Devoted “Game of Thrones” fans who’ve watched and re-watched all 73 episodes of the HBO series, and read and reread all 4,000 pages of the books by George R.R. Martin, will at long last get the ending they’ve craved with the series’ eighth and final season that starts Sunday.

But will it be the “real” ending?

The plotlines of the show have long since shot past what’s in Martin’s books, whose own finale may be many years away. While the endings will likely be similar, Martin, the master of this universe, could take a very different path to get there, making the coming end of the HBO show with its showdown between the humans of Westeros and the invading White Walkers possibly just a preview.

For some it all just means twice the fun.

“It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think they need to be one and the same,” said Adonis Voulgaris, a fan of both formats who lives in San Francisco. “For me, it just means more content I get to immerse myself in.”

The show premiered in 2011, the same year Martin’s fifth book in his “A Song of Fire and Ice” series was released. Fans have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the sixth, “The Winds of Winter,” ever since, and many wonder whether the 70-year-old author will live long enough to finish all seven planned books in the series.

“George is not a fast writer,” said book-and-show devotee Andrew Stachler, 44, of South Pasadena, California. “So if you were following along, I think it was pretty evident early on that the show was going to get ahead of the books.”

George R. R. Martin

That did indeed happen, and by season six warrior and king-in-the-making Jon Snow had been resurrected and went back to trying to save the world, while he still lies stabbed to death in a mutiny in the books.

Martin, an executive producer on the TV series who has written episodes but is sitting this season out while he works on the book, gave HBO showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss an outline of where his long-planned plot goes, including the fates of characters like Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Arya Stark.

Armed with that roadmap, Benioff, Weiss and other writers have been telling the tale without books to back them. Fans are divided about the results, and how true they are to Martin.

“It doesn’t seem any less planned out to me,” Stachler said. “It’s absolutely a continuation of his vision. I always felt like the show cleaned up the narrative in tighter, better-paced ways anyway.”