The Heir to Harrenhal

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Alayne Stone by Nicole McEvoy (Leafette)

The Vale storyline from TWOW is expected to be very different from rest of the book, because everything is still a game for the Vale populace. In other regions of Planetos we have magic, (oncoming) war, famine and diseases, while Vale is set to witness a grand tourney. To be sure, there are schemes planned underneath by the players of the game of thrones. Littlefinger, Myranda Royce, Mad Mouse, Lyn Corbray – all of these people have power to turns the events or cause some incidents for their own advantage. It is expected that either Harry or Sweetrobin will be killed or badly injured. Whatever happens, LF has a knack to come on top. If Harry dies, LF won’t be suspected because he betrothed his daughter to Harry, and if Robert dies before Harry-Sansa marriage, LF loses all power, so he can defend himself against any accusations.

However, what if Littlefinger dies?

In the Vale, a lot of people (except perhaps Nestor Royce) will be glad to find LF dead. LF’s death frees both heirs to the Vale of ‘bad influence’, and the Vale nobility will be back to their status. Lyn Corbray will lose a source of gold, but the gold is the only thing he will miss about LF. It is even possible that Lyn will be accused of LF’s murder. Myranda could influence little Robert to conserve her father’s status as Keeper of Gates of the Moon. Myranda could even seduce Robert Arryn (if he’s alive), though it is a gamble from her part since the boy could die any moment. Yohn Royce could also make some changes in the power-politics of the Vale, thanks to the sudden disappearance of LF factor.

What of Alayne Stone? With LF dead, she will be in a precarious position, but during her time at the Vale, she has risen to be popular among the Arryn household, especially Lothor Brune and Mya Stone. At the very least, Alayne can use her relations to ensure her immediate safety following her father‘s death (such as making sure no one blows her cover until she is ready to come out as Sansa Stark). If Harry is alive, her chances of becoming future Lady of the Vale is still intact, but once out of LF’s clutches, Sansa will have a lot of options regarding her next move, more than half of them provided thanks to LF’s past actions.

  • Alayne is the only known child and an acknowledged bastard of Petyr Baelish. This means all of LF’s wealth could pass to her. If so, it will be upto Alayne to decide the status of the various debts owed to LF. Since she has never been greedy for money, she could forgive some debts to gain influence of her own. In case of the Rosby inheritance, lord Gyles’s ward did not get the inheritance because he was ‘no child of his body’ – which implies that in the absence of any other trueborn relatives, a bastard could inherit the father’s wealth. If the Vale nobility opposes, Alayne can handle herself, and although the Iron Throne would be wiser to take a huge part of LF’s wealth to themselves, those at KL have no idea how wealthy LF really is. They might even legitimize Alayne like they did Ramsay (not ever seeing the person).
  • If all of Littlefinger’s pass to Alayne, it includes the castle of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount status over Riverlands. It will be fun to have the Riverlands come to a half-Tully thanks to Lannisters and Littlefinger, but the Lannisters are more likely to give the Lord Paramount title to Emmon Frey, but they might let Alayne keep Harrenhal. If they don’t, it will look bad on the crown’s already bad name – the poor man (LF) helped them win the war, and when he died his bastard daughter was sent to the impoverished Fingers because the crown took away the castle that was well-earned by her father.
  • The last Vale post discussed the possibility of familiar character entering Sansa’s story. If Alayne comes into the possession of Harrenhal, it will be Sansa entering theirs. She could meet Brotherhood without banners, she could reunite with Arya and Nymeria, she could help her uncle Edmure to consolidate power in Riverlands, she could influence Ser Bonifer Hasty to turn against the Lannisters in favour of either Targaryen claimants (Aegon is more likely than Dany), she could be found by Jaime and Brienne, she could be cause for Cleganebowl (if the Hound finds her and Cersei sends Gregor Clegane after sniffing out Alayne’s identity).
  • If Alayne does not get (or go to) Harrenhal, she will be staying in the Vale for a while, thanks to her (ostensibly) good relationships with the Royces and Waynwoods. If at least one of Harry and Sweetrobin are alive, she can still be the de facto lady of the Vale (like she was at the end of AFFC). In this scenario, it might be up to her to respond to the plea for food and provisions for the Night’s Watch. Jon’s thoughts about NW lacking food and gold:
    Our best hope may be the Eyrie. The Vale of Arryn was famously fertile and had gone untouched during the fighting. Jon wondered how Lady Catelyn’s sister would feel about feeding Ned Stark’s bastard.

