For the first time since Game of Thrones debuted on HBO in 2010, those who read the original books by George R.R. Martin and those who have only enjoyed the TV series are on the same playing field. Season 5 brought us to the end of George R.R. Martin's last novel, A Dance With Dragons, and now no one knows what to expect when Game of Thrones Season 6 debuts next year. Yesterday, George R.R. Martin responded to a fan on his LiveJournal page, who asked whether or not Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) was really dead, after his apparent murder at the hands of Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) in the Season 5 finale. Here's what the author had to say about Stannis' fate.

"In my books? Alive, beyond a doubt."
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Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that Stannis will be back in Season 6, since the show has often deviated from the Game of Thrones books. Then again, his death, like many in the Season 5 finale, "Mother's Mercy", wasn't exactly shown, since they cut away right as Brienne was bringing her sword down upon Stannis. However, Melissandre's stoic reaction after arriving back at The Wall seemed to hint that Stannis was in fact dead.

On the other hand, Stannis' "partner" Melissandre (Carice van Houten) does have the ability, thanks to her allegiance with the Lord of Light, to bring people back from the dead. Given her relationship with Stannis, it would seem logical that she would bring him back from the dead. It's worth noting that director David Nutter told Entertainment Weekly at Comic-Con that Stannis is in fact dead. He added that the producers felt that actually showing him die felt "gratuitous," which is why they cut away before Brienne's sword came down on Stannis.

Of course, even if he did die, that doesn't mean he can't come back, via Melissandre's powers at some point during Season 6, but we don't know if the producers plan on resurrecting him or not. It's also worth noting that, since we have no clue how far along George R.R. Martin is on his sixth novel, entitled The Winds of Winter, Stannis could still be killed off at some point in the book. There is very little we know about the sixth book, and Season 6, so it isn't clear what direction both the author and the producers plan on taking.

There has also been speculation that Melissandre may use her resurrecting powers to bring back the beloved Jon Snow (Kit Harington), after his gruesome death in the season finale. Series star Emilia Clarke has hinted that Jon Snow may be coming back, and Kit Harington himself was spotted arriving in Belfast, Ireland last month, where production on Game of Thrones Season 6 is taking place. It's also possible that the actor was there to shoot scenes for his funeral, but nothing has been confirmed at this time. Do you think Stannis and Jon Snow will be alive or dead when Game of Thrones Season 6 debuts next spring?