A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin says the final books in the series are drifting “further and further away” from the Game of Thrones TV show.
Martin’s latest update (opens in new tab) on The Winds of Winter, and A Song of Ice and Fire more broadly, addresses one of the biggest concerns for fans of the books: that they’ll end roughly the same way as HBO’s Game of Thrones and thus won’t be a huge surprise. Of course, book readers will know there are huge deviations in the plot and character trajectories already, but if those plotlines arrive at the same conclusion that played out on TV more than three years ago, well, that just kills a lot of the excitement in reading a book.
Until today’s update, we were left to assume that would, by and large, be the case. ‘So and so’ people would die, ‘this person’ would become the leader of Westeros, and so on, just as we saw play out in the controversial final season of Game of Thrones. But now, Martin says you can expect some major changes to the way the books play out compared to the show, going as far as to confirm that characters who survived the show will die in the books, and vice versa.
Still, Martin says that his fluid writing style, which doesn’t require he stick to a pre-determined outline of events, makes it difficult to predict exactly where the plot will go, and thus how much it’ll diverge from the events of Game of Thrones the TV show.
“Another question that I get a lot, especially since the end of Game of Thrones on HBO, is whether A Song of Ice and Fire will end the same way,” Martin says. “An architect would be able to give a short, concise, simple answer to that, but I am much more of a gardener. My stories grow and evolve and change as I write them.”
“I generally know where I am going, sure… the final destinations, the big set pieces, they have been in my head for years… for decades, in the case of A Song of Ice and Fire. There are lots of devils in the details, though, and sometimes the ground changes under my feet as the words pour forth.”
Martin goes on to provide a sort-of non-update on the progress of Winds of Winter, once again assuring fans that he’s working on the penultimate entry in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. He doesn’t provide any update on its release timing or plot details, but does give some interesting insight into how it’s evolving to be even more different from the TV show than it had been originally.
“What I have noticed more and more of late, however, is my gardening is taking me further and further away from the television series. Yes, some of the things you saw on HBO in Game of Thrones you will also see in The Winds of Winter (though maybe not in quite the same ways)… but much of the rest will be quite different.”
“And really, when you think about it, this was inevitable. The novels are much bigger and much much more complex than the series. Certain things that happened on HBO will not happen in the books. And vice versa.”
It’s true that Martin’s novels dig a whole lot deeper into the world of Westeros than the TV show, even including major characters and story arcs that were never even touched on in the TV show – Lady Stoneheart, Young Griff, and Jeyne Pool, just to name a few. Still, it’s been generally understood that the ending of the books will be similar.
On that note, Martin only teases that “some things will be the same,” and that “a lot will not.”
Of course, Martin is also working with HBO to adapt his Fire & Blood novel into the upcoming series House of the Dragon, which is set to premiere on August 21. And if that’s not enough, there’s also the Game of Thrones sequel series starring Kit Harrington as Jon Snow, which may or may not ultimately make it to screens.
For everything else to watch in Westeros and beyond, check out our extensive guide to the best new TV shows in 2022.