For the last five years, when people speak of “spoilers” in conjunction with Game of Thrones, they were always speaking about things that book-readers knew that show-only watchers did not. Keeping spoilers under wraps was seen as an honorable thing for those who had read the books to do, and it speaks to how solemnly most took that responsibility that the show not only pulled off the Shock!Death of Ned Stark, but also the Red Wedding, and then the stabbing of Jon Snow.
But all that changed this past June. The show had, in most respects, caught up with the books. And for the first time, book-readers found the tables turned as the show killed people who have yet to die on the page (e.g. Shireen and Stannis, who are still alive and shivering in Westeros in the novels). Book-readers who were holding out hope that Martin would magically finish The Winds of Winter and release it before Season 6 were driven in part by a desire to restore the natural order. They wanted to be ahead of the show-only watchers again.Shireen is still alive and well and living in Westeros…just not onscreen.
But that was not to be. It turns out that several book-readings fans feel they should not watch the coming season lest is spoil the books for them. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss say those fans needn’t worry. Here’s what Benioff had to say:
People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled – and it’s really not true. So much of what we’re doing diverges from the books at this point. And while there are certain key elements that will be the same, we’re not going to talk so much about that – and I don’t think George is either. People are going to be very surprised when they read the books after the show. They’re quite divergent in so many respects for the remainder of the show.“Well, I certainly didn’t do *this* in the books.”
Dan Weiss agrees. After all, they were never given a detailed blueprint to follow, only an outlined sketch.
What makes the books so great is that George doesn’t make meticulous blueprints for every beat of this story and then fill in the blanks dutifully going from A to B to C, fleshing out an outline. At a certain point, we realized we were going to outpace the books and we kind of choose to see it as a great thing on both sides – there’s this amazing world George has created and now there are two different versions, and there’s no reason we can see why you can’t be thrilled and surprised and dismayed by both of these different versions of this world.
Perhaps this is proof the show was wise to let itself diverge from the novels. Now, book-readers will be able to watch the show and still be unprepared for what Martin will dish out on the page. Personally, I cannot imagine not watching the coming season, with or without The Winds of Winter. But then again, I am all about spoilers, so perhaps I will be disappointed that I won’t learn what happens in the the next book from the show…