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George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire books that provide the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones, spoke out about his epic fantasy series during a discussion at his alma mater Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and what his readers should expect when the story concludes.
“I think you need to have some hope,” he said Wednesday of how he envisions the end of the series. “We all yearn for happy endings in a sense. Myself, I’m attracted to the bittersweet ending.”
Martin has long maintained his plan to match the ending of Ice and Fire with the tone of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King, which saw Frodo Baggins and his fellow Hobbits succeed in their quest to save the world, only to return home and discover it ransacked by war. Given the current political landscape throughout the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros — not to mention the threat of White Walkers, zombies and ice spiders north of the great Wall separating the realms of men from unknown forces of lore — it’s easy to see how Martin’s story could land in that same space.
“I think Tolkien did this brilliantly,” he said.
Martin also addressed the speed with which he’s writing his novels (there are still two unpublished books in the series) versus the speed with which the team behind Game of Thrones has produced seasons of the show.
“I’ve been hearing them come up behind me for years, and the question is: How can I make myself write faster? I think, by now, the answer is I can’t. I write at the pace I write, and what the show is doing is not going to change what the books are,” he said. “I started writing about these characters and this world in 1991, and we didn’t have the first meetings to create the show until 2008, so I got like a 17-year head start!”
The most recent book in the Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons, was released in 2011. The show, currently in production on its sixth season, has depleted nearly all of the major story lines from the published material — though there are rumors that Martin’s next book, The Winds of Winter, could arrive before the new season begins.
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