Game of Thrones (HBO v. GRRM)

If I finish writing this in time, tonight Game of Thrones Season 6 will premiere on HBO. I truly remember the first time that I heard anything about the show or the books. The summer after graduating high school, I was at my friend Brian’s house and he started telling me about a new book series he had started reading and that HBO had just picked it up. I forgot about it for a bit while he pored through all 4, and eventually the 5th, books. A few years later, the first episode premiered. I watched the opening sequence, everything up to the title card, and was so impressed that I immediately stopped watching. “I have to read these books before I watch this,” I told both myself and Brian.

Since then it has absolutely become my favorite book series of all time, and perhaps my second favorite anything series of all time (props to LOST, always and forever). The characters, the intrigue, George R. R. Martin’s signature style of describing food, and more all captured my excitement and imagination in a new way. I thoroughly LOVE these books and, in turn, the HBO series as well.

Yet here is where tragedy strikes the story, as it so often does in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga. The beloved author of these novels is as slow as Christmas. It started well enough, the first 3 books in the 7 installment series came out every 2 years. Then the problems started. The fourth book came five years after the third with the fifth coming out 6 years later, the same year the HBO series premiered. Now, 5 seasons and 5 years later, the thing we all dreaded has become reality: the show has caught up with the books, with no sign of book 6 anywhere on the horizon.

So, we book-reading-show-watchers are at a crossroads. We must decide between temporarily putting aside the series we have come to love while the rest of the world continues to enjoy it or watching along with everyone else at the risk of spoiling or ruining the magic of the next books (if they ever come out). It has been a bloody decision, tearing apart families and friends much like at the Red Wedding. My wife has firmly and proudly proclaimed that she will not be watching GOT Season 6. After long deliberation, I have finally come to decide that I will be watching. Let me tell you why.

Throughout the show’s run so far, there have already been several diversions from the books. Somehow, I have been lucky enough to be able to keep the two entities separate in my head. The changes from the show have not tainted the books for me. There is no way to know how alike the two will be in the future, but hopefully I will continue to be able to keep them separate in my mind.

Another reason I have decided to remain a viewer is that there is no hope on the horizon for Winds of Winter, the 6th installment in the book series. If there was an official release date on the calendar, I would happily but the show aside for a bit until the book came out. Sadly that is not the case. It could be another 5 years until we have a book! Another thing to think about is GRRM’s health. He is an overweight older man, which sadly brings into question the books ever being finished at all.

Lastly, I simply love this franchise. I love it too much to stand aside and watch the rest of the world continue on with those characters and leave me in the dust. I want to be a part of the conversation. This is a new era of the show for me and for a lot of us. Until now book-readers have had a leg up on the show, knowing the basic structure of the plot and where we are headed. Not anymore though. Now I can really be a part of the conversation happening about the show. Everyone on reddit, forums, and twitter; we are all on the same page experiencing it freshly together, and we have to stick together in times like these. After all, Winter is Coming…