Waiting (impatiently) on George R.R. Martin

What's a fan to do when a writer like George R.R. Martin leaves a series dangling?

George R.R. Martin fans have been waiting for 5 years for the fifth book of this series.

On a luxuriously child-free getaway to Portland, my husband picked up a copy of George R.R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones”. The fat trade paperback, nearly 700 pages and adorned with rave reviews, seemed a great bet for a weekend of relaxing and reading and reading some more.

It wasn’t until I finished the last page a few days later – technically, as it was 2 a.m., a few mornings later – that I understood what the clerk at Powell’s Bookstore told my husband after seeing the book in his hand. It was something to the effect of, yes, that’s a great book, but once you finish it, you’ll be suffering along with the rest of us.

The gripping epic, as most of the fantasy-loving universe already knows, is only volume one in a planned seven-part series titled “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Four of the books have been published so far. That wouldn’t be such an issue, except that the last cliffhanger came out five years ago.

On Martin’s home page, I found the most recent update for readers eagerly awaiting the next installment. It said Martin hoped to finish the book shortly and hoped it would be available by the fall… the fall of 2008. The update is 2.5 years old.

As it turns out, a contingent of fans are getting very, very impatient. A reporter for The Toronto Star, Cathal Kelly, recently wrote an article titled “Do Yourself A Favour: Don’t Read This Book”, noting that “the most disgruntled Martin fans gather together on blogs and message boards where they question Martin’s output, his age, his physical health, his sanity, his fashion sense, his bafflingly long blog posts, and his refusal to spend every waking moment working on his next book, A Dance With Dragons.”

Martin, a healthy 61-year-old, is most perturbed by fans who fear he will die before finishing the story, the article said. I see why he’s affronted, but, doing the math as well as I can without a publication date for book five, I admit I also see why they’re concerned.

Kelly, who wrote that interest in the books has grown even more lately with an HBO series in the works, refers to “the five stages of George R.R. Martin fandom: introduction, enthrallment, disappointment, disbelief and bitterness.”

What to do? The first book was, as I’ve said, a wild read, though far heavier on violence and death than I like. I could easily stay up late for weeks tearing through the next three massive books in the series, getting much farther in the story before being abruptly halted again.

I waited semi-patiently for each Harry Potter, I read the original Watchmen series month by month in its comic book form, I even watched each TV episode of Lost as it ran. This is the first time I’ve considered waiting to invest more time in a series. If we were waiting on Book 5 of 5, instead of Book 5 of 7, I don’t think I’d hesitate.

Maybe I’ll give it a few more months, and see if another update appears on the page.

Rebekah Denn blogs at eatallaboutit.com.

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