HBO's Game of Thrones has done a remarkable job of translating itself from book to screen. The incredibly successful TV show - originally based off the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin - has been able to seemingly please both fans of the original source material as well as the newcomers who only watch the show. A lot of that has to do with how faithful the series has been to the brutal and deep fantasy novels (some would argue that the series has improved upon some of the novels' decisions at points), but a lot of that also has to do with how involved and vocal Marton has been with his support of the show.
Martin has not only moderated several of the Comic-Con panels for Game of Thrones and consulted on the series' direction and story for the showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, he's also written one episode each season. These tend to be pivotal episodes to each season's arc (last season he wrote the infamous Purple Wedding episode), and involve sequences that might be harder to adapt from the novels than others (again - the Purple Wedding).
However, Martin recently revealed on his LiveJournal page that he will not be penning a single episode for the sixth season of the show. Martin revealed the following regarding the decision:
"[A]fter wrestling with it for a month or so, I’ve decided not to script an episode for season six of GAME OF THRONES. Writing a script takes me three weeks, minimum, and longer when it is not a straight adaptation from the novels. And really, it would cost me more time than that, since I have never been good at changing gears from one medium to another and back again. Writing a season six script would cost me a month’s work on WINDS, and maybe as much as six weeks, and I cannot afford that. With David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Bryan Cogman on board, the scriptwriting chores for season six should be well covered. My energies are best devoted to WINDS."
While this might disappoint some Thrones fans - it shouldn't necessarily shock them either. Martin also stayed away from writing an episode in the upcoming fifth season as well, due to his (slow) work on the next novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire franchise - The Winds of Winter. It also makes a lot of sense considering that this upcoming season and the other two(?) seasons following will not be direct adaptations of the books. Why? Because they will officially be taking place ahead of what has been published in the novels up to this point.
Fans have known for a while now that this new season of Game of Thrones will be diverging from the novel in a lot of ways. In fact, the show caught up with some of the characters' storylines in the novels by the end of the last season - which led to some of them being excluded from the fifth. It wouldn't make sense to have Martin devote time to writing an episode for a series that takes place ahead of what he's written, when the main reason for having him write an episode of the show (besides just having him included in the process more) is to make sure it is an accurate adaptation from the novels.
This most likely won't affect many opinions of the series because Benioff and Weiss have proven they are more than capable of taking matters into their own hands when it comes to the story in the show and they already know from Martin what the plan is for the conclusion of the story. It was also confirmed recently that the series would be spoiling the novels for book readers, which had already been suspected up until this point - and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. This upcoming fifth season will prove once and for all how well Benioff and Weiss can do taking this story and making it theirs because the odds are this season will be end up being more of a continuation than an adaptation.
The fifth season of Game of Thrones is set to premiere Sunday, April 12, 2015 on HBO.