On Game of Thrones: Don’t finish the book, George (Part 1)

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Unless you’ve stuck underneath a rock in Old Valyria, by now you know the news that Game of Thrones author (or is it mastermind?) George R.R. Martin missed a Dec. 31 deadline to finish “The Winds of Winter,” the sixth book in his popular fantasy series. That means the next HBO season based on the novel will start airing in April, before the book is published.

The words “you won’t like it” appeared Saturday on Martin’s blog, reporting that “the book’s not done. … I tried, I promise you. I failed.”

Martin says he is working with HBO to ensure the show reflects the next installment of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books — in which characters warn of impending doom with the phrase “Winter is coming.”

With hundreds of pages and dozens of chapters written, Martin said he estimates it will still take months more if the writing goes well.

Among GoT’s devoted fans, there is an expression used to convey the frustration with the glacial pace of Martin’s writing: “Finish the book, George.”

Indeed, social media exploded last week with tweets of “Finish the book, George” after the ravens delivered the news of the next book’s delay.

However, the more I think about it — especially after reading Alyssa Rosenberg‘s plea to for his pants to stop ‘nagging’ Martion to finish the books — I am ready to go in the opposite direction.

“DON’T finish the book, George.”

That’s right, GRRM, you should go out like Michael Jordan, who retired after hitting the game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz to claim his sixth NBA title.

Game of Thrones — the franchise, which is a combination of the books and the TV show — probably can’t get any better. The TV show just won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama. One critic even asked if it is the greatest TV program ever? (Tony Soprano and Omar Little might argue with that assessment.)

As for the books, they have sprawled so widely that the only way for Martin to write his way out of the corner is a Stephen King-esque nuclear bomb ala The Stand that kills off enough major characters that Martin could bring the sixth and seventh books in for a landing before the next decade.

Oh wait, Martin already did that — it was called The Red Wedding, perhaps the most gut-wrenching, shocking (to those who had not read the books) narrative twist from a major television series.

Recognizing that there are only so many Red Wedding cards to be played, Martin should walk away from the keyboard while he’s still on top.

In her piece, Rosenberg, perhaps contra what most fans think, says she’s not as concerned with the destination of who wins the Iron Throne as she is with the journey of how the characters get there.

“At times, it seems as if our rapacious hunger to know the fates of Martin’s colossal cast of characters could just as easily be satisfied by a carefully annotated list as by another book. When you’ve come to prize outcomes over the journey that leads to them, and to fetishize being spared the dread specter of so-called spoilers over the quality of prose, character development or carefully established themes, what you’re really admitting is that you care less about engaging with a work as a whole than knowing the basic facts of the story.”

Rosenberg suggests that if you are in that camp, “all you need are the raw data about what happens to who, and when, and how those puzzle pieces fit into the final battle.”

The sad reality most likely is that however that raw data computes, it won’t be good enough for a fan base that has grown, um, rapacious. Nor does Martin seem inclined to deliver the justice many fans want to see delivered to those responsible for the deaths of members of the Stark family (who are close to the good guys as GoT gets).

Having read and reread the first five books, while pouring over the numbers from FiveThirtyEight that project when Martin is likely to finish books 6 & 7, I’ve come to the hard conclusion that Martin faces a Sisyphean future of not being able to land the airplane, err, dragon.

Martin has reportedly shared with the showrunners of the TV version notes about how the saga concludes, although with how much the books and TV show now diverge, it’s not certain the two Davids are following Martin’s path.

Of course, when the final battle will occur is anyone’s guess.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.