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George R.R. Martin Confirms Stannis Baratheon Is Not Dead

In the books. And maybe the TV show. SPOILERS, maybe.

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In both the books and the TV show, Stannis Baratheon is believed to have met his end following the battle with Ramsay Bolton.

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In the TV show, he is killed by Brienne of Tarth in the forest, surrounded by the bodies of his defeated army. In the books, on the other hand, his death is described in a letter from Ramsay to Jon, prompting Jon to try to lead the Night's Watch south to Winterfell, a betrayal of his vows that results in the rebellion against him.

Recently, on his LiveJournal, George R.R. Martin answered a fan's question to confirm that, in his books, Stannis is alive.

grrm.livejournal.com

The question, of course, is whether this is the same case in the TV show, as the two have diverged significantly, though it appeared that by the end of Season 5, the characters had ended up in broadly similar places.

There has been repeated speculation about whether Stannis is in fact dead, primarily due to the failure of the typically brutally violent show to actually show his death.

HBO / Via ew.com

It's often accepted that when an audience isn't shown the body, it leaves a strong possibility that the character will return. Game of Thrones producer Dan Weiss told Entertainment Weekly in June that "If don’t see the body then they’re not really dead."

Additionally, some people have pointed out that based on the angle of the sword swipe, and the placement of the tree, Brienne's blow would have hit the tree before killing Stannis.

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However, in a Comic-Con panel in July, the director of the episode, David Nutter, confirmed that the intention was that he was dead.

Flickr: gageskidmore / Via Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

So either there's some misdirection going on with the production team, or book Stannis is taking a very different journey to TV Stannis.

In the books, Stannis appears to be dead, after Jon recieves the "pink letter" at Castle Black, which details how Ramsay has smashed Stannis's army, and lists threats against the Night's Watch, and Jon.

HBO

Tormund Giantsbane is read the letter, which he dismisses as "a skin o’ lies.” Jon disagrees however, pointing out that there must be truth in there.

Martin's confirmation that Stannis is alive therefore seems to confirm that the pink letter is at least in part a lie, and gives new hope for the battle against the Boltons in the North.

HBO

Here's where it gets a bit complicated. In Books 4 and 5, the action took place concurrently. In a preview chapter from Book 6, Theon is with Stannis, and the battle has not yet happened. While the initial assumption is that Ramsay Bolton is lying entirely in his letter (which would give Jon's death the sort of dark irony that Martin so enjoys), the confused timeline may mean we're actually about to hear how Stannis lost the battle.

Alternatively, we have to consider when Martin is talking about — is he referring to the end of Book 5? Up to the end of the preview chapters of Book 6? Or even to all his written text, which could be as far as the end of Book 6?

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