A Song of Ice and Fire Editorial Featured George R. R. Martin

What, if anything, does George R.R. Martin owe his fans? Fans sound off

The Winds of Winter

George R.R. Martin made headlines last week when he commented on the potential release date for The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in his Song of Ice and Fire series. He made the comment on his NotABlog after a fan asked him for an update, the fan’s idea being that a progress report would deter further inquiries. Here’s Martin’s response:

You really think statements like that would make a difference? Ah, you sweet summer child. I have years of experience with this that tells me otherwise.

But okay, I will try it your way.

Not done yet, but I’ve made progress. But not as much as I hoped a year ago, when I thought to be done by now.

I think it will be out this year. (But hey, I thought the same thing last year).

We used that comment as a jumping off point to discuss what, if anything, Martin owes to his fans. Many of you voted on a poll to that effect, and a lot of you sounded off on the subject in the comments. Let’s take a closer look.


The poll results weren’t as interesting as the comments, though. You all left some fantastic opinions covering a wide variety of perspectives. For example, Zeuxis came up with this involved extended metaphor for how Martin has written the series:

I am an artist, a painter. Consider this:

I have a client who is interested in obtaining a cycle of five paintings called “Heroes”, which I told him about.
I just finished the first painting; he is overwhelmed and buys it on the spot.
Now I tell him, the second painting will take some time. That’s fine with him. He does not want to rush me.
After a couple of months I have finished this second painting – my client is fascinated, buys the painting and looks forward to the third painting.
This I finish in due course – same stuff happens, client enthralled, buys it, looks forward to the next painting.

Now I have made lots of money with these three paintings. Time for some rest. I travel, finish a couple of serial drawings, visit to museums and galleries, and, after a slightly longer period of waiting my client receives his fourth painting.
I tell him, I will expand the cycle from 5 to presumably 7 paintings, as new ideas and stuff popped up while working on these paintings. It’s okay with him, he is actually excited about that.

I travel a bit more, publish a couple of catalogues, finish more drawings, work on other paintings and enjoy my growing fortune and fame.
After some time my client asks how I am proceeding with the next painting of the cycle. I tell him, well, it still needs some time. Ok. Months go by, seasons change, and still I have not finished the fifth painting.
My client gets slightly restless. Well, who is he? I am working on a piece of art. So I travel, publish a couple of catalogues, finish more drawings, work on other paintings and enjoy my growing fortune and fame.
My client is pissed. So am I. What’s he complaining about? He should be honoured to have obtained four paintings. I travel, publish a couple of catalogues, finish more drawings, work on other paintings and enjoy my growing fortune and fame.
My client is furious. He shouldn’t be. Now I am pissed. So I travel, publish a couple of catalogues, finish more drawings, work on other paintings and enjoy my growing fortune and fame. At last, I throw together the fifth painting of this “Heroes” cycle.
My client is mollified and quite likes this work. Bet he should! He buys my outstanding piece and I tell him the next painting won’t take this long.

…Years later, I enjoyed lots of travels, published and sold lots of stuff, am rich and famous…

Can you imagine?? There is this unbelievably impossible person that, years ago, was hooked on this “Heroes” cycle of mine, still annoying and pushing me to finish that cycle. Who am I? His bitch? Me, the most famous artist of the world??

I think this ascribes more anger and haughtiness to Martin than he deserves—for example, when he wrote a year ago about having not yet finished Winds, he seemed more crestfallen than anything else—but I’m not one to turn down a good extended metaphor.


 

I also wonder whether Martin has promised us a sixth and seventh book in the same way that the artist in Zeuxis’ analogy promised his client sixth and seventh paintings. After all, we didn’t commission Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire—he’s writing it and we buy it. To whom, in the end, does he owe the final books, if anybody? Davos 4 King weighed in:

George owes his publishing company if he is contractually obligated he be done by certain date predetermined by both sides. As far as us the fans are concerned he owes us jack because there’s not one of us here who have paid a cent for TWO or ADOS…It’s certainly okay to be disappointed or even aggravated at GRRM slow writing but the man doesn’t owe any of us anything.

