The Winds of Winter won’t be out before Season 6 of Game of Thrones airs, but that might be a good thing for the show.
For months there has been speculation that The Winds of Winter would be published before HBO starts airing Game of Thrones Season 6 in April. Since the show already passed the books in some plots in Season 5, this was the last chance to get the show back on books. George R. R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire and a producer on the television adaption, was sure the show wouldn’t pass the books, but it’s happened.
On January 2nd, Martin announced the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, would not be published in time for the TV show.
THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.
Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, “I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER” on or before the last day of 2015.
But the book’s not done.
Which officially means Game of Thrones will NEVER be back on book. But lets face it, this was going to happen eventually. Even if Martin had gotten Winds out before Season 6, he never would have finished the seventh and final book, A Dream of Spring, before the show ended.
So it was going to happen anyways, and it’s probably going to end up a good thing it happened now because it gives the makers of the Game of Thrones show far more creative freedom than they’ve ever enjoyed before.
We Will Still Get the Ending Martin Intends
Season 1 was very faithful to the books. Season 2 took a few creative liberties. Season 3 added a bit more. Season 4 kicked in even more new ideas, and several major storylines in Season 5 went off the books completely. But remember D.B. Weiss and David Benioff (showrunners for Game of Thrones) know how it is all going to end. Martin has likely told them the most important points they need to hit to get to the end of his sprawling masterwork.
We know for sure that Martin has told them the fates of the important characters and how the whole series will end. The creators have a deep respect for Martin and his work. In order to get the rights to do the show they had to guess who Jon Snow’s mother is. Martin was apparently happy with the answer. Dan and Dave will get us to the ending that Martin intended. The story will essentially remain the same. Only the road they take to get there will be different.
The Show has been Hampered by Un-important Subplots in the Past
Let’s face it, the Dorne plot from season 5 didn’t work. The show did the best they could to make this meandering subplot feel important. They threw two main characters into it with Jaime and Bron, and they killed Princess Myrcella rather than maiming her as she was in the book. But even so, the arc still felt silly and unimportant most of the time, little more than a massive fetch quest. If this plot line hadn’t been included in A Feast for Crows it probably wouldn’t have made it into the TV show. And that would have been an improvement.
Martin really needed more time to edit A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, and he would have likely shortened or deleted several subplots if he had had more time to think. The show has, for the most part, left behind the un-necessary subplots, but if Martin had rushed out Winds it would likely have been riddled with the same narrative problems we see in Feast and Dance and the show would feel compelled to adapt those plots. Without a book to adapt the creative team behind Game of Thrones can look at the bigger picture and tell the really important parts of the story rather than every subplot that seems to lead nowhere.
The Show Has Already Proved it Can Do Well Off Books
The show has changed a lot of things from the books, but let’s talk about a few things from the last couple seasons that the show did significantly better than the books.
5. The Battle at the Wall
This had a bigger impact in the show because we got to see Ygritte die on screen and we lost several of Jon’s friends in the Night’s Watch. These were characters we met in Season 1, and we watched them die. This makes the war with the Wildlings that much more intense and helps us understand even better why the Night’s Watch wouldn’t want the Wildlings free on the other side of the Wall. Basically, the show improved everything that happened at the wall by shooting us in the heart with an arrow in Season 4 and then stabbing us repeatedly in the feelings in Season 5.