Helen Sloan/HBO
March 23, 2015 08:50 PM

Forget that “winter is coming.” The end is coming for fans of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books a lot sooner than they might like.

Speaking at Oxford University on March 20, the showrunners for HBO’s Game of Thrones TV adaptation confirmed what longtime readers have feared: The show will end more or less how Martin plans to conclude the books.

“We know where things are heading,” said David Benioff, who executive produces the series alongside D.B. Weiss, who was also present at the talk. “We will eventually meet up at pretty much the same place that George is going. There might be some deviations along the route, but we’re heading toward the same destination.”

“I wish there were some things we didn’t have to spoil,” Benioff told the crowd gathered at Oxford Union, the college’s debate society. “We are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

The first novel in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga hit shelves in 1996, followed by new books in 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2011. The sixth book, The Winds of Winter, would be the first written since the HBO series debuted in 2011. Martin initially estimated this sixth book would be written more quickly than others have, but in January, his publisher Jane Johnson Tweeted that the forthcoming book was “not in our 2015 schedule as it stands.”

There is also the seventh and final book, A Dream of Spring yet to be written.

“We were hoping the books would come out ahead of the show, but at the same time, George has his process, and if it takes him 20 years to finish the series, that’s what it should take him,” Benioff said.

Benioff did note, however, that the books may still provide surprises regarding characters excised from the TV series. “There are certain things that are going to happen in the books that are different from the show,” he said.

Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, and John Bradley-West, who plays Samwell Tarly, were also present for the talk, and both claimed they were as in the dark about where the series is headed as viewers and readers.

“In all honestly, I have no idea where the books are heading. I have no idea who Jon Snow’s mother is,” Harington said. “These gentlemen here don’t tell us, and I wouldn’t ask.”

Bradley-West elicited laughs from the crowd when he commented, “I like not knowing. I feel like I don’t know, then Sam won’t know. And Sam wouldn’t know.”

George R.R. Martin Gives a Game of Thrones Book Update

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