Warning: Spoilers ahead for the finale of Game of Thrones.
Winter has come and gone for HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones.
But the Emmy-winning show’s series finale involved disappointing twists for some viewers (King Bran the Broken?). So, fans are clamoring for an alternate ending for their favorite characters. Specifically, GoT fans can’t wait for details about the last two unpublished books in the seven-part series, A Song of Ice and Fire, on which the show is based.
Author George R. R. Martin has had a lot to say about the unfinished novels.
On Tuesday, Martin, 70, teased fans on his website, “Not A Blog,” about his personal deadline for the penultimate book, The Winds of Winter. (To be followed by A Dream of Spring.)
In response to an airline’s offer to fly Martin to New Zealand to help him finish his book (he’s notorious for missing deadlines), the author wrote that he already planned to visit in the summer of 2020 for the World Science Fiction Convention. And he hopes to have the book finished by then.
“I fear that New Zealand would distract me entirely too much,” Martin wrote about the invitation to visit earlier. “Best leave me here in Westeros for the nonce. But I tell you this — if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for worldcon [sic], you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine.”
Martin released the first book in the ASOIAF series, A Game of Thrones, in 1996. The latest book, A Dance With Dragons, published in 2011. For all of those years, Martin has had to balance the speed of his own writing process and the impatience of his fans.
Here’s everything Martin has said about his novels so far.
The author wanted to complete The Winds of Winter well before the show ended.
In January 2016, with Game of Thrones season 6 approaching, Martin announced on his blog that he wouldn’t meet his deadline to finish The Winds of Winter. Though he had written “hundreds of pages,” Martin was far from done. No one was more disappointed than he was, the author wrote.
“Look, I have always had problems with deadlines,” Martin explained. “For whatever reason, I don’t respond well to them.”
Martin was — and continues to be — aware of fans’ fears that the show will ruin the books by surpassing them in terms of the plot’s timeline.
“So when you ask me, ‘Will the show spoil the books?’ all I can do is say, ‘Yes and no,’ and mumble once again about the butterfly effect,” he wrote in January 2016. “Those pretty little butterflies have grown into mighty dragons. Some of the ‘spoilers’ you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all… because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.”
Martin has NOT been sitting on finished books.
The author firmly shot down “absurd” media reports that he’s secretly completed the final two books in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga.
Multiple media outlets reported that actor Ian McElhinney, who played Ser Barristan Selmy on Game of Thrones until season 5, told a fan convention that Martin has actually finished writing The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring — but that GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss had made Martin agree to not publish his books until after the HBO series was finished airing. Martin immediately fired back.
“No, THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING are not finished,” Martin wrote on his website. “DREAM is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finish volume six. It seems absurd to me that I need to state this. The world is round, the Earth revolves around the sun, water is wet… do I need to say that too? It boggles me that anyone would believe this story, even for an instant. It makes not a whit of sense.”
The Winds of Winter isn’t finished, but you can still read chapters.
To satisfy his starving readers, Martin has released seven complete chapters from The Winds of Winter, according to Vox. The order is not known, but chapters can be found on the author’s website (like “Mercy,” and “Alayne,”). Other chapters have been excerpted in his other books and on iTunes or Google Play. Martin has also read other chapters aloud at events, but hasn’t released the full text, according to the outlet.
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The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring will be both similar and different from the GoT show.
In April 2019, Martin sat down with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes to discuss the variances between the book and the show. Martin explained that he sat down with the show writers, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, before they began writing and gave them the “major beats” of the storyline.
The show has been “extremely faithful” to the books, he said in the interview.
“But it’s not completely faithful,” Martin clarified, according to CBS News. “And it can’t be. Otherwise, [the show] would have to run another five seasons.”
“I don’t think Dan and Dave’s ending is gonna be that different from my ending because of the conversations we did have. But they may be on certain secondary characters, there may be big differences. And, yeah, some of the people will have that. There will be a debate, I’m sure,” Martin told Cooper. “I think a lot of people, who– say, ‘Oh, Dan and Dave’s ending is better than the one George gave us. It’s a good thing they changed it.’ And there will be a lot of people who say, ‘No. Dan and Dave got it wrong. George’s ending is better.’ And they will all fight on the internet. And there will be debate.”
He joked: “And that’s fine. I mean, you know, the worst thing for any work of art, be it a movie or a book, is to be ignored.”
The ending of the book series will also be different … kind of.
“How will it all end? I hear people asking,” Martin wrote on his website on Monday. “The same ending as the show? Different?”
Martin answered his own question with, “Well… yes.”
However, after his answer, the author also backpedaled a bit, adding, “And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.”
The season 8 finale on HBO saw Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) descend into madness, only to be killed by her lover Jon Snow (Kit Harington). The Stark children each went their separate ways: Sansa (Sophie Turner) became Queen in the North, newly liberated from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms; Arya (Maisie Williams) boarded a boat to discover what is west of Westeros; and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) was crowned king of the (now) Six Kingdoms.
Martin did promise that all of the characters in the books that didn’t make it on to the show will receive attention in the upcoming novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
“There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books,” Martin wrote. “So if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet. And yes, there will be unicorns… of a sort…”