“Must go faster. Must go faster.”
These are not just the immortal words of Doctor Ian Malcolm in “Jurassic Park.” It’s also the mantra of fans of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the epic novel saga penned by George R.R. Martin, and the template for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
As it stands, Martin has released five of seven planned books in the “Ice and Fire” series. As it stands, HBO has aired three seasons of “Thrones,” with a fourth premiering in just under three weeks. The TV series is on pace to catch up with Martin’s novels in as little as one or two seasons, depending on who you ask. As a result, the possibility that the TV show might finish the story before Martin gets to do it on his own terms has caused some fans to lose their heads with worry.
But Martin has a plan. The author spoke with Vanity Fair about how the “Game of Thrones” novels and TV series can exist side by side at a similar pace.
“The season that’s about to debut covers the second half of the third book,” he said. “The third book [’A Storm of Swords’] was so long that it had to be split into two. But there are two more books beyond that, ’A Feast for Crows’ and ’A Dance with Dragons.’ ’A Dance with Dragons’ is itself a book that’s as big as ’A Storm of Swords.’ So there’s potentially three more seasons there, between ’Feast’ and ’Dance,’ if they split into two the way they did [with ’Storms’].”
“Now, ’Feast’ and ’Dance’ take place simultaneously,” he continued. “So you can’t do ’Feast’ and then ’Dance’ the way I did. You can combine them and do it chronologically. And it’s my hope that they’ll do it that way and then, long before they catch up with me, I’ll have published ’The Winds of Winter,’ which’ll give me another couple years. It might be tight on the last book, ’A Dream of Spring,’ as they juggernaut forward.”
Martin also suggests that the show could institute “a prequel season,” presumably focusing on the “Dunk and Egg” novellas, or even Robert’s Rebellion, the war that saw Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon remove the Targaryens from the Iron Throne. On top of that, Martin says he’s not opposed to the show taking “a ’Breaking Bad’ or ’Mad Men’-style hiatus” in the middle of the final season; that’s not unprecedented for HBO, as they instituted a similar break for the final season of “The Sopranos.”
Still, the real answer for how Martin can stave off “Thrones” seems clear: Write, write, write like the wind. It’s not just a song, and it’s not just the plea of a desperate fan — okay, it’s that, but it’s more than that.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently said they are looking to end “Thrones” after seven seasons , eight at most. In reality, “Feast” and “Dance” alone can’t fill up more than two seasons at most, leaving two seasons at most for Martin’s unpublished sixth and seventh books, “Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring.” And Benioff and Weiss have been fairly clear that while they’re willing to stretch to eight, seven seasons feels even better.
“Seven gods, seven kingdoms, seven seasons,” Benioff told Entertainment Weekly recently. “It feels right to us.”
In other words, the danger of the show catching up with and surpassing the pace of the books is very, very real.
“It’s alarming,” said Martin. Indeed it is. Here’s something even more alarming:
So, on second thought, maybe we should just shut up and let the man go at his own speed.
Do you think “Game of Thrones” will catch up with Martin’s novels, or can the author still finish the books on his own terms?