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Should Readers Be Angry at George R.R. Martin?

January 7, 2016
(image via wikimedia)

(image via wikimedia)

It’s easy for fans to be mad at George R.R. Martin.  Last week the Game of Thrones author  announced that he won’t be able meet the January deadline for his long-awaited 6th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter.

Some readers are angry with George R.R. Martin, claiming that he is taking too long with these books.  It’s been several years since the last novel, he’s working on other projects, his blog posts are long when he should be writing books instead, and the HBO series has caught up with his books.  In other words, fans are getting restless.

I understand.  I don’t read the Song of Ice and Fire series, but I empathize with frustrated fans.  When I was a kid, I got depressed after I saw The Empire Strikes Back because there was a cliffhanger and I knew I’d have to wait three years for the next movie.  That was a crappy feeling (Crap is NOT a  bad word!), so it has to be even worse for Game of Thrones fans when The Winds of Winter deadline keeps getting pushed back.

On the other hand, the books might be a lot better if George R.R. Martin takes his time.  When George Lucas met his three-year deadline with Return of the Jedi, he gave us Ewoks.  Maybe if Lucas had waited an extra year, he might have come up with something better.  Fans will be pissed if the White Walkers are defeated not by dragons and Valyrian steel, but by tiny furry huggable creatures.  I’m not into gratuitous violence, but I’d kind of like to see what Ramsey Bolton would do to an Ewok.

If George R.R. Martin passes before he finishes A Song of Ice and Fire (and I really hope that doesn’t happen), the first thing that some readers will think is “Now I’ll never find out what happens next!  What a rip-off!”  They might feel guilty for thinking it, but it’ll be tough not to think it.

Maybe George R.R. Martin doesn’t want to finish Game of Thrones.  Every time he falls behind, it gets him a lot of attention, and a bunch of fans remind him how they can’t wait to read his next book.  That probably feels great.  Once he’s done with the series, that’s it.  His readers will be exhausted, and a bunch of them will be angry at how he ended the series.

No matter how he ends it, somebody will be angry.  It’s impossible to finish a series like Game of Thrones without making some readers mad.  Maybe he thinks he’d be better off by never finishing the whole series.

I can’t criticize George R.R. Martin without coming across as a hypocrite.  I complain when James Patterson writes too many books.  I can’t then gripe that Martin takes too much time.  I mean, I could, but it wouldn’t look good. I believe there’s an in-between point where an author can write books without going too quickly or going too slowly, but I might not be the right guy to make that point.

I wonder, if James Patterson starts missing deadlines, would anybody care?  Would readers flip out if they had to wait five years between Alex Cross books?  We might never know.

*****

What do you think?  What’s worse?  Taking too long to finish books or rushing too quickly?  Did J.K. Rowling finish the Harry Potter series too quickly?  Should Suzanne Collins have taken longer to write Mockinjay?  Did Harper Lee take too long to write Go Set a Watchman?  What other books do you think authors rushed?

*****

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33 Comments
  1. Id rather have an author take his time and make the book worth the wait. If he does it too fast and gives me junk, I’ll be mad. If he waits too long and gives me junk, I’ll be mad. So it’s better to do it right, no matter how long it takes. For a really good author… I’ll wait.

  2. I think it’s great that he is taking his time and being true to the story he imagined and not giving in to the demands of publishers and fans. I really believe that had he met his deadline, those same people would be angry with the result and vent that he should have taken his time. It’s almost a no-win situation.
    If some things are spoiled by the show, oh well. Personally, I’m all caught up on the show but have only read the first book (so far) so the show will always spoil the books for me. What matters is that people remember that the books won’t be the same so there are bound to be some differences, as every other season of the show has showed us.

  3. He’s just a little bit late. Not 20 years late like Harper Lee. -__-

  4. I’ve not read any of these books. Is this the last book of the series, or just the next book? Because if it’s the last book, I say take your time and do it right. If it’s just the next book, then I’m glad I haven’t read any of them. The first one came out twenty years ago, for crying out loud. If he knew how to finish it, he would have. He’s probably the fantasy equivalent of J.J. Abrams. Great at setting things in motion, unable to tie them up.

    Plus, who has the stones to write fantasy and use R.R. in their name? That’s sacrilegious, even if it’s really part of your real name.

    • “If he knew how to finish it, he would have. “-

      Yeah, and originally it was supposed to be a trilogy, and now it’s going to be seven books… if he doesn’t decide later to add an eighth. I really hope he knows how it ends.

  5. I am sure GRRM won’t die before finishing the series. He just looks like he’s 90+. His age is 67. Even Stallone is older than him.

  6. Once again, you made me chuckle. As a writer, I would vote for GRRM to take his time and put out the best novel he can. As a reader, I vote to have the best novel possible…just as fast as he can! I know there is a compromise somewhere in there.

  7. I agree with most of the other commenters – I would prefer than an author take his or her time rather than rushing to meet a deadline and producing a half-hearted work. I think Game of Thrones fans would be even more disappointed than they currently are if presented with a mediocre or subpar novel, particularly after having waited several years already. He really can’t make everyone happy in this situation, but at least he is up front with his readers and is dedicating that extra time to perfecting the book before it is released.

