On July 16, pretty much everyone in the world will be tuning in to watch the premiere of Game of Thrones’ seventh season. The long-awaited episodes are not only of interest to fans of the HBO adaptation, but to voracious readers of George R.R. Martin’s novels. With The Winds of Winter still looming half-formed in the mists of publishing, Game of Thrones will now be the point-of-entry for everyone who wants to know where this song of ice and fire will end.
On the one hand, it’s exciting. Martin’s fans have been waiting since the 2011 release of A Dance With Dragons to find out what happens next. On the other hand, it’s a melancholy day because surely this isn’t how GRRM wanted his epic tale to be revealed to the world. On the third hand, (just go with it), it might not matter. Without the source material, it appears showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are throwing off the shackles of Martin’s glacial pace in favor of an action-adventure mode. Which, if we’re being honest, isn’t sitting quite right with me.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, both the cast and crew of Game of Thrones spent a not insignificant amount of time bracing fans for a breakneck pace in the upcoming season. While the show runners and producers make valiant efforts to spin this development as a positive thing (the war is finally here! the battles will be epic!), Jaime Lannister actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was more candid about the change.
“I feel like I’d been lulled into a different pace,” Coster-Waldau says. “Everything happened quicker than I’m used to … a lot of things that normally take a season now take one episode. I’m like, ‘Already? Now?! What?!’”
Meanwhile, Dan Weiss explained things in Game of Thrones aren’t moving faster because the season has been shaved down to seven episodes from the traditional ten. It’s just the nature of the beast. “Things are moving faster because in the world of these characters the war that they’ve been waiting for is upon them,” which gives everything a sense of urgency. To which I politely call bullshit. Martin has estimated before that The Winds of Winter will clock in at 1500 manuscript pages, bringing on par with A Dance With Dragons. The show isn’t rushing things because they’ve reached some sort of watershed moment, they simply don’t have the structure of Martin’s novels to guide them anymore.