Looks like HBO's "Game of Thrones" could well breeze past author George R.R. Martin after all if comments by the author's editor today come true.
Penguin Random House executive editor Anne Groell suggests that Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series, on which the HBO series is based, may end up requiring an eighth book rather than finishing at seven as originally planned. Groell said in a recent Suvudu Q&A:
"Though seven 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', 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. Also, he has promised me that, when he finally wraps this great beast us, I can publish the five page letter outlining the bare bones of the 'trilogy'"
Martin himself was asked about the comments by EW, and he tells them it's a possibility:
"My plan is to finish in seven... But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow. I deal with certain things and sometimes I find myself not at the end of a story. My plan right now is still seven. But first I have to finish Book Six. Get back to me when I'm half-way through Book Seven and then maybe I'll tell you something more meaningful."
Groell is currently working with Martin on his currently-in-progress sixth book "The Winds of Winter" and does know a few things about it. She, like many fans of the series, is also urging him to hurry up as she has warned Martin "to please not let the show get out ahead of him... His vision started this; I very much want his vision to end it, too."
The show's soon to finish fourth season is still based primarily on events in the second half of book three, but has begun to use elements from the fourth and fifth book, along with incorporating some new elements not seen in the books so far. Martin has commented on those changes and says they're likely to increase with subsequent seasons:
"By and large we are seeing more differences from the books and I've been predicting that from the beginning. There's a certain snowball effect of making changes and I think that will continue."
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have been told the basic outline of books six and seven, something even Groell doesn't know, and reportedly have contingency plans in place should the TV series outpace Martin's final book installments.
The news comes as the show's current fourth season is now becoming one of the most watched series on television. The show is currently averaging around 7.2 million viewers for its first broadcasts, and a whopping 18 million gross weekly viewers for first-runs, encores, HBO GO and On Demand views.
That 18 million is just shy of the HBO watermark of 18.2 million viewers for "The Sopranos" fourth season which it will likely surpass either in the final two episodes of this season or next year.
In network and basic cable equivalent ratings, ie. Live+7 ratings, only four regular shows average above the 18 million mark - "Sunday Night Football," "NCIS," "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Walking Dead" with the latter at 18.4 million.