George R. R. Martin is just like us — full of regrets. More importantly, he shares the fan consensus that Game of Thrones was much more likable when adapting from his books.
Author of the fantasy novel series A Song of Fire and Ice, Martin created the world Game of Thrones was based in, but didn’t finish his books in time to see the series through to its ending. In a recent conversation with Chicago’s PBS affiliate WTTW (via TVInsider), Martin shared his regrets about not staying ahead of the books.
“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.”
Hardcore Game of Thrones fans know the origin tale of their favorite show quite well by now: only four books were written and published when showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss famously sat down with Martin in 2006. Together, they proved themselves worthy fans by revealing their knowledge of Jon Snow’s parentage (later confirmed in the show’s sixth season, but not yet in Martin’s books). Satisfied by their knowledge, Martin granted Weiss and Benioff permission to adapt the series for the screen. A tale as old as time, this anecdote has been retold for years as the birthplace of the critically acclaimed record-breaking show that would rule pop culture for years to come.
Along the way, Martin managed to release the fifth book in the series and began work on the sixth — which remains in progress to this day. A seventh book is expected to close out the series, but given the 10-year wait for book six, The Winds of Winter, fans shouldn’t hold their breath.
The Descent of Thrones
For four glorious seasons, the Game of Thrones showrunners kept closely to the books. They had constant insight into the near future and upcoming plotlines. Then, with season 5, Weiss and Benioff decided to deviate from the source material. As they made changes to the story, they also surpassed Martin’s place in the series, with the final two seasons having no written books to go on at all. According to Martin, this complicated his writing process.
“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 Thrones finale was famously disliked by the fandom (as was the final season overall), but Martin claims this will not throw him. The author has previously stated he has no plans to change his ending based on the show or audience response. Should he ever actually write it, Martin’s ending will be different, but not in a way that caters to audience demands. Major plot points like Jon Snow’s parentage (already alluded to in the preceding books) are expected to remain the same. As for what this means for characters like Bran or the once-beloved dragon queen turned tyrant Daenerys Targaryen, it remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Martin will be dedicating significant time to his role as executive producer and co-creator on the Game of Thrones spin-off series, House of Dragon. Though one of the many Thrones successors in the works, this is the only one officially ordered to series.
Expected to debut in 2022, House of Dragon is set well before the events of Game of Thrones and chronicles the rise of House Targaryen. Based on Martin’s latest book, Fire and Blood, the show has both the guidance of source material and the voice of the world’s creator. Of course, there is one drawback: if Martin’s attention is on this upcoming show, when will he find time to write?
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