"I’m still working on the book, but you’ll see my ending when that comes out.”
When Game of Thrones took off in 2011, the book series it was based on was already more than halfway written. Books 1 through 4 were on the shelves, and Book 5, A Dance With Dragons, was slated to arrive that summer. Even with his famed slow pace, it seemed reasonable author George R. R. Martin would finish the last two novels of the series before the show ran out of material. But that didn’t happen. At the time, everyone involved insisted it was fine, but now George R. R. Martin has said he regrets letting Game Of Thrones go past his books.
The irony was that fans knew, even before Game of Thrones debuted, that Martin was a slow writer. Although the initial three novels arrived in quick succession, there was a five-year wait for Book 4. Moreover, that book was half of what Martin planned for the installment; it was missing a swath of significant characters. Some hoped having an HBO show on his tail would increase Martin’s speed; he’d have to produce a series that kept just ahead of the onscreen adaptation, a la Harry Potter. But it wasn’t to be. By the time Season 5 rolled around, it was glaringly evident that the show would surpass Martin’s books.
By that time, the show had made significant changes to Martin’s story as well. For example, Lady Stoneheart was cut. Characters like Ser Barristan were dead on the screen and alive on the page. On his blog, Martin told fans that the show was going its own way and he was going his.
But now, Martin regrets not putting his foot down, either on the gas for his own writing or to force the show to slow down so he could keep ahead.
“Looking back, I wish I’d stayed ahead of the books,” Martin told PBS’s WTTW in Chicago. “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.”
Martin said he’s still working on Book 6, The Winds of Winter, as the 10-year anniversary of Book 5’s release arrives in July 2021. And the ending is still “somewhat” different than the TV series and he’s looking forward to rewriting the end to be satisfying for fans. “You’ll see my ending when that comes out.”
Meanwhile, filming for Game of Thrones’ first spinoff, House of the Dragon, is underway. The new series is expected in 2022 on HBO and HBO Max.
All eight seasons of Game of Thrones are streaming on HBO Max.