Geeky Novel Word Counts–How Long Are You In For?

Books GeekMom

Earlier this week, I found myself in a discussion about the lengths of various novels. It was spurred by two similar conversations I’ve found myself in repeatedly, based on the recent Game of Thrones TV show and the release of the final Harry Potter film. They go like this:

Game of Thrones Harry Potter
Friend: *complaint about TV show, usually about a character being killed off* Friend: *complaint about final movie, usually regarding the slowness of Part I*
Me: You should try reading the books. I think it’s a much better experience. When characters are killed off so quickly, you don’t have a chance to get attached to them in the TV show. You also don’t see the variety of points of view that the book offers. Me: Did you read the books first? The movies have to cut a lot out, so it seems like people who didn’t read didn’t understand a lot of the first part of Deathly Hallows.
Friend: There are books?! Friend: Yeah, they’re just too long.

A Dance With Dragons, the latest book in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, weighs in at 1,040 pages. (The series title is actually A Song of Ice and Fire, but TV-only people have never heard that name.) Deathly Hallows is practically bite-sized in comparison at 784 pages.

All this got me wondering how those two compared to other epic series. Available word counts vary, and since I’m not inclined to count the words individually myself, consider the following to be reasonably accurate, but not perfect.

Your favorite may be missing from this sampling–feel free to add it in the comments. But there’s one that I intentionally left out because it threw the chart off so far. If you decide to get into Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, you’re in for 4,012,859 words, over 635 chapters and 11,308 pages. Even in audio format, you’ll be committing to 17 days, 11 hours, and 30 minutes. Deathly Hallows doesn’t sound so bad any more, does it?

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14 thoughts on “Geeky Novel Word Counts–How Long Are You In For?

  1. A couple of addendums:

    1) Robert Jordan died before the completion of his series, though they’ve brought in another author to wrap it up.

    2) A Song Of Ice and Fire still has two books left in the series (if the last two don’t need to be split into multiples like the 4th and 5th books were due to length).

      1. Waltz, Rafe, I think it also makes a difference that they’re at completely different reading levels. IMO it takes much longer to read any of the Song of Ice and Fire books compared to a Harry Potter book, since the latter is meant for a younger audience and reads fairly quickly.

  2. I googled to find the wordcount of Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series but no luck. Know where I can find it?

    1. Caren–Most books have word counts on them at Clan of the Cave Bear comes in at 208,533.

    1. Malazan Book of the Fallen is my favorite Epic series right now. It’s Word count is 3,325,000.

  3. GAH! You forgot the Legend of Drizzt series. With 20 books and over 7,000 pages, it dwarfs all but the Wheel of Time series.

    1. I did a quick look on Guards! Guards! clocks in at just under 100,000 words. So that’s roughly 3.5 million for the series.

  4. Actually, the book Deathly Hallows WAS long, but not because of its page count: it seemed to go on forever. Rowling did wonderfully with the first three or four books, and even five was fairly good, but I suspect she just couldn’t let her characters go. The last installment was largely rambling as far as I can recall. I suppose there’s just the chance I lost interest in the story and didn’t care so much anymore, but even at the time I remember begging her to cut to the chase.

    1. Oh. Maybe it wasn’t just me. I read the last book in the middle of the night, on an assignment when the only free time ( which included showers, laundry, planning, setup and ‘downtime’ ) was 15 minutes after each meal and between midnight and 8AM. Sleep deprivation means that to this day, I have very little memory of the book, and felt it just went on forever. But at least it’s not just me! =D

  5. Also, I couldn’t find the word count for Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, but I’m sure it’s pretty high… I have the ebooks (it’s my husband’s favorite series and I was talked into reading it; I’m on Temple of the Winds and even though it’s not a fantastic novel, I’m addicted) so I’m not sure how thick the books would be in print. I just click the “next page” button and I’m done.

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