Lovers of big TV series, fantasy stories, dragons, and epically long novels in which no character is safe have been at fever pitch this weekend, with the latest series of Game of Thrones hitting screens last night/very early this morning/tonight (depending on where you are in the world). There are fans of the books by George RR Martin, fans of the show, and then there are the superfans, as highlighted in this BBC article.
I like it when a programme or film, of done well, can inspire people to read who might never have picked up a book otherwise. I also like discovering new books myself – I hadn’t heard of A Song of Ice and Fire, as the series is known in its entirety, before watching the TV series, but I bought myself a copy of book one at the first opportunity, and haven’t looked back. Book one is the same as series one word for word, but as the novels progress, they become so much richer than the programme ever could be. That’s not to say the series isn’t very good – it actually helped to keep all the characters straight in my head once I did start reading, and as you probably know, there are a lot of characters – but I would recommend reading the books too, providing you can stomach a minimum 1500 pages in each one.
In this extract from a BBC interview with George RR Martin, he talks about his faith in the fantasy genre, emphasising that he always knew it would make it big in a TV/film format – there was always an audience for fantasy novels, he says, so why not TV? Things like the Lord of the Rings films opened the door for fantasy stories aimed at adults, proving that he was right, that there is as much as a market there as we all know there is for children.
Martin also talks about the issues surrounding the adaptation of his novels for the screen; the fact that they are inevitably two different versions of the same story, and the difficulty in condensing a 1500 page novel into a 60 page script. But, as the interviewer remarks, he sounds very calm about the lack of control he has over the show. In novels, he says, the writer has complete control, unlike in television. He has learned not to worry, and just to write what he can, one step at a time, in the knowledge that one day, he will reach the finishing line.