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Winter is Finally Coming in 2019

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There has been a mixed reaction from Game of Thrones fans to the news that they will have to wait until 2019 to see the final six episodes of the hit fantasy show. So will it be worth that wait? And how will the year off affect the final product?

For many shows, taking a year off could spell disaster. With so many top-quality series out there and an insatiable demand for something new to watch, it takes real confidence to turn to your audience and say, I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait. Producers of the hugely ambitious and stylish sci-fi series Westworld, first aired in 2016, did exactly that when they announced they would be taking a break before returning in 2018. Such was the success of the first season that no-one really balked at the suggestion. Every so often, the top shows get to play by their own rules and set their own agenda.

If any show has earned the right to call the shots, it is Game of Thrones. From the books to the TV show, the story has become a worldwide phenomenon. If the showrunners at HBO feel they need an extra year to deliver the perfect final product, then so be it. The only real negative is that the viewers’ already high expectations will be raised even further, so there is added pressure to over-deliver.

But Game of Thrones has a track record of getting things just right, and the extra time could ensure that we end up with something very special indeed. The permeation of the series in popular culture is such that hardcore fans have many other ways of indulging their passion. In addition to a whole manner of branded merchandise and apparel based on the franchise, there are also a number of games available for an interactive experience. Game of Thrones Monopoly, for instance, features artwork, villages and keeps from the show, while Bestsafe’s branded video slots game is a five-reels title where players can pledge their allegiance to their house of choice.

The very fact that they need extra time suggests that the final season will be an elaborate and technically-stunning masterpiece worthy of the big screen. The show has already broken new ground in terms of what is possible within the TV series format, rivaling its movie cousins in term of production. Following on from the precedent set by Westworld and Game of Thrones, we could see other large-scale productions follow suit, with two year or 18 month-gaps between seasons.

With the show now given some breathing space to develop, the one question that remains is: Will the book hit the shelves next year? There would be no better way to appease impatient fans than to release The Winds of Winter before the TV show airs but it would raise the possibility of spoilers galore for those who have only ever followed the octalogy on the screen.

So, with plenty of time to re-watch the previous 67 episodes and prepare ourselves for the final season, 2018 could actually be a great year for Game of Thrones fans. Forums will be going wild with theories, there is sure to be the odd leak and some teasers, and the book release date should finally be confirmed.

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