It’s been over five years since the last novel in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, written by George R.R. Martin, and is the basis for the Game of Thrones TV show, came out. The release date of the next book in the series, ‘The Winds of Winter’, remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
A year ago, the author posted on his livejournal blog some a very disappointing announcement. He told his fans that the book would not be coming out in 2016, in time to coincide the release with the sixth season of the TV show, which meant that the plot of the show has now not just caught up with the books, but has surpassed it. It means the show runners are treading in uncharted waters, with only guidelines from Martin about what’s going to happen. This means the ending to this saga won’t be delivered by the person who created the story and this world, but through the television show, which debuted 15 years after the first book, ‘A Game of Thrones’, came out.
Before we dive in deeper, there’s one thing worth remembering: The show has diverged in several plotlines from the books, which means not everything that’s happened in the show is going to happen in the books, which means that maybe the ending will be different, and book readers haven’t been ‘spoiled’, or at least not as much as they thought they’d be.
An interesting thread on reddit discussed the one-year anniversary of Martin announcing that the book won’t be coming out in time to beat the show to it. He wrote about missing a deadline, and then missing another one. Since then, he hasn’t offered any updates, which could mean a number of things. It’s easy to see how more and more people have less and less faith in him ever completing the story compared to the optimism and faith last year.
What caused the change in hope? Well, following Martin’s writing timeline and previous problems, along with where he is today, does raise some concerns. This won’t be the first time a book series wasn’t completed, at all or simply by the original author, but every day that Martin doesn’t offer good news to his fans, more people believe they might not get to read the conclusion of what might be the best fantasy series of all time.
Martin has never been a fast writer. However, he’s now busier than ever, due to becoming famous thanks to the show, or a lot more famous (and richer, good for him) thanks to the success of ‘Game of Thrones’. It took him 11 years to release the 4th and 5th books. There were almost six years between those two books. Martin is close to breaking the record for hiatuses between books in this series. And why is it happening? A number of theories:
- He’s stuck. Not writer’s block, but something along those lines. The Meereenese Knot, which is basically a lot of POV characters (the style in which this book is written) converging into one place, game Martin a lot of trouble with the two previous books. He’s in the same kind of problem now, according to many, whether it’s trying to fit in the POVs in one place (The North, King’s Landing), while stretching the world and his POV characters too much. Instead of carrying on with direct action like in the first three books, Martin dove into world building and slowing down the pace in the next two, which got him into this mess
- He’s writing the last two books at once. People wearing “pink glasses” believe this one. That Martin, who usually writes the same character for a number of chapters which means even getting into the next book, is working both on The Winds of Winter and on what is supposed to be the series finale, A Dream of Spring, simultaneously. As good as it sounds, it’s probably unlikely
- He’s simply tired of it. Maybe it’s depression from letting the show catch up with him, or the vocal few how hate on him on the Internet, or simply getting bored with the story. Martin might just be sick of the characters, the world, anything. It’s not that he can’t write, he simply won’t write. Part of me believes this is holding him back
Martin keeps updating his blog, only he doesn’t talk about the next book. And his infuriates some of his fans, who want to at least hear something about when it’s coming out, or not coming out at all. Remember, some of his fans began reading this series in 1996. That’s a generation gone by, and they still have no idea when it’s going to end.
In the meantime, while life goes on, all we have to do is wait, and maybe read something else (Which we all probably have). It could be ASOIAF related: Dunk & Egg tales or The World of Ice and Fire. Doing a re-read (I’ve done it three times myself) is also recommended, especially for those who have only recently gotten into the series. He’ll finish it when he’ll finish it, or he won’t at all. While it’s fun diving into this world and finding out new things, there comes a point when it’s not just out of the readers hands, it’s simply a waste of time thinking otherwise. Hopefully when it does come out, it’ll live up to the hype.