    Maybe it will be his own sister at the other end, not Lady Catelyn’s. (Of course, if it was LF who got the messages they are going in the fire).

    Jon: “We will bring in food by ship, as much as might be required. From the riverlands and the stormlands and the Vale of Arryn, from Dorne and the Reach, across the narrow sea from the Free Cities.”

    It is not explicitly said, but Jon might have sent some ravens for more provisions to all important castles of Westeros. Since he signed the loan from the Iron Bank, he would have promised to pay, instead of ‘begging’ for help. In Alayne I, we see that the lords of the Vale are ready to sell the grain for high enough prices, despite approaching winter.

  • If Alayne stays in the Vale for a while, she might be in time for a dragon or two landing. I just hope that she survives or escapes the Mountain Clans invasion foreshadowed in the first books. Speaking of Mountain Clans, I support Timett son of Timett and Myranda Royce for the Lord and Lady of the Vale.

All these are speculations, partly motivated by my desire to see LF die ASAP. I admit the more plausible course of story will be Harry or Robert dying or Mad Mouse wreaking some havoc, but since those are done-to-death in various forums, I thought this one (Vale plus Sansa minus LF) is worth considering.

To summarize, it seems to me that LF is repeating the mistakes of Tywin Lannister, in planning so much and having high ambitions but not accounting for the possibility of what happens if the player himself is removed from the game. In Tywin’s case, his fall affected House Lannister very badly. LF has nothing to lose, but he is unwittingly giving a lot of power to Sansa, and at one point she may decide that he is disposable, a nice reversal of how LF treated all his former ‘allies’.

Hopefully this is the last of my posts about the Vale storyline.

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Her hair was a rich autumn auburn, her eyes a deep Tully blue. Grief had given her a haunted, vulnerable look; if anything, it had only made her more beautiful. He wanted to reach her, to break through the armor of her courtesy. Was that what made him speak?

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And so it was that her lord husband cloaked her in the colors of House Lannister whilst standing on the back of a fool.

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“I can see how virtuous you are just by looking at those rosy cheeks and big blue eyes of yours.”

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“You have your mother’s eyes. Honest eyes, and innocent. Blue as a sunlit sea. When you are a little older, many a man will drown in those eyes.”

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It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face…

It took all the courage that was in her to look in those mismatched eyes and say, “And if I never want you to, my lord?”

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 Note: Sansa isn’t the only one described as having eyes like deep blue pools, but it is her husband who goes under the name Hugor Hill. Given my personal history as a literature enthusiast, I should have been inclined to shipping Sansa with the Hound. Somehow I never could. I like the Hound well enough, just never thought of him and Sansa as a thing until I got into forums. Since ASOS, I’ve been shipping SanRion. But I get where SanSan people come from. What I don’t get are the ‘monsters’ who ship Sansa with Littlefinger.

The Lone Wolf as a Daughter of Gods

Being not very familiar with fantasy or mythology, I looked up possible mythological parallels Sea/Storm marriages. Since the founding of Storm’s End is a myth-type story in WoIaF, it could be inspired by some real-world myths. Found two:

1. In Norse Mythology, Ran (Sea goddess who causes storms to collect the drowned men) married to Aegir (the benevolent sea god). Both of them dwell in magnificent halls underneath the ocean (drowned god’s watery halls?). They have nine daughters who ‘personify characters of waves’ (wikipedia).

2. In Greek Mythology, Poseidon is the sea god. His daughter Cymopoleia, is goddess of giant storm waves. She is married to Briareos, a giant in return for his allegiance to olympian gods in the war against Titans.  Judging by the wiki page most fantasy readers would already know about him. He was one of the Hekatonkheires who were children of Earth Goddes Gaia and Sky God Uranus. They were ‘figures of an archaic stage’ probably meaning they were older than olympian gods. The Hekatonkheires are said to have had a hundred hands for wielding clouds and fifty heads for blustering winds. For this, they were called Hundred-handers.aegaeon

Now we enter tinfoil regime: Connections made using a murky collage of several god myths

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Mother of Dragons, Daughter of Gods

Posted earlier today on Reddit. Posting here with slight changes.

