I am now finished with A Storm of Swords (which now appears to be poorly named since there was less fighting in this book than the first two). Also unlike the first two books, it ended up with no real cliffhangers (except for a literal one that was resolved before the end), but a did end up with a lot of open questions.
As such, I really have less to go on than in prior books. In those books there was a state of war, so the people involved had immediate motivations, but now with so much left open I don't have a lot of material to work with. What is Tyrion doing now? What would motivate him, and how does he plan to get it? What is Petyr going to do with Sansa? What is Stannis going to do (or, more accurately, how is he)?
Also, when is winter? It barely looks like autumn in a lot of places. One of the few things I knew about Westeros before I started reading was that seasons were unpredictable and lasted for many years, and given that it was this apparently significant fact, I was expecting the books to cover several cycles, not a 3-year transition from late summer to early autumn.
Another thing I keep waiting for is for people I built an emotional connection to die. That was pretty much the other fact I knew about these books. So far, nothing much. Closest thing to it was Renly. Are people talking about Ned and Catelyn and Robb? Or does it not really get going until the next two books?
Turned out to be wrong on a few predictions. Here they are.
- I predicted (way back) that Sensa would be the first Stark child to die, since I was thinking they would die in the same order as the direwolves. Now, we know Robb is dead (probably permanently since they cut off his head), and ironically, Sansa is the only one most people think is still alive.
- I predicted a big mess at Edmund Tully's endagement at the Twins (and in truth, it was kind of hard not to forsee; one of the reasons I think Martin spent time with Robb and Catelyn discussing battle plans against Pike was to throw us off a little, try to make us think those moments mattered), but I didn't anticipate just how shamelessly treaterous the Freys were. As such all the predictions I made were wrong. So Sandor Clegane never delivered Arya and we never had any drama over that (or with Roose Bolton demanding justice for the man she killed). I did predict Robb would never make it out of the Twins alive, but I was expecting something more subtle: a dagger after the ceremony or something.
However, I was right (or partially right) about quite a few.
- I predicted that Sansa keeping her meeting with Dontos would let her escape; I was wrong about it being that particular meeting, but was right about her keeping those meetings allowing her eventually to escape.
- I predicted that Arya would somehow reunite with Needle. Soon after I made it, I thought, "Oh come on, you have to be kidding, there is no room for that kind of sentimentality in these books." Lo and behold....
- I predicted that Shae would break Tyrion's heart at some point. She did a good job faking it.
- I predicted that Rosalin would be beautiful. She was a little awkward and weak but definitely looked a lot better than Edmund Tully was expecting.
- I predicted that Jaime's reuniting with Cersei would be not
Also, my prediction that the Others would turn out to be the same beings as the Children of the Forest was not proven, but it did get some good evidence: Melisandre called the Others the "Children of the Other". I realized that Melisandre often called the enemy of R'hllor the Other, but I never connected this with the Others. Perhaps because I think of Melisandre as coming from a hot, desert-like climate.
- Both Clegane brothers have (or seem to have) septic wounds. We are led to think they will both die. Which is why I don't think neither one will. I positively hope Gregor dies since he's not that interesting a character. But the case with Sandor seems almost too contrived for him to die there. I am not even sure that he was a ailing as he let on.
- The one person with a clear motivation is Daenerys. I am prediciting she will do as she intends (remain queen in Meereen and maybe even expand), but something will happen at some point to interrupt it, and I'm guessing it's not something good (from her persepective). She'll see an opportunity or something and go off to seek her throne in Westeros. Perhaps it has already happened but she doesn't know it yet.
- Jon Snow is technically the Lord of Winterfell right now, with or without Stannis's offer, since Robb disinherited his siblings before he died. As far as I can make out, the end of the novel is maybe two months or so after the massacre at the Freys, so it might not have been well-publicized heretofore. Maybe the maesters have to get together and verify it or something. But the news will hit fairly soon and it'll cause some trouble. (My first guess would be with Petyr since he is probably thinking Tyrion will be killed and he'll marry Sansa and inherit Winterfell through here. Also what if Bran shows up, who would have been the Lord of Winterfell if not for being disinherited?)
- Hard to guess what Tyrion might do. My guess at his only motivation is to get revenge on Cersei, and I have no other idea. He wanted Casterly Rock but apart from getting rid of Cersei (who I believe has inherited it since Jaime is ineligible) I doubt he would be rash enough to think he could get it right away. As far as I know, the only person in the world he thinks he is friends with is none other than Jon Snow, so that is who I am guessing he'll be seeking out. He might even take the black.... Another thought: he could seek out Daenerys and ally himself with the Targaryens. However, I doubt he'd have much of a read on how powerful she had grown.
- Arya is headed for Braavos. Her main motivation seems to be killing lots of people, so I'm guessing she is heading off to be a made a warrior princess. Maybe a witch like Melisandre, or a warrior like Brienne.
- Since Jaime sent Brienne off, it seems like she might start getting her own chapters. There is no one to follow her travels, unless she suddenly appears in a Sansa chapter. If she doesn't get her own chapters, that's what I'm guessing happens.
- The situation at King's Landing is a mess. Tommen is king, but with Tywin gone who will step up to be leader? Seems like it'll be a mess. My early guess is that Pycelle will be the King's Hand, but I don't know how stable that situation will be. It seems as if the Tyrells (Ser Loras's clan) will get a little conquesty, maybe the Dornish peoples as well.
I can't really make a prediction about Petyr and Sansa. One thing that surprised me is how deftly Petyr kidnapped Sansa, seemingly without Varys noticing it. I am not so sure I belive Varys has birds listening everywhere like everyone thinks he does, but I find it hard to believe that Varys wouldn't have noticed. This means that either Varys is in on it, or that Petyr is a lot more formidable than he has looked. I'd guess the latter, given the cool way he dealt with the situation with Lady Arryn. Now he has the Vale (since he's likely to be regent) and has his eyes on Winterfell (via a planned marriage to Sansa) but what is he going to do if he finds that Tyrion is alive, and that Robb disinherited Sansa? Also, it seems he will soon have Brienne to deal with.
Bran, I mean seriously, what the hell is he doing. For several months he's been traveling to meet some seer in the middle of nowhere who's probably going to tell him to man up and go be Lord of Winterfell already.