Fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series were abuzz earlier this month when Martin’s editor, Anne Groell, casually dropped the idea that series could extend to eight novels rather than the proposed seven. In a Q&A with fans on Suvudo Universe, Groell talked about the progression of the series from a trilogy to its current form.
Finally, we were on the same page: Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Good. Only, as I recently learned while editing The World of Ice and Fire (another awesome thing you must buy when it comes out!), there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay.
But the news was also polarizing to fans who were undeniably excited at the prospect of more content, but worried about the pace of the series. And the subject of pacing has already been a common thread when it comes to HBO’s hugely popular television adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, which catches up quicker and quicker to Martin’s novels every year. However, Martin was quick to stifle the rumors and confirmed that the plan hasn’t changed.
“My plan is to finish in seven,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly. “But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow. I deal with certain things and sometimes I find myself not at the end of a story. My plan right now is still seven. But first I have to finish Book Six. Get back to me when I’m half-way through Book Seven and then maybe I’ll tell you something more meaningful.”
So the plan is still seven, but given Martin’s track history and a certain vagueness in his wording, it definitely wouldn’t be a surprise to see the series extend to eight books. But what does that mean for HBO’s Game of Thrones? In many ways, it puts the popular series between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, the TV series threatens to catch up to Martin’s novels before he has completed his novels. On the other hand, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are aiming for Game of Thrones to finish at seven seasons. It isn’t exactly a desperate situation given the series’ explosive popularity — and plans are sure to change as the series continues to grow — but there are some tough, complicated decisions coming up.
That being said, Martin agrees with at least one solution that has proposed: following up the Game of Thrones series with staggered feature films. “Ever since I heard that idea I’ve been both excited by it — I think it would be great — and I’ve been skeptical about it because I’ve heard of a number of other shows that were [supposed to have films] like Deadwood, Rome and even The Sopranos, and the only one I’ve actually seen is Sex and the City.”
While Martin says the idea didn’t come from him, it has two huge benefits when it comes to closing the screen adaption of A Song of Ice and Fire: time and money. Time-wise, the films would allow Martin to complete his novels without the threat of the TV series catching up, assuming the films weren’t made all at once like Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. And as far as money goes, it would allow the climactic battles of the fantasy series to be depicted in truely epic fashion that has occasionally alluded the TV series due to budgetary constraints.
Whatever does end up happening as A Song of Ice and Fire continues chugging forward alongside Game of Thrones, it’s tough to see a situation that could sink the ship. After all, the books are more popular than ever and Game of Thrones recently became the most popular HBO series of all-time, ousting The Sopranos from the top spot. But it will be interesting to see how Martin and HBO maneuver around these issues in the following years because winter is definitely coming.