It’s been a long wait.

In fact, it’s been a longer wait than ever before for a new series of Game Of Thrones. By this point in most years, we’d be speeding towards the finale and wondering where the time had gone. No doubt there would be new theories to chew over, many deaths to mourn (because it’s not Game Of Thrones if it’s not randomly killing characters that everyone loves), and many reaction videos to watch on YouTube. Instead, we fans of the show have been forced to wait an unprecedented length of time waiting for the seventh (and penultimate) season.

Nevertheless, the time is now approaching with the broadcast date – July 16th in the USA and the 17th for the UK – looming on the horizon. You can set aside all the other things that you used to distract yourself from the long wait; work, socializing, pretending to care about other things, winning on online bingo sites and losing arguments about theory probabilities online, actually spending time outside of your house – they don’t matter anymore. Winter might have taken hold on the show, but it’s a summer of plenty for fans.

If you have followed the story of Westeros from a time before the show, there should be mixed feelings going into this season. More than any other, season seven will be a difficult time for those who have read the books.

It was season six that started an endless raft of spoilers for book readers. There had been some hints of things to come in the earlier seasons; Stannis’ murder of his daughter and subsequent demise being among the biggest. But the overall arc was recognizable from A Dance With Dragons – and there was still hope that George RR Martin would get the next book – The Winds of Winter – out before season six.

It was not to be.

Season six was an endless spoiler for fans of the books, but season seven will be even more so. If you’re a book reader, do you think this will spoil your enjoyment of the show?

After all, we’re now entering the endgame. Dany has set sail for Westeros, which book readers have been pleading for but never actually witnessed on the page. Jon Snow is in ascendancy; Arya is back in Westeros after a rather dull (but undeniably useful) spell in Braavos. There was a confirmation (or as good as) of a well-established-but-unproven belief in Jon’s parentage. And, of course, Cersei now sits on the Iron Throne.

These are changes so huge to what we know from the books that the two have become unrecognizable from one another. It’s said that the producers of Game of Thrones have been informed how the story is meant to progress, meaning that any subsequent books will feel like strange echoes of what we have already seen on screen.

Where once the book readers held all the cards over the television-only crowd – we knew what was going to happen at the Frey wedding, for example – now everyone is in the dark. It’s a strange experience for devotees of the book, but chances are, everyone will still tune in just the same.