First, the obvious:
- The dragons are the trump cards against the Other, and Daenerys has to come across at some point. I can’t imagine that others – Stannis, the Boy King who now has a foothold in Westeros, even the other wannabe kings (and Brandon has to have some sort of triumphant role to play) – will bow down quietly, even in the face of the great danger that the Others represent. Do they band together, which seems completely antithetical to anything that Martin has done? Does the fractiousness result in the Others covering Westeros in permanent winter? Or do they manage to get their shit together just long enough, like the Greeks at Salamis Bay and Marathon?
- Is the reason that winters are so long the presence of the Others? Have they somehow affected the balance of Westeros? And if so, why doesn’t this affect the rest of the planet?
- Crassus, amongst others, seems able to communicate with the Others somehow. Hell, even the cocky arrogant knight at the beginning, sent on patrol and not realizing his danger, didn’t seem completely afraid of them. Will some Westerosans make deals with them? Is this where Cold Hands comes in, being able to negotiate between two worlds but not making a deal with the Others like Crassus did? Of course, Cold Hands appears to be a wight who has gained sentience, unlike Crassus who was alive…
- What did they do with the children they took? Did they simply eat them? If so, why only boys? I don’t mind if Martin doesn’t finish up all his plot lines, and in fact I’d find it disturbing if he tried to tie them all up neatly, but I’m still curious why they did that…and why he added that piece. It might simply have been to provide characterization for Crassus, but he seemed pretty nasty even without that piece.
- My guess is that Daenerys and Brandon somehow join forces, and Tyrion and Arya will meet up again. There is also the assassin or Master or whatever he was who began the last book and then disappeared, and there’s all Kat’s band, which is now pretty horrible, and the sellswords, and, well, there is no way to tie this all up. Maybe the best Martin can do is offer most of them honorable deaths at the hands of the Others?
- Why bother with so many plot lines if they’re unresolvable? Martin is a smart guy, and writers want to tie up plot issues ordinarily, but if he wants all of this to coalesce it’s going to seem horribly forced, I’m guessing…
- I hope the dire wolves are part of something bigger.
- I’m really hoping that either John Snow didn’t die or he helps us understand exactly what Cold Hands is.
- I hope the Kraken get some redemption, somehow.
- The static quality of these folks either speaks to the power of custom and culture or to a failure of imagination on the part of the author.