After what had become for A Song of Ice and Fire fans a seemingly interminable delay, George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons was finally released on July 12, five years and eight months after the release of the previous book in the series, A Feast for Crows. In that nearly six-year absence, the series took on fans like a submarine made out of wiffle balls takes on water.
Laura Miller discusses Martin having to deal with the "Entitlement" generation among other things in this great piece in The New Yorker. Read it here.
I’ve read lots of stuff complaining and whining about George R.R. Martin’s delays with the next installment in A Song of Fire and Ice. Some of it’s not very nice at all. Some of it’s down right hateful and despicable.
I’ll never forget the first time I discovered the series. I couldn’t put A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords down. I drove over three hours to pick up A Feast for Crows and meet Mr. Martin, but I swore not to read it until A Dance with Dragons was released because those two books were originally intended to be a single volume. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited. Then . . . I waited some more. I finally started checking Amazon's and Martin’s websites regularly for updates. I think it was after the second year of waiting that I decided I would just pick it up when it was finished. And no, I still haven’t read A Feast for Crows.
Am I frustrated? Sure. Am I impatient? Sometimes – when I think about it too long. Am I angry? No. Mr. Martin has stated that he doesn’t want to turn in anything that doesn’t live up to the project. Would you, as a reader, want something he didn’t put his heart and soul into? I can already hear someone saying, “He’s gonna die before he finishes the @#$%&* thing!” I certainly hope not. I couldn’t imagine anyone being about to finish the story in the manner Mr. Martin has. But it’s always a possibility.
Where will you be next week? Are you sure? What if you’re the victim of a fatal accident or a sudden terminal illness? How do you plan for that? We don’t. We plan our lives based on what we expect or hope will happen. I’m sure Mr. Martin is no different. A Song of Fire and Ice will probably be his master work. Why shouldn’t he have the time necessary to make it so? I believe it was on his website where it was pointed out that J.R.R. Tolkien worked on The Lord of the Rings for decades. All the time and effort was worth every word.
Consider this. You think we’ve had a long wait. Ever read David Gerrold’s War Against the Chtorr? It’s an amazing series. One of the best alien invasion stories I’ve ever read. The people in it are very real – too real sometimes, just like in Mr. Martin’s, as they are forced to do some extremely bad things sometimes. Seven books are planned; four have been complete. The last one, A Season for Slaughter, was published in 1992. Eighteen years I’ve been waiting to see what happened next. Eighteen. Am I frustrated? Sure. Am I impatient? Sometimes. Am I angry? No.
Anyway . . . the next time you get fed up or you decide to create an I Hate George R.R. Martin fan group (I saw one online – honest – I really saw one), pause and think about this: we may be just as responsible for the delay as any other reason. How would you feel to have thousands of people breathing down you neck, demanding something fantabulously great, right now. That’s a big demand on anybody. Fan demand can be just as harmful to an artist as it can be beneficial.
In the mean time, I’m enjoying the first three books again as I prepare to watch the HBO series. I will probably go ahead and read A Feast for Crows this time. Then I will wait ever how long it takes. Maybe the series will spur Mr. Martin onward, since they plan to do a season per book? Who knows? Let the artist create the art. It’s his work, it’s his property. He’s just sharing it with us.