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Game of Thrones hit the small screen just before George R.R. Martin published the long awaited fifth volume in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. It took the author a lengthy six years to finish putting together A Dance with Dragons and in the two years since, the author has only crawled a little closer to finishing the sixth volume in the series. During this week’s TCA panel for HBO’s series based on the books, show executives Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo admitted they have finally thought about the possibility that the books won’t be finished in time to air the series.
George R.R. Martin has seven books planned in his series, two of which have yet to hit shelves. Since the books are so intricately layered and detailed, HBO has already taken some steps to give Martin time to write by splitting the beloved third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, into two seasons. Thus, the upcoming Season 4 will mostly be comprised of the latter half of that book (although we all know that some of the show’s plotlines have already been sped up or slowed down to suit the whim’s of the program’s timeline). Other than taking a slower approach to telling the Game of Thrones story, there’s not that much at this point that HBO can do about the pace of the show in relation to the pace of Martin’s writing.
According to EW, Lombardo spoke up about the issue of “catching up” before Plelper interrupted the other HBO executive to talk about their big speech to Martin, which is pretty weak, all things considered.
“Our line to George was ‘keep writing.”
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that those close to Game of Thrones have discussed the “catching up” issue. Lombardo actually spoke out in more detail this June about how he wasn’t initially concerned with the timeframe, even though many fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series expressed more than a little concern.
“I finally understand fans’ fear — which I didn’t a couple years ago: What if the storytelling catches up to the books? Let’s all hope and pray that’s not going to be a problem.”
Luckily, there are plenty of ways that books four and five can be split up, since the events in book four frequently overlap with the events in book five, with Martin taking creative liberties to only allow POV chapters from certain characters in each book. There’s no way HBO is just going to skip hearing from fan favorites like Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen for entire seasons, and there are plenty of ways the writers could potentially stretch A Feast for Crows, and especially A Dance with Dragons, which offers readers a whopping 1040 pages to get through.
Martin doesn’t seem worried about his potential to not finish, which is encouraging, and it’s certainly a little too early to begin speculating at this point, but if The Winds of Winter doesn’t get published for the next couple of years, I’m sure plenty of tongues will be wagging concerning the topic.