Just how long will 'Game of Thrones' last? No one is sure

Just how long will 'Game of Thrones' last? No one is sure
Michiel Huisman and Emilia Clarke star in HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

As Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones" rolls toward its finale, fans are becoming increasingly interested in what the endgame will look like. HBO has already renewed the series for two more seasons, but no one seems to be in agreement about how many seasons it will take to bring writer George R.R. Martin's epic to the screen. And now it appears Martin himself isn't so sure how many books it will take him to tell the story, either.

The original plan, at least as it currently stands, is to publish seven books in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" sequence that is the basis for HBO's TV series. But recently, Martin's editor Anne Groell hinted to fans in a Q&A that there might be eight books in the series.

Originally, the loose idea in Groell's mind was they would publish seven novels for the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

But then, as reported by the Guardian newspaper, she said, "As I recently learned while editing 'The World of Ice and Fire' ... there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be OK."

While she did add that Martin is currently under contract for seven novels, it did send fans into a tailspin of simultaneous joy and worry. Yay, more books (maybe)! But how will Martin ever stay ahead of the TV show now? 

Martin is currently writing the sixth book in the series, with one more on the way. But the TV show has nearly caught up to him with the current season expected to finish up events from the third novel. And while he told Entertainment Weekly this week that he currently expects to finish the story in seven books, he left himself some wiggle room, saying, "Get back to me when I'm halfway through Book Seven and then maybe I’ll tell you something more meaningful."

Meanwhile, Martin also expressed doubt about the current talk of seven seasons of HBO's series completing the story, saying he didn't "think it will be enough to tell the story we're telling in the books."
With six seasons from HBO guaranteed, it's worth noting that a seventh season and beyond would be a first for an HBO drama. Even the mighty "Sopranos" ended after six seasons.

If there's any firm bit of information to be taken out of this little Westeros side trip, it's that anyone involved in getting this story out to the masses needs to think carefully about anything they say. The hungry hordes are waiting.