This article contains spoilers for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series.
For readers of George R.R. Martin’s book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” it was the gasping disappointment heard around the internet. During the Game of Thrones Season 4 finale, Arya Stark makes the fateful decision to leave Westeros behind and pursue a potential new life in Braavos, and Ramin Djawadi’s music swelled as her ship disappeared into the great horizon. Then… credits. To those who never read the book it was bittersweet poignancy; for book readers though, the immediate question is where is Lady Stoneheart?!
The grim moniker, which was given to Catelyn Stark’s reanimated corpse, first appeared in print during the infamous epilogue of A Storm of Swords—the book that served as the primary basis for the third and fourth seasons of HBO’s television series. A woman who was only a shade of the former Lady of Winterfell, Lady Stoneheart had risen from the dead thanks to the blood magic of the Brotherhood Without Banners (Ser Beric Dondarrion died much earlier to bring her back). Yet several days after her body had been thrown to the river as a desecrating jape, and after her throat was slit ear to ear by one of Lord Walder Frey’s bannermen, the mutilated, frail, and silenced body that stood in Catelyn Stark’s place lived again… even if she barely resembled her old self.
Reintroduced as the leader of the Brotherhood, who were now delighting in the lynching of Frey men, Lady Stoneheart had a hell of an entrance that felt sure to build to something… even if we’re still not sure what. Despite several books having been published since A Storm of Swords, Stoneheart has reappeared sparingly, most recently by nearly hanging Brienne of Tarth for suspected treachery with the Kingslayer. After Brienne renewed her oath to the woman that was Lady Catelyn, Brienne was then seen apparently luring Jaime Lannister to Lady Stoneheart. However, this cliffhanger to their storylines from A Dance with Dragons will not be answered until the publication of The Winds of Winter. Indeed, the show Game of Thrones excised this subplot entirely. And now we have some explicit explanation as to why from showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.