FINALLY the epic TV series is over – and even before it finished, the backlash began. Many viewers were extremely disappointed with the ending and the events leading up to it. Indeed, even before the final episode aired a million people had signed an online petition demanding a rewrite of Season 8.

I personally enjoyed the final season BUT almost all the memorable scenes, for me, were those with little or no dialogue. Think about it and you’ll see that this was bound to happen as so much of the dialogue in the first few seasons came from GRRM’s books. Once the TV show moved past the point where that very well written source material could be drawn on, the quality of the dialogue was going to suffer and that is when the emphasis moved more towards spectacle.

Many have complained that the final season is too rushed and the character development either moves too quickly or doesn’t make sense at all – and some say that because of this, the plot doesn’t make sense either. It is important to remember, though, that although GRRM’s storytelling style is clearly categorically different to that of the showrunners Benoiff and Weiss, the ending of the books is unlikely to be drastically different from that of the show – so if told by GRRM, the plot ultimately WOULD make sense. This is why the only person who can finish telling the story properly is GRRM himself and why I don’t want to read any of the fan rewrites that are all over the place.

GRRM’s storytelling genius lies in letting the plot emerge gradually from the characters and the setting, whereas the subordination of character to plot has been going on throughout the life of the TV show – some characters who are important in the books never appear in the TV show or have little more than a walk-on appearance, the minimum necessary for their part of the plot to happen.

Perhaps the best example of something which is character driven in the books becoming more plot driven on the TV show is what happens in Dorne. My take on the Dorne storyline is that the showrunners would really like to have left it out completely but couldn’t, because of things in the main plot that they knew had to be set in motion (this is conjecture, as those things haven’t yet happened in the books and probably won’t happen in the same way). The Dornish scenes in the TV show ARE partially character driven, but by a pair of characters who aren’t in the Dornish scenes in the books at all – whereas most of the characters and indeed plot which are in the books are completely left out of the TV show.

The Pyke storyline, too, is vastly simplified in the TV show.

We should expect the ending of the books, then, to bear the same sort resemblance to the ending of the TV show as book Dorne (or Pyke) does to TV Dorne (or Pyke). But having said that, first of all many readers aren’t all that impressed with the Dorne and Pyke storylines, regarding them as lengthy digressions- and secondly something REALLY doesn’t add up.

Consider the length of the books published to date:

A Game of Thrones73292,72733h 53m
A Clash of Kings70318,90337h 17m
A Storm of Swords82414,60447h 37m
A Feast for Crows46295,03231h 10m
A Dance with Dragons73414,78848h 56m
TOTAL SO FAR1,736,054

The total running time of the TV series is 72.5 hours which is less than half of the time it would take you to listen to the audio versions of the 5 books already published. No wonder things feel a bit rushed! But actually, it’s far worse than that, given that the show overtakes the books during season 5 which is little more than halfway through its run.

The real question is this: how many more words are needed to tell the rest of the story properly, if you think the show didn’t do it justice? Don’t forget that we are not just talking about the much loved characters in the TV show – there are also major characters (Ariane Martell, for instance) who never made it to the screen but whose story will need to be wrapped up in the books.

That’s three entire seasons of content plus much of another one, that hasn’t yet happened in the books – so about 40% of the material.

Assuming that The Winds Of Winter (book 6) and A Dream Of Spring (book 7) both end up as long as the giant doorstep that is A Dance With Dragons (itself more than four times as long as the average novel), that would be another 830,000 words to conclude the story in the two books that GRRM plans.

But is 830,000 words enough? I would argue absolutely not!

About the first 60% of the TV content is taken from the 1,736,054 words already published and although lots of stuff is left out, viewers seem happy with that (whether or not they have read the books). If this were to continue with there eventually being about as much source material for the later seasons as for the earlier seasons, leading to much the same amount of stuff being left out, that would be around 1.16 million words which is already quite a lot more than 830,000 (almost a whole extra book the size of ADWD).

But viewers are NOT happy with the other 40% of the TV content and feel far too much has been left out – and that suggests that to tell the rest of the story properly, even 1.16 million words (3 books) is not going to do it. Worse still for those of us who would like to find out what “really” happens in the end, if you’ve read any of the sample chapters of The Winds Of Winter that GRRM has released you will know that he continues to introduce new characters and plot elements way over and beyond what is in the TV show – creating new stories to tell, requiring even more words. How many more books are we really looking at – four, five, six? And how many more years is that going to take? More than my lifetime, I fear.