Martin discusses A Song of Ice and Fire and another Fire & Blood excerpt is released

From an undisclosed location (guys, he’s really trying to concentrate on The Winds of Winter), George R.R. Martin discussed the impact of his work on fans and his plans for A Song of Ice and Fire and. In the meantime, a new excerpt from Fire & Blood has been released detailing the events of the Dance of Dragons.

Martin recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal by phone “from a remote mountain hideaway whose location he refuses to disclose” where he’s hard at work on The Winds of Winter.

Yes, yes, for all the jokes made at his expense, Martin is, indeed, set on completing A Song of Ice and Fire. Though the TV show’s timeline has eclipsed the book’s, Martin said he hasn’t let that alter his plans for his series.

“I’m still going to finish it the way I always wanted to finish it, the way it’s been in my head for 25 years now,” he said.

Martin also talked about his love of history which inspired so much of Westeros. He feels that a lot of what drew him to the subject in his youth isn’t reflected in school curriculum nowadays.

“The way history is taught today is more socioeconomic trends and things like that, which…I don’t know if it’s more valid or less valid, but it’s certainly more boring,” he said. “[I read history for] the wars and the betrayals, who stabbed who in the back, who was having an affair with whom, and to me that’s the juicy stuff of history. That’s what makes history fun.”

Martin is aware of the popularity of his work and of the impact it has on his readers … but aspects of it continue to surprise him.

“It astonishes me that today there are tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of kids all over the world who know more about the Starks and the Lannisters than they know about the Yorks and Lancasters,” he said, referring to the warring English families that largely inspired their Westerosi counterparts.


While Martin stays in his cabin typing away on The Winds of Winter, we fans have another book of his to look forward to that’s hitting bookstores soon. And we’ve got another excerpt from it. Entertainment Weekly released a sample chapter from Fire & Blood that focuses on events from the Dance of Dragons, namely the attack on the dragon, Sunfyre, and Rhaenyra Targaryen’s successfully sack of King’s Landing.

Here’s my favorite bit:

The would-be dragonslayers easily drove off the cordon of guards who had been left to feed, serve, and protect the dragon, but Sunfyre himself proved more formidable than expected. Dragons are awkward creatures on the ground, and his torn wing left the great golden wyrm unable to take to the air. The attackers expected to find the beast near death. Instead they found him sleeping, but the clash of swords and thunder of horses soon roused him, and the first spear to strike him provoked him to fury […] The number of the dead reached threescore before the survivors fled. 

[…] Amongst the slain was Walys Mooton, Lord of Maidenpool. When his body was found a fortnight later by his brother Manfryd, naught remained but charred flesh in melted armor, crawling with maggots. Yet nowhere on that field of ashes, littered with the bodies of brave men and the burned and bloated carcasses of a hundred horses, did Lord Manfryd find King Aegon’s dragon. Sunfyre was gone. Nor were there tracks, as surely there would have been had the dragon dragged himself away. Sunfyre the Golden had taken wing again, it seemed . . . but to where, no living man could say.

74 responses

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    1. That’s a fantastic passage to end the post on, with Sunfyre unexpectedly gone. Gives me chills (as much as dragons can give someone the chills. I guess I should flip it on the temperature spectrum, and say it gives me the sweats.)

      Thanks for reporting on GRRM hunkered in his Cabin in the Woods, hopefully finishing up TWOW so he can report on that Monday at the Jersey City book signing for Fire and Blood. (I can dream of that, my dragon dream.)

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    2. “I’m still going to finish it the way I always wanted to finish it, the way it’s been in my head for 25 years now,” he said.

      i.e. No, George will not change the ending based on the reception of the show.

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    3. Enharmony1625,

      To me that statement sounds like the show may have deviated from some things because they never included certain characters & he’s not gonna match the book ending to the show… He could still go with a Jon-Arya hookup or Jon-Sansa if not including the time jump made him shift it to the latter. I wonder where on the timeline the time jump and the subsequent change fit into the last 25 years?

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    4. Aegon the IceDragon,

      While there will inevitably be some differences, I think they’re both going to end in the same place with major plot points and main characters. A few months ago at the Emmy’s, George was asked on the Red Carpet what he thought of the ending for the show, and his reply was that he’s had 20 years to sit with it, so that very much suggests that they’re going to end in the same place (as corroborated many times over by D&D).

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    5. “While Martin stays in his cabin typing away on The Winds of Winter,..”

      Yeah right. He’s parked in front of the TV, scarfing Cheese Doodles and drinking beer watching football games.

      In all seriousness, I know he’s placed enormous pressure on himself to write a fabulous book, in which all of the interrelated plots and characters come together seamlessly.

      I’ve only read a few iconic books excerpts (like “The Broken Man” speech and Arya’s “Needle was Jon Snow’s smile” internal monologue), along with the TWOW “Mercy” chapter GRRM had posted online. I thought they were brilliant.

      I suspect that if GRRM cranked out (what he thought) was a half-assed book, readers would think it was really good even if some parts were mediocre.

      I’m curious. So let me ask book readers: Would you prefer a somewhat rushed, less than perfect TWOW released in, let’s say, January 2019… or wait another year and a half in the hopes that he writes it so it meets his own expectations ?

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    6. Ten Bears,

      I’m good waiting until GRRM satisfied himself. An artist knows when something feels ready to be released. Whether people respond well is another thing altogether, but at least it’s been released as the artist intended. As a studio musician/engineer/producer, I can absolutely attest to this, and I stand fully behind the vision of the creator to deliver if/when he or she is ready to send it off.

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    7. Ten Bears,

      Can I answer even though I’m a post-show book reader? 🙂

      I’m going to borrow a line from Shigeru Miyamoto (designer of Mario & Zelda): “A rushed game is bad forever. A delayed game is eventually good.”

      I think tarnishing this great story with a rushed book would be awful. Now, of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect book, and the book will not please everyone, but GRRM needs to feel like it’s the best book he could possibly have written at the time.

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    8. Enharmony1625,

      I think they will end in the same place as well. But I think there are going to pretty massive differences between the two versions in getting there. There are a handful of things just off the top of my head that happened on the show in seasons 6 and 7 that I think have very little chance of ever happening in the books.

