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George R.R. Martin Is Also Bummed Game of Thrones Went Beyond the Books

The Song of Ice and Fire author wishes he'd "stayed ahead" of the HBO series, suggests a different ending.

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Game of Thrones' Jon Snow (Kit Harington) lays down in snow in his black Night's Watch gear.
Once Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was dead, Game of Thrones was kinda on its own.
Photo: HBO

When Game of Thrones debuted on HBO in 2011, fans were stoked to see how the story and world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire would play out on the small screen. But as the showrunners moved past the books, things went a bit off the rails. Now, the author is looking back with one thing on his mind: coulda-woulda-shoulda.

In an interview with Chicago’s PBS station, Martin shared his regrets on letting Game of Thrones go past the book series. While he said the HBO hit changed his life (“in mostly good ways”), he also pointed out how his “biggest issue” was not working fast enough with the time he had to ensure the show could continue to follow the main plot threads he’d intended for the characters. “Looking back, I wish I’d stayed ahead of the books,” Martin said. “When they began that series, I had four books already in print, and the fifth one came out just as the series was starting in 2011. I had a five-book head start. And these are gigantic books, as you know. I never thought they would catch up with me but they did. They caught up with me and passed me and, you know, that made it a little strange—because now, the show was ahead of me and the show was going in somewhat different directions.”


Game of Thrones largely followed the events of A Song of Ice and Fire up until the season five finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” which ended with Daenerys escaping Meereen and the Night’s Watch murdering Jon Snow for forming an alliance with the Free Folk. Of course, there were other changes (RIP Lady Stoneheart) along the way, but for the most part, things were consistent with the books. Once the show had shifted into its own thing, Martin gave the showrunners basic synopses for planned storylines, including how the series would end—but other than that they were kind of on their own. This did lead to some fantastic moments, like Cersei Lannister destroying the Sept and that “Hold the Door” scene. But it also led to, well, all of season eight.

Martin noted that his ending will be different from the one in the show (you remember what happened I’m not going to re-traumatize you by reminding you), though he didn’t say how or how much. “I’m still working on the book, but you’ll see my ending when that comes out,” he added. Yes, Martin is still working on The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the seven-book series—and there’s still no release date. It will be followed by A Dream of Spring in, I’m guessing 2078.


In the meantime, he is also working on one of HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoffs, a prequel about the Targaryens called House of the Dragon. It’s currently in production and set to debut sometime in 2022. There’s also at least one other spinoff in the works, tentatively called “10,000 Ships,” about Princess Nymeria and the war between the princes of the river and the dragonlords of old Valyria. We’ll bring you more as we know it. 

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