George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, was reportedly worried about the direction of HBO’s Game of Thrones from Season 6 onwards, according to James Andrew Miller’s new book, Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers.
By the end of the hit show’s fifth season, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had exhausted the source material of the book series. 2011’s A Dance with Dragons—the most recent book—ends where Season 5 ends, and the final two books of A Song of Ice and Fire hadn’t arrived. So it was up to Benioff and Weiss to end the story on their terms, which is what made Martin uneasy.
“George loves Dan and Dave, but after season 5 he did start to worry about the path they were [going down] because George knows where the story goes,” Martin’s representative, Paul Haas told Miller. “He started saying, ‘You’re not following my template’. The first 5 seasons stuck to George’s roadmap. Then they went off George’s roadmap.”
Haas also said that Martin has yet to confirm who ultimately ends up on the Iron Throne, despite Benioff and Weiss previously insisting the ending would be similar in the author’s eventual final two books. According to Insider, Haas said that Martin also appeared to have felt eight seasons wasn’t enough to tell his full story, too.
“George would fly to New York to have lunch with [former HBO CEO Richard] Plepler, to beg him to do ten seasons of ten episodes because there was enough material for it and to tell him it would be a more satisfying and more entertaining experience,” Haas explained. Ultimately, though, Benioff and Weiss wanted to move on sooner. “Dan and Dave were tired, rightfully so,” Haas added. “They were done, and wanted to move on, so they cut it short and then negotiations became, how many seasons can we stretch this out? Because of course HBO wanted more.”
Many fans of Game of Thrones came away from Season 8 critical of its truncated six-episode run, and it’s clear the show could have benefitted from more episodes in its final stretch. Back in 2019, Martin said that he had no plans to change the ending to the last two books based on the fan reaction.