If you are a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire Series or it’s WILDLY popular HBO show Game of Thrones (and let’s admit it, if you’re following this blog you probably are) you have heard the news that the newest book The Winds of Winter has been indefinitely delayed. George R R Martin just can’t seem to finish the damn thing, and it’s beginning to cause some problems.
Since I am a long time fan of the book series this is something I’m extremely familiar with. I’ve been in this relationship for almost 10 years, I know what a harsh mistress SOIF can be. It starts with sweet words that the next book will be released in a realistic timeframe, followed by anticipation, hoping that this time will be different, and then the sad, soul-crushing realization that things have not actually changed and you are going to stuck waiting for at least 4 years between new book releases. It sucks. I mean really it sucks.
I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire when I was in high school back in the early 2000’s. I was one of a very, VERY small group of people who knew about these books and who loved them dearly. I had never read anything like them. The fact that the third book A Storm of Swords left multiple characters on straight up “holy shit what’s gonna happen” cliffhangers meant I was pretty crushed when it took over 6 years to get to the next book in the story. Not only that but the 4th book A Feast for Crows was only part of the story, because half of the characters just straight up weren’t in it. Pretty much all of my favorite characters. George, you wicked tease.
However, at the time I was like, “Hey, the book will be worth the wait. The story is getting very big, both in content and in scale, and therefore let’s cut George some slack.” Then it happened again. And again.
An author that skillfully dangles hopes/dreams/truths before his desperate characters probably isn’t losing sleep over withholding the next volume from desperate fans. Following the advice of a favorite character I tried to turn that into a shield. Life’s not fair. I moved on. I am certainly still going to buy the book whenever it is released, but I am no longer waiting on baited breath to find out what is going to happen next, which brings us to today.
When I first saw the headline that The Winds of Winter is going to be delayed once again it didn’t really resonate with me that much. But then the next line of the article was like a bitch slap straight to my SOIF fandom. The new season of A Game of Thrones the TV series is going to pass the new book! That’s some bullshit right there. That is the part about all of this that really turns me off to the whole series. It is a poke in the eye to those of us that were reading, following and supporting GRRM before he became an HBO celebrity. The fact that there is going to be almost no way to avoid spoilers, the fact that I am going to get the HBO’d up Hollywood version of the story I have been content to wait for for more than half of my life. He even admitted that there was undoubtedly going to be plot twists and reveals that are going to come out during the show that are in the books. So yeah, that got me pretty fired up. However, I was more mad at the situation than anything, everyone kind of figured this was a risk when they started making the show because that is just how television works, things move faster. (They sure as shit move faster than this author writes at least.)
As I continued to read through the article, I was looking for something, I’m not really sure what though. I mean the guy apologized, said that he knows there are no excuses bla bla bla – ironically the exact same sayings and the exact same phrasings that he had thrown out the last dozen or so times I have read one of these letters so it wasn’t anything new… until I came to this quote right here: “For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that’s up to you.” This was it. This was the moment that George R R Martin lost me. This is the moment that, in my opinion, he sold out the minority who helped get him where he is. He straight up doesn’t care. He is no longer writing these books for the readers who used word of mouth to get people on board with his series. The readers who sang his praises when no one knew who GRRM was. Before the series vernacular was Game of Thrones, there were those of us who called it A Song of Ice and Fire (You know, the real title of the series). I read someone comment on it today saying “hey guys, this author doesn’t owe us anything”. To that I say, kinda. You are right, he as a person does not owe me a damn thing because I have done nothing for him as a person. But he does owe me something as an author, the way that all authors owe something to those that promoted and bought into their work before they hit the big time.
He doesn’t owe me a book, he doesn’t owe me the end of the story, but he does owe me some respect. Respect enough to say, “Hey, to those of you who may have to story ruined by the TV show I’m sorry. You deserve to at least get to continue this journey the way you have from the beginning.”
That would have meant a lot.
Obviously I am a little bitter about this whole thing, but I am sure there are others with opinions out there, lets here em in the comments.
Here is the link for George R R Martin’s full letter.