Game of Thrones: the biggest secret revealed?
Game of Thrones fans might have guessed George RR Martin's most dramatic final twist.
George RR Martin has hinted that one of the most popular fan theories about an upcoming plot twist in his A Song of Ice and Fire books, on which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based, might be correct.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, when asked about the many rumours and theories appearing on websites, Martin said: "I want to surprise and delight my reader and take them in directions they didn't see coming.
"But I can't change the plans... So many readers were reading the books with so much attention that they were throwing up some theories and while some of those theories were amusing bulls--- and creative, some of the theories are right.
"At least one or two readers had put together the extremely subtle and obscure clues that I'd planted in the books and came to the right solution.
"So what do I do then? Do I change it! I wrestled with that issue and I came to the conclusion that changing it would be a disaster, because the clues were there.
"You can't do that, so I'm just going to go ahead.
"Some of my readers who don't read the [online fan] boards, which thankfully there are hundreds of thousands of them, will still be surprised and other readers will say: 'See, I said that four years ago, I'm smarter than you guys'."
For many fans, this appears to confirm one of the most popular online theories about a big twist that may be revealed in future books. Martin has two books in the series left to publish.
The theory, known in fan communities as “R+L=J”, concerns the parenthood of major character Jon Snow. At the beginning of the series, Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington in the TV series) is apparently the illegitimate son of Eddard (Ned) Stark (played by Sean Bean). Ned brings up Jon as his own son alongside his other children, but the identity of Jon's mother is kept a mystery.
Fan theories as to the identity of Jon Snow's mother are many and varied, but a persistent rumour, which appears to be corroborated by subtle clues in the books and the TV series, claims that Ned Stark is not Jon's father at all.
Jon Snow's true parentage could, if the fan theories are to be believed, completely change the power structure of Westeros.
The theory is that Jon Snow is in fact the son of Ned's sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen, the older brother of Daenerys, and a claimant to the Iron Throne. If so, this would give Jon Snow a powerful claim of his own to the throne. A full explanation of the "evidence" for the theory can be found in fan sites and videos.
In a Reddit AMA session last week, Sean Bean also seemed to confirm the rumours. When asked by a Reddit user why Ned never taught Jon Snow anything (a reference to a recurring phrase from the series, "You know nothing, Jon Snow"), Sean Bean replied: "HAHAHAHAH! Because he's not mine!"
George RR Martin's comments suggest that, if he was indeed confirming that the theory is correct, he has no plans to change the plot of the new novels to surprise fans.
However, as Martin is notorious for pulling the rug from under his readers' feet, there may well still be unexpected twists.