If there’s one thing that’s certain in Game of Thrones, it’s that nobody is safe. Without any notice, one of your favorite characters will die and the show will just move forward. That’s how HBO does it, but only because that’s what George R. R. Martin has cooked up. Take episode 6 from the current season. We know some of our favorite heroes go beyond the wall, and there’s a theory that a particular bastard will not make it to episode 7.

Martin, who’s yet to catch up with the TV show in his books, had a particular vision laid out for his characters when he began writing the stories. He wanted to save five people fighting for thrones, and it’ll be interesting to see whether HBO will adhere to his initial roadmap. But which five characters does Martin want to keep alive?

The author wrote a letter to his editor in 1993 that included the first 13 chapters of the first book of his planned trilogy. First discovered by a Redditor and then posted online by Variety in 2015, the letter contained the general plot of the story and mentioned many of the characters we’ve grown to love.

As Business Insider explains, Martin’s letter was first revealed by UK bookseller Waterstone in a leak that was later pulled. In it, Martin revealed that Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Bran Stark, and Tyrion Lannister will make it to the end:

Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process. In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men, and two women. The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard, Jon Snow. All of them are introduced at some length in the chapters you have to hand.

But he also explained that many characters will have to die to keep readers on the edge of their seats:

All three books will feature a complex mosaic of intercutting points-of-view among various of my large and diverse cast of players. The cast will not always remain the same. Old characters will die, and new ones will be introduced. Some of the fatalities will include sympathetic viewpoint characters. I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.

Will HBO stick to the plan? Well, the story already deviated from Martin’s original outline. But that doesn’t mean any of these five key players will die in the near future or at all. Check out Martin’s full letter at this link.

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