Hello, fellow A Song of Ice and Fire readers. How are you? Doing well, I hope, though I worry. These should be exciting times, what with the impending premiere of Game of Thrones’ fifth season on HBO this weekend, but I can’t help but sense a little frustration in the air.
As I am sure you’re well aware, the Game of Thrones onscreen is set to soon surpass the story we know from the page, as the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, remains trapped mysteriously beyond the wall thanks to George R.R. Martin’s trudging writing pace, much like Benjen Stark himself (maybe?). Sure, there’s some existing material left to mine, but as we readers know, a lot of what remains of the written world involves a fair amount of wheel-spinning from characters we’re all familiar with and the largely unnecessary introductions of characters who seem unlikely to live a televised life.
In short, in a series known for many a cruel twist, this may be the cruelest one Martin has yet executed: We’re about to be spoiled.
Moreover, we deserve it. Let’s face it: We’ve sorta been dicks since the TV show started. Sometimes we don’t mean it—who among us hasn’t excitedly rambled to our unlearned friends about things to come, with our innocent hints inadvertently revealing a huge secret?—while sometimes we most definitely do mean it. How many of us have taken to message boards or Twitter feeds or comment sections in a bid to both flaunt our knowledge and deliberately ruin someone else’s fun via a unrelenting torrent of smarm and nitpicking? There’s this, and this, and how about this? To quote:
“Do you book fans feel superior?” Ferguson asked at one point, clearly annoyed at the obsession. There were more than a few loudly bellowed “Yes!”es that permeated the crowd.
We’ve even tried to spoil things that didn’t (and may not?) come to pass on the show. (Ooof, that whole Lady Stoneheart saga wasn’t a good look for us.) But meanwhile, Martin himself is actively trolling us. He insists that death is coming—deaths we all-knowing book readers don’t know about—and knows you’re going to be pissed. Which probably delights him as much as it delights vindictive TV-only people.
But I’m not here to bash us. Rather, I offer a plea as we venture into this cold, unknown North: Don’t be dicks.
Look, I’m a book reader too. Loved them. Devoured them. No regrets. (Hopefully, the fact that I instinctively wrote that in the past tense isn’t a portent of anything.) I’m just asking that we embrace the positive aspects of this situation, and not scorch the Internet Earth as the show makes more concessions for the sake of the TV story and ventures into territory unfamiliar to us.
One of the true joys of ASOIAF, after all, is its ability to surprise. Don’t you remember that? Didn’t you have to go back and re-read the Red Wedding scene the first time you encountered it? Weren’t you stunned when the sword fell on Ned’s neck whether you read the first book four years (or two decades) ago? I knocked my damn coffee mug over.
We’ve never had that with the show, but get a load of the tons of bricks it drops on others. Check out the pure, unadulterated shock on display up there. That looks like fun, doesn’t it? That isn’t a bad thing. We felt that surprise once. Didn’t we enjoy it?
Don’t be dicks.
What we are losing in anticipation, we’re gaining in the unknown. Instead of knowing how a season will generally unfold, plot-wise, we will be somewhat in the dark this time. But this dark is not full of terrors. The show dipped its toes into spoiler waters last year with the potential White Walker reveal and then again with the offing of Jojen Reed, who is still alive in Book World. But that wasn’t too painful, was it?
I concede that those were mere ripples, and the fear is of much bigger spoiler splashes. But you’ll get over it. The last two books will be here one day (probably!), and they’ll inevitably be deeper and more complex than whatever winds up on HBO or your BitTorrent network of choice, given the far more expansive world and population. We won’t even know what compromises and shortcuts showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have made as they move Martin’s unread story to the screen, so there’ll still be plenty of delight to be found there. Those “it was better in the books” debates will just have to wait a few more years.
And so, in the meantime, I repeat: Don’t be dicks.
Don’t make the internet into a petulant 10-week-long hissy fit because we’re stunned when Character X murders/sleeps with/kidnaps/marries Character Y. Don’t turn up your nose if Seemingly Important Book Character Z doesn’t appear at all. And for the love of the Seven, don’t keep bitching about Martin’s need to get writing. He is aware. Your tweet isn’t getting The Winds of Winter to bookshelves any faster.
Instead, lets try to enjoy this. To be blunt about it, you don’t have much choice. Sure, you could hold off watching the show now until the next book arrives, but while I admire your commitment, how long do you think you can go without the internet?
Me? I’ll happily be in front of my TV Sunday night, goblet of some Arbor gold in one hand, a nice shank of meat in the other. I’m ready to finally go where I’ve never gone before.
Dan Eaton says “actually” way too often, has an unreasonable love of Arby’s roast beef, and watches just the right amount of TV and movies without jeopardizing his marriage. He writes about other things for other people, but they don’t let him swear.
The Concourse is Deadspin’s home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter @DSconcourse.