Friday, 1 March 2013

Will GAME OF THRONES overtake the novels?

One question about the Game of Thrones TV series has reared its head with increased frequency over the last few months. That question is fairly straightforward: will we see this story end on TV before author George R.R. Martin can deliver the final novel in the series?



This is a valid question. The Game of Thrones TV series began in April 2011, at roughly the same point in time that Martin was delivering the manuscript for the fifth novel in the Song of Ice and Fire book series, A Dance with Dragons. Dragons was published in July 2011 and Martin reported that he had started work on the sixth and planned-to-be penultimate novel in the series, The Winds of Winter, using roughly 200 manuscript pages' worth of material as a springboard to write the next book. Like A Dance with Dragons and A Storm of Swords before it, Martin plans for The Winds of Winter to come in at around 1,500 manuscript pages in length. Martin wrote A Storm of Swords (the third novel in the series, published in 2000) in about two years, so it was not impossible to write this amount in a short amount of time. However,  A Dance with Dragons took five and a half years to appear, after a five-year wait for the fourth book in the series. With the well-publicised reasons for those delays dealt with (scrapping the original fourth book in the series a year into the writing and starting again from scratch; and a thorny timeline problem called the Meereenese Knot), it was hoped that the new book would take closer to the Storms timespan to complete than the Dragons one.

As of March 2013, The Winds of Winter remains incomplete. New chapters have appeared, read out at conventions and appearing on Martin's website, and he reports progress being made, but no hard info on page count (a hopeful page count of 400 from a Spanish signing appearance a few months ago later turned out to be an erroneous mistranslation) has been given recently. In addition, Martin has reported taking on more projects than he should have done, with both The Lands of Ice and Fire and more recently The World of Ice and Fire (and its related short story, The Princess and the Queen) taking up more time than first intended. The result of this is that we should not be expecting The Winds of Winter to appear in the near future. I've been mooting a late 2015 release date (with the novel being finished in the first half of 2015) as a realistic date, and with Martin's work decks clearing to allow him to work on the novel full-time only this year, this seems to track (and only if no major obstacles on the scale of the Meereenese Knot arise).

In the meantime, HBO have reached their third season, which will carry them roughly two-thirds of the way through the third novel in the series, A Storm of Swords. Season 4 next year (if commissioned, which seems about 99% likely) will almost certainly see them starting to reach material from the fourth and fifth books in the series (which take place concurrently), which means that within not too much time at all they will be breathing down Martin's neck.

The question arises about what will happen next. The first thing they have to do is get through A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. They will likely take all of Season 5 to do this, along with a chunk from the end of Season 4 and probably a chunk from the start of Season 6. Whilst they're going to be just a book behind Martin fairly imminently, they are also going to take the better part of two seasons' worth of episodes (though extending across three actual seasons) to get through that material. Assuming that they will start reaching Winds of Winter material in late Season 6 and assuming Martin is able to publish The Winds of Winter in late 2015, that will get HBO the book at just about the time they'd need to be filming the next season (they'd actually need it for around June or July of that year, but the MS will be close enough to completion by then that Martin can simply give them information from that).

Of course, if The Winds of Winter is as huge as advertised, it may mean that HBO would take an additional two seasons to get through that material, extending from Season 6 into a potential eighth season. However, at the point another problem rears its head: how long is the HBO series itself going to last?

In the past, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have mooted anything from 70 to 90 episodes - seven to nine seasons - to tell their story. This gives them flexibility to end the story after seven seasons if the show's popularity is waning, or continue for nine if the show's popularity remains buoyant. Other issues will play a role in this, such as actors decided to leave or becoming so famous thanks to the show that contractual negotiations become prohibitively expensive (most of the original cast signed six-year deals, which will have to be extended come Season 7). But nine seasons is the longest the show is likely to go on for, and even that seems optimistic when you realise that no HBO drama series, not even the mega-popular The Sopranos, has lasted longer than six.

