The rumours surrounding Game of Thrones' sixth season are kicking into overload at this stage.
There's wild speculation about the state of certain characters returning (looking at you, Jon Snow) and whether or not certain plotlines will continue on into the new season. Why's this the case, though?
Pretty simple, really. The final book in the series was A Dance With Dragons, which now means that the show and the books are caught up. The next season will be uncharted territory, meaning that it's anybody guess what'll happen next. Moreover, it's more or less understood that the next book - The Winds of Winter - will depart form the TV series.
This isn't new in Game of Thrones, by the way. The TV series condensed down certain plotlines, amalgamated characters and even dropped both of these if it didn't suit their track. Entire scenes were rewritten, sometimes with controversial outcomes. The point is - the TV show isn't loyal to the source material.
We mentioned spoilers in the headline, so here goes.
You'll remember in the final episode of the most recent series that Stannis Baratheon, the guy who set his daughter on fire to help his chances in an upcoming battle because setting child actors on fire helps his religion, met a pretty final end. He got straight up owned by our favourite blonde badass Brienne of Tarth, played by Gwendoline Christie. She killed Stannis in revenge for murdering his brother and her former leader, Renly Baratheon.
It's an incredibly powerful scene and, as we understood, drew a line under Stannis. Or did it?
The author of the books based on the series, George RR Martin, is pretty active on his LiveJournal and regularly takes time out of writing the next book to answer fan questions about anything and everything. One question posed to him concerned our man Stannis and the topic of whether or not he's dead.
Martin's response was definitive, yet somehow cryptic. "In my books? Alive. Beyond a doubt."
As we said at the top, it's likely that there'll be a deviation between the books and the TV series. Hell, there is one already. That gap will widen in the coming season, so it's entirely possible that Stannis Baratheon may be alive and well in the books and dead as disco in the TV series. Keep in mind, as well, that although it may have looked like Stannis was pretty much dead on screen, we didn't see a body after Brienne drove her sword in. It looked pretty final to us, but we get the sneaking suspicion that the coming season will be all about those we thought dead being not so dead.
And so, it's over to you. Do you think Stannis is dead? Let us know in the comments!