In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the producers revealed that when George R.R. Martin gave them a rough plan for how the books will end, he included "three holy sh-- moments." One of these moments was Hodor's (Kristian Nairn) origin story, which played out in tragic fashion on Sunday's episode, and another was Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) sacrificing his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram).
On the show, Shireen's death at Melisandre's (Carice van Houten) hand is old news. The heir to Storm's End was burned alive in the show's fifth season, shortly before Stannis was slain by Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) on the battlefield. However, in the books, Stannis has yet to launch his attack on the Boltons, and Shireen is still hanging out at Castle Black.
But while Benioff and Weiss have confirmed that Shireen is doomed in the books, that doesn't mean it will play out exactly as we saw on the series.
"People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled — and it's really not true," Benioff said. "So much of what we're doing diverges from the books at this point. And while there are certain key elements that will be the same, we're not going to talk so much about that — and I don't think George is either. People are going to be very surprised when they read the books after the show. They're quite divergent in so many respects for the remainder of the show."
Unlike when Melisandre used blood magic to kill the usurpers, Robb, Balon and Joffrey, Shireen's sacrifice was seemingly for nothing. Despite burning his daughter, Stannis lost the war and was ultimately killed. It's possible that in the books, Melisandre will sacrifice Shireen in a similar fashion to the show, but that this time the sacrifice will have real — and welcome — consequences, all connected to the much-discussed second coming of Azor Ahai.
"When the red star bleeds and darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons from stone," the prophecy goes.
On the show, Melisandre is now convinced that Jon (Kit Harington) is the Prince Who Was Promised, something widely hinted at in the books as well. Most fans also assume that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, meaning that Jon has the blood of the dragon in his veins. And since Shireen is afflicted with grayscale, a disease that turned much of her skin into stone, there's a chance that waking "dragons from stone" refers to resurrecting Jon through Shireen's death.
So while Show Melisandre resurrects Jon to appease Davos (Liam Cunningham), Book Melisandre may do so completely by accident. Because if Melisandre decides to burn Shireen to help Stannis — whom, in the books, she still believes is Azor Ahai — it's possible that the sacrifice will affect the real Azor Ahai, Jon Snow, and bring him back from the dead.
This would be a much more satisfying way for Jon to be brought back to life and provide a clear (and dramatic) turning point for Melisandre to realize she's been following the wrong leader. But more importantly, it would give Shireen's death a purpose. As one of the few truly good people in Westeros, if Shireen has to die, she deserves for her death to have meaning at least. Then again, since when has Game of Thrones ever been about people getting what they deserve?
What do you think: Will Shireen's sacrifice be what brings Jon back in the books?