Fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series have been eagerly awaiting the release of the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, and its concluding follow-up, A Dream of Spring. The last entry in the series was published way back in 2011 and, with the conclusion of HBO’s Game of Thrones, fans are hungry for more Westeros (and can’t wait until HBO’s first GoT spinoff arrives next year). However, the lackluster reception to the final season of Thrones has given some fans pause since Martin provided showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss with an overview of his planned endgame.
Now that the grand finale has been met with online disappointment, does Martin have any intention of changing up his story to better satisfy the fans?
“There is a temptation to change it—’Oh my god, it’s screwed up, I have to come up with something different,'” he told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview. “But that’s wrong. Because you’ve been planning for a certain ending and if you suddenly change direction just because somebody figured it out, or because they don’t like it, then it screws up the whole structure… I don’t read the fan sites. I want to write the book I’ve always intended to write all along. And when it comes out, they can like it or they can not like it.”
We’ve been a tough critic of Martin’s during this never-ending wait for The Winds of Winter, but he is absolutely right in this regard. A massive shift in direction would undercut much of the carefully plotted build-up we’ve embraced over the first five novels. Furthermore, what took place on the screen can’t be directly compared to what will be put down on the page.
One of the primary criticisms of the final two truncated seasons of Thrones, which ran a total of 13 combined episodes, was the lack of breathing room for major reveals, events, conversations and character decisions. The romantic relationship between Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow felt rushed and inorganic. The major battles often felt technically impressive, but emotionally aimless. And Dany’s turn to the dark side, long hinted at but never properly constructed (foreshadowing isn’t character development), gave viewers whiplash with its expediency. Leaving the series with just one episode to explore that redefining change was also a massive misstep from a narrative perspective.
Assuming The Winds of Winter does eventually arrive, Martin will have as much space as he wants to erect the major catalysts of the stretch run and delve into the fallout. The proper legwork will have been put in to make the momentous choices feel earned (and logical). It’s likely that fans will be far more satisfied with the written conclusion than the compressed version we saw on the small screen.