Showrunners reveal how long it's gonna take to tell full Thrones saga

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Mar 7, 2013, 4:16 PM EST

Season three of Game of Thrones has yet to start airing, and season four has yet to be officially confirmed (though we all know it's coming), but showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are already looking ahead at how many seasons the hit HBO fantasy series could last. So for how long will Winter be Coming?

Let's look at some facts.

The upcoming third season is roughly based on the first half of book three of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, A Storm of Swords, with bits taken here and there from book four, A Feast for Crows. Meaning that season four will also be roughly based on the second half of book three, with more elements from book four sprinkled in.

Martin is currently hard at work on book six, The Winds of Winter, while a seventh, A Dream of Spring, is in the pipeline. Book seven should see the conclusion of the saga, but there are rumblings that there could even be a book eight and, well, at the speed Martin is currently writing, book fans fear the HBO series could actually catch up to the books …

So just how many seasons do Benioff and Weiss expect Thrones to last for?

According to them, the HBO series could last as long as eight to nine seasons.

Speaking to Mother Jones they said:

Yes [we would like eight or nine seasons], if we live that long and HBO keeps wanting to make the show. We have the opportunity here to tell a coherent story that lasts for 80 hours. And while a canvas of that size presents all sorts of storytelling problems, it also allows us to spend more time with these characters we love than we'll ever get again.

While we know the show is a huge success with general viewers, why do Benioff and Weiss think Game of Thrones has managed to appeal to a wider audience than just the fantasy crowd?

With GoT, we hoped we'd appeal to people who had never heard of wights and wargs, who didn't know a bastard sword from a halberd. At the end of the day it's all about the characters. Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark and the many other compelling characters in George's books and our show are not beloved because they live in a world where dragons are real. They're beloved because they experience the things we all experience: they feel like outsiders even when they're on the inside. They love people who don't love them back. They're afraid of power, they yearn for power, they end up with power in spite of themselves and find themselves liking it.

Do you agree with Benioff and Weiss? And are you looking forward to many, many more seasons of Game of Thrones? Think HBO will stick with it?

Game of Thrones season three returns on March 31 on HBO.

(Mother Jones via Digital Spy)