While HBO has been milling through seasons of Game of Thrones - the sixth lot arrives in April - the same couldn't be said of original author George R. R. Martin.
He began the saga of the Song of Ice and Fire series all the way back in 1991 with A Game of Thrones, with the first book published in 1996. A Clash of Kings debuted in 1998, with A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005) and A Dance of Dragons (2011) following at fairly regular intervals. If you consider six years regular...
Martin earned significant ire from his fans for the lengthy gaps between his last few releases, which had initially prompted him to be quite vocal about the future of the series, announcing the title of book six as The Winds of Winter and further confirming a seventh book to be called A Dream of Spring.
The Winds of Winter was set for a March 2016 release, dependent on Martin hitting a late 2015 deadline. Which we now know he hasn't.
Writing on his blog, the author revealed the unfortunate news. It starts pretty ominously:
You wanted an update. Here's the update. You won't like it.
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.
He goes on to say that a lot of progress has been made but the finish point is still at least several months away 'if the writing goes well.' And if it doesn't? We shouldn't be surprised if it doesn't arrive in 2016 at this point.
The other concern for Martin and his fans is that the new season of HBO's TV show is fast approaching and a sixth season will necessarily mean that it will be pulling ahead of the author in terms of the story progression. That's a pretty interesting development, and we've previously heard that the story will be diverging from that of the novels in the future. So the question remains - will a 10 episode run of the sixth season spoil all the major events of the novel, months before its publication? The answer is a little complicated:
Maybe. Yes and no...
Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of GAME OF THRONES that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that... hey, that's up to you. Look, I read Andy Weir's novel THE MARTIAN before I saw the movie. But I saw the BBC production of JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL before I finally got around to reading Susanna Clarke's novel. In both cases, I loved the book and I loved the adaptation. It does not need to be one or the other. You might prefer one over the other, but you can still enjoy the hell out of both.
The man has a point, and we also think its no coincidence that the books and novels have a different overall title. They are necessarily different beasts, with different levels of depth and dragons and fans should be able to find a way to enjoy both. You are also totally free to not watch the shows until the books have been released, if you so wish.
Game of Thrones Season 6 will debut on HBO in April 2016.