George R.R. Martin fully intended to complete A Song of Ice and Fire before HBO finished adapting his beloved book series into a television show. But unfortunately for the legions of fans who prefer the books to the show, that’s no longer a possibility.
The Game of Thrones TV series surpassed Martin’s written work in Season 7. The eighth and final season of the show, which premiered in April 2019 and concluded six weeks later, delved into relatively new territory.
The author's books, however, contain such depth that there are still numerous important book events the HBO show excised from its adaptation of the saga. It's too late for those A Song of Ice and Fire storylines to appear on the show - but for years there was plenty of speculation about what may or may not make the cut.
What Happened In The Book: The Golden Company is the most noteworthy group of sellswords in all of Essos. And in A Dance With Dragons, the supposed Aegon Targaryen VI leads the Golden Company to Westeros. The group quickly raids and conquers Griffin's Roost, the former stronghold of one of their leaders.
When It Would Occur: Jon Snow is probably the only male Targaryen who will appear in Season 8, but that doesn’t mean the Golden Company won’t show up under a different leader. Cersei Lannister claims to employ them, so they’ll likely arrive early in Season 8 when the queen reveals her betrayal.
Why It's Likely: The Golden Company’s debut on Game of Thrones is less a theory and more a fact. Cersei tells Jaime in Season 7 that she sent Euron Greyjoy to Essos to hire the mercenaries. Additionally, they seem to appear in the Season 8 trailer briefly.
What Happened In The Book: In both the books and show, the Night’s Watch and Free Folk (AKA the Wildlings) forge a tentative truce against the White Walkers; but the alliance is much more consequential in the novels. In A Dance with Dragons, for example, Jon Snow agrees to Stannis Baratheon’s proposal and settles the Free Folk in the northern region known as “The Gift.” He grants them titles and land, incorporating them into the Seven Kingdoms.
When It Would Occur: The Wall falls at the end of Season 7, so granting land holdings in the North won’t be a priority in the show for a while. Consequently, the settlement of Free Folk in Westeros is more of an endgame occurrence that might happen in the epilogue of Game of Thrones - if anyone survives at all.
Why It's Likely: Without the Wall, the Free Folk don't have a separate and autonomous place to live. Moreover, after Tormund Giantsbane and his people have fought alongside Jon Snow for a second time, they'll deserve compensation. Land in the northern part of the continent seems like what they’d want.
What Happened In The Book: In the show, Bran is the only Stark able to “warg” into animals. In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, however, Robb, Arya, Rickon, and Jon Snow all get in on the action. In fact, Arya and Jon regularly see the world through the eyes of their direwolves. And the same could happen on the show.
When It Would Occur: Jon’s Ghost and Arya’s Nymeria are the only Stark direwolves still alive, and their services would come in handy during any of the large-scale battlefield engagements of Season 8. Alternatively, Jon could warg into one of the dragons.
Why It's Likely: All the other direwolves have perished, but Ghost and Nymeria are still standing. There’s probably a plot-related reason for that. Nymeria, in particular, leads an enormous wolfpack in the Riverlands; if Arya possesses her former pet, she may be able to add forces to the fight against the White Walkers.
What Happened In The Book: Sandor Clegane may be an unyielding force in Jon Snow's exploratory brigade in Season 7 of Game of Thrones, but his fighting days are behind him in A Song of Ice and Fire. The books strongly hint the Hound retires to a quiet island sept, living a monastic life. He seems content to let the rest of Westeros believe he's gone.
When It Would Occur: Sandor is fully committed to the fight against the White Walkers for now. If he survives the upcoming conflict, however, a peaceful retirement could be in his future.
Why It's Likely: The Hound already spent time building a sept and bonding with a wise old Septon, so he may adopt a repentant lifestyle. Surely, at least a handful of characters will experience a happy ending in Game of Thrones; maybe Sandor will be one of them.