Why George R.R. Martin won't be writing a Game of Thrones episode next season

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Jul 26, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

For the first time since the series began, a season of Game of Thrones will go by without an episode scripted by original author George R.R. Martin.

Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels on which the HBO drama is based, has maintained a close relationship with the writers and cast of the series since it began. He had a hand in casting, he's given secrets of the future of the series to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, he continues to serve as an executive producer and, of course, he's taken time to script one episode per season.

Martin's episodes have been some of the biggest and best-received of the series so far, including the season two battle epic "Blackwater" and the season four wedding episode "The Lion and The Rose," and we were expecting him to be back for more in season five. Unfortunately, Martin has just announced that he won't be contributing an episode to the show's fifth year.

"I'm not actually writing an episode for the season five," Martin said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I have this book that I have to finish. I figured I'd better write the book rather than the episode."

"This book" is of course The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth volume in A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin's slow writing pace (there was a six-year gap between books four and five, and it's already been three years since book five was released) has led to concern among fans that the TV series might actually pass him in the chronology of the story, leaving devotees of the books waiting for their ending while the show finishes its version of the saga first. Martin's been publicly optimistic about keeping that from happening, but removing additional work from his plate, like writing a teleplay, can't hurt.

So, season five of Game of Thrones will have a little less George R.R. Martin influence when it returns next year, but it's still Martin's world, and it's still populated with his characters.

Check out the full EW interview below.

(Via EW)