'Game of Thrones' Showrunners Know How George R.R. Martin's Books End

David Benioff and Dan Weiss have a contingency plan, should the seventh installment of "A Song of Ice and Fire" not be completed by the time they're ready for the final season.
"Game of Thrones"

It is a question that taunts many Game of Thrones fans. What happens if the HBO TV drama catches up with the still-far-from-finished book series by George R.R. Martin?

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss kicked off the series in 2011 with a glut of source material, four (now five) of seven planned novels in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. But as the co-creators get ready for the April 6 launch of the series' fourth season, which follows the second half of the third book, they are closing the gap at a rapid pace.

Rest easy. They have a backup plan, should the timeline get messy.

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“Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be," Benioff says in the April issue of Vanity Fair. "If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.”

That's right. The trio had a spoiler-filled summit in Martin's Southwestern abode. Still writing book six, The Winds of Winter, Martin noted that not all of the pieces of the puzzle are in place. “I can give them the broad strokes of what I intend to write, but the details aren’t there yet," he tells Vanity Fair. "I’m hopeful that I cannot let them catch up with me.”

As it is, Game of Thrones is looking at at least an eight-season run -- should they not split any more books into two seasons. And that's something both Benioff and Weiss have said they'll likely repeat, as they did with the third book.

Martin's penultimate book, The Winds of Winter, still has no official release date. His U.K. publisher, Jane Johnson, recently said that it will be in 2015 at the earliest.