When will George RR Martin’s The Winds of Winter come out?
The Winds of Winter is one of the most anticipated novels of all time, so when might it finally release?
George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the most popular fantasy series ever, with the first 5 books selling almost 100 million copies. It also spawned the mega-hit TV series Game of Thrones as well as the upcoming House of the Dragon.
Thrones wrapped up in 2019, having chronologically surpassed Martin's published material several years prior. The show's final season was poorly received, heightening the anticipation for the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter.
So when will readers finally get to see what happens to Daenerys, Jon, Tyrion, Arya and all their other favourite characters in prose form? Let's examine when The Winds of Winter may finally hit bookstores.
The story so far
If you've been living under a rock the size of King's Landing, A Song of Ice and Fire follows a struggle for power between several noble families for the Iron Throne of the mythical continent of Westeros. It's an incredibly sprawling story, featuring no less than 24 point-of-view characters, but here are the very broad strokes.
Spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones below
Robert Baratheon is the king of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, having usurped the Mad King Aerys Taragryen 14 years before the beginning of the first novel, A Game of Thrones. When the Hand of the King (read: the guy making decisions while Robert devotes himself to life's pleasures) dies, he recruits his old friend and war buddy Lord Eddard Stark to take up the role.
Robert is married to the conniving Cersei Lannister, who kills Robert when he gets a bit too close to figuring out that he isn't the father of Cersei's children; her twin brother Jaime is. When Eddard goes public with this information, he too is executed. This kicks off a war between Cersei's son King Joffrey, Robert's brothers Renly and Stannis, Eddard's son Robb, and Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, who jumps at the chance to stage another rebellion.
The 2 other major plots of the series follow Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow joining the Night's Watch in Westeros' far north and contending with a number of existential threats. The most significant of these is the Others, a race of ice warriors whose sole intent is to invade the Seven Kingdoms. Meanwhile, Aerys' daughter Daenerys plots to reclaim her family's throne, while travelling through the eastern continent of Essos.
A Song of Ice and Fire publication history
For long-time fans of the books, wait times are nothing new. Martin published the series' first 3 books in the span of just 4 years, and managed to cover an incredible amount of plot in that time.
A scrapped time jump delayed the publication of book 4, A Feast for Crows, until it was finally released in 2005. It received far more mixed reviews than its predecessors, due to a slower pace as Martin transitioned the epic story into a new direction. A bunch of major characters were also conspicuously absent. (The intended fourth volume grew too large in the writing, prompting Martin to split the cast into 2 separate books.) In an author's note in Feast, Martin stated that book 5, A Dance with Dragons, would be published within a year.
This was the first of many overly-ambitious claims from Martin, as it ultimately took 6 years to release Dance in 2011, the same year that HBO's TV show first aired. Martin admitted the novel didn't cover as much plot as he had intended, but was once again optimistic that the next volume wouldn't take long. Well, it's been 11 years, and no release date has been set.
So what's taking so long?
Martin has cited a number of reasons for his slow progress. He has done a great job expanding the world of Westeros, introducing new characters and building an incredibly realistic-feeling universe, but has admitted to struggling with the fact that it's now time to bring the story back together to a satisfying conclusion. Fans have also accused Martin of spreading himself too thin over myriad Ice and Fire projects, textual and audio-visual.
With 11 years of work behind him, surely The Winds of Winter must be just around the corner, right? Well, Martin proclaimed to have made excellent progress on the story during the beginnings of the COVID pandemic.
But in a recent blog post, Martin stated "I made a lot of progress on Winds in 2020, and less in 2021… but 'less' is not 'none'."
In reference to the other Westerosi projects Martin has a hand in, he said "...for many of you out there, only one of those projects matters. I am sorry for you. They ALL matter to me."
This is a marked shift in tone, and has led many fans to think the book may still be a way off.
Winds of Winter release date
According to several online reports, The Winds Of Winter has an estimated publication date of November 2023. However, this date appears to have sprung from a joke on Reddit, which noted it would be possible to develop, write, film, and air the entirety of Game of Thrones in the time between the fifth and sixth books if the latter comes out on 13 November 2023. In other words, this date is completely bogus.
As it stands, Martin has not offered an official date or even a ballpark guess. You can expect him to make an announcement on his blog on the day that he hands in the finished manuscript to his publisher.
Martin has once again taken to his Not a Blog to provide another general update on The Winds of Winter. Amid rather depressing musings on current events and social media, Martin states the following:
"The Winds of Winter is going to be a big book. The way it is going, it could be bigger than A Storm of Swords or A Dance with Dragons, the longest books in the series to date. I do usually cut and trim once I finish, but I need to finish first."
Storm and Dance were such huge books they were published in two separate volumes in Australia and many other parts of the world. It looks like Winds may meet the same fate.
Though this post isn't especially indicative of when we might finally get our hands on the sixth book in the series, statements like this suggest the final form of the novel may be coming into view for Martin, and thus, the release date may be approaching.
A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones merch
Love the world of Westeros? There's all kinds of amazing merch to get your hands on while you wait for The Winds of Winter.
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