If you’re an avid A Song of Ice and Fire reader as well as a Game of Thrones watcher you’ll soon be left with a difficult choice to make: stop watching the HBO series, or spoil the book series for yourself. Speaking to the Oxford Union, Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff confirmed that the show will indeed begin outpacing the books, and in turn spoiling the series for readers.
It was revealed last month by author George R.R. Martin himself that the show would be deviating from the books, but according to Benioff the end destination is still roughly the same. Meaning some creative liberties may be taken with how characters arrive at their locations, but watching the show through to its conclusion will be seeing the end of the series before it is written.
Luckily, we’ve been talking about this with George for a long time, ever since we saw this could happen, and we know where things are heading. And so we’ll eventually, basically, meet up at pretty much the same place where George is going; there might be a few deviations along the route, but we’re heading towards the same destination. I kind of wish that there were some things we didn’t have to spoil, but we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The show must go on. . .and that’s what we’re going to do.
The show has already hit a wall with several characters, the most important of which is not scheduled to appear at all in its fifth season. For the majority of characters, their events are somewhere near the beginning of the series’ fourth book, A Feast for Crows. There is still another book before we reach unwritten territory, but after that the show is very likely to outpace Martin’s writing speed.
Game of Thrones outpacing A Song of Ice and Fire is a concern many fans had when the HBO series first started back in 2011. George R.R. Martin has been notoriously slow in getting his massive, detailed novels out, especially in the latter part of the series. The first three books, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords all came out within two years of each other, 1996, 1998, and 2000, respectively. The last two, A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons came out in 2005 and 2011 and the next book, The Winds of Winter is still being written with an optimistic release date of 2016 expected.
The fifth season of Game of Thrones is expected to wrap up the events of A Feast for Crows, and A Dance With Dragons, leaving the sixth season as the one to begin spoiling things. There is still a chance that Martin could finish The Winds of Winter before the TV series’ sixth season, but it’s not a guarantee. The one sure conclusion is that the final book in A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dream of Spring, will not be finished by the time the show’s seventh (and presumably final) season rolls around in 2017.
It’s been known for some time that Game of Thrones showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff already know how the book series is ending. It was previously believed that the main reason for this was in case something happened to Martin or the book series before the HBO series could be completed, but it is now confirmed that this information will be used in the show’s final seasons. It’s also worth noting, however, that George R.R. Martin has stated multiple times that he writes characters naturally as they come to him, so how even he envisioned the end of the series may differ from how it actually ends.
One big question that remains to be answered is how a spoiled finale will affect book sales. Benoit believes they shouldn’t be too hurt by the spoilers, bringing up the point that there are several characters who have been cut from the show, and many fates are bound to be different between the two series.
I think the thing that’s kind of fun for George is the idea that he can still have surprises for people even once they’ve watched the show through to the conclusion. There are certain things that are going to happen in the books that are different in the show, and I think people who love the show and want more—want to know more about the characters, want to know more about the different characters who might not have made the cut for the show—will be able to turn to the books.
Game of Thrones Season 5 is scheduled to debut on HBO April 12.Source: Vanity Fair