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Friday, 1 September 2017

The Future of Game of Thrones

The above, (probably), fan video was released a few days ago it has had me wondering what the future holds for those living in Westeros and Essos when the War of the Five Kings has ended and the Night's King has been vanquished. I found this idea so compelling that I just had to talk about my thoughts about what Planetos (as Reddit has dubbed the world from A Song of Ice and Fire) would be like in a world not too dissimilar to the modern world. Luckily for us George R.R. Martin is a history fan so we can guess a few things through our own history. We do have a bit of a predicament though. Other than neither being finished as of writing the books and show share several plot points and ending but they diverge in several other key areas. Hence this post will merge the two together. However, be warned: this contains spoilers! Let's now look at Planetos in the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings and the Night's King being defeated.

Immediate Aftermath
The Wall where the Dead shall Fight
Mixing the show, the books and my own theories together Aegon Targaryen will be defeated by either Westerosi defenders or Daenerys, after ousting the Boltons Jon Snow becomes King in the North  and later Daenerys' consort, the living form a truce, defeat the Night's King, and Jamie kills Cersei as he tries to destroy King's Landing to prevent it falling into Targaryen hands. When the dust has settled Jon (Aegon) and Daenerys rule on the Iron Throne but over a fractured Seven Kingdoms. Under the leadership of Asha (Yara) Greyjoy a new Kingdom of the Iron Isles emerges, Dorne regains its independence under Arianne Martell and the North has considerable autonomy (if not full independence) under Sansa Stark. The remaining kingdoms under the sway of the Iron Throne, (with the exception of the Vale), would be impoverished through years of murder, war and winter. With Jon and Daenerys ruling the smallfolk would be better taken care of; Jon's treatment of the Free Folk and Dany's emancipation of the slaves in Slaver's Bay is evidence of this. Unlike their ancestor of Aegon V whose attempts to aid the smallfolk resulted in opposition from the lords they should have an easier time helping the smallfolk. Winning a major war would have enforced their rule over the higborn and the war wiped out many major houses. The Tullys, Freys, Tarlys, Tyrells, and Arryns (Sweetrobin's health means he is not long for the world), are just some of the notable houses to be eradicated. This relief program would also be organized by the Hand. I would imagine that Jon and Dany would hold equal sway possibly leading to two Hands, (possibly Tyrion and Davos). 

What of the Dothraki which Dany brought with her to Westeros? I can imagine them diverging into two paths. The first become Westerosized abandoning pillaging and nomadism in favor of permanent lands. The others instead remaining loyal to their queen but not abandoning the Dothraki way; that is until Dany's death. With Dany dead the nomadic Dothraki would revert to their original ways forcing Jon, (and possibly Dany's child), and the non-nomadic Dothraki to be forced to wipe the nomadic ones out, or force them to submit. In the most recent season Tyrion hinted at the possibility of a democracy in Westeros. Unlike today's democracies I would imagine it being like Simon de Montford's parliament, (judging by Martin's interest in English/British history this could be something likely). Instead of everyone voting lords, landed knights and important maesters would sit in the King's Landing parliament. This would not be the first parliament in Westerosi history: in 101 the Great Council was called. This permanent Great Council would be established first in Harrenhal until a new building could be constructed in King's Landing. The monarchy would hold the most power though. Finally, the Free Folk would settle in parts of the North for their role in the war but they would face intense discrimination and would often rebel as they refused to kneel for Winterfell. Under Sansa's and Jon's rule, (as well as the rule of their children), I would imagine that there would be peace between Free Folk and kneelers. 

Slaver's Bay may resort to warfare and autocracy once more. I cannot imagine Daario being a benevolent ruler and as soon as the Harpy's rear their ugly heads again those heads would role. A cult of personality could even surround Daario as he wages continuous wars against recalcitrant Ghiscari cities trying to reimpose slavery. With delusions of grandeur he may even declare himself emperor of the New Ghiscari Empire. The freed slaves, meanwhile, would continue honoring Daenerys as 'Mhysa' and in turn honor Daario as her anointed successor. 

Westerosi Colonization of Planetos
One thing we have yet to mention is magic. Alchemists and maesters mention in the books how certain arts seemed stronger suddenly; the reader knows this to be the work of magic returning. With dragons flying over Westeros' skies and the dead walking the maesters would take more notice of magic. Originally the maesters had even conspired to kill the dragons as they believed magic to be obsolete/backwards under the new Targaryens, and in the light of new events, they would have to accept magic. With that we may see a 'Scientific Revolution' in Westeros and, in my opinion, the absence of magic may have caused the stunting of technological development. After a few generations gunpowder may be discovered and an explorer from the Iron Islands or Oldtown may travel west to find a new route to Qarth and Asshai...and discover a new continent. So far we only know of three continents on Planetos: Westeros, Essos and Sothoryos. Even then we know of northern Sothoryos, and another place named Ulthos could be a fourth continent. Whoever travels west I would imagine discovering a new continent with analogues to the Native American societies which existed before European colonialism and genocide. With the advent of the compass other explorers would travel and map Sothoryos. Then the exploitation of the new regions would begin.

