Barring the occasional changes that are made to the storyline, fans of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy book series can generally enjoy a certain amount of forewarning when it comes to the major shocking events in Game of Thrones, like last week’s brutal showdown between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane. With the show swiftly catching up to the books, however, it seems inevitable that eventually Game of Thrones will overtake “A Song of Ice and Fire”; HBO has produced four seasons in four years, and it can take Martin up to five years to finish each book.
Martin’s editor, Anne Groell, stirred up some interesting talk this week after answering some fan questionsregarding the future of the book series. Groell explained that she had originally pushed Martin to write seven books so that they would have “Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms,” but after realizing that technically there are eight kingdoms in Westeros she decided that, “maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay.”
For the moment it’s probably best to just concentrate on getting the sixth book in the franchise on shelves before the show catches up, but Martin has addressed the recent talk of extending “A Song of Ice and Fire” into eight books in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. The author says that his plans for series haven’t changed yet, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t change in the future.
“My plan is to finish in seven. But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow. I deal with certain things and sometimes I find myself not at the end of a story. My plan right now is still seven. But first I have to finish Book Six. Get back to me when I’m half-way through Book Seven and then maybe I’ll tell you something more meaningful.”
Martin said in an earlier EW interview that the Game of Thrones producers are already aware of the major plot points that he has planned out for the series, “which the fans are very worried about in case I get hit by a truck.” The TV show has so far broadly adhered to the events of the book, but Martin warns that collectively the smaller changes that have been made could end up making a big difference.
“By and large we are seeing more differences from the books and I’ve been predicting that from the beginning. There’s a certain snowball effect of making changes and I think that will continue…
“I like many of the new scenes they’ve inserted along the way, though I miss the things they leave out. Obviously I put those scenes in the books for a reason, I felt they added to the story. As I’ve been saying for years, I wish they had more hours — every time I see another HBO show I wonder why we only have 10 and they have 13. But we’ve done some major stuff this year. The Purple Wedding and Tyrion’s trial — with incredible performances by Peter Dinklage and Sibel Kekilli. And the trial by combat was amazing, too. I’m really looking forward to next week as I’m told we have a battle that dwarfs the Battle of the Blackwater.”
The viewing public seems to agree with Martin’s assessment of Game of Thrones, as THR reports that the show is now catching up to The Walking Dead with 18 million gross weekly viewers (including first-runs, encores, HBO GO and On-Demand views) and 7.2 million of those tuning in every Sunday. With only 10 episodes each season and a great deal of political intrigue and personal tragedy to get through, however, Martin feels that Game of Thrones may end up needing more than the currently planned seven seasons: “I don’t think it will be enough to tell the story we’re telling in the books.”
Game of Thrones feels like the kind of show that could potentially continue on indefinitely, but it’s also fun to anticipate how the show (and books) might eventually conclude. Hopefully the last sentence of the last book will be, “And they all lived happily ever after.”