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    9. I think the specific key points of the endgame will be the same, but how the characters get there will be MASSIVELY different for the most part. And in some cases, I’m going to be really, really happy about that. For instance, I imagine that I’m going to enjoy Arya’s journey way, way more considering that I personally feel that D&D have always treated her as a supporting character — and one that they still fully don’t have a handle on — whereas GRRM considers her one of the main five and therefore writes her as such.

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    10. He’s been working on WoW for like, what, seven years now? And it’s still not done?

      I guess some people have a very different definition of what the word “rushed” means!

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    11. Ten Bears: Would you prefer a somewhat rushed, less than perfect TWOW released in, let’s say, January 2019… or wait another year and a half in the hopes that he writes it so it meets his own expectations ?

      That’s a very false dichotomy. A big reason why the writing was so bad in the 4th & 5th books very likel was because Martin belabored it so much. Writing is almost always much (much!!!) better when it is done briskly. Martin himself offers examples of this: the first three books were written over only a few years, and they were vastly superior works of literature to the second two books, both which had got much, much more time.

      There is an old saying in programming that applies to writing as well: anything written more than X weeks ago (with X depending on the individual) was written by somebody else. The problem with writing the way that Martin has is that he’s trying to link passages written over many years, and thus (for all intents and purposes) written by many different people: and he has zero way to contact them to (re)discover exactly what was in the writer’s head at the time.

      At this point, it is much too late: Martin should have hustled years ago and written Winter quickly; however, he can take his time or rush it out, but either way, Winter is almost certainly going to be another bad book.

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    12. JenniferH: I personally feel that D&D have always treated her as a supporting character

      Supporting characters always share scenes with a protagonist, save perhaps for some brief scenes (e.g., the “ladder” scene with Varys & Littlefinger). However, Series 7 was the first one in which Arya had a scene with another protagonist since Series 4: and that was a brief scene with Brienne (who is a very second-tier protagonist). Delete that scene, and she had not shared the screen with another protagonist since the 1st season.

      In other words, B&W have treated her like a primary protagonists: Arya’s scenes are always about Arya, not someone else.

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    13. Wimsey,

      Precisely! Her entire arc is almost exclusively about her and her journey, and a significant number of characters are there to support her. i.e. Gendry (seasons 2 &3), Hot Pie, Lommy, Yoren, Jaqen, The Waif, Lady Crane, the BWoB (season 3), Sandor (seasons 3 & 4)..

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    14. orange,

      Agree. Which is why, even though we’ll know how it all ends in a few months time, it won’t take away any of excitement in reading the books for me in order to find out what path they take in getting there. For instance, one of the things I’m most curious about (surprise, surprise!) is what turns Arya around from the FM in the books. How does she leave them? Under what circumstances? What’s the catalyst?

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    15. Enharmony1625,

      And Arya’s arc makes a strong contribution to the story every season: you could probably figure out the story based on her arc alone every year.

      Now, Arya’s storylines probably have contributed less to the plot(s) than any other protagonist: she has not had a huge affect on the geopolitical structures. However, that’s a separate issue!

      Enharmony1625: For instance, one of the things I’m most curious about (surprise, surprise!) is what turns Arya around from the FM in the books. How does she leave them? Under what circumstances? What’s the catalyst?

      My bet is that it will be something similar to what was on the show: Arya is going to balk at killing people who don’t “done need killun'” (as nobody in Essos might say), and she is going to balk at not killing people that do!

      The story for Winter almost certainly will be about the compromises necessitated by making/breaking alliances: and my bet is that Arya’s alliance with the FM will probably be her big contribution to the book’s version of the story.

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    16. Wimsey:
      There is an old saying in programming that applies to writing as well: anything written more than X weeks ago (with X depending on the individual) was written by somebody else.

      There’s a similar one I like about how we’re our own worst enemy. Something along the lines of “debugging is the act of solving a crime where you are also the murderer.” 🙂

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    17. Wimsey,

      “At this point, it is much too late: Martin should have hustled years ago and written Winter quickly; however, he can take his time or rush it out, but either way, Winter is almost certainly going to be another bad book.”
      ————
      Well then, allow me to rephrase the dichotomy this way: Since GRRM cannot get back into “the zone” and re-connect with the virtual stranger(s) who wrote the first three (good) books so many years ago, and the fourth and fifth books took longer to write but were badly written, if TWOW is “certainly going to be another bad book” whether he takes his time or rushes it out, wouldn’t readers prefer that he just rush it out?

      It seems like he’s been waiting and hoping for his ASOIAF muse to return to him, but she’s gone, she’s gone away for good. [Apologies to B.B King for ripping off “The Thrill is Gone.”]

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    18. Enharmony1625:
      orange,

      ….For instance, one of the things I’m most curious about (surprise, surprise!) is what turns Arya around from the FM in the books. How does she leave them? Under what circumstances? What’s the catalyst?

      Umm… don’t we already know that

      from the “Mercy” chapter? I admit I am not familiar with her FM books! story, However, I was left with the impression that after Arya/Mercy lured that Raff (?) guy back to her room and sliced open his leg artery – in what appeared to me to be a mash-up of the show’s S4e1 Arya vs. Polliver and S5e10? Arya vs. Meryn F*cking Trant scenes – she knew she would not return to perform her part in the play that night and would never see her theater troupe friends again. I interpreted that to mean she knew she had to leave Braavos immediately. It didn’t seem to me she would dare go back to the HoB&W.

      Then again, she did return to HoB&W after the unsanctioned hit on MFT.

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    19. Ten Bears: if TWOW is “certainly going to be another bad book” whether he takes his time or rushes it out, wouldn’t readers prefer that he just rush it out?

      Probably! And, to be brutally honest, I suspect that large segments of the fandom would not care about the quality of the book: they will like it if things happen that they want to happen. A lot of them will love it if the writing is especially bad: for example, if the Old Gods revive Jon or if Jon spends years full conscious in Ghost before coming back would be horrible writing, but there are fans that would love it. Conversely, if Martin fires the guns that he’s hung, then those types of fans will hate it.

      However, that type of “core” stuff (hopefully) is not the sort of thing that Martin is doing anymore.

