Why HBO's Game of Thrones may NEVER catch up to the books

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Jan 11, 2016, 4:28 PM EST (Updated)

HBO is gearing up to launch its new series based on Game of Thrones, the first book in author George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series. Meanwhile, Martin has finished four books so far, and ultimately has seven planned. So he'd better get writing if the HBO show is a hit. Won't they need book five in three more years, and then six and seven?

Martin says he's not worried.

"I'm writing the series and I have a considerable head start over them," he said in a group interview Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "The fifth book is almost done. I hope to deliver that one soon, and then there will be two more after that. They have many seasons to catch up with me."

But it's not just one book per year. Martin says that by year three his books will take more than a season of TV episodes to finish. "If we get a renewal for a second season, that'll be Clash of Kings. Then if we get a third season, the next book is Storm of Swords. If you're familiar with the series, you may know that Storm of Swords is a monster. Storm of Swords was 500 pages longer in manuscript than Clash of Kings, which itself was 100 pages longer than Game of Thrones. They're going to have to divide Storm of Swords into two seasons, I would think. That's three more seasons right there."

Books four and five give Martin even more of a lead on the show. He came up with a gimmick that'll take the show's producers several years to rearrange for us viewers.

"Then they'll have Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons, which are two books that take place simultaneously, separated geographically rather than chronologically. They'll have to be recombined, and once you recombine them, you've got a monster that's even longer than Storm of Swords. You're talking another two seasons, maybe three seasons. By that time, hopefully, I should be finished with the sixth book and even the seventh book--hopefully."

Game of Thrones premieres in April on HBO.