Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Three reasons why I absolutely refuse to read A Song of Ice and Fire

Listen, you guys, I love Game of Thrones! It's one of my absolute favorite shows and I'm as devastated as the next person that season nine isn't coming out this year. That being said, I absolutely will not read A Song of Ice and Fire.

So you may be asking, "Tracy, if you love the story so much, why won't you read the series? The source material is always better!" Usually I would wholeheartedly agree! While I actually don't think the book is always better (see: The Lord of the Rings fight me), I do usually prefer to read the source material when I plan to watch, or have already watched, a movie or show based on a book or series. I actually originally DID plan to read A Song of Ice and Fire when I started watching the show! I even went so far as to download the first audiobook and listen to the first chapter. But then...

He takes FOREVER to write each book

I hope I don't offend anyone when I say that I don't trust George R.R. Martin as far as I can throw him. I started doing a little bit of research on the brilliant creator of the Game of Thrones TV show that I loved and found that he was actually incredibly unreliable when it came to his bestselling series. While he was writing a book every two years in the beginning (as authors tend to do), the distance between books gradually grew to five years, then six years, and now the world has been waiting SEVEN years for book six with no concrete publication date in sight. Just see for yourself:

I can already feel the fans descending.

Here's the thing: George R.R. Martin is 69 years old. If it takes seven years to finish each additional book, assuming there are eight (and honestly, who knows?), he will be in his 80s before the series reaches its completion. And that's assuming the time between books doesn't continue on its upward trend! Am I saying an author is obligated to provide the fans with a complete series? Not necessarily. (Although I do think it's pretty terrible to start a decades-long series and then show no interest in completing it. Fans, after all, do choose where to invest their time and millions have invested in A Song of Ice and Fire.) However, this is reason number one why I definitely won't be finishing it until (if) it's finished.

He wants his series to die with him 

See, I've been burned before by an ever expanding fantasy series. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan began as a six book series (although I've also heard that it was intended as a trilogy), but eventually expanded to twelve, and finally ended at fourteen books. When I began reading the series for the first time, there were ten books. I read the first three and then the unthinkable happened.

The author died after the eleventh book, at age 58. But knowing he couldn't leave his series unfinished, Robert Jordan chose to leave detailed notes so that a successor could be chosen to complete it after his death. Brandon Sanderson took up the mantle and the series finished strong (from what I hear - I still haven't gotten there yet). It still took over 20 years to complete the series and it lagged around books nine and ten, but I will forever respect the author for making sure his fans got a complete story.

George R.R. Martin is the complete opposite on this issue. I've already mentioned Martin's age. Although some fans get annoyed when you bring it up, no one lives forever. It's a valid concern for anyone who's read or is thinking of reading the series. In 2013, George R.R. Martin said that he does not want anyone to continue his series after his death. So in the event that the author does die before his series of maybe seven, maybe eight books is complete, he very likely doesn't plan to leave notes for anyone to wrap it up in his absence. His series may never be complete, but at least he'll have his pride!

The show is going to finish it anyway

As irritated as I was by all this when I was first getting into the show and hoping to read the books, does it really even matter now? Originally, Winds of Winter (book six) was supposed to be published before the sixth season aired. Instead, the publication schedule got pushed back (we're now waiting on season nine and book six still hasn't been published), and the show has way outpaced the books. With season nine being the final season of Game of Thrones and the showrunners knowing Martin's planned ending, there doesn't seem to be much reason to read the series even if it ever does reach its end. I know that the books and show diverge in many areas, but what reason would I have to invest in a seven or eight book series when I've already watched a nine season TV show that ends the same way?

While I know that there are tons and tons of fans of A Song of Ice and Fire that will certainly read whatever Martin puts out, and while I know there will probably be future fans who will pick it up in decades to come, it seems that a lot of people are just tired of the waiting. I read one comment on Reddit (in my yearly Winds of Winter check) in which a guy said he'd gotten two degrees and become a doctor in the time he'd spent waiting for Winds of Winter! I feel that George R.R. Martin may have shot himself in the foot by taking so long. Not only are people getting tired, but the show is spoiling major plot points with every season.

So yes, I love Game of Thrones. I am DYING to see what happens in season nine and I'm sad that I have to wait another year for it but at least I know that the ending is coming next year! Not in a year or two or seven or never. I feel terrible for the fans who were with the series from the beginning, rereading the entire thing in anticipation of each book since there was so much time in between to forget important details. For all of you, I truly, truly hope that Martin actually does get it together in time to complete the series. For me, though, I'll continue to love the show and refuse to read the books.

Have you read A Song of Ice and Fire? 
How do you feel about the ever changing publication date for Winds of Winter? 
If you're a show lover like me, do you ever plan to read the books?
Let me know in the comments!