Now that HBO’s Game of Thrones will officially outpace George R.R. Martin’s books (unless you wanna throw Winds of Winter at us in March, George), fans can’t help looking toward the inevitable series’ end. And while Martin wouldn’t dare spoil any early details, the author at least assures us not everyone will die horrible apocalyptic deaths.

An intriguing interview with The Observer saw Martin discussing the nature of his public profile, particularly the manner in which his words end up twisted. That said, while Martin could only say so much, and has yet to begin writing seventh novel A Dream of Spring, the author at least assured fans that his saga wouldn’t end with the aimless bloodbaths many associate with his work,

Calling his vision “bittersweet,” Martin invoked Lord of the Rings in envisioning a mixed victory closing out the Song of Ice and Fire saga:

I haven’t written the ending yet, so I don’t know, but no. [Some horrible apocalypse] is certainly not my intent. I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet.

I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory. Frodo is never whole again, and he goes away to the Undying Lands, and the other people live their lives. And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more.

All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.

Meanwhile of Game of Thrones Season 6, screen legend Max von Sydow has been cast as the mysterious Three-Eyed Raven to a returning Bran, while Deadwood alum Ian McShane will also appear in a limited, mysterious role. Apart from a list of directors, debate continually rages as to whether Kit Harington’s Jon Snow will participate in Season 6, even as Harington can clearly be seen in Belfast, and story logistics seemingly confirm scenes set at The Wall next year.

Also worth remembering is that while Martin has yet to finish the final two novels, showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff have at least some impression of the author’s plans, which HBO’s apparently-eight seasons will surely reflect. Will a partially happy ending bring the Song of Ice and Fire to a proper conclusion? Game of Thrones Season 6 bows in 2016.

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