I do love fantasy novels and stories. Growing up as a child, one of my earliest exposures to the genre was reading books by popular British fantasy author, Enid Blyton, who wrote mainly for children. As I began to advance in my years, I transitioned into more mature fantasy novels such as the Harry Potter series, which I read a lot in my high school. On getting into college, I stepped into the world of more hardcore fantasy series containing immense worldbuilding, a wide array of characters, and content spanning many books (up to thirteen books in some cases). Among them, my favourites were books by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn Trilogy), Scott Lynch (The Gentleman Bastards), Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind) and George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire).
Of course, like any fan of great fantasy literary works, the news of an adaptation of any of my favourite series is something that generates feelings of excitement and some wariness for me. Excitement because I get to see my favourite characters from novels come alive on the screen, portrayed by fantastic actors. Wariness because, I begin to wonder how true the adaptation would be to the source material. And I can assure you, my wariness is not unfounded; take a look at the liberties taken with the Harry Potter movies. I rest my case. As a reader, I believe that the importance of a published source material for adaptations cannot be overstated.
In the year 2011, a show debuted on HBO. That show was The Game of Thrones. For those who may not know this, The Game of Thrones is originally based on a novel series called A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R.R. Martin. At the time the series premiered on HBO, I had already read the books (five at the time), which were supposed to be the source material. As I had enjoyed the books immensely, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the series and the novels. I was impressed. Season one was masterfully adapted, drawing its content directly from the book one. The same quality of adaptation continued in season 2 and all the way to the fifth season. However, by the fifth season, I was genuinely concerned. So far, each preceding season had drawn its content directly from the books. The show wasn’t over, but there was no printed source material; the reason being that there were no books released after the book 5 (the book series remains incomplete as I write this). Supposedly, the author had sketched out the rest of the story for the showrunners and assured fans that the show will not affect the direction of the books1. At this point, I logged out from the show, refusing to watch anything after the fifth season.
Now, I do support big screen adaptations of fantasy novels, as it brings the stories to life in such a way that it can reach an audience of people who may have never read the books or ever will. However, I do believe that having a structured source material, a published book, is equally important. This may have gone on to tell on the polarised fan view of the final season of Game of Thrones2. Everything after the fifth season felt winged to me. Perhaps, if the author had taken his time to write a complete story, the results may have been different. How all these will affect the release of subsequent books in the series is yet unknown. The author claims it won’t change anything but who knows? It has after all been eleven years since the release of the last book and we know not the day nor the hour or if ever, we will see the remainder of the books published.
1. Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Says the Show’s Ending Won’t Change His Books. https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/a28736145/game-of-thrones-george-rr-martin-ending/.
2. GOT fans are all saying the same thing about House of the Dragon. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/entertainment/a40938679/game-of-thrones-house-of-dragons-fan-reaction/.