George R. R. Martin has promised the sixth novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, since 2014, but the author just hinted that he’s putting plenty of work into it while self-isolating.
Ever since the HBO series, Game of Thrones, ended its eighth season controversially to heavy criticism, interest in George R.R. Martin finishing the original novels with a more satisfying narrative has grown exponentially. Considering that the groundbreaking series became the most talked about television series of all time based on his original work, surely, if there’s any hope in finishing off the complicated storyline we all fell in love with in the first place, it would be up to Martin.
But like so much about Game of Thrones, to be a fan of the show is to revel in some of the best storytelling to grace the silver screen, mixed right in with a healthy dose of extreme frustration. The fifth — and most recent — novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011, and we’ve been waiting almost a decade for the celebrated author to just get on with the story.
There have been promises from Martin to the publisher, then announcements to the contrary, like in 2017. Martin even said that if he didn’t finish it by a certain date, he gave fans permission to maroon him on an island to focus on the task.
Well, it’s 2020 and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is upon us. Martin, like most of us, is self-isolating. And it looks like that marooned island bit is happening, with the 71-year-old author tweeting out that he is indeed working on the book, from a remote location, attended to by just one staff member.
“For those of you who may be concerned for me personally… yes, I am aware that I am very much in the most vulnerable population, given my age and physical condition. But I feel fine at the moment, and we are taking all sensible precautions,” Martin wrote on his online blog. “ I am off by myself in a remote isolated location, attended by one of my staff, and I’m not going in to town or seeing anyone. Truth be told, I am spending more time in Westeros than in the real world, writing every day. Things are pretty grim in the Seven Kingdoms… but maybe not as grim as they may become here.
“Some days, watching the news, I cannot help feeling as if we are all now living in a science fiction novel. But not, alas, the sort of science fiction novel that I dreamed of living in when I was a kid, the one with the cities on the Moon, colonies on Mars, household robots programmed with the Three Laws, and flying cars. I never liked the pandemic stories half so well…
“Let us hope we all come through this safe and sound. Stay well, my friends. Better to be safe than sorry.”
With Martin being 71, there has always been some concern that the fantasy novelist wouldn’t be able to complete his A Song of Ice and Fire cycle, considering that he has always said that the series should have run 13 seasons (rather than the lackluster eight we got). The series started out basing each season on one novel, but it ran out of material once it got to the sixth.
Although series creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss had input from Martin on how to carry out the story to its conclusion — and seasons six and seven seemed to transpire just fine — they were clearly overextended by the time it came to the final season. Closing out what is probably the most popular TV show in history prematurely in season 8 left fans disgruntled and irate.
Martin has been working on novels six and seven (A Dream of Spring) since at least 2014, and he has a track record of taking an average five years to complete each. In all honesty, his books have taken longer as he’s aged, with the first three coming out every two years, and books four (A Feast for Crows) and five (A Dance with Dragons) taking five and six years. If he’s got more than the next two books planned, we could be waiting a long time before this story ever concludes to our satisfaction.
But with the current health crisis going on, it’s best to see the silver lining wherever we can. Hey, if Martin says he’s working on Winds of Winter, that’s great. I won’t believe we’ll see the book hit stores until it actually happens, but I’m still holding out hope. It’s too bad it’s not out now, however. Promised at 1,500 pages, wouldn’t it have been the perfect saga to read during isolation? Oh well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it comes out at all.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.