Game of Thrones, the critically acclaimed HBO series, has been renewed for a third season, a move that could make even a die-hard atheist praise the seven gods of Westeros. A third season means we’ll get to follow the continuing adventures of the characters we’ve grown to know and love-hate in George R.R. Martin’s third book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.
While season 1 covered the events in the first book, A Game of Thrones, and right now, season 2 is dramatizing the events of book 2, A Clash of Kings, the third season will delve into book 3, A Storm of Swords. But Swords is the longest book the series, so long that it had to be broken up into two separate volumes. The L.A. Times writes that creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are angling to spin two seasons out of this massive novel.
[M]any believe that in order to fit all the events into the television series it would need to be spread out over more than one season. Benioff and Weiss have spoken openly in the media about the idea of playing it out over the course of two 10-episode seasons. The first two seasons have managed to fit in most of the events of the first two books. However, HBO has not yet greenlighted a fourth season.
If Benioff, Weiss, and the show’s passionate fans have their way, the more likely it is that we’ll see Martin’s novels brought to life entire series from start to finish.
Except that the series currently has no finish.
Although the first five books (which also include A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons) have been published, the final two (The Winds of Winter, A Dream of Spring) have no firm release dates. Martin averages one book in almost four years: the first book was published in 1996; the most recent one hit the stands on July 2011.
At this rate, the series will have matched the books by 2016 and outpaced it by 2017.
Here’s a look at a theoretical production schedule, one where past performance guarantees future results:
2011: A Game of Thrones
2012: A Clash of Kings
2013: A Storm of Swords, book one
2014: A Storm of Swords, book two
2015: A Feast for Crows
2016: A Dance with Dragons
And if Martin finishes the next book in the series by 2015, we may see:
2017: The Winds of Winter
But at Martin’s average pace, A Dream of Spring won’t be finished until 2019.
I envision three scenarios:
1. Martin feeds unpublished pages of his manuscript to HBO. Fans will see A Dream of Spring before we actually read it. I doubt this will come to pass.
2. The television series deviates from Martin’s novels and creates its own ending. Unappealing, yes, but this is not without one particularly strange precedence: The film 2001 was based on Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, “The Sentinel”…but the novel 2001 was based on the movie, one that was written by Clarke in collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick.
It could happen, if you consider that many movies frequently go off the rails from its original source material. But if you also consider the pains HBO has gone through to be faithful to Martin’s work, it seems also unlikely.
3. The production goes into hiatus while Martin completes his novel. It’s an uncomfortable (but most likely) scenario, considering the very real danger of cast members signing on to other projects, with other commitments, during their downtime. Also, the actors who play the young children in this series—I’m thinking of Bran, Arya, and Robin—will have aged all the more noticeably.
None of these scenarios are appealing. But because Martin is (sadly) only human and can only write so fast, one of them will be in store.
What does that mean for us fans? What it always does: more waiting. We can only guess as to how the books and television show will end, and even if the gods of Westeros favor us, it will take years before we learn the fate of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond. And sadly, we Song of Ice and Fire fans are very good at waiting.