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Image taken from facebook.com/AryaFromHouseStark

Been re-reading Arianne II of TWOW. Despite the travelogue nature, I really liked this chapter, because we learn a lot about Stormlands. Came to share a few thoughts on this passage.

Arianne had once heard her father and Maester Caleotte arguing with a septon about why the north and south sides of the Sea of Dorne were so different. The septon thought it was because of Durran Godsgrief, the first Storm King, who had stolen the daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the wind and earned their eternal enmity. Prince Doran and the maester inclined more toward wind and water, and spoke of how the big storms that formed down in the Summer Sea would pick up moisture moving north until they slammed into Cape Wrath. For some strange reason the storms never seemed to strike at Dorne, she recalled her father saying. “I know your reason,” the septon had responded. “No Dornishmen ever stole away the daughter of two gods.”

On the surface, it is about magic vs logic. The septon argues that it was the wrath of gods that caused the difference in climates of the two sides of Sea of Dorne, while maester and Doran chooses the more scientific explanation which is also applicable to many dry places in our own planet earth.

All the same, this is a fantasy world, so we should not be too quick to discard magic or gods, who are at least some names men gave to magical phenomena.

According to myth, Durran’s wife, Elenei, was the daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the wind. We don’t know if these were part of the Old Gods of the nature, or the gods First Men used to worship before the pact marking the end of Dawn age. Durran and Elenei lived during age of Heroes, but Bran the Builder was only a boy when Storm’s End was raised, so they could have seen both Dawn Age and Age of Heroes. At any rate all these are but stories. The only First Men gods whose name we know of are Lady of the Waves and Lord of the Skies. If the Ironborn are First Men descendants, then the Drowned God and Storm God are also First Men gods. So we have different gods of different gender for Sea, Wind, Storm, Waves, Water and Sky. Sea and Water can be condensed to Water. Storm and Wind could be condensed to Wind/Air. Waves could be sea, or it could be wind (as wind brings the waves). Sky is an odd one.

A. Stormlands Myth

  1. Sea God : Water, Male
  2. Wind Goddess : Air, Female

B. Three Sisters (First Men)

  1. Sky God :Sky, Male
  2. Lady of the Waves :Air, Female (Could also be goddess of the sea)

C. Ironborn

  1. Drowned God : Water, Male
  2. Storm God : Air, Male

Overall, we have two male water deities and two female air deities. Is it possible that A and C are the same pair, and the Ironborn ‘male chauvinists’ decided to have a god instead of goddess because having a woman opposing the drowned god will not do? We may never know.

Mythology aside, does the title quote have any significance in Arianne’s story? Her brother is a Dornishman who has gone on a mission to ‘steal’ (wildling word for wedding) the daughter of two or maybe three gods – Daenerys who was called ‘child of storm’ and ‘daughter of death’. In Dany’s case, if she can really be called the daughter of any god, it is the fire god, since she was reborn from Drogo’s pyre. It was a mysterious event where we don’t know what sacrifice saved her life. She’s called Stormborn because she was born during a storm. Anyway, if Dany can be called daughter of two gods (Storm God and God of Death), Quentyn failed in stealing her. And there aren’t many Dornishmen left to steal her. Except perhaps Darkstar. Edric Dayne – too young. Arch Yronwood – too big. Gerris Drinkwater – too lowborn. Maybe a Northman born in Dorne might succeed?

A speculated family tree of Gods

Older Gods

Unexpected Guests at The Tourney of the Winged Knights

A follow-up to this post. No tourney in ASOIAF goes uneventful and as expected. Something happens (most often bad) or someone turns up. Here I am listing a few possible surprise guests who could (re)enter Sansa’s storyline through the Tourney of Winged Knights.

