In case any Game of Thrones fans were confused as to why the last couple of seasons had taken such a departure in narrative from the past seasons it’s because showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss ran out of material to work with. A Song of Ice and Fire, the series which Game of Thrones is based on, has yet to be completed. So really, it’s a simple case of the anime overtaking the manga.
The most recent book, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011. Fans have been waiting 8 years for the next installation but George RR Martin seemed preoccupied with work on his companion book, The World of Ice & Fire, instead. However, recent rumors accuse GRRM of having finished both remaining books but holding them off on a deal with HBO.
Image from Daily Express
The rumor is largely based on claims made by Ian McElhinney, who plays Ser Barristan Selmy on the show. The Independent quotes him as sharing to a fan convention:
George has already written books six and seven, 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 six and seven, 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 one 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.”
George RR Martin has categorically denied such an ‘absurd’ rumor:
No, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are not finished. Dream is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finish volume six. It seems absurd to me that I need to state this. The world is round, the Earth revolves around the sun, water is wet… do I need to say that too?
It boggles me that anyone would believe this story, even for an instant. It makes not a whit of sense. Why would I sit for years on completed novels? Why would my publishers — not just here in the US, but all around the world — ever consent to this? They make millions and millions of dollars every time a new Ice and Fire book comes out, as do I.
Delaying makes no sense. Why would HBO want the books delayed? The books help create interest in the show, just as the show creates interest in the books.
So… no, the books are not done. HBO did not ask me to delay them. Nor did David and Dan. There is no ‘deal’ to hold back on the books. I assure you, HBO and David and Dan would both have been thrilled and delighted if The Winds of Winter had been delivered and published four or five years ago… and no one would have been more delighted than me.
Since McElhinney has not even been on the show for about 4 years now, the plausibility of the rumor becomes especially doubtful. As a fan of the books and a sometimes-fan of the tv series, I can’t tell you whether I would have been relieved or frustrated if the rumor came out as true.
What about you: would you be happy if the rumor were true?