Life just got even harder for anyone trying to avoid spoilers for George R.R. Martin's final two A Song of Ice and Fire books. The author is still working on wrapping up his series, but in a new interview with HBO, Isaac Hempstead Wright confirmed that Game of Thrones' King Bran twist came from Martin himself. That not only means the Three-Eyed Raven will likely end up ruling the Seven Kingdoms in the books as well, it's also confirmation that one of the finale's most divisive moments wasn't something that headwriters David Benioff and D.B. Weiss created on their own.
Game of Thrones surpassed the books that inspired it by Season 6, leaving Benioff and Weiss to chart their own course in the final three seasons. There are plenty of storylines and characters that were cut from the HBO series entirely, and others that took different paths. For that reason, it's hard for fans to know which parts of the finale came from Martin, and which are purely for the show. Shortly after the finale aired, the author cryptically answered the question of whether or not the books and the show would reach the same conclusion with: "Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes."
It looks like King Bran falls under the "yes" category. Hempstead Wright explained, "David and Dan told me there were two things [author] George R.R. Martin had planned for Bran, and that was the Hodor revelation, and that he would be king. So that's pretty special to be directly involved in something that is part of George's vision. It was a really nice way to wrap it up."
The response to Bran becoming king was mixed in large part due to the character's emotional shift from being a young man learning to navigate the world without the use of his legs to him becoming an all-knowing being in possession of humanity's memory. That transition didn't always translate to the screen, leaving the character too enigmatic for viewers to fully understand or relate to. Even Hempstead Wright told HBO that Bran's "not human," and that distinction made him ascending as ruler a curious turn events for the show.
However, the idea that Bran will one day rule the Seven Kingdoms makes sense within the context of the books. Not only is he a point of view character in the fantasy series, he's the first main character introduced in the books after the prologue establishes the coming threat of the White Walkers. In that way, having him crowned king could feel like a full circle moment. But more importantly, book readers will likely be given a different level of insight into who Bran as the Three-Eyed Raven really is due to the nature of how the story is told through shifting perspectives.
In his post-finale blog post, Martin pointed out that the books and the show will have to take different paths to some degree because they exist in two different mediums. "I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget," the author wrote. "They had six hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I'm done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I'll add them."
Until the final two books arrive, fans will surely continue to debate the merits of the final season, as well as how it might compare to the end of the novels. But no matter how you feel about the finale or the King Bran twist, it is at least in keeping with the story's message that "broken things" are worthy heroes — often far worthier than their more fantasy friendly perfect counterparts.
Hempstead Wright summed up the idea:
"I think the character arc itself is just the most incredible thing. To have this disabled 10 year old in this incredibly harsh world...you think he has no chance of survival, he's not going to make it anywhere. And yet against all odds, despite being a traditionally "weak" character he travels north of the Wall to one of the most dangerous points on the map, and comes back this incredibly powerful, wise, calm character."
Bran the Broken may have felt like a strange choice in the moment, but it seems he was always destined for greater things.