Jun 3 2014 5:20pm

George R.R. Martin’s Editor Teases Possible Eighth Book in Song of Ice and Fire Series?

Daenerys bored

Anne Groell, editor of the Song of Ice and Fire series, was at a Q&A with fans recently, where she hinted at possible expansion for the series. Dany is expecting some rage over this, as evidenced by the above picture.

Eight books for Seven Kingdoms?

Here is what Groell had to say on the subject:

“I remember when he called me, years and years back, to confess that his little trilogy was…well…no longer a trilogy. He predicted four books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he said five books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he went to six. I said… Well, you get it. Finally, we were on the same page. Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Good. Only, as I recently learned while editing The World of Ice and Fire (another awesome thing you must buy when it comes out!), there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay.”

So... maybe eight books? It has been threatened before, so it’s not exactly surprising. The contract is still for seven, so... we just don’t know how to feel anymore.

Not that we’d ever say no to spending more time in Westeros... we just hate being teased so.

1. Hammerlock
There are no beginnings or endings to the song of Ice and Fire. Only violent deaths. Which are like endings.
OK, there are totally endings.
Sean Tabor
2. wingracer
Yep, we'll get an 8th book in 2040 by a different author.
3. quinne

Considering that the Quentyn storyline and a few others were totally and utterly superfluous (not to mention boring as hell) - I don't think an eighth book is a good thing. If more story meant we received more INTERESTING and GRIPPING DRAMA OR MIND-BLOWING WORLDBUILDING then I would say yes. But if we're going to get more exposition on the ENDLESS VARIETIES OF UNHEALTHY FOODS GRRM is eating in his seemingly immense "spare" time - THEN NO, FINISH THE DAMN STORY WAS AS MUCH EXCITING PLOT DEVELOPMENTS HE CAN MUSTER.
Write, write like the wind.
5. Dr. Batman
Just give us the 6th book already!!
Sandy Brewer
7. ShaggyBella
Well, hopefully Brandon Sanderson is ready, willing and able. Kinda Like a an understudy for authors.
8. paivi
"Not that we’d ever say no to spending more time in Westeros..."

I'd rather spend less time in Westeros and get a coherent, strong resolution to the story during this decade instead. Haven't we gotten enough padding in the form of travelogues and novel POV characters with nothing to do in the last two books already?

Just finish the damn thing, Martin.
Anthony Pero
9. anthonypero
Its the journey, not the... oh, who the heck am I kidding. After 20 years all anyone cares about is the destination.

End it.

Although, on the bright side, an 8th book guarantees that, however fast Martin writes, HBO will eclipse him. So maybe we won't have to wait regardless.

Although, if HBO does pass him at book 7, I hope they do wait, and maybe do Dunk and Egg for a year first.
Deana Whitney
10. Braid_Tug
@ 7: Thank you. I needed that laugh. :-)
However, Sanderson doesn't read Martin, and would not work well in that world. He said on his pod cast that he's read the first book, but will not be reading any more from GRRM. But does admire the guy.

But as others have said, I just want the next book already. And I've only been a fan for less than 8 years.
11. Peter B
@7 & 10: If someone else has to finish the series, Joe Abercrombie is the only author I imagine being up to the task.
Sky Thibedeau
12. SkylarkThibedeau
Valar Scribere: All Men Must Write.
Valar Legere: All Men Must Read.
13. Cyclonus
I love Sanderson, but he's not a good fit for SOIAF. Now Mark Lawrence, maybe Joe Abercrombie, one of them might be able to finish it.
James Kehr
14. Jammrock
I doubt the next book will be out before HBO catches up.

@Cyclonus, I agree. Sanderson is a great writer, but he wouldn't be a good fit for ASoIaF. Though if he were to write it the series would be done next year and a thousand pages each.