But at the same time, Martin is writing a series. (Ibbison calls it “5/7 of a story that he is releasing as a serial.”) While we may not have commissioned the full series from the beginning, does Martin have an obligation to follow through on with some degree of predictability if he wants it to keep that label? JMP thinks so:

As for GRRM, I do think he owes the fans who have bought books 1-5 of ASoIaF, a good-faith effort at finishing the series in a timely manner. I feel this way bc when he put out GoT, ASoIaF was advertised as a “series” so all of us who bought into this series, should feel it’s reasonable to expect GRRM would be diligent in finishing said series, otherwise, in a way, he’s guilty of false advertising.

Ibbison sums the viewpoint up nicely:

Think back to when you first started reading the series. If there had been a big warning label on the cover stating, “Series will probably not be completed until 2023,” would you still have read it?

Me – maybe not. Or I might have decided to wait until it was done.

And what of the argument that Martin is taking a long time to write The Winds of Winter because he’s making it as good as possible? After all, most of the poll respondents above didn’t care how long it took to write—they just wanted a great book. Mike has an interesting take on that:

The whole “give him time to write a great book, don’t rush him!” argument makes sense if time actually helps. I’d argue that Mr. Martin hasn’t written a great (or even very good) book in the ASOIAF series since 2000. I know not everyone agrees, but many do, adding to the chorus of complaints. The longer writing time for Feast and Dance didn’t help.

I think there’s a general sense among fans that the first three books in the series are the strongest, so Mike’s overall point that more time doesn’t necessarily equal better books is a good one. However, he’s also right that mileage varies greatly when it comes to which books people enjoy most, as the results of this poll developed by BryndenBFish attest:

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How about the posts on his NotABlog? If Martin is taking a long time to write The Winds of Winter, would regular progress updates at least ease the pain of the wait? Here’s the delightfully named TrashCanMan on that topic:

As far as his Not A Blog posts, yeah, they can be annoying as he posts about all manner of subjects, seemingly anything and everything EXCEPT winds but that’s what his blog is for. People who visit should go there understanding that it’s not a asoiaf news center. It’s for him to post what’s on his mind.

TrashCanMan thinks there’s a better way to update fans:

That said, my thing is, if he had so much left over from ADWD and has written enough that he thinks he can be done in months, why not release what he has? Appease the fans with something and buy himself some time. But obviously it’s his right to hold off on releasing it until he feels it’s up to par and with the fickle nature of fans I don’t blame him.

Still, he owes us nothing. And some readers whine way too much. Here’s hoping it gets released this year.

Martin does periodically release advance chapters from The Winds of Winterthe most recent one is written from the perspective of Aeron “Damphair” Greyjoy—but that’s a far cry from releasing everything he’s written so far. Fans might love that, but I don’t think Martin’s publishers would.

Thanks again for all the great comments, both the ones posted here and the ones still in the original post. The debate rages on…

31 Comments

  • He owes us nothing, but, when the show ends next year, and we have watched every episode at least 3 times, and his last? book is published, which is different from the show, will we even care? There are too many grateful episodic shows on cable, and Netflix. I have read all 5 books 2x. By the time this book comes out, after the show ends, I might not remember half the detail in the books to understand the last one. I might not have the heart to reread book five

    • I dont, i used to wait and check so often after new updates after feasts of crows, and when he finally released Dance of Dragons. I realised the books was not worth the commitment of the time i had wasted.

      George R Martin does not owe us a thing but i am really happy he sold the tv rights to HBO , which i se as the greatest gift he ever gave his fans. That we will get the conclusion of the tv series within a couple of years is great. If somehow Martin Finishes his book nice maybe but ultimately it wont mater some version of history will have been finished by other Story tellers and i am happy with that.

