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George R.R. Martin: Game of Thrones fan opinion won’t shape how the books end

By Benjamin Bullard
Game of Thrones creator George R R Martin

With the much-debated series finale of Game of Thrones, HBO has finally left Westeros behind — at least for the time being. But even as King Bran rules over a new, uncharted era for the Seven Kingdoms, longtime GoT fans know that creator George R.R. Martin still has two more books left to publish in the Song of Ice and Fire series on which the show is based.

By the time the show caught up with, and then raced past, the story line in Martin’s epic fantasy novels at the end of Season 5, Game of Thrones’ popularity was so intense that Martin admitted he felt tremendous pressure to keep churning away at The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring — the final two novels in the seven-volume series. 

But the pressure to reach the finish line is the only kind of fan feedback he’s willing to indulge, Martin recently told Entertainment Weekly. Listening too closely to revisionist fan reactions in the wake of the show’s final season, he said, shouldn’t become a creative guideline as he works to resolve long-brewing character arcs and plot lines that he’s been building toward in the books for more than two decades.

“The internet affects all this to a degree it was never affected before,” Martin explained, adding that it would be unwise for him to change the story he has planned simply because somebody, somewhere, makes an accurate guess at where the books might go next — or because some fans didn’t like the way the show ended.

“Suddenly the twist you’re building towards is out there. And there is a temptation to then change it [in the upcoming books] — ‘Oh my god, it’s screwed up, I have to come up with something different.’ But that’s wrong,” he said. “Because you’ve been planning for a certain ending and if you suddenly change direction just because somebody figured it out, or because they don’t like it, then it screws up the whole structure. So no, I don’t read the fan sites. I want to write the book I’ve always intended to write all along. And when it comes out they can like it or they can not like it.”

While Martin has remained a key show collaborator, advising Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss as they carved out new territory beyond the books in the show’s final three seasons, he said he feels no obligation to make his upcoming books align with the TV series. Rather, he views the show and the novels as existing side-by-side in “two alternate realities.”

“I have very fixed ideas in my head as I’m writing The Winds of Winter and beyond that in terms of where things are going. It’s like two alternate realities existing side by side. I have to double down and do my version of it which is what I’ve been doing,” he said, adding that he’s only interested in making the final two novels “as good as I possibly can.”

As we await Martin’s next book, as well as HBO’s in-development pre-sequel starring Naomi Watts, at least there’s plenty of Westeros to dive back into. For the uninitiated, there’s plenty of Game of Thrones reading material to get caught up on, all the way up to where Martin last left off with 2011’s A Dance with Dragons. And for all the fan passion they’ve inspired, all eight seasons of Game of Thrones still make for one of TV’s most epic binges — and they’re likely not going anywhere anytime soon at HBO.