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Wyrd & Wonder 2019 – GAME OF THRONES: our watch has ended

 

 

(spoiler free considerations on the TV Series – and a poll)

 

And so, with Season 8 the TV series inspired by GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has completed its course, giving us poor, starved-for-updates readers the chance of seeing how the story wraps up – and in consideration of the long hiatus between books this is indeed a life saver, because my hopes of seeing the book series completed have suffered for the protracted wait. But I will come back to this topic in a short while.

From the very first season aired, Game of Thrones gathered an ever-growing fan base composed in equal measure of book readers, who were more than happy to see this amazing world and story translated on the small screen, and of newcomers who fell in love with Westeros and its characters – and in many instances turned to the books to learn more.  To say the truth, it would have been next to impossible not to be fascinated by this tale of power, politics, family feuds and vengeance, in which the truly fantastic elements are few but have enormous impact, like the existence of the Others (or White Walkers), zombie-like revenants dwelling beyond the high ice Barrier that has protected the realm of men from them for centuries. And dragons, of course – let’s not forget the dragons. 🙂

Like all screen versions of successful books, A Game of Thrones does not follow precisely the template of the novels, which makes sense because the two narrative mediums have different requirements. Still, the portrayal of the actors who gave life to the characters has been consistently outstanding, and indeed one of the best elements of the TV series, together with the various locations chosen to represent the different realms of Westeros. And of course the CGI has improved as the story progressed and the increasing success brought ever-expanding funding for the show’s designers, so that it was possible to recreate more and more of the elements that have made A Song of Ice and Fire such an epic tale.

These stunning visuals have helped to balance out some of the narrative problems suffered by the show once it moved beyond the point reached by the novels and the scripts did not have the support of GRR Martin’s writing anymore: it’s a very personal opinion, of course, but once the show started to walk on… uncharted territory, so to speak, having to rely only on Martin’s outline for the story instead of the actual books, both plot and characterization felt different – thinned out, would be the best description I can offer. And in some cases they seemed to fall quite short of the mark.

This sensation gained strength with these last two seasons, which were restricted to seven and six episodes respectively instead of the usual ten of seasons 1 through 6, and many of the comments I read over the internet seem to share my perception.  My choice of keeping this commentary spoiler-free prevents me from offering actual examples, but my impression is that the creators were hard-pressed to close all narrative threads and so they choose (or were forced, I don’t know) to proceed with such swiftness that characters and events did not develop in an organic way, but rather with abrupt and often incomprehensible changes that left me with a bitter aftertaste. 

Personal reservations notwithstanding, I would still give to Game of Thrones a high rating and still consider it a game-changer in the portrayal of epic fantasy on the small screen: it’s undeniable that it altered the vision of the genre even for people who did not read or watch it before, and that it brought a great number of new enthusiasts to it, who might not have considered it worth of their time before.  And if that is not the sign of downright success, I don’t know what is. There is a bit of dialogue in the last episode whose meaning I can safely share and it’s about the importance of the past: that past, the huge amount of story that carried us until this end, is what kept us enthralled until now and will still keep us interested in the stories of Westeros. Because stories are the main reason we read books, so we can get lost in them.

That said, I would like to submit a little poll to you, about the continuation of the book series: we are aware that George Martin loves to take his time writing books, and A Song of Ice and Fire has become a very complex tale that moved well beyond the originally plotted trilogy, which should without doubt present its own challenge besides the more “ordinary” ones of creative writing.   So here is my question. The hiatus between books has increased over the years, since A Game of Thrones was published in 1996, A Clash of Kings in 1999, A Storm of Swords in 2000, A Feast for Crows in 2005 and A Dance with Dragons in 2011, and there is no idea of the time in which the next one, The Winds of Winter, will be released, making it 8 years of wait, so far, for the next-to-last book in the series. Moreover, I think that the pressure on the author to finish might have been somewhat lessened by the portrayal of the events in the TV series, so how do you rate the possibility that Martin will feel greatly motivated to bring the remaining two books to completion in the foreseeable future?

 

 

For the record, I rate myself “hopeful but worried”…

The poll will stay open for a week. Let me know what you think!  Dracarys!

