As fans of both George R.R. Martin's 'Game of Thrones' novels and the HBO series adapting them well know, the prolific author's lengthy novels have expanded beyond the reach of a single HBO season, already plotting seasons 3 and 4 to cover the third book, with similar patterns to follow. Might HBO have to cut out entire novels, however, to bring their version to a plausible (and cost-effective) end? One producer says we'll have less 'Game of Thrones' in our futures than we might expect!

While HBO's 'Game of Thrones' fans would happily watch the series until kingdom come, now approaching the end of its third season, a new report suggests that the series could well come to an end after seven seasons, regardless of series creator George R.R. Martin's larger body of work.

Speaking backstage at the BAFTA awards, series producer Frank Doelger said:

[The number of series] is being discussed as we speak. The third season was the first half of book three, season 4 will be the second part of book three. George R.R. Martin has written books four and five; six and seven are pending. I would hope that, if we all survive, and if the audience stays with us we’ll probably get through to seven seasons.

Previously we'd heard that HBO's saga had in mind eight or nine seasons to bring the story to an appropriate end, though one might imagine costs of actors and production alike to grow sky-high by that point, daunting given HBO's already frugal 10-episode approach. There can be no denying that seven seasons would provide a wealth of content, though it would require some major story slashing on the part of the writers.

UPDATE: Series co-creator David Benioff confirms to Vanity Fair that they're aiming for seven to eight total seasons, explaining, "I think the desire to milk more out of it is what would eventually kill it, if we gave in to that."

What say you? Do you think 'Game of Thrones' has only four more seasons left in it, books be damned? What liberties would you be okay with HBO taking? Watch the latest preview for Sunday's new episode "Second Sons" below, and hit the comments with your thoughts!

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