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An Empty Throne

About 8 years ago, a good friend of mine kept telling me to read A Game of Thrones.  For those that don’t know, A Game of Thrones is the first book in a series called A Song of Ice and Fire by author George R. R. Martin.  Thrones was the first of what was originally supposed to be a 5 book set, now slated for 7 books.  The crux of the series centers around a number of noble families in a kingdom known as Westeros.  These various families are all engaged in a massive conflict over who has the true right to rule. 

Every time it was recommended to me, I kept brushing it off.  Even as more and more friends of mine began reading the stories, I still refused.  There were a number of reasons: I didn’t really believe I’d be that into the genre (couldn’t have been more wrong), I had better things to do in college such as playing beer die, and I never read in general.  In fact, going back to my childhood, there were few things I destested more than reading.  Reading books for pleasure was flat out alien to me.  The only things I ever read were books assigned to me by English teachers.  Thus, reading became more like a chore than anything else, and like anyone, I fucking hate chores.  I was definitely one of those people who would just watch the 2 hour movie rather than read a 500 page book.

It all changed 2 years ago, when HBO aired a new series, A Game of Thrones, that would bring the Ice and Fire series to life.  I was immediately excited because I was finally going to see what all the fuss was about without having to read anything!  It was perfect. 

Then, about 5 episodes in I broke.  I absolutely had to know what happened by the end, and there was no way I was waiting 5 more weeks to find out.  I got word to Mama dukes who shipped me her kindle (she had already bought and read A Game of Thrones, so she was happy to oblige).  Now, the first book in the series is the shortest book and its 720 pages…

I finished in 4 days.

I was hooked.  I couldn’t put it down.  I’d read in bed, at my desk at work, at lunch, after work…every day.  It was insane.  I’ve never, in my entire life, ever been that into a novel before.  Martin is nothing short of a genius.  See the thing is, when you first hear about A Game of Thrones or the series in general, it comes across as crazy high fantasy.  Magic and dragons and wizards and the such.  Which is true, it certainly has all those things; but at its heart it’s steeped much more in real history than anything else.  Martin drew inspiration from royal and ruling families of Ancient Rome and Middle Ages Europe.  He takes elements from the Crusades and the Bible.  And brings it all together in a wonderful story that can read as much like a spy or mafia novel at times as more traditional fantasy. 

See, Martin does an outstanding job of keeping the reader guessing.  He sets up characters to be loved by the reader only to result in some awful death or vicious backstabbing.  As soon as you’re sure you know what’s coming next, you get the exact opposite.  I know pretty much every fiction author does this sort of thing, but not in the way Martin does.  I can’t even do it justice.  Luckily that’s not why I’m here.

I’m here because I heard some very troubling news yesterday, at least troubling to any fan of the series.  Rolling Stone reported that HBO has now hired Martin to a two-year deal with the responsibility, not only to continue work on the Thrones TV show, but also develop new shows and projects for them.  This sounds great right?  What Martin fan wouldn’t be overjoyed with this?

Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m certainly not happy about it.  Why?  Here’s why:

A Game of Thrones: 1996

A Clash of Kings: 1999

A Storm of Swords: 2000

A Feast for Crows: 2005

A Dance with Dragons: 2011

The Winds of Winter:Forthcoming

A Dream of Spring: Forthcoming

Now, take a look at the author:

Seriously, the guy looks as though he can go at any second.  I mean look at him!  Now look back at the timeline for the books: 3 year gap, then 1, then 5, then 6.   Now it’s 2013, and he’s signed a two-year deal to make TV shows for HBO!

This guy has written an awesome story, that is nowhere near wrapping up.  Not even close.  There are a myriad of unanswered questions, that he supposedly has two books to answer.  It took him 6 fucking years to write book 5 after book 4 was published…now he’s going to have a bigger workload?  Look at that picture again…

I’d say there’s a very strong chance this guy kicks the bucket before he finishes the series, and I felt that way before he signed this deal with HBO.  I’m supposed to believe that despite this deal, he’s still going to publish in a timely manner?  Bullshit. 

I was discussing this idea several months ago with another fan, and we have both expressed the fear that Martin will go before he could finish.  But, there was a slim hope that maybe because of the HBO series, he would be pressured to finish the books quicker, so as to not be outpaced by the series.  Well this completely rules that out.  Not only is the series not pressuring him to finish the story, but its not even pressuring him to focus on it!

Fans of the move have said that it’s a chance for Martin’s other novels and series’ to be made into shows and reach a broader audience.  Well, frankly, I don’t care about Martin’s other novels and series.  I want him to finish A Song of Ice and Fire

Maybe I’m the only one, but I hate this news.  He’s got too much on his plate, it already takes him 5-6 years to write one anyway.  God knows I hope that I’m wrong, but I just don’t see him finishing.  He’s going to check out of this world before it’s done and leave us readers without closure to one of the best stories I’ve ever read, seen, or heard.  HBO’s the reason I fell in love with the story, and in all likelihood the reason I’ll never know how it ends.