By Jake Sweltz
Waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish writing The Winds of Winter has begun to feel a bit like waiting for Tiger Woods to return to pro golf dominance. At first we assumed it was only a matter of time, but time has a way of eating away at inspiration.
Confession: I’ve never met GRRM IRL. I’ve never even read any of his books. But I have a depressing theory about why he’s taking so long with The Winds of Winter.
I’m worried that since everyone sniffed out the whole “R + L = J” thing*, Martin might have been tempted to change the direction of the narrative. I’m worried that he’s decided to tamper with his vision in order to stay ahead of his fans.
*For the uninitiated, “R + L = J” is a widely accepted theory explaining and predicting a number of important plot points relating to A Song of Ice and Fire.
This might partly explain the long delay. Maybe he scrapped certain portions of the story and started from scratch after realizing that hordes of voracious readers had not only solved the mystery of Jon’s parentage, but had actually projected his endgame for the entire series.
With its upcoming season, HBO’s Game of Thrones will finally eclipse A Song of Ice and Fire as the primary medium through which Martin’s story is unfolding. That is remarkable. Think about it: this is a saga that started in one century as a fringe-genre book series and will finish in another as a mega-popular television phenomenon. As far as cultural events go, that’s total solar eclipse-level. We’ve never seen anything like it.
Part of the show’s success has been its fans’ unwavering trust in the storytellers’ ability to tell the story. I don’t want to see that beautifully constructed story mangled just because we kind-of-sort-of already figured it out. As a writer, GRRM has always had an inclination toward devastating plot twists. Compromising his original vision in the name of surprise would be the most tragic of all.