Daniel Abraham would likely take over. He is a friend of GRRMs and kind of like his progeny.
Greg Parker
15. WaggaWagga
Steven Erikson finishing it would be a dream come true. But that's just me...
Greg Parker
16. WaggaWagga
Agreed. I signed up to read a complete story, not a complete encyclopedia.
17. I can't think of an alias
Really, is anyone surprised by this? Jordan thought he had one book left and Sanderson barely finished it in three. ASoIF will take 10 books at the minimum. At least we have HBO. No way they wait for GRRm.
18. Wes S.
I just know I'm going to get flamed for this, but here goes: The Robert Jordanization of GRRM is now complete. And I'm speaking as a fan of Jordan, mind you.

GRRM has all of Ser Jordan's flaws as a writer, not least that (like RJ and the Wheel of Time) he apparently loves his fantasy world so much that the storyline just wanders aimlessly through Westeros, becoming bogged down with numerous and superflous subplots along the way to pad the story and add additional novels for the fans to buy. Slogging through the last couple of GoT novels was enough to give me some gnarly Crossroads of Twilight flashbacks; I frankly just skimmed through them.

And GRRM has none of Jordan's virtues, including RJ's respect for the fans (GRRM seems to enjoy rubbing the readers' collective nose in scat, for the pure fun of it), and that unlike Wheel of Time, there's not a shred of hope or goodness to be found. No matter how grim things got in Randland, at least they had hope of a better future, even if they had to wait for the next turning of the Wheel.

Whereas the world of Game of Thrones is nothing but grimness and, more importantly, nihilism. It's a place where no good deed goes punished, there's no hope and no point in hoping, love is an illusion, and life totally sucks for anyone with so much as a shred of goodness. And then you die (horribly) and are eaten by worms. Here, have another turd, dear reader. And if you complain about the smell and taste GRRM will kill another Stark.

The TV version of Game of Thrones is actually better than the novels, in no small part due to paring down the numerous subplots (and the excellent job HBO did in everything from casting to locations, costuming and set design). Yet in a couple respects GRRM actually made television Westeros even grimmer than the book version, especially with the way they treated Daenerys and her relationship with Khal Drogo.

In the books, Khal Drogo was not only the love of Daenerys' life, but the best thing that ever happened to her. In the TV version, Khal Drogo was reduced to little more than Daenerys' rapist...which in turn did a lot to bowdlerize (if that's the word I'm looking for) Daenerys' character and reduced her to little more than "the hot naked chick with the boobs and the dragons."

I've pretty much given up on the GoT novels at this point, as frankly Isam's nameless hometown village in Jordan's Blasted Lands almost sounds like a better place to grow up than, say, King's Landing. Maybe GRRM loves wandering the grim highways and nihilistic byways of Westeros, but I'm heading for sunnier climes. I'll probably keep watching TV GoT, though, for Peter Dinklage's Tyrion if nothing else.

Also, to paraphrase an old a-ha song, " the sun always shines on TV Westeros." Which is often more than you can say for the books.
Shelly wb
19. shellywb
I hope Groell is making him see that his books are getting as full of fat and gristle as half the meals in Westeros.
20. Dilirah
Hammerlock, you kill me! :D If this means we get the next book sooner, I'm all for it.
Greg Parker
21. WaggaWagga
ten books for ten episodes in each tv show season.
Anthony Pero
22. anthonypero
@Wes S:

Um, the subgenre of fantasy that GRRM is writing in is called grimdark... this surprises you? And no, GRRM did not invent grimdark. It was around at least 10 years before A Game of Thrones was published.

Now, all that aside, I tend to agree with you. Its annoying, I don't particularly care for the genre, and ASOIAF has not been good the past two novels. I'm not invested in the characters at all, which means I don't reread these, like I did WoT. But Martin is excellent at characterization, he's amazing at creating complex, complete people in his POVs, and he can manipulate readers like no one I've ever read. There are redeeming qualities, in my mind. And so far, (Jon Snow notwithstanding) all my favorite characters from the first book are still kicking. I'm interested in the three-headed dragon payoff, the R+L=J scenario, how the mummer's dragon plays out, etc... there's enough to hold my interest.

But not for ten books. Eight maybe. Maybe.
23. Biff from Australia
I've just finished Stephen Donaldson's The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and despite at least two of those four books being bloated and under-editied he still pumped them out in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. That's how you write a series!
24. winterking
@18, That's pretty much how I've been feeling lately. Jordan's flaws in sprawling and aimless stories, without Jordan's dedication to his fans.

I would go beyond the fanservice-in-story, though--@22 rightly points out that this is grimdark stuff. But Jordan, even when the books were dreadful (and Crossroads, except the first and last ~100 pages or so, was very dreadful), kept writing consistently, regularly. We at least got frequent books which failed to move the story along...unlike once-every-half-dozen-years books which fail to move the story along (I'm looking at you, Dance).

Jordan also respected that he was telling a story for us, not just for himself. As he'd promised on every book jacket, he kept telling that story until they nailed shut his coffin, and Team Jordan carried on from there. Rand's journey got a conclusion, thanks to Jordan's notes and outlines and dedication to the story he was telling and the people listening to that story. Martin, as I understand it, intends his world and story to die with him--his notes and outlines and ideas to be burned, the story to forever remain unfinished. (Or at least until copyright expires, which is essentially forever-less-a-day, but that's a completely different problem)

(And yes, yes, GRRM is not our bitch, but neither are we his. Stories don't just belong to the teller, they are a conversation between the teller and the listener; both have some stake in the story, and neither is obliged to cater to, or fawn over, or avoid criticizing the other.)
25. allbarbaramay
@ 24. All very true. When Stephen King was run over by a minivan and nearly died, I thought the Gunslinger would never be finished. When Jordan died, I thought I'd never see the end of WoT. So when I started reading GoT, I checked out the author's pub dates when I finished the 3rd novel. When I saw how long it took him between books, I checked out his blog. When I saw his photo, I declared our relationship was through until the series was complete. I will neither watch the show nor read the remainder of the books until he has finished because I refuse to invest any more of my heart or time until I know the series WILL finish. So far, I've been lucky. I don't expect that luck to hold forever.
26. YinYang
SURELY an editor should be encouraging LESS bloat, not MORE! But more books means more bucks. Where's the editorial integrity?
28. Ryamano
@ 18

GRRM doesn't have that much control over the Game of Thrones TV show. He writes one episode a season and he's a co-executive producer, but the main shots, the executive producers, are D&D. They call the shots, and they're the ones who decided to do that with the Dany-Drogo storyline, the ones who said OK to the way Jaime-Cersei storyline unfolded in the 4th season and so on.

Anyway, for those who need to have an ending, the more I think the more I realize the TV show is just that. One way or the other, even if GRRM dies tomorrow, we'll get an ending to the main storylines in the next 3 years (unless HBO cancels the show before season 7, which doesn't seem likely). So, no matter how much he said he didn't want the story completed in interviews before that, he has actually shown to care for his readers, by allowing the TV show to exist and tell the story he isn't capable of finishing in time.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
29. Lisamarie
I will not flame you for what you are saying, becuase I think everybody is entitled to their opinion on GRRM's writing and the quality of it. I don't particularly want to see 8 books either (unless they are good).

But actually, the thing that made me raise my eyebrows in this book was the contention that Drogo was changed to a rapist in the movies vs. the books. Wasn't he one in the books, too? It's been awhile, but, ignoring the whole arranged marriage part, I got the impression that they had sex whether she wanted to (or enjoyed it) or not. I'm not going to deny that they eventually came to a place of mutual respect/affection, although it doesn't totally sit well with me that it was only due to her being able to sexually please him instead of something inherent, but Drogo (or his culture) didn't exactly win any points with me in terms of respecting women/consensual relationships.
30. mutantalbinocrocodile
OK, I'm actually going to go even further out on a limb than @18 and @24. I do genuinely, GENUINELY think that GRRM is developing a bloat habit that really isn't comparable to RJ. WoT was incredibly long because it was depicting characters who, plausibly, would end up sometimes behaving in small-minded and childish ways that dragged the Standard Epic Plotline out to intentionally frustrating length (not to mention that plenty of the Plotlines of Doom turned out to be engineered by the Forsaken, just without Big Villain Monologues). Plus part of the plan for the Last Battle being genuinely scary and not a letdown, after generations of Last Battles, was having the reader realize Just How Many Things Were Actually Necessary in order to have a victory. It's a good strategy, and I do believe it is a strategy, patience-testing or not.

But I am losing patience with GRRM's long plotlines. Except for some instances of This Plot Goes to Hell Because of Medieval Technology (think about how three texts between Cat and Ned from the Inn could have basically averted the entire plot), the plot spends an awful lot of time going to hell, well, possibly because GRRM likes hell. That's not a character judgment--he seems like a genuinely nice human being. And I admit that grimdark isn't my preference. But it is getting quite soul-wearying. . .and the fact that HBO is telling the same story far more economically and with clearer thematic and character development is getting telling. I'm no longer convinced that GRRM has much of an idea where this is going. We all know he knows the end, but as for what we all do first?
Rob Munnelly
31. RobMRobM
@29 - pretty clear from the books that Drogo is sensitive, takes his time with Dany and she wholeheartedly says yes to their first encounter. TV show essentially changed it to marital rape to enhance the drama and increase the size of her growth arc. I was not a fan of that approach and I do remain troubled that the "increase the size of the arc to tart things up" approach happens more times than I would like in the TV show.

Re the overall GRRM approach, I'm more positive than most people. I expect him to finish by year end 2014 and the book to be published by Summer/Fall 2015; I expect the next book to be easier to write, as the hard set up stuff in the middle of the series is nearing its end, and he can move expeditiously towards the denouement. I do agree that I'm having trouble saying for sure that he can finish in seven books.
32. Colin R
I think Martin has totally lost control of the story he is telling, but it's his story to tell. He doesn't owe anybody anything--not a complete series, and not happy endings.

Ditto Lisamarie though--Daenerys is a child bride in the books. 'Consent' doesn't come into the equation--she is sold off by her brother, and there's no real question of her being able to say 'no' to him or to Drogo. The TV show (probably wisely) made Daenerys older than the books, but I think her rape onscreen is an honest depiction of what's going on in the books.

What makes Drogo sympathetic is that even though he comes from a culture that sees rape as normal and acceptable behavior, he apparently hasn't internalized it into a disdain for women--or maybe he just has made an exception for Daenerys, whom he clearly loves and values as a person. We don't really know. Either way though, this is a disturbing relationship in both media.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
33. Lisamarie
Agreed, I don't totally hate Drogo; in some ways, he does a little better than his culture would suggest (although of course seems to have no issue with the rape of other women by his men) and has his own metrics about will garner respect (which are different than mine, obviously). But I am fairly certain I remember that after their first night, she talks about being in so much pain she can't even sit on her horse, or having to have sex even when she's completely exhausted, which is not the hallmark of an attentive lover. At any rate even if she had said no, I doubt it would have been honored. It just wasn't an option.
Joe Vondracek
34. joev
Anne Groell, eh? Since she's the editor, isn't she responsible for the bloat in the books? And did she encourage all of that just to get "Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms"?

At the end of A Storm of Swords, it felt like the story was curving around towards an end point. Some major characters had been killed off, some secrets were revealed, etc. Then A Feast for Crows starts with new POV characters, and, hey, we're in the Iron Islands, and now we're in Dorne. Are you interested in what's happening with the characters we were following in the last book? Well, you're not gonna find out for awhile! I've never been able to get through the book because it felt like someone decided the story needed to be reset a bit and padded out to fulfill the terms of a contract.

"Less is more."
- Mies van der Rohe
35. Dr. Thanatos
Nine Books for Mortal Men, doomed to die (which is pretty much everyone we meet...)
Tabby Alleman
36. Tabbyfl55
I doubt that most of the negative reactions to the idea of expanding the series would exist if GRRM would crank the novels out once every couple years. I know I'd be a lot happier about it.

And I think that glacial pace is probably also partly responsible for the feelings that books 4 & 5 are so slow. It's true that it's a lot of moving pieces into place, and they certainly don't have the gut-punch density of aSoS, but a lot of important things happen. I, for one, would be happier with the pace if I knew the next book was right around the corner.
37. Wes S.
@anthonypero, #22:

Yes, but even by grimdark standards Martin goes above and beyond the call when it comes to depressing his readers. I don't get the same nihilistic vibes reading Richard Morgan or Joe Abercrombie, for example...and their grimdark is pretty damned dark.
38. Colin R
Is 'grimdark' really a term people use unironically now? It was a Warhammer 40K term, and I've always associated it with that particular style where the 'darkness' is a put on--like a heavy metal album where people try to cram as many skulls as possible in.

Martin doesn't strike me as being ironic, at least not in that way. I get why he frustrates people--he's subverting the narrative beats of the story, like a deceptive cadence--we expect the Viper to defeat the Mountain for example, because all the pins have been lined up in a way to give us a 'Just' outcome: justice for his sister and niece, and justice for thet falsely accused Tyrion. And then he refused to give us that outcome! It's like if Inigo Montoya gave his vengeance speech and then dropped dead from his wounds.

Some of this is Martin provoking the reader, sure, but it's also a response to how predictable the narrative beats of fantasy have become. We expect just and tidy resolutions to problems, and if protagonists stumble we expect that stumble to be only temporary.
Lauren Hartman
39. naupathia
@18 and others - I agree wholeheartedly.

It would be one thing if the books were extremely high quality and, mainly, if he could get them out every couple years. But 8 or whatever years between books is not going to cut it. And I honestly didn't even mind books 4 and 5 that much, but you can't objectively say that they haven't been less in quality and more in bloat than the first 3.

I am rather worried that the story has gotten away from GRRM. There are so many plotlines and none look even close to resolution. Every single prophecy in the book is still rather open to interpretation. We saw a glimpse of UnCat and then nothing. And his recent addition of the Ironborn and Dany's supposed brother Aegon in book 5 just makes me want to scream. The list goes on.

Please fire this editor and find one that is willing to make the hard choices and cut the bloat that needs to be cut. Or at the very least, find someone who will crack the whip and make GRRM publish about 1000 times faster than he has been (won't hold my breath for that one).
Lauren Hartman
40. naupathia
I also wanted to add that while I never did get on the WoT bandwagon so I can't compare, I do agree that Martin seems to have little regard for the fandom which is why this is so rankling. Basically it feels like: they know they have readers who are extremely invested in the story. And they know those readers, like me, will buy every stupid book Martin publishes even if it does take another three decades. So they don't really care about publishing fast, or reigning back Martin's bloat. Because most of the fandom will eat it up anyway. Just look at the ridiculous number of anthologies and short stories Martin has been publishing lately.

I guess though that they should be worried because at least the TV show might give them a run for their money. If Martin gets bad enough and the show resolves before he is done I might just have to walk away from the books at that point and accept the TV show as canon.
Deana Whitney
41. Braid_Tug
Someone on the Leigh Butler's Read of ASoI&F stated the hope that:
GRRM has written both end books at this point. He's just editing and cleaning up, then will publish them in quick succession.

I can only hope this is the truth.
GRRM robably thought the fans would be satisfied with the 40 prequels short stories we are getting from him. Yet, I've been to one con where he was a guest, he knows the prequels are not enought.

Jordan was only able to deliver one of those, and did not leave enough notes to write either the other 2 promised or the Mat adventures afterwards. But he did make sure we got an ending. So bless him and Team Jordan.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
42. Lisamarie
I have a fondness for big, sprawling stories (I actually enjoyed Sword of Truth quite a bit), and when I started reading GoT 4 of the books were out, and DWD didn't come out too long afterwards. So, reading them together, I didn't feel like AFFC/DWD were that much worse (even if they didn't have quite as many 'wow' moments as Storm of Swords). I felt the same way when I did a re-read of Wheel of Time and my least favorite book (Path of Daggers) wasn't actually as bad as I remembered (not going to say there aren't flaws or plotlines that should have been tighter, but there were things happening and getting to some point that all tied together).

But, yes, I would like him to write a bit faster.

Regarding the grimdark, it's almost like it's come full circle. Now I feel like if he gives a happy ending, that will be the big shocker ;) I do still hold out some hope that there is some point to all of it and it's not just darkness for darkness's sake (or even JUST to be shocking - well, some of it, maybe). But we shall see.
Rob Munnelly
43. RobMRobM
I've got to defend GRRM. I'm not seeing the bloat.

The Aegon piece is foreshadowed in the HotU chapter in book 2. The key potential role of Dorne is implicit through the entire series, and the Quentyn piece and upcoming Arianne pieces make story sense. Ditto re the Ironborn and the critical role of Victarion - again, foreshadowed in HotU chapter. The Tyrion chapters are needed to get his arc re set up and to introduce Aegon. Jon Snow, Stannis, Davos, Jaime, even Cersei - I wouldn't change a word. Bran, Sansa and Arya are all too short - I would have appreciated some prolixity there. Even Brienne chapters, which have a fair amount of ultimately pointless wandering, helps with driving home the FFC cluster F situation in outlying areas Westeros.

Now, the players are all in place and we're getting to really start moving forward on all fronts in final two books
44. Ryamano
By the way, how can the editor not have noticed that there were 8 kingdoms in westeros and not 7 until now? Hasn't she read the books while editing them?
Dave Thompson
45. DKT
Colin R: Oddly, yes. Grimdark Magazine has now opened for submissions, and they claim to want stories in line with GRRM, Abercrombie, Lawrence, etc.
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
Ryanamo - It's a book anomalie. Everyone refers to Seven Kingdoms but it is really seven (North, Vale, Riverlands, Westerlands, Stormlands, Reach and Dorne) plus the Iron Islands. It it really was seven when Ironborn King Harren controlled the Riverlands. Pretty subtle point.
47. DougL
I have been saying this since book 4. Basically George likes playing with fantasy tropes. Fine. But if the Others don't do anything then the entire series will be a joke. So, they have to get pass through the Wall. Now, it can't just be a Northern problem, having a death fest in the lowest populated kingdom of the seven kingdoms is not exactly troubling for the world as a whole.

I'd be happy if they reach Dorne, but KL at the least. In 2 books he cannot set the proper tone of dread, not with everything else that has to happen. If Dany does come back it won't be until the end of book 6. And hell, I want more than 14 or whatever pages as a conclusion to this particular epic fantasy series, unlike another that shall remain umentioned.

Two more books cannot deal with all the balls he has in the air.
48. Jesslyn H
I am done. Dorne and the Ironborn did me in and I no longer care about the books.

I was one of those Jean Auel fans and learned my lesson. That's 20(+?) years I'll never get back. Then with WoT, I started, saw where it was going and lo and behold, I'm 50 now and its finished; guess I'll buy the rest of the series.

I can never again let a writer do to me what Auel did with Clan of the Cave Bear. I don't care if each book lifts me into paradise with bookgasms, I. ain't. gonna. do. it. again.
Sky Thibedeau
49. SkylarkThibedeau
Personally I think Martin is a better writer than Jordan. It took me 4 years to read the Wheel of Time's 'Eye of the World' but I was engrossed in the Song of fire and Ice from the Moment Bran was thrown from the Window. I was lucky to have started 'Game of Thrones' about six months before ADWD came out.

I think Khal Drogo and the Doth raki are probably representitive of the Mongolian Horsemen they are based on. Very few women had power in Karkorum and those that did would end up wrapped in a rug and thrown alive into the river.

Having just read Alison Weir's biography Elizabeth of York, King's landing would be no worse of a place than London during the War of the Roses. Life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. But we do have Perkin Warbeck.
Pirmin Schanne
50. Torvald_Nom
@37: If you think Martin is nihilistic, please read R. Scott Bakker - so far, I haven't found anything more bleak, and Westeros is certainly the land of shiny happy people compared to Eärwa.

As far as Martin's publishing cycle is concerned - reading other series, e.g. Rothfuss' (who, iirc, originally had promised to churn out the Kvothe trilogy within three years), or a German one by Richard Schwartz (who does publish every year, and could probably do with slowing down to get some more editing done), has given me a new appreciation for the production cycle - if an author needs more time, he should get it; there's no point in rushing it.
Birgit F
51. birgit
If you haven't read the last Ayla book, don't waste your time. The only thing that happens is spoiled on the back (probably because whoever wrote that didn't know what else to say about the book). At one point even Ayla gets tired of visiting yet another cave and there is a some years later jump. And she visits the caves like a modern tourist (even the locals don't seem to know why the caves are important). Antagonists are built up endlessly (repeating what you already know from the last book) but don't do anything (Brukeval is the worst example).
Gerd K
52. Kah-thurak
I really doubt that time will solve the problems Martin has with his series... honestly, I dont think that they will be solved at all.
53. mutantalbinocrocodile
Truthfully I wonder if one simple editorial decision--"George, there is so much complexity and darkness in these books, so do we ABSOLUTELY NEED the Cthulu-worshipping Vikings too?" might have helped a great deal. I hate the Ironborn storyline and really can't see what it adds. And this is coming from someone who didn't actually hate the PLOD.
54. Ryamano
I like the ironborn. I like the kingsmoot (especially the Greyjoy family dynamics). And recently I have come to realize the ironborn actually exist to make a way for Dany to reach the realms with all her armies. They're basically a ship plot device, that also serves to cause more uproar in the realm after the war of the 5 kings fizzles out. Also, the slavery-ending crusade Dany goes along is basically filler so she can do something until all the pieces are set for her to get on Westeros actually (like Aegon being in the continent).

Also, regarding rushing an author, I remember how excited I was about His Dark Materials trilogy back when I had read just the 1st book (that seemed, and still seems to me, brilliant). The third book was rushed to get the author to just end the tale ... and it sucks (IMO), with lots of incongruities and deviations that aren't needed. A late book is late just for some time, but a bad book is bad forever (unless the author tries to re-do the book later on, something I've never actually seem).
55. Little Buddy
Daniel Abraham is often photographed standing behind GRRM, taking notes.
Anthony Pero
56. anthonypero
Regarding whether GRRM or RJ grip someone more... I was gripped immediately by tEotW as a young teen. Would I have been gripped as strongly today? Probably not after reading all the fantasy that I did as a teen and young adult. If I'd come to GRRM as a 25 year old, in 2005, it probably would have gripped me a lot more than it did in 1996. But not because one author is a superior writer. Or because grimdark is inherently superior to traditional epic fantasy. Just because I would have been oversaturated.

Like today. Would Brandon Sanderson read as excellently to me if I wasn't sick to death of GRRM, Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence-style fantasy? It is literally 80% of epic fantasy now. If Sanderson had been writing in the 90s, he probably would have been buried as a midlist author forever. His breakthrough came at the right time, when there is a reactionary movement away from grimdark. Relentless hope is on the rise again in fiction.
Joe Vondracek
57. joev
Daniel Abraham is often photographed standing behind GRRM, taking notes.
That's funny because as prolific as Daniel Abraham is (Cibola Burn out this month and The Widow's House out later this year), GRRM should be taking notes from him! But maybe he is working on another graphic novel with GRRM...
Tabby Alleman
58. Tabbyfl55
This is totally only my opinion, because I certainly don't claim to be an authority on the Only Possible Meanings To All Words, but it seems to me that reading epic fantasy and complaining that there are plotlines that don't connect to any other plotlines, nor contribute to the "main story" is kind of like reading a vampire novel and complaining that there are vampires in it.

I mean, what's your definition of "epic fantasy", because to me, it means it's a story about an entire world, and not just a single character or group of characters or a single quest-plot. It's about what happens throughout the world during a given period of time, and sometimes those things don't always connect, they just happened to be at the same time. Why are they in the book at all? Usually to be expository about the world and time period in the world.

So yeah, there are going to be disconnected parallel plot-threads that don't advance the main story. It's a feature, not a bug. Don't like it? There's plenty of really good quest-fantasy out there. Not that I want to tell any specific person to go away, but if you want to ENJOY Martin, it helps to approach from the right frame of mind. If you used photo-realism standards to judge Picasso, you'd say he sucked, right? Well, I would, anyway.

Also so far, I can't think of any of Martin's sub-plots that don't and can't possibly contribute to the over-arching story. I trust that he has a plan for all of the "loose ends", and that there will be a reason for including the Ironborn, and Quentyn, and whatever else people are irritated about, and they will all have some small, but essential, impact on the final outcome of the story.
60. Dennis E. Henley
"That's 20(+?) years I'll never get back."

You haven't read anything else in those 20 years you were waiting for GRRM to finish?

Come on. I bet it's only a few weeks you've lost.
61. paivi
@49: Actually, Mongol women wielded a lot of power and influence in the Mongol Empire, almost certainly more than in any Western realm at the time (and a long time since too). From the Secret History of the Mongols and other sources we know several extremely influential women by name. They frequently had a hand in politics and served as regents while their men were away, and advisors when the male head of the family was present. They even pulled off coups and ruled their own domains: Genghis Khan's will portioned his domains between both his sons and daughters. And while it's true that sometimes imperial Mongol women got wrapped in a rug and drowned, the sentencing and killing was most often done... by other women.

The Dothraki women's role as depicted in the books is about as far removed from the historical Mongol society as you can get.

I know this is a bit OT, for which I apologise, but Mongol history is a sort of obsession of mine, and it grieves me to see people assume that the Dothraki culture is in any way analoguous to the historical Mongols. Sure, there's plains and horses and bloody raids, and that's about it.
63. Want to agree more, can't
@Ryamano -- I'm with you on rushing books generally and His Dark Materials specifically. (Although the second and third books may have suffered inevitably from the ideological weight they were meant to pull all along, with the first one something of a Trojan Horse.)

But the last two books in the GoT/whatever you call it series were increasingly just laundry lists of banquet attendees and menus, and GMM sounding like a pastiche of GMM. There must be a website out there with a running count of "He was not wrong".

Further, when even a booster such as yourself admits that a major part of the recent plot (such as it is) "is basically filler", then...

Unfortunately, I'm also with you on "a bad book is forever". GMM has now put out 2 in a row. I'm not optimistic about the next. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, so I'll take the blame for buying the last one. But reviews of the next book are going to have to be mind-blowing or I'm done.
64. Want to agree more, can't
Woops, "GRRM" for "GMM" above if anyone is still reading this. Stupid sleep deprivation...
Tabby Alleman
65. Tabbyfl55
I do agree that there is more micro-bloat in 4 & 5: As in, paragraphs that waste too many words describing foods or colors or other unimportant details. But I don't agree that there is any macro-bloat, as in entire chapters or plotlines that should have been omitted.
66. Want to agree more, can't
Going to have to agree to disagree then.

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