By Dia Ascenzi
2016 has arrived, and with it comes the growing excitement for George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, book six of A Song of Ice and Fire. This is it: the year Martin hopes to have the book finished. Last year felt very, very long for many of us fans, as we hoped the book would be released before the new year. While little has definitively been revealed about the book’s release, Martin shares the opinion of his fans when he states, “I wish it was out now.” This gives many of us hope, but for those of us who had to wait six years for the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons, well, we are used to waiting. We expect it.
In his blog, Martin used to regularly update his fans on how the books were coming along, reassuring us all that he was working diligently to bring us more tales from Westeros. But when the show was released and the books and show alike became massively popular, George began to talk about his writing progress less and less. While I understand he is busy enough as it is, and we readers are not entitled to know every update in his writing process, it still frequently eats away at me, not having any idea when the book will be finished. Every now and then, rumors will circulate about a suspected release date, but mostly all of these rumors are just that: rumors.
I vividly remember December of 2014 when, in the spirit of Christmas, Martin’s editors posted on Twitter talking about “the 12 days of Westeros.” Fans went ballistic. Reddit went haywire. Fans swore that, on the final day of these “twelve days,” Martin would announce a release date for The Winds of Winter. I was pretty hopeful, myself. The very next day, however, George R.R. Martin sent his regards. On his blog, Martin made a post saying there was no merit to these theories, and that it was a playful Christmas announcement. Countless hearts collectively broke with the announcement, a pain comparable to the Red Wedding. He went on to say that when the book is released, there will be no riddle, no hidden message, no countdown. He is not leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for us to follow. When the book is done, he will announce it clear and simple on his blog. Until then, we must wait.
One popular series of gifs arose in response to Martin’s increasingly lengthy time between novels, titled George RR Martin hard at work on the new books. Rest assured, despite my initial impression that it was satire of his own making, this is not actually George R.R. Martin blowing bubbles, playing bongos, and jumping naked on a trampoline. The notorious hat makes it a convincing impression, but it is not Martin, no matter how much we kinda wish it were.
Season five of HBO’s Game of Thrones was a milestone for book-readers. It was the season that caught up with the books for most characters’ story arcs. This means that if The Winds of Winter does not come out before the show’s sixth season in April, the show will surpass the books. This may spoil the plot of the books, or it may be very different from the books. The show’s creators have the rights to do whatever they want. The terror in book fans everywhere is real, nonetheless. When the New Year hit, I was very hopeful that we would soon hear word that the book would be done shortly, and that for another year the books were safe from HBO spoilers. However, in this lengthy post, Martin breaks the news on his blog. Despite his greatest efforts, The Winds of Winter will not be done in time for the next season of the show. I am as heartbroken as you, despite Martin recently claiming, “no one could possibly be more disappointed than me.” At least he knows what happens to Tyrion and Arya and if L + R really = J (I mean, it has to, at this point… right?!). We still have to wait to know for sure. Whenever The Winds of Winter is released, it will be great. Until then, the Reddit-coined “hype-train” goes on.
The Winds of Winter is the sixth of seven planned books. It will be epic, and a lot of loose ends will be tied. Fan theories ten years in the making will be proven or disproven. Many readers and I have read the series multiple times, and will do so again in preparation for The Winds of Winter. One thing’s for sure. When the book’s finally released, you would be wise to read it as fast as possible, for the night is dark and full of spoilers.