It is with a heavy heart that I announce the soon to be passing of HBO’s massively popular television series, Game of Thrones. Based on the popular fantasy book series by George R. R. Martin (GRRM), the first season premiered back in 2011 to huge popularity and critical acclaim. It soon became a juggernaut, racking up awards and ratings alike. I first became hooked on the show right before the premiere of the second season, after a friend (and most of the Internet) recommended it to me.
As an avid lover of fantasy and science fiction, I was thrilled for a piece of work such as this that had the ability to capture such a mainstream audience. What followed after that was straight out of a romance novel – girl meets series, girl falls in love with series, series proceeds to break her heart. I watched the first season of Game of Thrones much like other legions of fans – enthralled, excited, and eventually, emotionally shattered. I told myself I wouldn’t read the books, why would I read what I already saw? Eventually (two weeks later, a big hold out clearly), I caved and proceeded to devour all five books, including the then newly released A Dance with Dragons. And let me tell you readers, it was an experience, and one to which I often return.
My first read through of the book was rushed and frantic, racing ahead to find out key plot points, barely slowing down to enjoy what I was reading. It’s a fact that I am not too proud of, and I still look back on it with dismay. But eventually, my book reading synced with the new seasons’ release dates, and I began a second and third re-read of the books (paired with the premiere of season 3 and 4 respectively). The second read through was much slower then the first, but still a fairly rushed re-read to remind myself of the plot intricacies and details for which the series was known. But that third read? It was a glorious, drawn out, nitty gritty dive into the world building that GRRM had so expertly created.
It’s been seven years since A Dance with Dragons was published, with no timeline in regards to the rest of the titles’ release dates. This on its own, was enough to pain me. But then came the inevitable media backlash. Even as the show’s numbers swelled, critics and viewers began complaining about how certain plots were being handled, mainly the mistreatment of female characters and deviations from the books for no other reason than gratuitous violence. And it was at this point, much to my chagrin, that I had to agree with them.
It’s taken a few years of plot changes and character assassinations for me to understand that the time had come to separate the book and show, something that wasn’t coming easily to me. So while I am sad that the show is coming to an end, I’ve also made peace with its eventual ending. I can now celebrate both the show and the books for what they are, an introduction to high fantasy and incredible world building that appealed to a mass audience, and I can’t wait to see what (if anything) comes next. If the remaining books never get published, at least I have the show. And if the show is the only concrete ending I get, I can always imagine my own book ending. As Cersei Lannister said, “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die”, but I think for most fans of the show and the books, we’ll count the overall experience as a win.
-Katie Neylan, Head of Adult Services
Don’t forget to check out all five Game of Thrones book and seasons 1-7, available at the Livingston Public Library.