As the author of the beloved Game of Thrones novel series A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin is a regular on the convention circuit, or at least he used to be. The writer revealed in March that he plans to cut back on his convention appearances, including Comic Con, so he could focus on finishing the sixth book in his series, The Winds of Winter, which doesn't have a publication date as of yet. Earlier this week, though, George R.R. Martin returned to his alma mater, Northwestern University, where he received the school's Hall of Achievement alumni award, and held a Q&A session. During the Q&A session, the author reiterated his thoughts on how his beloved novel series will end, telling fans to expect something "bittersweet," like J.R.R. Tolkien's ending in The Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King.
"I think you need to have some hope. We all yearn for happy endings in a sense. Myself, I'm attracted to the bittersweet ending. People ask me how Game of Thrones is gonna end, and I'm not gonna tell them ... but I always say to expect something bittersweet in the end, like [J.R.R. Tolkien]. I think Tolkien did this brilliantly. I didn't understand that when I was a kid - when I read Return of the King."
This isn't the first time George R.R. Martin has compared the ending of his novels to Lord of the Rings, teasing in August that he is trying to mirror the tone of Return of the King's conclusion. He added then that he first read the book when he was 13 years old, and didn't understand the ending at the time, but he came to appreciate it more and more as he grew up. While this scene wasn't in Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning adaptation, the Return of the King book ends with Frodo and his travelling companions returning to The Shire, only to find it overrun by dark and evil forces.
With all of that being said, even with George R.R. Martin's hint of a bittersweet and hopeful ending, it isn't clear who will even be left standing when the novel series comes to a close. With an immense cast of characters, it could be anyone who ends on the Iron Throne in an apparently bittersweet fashion. The author's publisher revealed earlier this year that they have no plans on publishing The Winds of Winter this year, with many fans wondering if the book may be ready before Season 6 debuts next spring on HBO.
Season 6 will mark the first time that the show has caught up with the book, and the producers have been more secretive than ever. While we've gotten confirmation of a few new characters thanks to photos that have emerged from the set, HBO has not yet revealed an official list of cast members quite yet. While we wait for more on this highly-anticipated season of Game of Thrones, check out the 17-minute video from George R.R. Martin's Q&A session at Northwestern University from earlier this week, and let us know what you think below.