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    20. GRRM is so awesome. I always said we wouldn’t get the final chapters of GOT until after the show, not once the story verged. It would have conflicted in our minds too much to be a good strategy. That D&D decided to cut the story at 8 seasons was the only way to get GRRM’s version out. I’m sure it won’t take long either, and that more has been written than he ever admitted to. Now we’ll be able to compare his story after the show’s ending and that will be kind of fun to analyze with less competing thinking and arguing of what is what and why it’s better.
      In the meantime, he’s setting up the next stories to be filmed! How are people still criticizing this strategy? It’s been the smart move all long.

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    21. This is the same stuff he has been saying for years now. By the way, if he is so busy writing WoW, like he says he is, then what is he doing giving interviews to Wall Street Journal? He has gotten the fame, and now he is so besotted with it that he has to give interviews regularly just to maintain his ego.

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    22. Someone surmised once that in WoW Dany was going to wander around Essos with the Dothraki for much of the book. My heart sank when I read that. I know a lot of people felt season 7 was rushed but I was glad Dany had come to Westeros and that some of the strands of the story were meeting up. I have mixed feelings about Mr Martin as a writer – he creates a good story and some of his prose is good work and he invents intriguing characters (though I can never be on side with those who claim book Cersei is more complex and interesting than show Cersei). I can’t think of (from ADWD – not a spoiler) “the more she drank, the more she sh*t” as great literature though. GoT wasn’t the first adaptation I’d seen which made me want to seek out the source material to read but it was the first to do so in a long time.

      Wimsey, I didn’t think all the contents of AFFC and ADWD were bad though I did feel those books could have been abbreviated somewhat. I didn’t mind book Dorne though again it could have been shorter. I’ll be cautiously optimistic about WoW though when I check the news every morning whether WoW has a publishing date will NOT be on my “to do” list.

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    23. Wimsey: Supporting characters always share scenes with a protagonist, save perhaps for some brief scenes (e.g., the “ladder” scene with Varys & Littlefinger).However, Series 7 was the first one in which Arya had a scene with another protagonist since Series 4: and that was a brief scene with Brienne (who is a very second-tier protagonist).Delete that scene, and she had not shared the screen with another protagonist since the 1st season.

      In other words, B&W have treated her like a primary protagonists: Arya’s scenes are always about Arya, not someone else.

      A supporting player is not just about who the scenes are about. A supporting player is also one who doesn’t have as much screen time or episode counts. And simply put, Arya does not have as much as other characters –including some that, in the books, are not as lead a character as Arya. The fact that she relied on no one but herself (before the last season–which coincidentally was really when D&D didn’t have GRRM’s template at all) — simply shows that GRRM sees her as a main character.

      Speaking of… referencing that last season when it was not GRRM’s work at all, Arya’s character was *completely* supporting in every way and in the service of one who D&D clearly considers a main character despite not being one in the books, but rather a supporting one that D&D treats Arya as such in the show.

      Literal facts are facts. I’m not saying I don’t love the show; I do. I’m just saying that I personally feel I will enjoy Arya’s endgame journey more in the books because Arya is a main character in the books and is treated as one in the books, unlike in the show. I’ll see more of her story/thoughts/journey as opposed to her just in service of another character. Just like so much of her Braavos story was cut down in the show, I imagine a lot of what happened after Braavos was will be enriched as well.

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    24. Ten Bears,

      If he allowed a decent editor (or editors) to have at the manuscript then yes a less than perfect book would satisfy me. Said editors would cut much of Martins tendency to add on plots and characters who soon disappear, and cut right to the chase. That would be fine with me. Then he can spend the rest of his life trying to finish his race for perfection.

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    25. Ten Bears,

      As to the rushed, less than perfect vs. GRRM taking his time to make it such that he’s happy with it.

      There’s unfortunately the alternative that it’s slow in coming and less than perfect 🙁 Or that GRRM might be happy with it but many, many readers won’t. (As opposed to fervent GRRM superfans who will be happy with anything GRRM writes, taking his sweet time doing it.)

      I love the ASOIAF series as a whole but even I have to admit that books 4 and 5 (AFFC and ADWD) were a slight dissappointment after the first 3, especially book 3 (ASOS). That’s not to say that there weren’t some great chapters in AFFC and ADWD – Reek/Theon chapters in ADWD are among the very best GRRM has ever written, and I also enjoyed the Brienne chapters in AFFC – but all in all, the last two books could’ve done with some pruning, or more editing (“nuncle” – anyone?!!?) and focus.

      World building is important in fantasy novels but sometimes less is more. As a reader of a story I don’t want to get bogged down in minutiae and too much detail. That’s what the “side books” like Dunk and Egg, the coffee table book TWOIAF and this new one are for. They’re for the superfans, and shouldn’t be necessary reading for the general ASOIAF reader.

      Oh gods, old and new… I just realised, maybe all the detail and minutiae written into AFFC and ADWD mean that all those details are going to be necessary to and meaningful in the next books!? No wonder GRRM is taking such a long time writing them!! :O

      Also, I have my doubts as to whether GRRM will be able to finish the ASOIAF story in just two more books. It’s become so complex and sprawling that bringing the story to heel and concluding it in just two more books seems a formidable, a well-nigh impossible task!

      Maybe that’s why it’s taking GRRM so long, he’s working hard to achieve it in a way that doesn’t seem rushed/deux-ex-machina/asspull.

      I’d love the two final books to be as tight as the first three, which would leave books 4 and 5 (actually one giant book, as much of the action is concurrent – see GOO’s “Feast with Dragons” reading order, or the Boiled Leather reading order) as Act II, the calm before the final storm, Act III.

      Also, I feel a bit sorry for GRRM. Poor bloke is under a lot of pressure, self-imposed and from outside, and he seems like a nice guy who wants to do right by everybody, and it’s a square he can’t circle.

      Internal or outward pressure can have a very detrimental effect on creativity. It’s very, very difficult to get “into the zone” or into “the flow” if you’re worrying about things. Some, very few people (like my mother) are able to turn off the worry/anxiety and get in the zone, the flow – or even use their anxiety to feed their creativity. For most people, worries and anxieties hamper creativity. GRRM seems to fall in the latter group.

