The Winds of Winter
|Author||George R. R. Martin|
|Series||A Song of Ice and Fire|
|Published||TBA (Bantam Spectra/US & Voyager Books/UK)|
|Preceded by||A Dance with Dragons|
|Followed by||A Dream of Spring|
The previous installment, A Dance with Dragons, covered less story than Martin intended, omitting at least one planned large battle sequence and leaving several character threads ending in cliffhangers. Martin intends to resolve these storylines "very early" in The Winds of Winter, saying "I'm going to open with the two big battles that I was building up to, the battle in the ice and the battle at Meereen—the battle of Slaver's Bay. And then take it from there."
A Victarion Greyjoy chapter will begin five minutes after the end of A Dance with Dragons, taking place on the eve of the Iron Islanders' surprise attack on the cities in Slaver's Bay. An Arianne Martell sample chapter that Martin released on his website showed her heading for Griffin's Roost to see the young boy who is calling himself Aegon.
George R. R. Martin confirmed the following characters to have point-of-view chapters in The Winds of Winter:
- Sansa Stark: One chapter was removed from A Dance with Dragons in June 2010, and one sample chapter titled Alayne appeared on Martin's website in April 2015.
- Arya Stark: One chapter was removed from A Dance with Dragons in June 2010, and one sample chapter titled Mercy appeared on Martin's website in March 2014.
- Arianne Martell: Two chapters were removed from A Dance with Dragons in June 2010, and one sample chapter appeared on Martin's website in January 2013.  The latter chapter was read at Harbour Front Literaturfestival in June 2015.
- Aeron Greyjoy: One chapter was removed from A Dance with Dragons in July 2010.
- Theon Greyjoy: One sample chapter appeared on Martin's website in December 2011. It also appears in the UK paperback edition of A Dance with Dragons (part two).
- Victarion Greyjoy: Portions of one chapter were first read at TIFF Bell Lightbox in March 2012.
- Tyrion Lannister: One chapter was read at Eastercon in April 2012, and another one at Worldcon in August 2013, the second of which was later published in the official iOS app on March 20, 2014.
- Barristan Selmy: One chapter was released in the U.S. paperback edition of A Dance with Dragons.
Background and publication
The Winds of Winter was originally intended, in the very early stages of the series, to be the final installment of A Song of Ice and Fire (then conceived as a trilogy). Following his expansion of the series, Martin eventually concluded it would be succeeded by one final novel, A Dream of Spring. By June 2010, Martin had finished four chapters for The Winds of Winter from the viewpoints of Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, and Arianne Martell. In July 2010, he added an Aeron Greyjoy chapter that had been moved from A Dance with Dragons to The Winds of Winter, accumulating around 100 completed manuscript pages. Following the publication of A Dance with Dragons in the summer of 2011, Martin announced his return to writing the series in January 2012, having spent the intervening time on his U.S. and overseas book publicity tours and attending various conventions. He continued to work, with his two co-authors Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, on the planned illustrated series companion guide The World of Ice & Fire concordance and Westeros history, which at one time he wanted to have completed by the end of 2011. He also worked on a Westeros story, the fourth Tales of Dunk and Egg novella, that will eventually find anthology publication elsewhere. A year after that eventual publication, the story and the three previously published Dunk and Egg tales will be collected and published in the U.S. by Bantam Spectra as a stand-alone fix-up novel.
In December 2011, Martin posted a Theon Greyjoy viewpoint chapter from The Winds of Winter; he also announced that another sample chapter would be included at the end of the North American paperback version of A Dance with Dragons, released on October 29, 2013. (International paperback editions of A Dance with Dragons published a year earlier did not include a new, as yet unpublished sample chapter.) In the first quarter of 2012, Martin read new chapters of other characters at public events, including the chapters of Victarion Greyjoy and Tyrion Lannister. Martin continued work editing anthologies and completing a large, highly-detailed series atlas The Lands of Ice and Fire, which was published in October 2012. Martin published another sample chapter from Arianne Martell's POV on his website in January 2013. On March 27, ten days before the Game of Thrones season four premiere, Martin posted a chapter on his website, titled Mercy. Martin said the new chapter is actually an old one, though never published nor publicly read. In April 2015, Martin posted a Sansa Stark viewpoint chapter from The Winds of Winter titled Alayne.
As of April 2015, a total of 10 chapters from The Winds of Winter have been either read publicly or published as a sample chapter. The point of view characters with released material are Victarion, Tyrion, Barristan, Arianne, Theon, Mercy (Arya), and Alayne (Sansa). Several websites, including Goodreads, have dedicated entire discussion panels to any material that has been released from The Winds of Winter, including plot twists, theories, and speculations.
Martin believes the two last volumes of the series will be big books of 1,500+ manuscript pages each. He does not intend to separate characters by geography again, as he was forced to do because of the unpublishable length of A Feast for Crows ' original manuscript. But, as Martin stated in a 2011 interview, "Three years from now when I'm sitting on 1,800 pages of manuscript with no end in sight, who the hell knows".
In April 2011, shortly before the publication of A Dance with Dragons which took him 6 years to write, Martin hoped that "the last two books will go a little quicker than this one has" and estimated that it would take "three years to finish the next one at a good pace". By October 2012, 400 pages of the sixth novel had been written, although Martin considered only the first 200 as "really finished", the rest still needing revisions. In April 2013 Martin estimated that he had a quarter of the book. In the past, Martin has angered some of his fan base for repeatedly estimating his publication dates too optimistically; therefore, he has refrained from making hard estimates for The Winds of Winter's final release date. Ultimately the book "will be done when it's done". In January 2014, Martin’s UK publisher, Jane Johnson, declared on Twitter that the book would "certainly" not be published before 2015. In September 2014 Johnson stated that the book was "not a 2015 release... as far as I am aware". In January 2015 she reiterated that the book was "not in our 2015 publishing schedule as it stands". In April 2015 Martin commented on his blog that The Winds of Winter will not be eligible for the 2016 Hugo Award which is awarded for science fiction or fantasy works of the previous year.
In an April 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin said he would like to have Winds published before the sixth season of the HBO series Game of Thrones (which would cover material from the book) airs in 2016.  In 2012, Martin had acknowledged his concerns about the final novel, A Dream of Spring, not being completed by the time Game of Thrones finally catches up in its story line to the novels. Walt Hickey of FiveThirtyEight and Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post estimate the release date sometime between 2015 and 2018, based on extrapolation of Martin's writing pace.
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