There is only one reason that I continue to subscribe to HBO, and it’s not the occasional episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, the opportunity to see movies that have not yet made it to Netflix or the slim hope that there will be another season of The Newsroom. It is to watch Game of Thrones. To watch each episode of each season as soon as they are available. That is the only reason that I have continued to pay for the premium cable network. But now that season four, and the adaptation of the 3rd book in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, A Storm of Swords, has been completed, I cannot recall a single event in the next two books of the series that I feel an overwhelming need to experience on screen. And even though the producers of the TV series have thrown a few interesting curve balls our way, they’ve thrown enough bad ones to make me question the value of paying $18 a month just to watch three months of GOT in the Spring.
Novel author George R.R. Martin reached the plateau of his story with A Storm of Swords. After the The Red Wedding, the poisoning of Joffrey Baratheon, the second trail by combat for Tyrion Lannister, the Battle for Castle Black and the arrival at The Wall of Stannis Baratheon, and the death of Tywin Lannister, this story was begging for its author to start moving toward the conclusion, something that could have been accomplished within the next two books. Instead, the surviving character we already know get bogged down in story lines that seem to go nowhere. Daenerys remains stuck in Meereen, failing largely to control either the population or her dragons. Stannis and Jon Snow remain stuck at the wall, worrying about Wildings and White Walkers but not really doing anything about either. Sam and Gilly wander through western Westeros. Brienne and Pod wander through eastern Westeros. Tyrion and Jorah Mormont wander through western Essos. Arya has some interesting adventures, but not much else seems to happen for all the other characters we know.
Then there are the new characters, Iron Islanders, the Dornish, even new Targaryens that might have some claim to the Iron Throne. Clearly Martin wanted to expand his saga to cover these new kingdoms and people, but at this point I really just don’t care. Just because you set your story in the seven kingdoms of Westeros doesn’t mean I want to read about all seven kingdoms. And after killing off so many of the characters I was already invested in, what makes you think I would want to get invested in new characters that you will slaughter. Time to start moving toward a conclusion, getting Dany off her throne in Meereen and moving across the Narrow Sea, bringing the White Walkers down from The Land of Always Winter for their big conflict with Dany and her Dragons (assuming that is how the story will end). But I doubt even the next book, The Winds of Winter, will start to significantly resolve these storylines.
I’m not giving up on the story. I’ll continue to read the books as (and if) they are released. But I’m not paying extra for the TV series. I’ll just wait for that distant day when these next few seasons are released on DVD or Blu-ray or finally make their way to Netflix. Because from where I'm sitting, the best parts of this story are behind us, and unless Martin does something truly spectacular with the next book, I have no reason to follow it in more than one medium.