Ellen’s Thoughts: How Should Stories End?

I’m writing this post with one book in mind: The Winds of Winter.  Do author’s owe something to their fans to get a book completed by a certain deadline?

Now, this may apply to any series or novel, but the A Song of Ice and Fire universe is a special example of this problem.  To anyone who has finished the series, it’s no secret that the Game of Thrones series will surpass the books this season.  Already, they have finished the published storylines of Bran, Sansa, and are choosing to leave out several “important” characters.  I say “important” because in the books we have little indication as to whether certain characters that were introduced books four and five will have a major impact on the story.


The TV show has all but spoiled several fairly guessable, but unconfirmed, mysteries of the books.  What do book fans do with the new season approaching?  Do we continue to watch and hope that no material will be released first via TV?  Even if we somehow manage to resist the urge to watch HBO’s fifth season of Game of Thrones, there is little doubt that we will not avoid the click-bait titles or posts on Twitter, Facebook, and every news outlet.  Events, deaths, plot twists will be revealed.

So where does George R.R. Martin fit in this sequence?  He sold rights to an unfinished work with no timeline on when the books would be released.  Rumors have surfaced that The Winds of Winter, book six, will not be released in 2015 – meaning that if season five of the show doesn’t surpass the books, season six will.

ADancewithDragonsbyGeorgeRRMartinA Game of Thrones was published in 1996.  This means that diehard fans have waited almost twenty years for the story to conclude.  I finished A Dance With Dragons in 2013.  I’m by no means an original follower.  I have not deduced any major theories of my own; however, /r/asoiaf is great when you are bored.  I am worried about the possibility of the show ending the story first.

George R.R. Martin has detailed the major plot-points in the A Song of Ice and Fire series to the Game of Thrones producers.  I think it would be tragic to see the conclusion on screen before reading the author’s words.  HBO’s Game of Thrones has done a fantastic job adapting the lengthy books to ten episodes per season, but there is so much internal conflict, dialogue, and character development missed by only watching the show.

With nineteen years to develop and grow his fan-base, you would think that his priority would be to finish the books.  Yet, George R.R. Martin has spent much of the last three years on tour or writing an episode for the show.  Book-first fans are not being too critical of him by demanding the final two books.  No one wants a second-hand finish.

Despite my opinions, we need to forgive George R.R. Martin.  Yes, we will almost certainly see the ending on screen before on paper.  Yes, the television show will leave out many characters.  Yes, we will miss several major events.  Let’s not forget that the show can err; the television show is not in George R.R. Martin’s control.  What is in his control are the final two books, and I, for one, want to read an excellent book.  I don’t want a rushed finale.  I want the best ending that I can get.  If I have to wait another two years for The Winds of Winter then so be it.  The books have proven to be worth the wait.

Stories should end first through the author’s hand.  It is a tragedy to potentially witness your favorite characters’ triumphs, failures, and conclusions through other means.  An unfinished epic was sold.  Here lies the problem.  Optimism of a producing a completed, written series by now no doubt prompted the sale.  We cannot change this decision, but we should not berate Martin.  He is the person responsible for getting us hooked on Game of Thrones in the first place.


What do you think?

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