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George R.R. Martin Swears His Book Ending Will Be Different than Game of Thrones

Split image of author George R.R. Martin and Emilia Clarke scowling as Daenerys on HBO's Game of Thrones

Many fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones were upset by the show’s final season and its conclusion in particular. From Daenerys “the Mad Queen” dying at Jon Snow’s hand to the ultimate ascension of none other than … Bran, the series finale seemed to exemplify how not to end a beloved epic.

Ever since, fans of both Game of Thrones and author George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, from which GoT was adapted, have hoped Martin’s literary version would bring about a more satisfying conclusion. Martin appears to have once again confirmed that he’ll be going in a different direction.

While I first saw this Martin commentary in a recent article from Movieweb, it actually stems from an interview he gave to PBS in June. Amongst other topics, Martin says that he wishes he’d “stayed ahead” of the books. When Game of Thrones first began, Martin had a five-book head start on the series and never imagined the production would blaze through his published material and then veer off on its own.

But that’s what happened. Martin’s long-promised sixth book, The Winds of Winter, did not materialize while Game of Thrones was on the air (his last published ASoIaF book, A Dance With Dragons, came out a month after GoT’s debut in 2011). So while Martin surely shared some plot elements and arcs he had in mind with the HBO team, the final two books likely have many surprises and tons of additional storytelling in store—including a different end.

Per Movieweb:

Speaking to PBS in Chicago, George RR Martin said, “Looking back, I wish I’d stayed ahead of the books. My biggest issue there was when they began the [TV] series, I had four books already in print and the fifth one came out just as the series was starting in 2011. I had a five-book head-start, and these are gigantic books, as you know; I never thought they would catch up with me, but they did. They caught up with me and passed me. That made it a little strange because now the show was ahead of me and the show was going in somewhat different directions. So, I’m still working on the book, but you’ll see my ending when that comes out.

The delay of The Winds of Winter, and a seventh and supposed final book after that, A Dream of Spring, are now part and parcel of the ASoIaF legend. Martin has hardly been sitting on his hands—he has, in fact, produced almost endless content across the media board, including working on other projects set in or about the Westeros world—but save for a few sample chapters, The Winds of Winter continues to elude completion. Martin pushed back deadlines for years, though now he claims to be at work at it again, with a vague possible 2021 deadline.

Some fans worry that Martin, 72, may not ever finish The Winds of Winter or ASoIaF. There’s an extremely dedicated fandom that discusses known parts of the unpublished book as “fragments” like it’s a sacred object and goes to great lengths for new information, like trying to decipher a blurry page caught on camera in 2016. The frenzy around this work might seem over-the-top, but I think it’s a great testament to how invested in stories people can become, and how much a narrative can come to mean.

And it’s no wonder that fans are so eager. Whatever Martin comes up with, only if we just receive scattered fragments, will be better than the end of Game of Thrones.

(via Movieweb, image: Amy Sussman/Getty Images, HBO)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.