In recent years, the long, arduous process of waiting for another installment of author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series has become something of a running gag in popular culture. There was a five-year gap between the third and fourth books, and a six-year gap between the fourth and fifth installments. HBO's Game of Thrones TV series debuted the same year book five was released, rocketing the novels' already high profile to new heights.
Nowadays, fans continue to wait with bated breath for book six -- entitled The Winds of Winter -- to be released; with some fans worrying the 67-year-old writer will shuffle off this mortal coil before finishing his seven-book magnum opus. Issues of mortality aside, Martin was recently asked on his Livejournal whether A Dream of Spring -- the planned final novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series -- would hit shelves prior to Game of Thrones' final season airing on HBO. Unfortunately, the author's answer wasn't exactly encouraging for those who would prefer to read his written works prior to seeing them play out on the small screen.
According to Martin, the only realistic chance of the book series reaching the finish line before its televised counterpart is "If the show runs ten seasons, maybe." With that proclamation, Martin is effectively saying the soonest the world is likely to be able to read A Dream of Spring is 2019 or 2020, which does admittedly make sense when one considers that The Winds of Winter still isn't quite done.
This statement by Martin presents two clear problems for fans of both the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the corresponding HBO series. Firstly, while Martin has stated that Game of Thrones' story will not follow the plot of his upcoming novels to the letter, those who continue to watch each new season as it airs -- beginning with the soon-to-premiere season 6 -- will be confronted with spoilers for both Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring long before the books are released.
This is a fairly unprecedented situation in the fantasy genre, with the standard procedure being to not release adaptations until the source material has already been put out for public consumption. The problem in this instance is that unlike a series of films such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones doesn't have the luxury of just waiting until after the next book comes out, lest the masses lose interest or the contracts of actors and crew expire.
The other obvious problem is that there is no guarantee HBO will even produce 10 seasons of Game of Thrones. The premium cable outlet is said to currently be in talks to pick up seasons 7 and 8, but nothing beyond that has apparently been discussed as of yet. Considering the fact that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss previously expressed a desire to conclude Game of Thrones with either season 7 or 8, it seems improbable they would be willing to stretch things out that long. Sadly, it would appear likely that viewers will find out how the saga of Westeros ends long before George R.R. Martin finishes putting pen to paper.
Game of Thrones returns with season 6 on April 24, 2016 on HBO.
Source: George R.R. Martin