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    26. JenniferH,

      Just because you didn’t get to see what you wanted to see in her show!Braavos arc or her journey back to Winterfell doesn’t make her a supporting character. Funny that you say facts are facts. Yes they are. She’s a main character in the show. Fact. We might as well be debating whether her hair is blonde.

      Of the huge cast of characters in the show, Arya is in 53 episodes, which is the sixth most of any character (and this includes screen time as well, and is more than Jamie). As I’ve said before, the show has 7 main characters: Jon, Dany, Cersei, Arya, Sansa, Jamie, and Tyrion.

      Entire storylines revolve around Arya through her entire arc. When it comes to the WF plot in season 7, the reason we see most of it through Sansa’s point of view is that LF is part of her story. Despite that, this subplot still deals with the challenges Arya is facing readjusting to being home and with a family member she’s never gotten along with, and the resolution to this plot line is as much about getting rid of LF as it is about Arya and Sansa reconciling. Even if it can be argued that she played a supporting role in it, it amounts to a measly 2 episodes. I mean, you might as well argue then that Tyrion is also a supporting character to Dany at this point.

      Also fact, Arya’s chapter counts in the books:
      – GoT: 5
      – CoK: 10
      – SoS: 13
      – FFC: 3
      – DWD: 2

      Characters like Theon, Quentyn, Davos, Barristan, Brienne, and Sam all have more chapters than her in the last two books. Same with Cersei, Jamie, Jon, Tyrion, and Dany — all have far more chapters than Arya even though they appear in one of the last two books whereas Arya appears in both. So.. how is it that she’s a main character in the books, but not the show?

      If you didn’t like the show’s adaptation of her Braavos story or her season 7 arc, that’s your opinion, but it has nothing to do with her status as main character.

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    27. Tbh the real crazy thing is that it’s been 18 years since A Storm of Swords and only 85% of its sequel story has been released, including only 3 Sansa chapters and 3 Bran chapters…

      He probably has all the “end of Dance” chapters in the Winds of Winter finalised but we won’t have the full “book 4” until he actually releases it

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    28. Enharmony1625,

      It seems clear to me that Arya is one of the very apex main characters even in the show, along with Dany, Jon, perhaps Bran, Tyrion and Sansa. Maybe Cersei because the show has made her more human, less a caricature than the books. Jaime is definitely “tier 2” main character in the show and the books.

      I think GRRM’s ending will involve Dany, Jon, Bran, Tyrion, Arya, maybe Sansa, and a side order of Jaime, Brienne, Davos etc. The show might expand or diminish some roles (like expand Cersei) but it’ll end fundamentally in the same place, with the same people GRRM has envisioned from the early 1990s onwards. He told D&D the ending. The show and the books, 2-4 of them as unpublished, will end in the same place but get there very differently.

      I’m fine with that. Books and TV show are two very different mediums. They necessarily have to do things differently. I can love the books and I can love the show, compare and contrast without getting into a fundamentalist tizz.

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    29. Wimsey:

      At this point, it is much too late: Martin should have hustled years ago and written Winter quickly; however, he can take his time or rush it out, but either way, Winter is almost certainly going to be another bad book.

      Completely agree that after writing for 8+ years, we can’t speak about “rushed writing” anymore. He had “months of work” after 2015 which now evolved into 3+ years. I kind of don’t get how could he have set a deadline at the end of 2015 considering he seems to have so much work left.

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    30. JenniferH: A supporting player is not just about who the scenes are about.

      It is entirely about about whom the scenes are. (Yes, the double “about” is correct!) Supporting (secondary) characters are those that exist to create situations for the protagonists. If Arya were a secondary character, then her purpose in the story would be to create internal conflicts for some other character. However, Arya never does that. And as for the “facts are facts” idea, a necessary trait to qualify as a secondary character is that the character must be influencing the character evolution of a protagonist. Arya fails that test, which falsifies (via good old fashion “If X then y; not y; not X” deductive logic) the claim that she is a secondary character.

      Relative screen time / page time is not a criterion for who is a supporting or lead character, even if it gets used as one for things like the Emmys. Now, there is a big correlation between being a lead character and relative screen time, which is why the Emmy’s uses this criterion. (The judges do not have time to sit back and watch every episode of a show!) As such, screentime is a good rule of thumb: someone who gets relatively little screen time likely is a secondary character. However, with a big multiprotagonist story such as GoT (which has many more protagonists than do most TV shows), the distribution is going to be big. Arya gets relatively little screen time because of plot, not story: her plotline is simply not geographically adjacent to others, and also not a big aspect of the overarching plot. Still, that actually emphasizes Arya all the more: her plotline is there solely for Arya, whereas the plotlines surrounding most of the other protagonists are there for multiple protagonists.

      (We see the same thing in the books; some of the protagonists get much more “page time” than others because they get both their chapters and appearances in other protagonists chapters because of the setting. Arya appears in fewer chapters than Sansa as a result, but Arya is a much more important character than is Sansa.)

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    31. Lord Parramandas: I kind of don’t get how could he have set a deadline at the end of 2015 considering he seems to have so much work left.

      20:20 hindsight and all of that! I’ve experienced the same thing: that light at the end of the tunnel often is not as close as you think.

      There are other possible contributing factors. One aspect of missing a deadline is that you relax: you cannot get the manuscript submitted on time, so now there is no submission date at all, and the rush/urgency that gets you to work at peak efficiency disappears. (I have a couple of papers where I missed deadlines for special volumes or books years ago and still have not gotten back to finishing; of course, at this point, they will need to be completely redone… 🙁 )

      Yet another possible contributing factor is Martin got a belated idea to make a major change to the plotline of one of the characters. It made some news because the TV show no longer could do it: they’d already gone with the original plotline and it was too late to turn back. If GRRM did decide to do this, then it would have required some surgery: not only would this require rewriting Character Z’s narrative, but the corollary effects on the other character’s plotlines would need to be edited into the tale.

      Or, of course, you could go by the popular Quora (conspiracy) “theory” and accept that GRRM finished the books years ago, and that he’s waiting for the TV series to end so that he can release the “far superior” novels and embarrass HBO severely after all the viewers read what “should have been done.” (Because often discussions of fantasy are even bigger works of fantasy than the topic of discussion….. 😀 )

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    32. talvikorppi: I think GRRM’s ending will involve Dany, Jon, Bran, Tyrion, Arya, maybe Sansa,

      That was the plan back in the original outline that GRRM was hawking 20 years ago. GRRM changed the plot considerably since then, but it looks like he’s kept the same story in mind: and the story rides on the characters, not the plot.