Even if we assume nine seasons is the lifespan of the show, that clearly leaves problems. Martin has indicated he imagines A Dream of Spring - the mooted seventh and final novel in the series - will also needed to be about 1,500 manuscript pages just to wrap everything up satisfactorily. That means a likely further 3-4 years (at absolute best) to bring the books to completion after The Winds of Winter is finished. This clearly puts the publication of A Dream of Spring and the arrival of the final season of the show at about parity, and again this assumes no major problems occurring. It will also cause problems if A Dream of Spring takes two full seasons or more to tell on screen, since at that point the HBO show is unlikely to still be going. It also means we will see material from the start of A Dream of Spring in Season 8 of the show before the book is published (which will probably be okay with most people, as long as the novel itself comes out before the ninth and final season airs).

This leaves us with a situation that would look like this:

2013: Season 3 - A Storm of Swords Part 1
2014: Season 4 - A Storm of Swords Part 2/A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 1
2015: Season 5 - A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 2
Late 2015: Possible Winds of Winter release date.
2016: Season 6 - A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 3/The Winds of Winter Part 1
2017: Season 7 - The Winds of Winter Part 2
2018: Season 8 - The Winds of Winter Part 3/A Dream of Spring Part 1
2019: Season 9 - A Dream of Spring Part 2/longest realistic lifespan of the TV series

As you can see, this means that Martin would be required to publish A Dream of Spring by spring 2019 at the latest, and to give the showrunners material from it in the summer of 2018.


The Internet the day after HBO announces that TV show is finishing first or is being axed prematurely.

I would submit that, whilst very tight, this is possible. But there are a host of problems that can arise with this. The outcomes I can see are:

1. GRRM finishes the books before the TV series ends.
This is the scenario laid about above, and seems possible, though tricky. It requires The Winds of Winter to come out in late 2015 at the latest and A Dream of Spring in spring 2019 at the latest, or three and a half years later. I think this last feat will be the most difficult to accomplish, though certainly not impossible. In fact, this possibility is already fairly pessimistic and we may well see Winter (and hence Spring) earlier than the dates I have suggested here, which makes life a lot easier for everyone.

2. The book series extends to eight volumes; HBO finishes first.
With material from Dragons delayed until Winter, it becomes possible this will have a domino effect and material from Winter will likewise be knocked back to Spring. This may cause Spring to be overlong as well, and material will need to be moved back into an eighth volume. In that scenario, HBO will finish first.

3. The TV series has to conclude before nine seasons; HBO finishes first.
This is also entirely possible, in which case we will get a (likely truncated) version of the ending on screen potentially several years before we see the ending in print.

4. The TV series deviates totally from the books and it doesn't matter.
This does not appear to be a major problem, as even with the second season (which deviated more from the books than the first season) they've still stuck with the general timeline of the books, just sometimes taking a different route to get there. The recently-revealed episode titles from Season 3 also suggest they'll be sticking pretty close to the storyline from the books, just perhaps not featuring every subplot and minor character. Still, a situation where the show spins off in a totally different direction and makes up its own ending is also a possibility, if a faint one.

There is of course another question that arises:

Does it matter if HBO finishes before Martin?
If HBO does overtake GRRM, then clearly they are going still be asking his advice, getting him to write (at least) one TV episode per season and following outlines and information he has given them for the later books. The ending we will get on screen will be, at least in some form, similar to the ending Martin envisages for the books. I can also see the showrunners asking Martin to write the last episode of the series (they may do this regardless of if the books are out or not). Some readers, particularly those most frustrated with the long gaps between novels, may even prefer the idea that they will get to find out how the story ends on screen within the next six years or so, rather than waiting potentially longer than that if the series extends to eight volumes, or if the sixth and seventh books take a lot longer than it is hoped to appear.

Obviously the TV series is not covering all of the subplots and character arcs that the novels are, so the books will still be worth reading to find out how those issues are resolved. Of course, purists who want to read the books first and see the TV show later will be left with the quandary of putting the show on hold and somehow avoiding lots of spoilers for years on end until the books come out, which I imagine will be quite difficult to achieve.

Not even this guy can tell us how it's going to go down yet.