  8. I can’t comment specifically on GRRM. I don’t watch the show (ok the hubby talked me into watching a few episodes), I haven’t read the books. Not my bag. But in general I wonder when I read about authors, indie publishing authors cranking out a book every other month. I wonder about quality. I can barely finish one book a year in good quality and I am busting my butt to make that schedule. Or maybe they don’t have kids. LOL

  9. Raney Simmon permalink

    As a Game of Thrones fan, I would rather he take his time with his next novel than it come out and be disappointed in the outcome. Yes, I want more than anything for the next book to be out already, but I’m willing to wait. I can always read other books while I wait.

  10. George R.R. Martin is famous for taking a long time on his books. I think it’s kind of expected now. Yes, if you’ve given a deadline and can’t keep it, fans will be pissed, but why should he rush his work, or stress himself out to meet a deadline? I watched an interview he did once and he said that he writes when the fancy takes him, otherwise it wouldn’t be fun anymore. If it’s not fun for the writer, then the work will be crap.

  11. As a fan I understand the frustration, as a writer I don’t care. Putting a story together can be difficult; especially when you have to get it past the harshest critic, yourself. I have not watched Games of Thrones on HBO or read the books but if it was all that easy, anyone who called themselves a fantasy writer would have had one out. Fans should also expect the HBO series to be slightly different from now on, unless Mr. Martin has a serious don’t stray from original story clause in his contract. Many TV shows do that all the time, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

  12. GRRM is a world-class author, not a hobbyist bashing out a vanity project for NaNoWriMo. When his book is published, they will produce thousands of copies and the careers and lives of huge numbers of people will be affected by it. He has a responsibility to make the next volume the best it possibly can be. Once the book is out, no one will care whether it was written in a year or five years. All they care about is whether it is good or not.
    I also don’t think that it’s fair to criticise him for writing blog posts when he “should” be working on his novel. It’s a different type of writing entirely and draws on a different kind of creative energy. So, I think he’s entirely in his rights to ask everyone to wait a bit longer for the final book. There’s plenty of other stuff out there to read in the meantime…

    • I know what you mean, but a friend of mine (who, unlike me, is reading the books) completely disagrees.

      He says that since GRRM isn’t a hobbyist, he has a responsibility to write these books in a timely manner. GRRM’s ONE job (according to my friend) is to finish those books and do a good job. Doing a good job slowly won’t do readers any good if the job never gets done.

      Anyway, that’s just what my friend says.

  13. Hell no, he works at his own pace. With everything he has done, he owes nothing to anyone really. Chill folks, the book will come.

    • “Chill folks, the book will come.”-

      You’re probably right about the 6th book. It’s the 7th book that some readers (like my friend) are concerned about.

  14. I don’t think fans have a right to have a go at him. If they’re so keen to see a book the size of a cinder block published, they should have a go at writing one themselves. These books are massive, massively complex, with a load of characters and storylines to weave together – not easy things to pull off successfully.
    Just because fans get tied up with stories, feel they own a book series, doesn’t mean they do. It’s Martin’s – it’s down to him and his publisher when it comes out and everyone else just has to lump it.

  15. Is it appropriate for me to say a huge thank you for featuring Word Shamble so regularly amongst your ‘recommended blogs’ tiles? It’s hugely gratifying, especially as I read and enjoy your blog so often too. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome, and thank you too because I like your blog a lot.

      • Thank you! That’s really kind. Yours was one of the first blogs I followed when I started blogging-I always make sure I read your posts just because I enjoy them so much. Thank you again 🙂

  16. I have not read the Game of Thrones or watched the series but I would like to take a step back and question whether all this sounds like super consumerism. The hurry to consume more and more. George Martin, when he wrote his first book I am sure did not give a thought to riding a consumer dragon. But I admit when you write a popular book you enter into a sort of contract with your fans. There can be an anticipation but to go completely ape and make demands on the author is just slightly impolite on the part of fans. There are rules to this game.

  17. I wrote a bit about the same topic as well. It’s his call in the end, isn’t it? If he doesn’t feel like it is the best version of the book he can deliver, then well… I’d rather have him work on it a bit longer! His post on his blog was very honest as well. It’s clear he felt a bit guilty about it, but I think it’s wise of him to not work with a deadline. It’s clear it stresses him out.

  18. Hahahahaha like James Patterson writes his own books…

  19. When it comes to the ASOIAf series I could wait till the end of time. Like some people on these comments I’d rather Martin take his time and make the book worth the delays. If he its written too fast it could be bad. Case in point Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. The first four were classic. However his last two books I believe were rushed and they came off like they were a first draft. It left me severely disappointed. So yea I’d rather wait a little longer for a great book.

  20. I think I would get mad if an author sets a publication date then keeps pushing it back. When you have a deadline to meet, you should divide your time accordingly. Obviously Martin knew his deadline, yet he kept derailing his work with other projects (a form of procrastination, maybe?)… and here is where he’d be held at fault.

  21. It’s really not his responsibility to fulfill the needs of his readers.. it’s HIS book after all and I’m sure has a life outside of writing. To be furious with him is highly illogical.

  22. Stikrok permalink

    The tv show is a big f you to his readers. He should have finished the books before letting his story be retold via a different platform. I suppose it is what it is and he and the stories are still brilliant but the reader has a right to be be frustrated.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Should Readers Be Angry at George R.R. Martin? | TurkoTime
  2. Should Readers Be Angry at George R.R. Martin? | rock,paper,carbon

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