Game of Thrones is back. The global phenom has hit our screen's for its fifth season, and everyone is happy... or are they?
Game of Thrones' narrative is currently teetering on the edge of a decision that could hold massive ramifications for the series. This of course is the decision to decide whether or not the show will stick to the faithful origins of George RR Martins novels, or diverge into new territory as the show-runners seek to utilize their creative powers.
Personally, I am of the mindset that it wouldn't be an altogether bad idea to develop a new narrative for the show, and here's why.
Early warning: *Potential spoilers below*
Now before we start, I must emphasize that I am an avid fan of George RR Martins 'A Song of Ice and Fire' novels. His attention to detail and ability to weave such interesting and intriguing narratives throughout his books is like a reincarnation of the great J.R.R Tolkien. The fandom of GoT is firmly split when it comes to the subject of fidelity to text. One side shouts 'stick to the source material' with the other screaming back 'the show will be more interesting this way'.
If you didn't want to believe that showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss were going to divert from Martins books, you only had to feast your eyes upon episode one of season five. The death of Mance Rayder at the hands of Melisandre was the first sign of the season that the showrunners are going to be taking a lot more liberties. (Mance Rayder is still alive in the books, currently being held captive by Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell).
The internet is dark... and full of spoilers
It's been a common occurrence to read spoilers on the internet via fans of the books who are angered by the new found popularity of the show, and not the books. However, we are now entering territory where it will be fans of the show that are providing the spoilers for fans of the books. A concept that is greeted with a lot of anxiety by readers.
George RR Martin is a relatively slow writer, that's a universally agreed point. Many fans are worried that the author will not be able to finish the books in his lifetime, something that George responds to with understandable animosity. The next installment 'The Winds of Winter' was due out later this year but already has been postponed. Couple this with his diary being congested with his new found media appearances and side projects, and its easy to see why these books are taking so long.
Yet I would argue that this is a positive for the show. HBO is pumping out a series a year that usually features the contents of one book per season (season four was a collaboration of material from the third, fourth and fifth books). George has commented in the past about viewing the show as a train that is hurtling down the line as he is still laying the track, but this could lead to more excitement for the fan. This transition will allow for the show to now start throwing the audience curve balls in true RR Martin style. It also means that we can enjoy the shows narrative and still be excited at the prospect of reading the next book to see what Martin has in store for us. Weiss contextualizes this argument perfectly in an interview with Variety.
It’s like looking at a landscape and saying, “OK, there’s a mountain over there, and I know that I’m getting to that mountain.” There’s an event that’s going to happen, and I know that I’m moving in the general direction of that event, but what’s between where I’m standing now and that thing off on the horizon, I’m not totally sure. I’ll know when I get there, and then I’ll see what the terrain looks like around me and I’ll choose my path once I get closer to it. He figures a lot of this stuff as he goes. He always says he’s a gardener, not an architect.
But what about the true fans?
Fear not. Benioff and Weiss are fans of the books themselves. The only reason they pitched the idea to both Martin and HBO was because they knew how incredible his novels are. This could be a creative stroke of genius by the duo. They already reportedly know where George RR Martin is taking his series in the books, and claim they will end up with the same conclusion.
We’ve got a very definitive idea of how much longer it is, and we’re getting there. We’ve just started writing episodes for season six. I think we’re heading into the home stretch. Hopefully, we’ll have a clear answer soon.
We could go another four years — and we could come up with good stories — but the one thing that really got us excited when we pitched this to HBO was that this isn’t just a regular series. It’s a real story with a beginning, a middle and an end.
We know what the end is, and we’re barreling toward it. So the idea that we’re going to try and stretch it out by an extra couple years just because we’re all having a good time doing it and people are making money off it just feels like it would be a betrayal.
It's reassuring to know that the men in charge of this series are planning on staying loyal to the fans. They understand how easily the show could become commodified and have a sole financial purpose, but instead are opting to merely tell the story as it should be.
So with the end in sight, how much of their planned series will encompass the books?
This is the part where we tread into controversial and argument coxing territory. Benioff and Weiss understand that the waters get extremely choppy when they start to indulge us with their future plans. Have faith tho, as even with the story meandering away from the original source during season five, it may be the last series that is truly faithful to the books until the shows last.
Benioff: Season five is still very much within the books for the most part. The very first scene of the season and the very last scene of the season are book scenes. It’s more season six that’s going to be diverging a bit.
We’ve had a lot of conversations with George, and he makes a lot of stuff up as he’s writing it. Even while we talk to him about the ending, it doesn’t mean that that ending that he has currently conceived is going to be the ending when he eventually writes it.
To conclude, I must state that personally I feel this decision is the right way to go. It is important to remember that this is an adaptation of the books and portrayed in a total new medium. Although at times I do feel disheartened and slightly angry when the show fails to include parts of the books I so love, like the omission of Lady Stoneheart and Coldhands, I have faith that the creative duo of Benioff and Weiss will keep me both entertained and engaged. Being fans of the books themselves, my instincts tell me to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The TV show should be enjoyed every bit as much as the books, and each should be equally respected.
Now... when the hell is The Winds of Winter coming out!