Given his predilection for murdering beloved characters in sudden, bloodthirsty fashion, George R.R. Martin has earned a reputation surpassing even that of Joss Whedon’s for killing off characters. Understandably, this has led some Game Of Thrones fans to worry that all this time they’ve invested in his series will end in a depressing and nihilistic fashion, possibly with Arya Stark drawn and quartered while any remaining characters you cared about are waterboarded to death as White Walkers stomp all over Westeros. And while he’s commented more than once that the ending of the story will be “bittersweet,” a new interview with the New York Observer gives the strongest evidence yet that he‘s not just engaging in a two-decades-long trolling of fans. After being asked if the story will end in some “horrible apocalypse,” Martin responds thusly:
I haven’t written the ending yet, so I don’t know, but no. That’s 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.
So there you go: It’s not George R.R. Martin’s intent to have everything good in his world die horribly. Then again, intent and results are not always the same. Hopefully, his reference to the scouring of the Shire just means there will be some sad conclusions to several stories, and not, say, a final chapter (or episode of television) in which a beloved character ascends the Iron Throne just in time to have a giant meteor wipe out all life, leaving Ser Pounce to preside over the charred remains of King’s Landing.