It was in 1991 when George R.R. Martin began working on “A Song of Ice and Fire“, and five years later released the first book of the series, “A Game of Thrones“. 15 years later, HBO would pick up Martin’s book series and name it after the first book – and now the epic series is about come to an end this April-May 2019.
But strangely enough, Martin has yet to finish his series (which will span seven books), so he finds himself waiting how HBO will handle the ending of his long-running masterwork. “Obviously, I wished I finished these books sooner so the show hadn’t gotten ahead of me,” Martin shared, “”I never anticipated that.”
The books’ placing
When the hit television series by HBO was launched in 2011, Martin had only written four books from “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Shortly after the first season of Game of Thrones ended, he released the fifth book entitled “A Dance of Dragons”. Since then fans have been waiting for the last two novels – “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring“.
The series has adapted some of the plot lines of the last two book based on outlines that Martin gave to showrunners and creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who also foresaw how the saga would end. It is unclear, however, if the show will follow his envisioned ending.
“I haven’t read the (final season) scripts and haven’t been able to visit the set because I’ve been working on ‘Winds,'” Martin shared, “I know some of the things. But there’s a lot of minor-character (arcs) they’ll be coming up with on their own. And, of course, they passed me several years ago. There may be important discrepancies.”
Martin’s own ending
Nicolas Allard, a French author who wrote a book about “Game of Thrones”, shared that Martin is not bound by the TV series’ story line and he can choose not to follow it if he wishes. “His contract stipulates that he has to come up with the denouement for the series and provide an outline of what would happen,” Allard said. “But he is free to choose a different ending on paper. And that would be the first time this would happen in the literary world.”
As an example, Allard said that Jon Snow could just remain dead after his fatal stabbings in the fifth book’s ending, and not be resurrected as the show did in the sixth season. Sarah Mesle, assistant professor of writing at the University of Southern California, is fully certain that Martin’s ending will be different.
“Even if he sticks to the same series of events… there’s no way he can be in the world and not know the way that the audience has responded to the different plot points or the way that we came to love some characters and not others,” shared Mesle, “I mean he’s been very much a part of the fan culture of the show, and I think his sense of how audiences feel about his story will certainly affect his choices.”
Screens vs. books
Allard noted that Martin was upset when the sixth season of the series revealed the origins of the White Walkers. “He wanted to be the one to reveal that in his novels,” Allard said. “Now, it’s like the television series and the novels are two separate artistic elements.”
Mesle admits that the television series has overtaken the story line and upstaged the author. “All of a sudden we have this TV show that has the storytelling status over a book,” she said, “Whether Martin finishes the series or not, once the TV show started to surpass the novels, the novels are now going to be an adaptation of the TV show. There’s no way around it.”
A famous example of an acclaimed book series hitting screens was J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. When Rowling sold the film rights to Warner Bros., she had only written four out of a proposed seven (just like Martin); however Rowling was able to finish her own sage before the final adaptation went on screen (the last book was published in 2007, alongside the fifth movie; the final film was split into two, released in 2010 & 2011 respectively).
Story and photos from AFP
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