What is not going to happen.
The TV show is not going to go on hold for years.
Some people have suggested that the TV show could take 2-3 years off and wait for Martin to deliver the final novels, sometimes citing the fact that other HBO shows have gone more than one year between seasons of a particular show. Whilst that is true, it was only true for shows where it was possible to regroup the whole cast: most of The Wire's cast was made up of local Baltimore actors, who were relatively easy to regroup for the final two seasons, whilst even then they had scheduling issues (resulting in Dominic West's character of McNulty barely appearing in the fourth season). With The Sopranos, being HBO's jewel in the crown, it was possible to simply amass the financial firepower to make it happen. With Deadwood, the cast splitting to many different other shows and projects meant it was impossible to regroup them for the planned TV movies meant to resolve the storyline, and it was too expensive to put them on retainer for several years. Rome has also had a theatrical movie script completed for some years, but cast availability issues - amongst others - have prevented it from happening (I imagine the biggest problem there being Kevin McKidd being cast on Gray's Anatomy as a regular, not mention Ray Stevenson's burgeoning movie career).

With Thrones, almost the entire cast is made up of English and Irish actors who are very commonly seen on TV, in film and on stage over here. Thrones going on hiatus for two or three years would see them splitting to the winds to other projects, and getting them all back together later on would be improbable. Given the size of the cast, it would again be too expensive to put them all on retainer for years on end so they could hang around waiting for the show to come back. Thrones has a slight advantage in that many actors are only needed for 2-3 weeks of filming per season (Charles Dance filmed all of Twyin's scenes for Season 2 in just a fortnight, apparently), but the regulars would also be affected, especially given how much in demand they are likely to be as a result of Thrones's success. There is also the issue of the younger actors growing up in the meantime, which would force unpopular recastings to take place.

Conclusion
Game of Thrones is a juggernaut at the moment, going into production every June like clockwork for airing the following April. Even if the show moves timeslot (a shift to True Blood's summer timeslot has been suggested by fans when that show ends, which may happen after its sixth or seventh season) that would only help out by a few months. The show is not going to stop, pause or go on hold until GRRM finishes the books. It is also not going to last for a dozen or more seasons.

On that basis, Martin has a finite timeframe in which to finish Books 6 and 7 before the show overtakes him. At the moment, it is fully possible for him to achieve this, but the window to do so is closing. If he does not manage it, the question fans of the books and TV series will have to ask themselves is, does it matter? I'll certainly be watching to the end, regardless of if the books come out first (though certainly my preference is for the books to appear first).

As usual, we will have to wait and see. And if there's something that Song of Ice and Fire fans have become very good at, it's waiting.

39 comments:

  1. I thought Dance of Dragons came out on July 12th?

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  2. 'With The Sopranos, being HBO's jewel in the crown, it was possible to simply amass the financial firepower to make it happen.'

    GoT is larger than The Sopranos, so..

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  3. Let me push back on a couple of your assumptions. One, I don't think that substantial AFFC/ADWD material will be in Season 4. D&D have already said a huge battle (Battle at the Wall) will be at the end of S4. Additionally, ASOS ends with natural season endpoints for almost everybody's plotline. It wouldn't really make sense to move up the kingsmoot either because that's all set up that hasn't even yet paid off in the books. So that buys them another year.

    Two, you decree that 9 seasons is the longest realistic lifespan for a TV series, comparing it to previous HBO series. I don't see any basis for this. Other series are inventing new material, GOT is an adaptation. Additionally, it's HBO's second-most popular show right now and seems set to surpass True Blood as its most popular. DVD sales are setting records. Once HBO develops a property like this it is eager to keep it in business as long as possible. Chase wanted to end the Sopranos earlier but HBO begged him desperately to extend it, throwing huge sums of money at him until he agreed to. Of course if the show's popularity decreases that will be a different story, but so far the trends have all been up.

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  4. You left out a scenario where GRRM finishes the 6th book in late 2014 or early 2015. If that happens, then everything lines up perfectly for HBO, the production, and A Song of Ice and Fire.

    Also, while contract negotiations could get messy following the 6th season, if the show is still as popular (or more so), then HBO will happily pay up. Considering the story we have in the books, while avoiding spoilers, they have only the actors who started in season 1 AND SURVIVE to season 6 to contend with. Anyone signed after that, or who doesn't make it to season 6, is not an immediate problem.

    Not to mention that actor salaries are rarely the biggest cost to any production. It is a common misconception that the salaries of actors are a large burden on shows. While it is true that some shows eventually have to shut down due to actor salaries (like CHEERS) even while still successful, HBO can absorb many of those costs due to their subscription model. And in a worst case scenario, could streamline their location shooting to be more cost effective.

    If they have to take a year break so the books can catch up, they might be able to afford it. Two years would be a stretch, though.

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  5. I knew this was going to be a problem. He writes slow as dirt! haha

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  6. I may have gotten my ADWD dates mixed up. Will fix.

    The cast of THE SOPRANOS was fairly small compared to GoT's and getting the gang back together was cheaper.

    For ASoS filling up all of Season 4 as well, that is possible. But that then makes things worse for HBO. Sacrificing all Season 4 to 30% or so of ASoS loses them episodes to be spent on material later on. Unless HBO are really planning to go their own way after that point, they can't do that without having to rush things later on. The Kingsmoot has to happen in Season 4 because that's where it happens in the books (chronologically that chapter happens halfway through ASoS).

    Yes, GoT is a huge deal now, but this must be tempered with caution. We are only on Season 3. I suspect the general audience will start to complain if by the end of Season 5 or 6 Dany is still in Essos and that storyline is not drawing to a conclusion, or if Arya spends entire seasons wandering around the Riverlands (which is what she would do in Season 4 if ASoS fills up the whole two seasons). Every show has a moment where the shine wears off. Sometimes shows are lucky to continue running past that (X-FILES made it to 9 seasons, despite that being at least five seasons past the height of its fandom and success) but on most occasions they are not.

    I also did note (at the end) that GRRM might finish the book earlier, in which case everything would appear to be fine. I don't consider this likely given the fact that GRRM has reported on his blog, several times, that his other projects have cost him more time than he'd been anticipating.

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  7. Nice post Adam, very detailed. I've been concerned about this issue ever since the show was announced. Not to hate on the author but I'm pessimistic he can wrap up the last two books in the required time frame, I somehow don't see him rushing out a book he isn't happy with just to have it out in time for the show.

    I was a bit confused that when projecting seasons you predict that season 4 will feature content from Crows/Dance, I was under the impression that it would just be the rest of A Storm of Swords. Has that been announced somewhere?

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  8. There's never been a formal announcement that Season 4 would be 'just' the rest of ASoS. That doesn't really make sense. If the RW is at the end of ASoS, that's closer to two-thirds of the way through the book, not half. After that chapter there's three Arya chapters in which she wanders the Riverlands a bit more. That's not going to make a compelling full-season arc for her.

    I do think they will adjust things so the big battle is later in the season and maybe the final scene of S4 is the same final scene from ASoS, but I also think they will be bringing some scenes and material forward from the start of AFFC/ADWD. Otherwise HBO are going to be causing themselves problems with how much stuff they need to pack into the seasons that follow.

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  9. Considering the fact that GRRM turns 65 this year, I fear the novels might not be finished at all. :/

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  10. What if HBO tapes the final two seasons together with information from GRRM, then delays airing them until after he finishes the books.

    That way you don't have to keep the actors on retainer or spoil the ending.

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  11. The problem with your no hiatus argument is that in this case it would be planned. All other examples you cite were unplanned hiatuses or simply periods of uncertainty followed by a cancellation.

    A planned hiatus could in theory surmount cast/crew related logistical problems. The (probably untenable) risk would be that Martin would still not deliver on time and render the whole thing pointless.

