Winter Is Coming Much Too Quickly (And Also Not Quickly Enough)

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:

A Meditation On Blu-ray And DVD: How Game Of Thrones Showed Me That I’m A Second Class Consumer

I own five movies on Blu-ray: Inception, 127 Hours, and the original Star Wars trilogy. I recently purchased Game of Thrones Season 3 on Blu-ray. I do not own a Blu-ray player. I do not own a PS3 or a PS4. I do not, in fact, have any way to play these Blu-ray discs. But I still own them. Why?

I own these Blu-ray discs because I wanted the DVD versions of these movies and that meant my only option was buying the Blu-ray discs that came included with the Blu-rays. As far as I can tell, there is no standalone DVD collection to buy, much as there wasn’t for any of my other purchases. At least the price was right; I picked up the entire season for just under $30 on Amazon. Hilariously, it came with not only the DVD and the Blu-ray versions, but also a code for a digital download of the entire season, because why not. I can put it on my laptop since that machine doesn’t have a disc drive.

I understand why they’re doing it this way. Even though Blu-ray killed off its rival format HD-DVD in the high definition disc format wars of 2008, Blu-ray has failed to displace its true rivals, the humble DVD and the ability to stream video instantly from services like Netflix.

The frustrating part is that eventually, I know this strategy will win out. When I opened my first Blu-ray box to retrieve the DVD I wanted to watch, I smirked. How foolish it would be for me to buy a new Blu-ray player simply because I owned a single Blu-ray disc that I didn’t even want!

But now that I have five movies and a season of my favorite show and it doesn’t seem quite so silly. At this point, why wouldn’t I buy one?

Even though this has been going on for a while, the third season of Game of Thrones is the first product I’ve purchased that indicated to me just how thin distributors’ patience is with my DVD watching shenanigans. It’s pretty clear at this point that my preference for DVD means I’m a second class consumer. They really want me to stop what I’m doing and get a Blu-ray player. Here’s how I know this.

When you open the Game of Thrones box set, you immediately notice the absolutely gorgeous case design. The plastic sleeve creates the shadow of the dragon on the cover and it looks amazing. When you open the box, you’re treated to the detailed portraits of the main characters. This is a detail that’s been included in each DVD set thus far, but it’s still cool to see the development reflected in the characters’ faces. Jaime isn’t looking too good these days.

As you unfold the box set, the long row of gleaming discs spreads out before you, each one new and shiny. These are the Blu-ray discs and they look and feel absolutely lovely. But where are the DVDs?

For a moment, there is panic! Maybe you only thought you were ordering a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Amazon. Maybe you didn’t pay close enough attention . . .

Oh, wait. What’s that tucked underneath the box of gleaming discs with its handsome portraits?

A tiny little sleeve about the thickness of an envelop with two discs stuffed inside. Two discs? How can Game of Thrones fit on two discs? Oh. These are two double-sided discs. It’s all crammed in there. Well, at least you have all the episodes to watch, even if the double-sided means you’re forever going to be putting the disc in on the wrong side relative to the episode you want to watch.

When you put them side-by-side, the disparity is obvious. The Blu-ray consumer has a handsome case with its shadow-dragon sheath, its portraits, and its girth; nearly an inch thick when folded up.

The DVD consumer has a thin cardboard envelop.

I’ll still watch and enjoy my DVDs. But every time I open the case to retrieve them, I’ll notice my Blu-ray discs sitting untouched in their gleaming beauty, all the while whispering silently: Watch us instead. Buy a Blu-ray player. Give in to our marketing strategy . . .

A Game Of Thrones: The Gathering

I would play this. I would play this so hard. Fair warning, this post isn’t going to make a lick of sense to you if you’re not a M:tG nerd. If you don’t know what that means, it’s already too late and you should probably read something else.

Normally, I look at fan-created Magic: the Gathering cards with a skeptically dismissive eyebrow. They’re usually undercosted or overpowered or unplayable or some ungodly combination of all three. Or they’re mechanically ridiculous or they look atrocious. Take a look at these, however.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These fan-created Game of Thrones cards look amazing! Not only do I want to play them, but I want to have discussions about them. Do you think Tyrion is White/Blue? Varys as Blue/Black is spot-on and Littlefinger as pure Black makes sense as well. Both Melisandre and Joffrey are Black/Red . . . interesting. 

Take a look at the article for some larger versions and tell me what you think. Awesome? Horribly nerdy? Some combination of the two?