‘ Game of Thrones’ books started the drama, but show will finish the job
In 2015, at the end of Game of Thrones Season 5, I wasn’t happy.
The season had been a huge disappointment, a mix of gratuitous sexual violence and poor writing that left me frustrated rather than entertained. The finale further demoralized me about the series’ future. It brought several of the major characters’ stories — including those of Cersei ( Lena Headey), Jon ( Kit Harington) and Daenerys ( Emilia Clarke) — to the end of their narratives in George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books, on which the series is based. As a reader, I couldn’t help but wonder where the series was headed.
A year later, I was pleasantly surprised by the sixth season, which, rather than flailing without the guidance of the source material, thrived on its newfound independence.
The books had a habit of wheel- spinning to preserve the status quo for hundreds of pages, and the series mirrored this slow pace. But in Season 6, Thrones began running at full speed, allowing characters to meet or reunite, to move across the vast fictional world and to get closer to their ultimate goals ( or their ultimate demise).
Dany sailed for Westeros. Cer- sei murdered her way to the Iron Throne. Bran confirmed that Jon was the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. And that was just the finale.
As the series begins its seventh season, and starts setting up its conclusion ( only 13 episodes remain, including seven this year), I’m excited to see it continue this momentum and deliver a satisfying finale. But I’m also a little heartbroken that these characters will finish their stories on screen before they even get close on the page. Martin plans two more books to finish the saga.
This isn’t really a problem for either the creators or Martin, who is free to write on his own schedule. The author could also surprise us with the sixth installment, The Winds of Winter, at any point, followed by a seventh novel, A Dream of Spring. But the timing makes it unlikely that he’ll beat Thrones to its conclusion.
It’s more than just wanting to avoid having the series “spoil” future books. I’ve already seen events that I’ll likely read about later. It’s that I know I’m losing the opportunity to find out what happens to Dany and Jon and Sansa through the medium I first met them. The series and the books are very different, as both Martin and the producers like to point out, and I miss the story the book was telling all on its own.
Like so many other fans, I have a personal connection to the books. They’re written in pointof- view chapters, and go inside the heads of characters. I experienced them alone, without the deafening drumbeat the series sparks on social media. My version of live- tweeting the Red Wedding? I went to my dad— a fan of the books — who told me, “The Starks were never very good at the game, anyway.”
I’m excited for Thrones to answer its mysteries and go out on a big and ( probably) fiery note. I just wish I was reading about it, too.
Tyrion ( Peter Dinklage), Missandei ( Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dany ( Emilia Clarke) sail toward Westeros in Game of Thrones after the show blew past the books.
Author George R. R. Martin, right, and Game of Thrones producers always note that the books and the series differ.