      Or, but another way: I think that you are correct. Whether Sansa is part of the “lead” is the one question mark in my mind, too.

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    33. Wimsey,

      Hey, good to see you back, Wimsey! 😀 WotW comments have missed your input!

      I don’t agree with all/everything you posit, some of it is a bit too “paint-by-numbers”, or what I privately think as “engineer-does-literature/film”. Now, I have no idea whether you are, in fact, an engineer, and it doesn’t matter. Your input, analysis, is usually very incisive, often spot on, though not always, to my mind. Good to have you back, anyway. It’s good to have more dispassionate fans discussing things ASOIAF/GOT.

      Your analyses of what each season’s “story” has been have often been more meaningful than analyses – or head canon – by fervent fans of this character or that.

      Each to their own. I don’t mind people fanboying/fangirling about some character, but they might be in for a rude awakening when things don’t go according to their headcanon. Then blame D&D. Only blame GRRM when and if he publishes the ending.

      Caveat: I’m also a fangirl of a certain character. I expect him to die before the end. But semi-heroically, please..?

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    34. Wimsey

      Or, of course, you could go by the popular Quora (conspiracy) “theory” and accept that GRRM finished the books years ago, and that he’s waiting for the TV series to end so that he can release the “far superior”novels and embarrass HBO severely after all the viewers read what “should have been done.”(Because often discussions of fantasy are even bigger works of fantasy than the topic of discussion….. )

      Oh yes… such a ridiculous and also awful theory. ASOIAF really has one of the most toxic fandoms in general… westeros.org pretty much caused me to lose my former passion for reading the novels with their purist attitude.

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    35. Lord Parramandas: ASOIAF really has one of the most toxic fandoms in general… westeros.org pretty much caused me to lose my former passion for reading the novels with their purist attitude.

      I don’t know: the Star Wars fandom probably is worse, as they are over-run by “incels.” Ditto that for the Tolkien fandom. The Doctor Who fandom is pretty bad, too: they are completely hung up on the show not being like it was 30 years ago, despite the fact that the original series was a living fossil in terms of format for the last 10 years of its existence. (And the Doctor becoming a woman has really set them off, too!) The Harry Potter fans get pretty noxious, too: they are all convinced that they understand the “stories” much better than Rowling herself does, despite the fact that most of them cannot tell you how a story is different from a plot!

      That sort of begs the question: is there a non-toxic fandom? It seems that fandoms are like religions, except that they just bitch about life rather than trying to ruin everyone else’s…..

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    36. Wimsey: And Arya’s arc makes a strong contribution to the story every season: you could probably figure out the story based on her arc alone every year.

      Really ? I can’t think of a single season where that’s true. Seasons 1 and 7 come closest, but still, it’s not even remotely possible to figure out the story based on her scenes alone.

      How does any of Arya’s stuff from Seasons 2 through 6 make a “strong contribution” to the overall story ? 99% of her stuff affects her and her alone, with very few exceptions.

      Her story is by far one of the most disconnected from the overall narrative, and in no way does it allow you to figure out the rest.

      I don’t dispute that she’s a primary character, but this point about her impact on the story is simply not accurate for most of the show.

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    37. Wimsey,

      Well, fandoms are toxic in general… that’s why I generally try to avoid them save for this page when it comes to GoT. I know I was really disgusted when I saw into what A FOrum of Ice and Fire turned in later seasons… and now also GoT Wikia with The Dragon Demands in charge. I don’t get how can someone find so much pleasure in hate and get frustrated for every thing that doesn’t match the image in their mind. If I disliked a TV show, I would have stopped watching it. End of story.

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    38. talvikorppi: Caveat: I’m also a fangirl of a certain character. I expect him to die before the end. But semi-heroically, please..?

      First, my blushes! Second, heroic death often is in the eyes of the beholder. For example, running out to buy me a six-pack while I fight White Walkers and dying while getting the beer to me would be way heroic in my books: but I suspect that other people would see it as, well, dumb. (Oh, and completely inconsistent with prior character development, too: I am a total coward and would have been on a boat for Essos months before….. :-D)

      Seriously, I really do not advocate “write by the numbers.” Instead, what I view this as “write within a set of numbers.” The set is big: but once authors make particular decisions, then they do limit the sets. It’s no different than composing music: once you decide to compose a baroque fugue, then you have put limits on what you will write. It’s a huge set of possibilities; however, if we have gotten two movements of music that follow baroque theory, then we should not expect the next movement to follow classical theory: the composer has already told us that he/she is following a different compositional theory. This does not mean that we know exactly what the 3rd movement is going to be: but we should know what the 3rd movement will not be! Most of my arguments really have been along those lines: expect the next movement to be set up by the prior movements and definitely do not expect the next movement to deviate wildly in style from the prior movements. And, let’s face it: every time fans have pinned their hopes on GRRM or B&W turning the fugue into a heavy metal song, those fans have been disappointed with yet more counterpoint and zero power chords!

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    39. I won’t think at TWOW any longer, behaving as if it were certain that it will never be published. Thus I might have a pleasant surprise.
      The hunt for the injured dragon is an impressive scene, but it is familiar. Several years ago I listened to an audio book about the Targaryen civil war on the net, I think its title was The Princess and the Queen.

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    40. Lord Parramandas: I don’t get how can someone find so much pleasure in hate and get frustrated for every thing that doesn’t match the image in their mind. If I disliked a TV show, I would have stopped watching it. End of story.

      Ditto that for me. I must admit, I just do not get this attitude of paying attention to a thing only to complain about it. This is not like, say, government policies, where you have to pay attention because it will affect your life: if you never watch (or read) GoT or Walking Dead or Doctor Who or Harry Potter or whatever-the-hell, then your life really will not be any different. Oddly, the retort often is “It’s important to me that they get it right”, but, no, it really is not important: how shows or books turn out has no effect on anyone’s health and well-being, and given how many people have to worry about those things, it’s incredibly obtuse and/or arrogant to elevate entertainment to the same level.

