When author/creator of the A Song of Ice And Fire novels George R.R. Martin disclosed that his latest book, "The Winds Of Winter", would not be complete to publish before Game of Thrones season 6 airs, many fans were disconcerted. For loyal readers of the book series, this development represented a tough decision between forging ahead with the show and inevitably encountering massive spoilers or a potentially long wait for the next book - and due to the show's huge popularity, some pretty tricky internet spoiler avoidance.
Game of Thrones season 6 is in the rather unique position of adapting yet to be published material to the small screen. However, due to recent comments from the show's co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, fans will be reassured to hear that said spoilers may not be quite so inevitable after all.
Game of Thrones season 6 will air in April 2016 and fan interest is at peak frenzy, analyzing the season's ful-lengthl trailer, various vague hints carefully dropped by cast members over the last few months, and sneaky set pics that have made their way online. Benioff and Weiss have promised the upcoming season to be “the best season yet” (something that has been echoed by several cast members) and revealed the action will include a major battle scene that can be glimpsed within the trailer among other exciting plot developments. This season will mark the show surpassing Martin's books in many aspects and steering the vast story line in new untold directions due to what Martin has described as a “butterfly effect” of minor changes causing large diversions down the narrative line.
According to Benioff (as reported by EW) these planned differences and the (mostly) successful secrecy policy that Game of Thrones has always employed regarding spoilers will in fact protect Martin's unpublished work.... to a degree:
“People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled – and it’s really not true..... So much of what we’re doing diverges from the books at this point. And while there are certain key elements that will be the same, we’re not going to talk so much about that – and I don’t think George is either. People are going to be very surprised when they read the books after the show. They’re quite divergent in so many respects for the remainder of the show.”
Benioff and Weiss have maintained a very amicable relationship with their source material author throughout the show's run, taking a respectful approach to their adaptation with apparent discussions with Martin about maintaining the same objectives regarding the eventual plot conclusions. Weiss disclosed their attitude about Game of Thrones' diversion and why this can be viewed as a positive:
“What makes the books so great is that George doesn’t make meticulous blueprints for every beat of this story and then fill in the blanks dutifully going from A to B to C, fleshing out an outline.... At a certain point, we realized we were going to outpace the books and we kind of chose to see it as a great thing on both sides – there’s this amazing world George has created and now there are two different versions, and there’s no reason we can see why you can’t be thrilled and surprised and dismayed by both of these different versions of this world.”
Although some fans of both the books and show will be relieved to hear less of "The Winds Of Winter" will be spoiled that they perhaps had predicted, others may still be disappointed by this news that much of Martins intended direction will be so convoluted on screen. The world of Game of Thrones is so vast with its several pockets of key characters, various locations spanning continents and the rich history and political intricacies; it is already confusing in some respects where the show has branched away. Whereas changes in the past have made narrative sense for on-screen portrayal, the showrunners intentions for diversion seem like the most significant yet. Is there enough room for both mediums under the weight of such change?
Despite concerns, this separation of book and show could, in fact, enhance the richness of the world's narrative overall for fans and relieve pressure on Martin's creative process (hopefully speeding it up!). With no known date for the next book's release, the show offers inpatient readers their Westeros fix more than adequately. And until The "Winds Of Winter" is completed, there is no way of knowing which plot developments will have been revealed.
Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on HBO on April 24th, 2016.