In a matter of just six short weeks, Game of Thrones will officially come to an end, leaving the world dark and full of terrors. Right now it’s anyone’s guess as to which characters will manage to make it out of this final battle against the Night King alive, which may prompt some of you to turn to George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels for some answers. Unfortunately, figuring out the Game of Thrones book ending isn’t going to be that easy.
For a good portion of the series, book readers were able to at least somewhat foresee what would happen to the characters of Westeros. They knew of Ned Stark’s beheading and the gruesome Red Wedding before they happen, all because these events had taken place in Martin’s novels. However, at the end of season 5, that all changed. The series has now extended far past its source material, making it impossible to know what will come next. Martin’s last book, A Dance with Dragons, was released back in 2011 and ended with Jon Snow's death. As of now, his sixth novel The Winds Of Winter has yet to receive an official release date, despite being announced in 2017. That’s a long time to wait for a new book installment to come out. It also means that the series could end up spoiling the books for fans instead of the other way around.
There have been several chapters released from The Winds Of Winter (Vulture broke down what each means, if you care to dive in), including two about Tyrion, one about Theon, and a chapter each for the Stark sisters. The released materials cover events that precede what we're about to see in season 8, though, so you're probably not going to glean much about the grand finale from them.
So, if we can't get a clue from the book, will the show’s ending be different from its book-bound counterpart? During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, series showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss discussed Martin’s involvement in the end of Game of Thrones and how they’ve chosen to handle this potential spoiler situation. “One thing we’ve talked to George about is that we’re not going to tell people what the differences are, so when those books come out people can experience them fresh,” Benioff told the outlet, with Weiss adding that “the show has become so different [in recent seasons] that people will have no way knowing from watching what will or won’t appear in the books.”
In fact, they aren’t even entirely sure Martin knows how the books will come to a close just yet. “George discovers a lot of stuff while he’s writing,” Benioff explained. “I don’t think that final book is written in stone yet — it’s not written on paper yet. As George says, he’s a gardener and he’s waiting to see how those seeds blossom.” Needless to say, the books could end in an entirely different way, so whatever fate befalls Daenerys, Jon Snow, Cersei, and the remaining Starks may not necessarily be a true representation of how the books will turn out.
Thankfully, Martin has absolutely no intention of leaving fans in the lurch forever and remains determined as ever to finish the Game of Thrones books he started so many years ago. “It’s the end for a lot of people,” Martin said to Entertainment Weekly back in March while discussing the show’s eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. “It’s not the end for me. I’m still deeply in it. I better live a long time because I have a lot of work left to do.”
Yes, indeed, you do, sir. Yes you do.