'Game of Thrones' Author Details How the Books Differ From HBO's Finale

Sam and Gilly Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones author and creator George R.R. Martin has enough time to blog vaguely about how the ending of his books will differ from the HBO series, but he still hasn’t finished with The Winds of Winter. Case in point, Martin published a post to his personal blog on Monday night, offering profound insights into the HBO series like, “It has been a wild ride, to say the least.” and “Let me say this much — last night was an ending, but it was also a beginning.”

On a more serious note, Martin commented the vast differences between producing a high-budget HBO series and writing a sprawling fantasy novel. He also reminded fans that the show differs greatly from the books by removing characters entirely or killing off those that remain alive in the original text.

“I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget,” Martin wrote. “They had six hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done … and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them.”

This reinforces the common assumption that the final two Game of Thrones seasons were condensed versions of Martin’s actual stories. He was only able to give Game of Thrones showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff basic plot details and potential outlines. Because they had so little filler to pad out the story — like they previously could by referencing the books or even quoting them directly — the final two seasons felt like a rush job.

brienne game of thrones finale
Brienne combing through an unedited copy of 'The Winds of Winter'.

In his blog post, Martin also takes a moment to acknowledge the many characters cut from the show that remain important in his novels.

There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… so if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet. And yes, there will be unicorns … of a sort …

Martin previously teased that unicorns will appear in one of the future books in some way. But whether or not fans approved of the way Game of Thrones the HBO show ended, Martin’s final two novels will offer a far more fleshed-out and contextualized alternative. It will be the same story, but it will also be something much more than that.

Martin ends the post with a realistic interpretation of how fans will react once the next book does come out: “I’ll write it. You read it. Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.” He couldn’t be more right.


Game of Thrones is now available to stream in its entirety only on HBO, and Martin’s The Winds of Winter should get published eventually.

Media via HBO