We’re two days into 2016. The Winds of Winter hasn’t come out.
George R.R. Martin, who shot an arrow through the heart of the entire fan base with his deflating blog post a year ago, has either made incredible secretive progress while writing the sixth book in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ over the last year and has been able to keep it a well-hidden secret.
Or perhaps the growing pessimism within the fan base is there for a reason. Martin did say he isn’t going to give the fans any more updates about his ‘Winds of Winter’ progress and will only let them know when it’s done.
But that hasn’t stopped a large portion of the book lovers (which are separate from the show fans in a number of ways, yet numerous, if inferior in numbers) to expect some sort of recognition as we switched from ’16 to 2017, just like he did last year. As of now, there hasn’t been any word.
There’s a good chance he’s keeping radio silence for the simple reason he never intended to let anything out. I mean Martin does blog, quite a lot. But not about the sixth book. He blogs about Wildcards, about the New York Giants and New York Jets. About anything Pop Culture. About things in New Mexico. About life. But not about the big elephant in the room, which has been over five years in the making.
For those who love to follow forums that discuss A Song of Ice and Fire, it has been difficult to miss the growing number of threads and posts that don’t actually mention the plot any longer. Suddenly, more and more posts are being written trying to decipher the number of pages Martin writes in a certain timeframe, attempting to figure out when the book will be out.
Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come out in 2017 as well. Martin hoped he could finish the book by the end of 2015, which would have meant sending it to his editors and publishers in time for the book to be released before the beginning of season 6. No one is hoping that he beats season 7, and no one is going to be surprised if the series concludes (it ends with season 8) before book six comes out.
There’s something tragic about it in more than one way. The ending to his epic series will be told by someone else. Sure, the books are a completely different experience, but a lot of what still hasn’t been published in writing has been revealed on screen, a trend that will continue. Remember, D&D know how the story ends, and while they don’t tell the full story and some plot lines have taken a different course, it’s not going to be too far off what Martin has planned for the books.
And wait, there’s more depressing news. Almost all of the sample chapters Martin has published or read in various conventions were written in 2011, 2012 or perhaps 2013. Maybe his most recent release, ‘The Forsaken’, an Aeron Greyjoy POV, is a bit newer. But overall, we have no indication that he’s made significant progress while Game of Thrones has become the biggest show on the planet. Maybe he hasn’t made any progress at all.
Personally, I’m one of those who believe he’s either given up on the series or written himself into a dead end; either way, he’s not enjoying it anymore. Martin isn’t someone who loves talking to his fans about his progress, not anymore. He hates fan fiction. He doesn’t like fans analysing and theorizing where the series is going. He hates (and for good reason) people discussing his health and whether or not he’ll ever finish the series. The fans might not get their next book or a ending to this series, at least not from him. But it’s OK. People will move on, even those who picked up the books in 1996 and have been waiting for over 20 years for resolution.
But Martin himself has already missed out on the opportunity to tell the ending his own way. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t catch up to the series, but I doubt he thought it would take him this long to complete it. It’s been 16 years since A Storm of Swords, the third book in the series, came out. Only two books have been published in that time.
Another depressing realization is that the seven books Martin promised won’t cut it. Many think that The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring would need to be massive beyond belief in size and page count in order to wrap up everything Martin has been building towards. And assuming it is taking him this long to complete six books, forget about it when it comes to seven or eight.
The optimists would say that he’s actually working on two books at once. His writing style isn’t that organized; moving on to chapters that will be included in the next book does make sense. So if A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons came out over the course of 11 years, this means there’s a chance the books all come out by 2022?
From the bits of information we have, and from the snail-pace of the known progress, that’s actually an ultra-optimistic projection. It’s 2017, and I believe we may never see another book in the best fantasy series ever written.