The worst feeling in the world is when a story does not have a satisfying ending. Endings that leave a million questions, characters with unfinished story arcs, and missing plot points are the worst. I am talking about stories like Spielberg’s A.I. where the dark exploration of a sentient robot being taken in as a human child is overshadowed by alien-like creatures that solve everything. Similarly, one of the most popular fantasy books is in a similar predicament, but not because of what is getting published, but by what is not.
Game of Thrones is one of the most popular fantasy franchises, especially due to the largely popular HBO series. While the HBO series ended years ago with one of the worst endings of any show, the book series still has 2 more installments before it concludes. The author, George R. R. Martin, is known for his lengthy novels as his last release A Dance With Dragons had 1,056 pages. Martin has begun to garner a reputation for taking his time writing while the first 3 books were released within 4 years of each other, the 4th book took 5 years to publish, and the 5th took 6. The 6th book has yet to even be given a released date, meaning it will have taken Martin over 10 years to complete this book.
Why is this? Martin has created an unwieldy beast of a storyline that has become unwieldy. Martin has joked, “I do sometimes think I’ve thrown too many balls in the air, but having thrown them in the air, it’s my obligation to juggle them. Why did I have to make it the Seven Kingdoms? Wouldn’t Five Kingdoms have been sufficiently complicated?” He has created whole books of notes while he has been writing his next installment. As time has gone on, he has gotten so much worse; he write thousands of manuscript pages for each book and then rewrites those into what he wants to publish. Since the process has only gotten longer after each new book, it is only proper to believe that after the 6th is out, the 7th will have to take longer simply due to thousands of pages of notes added by the latest drop.
Now, let us talk about the winter that is obviously approaching; Martin is 72 years of age. The average lifespan in the U.S. is 78 1/2 years. Of course, Martin is rich enough to get any kind of healthcare he so desires, which could extend his life out, but it does not make him eternal. As morbid as it may be, he may leave us at any time, meaning that the world he created may never see an update again.
Now, other authors have died before their book series have been finished, but they have had others complete their works. Most famously, the Dune series by Frank Herbert was written to a conclusion by Frank’s son, Brian, 13 years after his passing. However, this will not be the case for Martin. Here is the deal: Martin’s corroborators have all stated they will not finish Martin’s book series even if asked to. So it is Martin or bust.
As someone who is deeply connected to Martin’s work, this is nerve wracking. I want to know how the story will be concluded in the mind of Martin, but the reality is that that probably will just not happen. Instead, I will go to Wattpad and read whatever fan fiction is there, and then complain about how I just wanted to see Daenerys finally reach the 7 kingdoms.
Media by Joshua Heller