The first season of Game of Thrones premiered on April 17, 2011 while A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the series, was released on July 12, 2011. A Dance with Dragons was published six years after the last book, A Feast for Crows. Almost immediately after the release of book five, we nerds began doing the math.
The first two seasons of the HBO show clocked in at one book per season. Things slowed down by season three, which didn’t quite make it through the third book. But even if book three lasted for two seasons and that trend continued with books four and five, that still only gave us seven years at most until the HBO show caught up to the books.
In actuality, that number is probably less due to the way the stories in books four and five are structured. It’s likely that they won’t be able to do two seasons per book (which would give us four seasons’ worth of content total.) If we assume that books four and five will be covered in two seasons’ worth of show, that drops our time estimate down to five years from the start of the show until it overtakes George’s writing. Considering how long A Dance with Dragons took (six years) and the fact that even if book six generates two seasons worth of show, that doesn’t leave much time for George to write book seven. In fact, it’s looking increasingly likely that the show is going to overtake the books and it’s something that Martin himself is aware of:
In the new Game of Thrones feature in Vanity Fair, Martin confesses that the show is catching up to his writing speed,something he had sworn wouldn’t happen. Says Martin, “They are. Yes. It’s alarming.” (Already, our panel of experts has speculatedthat season five, airing next year, could end with events from The Winds of Winter, the book Martin hasn’t finished yet. Warning: link contains spoilers.)
But now that the danger of the show catching up to Martin’s books seems more extreme, the producers have gotten Martin to spill way more detail about how he intends to end the story for every single major character.
I’m a book fan first and a show fan second. I love the show, I love the spectacle and the acting and the music and all the entertainment that comes out of a great television production, but A Song of Ice and Fire is still a book series and in my opinion, it deserves to be completed first as a book series.
I think it would be heartbreaking if the HBO show eclipses the books and we find out how the story ends not from the pen of the man who’s been working for almost two decades to bring it into the world, but from the notes passed along to the show’s creators.
It would damage my enjoyment of the books considerably if the show already revealed what happened first. That’s not something that happens when you’ve read the books first. When you’ve read the book first, it’s fun to see how the show actualizes the characters and the world that exist in your mind. It’s less fun when the book itself starts to become an afterthought.
Something like that happened with Dexter. How many people even knew that Dexter was based on a book? Probably not many. Even worse, the show completely outclasses the book series that it’s based on. It feels like the author is trying to play catch up with his own television version. This analogy might not hold true to Game of Thrones since I believe that Martin is a superior writer who has created a superior story, but I’d also argue that Game of Thrones is a superior show to Dexter in its own right, which makes for stiffer competition against its parent material.
Really, there’s only one thing that I can suggest, one bit of advice I have for George on how he can keep our nerd hearts from getting broken and it’s advice that, conveniently enough, has already been set to music: