In just under a week Game of Thrones -- the HBO series -- will come to an end. The same is not true for the book series the show is based on, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. While Martin had initially maintained that the seven-book series would end before the television series did, that ultimately ended up not being the case. Books six and seven still haven't materialized, but while one of the actors on Game of Thrones has claimed the books are completed Martin is setting the record straight: that's simply not the case.
During an appearance at Epic Con in Russia last month. Barristan Selmy actor Ian McElhinney made the claim that Martin has already finished books six and seven but had been holding them back because of the show.
"George has already written books six and seven, and as far as he's concerned there are only seven books," McElhinney said. "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 a huge statement and one that would be mind-blowing for fans if it were true and it's the "true" bit that, according to Martin, simply isn't the case. In a post on his blog (via Entertainment Weekly), Martin thoroughly refutes the statement, insisting that not only is book six -- The Winds of Winter -- not finished, but the seventh book, A Dream of Spring, hasn't even been started.
“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," Martin writes. "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 & 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 & Dan. There is no ‘deal’ to hold back on the books. I assure you, HBO and David & 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.”
Martin's refutation of McElhinney's claim is just the latest comment from the author about the state of the eagerly-anticipated books. Ahead of the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones, Martin admitted that he no longer even gives dates as to when people can expect the next book simply because the dates keep getting moved back and it makes people unhappy.
"I have no date," Martin said. "I've given up giving dates because I give one and then I miss it, and everybody gets mad. It'll be done when it's done. It's been going very well lately so, knock wood."
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
What do you think? Was McElhinney mistaken? Do you believe Martin? Is the truth somewhere in between? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.