After reading the Dragon Heir, I did some research and found a blog post from Cinda Williams Chima, author. Be sure to check it out, seeing as she responds to my, and many other readers’, dismay at the loss of a specific character.
In response to her post, I would respond with this:
I disagree with your rationale for two reasons. One, Jason Haley did not die a hero. There was very little focus on his death at all, and it didn’t really seem to change the flow of the battle. He had no reconciliation with any of the characters, and there were many unspoken things that really needed to be said, like to Alicia and Seph. He basically died like another casualty of war, without any honor. The second reason is that you need to choose the right characters to be killed. You mentioned George R. R. Martin, who, of course, is the master of killing off people. But some of those deaths are necessary, but they are so because the character has nothing to live for and is falling apart. For example, in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark is falling apart and going insane. So, though he was a likable character, he had to be killed, even though he played a major role in the book. Jason, however, was not like that. He was just reaching his point of significant character development. So, altogether, I completely disagree with your rationale, and would say that Jason Haley’s death was unwarranted, and a poor strategy for the story.