521px-Brynden_Tully_personal_armsBrynden Tully: In AFFC, Jaime thinks ‘If I were Blackfish, where would I go?’. If Tom o’Sevens did not have a meeting with Edmure, the Vale was a likely place. Blackfish stayed in the Vale for a long time, and he must have friends there – whether for vengeance or survival. Riverrun has fallen by the last Alayne chapter of AFFC, allowing BF time to reach the Vale. However, the more widely accepted theory is that Blackfish will try to rescue Jeyne and Edmure and other hostages by leading the BwB to attack Forley Prester’s entourage. We know Jeyne Westerling appears on TWOW prologue, so this would be how we finds out what happened to Blackfish. Showing this event in a Prologue implies there may not be any PoV character (Brienne or Jaime) present. If Blackfish knew Sansa was at the Vale, he might go there, but the Blackfish we saw in AFFC was intent upon protecting his queen (ie Jeyne). I’d say it is more characteristic of Blackfish to lead an assault of the Lannisters, than to go a seemingly wild-goose chase in the Vale. He could always go to the Vale after fixinp up stuff at Riverlands, though if that was the case the news of the fall of the Twins or like will reach the Vale sooner or later.

DunkBrienne and/or Jaime: When we last saw Brienne, it was near Pennytree, abducting Jaime. Clearly the BwB has spies all over Riverlands, many of them targeting Freys and Lannisters. Brienne could try to escape with Jaime, but GRRM has confirmed that the reason for Brienne choosing ‘Sword’ over ‘Noose’ was to save Podrick’s life. In that case, Brienne will keep the promise of bringing Jaime to LSH. What happens after is anyone’s guess. Would Jaime or Brienne convince the BwB that Sansa would have gone to the Vale and they  are in a good position to bring her to LSH? Both Brienne and Jaime swore oaths to Catelyn about returning her daughters. There is the distant possibility that Jaime or Brienne willKingsguard try to lengthen their lives by bringing some of the BwB to the Vale, to look for Sansa. Unlike last time, they will be watched by men loyal to Catelyn and smarter and less noticeable than Cleos Frey or Brienne. The Vale still being loyal to the Iron Throne, Jaime can use his position as the Lord Commander of the KG to find and abduct Sansa if she was in the Vale. LF may know Jaime went missing, but Jaime can cook up a story to cover his current mission and his temporary loyalty to BwB.

545px-House_Payne.svgPodrick Payne: If Brienne or Jaime goes to Vale, Pod might also go. Unlike either of them, he can participate in the melee. (Jaime is one-handed and Brienne is a woman accused of kingslaying). Maybe Jaime will knight Pod and send him to the melee? Having served as Tyrion’s squire in the past, Pod is familiar with Sansa enough to recognize her even with dyed hair. Except Littlefinger and Mad Mouse, no one in the Vale is likely to recognize Pod. Sansa knows Pod to be harmless and goodhearted, so he has a better chance of earning Sansa’s trust than either Brienne or Jaime.

Ser Gendry of Hollow Hill: I don’t think either Thoros or Blackfish (if he’s with BwB) thinkBaratheon it’s a good idea to parade Gendry around a place where Robert Baratheon spent so many years of his youth. I do think Thoros knows who Gendry is, and did not mention it so save the boy – they are in the middle of an outlaw band who’d sell anyone for money, and Thoros seemed more goodhearted than the rest, and maybe wanted to protect his friend’s son. However, Gendry will have some role in the story, and him going to Vale opens some interesting possibilities – most important one is that he could meet Mya, and I think both of them will be happy to find someone whom they can call family. It will be a nice change from the highborns who always use them to discard later. I’m not implying Arya discarded Gendry, but after his mother died, he never had anyone to call his own – Arya was his friend, but he knew she was too bloody highborn and they could not remain friends forever. But no matter what happens, a sibling will always be a sibling. If Gendry attends the melee, he may do it as a traveling smith than as a knight, as it is a good job to collect information. Gendry himself may want to enter as a mystery knight, though.

Lem Lemoncloak: If some of the BwB makes it into the Vale, Lem is one well-suited to enter the melee without arising suspicion. All he needs is to don a different cloak.

Lady Stoneheart: Only if she hears news that Sansa could be at the Vale. As far as we know, BwB does not have spies in the Vale. So this is unlikely. Also LSH’s revenge spree seems destined to happen around Riverlands. I only added her because it would bHouse_Starke nice to have a meeting between her and Littlefinger.

