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Game of Thrones might be over on television, but the story is far from over in the books by George R.R. Martin. There are still two novels to go (The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring) in the author's Song of Ice and Fire series, and if you were slightly let down by the show's Season 8 finale, Martin is here to assure you that his ending for the books will be different from the one put forth by Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.
"They’re not the same thing, although they are very closely related to each other," he recently told The Guardian. “No, [the TV ending] doesn’t [affect the books]. It doesn’t change anything at all … As Rick Nelson says in 'Garden Party,' one of my favorite songs, you can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself."
Even with that in mind, we need to take Martin's statement with a grain of salt, as he said in April that the books would have a similar ending to the show. After all, he did tell Weiss and Benioff how he planned to end the fantasy series years ago.
The writer has said in the past that he never expected the show to get ahead of his writing. He was also of the mind that the show could go on for at least five more seasons. Nevertheless, he's very pleased with the intense connections fans have forged with the material, be it the books or the TV adaptation.
"I need more hours in the day and more days in the week and more months in the year because the time does seem to go very fast," he continued during his Guardian interview. "I’m glad of the emotional reactions, whether to the books or the television show, because that’s what fiction is all about – emotion ... Fiction … should feel as if you’re living these things when you read or watch them. If you’re so distanced by it that a character dies and you don’t care, then to an extent the author has failed."
There's still no word on when we might get to see the publication of The Winds of Winter (it might be 2020), but the entirety of the Game of Thrones TV series can now be streamed on HBO's various platforms. Now that it's over, however, Martin is very relieved that he can finish the last two entries without any added stress.
“There were a couple of years where, if I could have finished the book, I could have stayed ahead of the show for another couple of years, and the stress was enormous,” added Martin. “I don’t think it was very good for me, because the very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day – and a good day for me is three or four pages – I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.’ But having the show finish is freeing, because I’m at my own pace now. I have good days and I have bad days and the stress is far less, although it’s still there … I’m sure that when I finish A Dream of Spring you’ll have to tether me to the Earth.”
A prequel/spinoff series is currently in the middle of active production, with Naomi Watts in the lead role.