To "Game of Thrones" fans, the release of a new book from George R.R. Martin is a pretty huge event -- given it happens once every millennium or so. Unfortunately, the news that his next novel will be released in 2017 came with a pretty annoying addendum: It wouldn't be the highly anticipated "Winds of Winter" that comes next in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Instead, it will be a collection of short stories from the same universe.
If you're bummed you won't be able to read some juicy spoilers for the "Game of Thrones" TV series -- seeing as it recently outpaced the books, frustrating fans who like to know where it's all going -- don't get too down in the dumps yet. There's still a lot of potential to be found in these short stories.
For one, there's nothing saying they won't be incorporated into "Game of Thrones" final two seasons. We've got no details on which characters will be making appearances and which ones won't, so there's every chance these stories could be considered for future season on "Game of Thrones."
More likely, however, is the option that these stories will be adapted into the "Game of Thrones" spinoff series HBO has been toying with for a while now.
It's hard to imagine spinning off any particular character in any particular direction, seeing as the conflict surrounding the Iron Throne has become so entangled as the series played out. Sure, spinning Arya (Maisie Williams) off into a Bravos Assassins show would be cool, but ultimately she'd need to reunite with the other Stark siblings to take her sweet, sweet revenge on the Lannisters.
These new short stories could potentially avoid that pitfall, by telling a prequel story.
We're undoubtedly going to get more awesome flashbacks to Ned (Sean Bean) & Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi) via Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) in "Game of Thrones" Season 7, but they're not likely to get the time and attention they deserve. Setting this new series of short stories in the recent past gives fans the opportunity to get all the nitty-gritty details concerning Lyanna's kidnapping, her possible romance with Rhaegar Targaryen, Ned's friendship with Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), and the fall of the Mad King.
That's a tangled web of backstory we've got to unweave, and a spinoff show sounds like just the ticket for a task that humongous.
Keep your fingers crossed that George R.R. Martin manages to deliver these short stories on time! If HBO plays their cards right, they could launch a hit prequel series directly following the final season of "Game of Thrones."
"Game of Thrones" is set to return in the summer of 2017.