George R.R. Martin: Game of Thrones wouldn't have been possible without The Wheel of Time

George R.R. Martin doesn't think his Song of Ice and Fire books would have succeeded without The Wheel of Time books. And without Game of Thrones, there likely wouldn't be a Wheel of Time TV show.
FYC Special Screening For HBO Max's "House Of The Dragon" - Arrivals
FYC Special Screening For HBO Max's "House Of The Dragon" - Arrivals / Jon Kopaloff/GettyImages

Fantasy fans are living in an age of abundance. HBO's show Game of Thrones, based on author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, bowed out in 2019 after nearly a decade of critical acclaim, inspiring other studios to make their own big splashy fantasy shows. Whether it's Amazon's The Rings of Power or Netflix's The Witcher, our cups runneth over these days, to say nothing of all the fantasy and sci-fi books dropping onto shelves.

Then there's The Wheel of Time, a fantasy TV show that aired its second season on Amazon Prime Video last year. Generally speaking, we're fans of the show here at WiC, in part because the book series of the same name by Robert Jordan is such a behemoth in this space. Jordan published his first Wheel of Time book, The Eye of the World, in 1990, six years before George R.R. Martin published his book A Game of Thrones. Jordan died in 2007, before he could finish his book, but author Brandon Sanderson swept in to write three more volumes working off Jordan's notes. In the end, The Wheel of Time series would span 14 novels, ending with A Memory of Light in 2013.

The Wheel of Time is a hugely important important book series, as Martin himself is happy to acknowledge. "Jordan essentially broke the trilogy template that [The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien] helped set up," Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2020. "He showed us how to do a book that’s bigger than a trilogy. I don’t think my series would’ve been possible withoutThe Wheel of Time being as successful as it was. I’ve always wanted to sprawl, and Jordan, to a great extent, made that possible with his series.

It's true that Martin's and Jordan's series both sprawl out in many directions, with uncounted characters and places to remember. That is different from The Lord of the Rings, which had extensive lore but generally kept a tighter focus on a smaller group of characters and places. "[Robert Jordan's] work really made my series possible," Martin said.

The Wheel of Time Season 2
Dónal Finn (Mat Cauthon) and the Heroes of the Horn. /

The back and forth between Game of Thrones and The Wheel of Time

The authors were friendly behind the scenes, too. Memorializing Jordan in a 2007 blog post shortly after Jordan's death, Martin remembered a time at a convention where Jordan came up with an idea for a comedy bit: Martin would go out first and tell the crowd that he and Jordan were the same person. "While I was doing the intro, and claiming credit for all his books, he slowly entered, walked up silently behind me, and stood looming over me, glowering like Zeus," Martin wrote. "We got a great laugh."

A complimentary quote from Jordan also ran on the cover of A Game of Thrones, which Martin credits with helping get the series off the ground. In return, Martin named a character after Jordan: although he's only mentioned in the books, Lord Trebor Jordayne ("Trebor" is "Robert" spelled backwards) is definitely a nod to the late author. Lord Trebor's seat in Dorne is called the Tor, after the publisher of The Wheel of Time books.

It also feels like Martin repaid Jordan's kindness in a roundabout way by helping HBO adapt the Song of Ice and Fire books as Game of Thrones, which in turn paved the way for Amazon to adapt Jordan's The Wheel of Time books for TV. Jordan may be gone, but his influence is still felt everywhere.

Amazon is working on a new season of The Wheel of Time as we speak. All the books are available to read whenever you want. As for A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin is still working on the upcoming sixth entry, The Winds of Winter.

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h/t Collider