  • What does he owe us? Oh nothing, we are only the people who bought his products, made him filthy rich, put him on the global map, what does he owe his fans? Maybe a truthful statement about the status of WOW, maybe a small amount of peace of mind for his fans who have waited half a decade for his product, that is what he owes he’s fans, the instant gratification line used by those who leap to martin’s defence fails, when waiting five years is the complete opposite of receiving instant gratification

    • Hey, George RR Martin was “on the map” decades before Game of Thrones. Twilight Zone, Beauty &the Beast, lots \of short stories and some truly unforgettable novels … tWoW is just another jewel in his crown.

      And, even if there were no “fans”, he’d still write.

    • LMAO, ‘half a decade’, do you people read other books, follow other authors, ever taken a literary class? Some of the most famous authors of all time have taken decades to complete a story/series. Let’s take a look at another fantasy writer – a little more obscure – that you probably have never heard of whose name is J.R.R Tolkein. From the Hobbit in the 1930s, to the LOTR Trilogy damn near the end of the 50s, had those 4 books come out. I would guarantee more than half of you WOULD NOT CARE if there wasn’t a television series advancing the story. I’m sure there are plenty of ‘truther’ readers who have never watched the show that are not sniffing their own ass every day trying to not let all of their shit spill over the release of TWOW. Go read another book!

      • Shows how much you know “Willis”, iv read both sets of novels you just mentioned before both were adapted to TV, so your argument on that front is null and void LOL,…it’s funny, you express your opinions on people having a problem with martins writing pace. By bitching about other people bitching, ironic no? Lol hypocrite

        • I would ignore these George fanboys, if they don’t agree with your opinion, they cry, they always cry

      • Whyllis, game of thrones was published 01/08/96. 21 years ago. I don’t think people are being unrealistic getting impatient for WoW.
        Even Christopher Paolini managed to get his Inheritance series done, and he was a kid. And I thought that dries was slooooow in coming out.
        Between inheritance and ASOIAF, I’m never getting into an unfinished series again.
        Oh, and Whyllis you’re being a bit presumptuous and a bit of an intellectual snob regarding your comments about Tolkiens works. Rate yourself much??😎🤓

  • “George owes his publishing company if he is contractually obligated he be done by certain date predetermined by both sides. As far as us the fans are concerned he owes us jack because there’s not one of us here who have paid a cent for TWO or ADOS…It’s certainly okay to be disappointed or even aggravated at GRRM slow writing but the man doesn’t owe any of us anything.”

    I don’t agree with this sentiment. Would GRRM prefer if fans said we’ll wait till you finish the entire series before we buy the first book?

    The only reason there’s a demand for WoW and DoS is because fans have bought the first five books in the series and made the series popular.

    I’m not saying the books aren’t good but he needs us as much as we need him.

  • He owes us nothing. We owe him nothing.

    I will watch the show and i am more excited about that than about the coming books, by now.

    Sort of lost interest in the coming books because we will have a satisfying story on the show.

    The books will feel like an afterthought, no matter how that ending will differ from the show.

  • Well ,he rewards us with his gift of writing ❤️
    But if I could ask for a few things lol
    1) Do not kill of Jon Snow
    2) Cat must MUST beg Jon for forgiveness how she treated him and tell him I LOVE YOU!
    3) JOn and Queen marry and have dragons, KING And QUEEN
    4) JOrah LIVES!
    5) Jon and Arya but see each other and both never die
    6) Arya and Gendry Marry!!
    7) Tyrion sees Tasha again and marries her
    8) The Hound and Sansa marry have little hounds
    9) LittleFinger DIES
    10) Jamie asks Bran for forgiveness 11) Red head fighter marries blonde female knight …the love is awesome. So funny he digs her lol
    12) or the female knight marries Jamie lol
    13) cerci E does a horrid death
    14) Ned,Rob,Maester Amon,Lyliana,Rhagar COMEBACK
    Now ,is that too much to ask for ? 😇❤️💃😋😍❤️🇺🇸

    • So what you want is an incestuous relationship with Jon and Dany and a relationship between a 32 year old Sandor and a 14 year old Sansa? Ugh just yuck and please don’t have children.

