I’m on the Daenerys + Jon Snow dynastic marriage bandwagon. I think GRRM brought up the big plotline about Targaryen sibling marriages not just to explain the mad king and how Jaime and Cersei justified their relationship, but to lead to a dynastic joining of the North and South through Jon Snow.
I’ve read quite a few theories that Daenerys is going to die horribly, because she’s not the best at ruling, so it’s going to come down to a battle royale between Snow and Daenerys (Ice and Fire –get it?). She lacks certainly lacks the touch of nuance that good rulers need, that’s for sure, but I think she’s learning. I don’t think the show conveys that as well as the books, although the hints are there even in the show.
At the end of season 6, Jon Snow was declared King in the North of House Stark by all the Northern houses pledged to support the Starks, and a warging Bran saw Lyanna on her deathbed beg her brother to take and protect her child, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen. So now Jon Snow is King in the North, unofficially recognized as the head of House Stark, and apparently a Targaryen–related to Daenerys with a distant potential claim to the throne himself (presumably something that will be revealed by him riding a dragon–which only Targaryen’s can do–or something).
However, GRRM has also stated in several interviews that ASOIF was inspired by the War of the Roses, with the Lannisters loosely based on the Lancasters and the Starks loosely based on the Yorks. This would make Daenerys Targaryen (often called the Queen across the Sea) analogous, one assumes, to the Henry VII (called the King from across the Sea in his time), who was the last King of England to win his crown in battle.
As it happens, that battle–the Battle of Bosworth–ended 30 years of war between various claimants to the throne. Sound familiar? And, Henry VII solidified his claim to the throne by marrying Elizabeth of York, his third cousin. Hmmm.
I also think the North and the Wildings probably represent the Scots and Welsh influence, while the Unsullied, Second Sons, and Dothraki gathered by Daenerys are clearly analogous to the French mercenaries which made up the bulk of Henry VII’s force–which point, once again, to an alliance rather than a showdown, since the Scots, Welsh, and French fought under the same banner (Henry VII’s) at the Battle of Bosworth. One way or another, Daenerys needs to face an army three times the size of her own before she takes the throne and marries Jon Snow.
I don’t think Cersei is going to offer that threat, although I do think Cersei is the season 7 Big Bad. I bet Cersei goes all out trying to coerce and terrorize and threaten an army into creation and in the end Jaime kills her for the same reason he killed the Mad King (to protect the people) and then he kills himself out of grief–or he offers his sword to Daenerys, who refuses it because Cersei did something else super horrific, like ordered all the firstborn children in the kingdom killed in Daenerys’ name or something. A typical Cersei thing, basically, that will absolutely backfire because Cersei thinks she’s a genius political manipulator but she just keeps fucking shit up.
I know Petyr Baelish has his plots and plans regarding Sansa, house Stark, and the Iron Throne, but I don’t think that’s going to work out well for him. He reminds me a bit of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, aka the Kingmaker–a knight who was a relative unknown, rose to great power, had vast wealth and resources in terms of lands, offices, and political influence, and played both sides during the War of the Roses.
I suspect Baelish taught Sansa better than he realizes, and it will be Sansa who manufactures his downfall. His machinations led to her being raped and tortured. He seems to think because she used him to win a battle, he’s won her favor back, but I don’t think he has any idea what kind of steel was forged in the fire he sent her through. He’s going to die, and he won’t even see it coming.
I bet it also keeps building the Night King storyline during season 7, sort of crescendoing it up, but there’s not much to add: He’s a big bad, his army is huge, and no-one really takes that threat seriously–not even the guys who are supposed to be guarding against them, but seem to have forgotten their entire raison d’etre. Probably somewhere in season 7, Bran breaks the Wall like he broke that damn heart tree, and a bunch of white walkers bust through, which is when people will start taking that shit serious.
Season 8 will see the Night King with his massive army marching on Daenerys, and I suppose that’s when the alliance will be proposed from Jon Snow and the North. Or, and this just occurred to me, instead of Cersei dying in season 7, it could be that Jaime betrays her just before the battle with the Night King while Daenerys is negotiating an alliance with Snow–that, actually, as the eve of battle approaches, it appears that Daenerys is outnumbered and outflanked by three armies: Cersei on one side, the Night King on the other, and the Northern/ Stark armies on the other.
But then, in a coup d’etat and stroke of luck, one of her enemies is dispatched by treachery from within and one of her apparent enemies turns ally, which would set her in an ideal position to best neutralize the true threat to the kingdom. Also, GRRM has–although the television series isn’t particularly faithful in reproducing it–written a pretty pro-feminist fantasy series here. Yes, I know there’s rape in the book. Yes, I know there are sex workers. Yes, I know about the objectification and violence toward women.
I also know that–in the books, anyway, and the tv series is (recently) doing better–there multiple plotlines told from the perspectives of women, and every one of those stories is nuanced enough that even when I hate the character (Cersei) there are still moments when I commiserate and sympathize with them–when I understand, for a moment, why they do the things they do. Make the choices they make.
When Cersei-the-mother speaks about her fierce, protective love for her children, I hear her. I wouldn’t, myself, make the choices she makes–but I understand that heart-clench, that need to protect, that drive.
When Cersei-the-woman speaks with fury about the unfair structures of a patriarchal society that prefers her brother over her in inheritance, I hear her, however reluctantly. I may not agree with the decisions she made in light of her rage, but I hear her anger. I understand it.
I dislike Cersei as a character/ person. I think she’s cruel, selfish, short-sighted, and not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. I also think she’s wonderfully written–a complex character, who cannot be distilled down to her bad qualities. She clearly loves her children and family and is loyal to a fault.
Likewise, the “good” girls cannot be distilled down to their good qualities–every character is a complex mix of personality traits. This is true of both the male and female characters, but I love it most in the female characters because it’s so rare to see, especially from a male author–not only are there well-developed female characters who don’t rely on one-note stereotypes, but there are a host of them! An entire cast, a whole range, and they’re equally balanced in amount to the male characters! Many are in leadership roles, or counseling those in leadership roles!
So because GRRM was willing (in the books) to write complex and awesome female characters, and because I strongly suspect he flipped the genders of Henry VII and Elizabeth York to Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow/ Stark, I do think Daenerys will end up on the Iron Throne in a dynastic alliance with the King of the North, Jon Snow, as her husband.
Perhaps, given Snow’s aversion to power and the hints near the end of season 6 regarding Daenery’s willingness to share her kingdom, he’ll be less a “King” and more something like a consort to the queen–perhaps the character of Daenerys is inspired by both Henry VII and his famous descendent, Queen Elizabeth the Virgin Queen (though we already know Daenerys is no virgin, we also know she cannot produce an heir and will likely die without issue).