George R.R. Martin is once again assuring fans that he will finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series in seven books and that the HBO show Game of Thrones won't catch up to him. He might be the only one who still believes this.
Martin spoke to Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday to respond to the growing sense that his ever-expansive fantasy series won't be finished in seven books. "My plan is to finish in seven," Martin said. "But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow." That's not exactly a confidence-inspiring statement.
Martin's comments come after Martin's editor Anne Groell answered a question about the series' length and said she was starting to "wonder" if seven would be enough, and hinted about "maybe eight books."
I begin to wonder—though 7 is what we currently have under contract. I remember when he called me, years and years back, to confess that his little trilogy was…well…no longer a trilogy. He predicted four books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he said five books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he went to six. I said… Well, you get it. Finally, we were on the same page. Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Good. Only, as I recently learned while editing THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE (another awesome thing you must buy when it comes out!), there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay.
Groell has worked with Martin from the beginning of the book series and has been saying there would be seven books since early on in the writing process. So she certainly is an expert on Martin's abilities and tendencies. Each book has taken longer and longer to write, with a five-year period to write book four and six years to finish book five, which came out in 2011.
In the Entertainment Weekly interview, Martin again emphasized his hopes that he would finish the series before the HBO show. The show-runners have said they will finish in seven or eight seasons, or about three-to-four years from now. Martin finishing two more books in that short period already seemed unlikely; the possibility of an eighth book would rule it out entirely.
But Martin is sticking to his belief that the show won't actually finish in seven or eight seasons. "I don’t think it will be enough to tell the story we’re telling in the books," he said. He advocates that HBO avoid passing the show by making staggered feature films. But HBO — a television subscription channel first and foremost — hasn't really warmed to that idea of stopping the show for a movie.
Martin is definitely still in control of the book series and the Thrones canon. But with both his editor and the show doubting his espoused plan, Martin's credibility on the series' future is just sinking lower and lower.