I know it has been a while since Maisie Williams called Game of Thrones book readers snobs, but I needed time to really collect my thoughts on the matter. It is sometimes difficult, in this time of outrage as bonding, to really discern the true core of one’s annoyance. Stupid jerks that we are, the viewers of Game of Thrones have been broken into two groups: those who have read the books and those who have not. Animosity has grown from, I think, the book readers’ glee at hiding The Red Wedding so well. Ever since then, any changes prompting an outcry from readers has been met with a sense of justice from non-readers and a label of snob for book readers.
I don’t think snobbery is the right word or even the correct interpretation of our intentions when we book readers complain. No, no, not at all.
You see, and you probably know from personal experience, that every book series one immerses oneself in takes time, dedication, and some effort to allow the first two to take place. In fact, some might argue that the Song of Ice and Fire series may take the most of those three things in comparison to other book series. Behold:
“A Game of Thrones” (1996) - 694 pages hardback
“A Clash of Kings” (1998) - 708 pages hardback
“A Storm of Swords” (2000) - 973 pages hardback
“A Feast for Crows” (2005) - 753 pages hardback (but feels like a million pages)
“A Dance with Dragons” (2011) - 1,040 pages hardback
There are two more books to come, most likely numbering into the thousands of pages. This means that readers have already ingested 4,168 pages of George RR Martin’s in-depth descriptions of food, sex, people, battles, clothes, conversations, metaphors, plots, and animals. And trees. And White Walkers. Giants, Thenns…you get it.
Going on personal time spent and the general agreed upon time spent by others, we are looking at roughly a month to read each book; longer if you care to catch and digest every thread Martin dangles before you. Then you’ve got a month per re-read spurred by the series (“Renly is gay in the books?!”) and the involved poring over the detailed House members in the index of each book. Years are spent just reading and then years are spent waiting to see what happens to your favorites in the next promised book.
Decades. We are talking decades spent by some readers.
So when a character we were led to believe was important and/or one who still exists in the books, is killed off, completely dropped, or rolled into a combination of three other characters in the series? Yeah, we tend to react pretty strongly.
When the complex internal struggle of a character is deftly translated to the screen, only to be obliterated by a poorly thought out attempted rape scene? You are goddamn right we are going to gnash our teeth and talk about it until we pass out from rage.
When key scenes of growth are pulled from a female character and handed to the men around her in order to make room for more nudity and sexposition? Yes, we will become very irate and we will complain.
This is not snobbery. This is something much more personal and complex than that. This is a feeling more akin to betrayal or the feeling that a shared experience has been destroyed or corrupted. We spent a lot of time in Westeros with these characters and their stories. Wouldn’t it be odd if we didn’t feel this way?