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When it comes to adapting books for television, no show is ever going to be 100% faithful to the source material. When it comes to HBO’s Game of Thrones, however, adaptation discrepancies can go the other way around. With the A Song of Ice and Fire novel saga still two books shy of coming to a conclusion, the action of the series is now overtaking the books, and when faced with the question of whether he should stick with his instincts in a scene for Winds of Winter or stick with what Game of Thrones has produced, author George R. R. Martin came to an important decision regarding a big twist.
I have decided to do it. Will you know it? I don’t know. It is fairly obvious because it is something that involves a couple of characters, one of which is dead on the show, and not dead in the books. So the show can’t do this, unfortunately, because they have killed a character that I have not killed.
Martin’s reveal to IGN that he’s not letting the books be dictated by the show is great news for readers. After all, we signed on to read a saga of original material, not a set of TV novelizations. Besides, knowing that Martin is making major divergences from where showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have taken and are taking Game of Thrones is a reassurance that watching Season 6 won’t necessarily mean that the next book is entirely spoiled.
Considering the plethora of characters in the Song of Ice and Fire saga that are still alive, and the massive amount of characters killed on Game of Thrones, it’s nearly impossible to say for sure just who Martin might be using for the big twist in Winds of Winter. Martin only said that one of the characters involved has died on the show, so it’s probably not a brunch between Shireen, Myrcella, and Ser Barristan. Given how huge a deal that it was that Game of Thrones killed off Stannis in the Season 5 finale when the character is still alive and well in A Song of Ice and Fire, I’d put the last remaining Baratheon brother at the top of the list of candidates. It’s not like any of us really believe that Jon Snow is staying dead in Season 6, right?
It’s worth noting that when Martin says that he hasn’t killed this character yet, it doesn’t mean that he won’t kill this character, so it’s possible that this scene won’t diverge from the major plots too much. The books are always packed much more than what ten episodes per year could possibly cover; perhaps this scene is one that wouldn’t have made the cut anyway.
On the whole, George R. R. Martin’s decision to not write the books according to what has happened on HBO bodes well for fans of both mediums. Knowing that there are surprises in store on the screen and on the page makes waiting for Season 6 feel somewhat less harrowing. It doesn’t make the wait for Winds of Winter much easier, as fans have been without new reading material for ages, but at least Martin is making progress.
Season 6 of Game of Thrones premieres on April 24 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Winds of Winter will be out...eventually. To see when everything else is premiering over the next few months, check out our midseason TV schedule.