Hallis or Harwin: I believe one of them is the ‘translator’ whom Brienne meets in AFFC. If BwB sends someone to Vale searching for Sansa, a Northmen from Winterfell is a good option. He will be recognized as a Northman, but many Northmen who came down with Robb must be wandering about after the war, so it won’t be hard for him to keep his head down. LSH and BwB would expect Sansa to come with one of her father’s men – though I don’t think Sansa would trust any of these BwB messengers.

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Hyle Hunt: Another unrecognizable person. As Randyll Tarly’s household knight who was last seen near Maidenpool, he could also be present in the Vale under the pretense of going to Gulltown or something. LF or Lothor Brune may know him, given LF’s familiarity with the Tyrells (not sure about his familiarity with Tyrell bannermen).

Septon Meribald: The person who will have least trouble wandering around. His regular FaithStarcoverage area is Riverlands, and BwB let him go before they interrogated Brienne, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be at the Vale on BwB’s bidding. If (a big if) he somehow ends up in the Gates of the Moon, say to gather goodies for the poor from the chivalrous knights and lords, a wandering septon will be totally welcome in the Andal-heavy Vale. Not sure if he will meet Sansa, but if he does, he too could recognize her (if she is seen in the sept praying under torches or candles that makes her hair look auburn). This is a very weak possibility, but since he’s heard all about Brienne’s mission, and as a wandered by nature, he can’t be neglected.

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Sandor Clegane: While most fans expect him to reenter Sansa’s storyline, this tourney is not the place. There is no reason for the Elder Brother to send a gravedigger to the Vale. If Quiet Isle was attacked, leaving Sandor homeless, he may decide to find to some new place to live, but Quiet Isle looked safe.

Arya Stark: It would be great to have Arya, a walking lie-detector and Stark-to-the-core545px-Faceless_Men.svg around Littlefinger. We know she will eventually return to Westeros, but we don’t know to where. Most theories I’ve read suggests the North or Riverlands. If by some chance Arya ends up near this tourney, it could be as a mission from FM (even to kill Alayne whose name she does not know). Whether by mission or by her free will, Arya will be under some disguise and no one would be able to recognize her – except perhaps Gendry (if he’s in the Vale too), who as a smith, might think that her sword looks familiar. While Arya seems poised to leave the HoBaW, I don’t think the Braavos storyline is over, and the Tourney must happen the chapter following Alayne I in TWOW. Overall, I think there is only slim chance for Arya to make an appearance in Alayne II.

There are other possibilities for pawns and players of the game to look to the Vale, however, as the Alayne I chapter seems to be lagging behind many other important events (Cersei’s trial, Aegon’s invasion, Stannis’s march etc), I have ignored the toruney-crashers from those quarters. Also ignored my personal favorite surprise appearance to happen in the Vale – Tyrion riding Viserion.

Plot Armour Revisited

Following BryndenBFish’s Ultimate Winds of Winter Resource, my spirits are elevated in general about TWOW expectations. Mainly because I’m more hopeful about Dany/Tyrion meeting and ‘cooperation’. I don’t care if Tyrion causes the second Dance – I just want to see him by Dany’s side. He deserves that position better than anyone on TeamAegon, in my opinion.

But the worrying thing was GRRM mentioning there will be a lot of deaths, including PoVs. I am worried about the main five – Jon, Dany, Tyrion, Arya and Bran – especially Dany because GRRM did not mention her in a post where he listed a lot of other characters, but there is a more than 50% chance that she’ll survive TWOW.

“the viewpoint characters are occasionally meeting up with each other now and being in the same point at the same time, which gives me a lot more flexibility for killing people.” – GRRM

GRRM said ~13 will be the initial PoVs. That does not add up. Let’s see who are meeting up and facing death.

