A Game of Thrones was first published 21 years ago, on August 1, 1996. Since that time there have been four other A Song of Ice and Fire novels, multiple short stories, and a hugely popular show on HBO that brings in over 10 million viewers and costs just as much per episode.
While fans of the Game of Thrones TV show have to wait another 18 months until the final season, the wait pales in comparison to what fans of the books have been going through. Since the first book was published, enough time has passed that a couple could conceive a child and raise it to adulthood.
Granted, the Song of Ice and Fire novels are more like tomes and take a long time to write. Each book is longer than the last, with the most recent weighing in at 1,040 pages. That book, A Dance With Dragons, came out in 2011. But along with each book having more pages, each book is also taking longer and longer to write. The book before that, A Feast For Crows, came out in 2005. And before that, A Storm of Swords was released in 2000.
But it wasn't always this way. The first three novels each took two years to write. Between 1996 and 2000, a novel was published every two years. After that, George R. R. Martin took five, then six years to write the next two books. It's now been six years since the last book was published, with no release date for The Winds of Winter in sight. Book readers have to prepare themselves for longer and longer waits between each book.
George R. R. Martin does his best to assuage fans that he is writing A Song of Ice and Fire. Fans can go on his website and read an excerpt from The Winds of Winter from the point of view of the Dornish Princess, Arianne Martell. Arianne's character isn't part of the main storyline with Jon, Dany, and the Lannisters and her character didn't even make it into the TV show. Plus, the excerpt came out in May 2016.
In the meantime, Martin has worked on multiple anthologies and short stories. He posts frequently on his blog, "Not a Blog," about his writing, work, and the fantasy industry. Because Martin works on so many projects, some fans criticize him for dragging his feet on completing the Song of Ice and Fire novels.
The criticism reached a head in 2009, when fantasy superstar Neil Gaiman was quoted as saying "George Martin is not your [expletive for a female dog.]" That exchange was eight years ago.
Although Gaiman is right that Martin does not deserve to be bullied for his writing decisions, there comes a point where we just have to look at the facts and be objective about them. Every year, George R. R. Martin takes longer and longer to complete the next Song of Ice and Fire novel. It's to the point now that the books have close to 10 years between them. Although George Martin finished the first three novels in a burst of energy, he's clearly slowed down when it comes to finishing up the seven book series.
And unlike many high-profile authors, George R. R. Martin doesn't believe in using the help of ghostwriters to finish his work. Tom Clancy, James Patterson, K.A. Applegate, V.C. Andrews, Robert Ludlum, and Isaac Asimov are just some of the big-name authors who have employed other writers to help them finish their stories and get more out to hungry readers. But George Martin, who doesn't even believe budding writers should practice by writing fanfiction, refuses to hire ghostwriters and says that he will be the only one to write every word of A Song of Ice and Fire.
George R. R. Martin is slowing down exponentially. If the past is any indication of the future, he will never finish his ASong of Ice and Fire novels.
But hey, at least we have HBO!
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