes the weirwood paste, Jojen and his sister Meera are never seen again. In fact, when Bran goes looking for them after training with the Three-Eyed Raven, the two characters are absent from their usual resting place in the cave. All that — combined with some ominous moments of scene description in the chapter — has led many fans to believe Jojen may have willingly, or unwillingly, been sacrificed by the Children of the Forest so that his blood could be used to further amplify Bran’s powers.
After all, while Jojen was not a greenseer, he did experience “greendreams,” which means that it’s possible his blood possessed a power Bran could use.
The Inverse Analysis — For better or worse, this is one of the more plausible Winds of Winter theories to emerge in the wake of A Dance with Dragons. While there’s always a chance the book won’t reveal that Jojen was killed (and partially consumed), it seems just as likely right now that this revelation will make its way onto the page.
Of course, this wouldn’t be quite as massive a shift away from Game of Thrones as leaving out Lady Stoneheart or fAegon Targaryen, but it’d be a difference worth noting, especially considering how dramatically Game of Thrones failed to follow through on the potential of Bran’s storyline.
The Winds of Winter will be released whenever George R. R. Martin finishes writing it.