Season 6 is coming. As we creep closer to the April 24 return of HBO's fantasy epic, one question looms in the minds of A Song of Ice and Fire fans: Will there be any Winds of Winter spoilers in Game of Thrones Season 6? Author George R.R. Martin's response to this question has media outlets and fans divided.
In his January 2 blog post announcing that The Winds of Winter would not see the light of day before the return of HBO's TV series, Martin wrote:
Having said all that, I know what the next question will be, because hundreds of you have already asked it of me. Will the show 'spoil' the novels? Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of GAME OF THRONES that have not yet happened in the books.
A quick reading of Martin's post would worry even the most stoic ASOIAF fan. For the last few years, Game of Thrones has held few surprises for those who read the books. Only when the series deviated from the source material — which it frequently does — were Martin's readers ever truly shocked. However, those very deviations will inevitably save The Winds of Winter from being spoiled by Game of Thrones Season 6.
Martin reminds his fans that they can read books after seeing their film adaptations and still love them. But, he admits, ASOIAF poses a unique situation, in that the TV show and its source material are being written simultaneously. This, he says, puts him in a bind when it comes to answering questions about potential spoilers:
So when you ask me, "will the show spoil the books," all I can do is say, "yes and no," and mumble once again about the butterfly effect. Those pretty little butterflies have grown into mighty dragons. Some of the 'spoilers' you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all... because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.
Even the tiniest plot changes screenwriters and producers make in bringing ASOIAF to television can eventually become gigantic differences between the HBO show and Martin's novels. As io9's Charlie Jane Anders observes, "[w]e're starting to reach the point where the books and the TV show really are different creatures. A lot of the subplots in Martin's books will never even get to television at this point."
Martin goes on to list characters whose fates have differed on television, or who were never there to begin with. Stannis, Shireen, Myrcella, and Mance Rayder all died in Game of Thrones Season 5, despite remaining alive in the books. Meanwhile, Balon Greyjoy died in the books, but is still alive on HBO. And dozens of characters — including Balon's brothers, Jeyne Poole, the Griffs, and Lady Stoneheart — haven't been introduced on the show at all, leaving readers to wonder if their storylines will ever make their television debut.
At this point, it's practically impossible for Game of Thrones Season 6 to spoil The Winds of Winter. Sure, HBO might pop out a few plot points before you get to read them, but you've got to remember that the show's creators have to take roughly 1000 pages of dense court intrigue and turn them into 10 well-thought-out, dramatic episodes for television viewers. To do that, they take a lot of liberties, and that includes changing whole story arcs to keep the series from sprawling out of control.
So, no, there won't be any Winds of Winter spoilers in Game of Thrones Season 6. Just a lot of blood and sex to tide you over until Martin's next book comes out.
Images: HBO; Giphy (2)