Maybe, just maybe, we've been so distracted trying to defend Ned Stark's honour that we've all overlooked the most defining feature of these books: the unexpected. Martin thrives off shocking his readers, it's one of the things that sets his books apart. Yes, it'd be an absolutely travesty of justice and a betrayal of fans if Snow was killed just as Westeros seems to need him most, but that's exactly why Martin would do it.
Even for a hardened news man in a hardened newsroom the mass shooting at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is a ferociously shocking moment. We know at least 12 are dead, five are critically wounded and others beside. And those numbers will doubtless change during the day. It happens at a very tender moment for European politics, at a tender moment for the Islamic world. Wracked with violence from northern Nigeria all the way to Pakistan by radical action and bloodletting.