1. Bran: From the show it seems he won’t stay at the cave forever, but even so it will be a long time before he reaches any other PoV. And Bran is the character I personally rate as the most likely to survive the series. My bet is he’s safe. [0]

2-3. Jon/Melisandre at the Wall: We don’t know if Jon will return as a PoV, but if Melisandre gives her life for resurrecting Jon (the show may have kept her alive to fill the role or Marwyn or Moqorro), we will need Jon back as a PoV. Shireen’s burning will happen in the books, but it could be just Stannis doing it (making it holy-shit). [1]

4-5. Theon/Asha: We already have one PoV chapter from Theon in TWOW, but his prospects for living did not look bright in that one. Redditers analyzing GRRM’s photo in front of his monitor have concluded he was writing an Asha chapter. It is possible that Asha chapter occurs after Theon was executed, though personally I want both of them to survive. [1]

6. Davos: He’s off to Skagos, and GRRM confirmed we’ll see more of Osha, so Davos must return as a PoV and he’ll be safe until he is near/around another PoV. [0]

7. Alayne: She’s amidst a lot of dangers and people plotting in the Vale, but it seems we’ll see a lot of interesting stuff going on in Vale, so I’d bet Alayne is safe for at least the first half of the book. [0]

8-9. Jaime/Brienne: Last seen near Pennytree. Brienne agreed to take Jaime to BwB, so the next time we see them will be in one of the BwB lairs. LSH would want Jaime dead, but she may also use him for Red Wedding 2.0. Between Brienne and Jaime, Jaime’s fever dream from ASOS suggests Brienne will survive, but the valonqar suggests Jaime will survive. But chances are high for at least one of them to die. [1]

10. Cersei: Eventually she’ll meet with Arianne, Jon Connington or Jaime, but before any of that, there are a lot of things that must happen in King’s Landing. The trials and the Sand Snakes reception mainly. But Cersei is doomed to die, and the next book must be more about the war for the Dawn in which Cersei has no role to play. I think she’ll die in TWOW, but not necessarily in KL (we’ll see Casterly Rock sometime), and not likely  during the first half of the book. [1]

11-12. Arianne/JonCon: JonCon is afflicted with Grayscale, but he still have a few years. Arianne has a penchant for getting into dangerous situations. Both of them seem to have more stories to be part of, but if GRRM is on a POV killing spree, one of them could be expendable. [1]

13-14. Aeron/Sam: Right now they are not in the same area, just the same kingdom (Reach). There will be at least one more Aeron chapter (in addition to the Foresaken). While we all would love Sam to have some happy time at the Citadel, well-set plans rarely come true in the series, so it is more likely that Oldtown will be raided and Sam will be forced to flee or serve Euron. This is pure speculation on my part, but I don’t see any other way we’ll get a PoV around Euron or the regions attacked by Euron. Maybe Sam is how we’ll meet Willas and Garlan, though my initial guess for Highgarden PoV would be Arianne (trying to recruit lords for Aegon). I definitely don’t see Aeron surviving TWOW. [1]

15. Aero Hotah: He could get killed by Obara or Darkstar. But we lose all info on Dorne then (not that I’d mind). He will have at least one PoV in TWOW, but I have no idea whether he’ll survive or not. Since he is an isolated PoV and no other is likely to go to Dorne in near future, I’d keep him on the survivor list. [0]

16. Arya: Arya is another isolated PoV, and a main character, so even if I expect her to return to Westeros by end of TWOW, I’m sure she’ll survive this book. [0]

17. Dany: GRRM hasn’t confirmed Dany will return as a PoV, but he said we’ll revisit Dothraki, so it has to be through Dany PoVs. She’ll survive the Dothraki and return to Meereen or Volantis and meet with Tyrion where he’ll tell about Aegon and Targaryen history (Blackfyre rebellions). Dany may be doomed to die, but I don’t think it will be in this book. [0]

18-20. Victarion/Barristan/Tyrion: All three have PoVs in TWOW, but Barry and Vic seem doomed to die. At least one of them will die in the early chapters of the book. [1]

That makes 13 locations with 20 possible PoVs of which at least 7 could die, meaning at most 13 PoVs will live. If Martin was right and there will be fewer than 13 PoVs by the end, I’d expect Hotah, Barristan, and Jaime to bite the dust sooner or later. Davos is also not very safe if Shaggydog story is to be taken into account. Overall, my guess is that 10 PoVs will survive TWOW.