So there I was Sunday evening ready to ease into the highly anticipated 3rd season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, comforted by my knowledge in the source material. I knew it would get crazy eventually, but the machinations and notions set forth in the premiere episode promise to cut through much of the novels’ pomp and circumstance.
The Battle of Blackwater has concluded and the warring sides are licking their wounds, and people are scrambling either for advantage or survival. Up north the remaining rangers from The Wall confront an evil they thought was only a myth (George R.R. Martin really has issues with blue eyes and blond hair) and Jon Snow meets the King-Beyond-the-Wall. In King’s Landing Tyrion finds little praise from his father despite his William Wallace-esque heroism that nearly got his face chopped off by one of his sister’s own guards. Stannis, after watching his entire fleet burn a stunning phosphorescent green courtesy of Tyrion’s wildfire, has locked himself away with the Red Woman, but he promises to break out his official Lord of Light rally monkey. Daenerys arrives in Astapor in search of an army learns about the Unsullied and eight thousand dead babies. Never thought I would write that last sentence with a hint of mirth.
What I found most interesting in the premiere was not any of the mundane items listed above. I was surprised and excited to the point of giddiness at the speed at which the writers are moving the story along. They are taking a few nominal liberties but nothing overt that changes the story at all. It is actually very delicately done. They did this a bit last season especially with Daenerys and the Warlocks. All this raises red banners…I mean flags that winter is coming sooner than I expected, and the relative tameness of the second season has been sacked by the 3rd season’s vanguard.
My only worry with this is that with what the writers have laid out and the small skips they have made here and there have run the 3rd season into many elements of the 4th novel. To date Mr. Martin has written just five, with the latest coming in the summer of 2012 and he is certainly not like Nora Roberts churning these out faster than they can line a birdcage or be shred into seed compost. I have a separate blog for this that includes my recipe for ‘Banal Confetti’ made from the works of James Patterson. Back to my original point, I am worried that after two more seasons at this wildfire spreading pace that we would have caught up with the novels. Can you imagine the look on Joffrey’s puss when he finds out he has to wait?
In the meantime I will enjoy the wanton chaos that is to come. Just please remember no matter how attached you are to a character and no matter how irreplaceable they seem, George. R. R. Martin would likely disagree. And he will prove it to you, sooner than later. I remember one of the shows writer/creators saying in an interview that season 3 was the one they knew they had to get to so that they may fully realize their vision of this series. The writers, like the dragons, are charring and masticating the fat to get to that warm meaty center where the feast really begins. I know that is a cumbersome metaphor, but I, like Mr. Martin, have little time to mess around.