      • Yes. We want Jon and Dany to end up together. It has been steering us that way the whole time. Plus during this so called time period that stuff happen. Look through history. Plus, the Starks themselves were known to marry in the family as well. But I not looking for Sansa and the Hound getting together. He is going to be Arya and Gendry’s Lords Guard. It is known.

    • Have you read or watched this series at all? You want the series to end all happily ever after? What made this great was the fact it was unpredictable and didn’t have happily ever after endings. What you suggest would ruin the whole series

  • Are we really still talking about this.?
    After the show is over, fans will have moved on. It will be his loss of revenue and interest. I will always be a fan, but probably not as much as when I read the books, and watched the series.
    It would have been nice to have read the final two books before the end of the show, but there’s nothing we can say or do to change that.
    With that being said, I really do hope to read the last books before I am 6 feet in the ground.
    All men must die

  • A lot of add revenue come from this article title? Same shit over and over. No wonder the community as a whole thinks this website is a joke.

  • Legally he owes us nothing. Morally he owes the readers who have invested hundreds of thousands of hours of human life towards the goal of obtaining a promised completed story. I, for one, will not buy another book or spend another hour of life on the series until it is finished. That way if he dies first I will not have wasted any more time.

  • Yo hope he just ends the whole thing with Winds of Winter. Kill everybody and find out that the Children of the Forest created the Night’s King to rid the world of men. Once done, the wights are de-animated and the King gets to die. 30

  • (the circular pattern from the pilot looks a lot, shapewise, like Drogo’s circular pyre; the spiral pattern mimics the spiraling camera pan-out from the third-season finale; an Other enters a hut while extinguishing a fire while Dany leaves a hut after starting a fire). These may all have nothing to do with each other but, given that no such symbols appear in the books and that we’re on the third instance of what looks like parallelism, it wouldn’t surprise me if, in hindsight, it all ended up being a visual clue.

  • in Season 2, when he visits Renly’s camp, he goes to see Cat and says “I’ve loved you since I was a boy. It seems to me that fate has given us this chance… . She stops him by pulling a knife out before he can even suggest they should get together now that Ned’s dead. Only then did he give up on her and probably decide that Sansa was the fallback. And yet in S4, right before LF pushes Lysa through the Moon Door, he says he only ever loved one woman…”your sister”.

  • It helps me actually as a consumer

    He makes us wait so long that I have no problem WAITING for it to come out on mass market paperback saving me lots of $$$. And I have no problem reading what happens in people’s blogs on each chapter and such.

  • Ill get a resolution through the show. The longer the book takes to be published the less enthused i am about it.

  • Some will call me harsh for saying that (even though others have said it before), but I’m not expecting A Dream of Spring, unless written by someone else. Realistically, at 68 years old, the mind is not as sharp as when you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s ..etc. It’s a fact. Plus, he’s involved in lots of other stuff, is taking the time he has left to enjoy his new found wealth (I don’t blame him) and on top of that, he has the “I don’t owe fans anything” attitude …To prove that he doesn’t care, he mentioned that if he’s unable to finish it, he didnn’t want ANYBODY to finish the series for him …That just tells you that he doesn’t care about his fans, all he care about is his legacy, which he doesn’t want to be tainted by someone else’s writting !

    He doesn’t owe us anything ?!! That’s bulls**t ! We agreed to pay him for portions of the complete job ..he hasn’t completed the job yet and it’s dragging on, and on, and on ..

    To take the example of another on this post. J.R. Tolkien published the Hobbit in 1936 and Lord of the Rings was published at the end of the 1959 ..yes..But the Hobbit was a finite story ! No one was expecting the end of an unfinished story ! Then, yes he took around 12 years to write Lord of the Rings (1937-1949), but he all PUBLISHED them within a year !! No one had to wait a decade find out what happens at the end of the story ! So there is a big difference with GRRM ..he published the first book in 1996, and 21 years later, we’re only at 71% of he complete story ..This is annoying as (insert favorite curse word here) and anyone that is saying otherwise are lying themselves. Because of GRRM, I will never buy a series that isn’t completed …Things would have been different if fans had only paid once the finished product was completed.

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