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Game of Thrones: Series' ending won't be 'that different' from the books, says George R.R. Martin

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1

With Game of Thrones having already entered its eighth and final season while author George R.R. Martin is still working on completing the novel series upon which the show is based, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss get to tell the ending on screen before Martin does on paper. The fifth entry in Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series, A Dance with Dragons, launched in 2011 — the very same year Thrones premiered. Before long, the show had adapted all of the source material and then began entering territory Martin hadn't yet published. As the series approaches its epic conclusion, fans have pondered about something important: how will the ending of Game of Thrones compare to that of Martin's novels?

The man himself has given the answer.

Speaking in a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, Martin revealed that the ending Benioff and Weiss created isn't "that different" from the ending he has in mind. 

Of course, the showrunners can't include all the nuances of Martin's novels, hit every single tiny beat, or cover the sundry side stories sprinkled throughout the books, but their conclusion will match nicely with Martin's — and that's due in large part to the lengthy conversations the trio had ahead of season 8.

"I don't think Dan and Dave's ending is going to be that different from my ending because of the conversations we did have. But on certain secondary characters, there may be big differences," said Martin. He also shared, "We're talking here about several days of story conferences taking place in my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. But there's no way to get in all the detail, all the minor characters, all the secondary characters. The series has been extremely faithful compared to 97 percent of all television and movie adaptations of literary properties. But it's not completely faithful. And it can't be. Otherwise, it would have to run another five seasons.

While there apparently won't be much discrepancy between the how the series ends and how the novel series wraps up, Martin is prepared for fans to debate the conclusions and argue which is better or more meaningful. It's an unavoidable reality when it comes to page-to-screen translations, and one that Martin actually welcomes. In his eyes, it would be worse if there were no conversations about the ending at all. 

"There will be a debate, I'm sure. I think a lot of people [will] say 'Oh, Dan and Dave's ending is better than the one George gave us. It's a good thing they changed it.' And there will be a lot of people who will say, 'No, Dan and Dave got it wrong. George's ending is better.' And they will all fight on the internet, and there will be debate. And that's fine," Martin said. "You know, the worst thing for any work of art, be it a movie or a book, is to be ignored."

After the hard-hitting premiere episode of Thrones season 8, no one in the world will be able to ignore the series. (Not that many could before, but now it's really at the forefront of pop culture.) Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has finally learned the truth about his parentage: he's the son of Rheagar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, the woman he thought was his aunt, and is the true heir to the Iron Throne. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is faced with the challenge of earning loyalty from Northerners — who are infamously weary of strangers — and may have trouble succeeding in her endeavor to become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is obviously cooking up another one of her dastardly plans, sipping on wine and staying one step ahead of those around her. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is doing what the Three-Eyed Raven does best: knowing everything about everybody, and maintaining a level of stoicism that's arguably more badass than any swordsman on the show. Oh yeah, and the White Walkers and the Night King have broken through the Wall and are quickly making their way south. Fun times ahead on Thrones season 8.

The series being as twisty as it is, there's no predicting how things will end — or who will take the Iron Throne. There are plenty of questions the final season still needs to address and tons of theories about what will go down before the finale, so strap in (or onto the back of one of Dany's dragons) and enjoy the ride to the end. 

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 PM ET on HBO.