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HBO renews 'Game of Thrones,' might split 'A Storm of Swords' into two seasons

The fantasy drama has been picked up for Season 3, which will likely involve only part of the action from the third book in George R.R. Martin's series.

The fight for the Iron Throne continues.

HBO announced the pickup of its hit fantasy drama "Game of Thrones," chronicling the struggle of several families to rule the fictional continent of Westeros, on Tuesday. The renewal comes in the wake of the series' record ratings when Season 2 premiered earlier this month.

"Series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss raised our expectations for the second season — and then surpassed them," Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming, said in a statement. "We are thrilled by all the viewer and media support we've received for the series, and can't wait to see what Dan and David have in store for next season."

The drama, based on George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series of fantasy novels, has so far followed the one-book-per-season format — Season 1 brought to life the series' first book, "A Game of Thrones," while Season 2, currently airing Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO, tells the story of "A Clash of Kings." Season 3 is expected to follow the story of the third book, "A Storm of Swords." But according to Entertainment Weekly, producers Benioff and Weiss would prefer to slow things down.

"As George and all his fans have said for a long time, there's no way to do ['Swords'] in a single season, so it's being broken into two," Benioff said in a recent interview with EW. "We're still kind of figuring out exactly what goes where. We don't want it to feel like a two-part season. … From the beginning we'd always prayed we'd get to Season 3 at least because, you know, two of our favorite scenes from the entire saga are in Season 3."

Breaking up Season 3 would also give Martin more time to finish the series' source material. The "Song of Ice and Fire" series is meant to include seven novels. The fifth installment, "A Dance with Dragons," was published in 2011; Martin is still in the process of writing the sixth book, "The Winds of Winter."