[Update: George R.R. Martin has taken to his blog to refute McElhinney’s comments and assert that no, Books 6 and 7 are not written. Our original story follows below.]
The Game of Thrones series finale airs in just one week, but shortly after that, fans of George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series may be in for a huge surprise. The smash-hit HBO series launched in 2011, adapting Martin’s epic fantasy series for the small screen. That same year, Martin published the fifth book in his planned seven-book series, which began in 1996. The show roughly adapted one book per season, but while Martin maintained that he would finish the book series before the TV show wrapped up, it quickly became clear that the show was going to finish first. After all, it’s a 12-month-a-year job for showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and the cast members couldn’t be expected to remain under contract forever.
So the series finale of the TV show is coming next week, and Martin still has two books to publish. While fans of the books have been waiting, Martin has maintained that he’s still working. However, comments from an actor from Game of Thrones who is no longer on the show seemingly revealed a gentleman’s agreement that explains the book delay.
Actor Ian McElhinney, who played Barristan Selmy on Game of Thrones until the character was killed off in 2015, claimed (falsely, it appears) at a convention called Epic Con back in April that Martin has already completed the final two books, and he agreed to wait and publish them after the show finished:
“George has already written Books 6 and 7, and as far as he’s concerned there only are seven books. But he struck an agreement with David and Dan, the showrunners on the series, that he would not publish the final two books until the series has completed. So if all goes well, in another month or two we might get Books 6 and 7, and I’m intrigued to know how Barristan, for instance, ends up going through those final two books. George, I talked to him during Season 1 and he did say to me that Barristan had a very interesting journey. But unfortunately I didn’t get to play all of that, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
It’s now been nearly eight years since Martin published a new A Song of Ice and Fire book, so surely he’s made headway since then. Plus, we know that when it became clear the show would surpass the books, Benioff and Weiss went to Martin’s home and essentially had a series of story conferences in which Martin told them the broad outlines of how A Song of Ice and Fire concludes.
Alas, it appears this is a case of McElhinney simply regurgitating a rumor or a bad game of telephone.
That said, once Martin is finally done, fans can rest easy knowing there will be an “alternate ending” to Game of Thrones once it’s all over.
And for more on Game of Thrones, click on the links to our recent articles below:
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunners Explain Why Dany Made That Big Turn
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Guide, Week 5: Every Question We Have After “The Bells”
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Needed to Earn Daenerys’ Big Decision; It Didn’t
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Series Finale Trailer Teases a New Winter