George R.R. Martin Talks 'Game Of Thrones' Ending, Says His Book Conclusion Won't Be That Different From The Show's

The eighth season of HBO's Game of Thrones has begun, leaving only five episodes until the ending of the epic story is unveiled. That story originally began in 1996 when George R.R. Martin published the first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga, and as the final season of the show kicks off, the author has weighed in on the parallels between the two endings: the show's and his planned conclusion for his novels, which is still years away. Read on for his quotes and to find out where he thinks the biggest differences will lie.

A Tale of Two Endings

"I don't think [showrunners] Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff]'s ending is going to be that different from my ending because of the conversations we did have," Martin said in a new interview with 60 Minutes, referring to a fateful multi-day conference in which he spilled the broad strokes of the ending back in 2013. "But there may be – on certain secondary characters, there may be big differences."

Martin never thought the show would catch up to his books, but he hit a snag writing The Winds of Winter, the sixth out of seven planned books in the series. Martin gave the showrunners his planned endings for each of the major characters, but as time has gone on and his writing progress has slowed, I've wondered if part of the delay was because he'd decided to rework some things in order to give his loyal book readers a different ending than the people who watch the show. But the fact that he says the Game of Thrones ending won't be "that different" from his books essentially buries my theory.

The line about the secondary characters having different endings aligns with what Martin has said in the past, and it makes sense – the show has already made some key changes to the narrative by shifting characters around and putting them in different scenarios than they were in the books, so those endings are obviously going to play out differently in the more dense world of Martin's prose.

Still, the author knows that if he ever finishes his books, the Internet is going to go crazy arguing about which ending is better:

"There will be a debate, I'm sure....A lot of people who will say 'Oh, Dan and Dave's ending is better than the one George gave us. It's a good thing they changed it.' And there will be a lot of people who say, 'No, Dan and Dave got it wrong. George's ending is better.' And they will all fight on the internet, and there will be debate. And that's fine. You know, the worst thing for any work of art, be it a movie or a book, is to be ignored."

A Comic Comparison

Martin, a longtime comic book fan who has a fun history with Marvel Comics, also compared his novels and the show to Spider-Man comic books:

"We've got all these Spider-Men. Is that Stan Lee's Spider-Man from the comic books? They're similar, but they're also different. Things happen to one that never happen to the other. Things are resolved differently. The girlfriends are shuffled and reshuffled. The primary beats are there, the character is there, but it's a question of the choices you make to tell a story, which are partially dictated by your medium."

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is currently underway, airing on Sunday nights on HBO. There's no word yet on when Martin's sixth A Song of Ice and Fire novel, The Winds of Winter, might be finished, let alone the final book, A Dream of Spring.