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  12. You keep mentioning Arya's arc but you should really be thinking about the King's Landing plotline, which will likely be the most prominent arc in S4. This year we've heard that Sansa's wedding is in episode 8. This occurs in chapter 29 out of 82 in ASOS. So they're clearly slowing the KL stuff down quite a bit. It's very hard for me to imagine them not ending the S4 King's Landing plotline where ASOS does. Which means the other stuff probably shouldn't get too far ahead. Arya's arc might be kind of lame but they won't derail everything else because of that alone, they'll either invent new stuff for her or she'll appear only in a few episode.

    You write that if they don't move some stuff, "HBO are going to be causing themselves problems with how much stuff they need to pack into the seasons that follow." But they don't think this way. Story logic, arcs, and satisfying endpoints for the current season will always trump abstract considerations about what might have to be crammed in years down the road. Regardless of the books' chronology, the kingsmoot doesn't have to happen in Season 4 any more than the Reeds or Tullys had to be in Season 2. D&D have said they don't like casting characters too early and having them hang around with nothing to do until they're plot-important. That's exactly what would happen if the kingsmoot was in S4, since the whole point of it is to set up Euron's effort to get the dragons.

    I don't think you're necessarily right to say that every show has a moment where the shine wears off, particularly in this new media environment. Even judging by traditional ratings, the numbers for Mad Men and Breaking Bad have increased every year. But, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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  13. I would hate if TV Show revelaed the ending, or even spoiled anything from remaining two books. Absolutely hate it. But I'm confident GRRM wouldn't allow that.

    Also, I must admit I feel a sinister pleasure thinking HBO show is forcing GRRM to write the books faster so he might give us a big surprise and release the book late 2014, yet I also worry if he writes faster than he should, books might be bad and pull a Dark Tower on us.

    Damn, it's hard and compliacted to be an Asoiaf fan after all these years.

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  14. The Sopranos put out 6 seasons over 8 years and wasn't waiting on books to be written, so this idea that HBO will stick to a strict 1 season per year schedule is a little unrealistic. More than likely you're looking at slightly longer breaks between seasons in a similar fashion to how the Sopranos did it:

    Sopranos Season 1 - Jan 10, 1999
    -- 12 month gap --
    Sopranos Season 2 - Jan 16, 2000
    -- 14 month gap
    Sopranos Season 3 - Mar 4, 2001
    -- 19 month gap --
    Sopranos Season 4 - Sep 25, 2002
    -- 15 month gap --
    Sopranos Season 5 - Mar 7, 2004
    -- 24 month gap --
    Sopranos Season 6 - Mar 12, 2006

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  15. You also have to consider one other important factor. There was no hit TV show based on his books running when GRRM wrote his first 5-6 books. All GRRM was beholden to was fan pressure. Now there is a huge new factor involved. Why do we expect GRRM to write the next two books at the same exact pace he wrote the first five?

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  16. I think you're hugely underestimating the amount of time it will take to adapt A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Dance is about as long as Storm, and would need two seasons of it's own if it was adapted straight, and Feast is a bit longer than Clash. I'm thinking the events of Feast and Dance will entirely take up three seasons, and that some events from Storm will leak in to those, though with some characters who don't have much to do in those two books (Bran, Arya to a certain extent), it's possible Winds will move forward a bit.

    And you're assuiming the writers won't just break from the books entirely. I doubt they'll be using the Three Eyed Crow in the way the books did.

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  17. And yes the Kingsmoot happens concurrently with Storm, but Meera and Jojen meet Bran in Winterfell. Clearly the writers aren't too concerned with keeping the timelines parallel to the books'.

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  18. Also, for pedantry's sake, Sopranos technically only ran 6 seasons--but most of them were 13 episodes each, and season 6 was actually mega-sized and split into two parts, making it two seasons for all intents and purposes. The show ran 83 episodes altogether, if I'm not mistaken, which is more than GoT would have if it ran seven or eight seasons at the current rate.

    But of course, for all HBO's production values and the huge salaries the cast could command at that point, Sopranos was still a relatively inexpensive show--it was set in the modern day, didn't require much in the way of special effects, etc. This is also true of The Wire.

