Everything we know about when The Winds of Winter will be released
Plus what you can already read of the latest in George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series
Book fans, it's time to come clean: there was something deeply satisfying about smugly discussing how HBO's Game of Thrones related to George RR Martin's original work. For four long, happy seasons we could comment on our extended knowledge of plots, motifs and character traits – a worthy reward for sticking with Martin through thousands of pages filled with hundreds of minor characters with barely-differentiated names.
But everything changed in season five. For the first time, the series overtook the books, and suddenly we didn't know what was going to happen, and more importantly, we could no longer laud it over those who had only watched it on the telly box. Monday evenings were spent watching, then half-forming unanswerable questions – 'so what does… who is… but then why did...' – as we tried to figure out how to consolidate our knowledge. Now that the season has come to an end, with the finale screening tonight on Sky Atlantic, it's time to reclaim that book-based power, and look forward to the release of Martin's next instalment, The Winds of Winter.
Mr Martin has reportedly said that he is aiming to finish The Winds of Winter before the release of season six, and has cancelled public appearances at San Diego Comic Con and World Convention in order to concentrate on writing. As he put it, he is doing anything 'to clear my decks and get this done.'
Now, if previous years are anything to go by, it is very likely that season six will premiere in April 2016 (though nothing's been confirmed, of course – gods, they've only just finished season five). By our estimation, that gives Mr Martin approximately ten months to finish churning out what will no doubt be an immense novel.
Before you break out your finest Arbor wine in celebration just yet though, let's remember what happened with A Dance with Dragons – the fifth and most recent book in the series. There were possible predictions that the book would be available as early as 2006, with rumours sparked after some chapters were made available online. That would have meant that ADWD would be published just one year after book number four, A Feast for Crows, which came out in 2005. We all know winter lasts a lot longer than that, though, and the novel was eventually released in 2011, a whole five years later. To put that into context, you could probably train to be a Faceless Man of Braavos in that time. A man must learn patience, for a man must wait for quality fantasy fiction.
In January, Martin's publisher confirmed that there were no plans to release The Winds of Winter in 2015, so fans can only hope that 2016 will prove fruitful.
The most recent word from the man himself came in a couple of his Live Journal posts. The following was posted 9 December 2014 when the Game of Thrones Twitter account (not run by Martin) started a countdown to Christmas, which some took rather differently:
'Look, I've said before, and I will say again, I don't play games with news about the books. I know how many people are waiting, how long they have been waiting, how anxious they are. I am still working on WINDS. When it's done, I will announce it here [on GRRM's site]. There won't be any clues to decipher, any codes or hidden meanings, the announcement will be straightforward and to the point. I won't time it to coincide with Xmas or Valentine's Day or Lincoln's Birthday, the book will not rise from the dead with Jesus on Easter Sunday. When it is done, I will say that's it is done, on whatever day I happen to finish.
I don't know how I can make it any clearer.'
Except … on 14 March, Martin kinda, sorta, maybe hinted he would love to attend the 2015 World Fantasy Convention in November if he could finish the book by then. By no means does that actually mean the book would be seen this calendar year.
If you're looking for a taster of what is to come, Martin has released and read several excerpts from The Winds of Winter, including (spoilers therein):
- Theon Greyjoy archived POV chapter
- Arya Stark POV chapter removed from Dance of Dragons and released on Martin's website under the title 'Mercy'
- Arianne POV chapter, Dorne character eliminated from the TV series.
- Victarion POV chapter read by GRRM at a convention and transcribed for your spoiler pleasure
- Ser Barristan Selmy I POV chapter included with release of A Dance with Dragons paperback edition
- Ser Barristan Selmy II POV chapter, detailed summary of Miscon reading
- Tyrion Lannister II POV chapter can be found on with the March 2014 update of the World of Ice and Fire app
- Alayne POV chapter currently on Martin's official website
So, there's plenty of material to keep busy with, including A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (out in hardback in October), the novella series, Tales of Dunk and Egg, and of course, excerpts from The Winds of Winter itself.
In the mean time, keep looking out for the day that they finally make the announcement we've all been waiting for: the The Winds of Winter is coming.