George R.R. Martin has announced on his blog that the sixth instalment in A Song of Ice and Fire, The Winds of Winter, will not be published before Season 6 of Game of Thrones. Although the author thought he would have the book finished on time he missed two deadlines that would have allowed the book to be published by the end of March. George wrote:
“The Winds of Winter is not finished. Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, “I have completed and delivered The Winds of Winter on or before the last day of 2015.
But the book’s not done.”
George gave fans a lengthy explanation of the stress of writing to the proposed deadlines and his failure to meet them. However, the most important factor for most fans was whether nor not the show would spoil the books. George wrote:
“Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of Game of Thrones that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that’s up to you. Look, I read Andy Weir’s novel The Martian before I saw the movie. But I saw the BBC production of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell before I finally got around to reading Susanna Clarke’s novel. In both cases, I loved the book and I loved the adaptation. It does not need to be one or the other. You might prefer one over the other, but you can still enjoy the hell out of both.”
Of course, there’s an aspect to our situation that did not apply to either the Weir or Clarke cases. Those novels were finished before they were optioned, adapted, and filmed. The case of The Winds of Winter and A Song of Ice and Fire is perhaps unique. I can’t think of any other instance where the movie or TV show came out as the source material was still being written. So when you ask me, “will the show spoil the books,” all I can do is say, “yes and no,” and mumble once again about the butterfly effect. Those pretty little butterflies have grown into mighty dragons. Some of the ‘spoilers’ you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all… because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so. ”
(Actually, George, a few films or TV shows are optioned mid-series. Harry Potter, for example.)
George discussed characters who are still alive in the books that have been killed off on the TV series.
“Just consider. Mago, Irri, Rakharo, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyat Pree, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan Selmy, Queen Selyse, Princess Shireen, Princess Myrcella, Mance Rayder, and King Stannis are all dead in the show, alive in the books. Some of them will die in the books as well, yes… but not all of them, and some may die at different times in different ways. Balon Greyjoy, on the flip side, is dead in the books, alive on the show. His brothers Euron Crow’s Eye and Victarion have not yet been introduced (will they appear? I ain’t saying). Meanwhile Jhiqui, Aggo, Jhogo, Jeyne Poole, Dalla (and her child) and her sister Val, Princess Arianne Martell, Prince Quentyn Martell, Willas Tyrell, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Lord Wyman Manderly, the Shavepate, the Green Grace, Brown Ben Plumm, the Tattered Prince, Pretty Meris, Bloodbeard, Griff and Young Griff, and many more have never been part of the show, yet remain characters in the books. Several are viewpoint characters, and even those who are not may have significant roles in the story to come in The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.”
Although some fans have vowed not to watch the show until the books are finished it’s going to be extremely difficult to avoid spoilers for several years. Despite winning even more Emmy Awards this year, the series received oceans of criticism about the excessive rapes depicted last season. Apparently the showrunners have taken the criticism on board, and will change their approach. We can only wait and see. All the showrunners have proven is that once the source material has run out, they are mostly capable of tedious tropes and clichéd writing. So, for another season at least, the fate Westeros will be delivered by the clumsy pens of Dan Weiss and David Benioff.