George R.R. Martin just signed his remaining free time over to HBO

HBO hopes the “Game of Thrones” scribe helps it win more hardware.
HBO hopes the “Game of Thrones” scribe helps it win more hardware.
Image: Reuters/Monica Almeida
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George R.R. Martin is not going to admit that he won’t finish his A Song of Ice and Fire book series. But his recent career moves are doing it for him.

The Game of Thrones scribe inked a five-year, eight-figure deal with HBO to make more TV projects set in the fictional lands of Westeros and Essos, according to the Hollywood Reporter. As part of the arrangement, Martin will help the premium cable network develop five untitled Game of Thrones spinoffs that are already in the works, in addition to House of the Dragon, a prequel series that starts filming in April and is set hundreds of years before the events of Thrones.

Most of these projects, if greenlit (it’s unlikely that all of them will be), would premiere on the HBO network. But at least one—an animated series—could instead roll out on the HBO Max streaming service, Deadline reported.

The deal underscores how crucial the “Martinverse” is to the future of HBO and WarnerMedia. With the increase in global streaming competition, it’s more important than ever to own content that stands out—and can convince consumers to subscribe. No HBO show has done that better than Game of Thrones, which was based on Martin’s unfinished A Song of Ice and Fire series. The show won 59 Emmy awards and was one of the most popular programs in the world while airing from 2011 to 2019.

Sad news for Games of Thrones readers

Unfortunately, HBO’s gain means unending pain for fans of the Game of Thrones books. Martin was already busy with numerous side projects that he’s admitted have kept him from completing The Winds of Winter, the sixth of seven planned books in his series. The previous book, A Dance With Dragons, was published nearly a decade ago. It’s reasonable to assume that Martin will never finish the series now.

“I have a zillion other things to do as well, though,” Martin wrote on his blog in February, adding he still had hundreds of pages to write. “My plate is full to overflowing. Every time I wrap up one thing, three more things land on me.”

He’s not wrong. Today, Martin announced he’s now developing a Game of Thrones play for Broadway and West End. It will depict “The Great Tourney at Harrenhal,” a legendary jousting contest that took place a few years before the events of the HBO show. He’s also producing two other non-Thrones related shows for HBO, as well as one for NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock. At this stage of his career, he is more TV producer than book author.

The proposed Game of Thrones spinoffs in development at HBO include one set in the King’s Landing slum of Flea Bottom and one about the queen Nymeria. HBO and Martin are also reportedly working on a show based on Martin’s Tales of Dunk and Egg series—which, like A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin hasn’t finished.

If Martin never finishes the series, the HBO show will likely have to stand as the official ending of the story. Martin consulted on Game of Thrones, and informed the show’s producers about how he wants to end his novels, but it’s unclear how much of HBO’s ending was the same as what Martin intends for the books. The show’s ending was incredibly divisive among fans; many have been patiently waiting for Martin’s novels to right what they perceive to be the HBO series’ wrongs. But that day may not come.