game of thrones season 6 spoilers

It’s a weird time to be a Game of Thrones fan. As author George R.R. Martin struggles to finish The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, the HBO series based on his work has flown past where he left off. The tides have turned: book readers who used to lord their advance knowledge of certain events over show watchers now have to watch in horror as the show spoils future books for them.

Or maybe not. Now, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss say that spoiler-phobic book fans should be perfectly fine checking out the new season. It won’t spoil nearly as much as everyone suspects.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Benioff and Weiss (who are awfully fond of the new season) explained that the many changes that have been made during the adaptation process really come home to roost in the show’s sixth season. In various blog posts, Martin has described this as the “Butterfly Effect” – the series makes a change in early seasons that changes the direction of entire storylines and characters further down the road. Benioff says that the big picture is still the same, but the changes add up and the details become completely different:

People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled – and it’s really not true. So much of what we’re doing diverges from the books at this point. And while there are certain key elements that will be the same, we’re not going to talk so much about that – and I don’t think George is either. People are going to be very surprised when they read the books after the show. They’re quite divergent in so many respects for the remainder of the show.

Weiss adds that it’s better to think of the series and the books as two completely separate entities, two continuities that just so happen to take place in the same world and deal with the same characters:

What makes the books so great is that George doesn’t make meticulous blueprints for every beat of this story and then fill in the blanks dutifully going from A to B to C, fleshing out an outline. At a certain point, we realized we were going to outpace the books and we kind of chose to see it as a great thing on both sides – there’s this amazing world George has created and now there are two different versions, and there’s no reason we can see why you can’t be thrilled and surprised and dismayed by both of these different versions of this world.

This shouldn’t be too hard to deal with, as many fans have already separated “book canon” and “show canon.” There’s a reason there’s a Game of Thrones wiki and a Song of Ice and Fire wiki. They’re completely different in so many ways at this point.

So yeah, Game of Thrones season 6 will spoil some stuff and may shed some light on some major events that will transpire in future books, but the paths to those big events sound like they’ll be very different. After all, many characters who are dead on the show are alive in the books and vice versa. Season five already saw several storylines completely diverge from the source material in gigantic ways – Tyrion and Sansa’s storylines are entirely different from their book counterparts’, for example. Still, whether you ultimately decide to watch this and risk any kind of potential book spoiler is between you and the Seven. Or you and R’hllor. You’ve got options in Westeros.

Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on April 24, 2016.

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