Over the last few months, rumors have been trickling out that HBO’s Game of Thrones would soon start to see major divergences from the source novels written by George R.R. Martin. This was met by mixed reactions from fans, many of whom insist that the show remains as loyal to the books as humanly possible. This of course was never going to be a reality, but we may be moving far beyond simply plot changes and deep into some uncharted territory.
George R.R. Martin is nothing if not deliberate in his writing. He’s spend the last four years working on Book 6, and still we don’t have a set-in-stone date for its release, leaving HBO showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss in a precarious position. That came to a head this last week, when it was officially acknowledged that Game of Thrones will outpace the books, wrapping up the story of Westeros in Season 7 well before the release of the final novel in the series. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could very well end up playing to the advantage of the show for a number of reasons.
1. The stigma of “well, that didn’t happen in the books” will be gone
How many times have you, a lowly non-reader been watching Game of Thrones, only to have a perfectly good episode ruined by a room of people screaming at the TV because what just happened never occurred in the novels? With Season 7 taking place before the book ever hits shelves, that stigma will be gone. If Martin writes slow enough, we could even have Season 6 be the first one where literally every twist and turn is a surprise for both readers and non-readers alike. Essentially it’ll function like a normal show would, except if a show was soon followed by a more detailed 700 page recap that acts as a written director’s cut.
2. No more waiting for George R.R. Martin
We all love George R.R. Martin. We also all hate George R.R. Martin. He’s gleefully killed off some of our favorite characters over the course of five books, leaving us clutching our Kindles in tears as we assure ourselves that it’s all going to be OK. To top it all off, readers are left waiting half a decade before they get to find out what happens next. Now, we’ll only have to wait a year before the story picks up again. We’re no longer slaves to time, and no longer left silently cursing the man that holds our tiny, delicate hearts in his cruel hands. Instead we can yell at Benioff and Weiss when our favorite characters kick the bucket, absolving Martin from our anger and frustration at least a little.
3. The books gain added value after the fact
The general formula for a book vs. TV/movie debate usually ends with “well, the book was better.” This comes about because quite literally the entire time, we’ll have read the book at least twice before we ever even hear rumors of it getting adapted into its own show. For the first time ever, Hollywood has the jump on the book. Once the books do come out, we’ll be forced into some unfamiliar territory that likely will only push us to re-read, and then rewatch until we’re blue in the face. The novels then become complementary pieces to the show, flipping the usual dynamic around and giving us further incentive to read to gain better insight into the Game of Thrones TV universe.
4. For the first time, the story will be built directly for TV
For four (almost five) seasons, HBO has been forced into a situation where they’re adapting a fully-realized novel into a TV series. For Seasons 6 and 7 though, Benioff and Weiss will be given an outline of the general story, and then set loose to do with it what they will. They claim they’ll end up in the same place as the eventual novels, but the way they get there can be built specifically for the format they’re telling their story in. No longer will they be beholden to figuring out whether or not they should include this or that detail just because readers insist it end up in the final product.
5. There’s literally no way David Benioff and Dan Weiss haven’t been planning for this all along
Anyone who really thought that Game of Thrones wouldn’t outpace the books eventually is probably lying to you. It was really only a matter of time, and you can bet that showrunners Benioff and Weiss have been well-aware of this reality since Season 1. That said, it then becomes to safe to assume that they’ve likely been carefully planning for this eventuality. Preparedness will be key going into the latter seasons of the show, and we’re be shocked if HBO wasn’t stocked to the gills with just that. We have yet to be led astray by what’s been a stellar show in its four year run, and we have a hard time thinking it will decline now just because of this one potential roadblock.
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