Reading Winds of Winter… Will Be Weird

I’m going to keep this post spoiler free…

… because let’s be honest, you have friends in every phase of the Game of Thrones story line. You have friends that have not started (heaven forbid). You have friends who are committed to reading the books before they start the show. You have friends who have never read the book, but are knee-deep in the HBO series. It’s a wide spread.

But to the fans who loved Game of Thrones before it was the Game of Thrones cult phenomenon, things are really starting to get weird, aren’t they?

I’m not well-read enough to know if this is a unique circumstance, but it strikes me as very likely that Martin is one of the first novelists to have his storytelling usurped by another group of storytellers that he invited into the telling. There’s no doubt in most fans minds that Martin really is the superior teller of these stories (and the world’s originator), but there’s also no doubt that he’s the slowest teller, too. He’s being outraced and there are a few things that will happen when hungry fans finally curl up with The Winds of Winter:

  1. It will be, in some ways, a re-read: I’m not a huge supporter of the re-read. There are a very select number of books that I’ve seen as important and fascinating enough to bear a second run. This mostly because I feel there are so many books out there, waiting to be cracked open. But The Winds of Winter will be a re-read for those who are watching this season (and next?) of Game of Thrones. Some of the ground the producers are treading has to be the correct ground. Some of it has to be flush with what will happen in the novel. We will already have a vision of certain deaths. Will they move us as much in the prose as they did on the screen? How much punch will be lost in the fact that we’re no longer surprised when so-and-so bites the dust? Most people, I think, will consider Winds of Winter worthy of such a re-read.
  2. It will be a form of choose your own adventure: Martin won’t have us skipping around to different pages, but you are going to have some choice in canon purely because of how the show is veering off course. We’ve obviously witnessed a vast array of changes to the story as the producers attempt to put it in a new format for a new audience… but now the established plots and ends will be challenged by the original creator and visionary. He will change deaths. He will have different armies rising up. He will employ different twists in plot. We can assume some of the finales will be close to the same, but the road toward those ends may twist and change drastically from show to book. These surprises (oh! that character did this in the books!) will drive some people crazy and be delightful nuggets for others.
  3. Twenty Years from Now… No One Will Agree: No, that character got run through with a spear! Uhh… I’m pretty sure he actually got eaten by a wolf. Wait a minute… Martin’s cast is already massive. It takes a compendium just to keep up with the houses and names and growing list of players involved. The success of both the books and the series will eventually create a confusion over the acceptable facts. Really, it seems like the viewers will outweigh the readers. It strikes me that twenty years from now there will be little agreement on how characters actually did anything in these books.
  4. We will be massively entertained: This is the one that matters most, yes? I will sit down with Winds of Winter and relish every chapter. It might be the strangest reading experience I’ve encountered to that date, but I know it will be a great one, because I trust Martin to deliver on what has become one of the most fascinating and dynamic reading experiences of my life.

 

#HoldTheDoor #WeirdIsComing #IMeanWinter

 

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