      Except for the Beatles breaking up. Man, that ruined my life…. 😛

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    41. Wimsey,

      Exactly! If there’s anything I completely despise, it’s hate-watching and sadly, there are many people in ASOIAF fandom that do. I still live remember one of the last times I visited A FOrum of Ice and FIre on Westeros.org and someone made a thread “Post your favorite moment from season 5” as the season just wrapped up… and the first response from a guy named Borodin was “The best moment was when it ended” and the second response from a member named Marsyao “Nothing!”. And I was like “WTF is wrong with you???” – not to mention how incredibly rude they got to everyone who defended the show.

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    42. Wimsey,

      Absolutely agree with everything you present here

      I’ll go a step further & give my opinion that anyone who dies while on a mission to get any alcohol for any event is a tragedy & that person died a hero

      The Beetles break-up ruined everyone’s life & world peace 🍻

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    43. Nick20: How does any of Arya’s stuff from Seasons 2 through 6 make a “strong contribution” to the overall story ? 99% of her stuff affects her and her alone, with very few exceptions.

      Story is created by the parallelisms in the evolution of the protagonists. Arya’s arcs make strong contributions to the story because Arya is facing the same general dilemmas as Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion etc. What makes Arya’s contributions really strong is that Arya’s dilemmas frequent stem from very different sources: and that makes it easier for the viewer/reader to “triangulate” in on the actual story.

      Now, Arya’s arc affects the plot much less than do the arcs of other characters: but story and plot are two completely different beasts.

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    44. talvikorppi,

      Actually, it struck me that there is a better way to phrase it. I am not advocating “paint by the numbers”: I am advocating “paint within the lines” given the lines that the author(s) establish early in the work.

      That does free you up for a lot of alternatives (there are, after all, infinite shades and patterns, although most of them do not go well together!), but going outside the lines tends to create a mess.

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    45. MaesterMercy: I’ll go a step further & give my opinion that anyone who dies while on a mission to get any alcohol for any event is a tragedy & that person died a hero

      Just as long as they not take my booze for the Viking Funeral ship sendoff for our fallen hero. I mean, if he/she died getting me alcohol, then he/she would not have wanted it that way, right?

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    46. Nick20,

      1) Sometimes I think HBO is not sending us all the same version of GOT.

      From the comments on one or two boards, I have speculated that we may be watching different versions of GOT. First I thought it was just the perspective of each viewer that made the understandings so different. You know, each person sees their favourite character as being far more important than others – something like a “halo” effect. Their favourite’s story is more dominant in their minds. However, the viewpoints are so divergent that I am drifting toward a view that HBO has several different cuts of this drama floating around. That is the only explanation that comes to my mind today.

      2) From MY version of GOT, Arya has a storyline that is independent of nearly all the other characters still alive. She is a main character but with her own storyline. Up to S7, this very personal story has had very little to do with either of the two big-picture questions that tie GOT’s many other main characters and storylines together – the Defeat of the Others and leadership of Westeros.

      3) There are other GOT questions on a more spiritual level. Who am I? How can I be my best self? How do I grow and cope with adversity? Who was I meant to be? For these questions, every character has their arc. Some are deeper internal changes – like Jaime’s (a major player on these issues) and maybe, Sansa’s and Arya’s. Some are less apparent like Tyrion’s. Some are very familiar (seen before) arcs- like Jon’s, Daenerys’ and Cersei’s.

      4) The main and supporting characters have shifted over the seasons and may be best to say in S1 these were the main, supporting and minor. S2, different, S3 different. Tywin and Joffy were not potted plants.

      5) Tyrion is central to GOT’s DNA. Tyrion & Jaime are an important “linking pair” for GOT. Tyrion ties many of storylines and characters to each other. Yet I do not think he has had a scene with Arya, has he?

      TL:DR: GOT is many storylines, we focus on what appeals to us. Tyrion is central to GOT. So far, Arya has a storyline outside the two big picture questions but S8 may link her up.

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    47. How cutting edge that would be of HBO to put out several different cuts of this series.
      Some kind of demented, wonderful film experiment
      I would watch them all heehee! 🍻

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    48. Geesh, he is hiding in a cabin in the mountains?!?! Hasn’t he heard that the Wall has crumbled and The Others are on the march southwards?!

      Well it was nice knowing you George…thanks for the good memories and ASOIF…

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    49. Martin got a belated idea to make a major change to the plotline of one of the characters. It made some news because the TV show no longer could do it: they’d already gone with the original plotline and it was too late to turn back

      I missed this news, can you tell me what happened?

      Wimsey so glad to see you back!!

      However, the viewpoints are so divergent that I am drifting toward a view that HBO has several different cuts of this drama floating around. That is the only explanation that comes to my mind today.

      Yeah that would certanily explain the never ending Sansa posts over the course of this website…….

      As far as why people seem to like hating so much – if you can solve this question, you’d get a Nobel Peace Prize for sure. I’d never imagined so much hate until I came to the internet. Woke me up for sure. As far as fansites, this is the only one I come to regularly but I imagine they have the same types of people that political sites have ones who do not have the ability to see someone elses perspective if their lives depended on it. I have touched a toe into AFOIAF a few times and quickly ran away – wow, just too toxic for me.

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    50. ash:
      As far as why people seem to like hating so much – if you can solve this question, you’d get a Nobel Peace Prize for sure.

      I think we can probably come up with many reasons for the “why”, it’s the “how do we fix it” that’s the real stumper..

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    51. Mango: 3) There are other GOT questions on a more spiritual level. Who am I? How can I be my best self? How do I grow and cope with adversity

      That is the heart of post-18th century storytelling: “Who am I?” Martin has been pretty upfront that the particular theory to which he subscribes is the Tolstoy/Faulkner school of having people come to terms with their own inconsistencies: who they want to be vs. who they need to be, who they want to be in some ways vs. who they want to be in other ways.

      But I think that you are spot-on: Arya has her own storyline, and she just happens to share very little of the plot/narrative with other protagonists. Daenerys was much the same way until Tyrion turned up. Daenerys happened to have a bigger effect on the overall plot because she was working herself out while forming an army; Arya was doing very similar things but at a much smaller scale. That is a good thing: stories need some subtlety and if every one is doing the same thing, then the storytelling is redundant. It probably is better for storytelling to have characters do the same things in such different ways as Arya & Daenerys do: the commonalities in what they are doing are more abstract and more generalized.

