George R. R. Martin has just announced that The Winds of Winter, the newest book in his series A Song of Ice and Fire, will not come out before Game of Thrones resumes to HBO in May. After posting all day about everything under the sun but The Winds of Winter, GRRM finally dropped the bombshell that fans had been desperately waiting for — and fearing. What happened and how will this affect the series?
Here’s what you need to know.
1. ‘The Winds of Winter’ Will Not Come Out Before ‘Game of Thrones’ Resumes on HBO
On his blog, ironically titled “Not A Blog,” GRRM announced that Winds of Winter is not finished and it will not be released before Game of Thrones resumes its next season on HBO. On his blog, he wrote:
…No one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, ‘I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER’ on or before the last day of 2015.
But the book’s not done.
He went on to say that he’s written hundreds of pages in the book and dozens of chapters, but he still has a long, long way to go. In May, Martin was given a deadline of the end of October, which he thought he could easily meet. Then in August, he was told that the book could definitely be published before the HBO series if he finished it by the end of the year. But he wasn’t able to meet the deadline.
When Martin signed off on his blog post, he sounded defeated and sad. In fact, he labeled his mood as “depressed.”
2. GRRM May Have Confirmed the Cover Art in His Blog Post
In his blog post, Martin included the photo shown above. This may very likely be the cover of the book The Winds of Winter. But when anyone will actually see the cover in print is anyone’s guess at this point, because Martin himself doesn’t even know.
In fact, throughout his blog posts today, Martin shared some feelings of angst about some fans’ obsession with when he will be publishing his next ASOIAF book. At one point he wrote:
Anyway… I travelled, and mostly I am glad I did… I wrote a couple of pages about my various trips and conventions in the Lost Post, and included plenty of pictures. I am not going to bother redoing any of that. I fear that only a few of you are interested in my travels. Many would rather I never ever got up from my computer.”
Martin mentioned several times in his blog posts that he’s never been able to travel or do many things he dreamed about before, and with his advancing age he really wants to take advantage of those opportunities before he no longer can. He’s also involved in numerous projects not at all related to Game of Thrones and has been devoting a lot of time to those.
3. The Show & the Books Have Diverged & Will Continue to Diverge
It looks like the TV series Game of Thrones and the book series will diverge into parallel universes. Fans who have read the books already know there are some big differences between the two. But it looks like those differences are going to get even bigger. He wrote:
So when you ask me, ‘will the show spoil the books,’ all I can do is say, ‘yes and no,’ and mumble once again about the butterfly effect…
After that, he added that some spoilers from season 6 won’t be spoilers at all, because the series and the books have diverged and will continue to diverge as time goes on.
This may not be a huge surprise, since his last book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, was published in 2011. A few days ago, The Independent wrote an article in which it listed some of the reasons Martin has given before for not finishing his latest book. These included traveling, writer’s block, being bothered by fans, and other activities simply being more fun. Martin has said in the past that he only writes at home — not in hotels, not on airplanes, nowhere else — and this likely also played a huge role in why he hasn’t finished the book.
4. George R. R. Martin Has No Idea When the Book Will Be Finished & He’s No Longer Working on a Deadline
In a best case scenario, his publisher could have the book out within three months after he has finished it. But Martin really has no idea when he’ll actually finish the novel. In his blog post, he wrote that he’s always had a problem with deadlines. For some reason, he has a much tougher time writing when he’s under a deadline and that was a big problem with The Winds of Winter. He emphasized that he’s not trying to make excuses, just stating what’s happened in his life. He’s no longer setting a deadline for himself, in hopes that this will help ease his writing problems.
I am going back to my stance from last March, before all this. It will be done when it’s done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.”
Some fans are very concerned by this part of the announcement. On a Reddit thread, one fan pointed out where Martin started talking about how he was going back and making revisions and feeling unhappy about his previous decisions for the book. Because of the complexity of his books, these revisions could cause a big delay in the book’s release. In addition, even without a deadline, he will likely still feel the same kind of deadline pressure.
5. Some Characters Who Died in the TV Series Will Not Die in the Books
Martin added a little caveat/teaser for his fans. He mentioned on his blog that some characters who died in the TV series may not die in the books. Of course, knowing GRRM, no one is ultimately safe. But this could provide some interesting parallel universe type discussions whenever the books eventually do come out.
Fans were pretty unhappy with the news. On one of several Reddit threads on the topic, some fans argued protectively for Martin, saying that we should appreciate what he’s done so far and just be glad that he’s being honest. But other fans said they were hugely disappointed and are assuming, despite what he wrote, that there will still be major spoilers for the book in the upcoming seasons of Game of Thrones. Others said that despite their hope, deep down they knew this was going to be the announcement. One of the best comments simply read: “I felt a great disturbance in the Hype, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”