    Nevertheless, I don't think "the shine could wear off" really applies here, simply because of HBO's model not being tied into conventional ratings. It's likely that GoT will simply come to be seen as part of what you get with HBO. Even if the buzz dies down it's not going to single-handedly tank HBO's subscriber base--for GoT to be canceled HBO as a whole would have to run into financial trouble (as is apparently what happened with Deadwood, Carnivale and Rome) and even then, the massive DVD sales would probably make it worthwhile anyway.

    Failing a disaster, I think this show is going to be allowed to run as long as it needs...so it comes down to Martin. And yeah, I'm guessing the final book will be arriving AFTER the final season. I do think TWOW will make it into print before S6, or whatever season will be drawing from it.I actually am betting this will be S7--I don't think they're getting through the rest of SoS, FfC and Dwd by S5, personally. And the thing is, the show so far has felt a bit rushed, especially S2. As much as people complain about padding, I honestly think the show could use more time to stretch out. Especially since just watching these actors hang out and chat is so entertaining.

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  19. Good article and interesting speculation, but it's a moot point. HBO's series will end before GRRM has to worry about the show catching or passing him. HBO's viewers consist largely of people that HBO doesn't think can keep an Asha and an Osha straight, even though the characters are played by two different actors and their parts of the story only intersect briefly. These viewers will lose interest as the plot gets complicated beyond their comprehension when material from AFFC and ADWD hits the screen, the show's numbers will decline, and it will collapse under its own bloated budget. The biggest fear is that Benioff and Weiss will see this coming and attempt to give the show an "end" and nerf the story on screen based on what they know from GRRM about how the books are supposed to end.

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  20. I'm probably in the minority but I struggle to see how you could get 2 seasons of good television out of AFFC/ADWD. Story lines in both books meander and I can see that if they're completely faithful, viewers will switch off in droves. On that basis, I have no doubt the tv series will surpass GRRM, assuming it makes it that far.

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  21. fascinating

    Re: Arya having nothing to do but roam the Riverlands if Season 4 is mostly ASOS....

    Season 2 was mostly ACOK....but ended with Jamie and Brienne's arc from the beginning ASOS

    There is no reason that if Season 4 is largely ASOS that Arya can't use her coin to secure transportation (as she does in that book) but also start her adventures in Braavos...

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  22. Cheers to a great post Adam! You know I really don't see this ending how we would all love to see it end. I'm rather pesimistic about the whole thing, but I'm also greatful that so far we've had two GREAT seasons and another on the way. The way I see it is I'm grateful to get what we got ya know? If it goes all the way-awesome, and if not? Well shit we still had Sean Bean playing Eddard Stark right?

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  23. Good analysis. It's going to be scenario 3 for sure.

    The HBO series is going to last 7 series, 8 absolute maximum. Any more is wishful thinking. No way GRRM will finish the books before. HBO will skip a number of the non-core storylines from AFFC and ADWD and truncate others. One has to think of character arcs and season endings, rather than books, to understand how the writers will structure the series.

    This is the most likely scenario for the HBO series.

    2014: Season 4 - A Storm of Swords Part 2/A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 1
    2015: Season 5 - A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 2/The Winds of Winter Part 1
    2016; Season 6 - The Winds of Winter Part 2/A Dream of Spring Part 1
    2017: Season 7 - A Dream of Spring Part 2. The End.

    Such a scenario would be a positive outcome as the risk of lingering on AFFC and ADWD for too long risks viewers lose interest and the show being cancelled.

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  24. I haven't read the books yet because the series not complete (too much other stuff to be read), but I am buying the novels as they're apparently worth it.

    I also don't watch movie/TV adaptations anymore before I've read the books they're based on (if I have the books on my reading pile, that is). So, I'm not as emotionally invested in the show as most people here.

    Yet, I would very much like this show to be great, because I want to watch it later on! ;-)

    So, when I heard the announcement about the show, Adam's question "Will GoT overtake the novels?" was the first thing that came to my mind. Obviously I failed to know how much 'meat' there is in each novel and whether it's worth more or less than a season.
    Still, given Martin's track record I was skeptical if he could deliver the last book before the show catches up.

    Honestly, I don't understand why they started adapting it at the time they did. This whole timing issue could've been avoided had they started a few years later...

