For fans of HBO's hit television series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, predicting which character dies next proves tricky.
Martin is notorious for killing off popular characters, including Eddard Stark, one of the main characters in the first novel. Other characters have since followed Eddard into the grave.
So wouldn't it be nice to predict upcoming deaths to lessen the shock? Now, one statistician, Richard Vale at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, has come up with the numbers that predict which characters are most likely to die in future books, as well as on the television series.
Each chapter in the A Song of Ice and Fire books represents a specific character's point of view, a fact that helped Vale formulate his model. This allowed Vale to assign probability, based on how many chapters a character has in each book. In books one through five, 24 characters starred in their own chapters.
For example, popular character Jon Snow had nine chapters in book one, eight in book two, 12 in book three, none in book four and 13 chapters in book five.
Looking at these numbers, Vale figured out the probability of each character's survival and potential for death based on how many future chapters might be devoted to them. If you'd like to see the actual numbers, you can view them here and here (these links contain spoilers).
For a specific character whose fate was left hanging in the fifth book, the odds are about 60 percent that he or she will survive, probably a lot lower than fans of that character would like.
Of course, these numbers aren't exact predictions and rely on only a small amount of data. They also don't take into account any new characters introduced in the final two novels of the series. In fact, Vale believes that at least 11 chapters in upcoming book The Winds of Winter, will be about new characters.
Vale states that his models are more for fun than anything else, as he's a fan of the books and television series.
"A lot of people are inspired to make fan art by drawing their favourite characters or scenes from the books," says Vale. "As a mathematician/statistician, this mathematical model is my version of fan art."
Once Martin releases the The Winds of Winter, Vale hopes to test his model against what happens in that book, perhaps tweaking his numbers for the final novel in the series.