 

 

(image courtesy of kasana86)

 

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26 thoughts on “Wyrd & Wonder 2019 – GAME OF THRONES: our watch has ended

  1. I agree with your sentiments on the show.

    I think the show has brought GRRM any number of fresh, excited projects. His work on these rather than the very hard work of pushing ASoIaF along is the main reason for continued delay, in my opinion. And of course he is under no real financial pressure. Interestingly, the show ending may provide him extra motivation. The number of new projects he is offered will slow. And I take it he is unhappy with how the show writers ended the series. Now he has a chance to show them how it “should have ended.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, the hurried (to be diplomatic…) way in which the story was wrapped up might be the best thing that could happen to us book readers, indeed… 😀 . And I for one cannot wait to see all those intriguing threads, that were only touched upon on the screen, be fleshed out and carried forward by the creator of Westeros. Something also tells me that a few events will be quite different…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was very frustrated with season 5, because the show writers furiously dispense with book storylines, many of which were very interesting and/or had a lot of promise. That’s the main reason I think GRRM’s ending will be very different. A lot of stuff the show didn’t bother with will matter.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Even taking into account the fact that you can’t have the same depth of a book in a screen translation, once the tv show creators felt free from the “constraints” of Martin’s written material they took a few liberties too many, in my opinion…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope the show gives him a boost in motivation as I really want to see how he envisages the endings happening. I know the overall ending will be very similar, but I would put money on the character’s journeys being very different.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, and I think the show writers struggled with making the characters growth feel organic. Especially Dany, and yet her internal monologue in the books really shows where her going crazy will come from: her obsession with betrayal.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked the end-state of Westeros, but not how the last season got there. And of course many subplots are entirely missing from the series. Now, I’m actually (again) exited about the books, but will he ever publish the final one? I voted “carefully optimistic”, but with emphasis on “carefully” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You don’t have a “VERY pessimistic” option 😉

    I think that Martin can now say “Go watch the tv show” when fans complain about a lack of ending. Even if he didn’t like the tv ending, he didn’t have to get off his fat backside to do any of it, so he doesn’t care.

    I predict the end of the book series will be “next year”….. (year after year after year ad infinitum)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. See, you still believe he intends to finish the series and that he’ll pull a Jordan. I just don’t think he has any intention of ever finishing it. And whats more, if he does die, I bet you $100 that he has a clause in his will stating that no one else can finish the series.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. And he does not react well to pressure! I clearly remember that picture-meme I saw where he says, with that mischievous look of his: “Every time I’m asked when the next book will come out, another Stark dies”. 🙂

      Like

  5. Can’t say I was all that pleased with the way the show ended, but seeing as this might be the only ending we’ll ever get for these characters, I’ll take it! (I voted pessimistic in the poll, can’t you tell? lol 😉 ) But honestly, if the last two seasons hadn’t been so rushed, I think it would have been all right. I liked how everything tied together. I’ll cross my fingers for the books, but I’m not holding my breath!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neither am I, or I would turn blue in no time at all 😀
      Indeed if there had been no rush to close the story-line (and I wonder where that rush came from), we would have been ok with the way the saga wrapped up. Those missing 7 episodes (3 from season 7 and 4 from this last one) could have made all the difference!

      Like

  6. hahaha I voted hopeful but worried too! And I haven’t watched the seasons per se but while blogging in the kitchen I watched vicariously through my daughter’s screams and shouts LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I voted pessimistic. To be honest whilst I didn’t love the ending to the series I do have mixed feelings. I wonder why it had to be so rushed – which is very much how it felt. The characters all seemed to change, almost overnight, which is puzzling – perhaps they would have changed in such ways but not so quickly, it felt really rushed like there was some sort of panic. Oh well, it is what it is. I sometimes wonder whether authors are almost scared to write an ending to their series (if they’ve been hugely successful) because there always seems to be a backlash and you can’t please all the people all the time. Rothfuss is a good example – I wonder how he’ll ever be able to finish his series and at the same time keep all his fans happy? It’s a dilemma.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The changes we saw in the characters were not something one could rule out, but indeed they were so swift that I sometimes wondered if I had missed a few episodes – and indeed we did: three episodes from season 7 and four from season 8… 😦
      As for Martin, I believe – now that I’ve read some of his comments after the end of the series – that he might have found a renewed purpose, if nothing else because he now knows where NOT to go with his characters’ journey 😉

      Like

  8. You need a worse than “slightly pessimistic” option 😦 What about I highly doubt he will ever finish the books and I have given up all hope? Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE the next books to come out. I just don’t think they ever will

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Granted that Martin does not need the income from ASOIAF to pay his bills 😀 but I like to think that it would be a matter of… honor, for want of a better word, to finish what he started. It’s just the matter of “when” that worries me…

      Liked by 1 person

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