Since it premiered in 2010, HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones has continued to grow in popularity and viewership; in fact, the most recent season finale ratings set a new record for the show. For the first three years, each season of Game of Thrones roughly followed the corresponding novel in the series on which the show is based, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. However, the book series is not complete and there has been a growing concern among fans that Martin would not be able to finish writing the novels in time for the ongoing HBO series.
Currently, only five of the planned seven novels in A Song of Ice and Fire have been published, and Martin has been working on the upcoming sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, for many years. After reading a chapter from The Winds of Winter at the Sasquan science-fiction convention in Spokane, Washington, Martin took questions about his books and HBO's Game of Thrones.
As reported by GeekWire, Martin was asked what he thought about the show potentially ending before the books, and he said, "Anything is possible." The author went on to explain that Game of Thrones is "moving forward like a locomotive, or sometimes a jet locomotive,” and its showrunners/writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss write shorter scripts while Martin is penning longer-form novels.
Martin explained his thought process about worrying over the show concluding before his work:
“There was a period where I was worried about that. Then I said, to hell with that. Worrying about it isn’t going to change it one way or another. I still sit down at the typewriter, and I have to write the next scene and the next sentence… I’m just going to tell my story, and they’re telling their story and adapting my books, and we shall see.”
As for his work on The Winds of Winter, Martin has been less involved with Game of Thrones in an effort to make progress on the novel. Throughout the first four seasons, the author penned one episode each, but sat out writing on season 5 and 6. At the convention, Martin was asked if The Winds of Winter would be ready for readers before Game of Thrones returns next spring. However, he wasn't able to answer and instead joked, "Don’t ask me when the book is going to be done - I’ll ask my minions to lop your head off."
For those fans that wished to finish reading A Song of Ice and Fire prior to watching Game of Thrones as it airs, Martin's comments seem to affirm it will be an impossibility. Although book fans still have the option of putting off watching HBO's series until after Martin's novels are published, they will likely be waiting for many years for A Dream of Spring to conclude the series after The Winds of Winter.
That being said, Game of Thrones has made quite a few changes to Martin's story over the course of its five seasons - so much so that Benioff and Weiss have told the actors not to read the novels. Of course, the author has given the showrunners the "broad strokes" of where the series is heading, but that may leave room for some interpretation. As Martin said, he will tell the story his own way while Benioff and Weiss will tell it their way.
The show moving forward beyond the novels may mean those fans that watch Game of Thrones and read A Song of Ice and Fire will know how the series concludes before the final book is published. But, hopefully the concluding seasons and novels will each offer an exciting story told differently enough that both are still entertaining and compelling to fans.
Game of Thrones season 6 is expected to premiere on HBO in spring 2016.