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  25. Surely the answer is for someone to strap George down and MAKE him write the end of the series as quickly as possible. I don't imagine anyone would be disappointed if WoW appeared early!

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  26. i think there are huge chances that the show will end after season 4, since there is significant drop quality in books 4 and 5. for wide audience at least.

    if not, 6-7 seasons are maximum, 9 could not be true. i will be surprised if ending in that case will be different in books, surely grrm is capable for that. doubt that he wants last book be a kind of novelisation

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  27. Hell, I'll be very surprised if we get WoW in 2015 (I'm guessing 2017 is much more likely) and if this series is actually completed in seven books, meaning the show will get to tell the story first. On the other hand, I'm guessing the show will probably be cancelled after season 5- I think the splitting of Storm is going to do more harm for the non-book reading audience than good, and that this season is going to start dropping numbers. Of course, I'll be happy to be proven wrong in all these things (except for the eight books... I think we'll be needing an extra one to wrap everything up well at this point), but we shall see.

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  28. I kind of want the show to go ten or twelve seasons just so all the people who said there would be no way for it to surpass six or seven will feel silly.

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  29. Everyone saying that A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons are too slow paced or boring to be adapted in to good television: I urge you to reflect on how television drama works, especially those which have high budget explosive finales like Game of Thrones. AFfC and ADwD are PERFECT for television. Television focuses on character development and internal conflicts much more than films do, and the storylines in the most recent books would lend well to that, especially when it comes to Tyrion and the Prince of Winterfell. Arya has her training, which will also lend well. While it would be somewhat foolish of me to think that Arya's training would e stretched out through two years, I think instead of us getting The Winds of Winter mixed in too much with Feast and Dance, I think we'll get the latter half of Storm with the introduction of F&D (like someone mentioned earlier) and the writers will flesh out some plotlines to make them work for two seasons. And that's just for the really popular characters who don't do much in those two books. The cast will be so large by then, even if they only introduce a quarter of the main characters the books had by then, that several characters will only be appearing in two or three episodes per season, something that already has a precedent in Season 2 with main characters like Jaime.

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  30. I think that GRRM regularly takes up too many side projects.
    Of course, it's entirely up to him to decide what he wants to work on but he has admitted that himself in past statements.
    In my view these side projects really are the key to the problem. Martin surely doesn't 'write like the wind' but that's not the problem, the problem is that too big a portion of his time in the past years he didn't actually work on 'Dance', hence the delay.
    I guess if he finishes all the little projects that he's already committed to but keeps new projects to a minimum the work on ASoIaF could actually proceed quite well. Thus, he could get the remaining books out in a timely manner without compromising their quality.

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  31. Judging from the quality of the show (writing especially) they have enough sense to deviate from the original material big time after the end of ASOS. I'd say the writing is on the wall with some not so minor deviations from the original plot already in place. RW is brutal, but it's still great storytelling. What comes after still holds to being brutal but certainly has nothing to do with good storytelling. I challenge those who'd like to rebut me with naming three interesting things Tyrion does (or says for that matter) after ASOS.

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  32. 1. He convinces Aegon (fake or not) to undertake a military invasion of Westeros.

    2. He convinces a powerful mercenary force to swap sides at the Battle of Meereen.

    3. He meets up with Jorah, catalysing his return to Team Dany.

    Though I think it's still up in the air if #3 is actually worthwhile in the long run (since Jorah's trip to Volantis and back is a bit pointless in the long run; he may as well have simply remained in the vicinity of Meereen and joined up with the rest of the story there).

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  33. I agree with Adam. I actually liked Tyrion's story in A Dance with Dragons, and liked the book as a whole much more than everyone else seemed to. I think people just built up too much anticipation in the years between Storm and Dance. The writing is just as good, and as always some plots move quickly and other slowly. Theon's story was also amazing, and Arya's was one of my favorite Arya plots of the series.

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  34. I think they might make a season for dunk & egg to show till the 7th book comes out.