      At any rate, if one is going to argue that Arya or any other character is a supporting character, then you need to be able to answer: “For which protagonist is Arya a foil?” And there simply is not one. (The same is true when people assert that Daenerys is actually an antagonist; if so, then it should be easy to answer “For which protagonist is Daenerys an antagonistic foil?” The cue the crickets ….)

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    52. ash: I missed this news, can you tell me what happened?

      Wimsey so glad to see you back!!

      Ah, thanks! I have been avoiding places like this for fear of spoilers. I am as unsullied as an idealized nun at this point. (And that is as much as I will ever have in common with a nun, although I do look dashing in a habit….)

      As for what exactly happened, I only recall that GRRM mentioned some time ago that he had gotten an idea to revise the plotline for one of the characters, but that the show could not do it because it already had committed to the original plotline. He was uncertain as to whether to do it, but it seemed like he preferred the new idea to what he had done. (But, then, if he did not prefer the new idea, why would he ever mention it?)

      That was before Martin missed his 31 December 2015 deadline, as there was some discussion here as to whether that had caused the missed deadline. I seem to recall reading something elsewhere afterwards indicating that GRRM had opted to go that route. However, I might be misremembering or I might have misinterpreted something Martin said in that light. (It’s been a busy 3 years!)

      As for which character, it was obviously __________, with the dashed line being filled by pretty much every character. I seem to recall someone even arguing that it would be Jon because GRRM would want to do something different now that the show had “spoiled” things. Barristan might have been the #1 candidate. But the reality is that we can only conclude that it is a character that is on the show, and that the show had already committed to a different direction by the end of Series 5. If it is Selmy, then perhaps he does not die in the Battle of Meeerrreeeen (hey, I never spell it correctly, so I will just embrace “wrong.”). If it is Sansa, then maybe she is not abused by Harry the Heir. Those would seem to be two of the better general ideas, as these are two characters who’s storylines were most obviously “accelerated” by Dec. 2015. But there must be other possibilities, too.

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    53. Wimsey,

      GRRM said that the plot twist involved a character who was dead in the show as of Season 5 but alive in the books. Stannis and Barristan were the obvious choices people identified.

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    54. Soooooooo, I’m also an Outlander fan. The Outlander Series Author, Diana Gabbeldon, is friends with George. They live in the same town and have coffee together and discuss their latest projects weekly. Diana was interviewed recently on “The Outlander Cast” Podcast, and she brought up George. She said that George had confided to her that he’s “painted himself into a corner.” She chuckled and said that she told him, “We authors don’t have walls, George. We just tear down the room and start over.” I wonder if he’s heeding her advice?

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    55. Enharmony1625: I think we can probably come up with many reasons for the “why”, it’s the “how do we fix it” that’s the real stumper..

      About why some “seem to like hating so much” and “how do we fix it”…

      Allow me to make a few comments and offer a few modest suggestions how we can try to fix it (I apologize in advance for any sports metaphors):

      (1) Misfires stick out like a sore thumb and generate most of the bashing. (E.g., Sansa concealing KotV; S7 PsychoArya vs. GullibleSansa LF/WF plot; LF “trial”; wight hunt; Waif stabbing carefree, oblivious Arya; overuse of “cock” and “cockless” dialogue, etc.) Perhaps it feels cathartic to vent, bitch and moan about scenes and story lines that defied logic; had people acting out of character; or seemed like questionable books>show adaptation choices. They certainly inspire much of the venom against the showrunners, the directors, the actors, and the characters.

      But those scenes and story lines are a tiny percentage of the 67 hours/67 episodes. Sometimes I get the feeling that people are reluctant to comment on aspects of the show they really enjoyed, lest they be accused of fanboying or fangirling. Or maybe it’s not as satisfying – or as easy – to analyze why a certain scene “worked” so well.

      The New England Patriots don’t yank Tom Brady from a football game just because he throws an interception. And only crappy baseball fans start booing when their team’s MVP slugger strikes out instead of launching a 500-foot moon shot home run into the stratosphere.

      Anyway, let’s not be reluctant to analyze and discuss the 95% of the show that works so well. For example, even “Sansa haters” can’t deny that the Jon-Sansa reunion scene in S6 was wonderfully done; and for all the Sansa vs. Jon and Sansa vs. Arya “manufactured” conflict and LF inexplicably folding like a cheap suit (or confessing to crimes as if he were giving an interview to Lester Holt) instead of talking his way out of them, S7e7 Sansa was really good. Do you deny it?

      (2) Comments that resort to “D&D are hacks” or “Dumb & Dumber butchered [insert book! character name] aren’t interesting to read, and don’t give the showrunners credit for undertaking the monumental task of adapting GRRM’s sprawling work – especially since they didn’t expect they’d wind up passing the source material. And it’s not blasphemy to fail to depict a scene or character exactly the way (a fan) thinks the Lord God George wrote it.

      Anyone who presumes to have the credentials and experience to do a better job than Benioff and Weiss should let us know who and what they are before writing posts with silly name-calling. Oh, and including a better, alternative script would be more convincing.

      3. Not all adaptation decisions and books>show divergences succeed. I’m sure some looked good on paper but didn’t fare so well in the eyes of many fans (eg inserting Sansa into the books! Jeyne Poole Bolton marriage story).
      However. let’s not forget to give credit to deviations that did work. Although I have not read the books yet, I understand that the following scenes and encounters in the show were not in the books; yet I really enjoyed them and most are on my “Perpetual Rewatch” list: (a) Tywin & Arya conversations; (b) Brienne vs. The Hound; (c) expanded role of Margaery.

      4. In general, WoW commenters are really the exception to the usual diatribes and escalating back-and-forth personal attacks you see on other fan forums.
      Though it takes a little more effort, disagreements can be expressed politely and intelligently. Also. it’s not a sin to acknowledge you’re wrong about something, or that another commenter has better arguments. Nothing wrong with humility.

