'Game of Thrones' Would Need 13 Seasons to Stay Faithful to ASOIAF Books, George R.R. Martin Says

Author George R.R. Martin told 60 Minutes that Game of Thrones would need another five seasons to fully capture his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

A Dance with Dragons, the fifth novel in Martin's ASOIAF series, was published in July 2011, a few weeks after the final episode of HBO's Game of Thrones Season 1 aired. For viewers of the TV series that summer, Robb Stark was King in the North, Joffrey Baratheon sat on the Iron Throne and Daenerys Targaryen had just birthed three dragons in an all-consuming fire. For readers who finished the fifth installment, Night's Watch mutineers had killed Jon Snow, Ramsay Bolton tortured Theon Greyjoy and Daenerys struggled to control Meereen. The Red Wedding was two books ago.

Martin thought he had plenty of time to finish writing the series before HBO caught up.

Martin described his mentality at the time to Anderson Cooper. "I published the fifth book in 2011, when the series was just going on the air, so I was like five books ahead. I was completely confident that I would have the entire series finished and The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring would be out before they got to them," Martin said. "It was a blow when the series caught up. I didn't think it would happen."

As the final season of Game of Thrones airs, we're still waiting on The Winds of Winter. The final book in the series, A Dream of Spring, is little more than a twinkle in Martin's eye. But while the last two books aren't available to read, Martin had a clear vision for the Game of Thrones ending, delivering the major beats to Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

"Obviously, we're talking here about several days of story conferences taking place in my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico," Martin said. "But there's no way to get in all the minor 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."

Martin reiterated that he felt Game of Thrones will end similarly to A Song of Ice and Fire, with many of the differences coming down to differences between mediums, particularly the novel form's ability to play out dozens of secondary character arcs without the limited runtime of TV.

"The primary beats are there, the character is there, but it's a question of the choices you make to tell the story," Martin said. "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 say, 'No, Dan and Dave got it wrong. George's ending is better.' And they will fight on the internet. It will be a debate. That's fine. The worst thing for any work of art, be it a movie or a book, is to be ignored."