As of last season, HBO’s Game of Thrones had officially caught up with all of George R.R. Martin’s currently published “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. It was a situation that had many a faithful reader of Martin’s long-running saga wondering if it were possible that the much anticipated sixth installment, The Winds of Winter, would arrive AFTER the next season of the show (the former presumably being the source material for the latter).

Martin took to his Livejournal today to address the topic:

THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.

Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but 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.

Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there’s a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. (Those ‘no pages done’ reports were insane, the usual garbage internet journalism that I have learned to despise). But there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still… and that’s if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.) Chapters still to write, of course… but also rewriting. I always do a lot of rewriting, sometimes just polishing, sometimes pretty major restructures.

I suppose I could just say, “Sorry, boys and girls, still writing,” and leave it at that. “It will be done when it’s done.” Which is what I have been doing, more or less, since… well, forever. But with season 6 of GAME OF THRONES approaching, and so many requests for information boiling up, I am going to break my own rules and say a little more, since it would appear that hundreds of my readers, maybe thousands or tens of thousands, are very concerned about this question of ‘spoilers” and the show catching up, revealing things not yet revealed in the books, etc.

My publishers and I have been cognizant of these concerns, of course. We discussed some of them last spring, as the fifth season of the HBO series was winding down, and came up with a plan. We all wanted book six of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to come out before season six of the HBO show aired. Assuming the show would return in early April, that meant THE WINDS OF WINTER had to be published before the end of March, at the latest. For that to happen, my publishers told me, they would need the completed manuscript before the end of October. That seemed very do-able to me… in May. So there was the first deadline: Halloween.

Unfortunately, the writing did not go as fast or as well as I would have liked. You can blame my travels or my blog posts or the distractions of other projects and the Cocteau and whatever, but maybe all that had an impact… you can blame my age, and maybe that had an impact too…but if truth be told, sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t, and that was true for me even when I was in my 20s. And as spring turned to summer, I was having more bad days than good ones. Around about August, I had to face facts: I was not going to be done by Halloween. I cannot tell you how deeply that realization depressed me.

Martin’s editors had extended the deadline, but that still would not prove enough time:

I was immensely relieved. I had two whole extra months! I could make that, certainly. August was an insane month, too much travel, too many other obligations… but I’d have September, October, and now November and December as well. Once again I was confident I could do it.

Here it is, the first of January. The book is not done, not delivered. No words can change that. I tried, I promise you. I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I’ve now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, THE WINDS OF WINTER will not be published before the sixth season of GAME OF THRONES premieres in April…

So there you have it. No sixth book before the sixth season premieres. Where does that leave the show? Well, for what it’s worth, the producers have long known what Martin’s endpoint would be, and surely they know the intimate details of what will comprise The Winds of Winter. The question is, how exactly will the series approach the material?

The third and fourth seasons split the very eventful A Storm of Swords in half, whereas the fifth season abridged the events of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons into one season altogether. Seasons 1 and 2, in turn, covered one book per season.

No one knows just how eventful this new novel will be, but if the showrunners take one of the latter options, viewers may find that the show will continue to diverge from the books even further, as presumably Martin hasn’t begun word one on A Dream of Spring – the currently titled book seven.

For the first time, those who have only watched the television series and never read a page of Martin’s work will finally be on an even playing field in terms of foreknowledge, and that should make for some fun weeks of postulating and predicting, if nothing else.


  1. Not entirely true. Arya’s story in season 5 has been left half completed when compared to the books and Sam’s trip has barely begun. Bran’s story hasn’t been touched nor has any of his training he goes through and the Greyjoy’s story, while largely left untouched, has to be even introduced if it’s to line up with what happens in the books.

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