This week, Game of Thrones officially crossed over into uncharted territory, revealing plot details and characters that have yet to appear in prose. Fans of both the TV show and book series now have a difficult choice to make: do you willingly spoil George R.R. Martin's future books or blacklist the TV series entirely?
Without giving too much away, Episode 4.4 of Game Of Thrones unloaded a treasure trove of previously unknown information about the villainous White Walkers; including their leader, stronghold and the manner in which they are created. In approximately five minutes of screen time, the show revealed more about these enigmatic creatures than all five books combined.
The origin of the White Walkers has been kept a deliberate mystery by George R.R. Martin for the better part of two decades. Long-term fans are subsequently peeved at HBO's leap-frogging adaptation and not without cause. After all, the show is supposed to be approximately halfway through book three, which should make it a spoiler-free zone.
[Note: while the show has deviated from the source material in the past, these were all screenwriter inventions that weren't technically spoilers. This week's reveal was different in that it deals with a crucial plot element that will eventually appear in the books.]
Presumably, this story thread will be advanced as the rest of the season unfolds, which means even more spoilers could soon be on the horizon. Some characters' arcs are also moving noticeably faster than others: by our reckoning, Arya, Daenerys, Bran and Theon will be well into book five territory by the time the current season ends. In other words, we're going to be seeing unpublished material a lot sooner than we thought.
If you're an avid reader of A Song Of Ice And Fire, it's time to decide which you love more: the show or the books? Forget about winter. Spoilers are coming -- and they suck.
On the plus side, non-readers now have a glorious opportunity to get revenge on their smug book reading friends. See how they like it when the shoe's on the other foot.
Are you a Game Of Thrones reader who wants to experience the story for the first time via the books? Tell us what you plan to do in the comments section below.
See also: Celebrate The Return Of Game Of Thrones With Lifehacker | Game Of Thrones' Creator Explains How To Pull Off A Shocking Plot Twist | Get Your Game Of Thrones Fix With These Similar Works Of Fiction | Top 10 Fantasy Writing Tips From 'Game Of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin