HBO’s Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin Elaborates on Keeping Up With Game of Thrones

“It’s alarming.”

Those two words alone were enough for author George R. R. Martin to set fans of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire abuzz with talk about how the he is going to complete the book series before the show catches up with him. The quote comes courtesy of a sit-down with Martin in April’s issue of Vanity Fair, where the author elaborates on several ideas on how the television series could progress.

The open question of who is going to finish the story first, the author or the show, is one that has always been in the back of readers’ minds even since the show began airing in 2011. Neither the show’s producers nor Martin himself gave the question much airtime until last year, however, when the author admitted during the 2013 San Diego Comic Con to feeling pressure from the show’s pace to produce the next book. “The locomotive is coming and I’m still laying down the tracks.”

And one certainly can’t fault the author or the show for wanting to sideline the question. Although in the past Martin provided updates on the progress of A Feast For Crows and A Dance with Dragons through his Not A Blog, the author ultimately found doing so a counterproductive process, adding unnecessary stress to the act of actually completing the books. Understandably, the producers and show runners of Game of Thrones also want to keep Martin writing, and also want to keep their audience’s focus on the events of the current season and not on the question of whether the series will end without a resolution.

Nevertheless, the discussion is ongoing, and this month’s Vanity Fair interview with Martin provides some interesting elaboration on the author’s current thoughts on the matter:

The season that’s about to debut covers the second half of the third book. The third book [A Storm of Swords] was so long that it had to be split into two. But there are two more books beyond that, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. A Dance with Dragons is itself a book that’s as big as A Storm of Swords. So there’s potentially three more seasons there, between Feast and Dance, if they split into two the way they did [with Storm]. Now, Feast and Dance take place simultaneously. So you can’t do Feast and then Dance the way I did. You can combine them and do it chronologically. And it’s my hope that they’ll do it that way and then, long before they catch up with me, I’ll have published The Winds of Winter, which’ll give me another couple years. It might be tight on the last book, A Dream of Spring, as they juggernaut forward.

We don’t yet know how the show will be handling the mixed plotlines of the two most recently published Song of Ice and Fire books, but unless the pace of the show slows significantly, it seems unlikely that there are more than two seasons’ worth of television from them. Additionally, since the show’s production schedule is a year ahead of the actual airdates you could speculate that this gives the author even less time than he thinks. (There is further discussion of this in our post “What Do You Do With a Plot ‘Problem’ Like Daenerys”. Be warned, that link contains spoilers for all of the books and upcoming seasons of the show.)

Martin and Vanity Fair also batted around other options, such as splitting a season in half in the same manner that AMC has done with Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

There are various things. Spartacus went back and told a prequel season. That’s also an option. We have prequel. We have the Dunk and Egg novellas, which take place a hundred years before. And I’ve just published The Princess and the Queen, which takes place two hundred years before. [Read a preview of it here.] So there’s lots of Westeros material out there, if we want to keep doing Westeros projects, but not necessarily that.

Martin elaborates:

But, you know, I realize—I don’t want to sound too glib about this. This is a serious concern. […] Ultimately, it’ll be different. You have to recognize that there are going to be some differences. I’m very pleased with how faithful the show is to the books, but it’s never gonna be exactly the same.

Read the entire interview at Vanity Fair.

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