Queue the biggest non-surprise on the Internet today: the television incarnation of Game of Thrones will surpass the pace of the books and perhaps ultimately spoil them.
This is not really a revelation to anyone who has been following either format, but it does lay to rest a problem with the series. George R.R. Martin, the author of the books, has been notoriously slow at delivering new chapters to the saga. The HBO series was clearly catching up, especially as it started condensing the material from more than one book to a season. It was only a matter of time before it moved ahead of its source material and the question was: what then?
Well, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss said they were pretty much just going ahead. With a basic framework of what Martin has in mind, they’ll just expand the saga on their own. Presumably Martin will follow suit with the books, adding a few details here and there:
Luckily, we’ve been talking about this with George for a long time, ever since we saw this could happen, and we know where things are heading. And so we’ll eventually, basically, meet up at pretty much the same place where George is going; there might be a few deviations along the route, but we’re heading towards the same destination. I kind of wish that there were some things we didn’t have to spoil, but we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The show must go on. . .and that’s what we’re going to do.
So why bother reading the books?
I think the thing that’s kind of fun for George is the idea that he can still have surprises for people even once they’ve watched the show through to the conclusion. There are certain things that are going to happen in the books that are different in the show, and I think people who love the show and want more—want to know more about the characters, want to know more about the different characters who might not have made the cut for the show—will be able to turn to the books.
There is precedent for this: apparently the
mange manga Full Metal Alchemist only finished after the anime show based on it completed its own run. The result, though, was a very different comic story to the animated outcome. Then again, maybe this will help Martin actually finish the books, as he’d have a clue where to go with it all. My money says the delay so far has been that Martin has no big plan. That much is obvious from how the show has been playing out: build up character, create big climax, kill character. In terms of a multi-character, dynastic work, Martin’s series fails for me. For example, Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth series does a far better job without deploying cheap tricks to keep the audience hooked. Martin also suffers from so-called Robert Jordan disease – the latter infamously died before completing his Wheel Of Time series of books.
Internet comments are not showing much vitriol. Some of the books’ fans are upset and say they’ll probably have to quit the Internet. Others point out that this is the only way this saga will ever see an ending.
My feelings? I don’t care. Season 4 was the final nail in the coffin for me. What started as a promising series has devolved into lazy writing and pointless narratives that stop abruptly with a character’s death whenever the show needs a change in gears. I have less charming ways to put that – starting with ‘circle’ and ending with ‘jerk’ – but I’m over Game Of Thrones. There are other things to watch and no amount of itching for some nice medieval carnage can draw me back into it.
But if you were hoping for a bit of a conclusion to the saga, at least HBO is offering a chance of that, which is a better option than Martin. As one commenter on Hitfix remarks, he’s 69 and would like to see the end of the story before he dies…
Last Updated: March 24, 2015