Tower of the Hand

Good Fortune in the Decade to Come

Jan 3, 2020, 9:00 AM ET
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What does the future hold for our favorite books and offshoots? Well, I've looked into the flames and I've seen what is to come in the decade ahead. Like all seers, my interpretations of prophecies range from bold to ridiculous, and all them are likely to be proven very, very wrong. But I've enjoyed this admittedly self-indulgent exercise and I invite you to add your thoughts and predictions, too.

(Artist: Peter Mckinstry)(Artist: Peter Mckinstry)

The Written Word

The Winds of Winter will be released in 2020. I have no inside information about this, but I'm optimistic that the book is much closer to being done than otherwise, and that we'll get an announcement from George R. R. Martin that he's finished the book in spring and that we'll finally get our hands on it in late fall.

After GRRM makes the announcement, there will be some initial excitement, but the buzz will quickly be dismissed by a few loud voices. They'll point out that long-suffering fans have already gotten an ending thanks to Game of Thrones, even if it's an ending that they've argued should be re-written. Others will be concerned that readers will be too confused by the new book's timeline, which of course picks up immediately after A Dance with Dragons, many, many Game of Thrones deviations ago. Everyone will agree that The Winds of Winter matters less now than it's ever mattered before.

Despite that, The Winds of Winter will be a #1 bestseller when it's released. At first, it will be received warmly by diehard fans, despite its maddening tendency to raise even more questions than to answer old riddles. There will be many excited theories written about it here. Elsewhere, readers will say the book explains a lot of what happened during the later years of the TV show, while others lament that the TV show would have been better served by including one or two significant events from the new book.

Shortly thereafter (like days later), a small but vocal contingent of readers will decry The Winds of Winter as being a huge step down in quality from the inarguably excellent A Dance of Dragons. Besides, we already know how it all ends thanks to Game of Thrones, so why do we even need any more books? In the same breath, they'll demand that George R. R. Martin finish the last damn book already.

GRRM won't commit to a specific date for A Dream of Spring, but he does insist that it will indeed be the final book of the series and that the ending of the story will be easier to write than the previous installments. Then, in late 2025, when 37% of people are convinced that it will never come, GRRM announces A Dream of Spring is done. A Song of Ice and Fire is done.

The Small Screen

HBO's hopes for more successes in the world of Westeros will hinge on House of the Dragon; none of the other proposed successor shows to Game of Thrones will make it to series. Marketed as a "limited series," HBO will announce that the entirety of House of the Dragon will unfold over thirty episodes in three seasons. Halfway through, HBO will add six more episodes to the order. The show will focus on the events leading up to and during the Dance of the Dragons, the notorious civil war between would-be King Aegon II and would-be Queen Rhaenyra. There will be a lot of Targaryens in it.

Learning the wrong lesson from the success of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon will be heavy on spectacle. But the spectacles will be impressive and enough to satisfy most viewers, even as critics long for more time to spend with the vast cast of characters. Also, some viewers will remain upset that the show didn't even try to give silver hair and purple eyes to every Targaryen.

The show ultimately won't reach the viewership of Game of Thrones at its peak. Nevertheless HBO will still see Westeros as its best chance to compete against the other streaming giants' super franchises. With The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring finished at last, HBO will begin exploring true spinoffs to Game of Thrones. They strike gold when Maisie Williams agrees to revisit the character of Arya Stark for a single season, picking up on her adventures beyond the Sunset Sea. It's a massive hit.

As a result, HBO begins development on yet another slate of successor shows, this time with an eye toward genuine limited series. One in particular raises eyebrows. By then HBO will have long resisted calls to reboot Game of Thrones. But one enterprising filmmaker sees an opportunity to potentially retcon one particular event from the final controversial season to better match the ending written by George R. R. Martin; she proposes a new show called "Dream of Spring." I'll have more to say about that one... in 2030.

The Odds and Ends

Sadly, there won't be any more Dunk and Egg entries in the 2020s. Instead, George R. R. Martin will make good on his promise to focus his energies on the final books of Ice and Fire. GRRM will continue to edit a few anthologies throughout the decade. Near the end of the 2020s, GRRM will unexpectedly publish a brand new book that has nothing to do with the world of Westeros. It will come from an idea that he had while working on a script for Game of Thrones so many years ago, but only now did he have the time to finish it. He says there's no way it will ever be made into a TV show; it will be unfilmable.

To my great disappointment, we still won't have a great video game adaptation of the books, even though the word "game" is literally in the title. A few attempts will be made by lesser known companies including a poorly conceived VR farming sim. I fail to muster enough energy to write anything about them, despite getting review copies.

The only phrases from Game of Thrones to remain in popular usage by the end of the decade will be "Winter Is Coming" and "I drink and I know things." A band will form under the name "Valar Dracarys." One of their songs will chart and soon the High Valyrian words will be more associated with the band than with Game of Thrones. Kids who were born with the names Arya and Khaleesi will grow up never seeing an episode of the show their folks used to watch and re-watch. ("What's a rerun?" they'll ask unironically.)

And that's it for my predictions on the 2020s. If you didn't like them, just forget them. A forgotten prophecy couldn't come true, right?

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Warning: Discussions are not subject to scope. That is, commenters can and often do discuss events from the most recent A Song of Ice and Fire book and/or Game of Thrones episode.

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