I was excited to learn this week that HBO will begin filming its adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. This is the first in the series A Song of Ice and Fire which is probably my favorite series of books around. However, all my excitement regarding the filming has led me back to a familiar feeling of frustration that I haven’t felt since the second half of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series.
My problems with Mr. Jordan are that for around 3,000 pages he didn’t really write anything and it took him far longer to publish these books. If you look at the Amazon reviews you’ll see anger that can only come from those who feel they’ve been betrayed. A simple bad book would never garner 1,200 1-star reviews. Sadly, while still quite “readable”, the story had become bad by being far more concerned with the rearranging of dresses than moving the story in any direction at all.
Regrettably, Mr. Jordan passed away on September 16, 2007. In some ways, I’ll always see him as one of the best authors ever but I’ll also see him as the one author who would have forever been remembered as one of the greats had he only been able to write some actual plot in the second decade of his series. Brandon Sanderson will be taking over the series and I have high hopes that he’ll get things back on track.
Anyway, back to Mr. Martin. I feel like we’re walking down such a similar road with a super-strong start that fizzles out. Unlike Jordan’s writing thousands of pages with no plot, Martin instead writes nothing at all. Well…that’s not entirely true. He does continue to write just not the Song of Ice and Fire series. It took five long years for us to get book number four, A Feast for Crows, and I think many agree that this felt like the lightest plot-wise of the series. An amazing book? Yes, but I still found myself having visions of The Lord of Chaos all over again. It was only a worry at the time because rumors were the next book would be release much quicker. This book, A Dance with Dragons, was to be finished in 2006. Then 2008. Then 2009. Then earlier this month Martin said that the manuscript had reached 1100 pages…which sounds very Jordan-esc to me. Considering that the details being told in AFfC and ADoD were never intended to be told in the first place it appears the series is continuing its book expansion pattern (unless that 1100 can be trimmed down some).
I’m not against the author’s right to expand the story as they tell it but I wish these wonderful authors would being willing to skip some of the side stories that don’t make up the core of the tale. Add those stories as supplemental books after the main series is complete. Your fans will absolutely love the filling of gaps. Part of what makes A Song of Ice and Fire great is the fact that many of the details are hidden in mystery anyway. I know J.R.R Tolkien regretted not making his story longer but I can’t help but feel his modern contemporaries are over-compensating for this fear. That said, if Mr. Martin were able to publish as quickly as he did in the beginning, I would be happy to see the series continue in expansion. However, if we’re going to see two books a decade I think continued expansion is a mistake.
If you’re like me and have found yourself repeatedly frustrated by the epic stories that lose steam, I would highly recommend checking out Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen). The first time you read Gardens of the Moon you may find yourself confused but give it another read and then read the rest of the series. It always moves rapidly, the characters are great and Mr. Erikson churns out a new book almost every single year. Malazan Book of the Fallen really is a wonderful and wonderfully unique series.
As to Mr. Martin, I truly hope he is able to knock out A Dance with Dragons soon and then put this period behind him. I also hope he lives another hundred years and never stops writing. Can’t wait to see the HBO series…the casting looks great.
Finally…please Mr. Martin, stay healthy!
|Series||Books-to-Date||Years||Years-Per-Book||Est. Page Count||Est. Pages Per Year|
|Malazan Book of the Fallen||10||10||1||8500||850|
|Wheel of Time*||12||19||1.58||8000||421|
|Song of Ice and Fire||4||13||3.25||3000||230|
*Only counts the books written by Robert Jordan and it does include the thousands of pages devoted to rearranging dresses and following tertiary characters.