Tyrion Lannister’s story in the Song of Ice and Fire books may end up being very different than it was in Game of Thrones.
That’ll likely come as good news to fans of George R. R. Martin’s series, many of whom were (understandably) disappointed by the HBO adaptation’s treatment of the character in its later seasons.
But one interesting fan theory suggests that The Winds of Winter, Martin’s long-awaited sixth installment in the Song of Ice and Fire series, will see Tyrion experience an earth-shattering loss that will come as a brutal shock to fans.
Warning: major Game of Thrones spoilers ahead.
The Theory — One popular Winds of Winter fan theory speculates that Martin will have Tyrion lose his tongue at some point in the book. In specific, this theory argues that Tyrion will have his tongue cut out in Winds of Winter in a manner that ultimately mirrors the way his brother Jaime lost his sword hand in A Storm of Swords.
It’s a dark and strangely poetic notion, and one that isn’t entirely without basis in the reality of the books. The character was threatened with having his tongue cut out multiple times throughout the first five installments of A Song of Ice and Fire. Importantly, for a character like Tyrion, losing his tongue would mean being separated from his most prized possession — and his most valuable asset.
That is to say, it feels like a total George R. R. Martin move.
Tyrion’s Greatest Weapon — In the Song of Ice and Fire books, Tyrion constantly proves himself to be one of the smartest individuals in all of Westeros. Few other characters can match him strategically, and none are quite as funny or witty. His ability to turn a phrase and use words to save himself, in particular, has always been one of his strongest suits as a character.
Losing the ability to speak come as a major blow. It’d certainly be a more devastating turn than losing his nose turned out to be. (Tyrion never benefitted from good looks in the first place). It’d be a loss just as emotionally difficult to grapple with as Jaime losing his sword hand, and would conceivably force Tyrion to evolve and self-reflect in much the same way his brother did.
Tyrion surviving The Winds of Winter but losing his tongue would also work as part of the bittersweet ending that Martin has repeatedly said his Song of Ice and Fire series will lead up to. It’d be especially wrenching if Tyrion ends up crossing paths with his long-lost first wife — as has been theorized — but only after losing the ability to speak to her.
That’s heartbreaking even to speculate about.
The Inverse Analysis — If this theory turns out to contain a kernel of truth, that means all of the three adult Lannister children will lose the assets they prize most by the time the Song of Ice and Fire series concludes. Jaime has already lost his sword hand, and Cersei has not only lost her beauty but also (it appears) her children. Having Tyrion lose his tongue is fully in keeping with the direction Martin seems to be taking the Lannister siblings in.
It would make for quite a powerful and, indeed, bittersweet conclusion for Tyrion — one far more powerful and in keeping with the series’ storytelling style than what Game of Thrones Season 8 did with the character.
The Winds of Winter will be released whenever George R. R. Martin finishes writing it.