The series finale is the only episode left for Game of Thrones following Season 8 Episode 5, “The Bells.” The ending of the epic tale has drawn ire from many fans, but there might soon be another version for them to devour instead. According to one Game of Thrones actor, the conclusion of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” on which Game of Thrones is based, is already written.
As flagged on Reddit, Barristan Selmy actor Ian McElhinney made a claim during a panel in April at Epic Con in St. Petersburg, Russia, that will have book fans screaming: Supposedly, Martin has finished the last two books of the series, “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring.” He just hasn’t published them yet.
“I don’t know if you know more than me about this, but what I’ve been told is that George has already written books six and seven,” McElhinney said. “And as far as he’s concerned, there only are seven books. But he struck an agreement with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], the showrunners of the series, that he would not publish the final two books until the series has completed. So all goes well, in another month or two, we might get books six and seven, and I’m intrigued to know how Barristan, for instance, ends up going through those final two books.”
Martin is well-known for taking a long time to complete new entries in his epic–the first book in the series, “A Game of Thrones,” was published all the way back in 1996, and the last entry to hit bookshelves, “A Dance of Dragons,” didn’t come out until 2011. That means it took 15 years for Martin to complete four books; it also means that since Season 1 of Game of Thrones, book fans have only had what’s aired on HBO to hold them over as they waited for Martin to catch up.
In April, Martin told GameSpot sister site Entertainment Tonight that writing on “The Winds of Winter” has “been going very well lately,” but he also reiterated his usual position on when to expect the new book: “It’ll be done when it’s done.” So Martin hasn’t hinted that he’s sitting on two completed books, just waiting for Game of Thrones to end–but on the other hand, eight years is a long time, and it’s definitely possible he could have completed at least one, or maybe even both, in that period, given how long the others took to write.
How the books might differ from the TV show is a question a lot of fans want answered. Martin has said he’s known all along where the stories were going, and he told Benioff and Weiss what the major beats of the conclusion were years ago. But Martin also told Rolling Stone he wished the series had a few more seasons to wrap everything up, and there are plenty of examples of the show making changes or going in different directions from what’s in the books. It’s definitely possible things could wind up differently in “A Song of Ice and Fire”–or at least take a different path to the same place. After all, a lot of characters who have died on the show still live in the books, not the least of whom is Barristan Selmy.