All good things must come to an end. We know that Game of Thrones is preparing for its final season, set to premiere in 2019. And we know that George R.R. Martin is still plugging away at the books, but now we have confirmation (mostly) that A Song of Ice and Fire, the series upon which the show is based, will end after seven novels.
On Martin's LiveJournal blog on Wednesday, he wrote about the Hugo nominations and what categories he is eligible for. Then he digressed into what he considers a book series, and says that A Song of Ice and Fire isn't a series:
"I don't consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE a series either; it's one single story, being published in (we hope) seven volumes. FWIW, Tolkien wasn't writing a series when he wrote LORD OF THE RINGS either. He wrote a big novel and his publisher divided it into three parts, none of which stands on its own."
So, in his own words, Martin believes there will be a total of seven books. Of course, there are many things that could cause this to change. For one thing, volume six, The Winds of Winter, is still not finished (though some fans believe the book is done). Martin estimates volume six, and the planned volume seven, A Dream of Spring, will be about 1,500 manuscript pages each. With the end in sight, it is not unthinkable that the publisher could insist on splitting the two volumes into four volumes -- or more. Martin could also decide that he has more to say and continue the story for a dozen more volumes, theoretically.
Fans would certainly buy them, but each volume has taken longer and longer to be released. As it stands, the fifth volume, A Dance With Dragons, was published in 2011, and fans are starting to lose hope that they will see The Winds of Winter before the TV series comes to an end.
Game of Thrones surpassed the novels after Season 5, which was largely adapted from books four and five, A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons. Seasons 6 and 7 were largely original storylines, but with Martin on the show as a producer, he was able to help give producers an idea of where the books will go. Season 8 will follow the same pattern.
Martin -- and HBO -- are not planning on letting the Game of Thrones franchise die. The author is working with the cabler on at least five prequel series. In addition, Martin has a number of "prequel novellas" set in Westoros, several generations before the A Song of Ice and Fire stories. He told Variety last year that "there are at least seven or eight or ten more [Dunk & Egg stories] I want to write."
The final season of Game of Thrones is set to premiere in 2019 on HBO. The penultimate volume of A Song of Ice and Fire is set to be released ... at some point.