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  35. Too many people here are confusing skill of writing with the kind of narrative surprises that made ASOS awesome. Yes, AFFC and ADWD slow down in pace (slightly): that's the point. The characters are built up, and you can feel the momentum cranking towards the end of ADWD - can't wait for these last two books!

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  36. I don't see the scenario where it takes GRRM more then 7 books to finish the series :). I for one think that it's impossible to finish in 7, and he will need 8 or even 9.

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  37. I don't quite get this idea of a season being, e.g., "A Storm of Swords Part 2/A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 1" or " A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons Part 3/The Winds of Winter Part 1." I can see an individual season taking bits of the next book the way that Arya's arc in Season 1 ended with her first chapter from ACoK, or the Jamie, Brienne, and Sam arcs ending with things from the beginning of ASoS, but then I don't think people would call Season 1 the "A Game of Thrones/A Clash of Kings Part 1" season, or Season 2 to "A Clash of Kings Part 2/A Storm of Swords Part 1."

    This is because the books tend not to end the arcs at arbitrary points, and neither will the show. Of course Tyrion's arc in Season 4 is going to end where it ends in the third book, rather than him floating down towards Volantis. Of course Jon's arc in Season 4 will end where it does in ASoS. Having a satisfactory character arc in a season is way more important to the showrunners than mechanically proceeding through the books at a rate of N pages per season.

    And if this means we see less of a character in a particular season, so be it. We saw next to no Jaime in Season 2, and it worked fine, because there was so much other action going on. With the character count increasing, this will be even less of an issue in future seasons. Arya might very well have comparatively little to do in Season 4. They could also pad her arc a bit (the way they did Jaime's this past season) while still ending the season with her sailing to Braavos. Or they could bring her to Braavos midseason. Any of those would work. That's definitely not a sign of a narrative urgency to speed things up and end ASoS halfway through Season 4.

    That said, bearing in mind that the books will bleed into each other somewhat, I think this is at least a cleaner way of looking at how things might develop:

    2013-2014 ASoS
    2014-2015 AFfC/ADwD
    2016-2017 TWoW
    2018-2019 ADoS

    They could conceivably get three seasons worth out of AFfC and ADwD, they're a bit slower than the other books, but they do have a lot of material (some of which could be padded or spiced up by the showrunners), and as it is the last two seasons went at a pretty quick pace which the show could benefit from slowing down somewhat.

    But I don't think you're going to see *too* much more bleeding between books than we have already; I'm pretty sure these showrunners would rather slow down the narrative at points than have character arcs begin and end at arbitrary points (and the show isn't one that suffers from a slow pace yet).

    So let's say there's an average of four years preceding each of the next two books, and we get Winds in 2015 and Dream in 2019. Not an unreasonable pace, assuming no Meerenese knots, scrapped five year time gaps, overworking, etc. (though certainly not guaranteed). At the very worst, the release of Dream would be roughly concurrent with its airing on TV, and in that case I strongly suspect they'd find a way to put the book out before the final episodes aired.

    So it's going to be close, but I don't think it's time to get too panicked just yet. And mostly I wanted to make that point about season splitting.

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  38. First of all let me say that this was a pretty well thought-out post.

    Now, possible spoliers for what I'm about to say...

    GRRM recently made a new 2-year deal with HBO. Assuming, that this is in now way related to the ongoing series, it might a safe bet that GRRM is planning to adapt a prequel of sorts.

    Think about it for a moment, after the adaptation of ADwD, the on-going series can temporarily pause. The next 1 or 2 season can be the prequel tales and then again continuing on with the final 2 novels. By that time, I think Martin can easily dish out the remaining 2 books. Also this way, HBO can delve into the back story of the Targaryan Dynasty as well as Robert's Rebellion, Jon's parentage & the events at the Tower of Joy.

    This way, the audience would connect better with Aegon's invasion of Westeros rather than some random Targaryan boy who has been basically in hiding all this time.

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  39. GRRM has explicitly ruled out a Robert's Rebellion story, either in the books or TV series. It is not happening.

    He has, however, proposed a DUNK AND EGG spin-off project to HBO.

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