Westerosi would colonize the new continent and take over areas of Sothoryos along the coast. We may even see a version of the Atlantic Slave trade emerge. Due to Daenerys waging a war against slavery Westerosi in the future would likely create a coded language to justify their enslavement of the new continent and Sothoyosi. After Britain abolished slavery 'indentured servitude' was introduced which was slavery by another name. Meanwhile, Westeros would start to conquer areas of Essos, namely the Dothraki Sea and Slaver's Bay. Quite possibly the Free Folk living in Westeros could be forced into indenture as were the poor of the British Isles in the seventeenth-century as Andals push them off of their land. Trading colonies would start which would later need protecting, (in the Dothraki Sea we would see farmers), and Westerosi trading companies would start establishing formal rule over areas. The Summer Isles may even be directly conquered. 

Then the Industrial Revolution would come. The Westerlands are noted for their mining while the Iron Islands for their iron so I would imagine these two could be a center for industrial beginnings. The North is partially based off of northern England, (where I am from), and Scotland which were areas of Britain's industry; the North could also be a center of industry. Thanks to that research into disease could allow Westerosi advancement into Sothoryos as treatment for yellow fever and other diseases allowed European advancement into Africa. If one reads The World of Ice and Fire you get the image that outside Westeros the world is strange, mystical, one-dimensional and mysterious. This is likely intentional. Edward Said wrote Orientalism in 1978 which explains this. Europeans went to colonized regions, (he was writing solely about the Middle East but it can be applied to anywhere where Europeans exploited), applying their own ideas of culture and decided that it was 'backward' or 'uncivilized' as it differed to their view. (This explanation is of course simplified). The novels are from a Westerosi point of view and World is supposed to be written by a Westerosi maester: Martin has cleverly implemented this in his worldbuilding. As Westeros expands out Orientalist texts go from purely mystical to more informed and more insulting to the conquered peoples of Planetos.

Present Day Planetos
From the trailer
Here we come to the trailer which started the post. Let's start off with the rest of the world. In the regions conquered by Westeros like in our world the retreat from empire would leave artificial states in Essos, Sothoryos etc. Slaver's Bay would see only one state as the old city states would be put into one state called Ghis. Areas conquered around the Free Cities would be put into a new state named Valyria. Several modern states are named after pre-colonial states, like Mali, so it would not be unusual to see a Ghis or North and South Valyria. As stated earlier we only have a Westerosi point of view so we know very little outside of Westeros so this part shall be short. What we can guess though is that Sothoryos and beyond the Grey Waste the states would be a mismatch of different groups. One thing from the trailer is Braavos having many wind turbines: whoever thought of that is a genius. Braavos is very much like Venice, rich in trade but not in resources, so it would make sense for Braavos to be a pioneer in green energy.

Then we come to Westeros. I can imagine Westeros being largely made of four states: the North, Dorne, the Iron Islands, and the Dragon Kingdoms. Dorne and the Iron Islands would be republics compared to the others which would be constitutional monarchies. The Free folk in the North and Vale would still face intense discrimination and may even call for their own states. The treatment of the Irish by the British, Highlanders by Lowland Scots and English, and the Ainu in Japan would be the best parallel. These states would be united in a 'Westerosi Union' which Dorne might consider leaving in 'Dorxit'. Unlike the trailer I doubt we would have a prime minister in the Westerosi states. The term prime minister, in the sense we use today, was a pejorative used to lambaste Sir Robert Walpole and it evolved into the official position we know today. Instead 'Hand' would be used. The Dragon Kingdoms would be a federal system with the Crownlands, Westerlands, Reach, Riverlands and Vale having increased autonomy. Some, namely the Riverlands, may even have independence movements. Mentioned earlier were the Dothraki. I would imagine that modern Westerosi would have borrowed much from the Dothraki with many words being borrowed from them, as modern English contains many words from Danish. Thanks to the Night's King I would imagine that cremation would be the primary form of corpse disposal which becomes part of Westerosi culture. The places that we've come to love would be turned into historical sites: daily tours of Winterfell, battlefield tours of the Whispering Woods, and the Red Keep turned into a museum like the Hagia Sophia today. The Iron Throne behind a barricade for visitors to take photos and Drogon's skull occupying the entrance hall of the Westerosi Museum of Natural History. Which comes to the dragons...
The last dragons
By 1300 AC dragons would be exceedingly rare if not extinct. Unless if more dragon eggs could be found to be hatched with Targaryen children I believe that Dany's dragons could be the last. There could be new dragons discovered in Sothoryos or other continents but Valyrian dragons would be represented by only Dany's. Here comes in my theory. Dragons are like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park: they are CGI reptilian monsters and can change their sex in a same-sex environment. This allows more dragon eggs but also could lead to what happened to them originally; the dragons could grow small and deformed through incest. The last ones would be relegated to zoos or to the Targaryens, (if there are any left), if they aren't extinct. The giants I would imagine would be extinct. They were almost gone by the events of Song so I can't imagine them lasting too long after, (along with mammoths). Meanwhile, the Night's Watch would have gone through a shift. As the new millennia approached I can imagine them dropping the no-wife/lands/children policy into a more flexible system, which involves women serving. Across Westeros it'll remain more as a form of military service which negotiates with Freefolk across the Wall. The North instead would have a form a compulsory conscription where everyone would have to serve for up to five years. Although I can also imagine that the Wall and the lands beyond it would come into trouble as global warming starts melting the world around them. That is until a blue-eyed corpse is found...

Thank you for reading. What do you imagine a modern-day Planetos looking like? Do you agree with me or think I've got it entirely wrong? I would love to hear your ideas. For future blog posts we have a Facebook page or you can find me on Twitter @LewisTwiby.

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