      5. At the risk of being redundant, I’d say one of the ways to fix the “hating” is to dedicate discussion to “loving” in the proportion it deserves. Personally, I find it intriguing when commenters dissect and explain things I don’t understand, like musical themes. I can’t tell when a character or family theme is playing; or when it’s merged with another. Analysis of effective dialogue; camera angles; parallels; and screenwriting techniques are enjoyable to read.

      6. I forgot what #6 was. 🤢 It had something to do with something I learned from my dad a long time ago. Most people call a company’s Customer Service department to complain about something, and of course, subject the poor representative on the other end of the line to withering whinging.

      Anyway, my dad would write letters to Customer Service departments not to complain, but to commend an employee who had provided excellent service; and he would include photocopies and specifically ask that the copies of the complimentary letter be provided to the employee’s supervisor, and placed in the employee’s personnel file.

      Sorry, Enharmony, I know there was a connection to my attempt to respond to your question; I just can’t recall what it was.

      * [Yes, I’m talking about you, fair weather Miami Marlins fans who booed Giancarlo Stanton for “failing” to hit his 60th home run during the last game last season. Now he’s in NY Yankees pinstripes. Christian Yelich is gone too, and won this year’s NL MVP award with the Milwaukee Brewers. Walder Jeter came in and pulled off a Red Wedding on your team. Happy now?]

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    56. PS The bracketed, concluding portion of my last comment was supposed to be a footnote to paragraph #1 about football & baseball players.

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    57. Ten Bears,

      I’m a big fan of your suggestion of “how to fix it” is to focus more on the positive and discuss the reasons why we love this show, the books, and this story! Of course there is nothing wrong with thoughtful criticism, but the extent to which some indulge in it is off-the-charts ridiculous.

      I think there are many reasons for the “why” that can range from needing to feel superior (especially intellectually), to downright anger issues, depression and loneliness. Another one that you touched on briefly is a sense of entitlement, that someone needs something to go their way and the way they envisioned it, otherwise it’s wrong. And when it doesn’t go their way, hating on it is a way for them to vent their frustration and in a way “get back at” the “incompetent” creators. People want a voice, and this is the best way they can think of to do it.

      I have no idea how this can be fixed, and the cynical side of me believes it never will be. The best I can come up with is getting more people involved in creative arts so they can understand how difficult it is to create something good that people will like. i.e. The old adage, “creating is hard, criticizing is easy”.

      Oh, and sadly I don’t understand any of your sports analogies because I don’t follow any sports. 🙂

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    58. Enharmony1625,

      I never minded the Sansa swap with [book character not appearing in the series] so much. Wimsey disagreed but I quite liked book Dorne (though it went on a bit too long). I like GoT and ASOIAF (books 1-3 more than 4-5 but I didn’t HATE 4 and 5). I don’t usually get involved in fandoms and I don’t know if I will again because they do seem to encourage a toxic element. I’d had a look at a couple of things about The Witcher series – there have been some rancid comments by members of that about some members of the cast before the series has even shot/shown on TV. With fandoms (whatever the subject of the fandom) there are some members where the liking of the subject goes beyond a great liking to an obsession. There’s not a great deal one can do about obsessions unfortunately – best to go one’s own sweet way. It’s not really any skin of my nose if Person X thinks I’m dim because I didn’t mind season 7 of GoT.

      I’ve said before that I’m not that different in age to Mr Martin and part of me can understand him wanting to enjoy a semi-retirement and perhaps slow down if not completely retire. I’m not a professional writer but I have heard it said that sometimes if the creative muse is lying fallow a possible solution is to concentrate on something else – maybe Mr Martin’s books about the “Targ” back history are his “something else” to get him back on track on to WoW.

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    59. Dame of Mercia,

      Yes, good point about a passion for something crossing into becoming an obsession. And that obsession can unfortunately cause some people to feel an ownership of the material. Or somehow that the material/story owes them. That’s just a very unhealthy way to be a fan of something, and inevitably sets you up for disappointment.

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    60. Everything’s become so individualized these days and anyone can have their voices heard through social media that I just think some people have a harder time than ever separating reality from their own personal version of reality. It just gets worse over time to the point where people start expecting other people to bend over to their own personal preferences. Even in works of fiction.

      Think of the obsessed character Annie Wilkes in “Misery”. Think about how crazy she went when she found out that her favorite fictional character died. Just imagine if she had access to the internet.

      There’s a lot more Annie Wilkes’ out there than any of us thought.

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    61. And thats not new. I have heard that D&D players committed suicide when their very high ranking characters were killed off, and this was back in the 80s. The obsession for something is always there, but nowadays its just amplified to ridiculous levels.

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    62. Lord Parramandas:
      Wimsey,
      If I disliked a TV show, I would have stopped watching it. End of story.

      Try checking out soap opera boards. General Hospital has been on the air 55 years, the last 25 of which has featured a dimpled mobster as a male lead, and the same people have been vehemently bitching about him since the boards began !

      If a character I loathed got that much screen time, I’d spend my leisure with more enjoyable pursuits – but no, these folks LOVE to hate!

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    63. Aegon the IceDragon:
      Enharmony1625,

      To me that statement sounds like the show may have deviated from some things because they never included certain characters & he’s not gonna match the book ending to the show…He could still go with a Jon-Arya hookup or Jon-Sansa if not including the time jump made him shift it to the latter.I wonder where on the timeline the time jump and the subsequent change fit into the last 25 years?

      I must admit I didn’t read it like that at all. He’s told the show runners the ending and the arcs for all major characters and they’ve consistently said we are getting the ending GRRM described. It doesn’t mean minor details wont be different but I don’t expect any significant deviations.

      For what it’s worth I took his comments to mean he wont change the ending even though the show will spoil it to some extent.

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    64. orange:
      Enharmony1625,

      I think they will end in the same place as well. But I think there are going to pretty massive differences between the two versions in getting there. There are a handful of things just off the top of my head that happened on the show in seasons 6 and 7 that I think have very little chance of ever happening in the books.

      Out of curiousity what? There are definitely differences but I’m not convinced they are major, at least as far as the core main POV characters go. For example if Jon is not King of the North having ousted the Boltons by the end of Winds I will be extremely shocked. Likewise Dany heading to Westeros with Tyrion as her hand.

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