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Game of Thrones’ HBO swan song may have divided fans, but at least it offered definitive closure to viewers who had walked among Westeros’ icy, fiery lands through eight epic seasons. Followers of the George R.R. Martin-penned books, meanwhile, have had to abide a different kind of bittersweet agony, as they wait for Martin to release the penultimate novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire book cycle on which the show is based.
The events in Game of Thrones the TV show eventually outpaced those of Martin’s novels, meaning that his next book will be playing a bit of catch-up to the story fans have already seen onscreen. Perhaps to the relief of viewers who bristled at the TV series’ final few episodes, though, Martin is hinting that The Winds of Winter — the next book installment — won’t unfold its story in quite the same way as the show’s late-stage shenanigans did at HBO.
Comparing his ongoing labor over The Winds of Winter to that of a patient gardener, Martin hinted that the book is cultivating its own unique story territory. “What I have noticed more and more of late,” Martin recently wrote in a lengthy update at his blog, “…is my gardening is taking me further and further away from the television series. Yes, some of the things you saw on HBO in GAME OF THRONES you will also see in THE WINDS OF WINTER (though maybe not in quite the same ways)…but much of the rest will be quite different.”
Though he’s determined not to reveal spoilers, Martin still managed to share some solid clues about how The Winds of Winter will diverge from its television counterpart. Teasing that the book will introduce “new characters” not seen in Game of Thrones, he advised readers to get ready to welcome back some familiar characters who met their deaths on the small screen, while saying farewell to others who, at least on TV, stuck around to the very end.
“One thing I can say, in general enough terms that I will not be spoiling anything: not all of the characters who survived until the end of GAME OF THRONES will survive until the end of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, and not all of the characters who died on GAME OF THRONES will die in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE,” he wrote. “…And the ending? You will need to wait until I get there. Some things will be the same. A lot will not.”
That’s as compelling a reason as any for fans of Martin’s Westeros books to stick around until the novel — whose release date he’s resisted pinpointing — finally arrives. It’s definitely been a wait; A Dance with Dragons, the last book in the cycle, was published all the way back in 2011. Whenever The Winds of Winter does hit store shelves, though, there will still be one last story to tell: the seventh and final book in the series, A Dream of Spring, is set to pick up where The Winds of Winter leaves off — and, in the process, to bring the sweeping overall A Song of Ice and Fire story to its definitive, Martin-approved conclusion.
Until the book appears, at least there's plenty of Game of Thrones goodness on the way to tide fans over at HBO. Prequel spinoff series House of the Dragon is set to fire up at HBO beginning Aug. 21, while a new series starring GoT veteran Kit Harington is also in the works to follow Jon Snow's further adventures.
Looking for some fantasy content to tide you over in the meantime? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.