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Those who have watched Game of Thrones and read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series know there are some big differences between the two projects, and if Martin ever finishes his novels, his adventure will likely play out differently than the television series in the end. Obviously, Martin's not revealing how, but he has confirmed that future books in his saga will feature unicorns... sort of. Here's what he had to say during a visit to Startalk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson:
Martin: I tried to be very accurate, for example, with horses. A lot of fantasy writers get horses all wrong. They make them these tireless beasts that can go anywhere and gallop for seven days straight.
Tyson: You don’t give the horses wings on their backs, like pegasus.
Martin: I have an interesting take on unicorns coming up in the new books. [smiles] Oops.
There has been some mention of unicorns in Westeros in George R.R. Martin's books before, although it's largely rooted in myth. Unicorns are rumored to live on the remote island of Skagos, according to Martin's world-building The World of Ice & Fire volume, but are actually large and furry one-horned goats. Mentions of these creatures appear a handful of times throughout the series, though only horns and stories have served as any evidence of their existence within the story.
Besides the fact that they're goats, one big thing to know about these unicorns is that stories are told of men using them for mountain climbing and riding into battle. Facing off against a rider on a huge unicorn/goat with a horn on its head certainly could be frightening. Imagine seeing one of those bad boys bull-rushing through a horde of wights during the epic Battle of Winterfell!
As mentioned, however, imagining is all Game of Thrones fans will be able to do, as it appears these mythical beasts won't be making an appearance in the final episodes. Of course, there's always a chance George R.R. Martin included them in the story overview he gave the showrunners when they outpaced his works, although one would think a unicorn isn't one of those things that plays a meaningful part in the plot.
Unicorn talk aside, a large part of this Startalk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson conversation was rooted in George R.R. Martin talking about the process that goes into his writing. Martin explained to Tyson that he likes to do as much research as he can, and then decides how his version will remain faithful or lightly distorted opposed to other interpretations. After listening to the amount of research he puts into each subject, it's understandable why it's taking him so long to finish the books.
For those searching for updates, yes, this is the latest news we've heard on the progress of The Winds of Winter. As for when to expect it, George R.R. Martin has stopped giving release dates which isn't a huge deal considering he's missed a handful of them in the past. Much like the mystery of who will take the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones' ending, the timetable for when Martin will release his next book remains a mystery.
Game of Thrones airs on HBO Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET. CinemaBlend has plenty of analysis on each episode for readers to pore over, so be sure to browse and read up on all the other latest and greatest entertainment news.