The following contains spoilers from Game of Thrones and potential spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire.
The television version of the story of Westeros has concluded but many are still not-so-patiently waiting for George R.R. Martin’s ending in novel form. The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are the final two planned installments with both currently lacking a release date. Isaac Hempstead Wright revealed in an HBO behind-the-scenes interview that Bran’s ending is also the planned ending in Martin’s version.
“[Creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] told me there were two things [author] George R.R. Martin had planned for Bran, and that was the Hodor revelation, and that he would be king. So that’s pretty special to be directly involved in something that is part of George’s vision. It was a really nice way to wrap it up.”
The takeaway that is getting all the attention right now is that Bran will end up with with the crown in the novels; however, that is not the story here. Martin said before the season, the endings would be very similar. The key here is Wright saying Benioff and Weiss were told “two things” from Martin regarding Bran. Which further proves my theory that Martin has much less figured out than many think, and most of this past season was not from bullet points he gave the showrunners.
Put me down that Martin’s version is going to be much different. If we ever get it, of course, as each day goes by making it seem less likely the 70-year-old author finishes the series (A Dance with Dragons was released in 2011). The final season was six episodes and the first two focused mostly on the build-up to the Battle of Winterfell with the White Walkers that took place in the third episode. Remember, that whole battle was about defeating the Night King, who is a total creation of the television show. Arya destroying him, which led to the entire Army of the Dead falling, will not be how The Others – what the White Walkers are called in the novels – are dealt with. So, for the many that were furious that Arya slayed the Night King, there is hope yet for you.
Other major outcomes that took place such as Euron Greyjoy killing Rhaegal also seemingly will only be in the show’s outcome. In the books, Euron is much different and is more the type of person who would try trapping the dragon and keeping it. Rhaegal’s death was also incredibly sloppy and nothing of Martin’s history indicates that is how he would handle a second of the only three dragons dying. In fact, the fate of the dragons expects to be entirely different as the other one, Viserion, was killed and reborn by the Night King. Drogon just flying away at the end with Daenerys felt like another endpoint Martin didn’t have an answer for and therefore Weiss and Benioff just ran with something not all that fitting.
Jon killing Daenerys as well as the outcome for the other key characters clearly fall under “the ending” that will be similar. But perhaps what will be most important is for Martin to properly explain Daenerys’ character arc. Destroying an entire city and turning into the Mad Queen was hinted at, but never told correctly. It happened too fast, and again, given how the two dragons died, the way Martin has her experience her final straw will be far different.
This all could cause quite a dilemma if Martin’s version is more fulfilling. Especially given how close most of the series has followed the novels. Having two versions share the first three quarters and the final two minutes of the game, but having a different rest of the fourth quarter is not an ideal situation. With all this said, it all comes down to yet another clue Martin has no idea how to get to the ending of the story he created.