Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

It’s become an iron-born-clad assumption among fans of George R.R. Martin’s books that watching Game of Thrones, from this season forward, is going to spoil whatever Martin has secretly planned in his upcoming A Song of Ice and Fire novels.

But Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss say that book-reading fans actually have a lot less to be worried about than they might think.

It’s true that season 6 is going to be the first year the HBO hit takes place almost entirely beyond the narrative established in Martin’s five published A Song of Ice and Fire novels. And Benioff and Weiss did meet with Martin a couple years back in Santa Fe to find out what the author has planned, in broad strokes, for the final arc of his story. But while there will be some points of similarity between the two epic tales moving forward, a large degree of what’s to come on the TV series will be very different from the books — and for the most part, fans are not going to know when reading the books what’s the same, and what will be different.

“People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled — and it’s really not true,” Benioff told EW. “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.”

In January, Martin announced that his next book in the saga, The Winds of Winter, wasn’t going to be ready by the time Thrones returns on April 24. Though the producers always hoped Martin would keep pace with the show, there’s a silver lining there too — the show could now forge its own path free of any particular expectations.

“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,” Weiss added. “At a certain point, we realized we were going to outpace the books and we kind of chose 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.”

On Monday, Benioff and Weiss revealed they believe season 6 will rank as the show’s best season, and on Tuesday they gave some details about the unprecedented battle sequence in the season. For more Thrones scoop, Entertainment Weekly is going behind the scenes of season 6 with an exclusive report from the show’s set in Spain and Northern Ireland, plus we’ll have profiles of several stars from the show – get your copy of our big Thrones issue on sale now.

EW has tons of online Thrones coverage planned, too — exclusive news, cast interviews, recaps, and more (without spoiling any of the significant twists to come). Follow @jameshibberd for ongoing GoT scoop, subscribe to our Thrones email newsletter, and bookmark our GoT headlines and recaps hub.

Episode Recaps

Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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