The Winds of Winter - Background and Publication

Background and Publication

The Winds of Winter was originally intended, in the very early stages of the series, to be the final installment of A Song of Ice and Fire (then conceived as a trilogy). Following his expansion of the series, Martin eventually concluded it would be succeeded by one final novel, A Dream of Spring. By June 2010, Martin had finished four chapters for The Winds of Winter from the viewpoints of Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, and Arianne Martell. In July 2010, he added an Aeron Greyjoy chapter that had been moved from A Dance with Dragons to The Winds of Winter, accumulating around 100 completed manuscript pages. Following the publication of A Dance with Dragons in the summer of 2011, Martin announced his return to writing the series in January 2012, having spent the intervening time on his U. S. and overseas book publicity tours and attending various conventions; he continued to work, with his two co-authors, on the long-overdue illustrated series companion guide The World of Ice and Fire concordance and Westeros history, which at one time he wanted to have completed by the end of 2011. He also worked on an overdue Westeros story, the fourth Tales of Dunk and Egg novella, (working title: "The She-Wolves of Winterfell") that will eventually find anthology publication elsewhere. A year after that eventual publication, the story and the three previously published Dunk and Egg tales will be collected and published in the U. S. by Bantam Spectra as a stand-alone fix-up novel.

In December 2011, Martin posted a The Winds of Winter chapter from the viewpoint of Theon Greyjoy. He also announced that another sample chapter would be included at the end of the North-American paperback version of A Dance with Dragons, expected to be released on October 29, 2013. (International paperback editions of A Dance with Dragons published a year earlier did not include a new, as yet unpublished sample chapter.) In the first quarter of 2012, Martin read new chapters of other characters at public events, including the chapters of Victarion Greyjoy and Tyrion Lannister. Martin continued work editing anthologies and completing a large, highly-detailed series atlas The Lands of Ice and Fire, which was published in October 2012. Martin published another sample chapter from Arianne Martell's POV on his website in January 2013.

Martin believes the two last volumes of the series will be big books of 1500+ manuscript pages each. By October 2012, 400 pages of the sixth novel had been written, although Martin considers only the first 200 as "really finished", the rest still needing revisions. Martin hopes to finish The Winds of Winter much faster than his troublesome fifth Ice and Fire novel. In the past, Martin has angered some of his fan base for repeatedly estimating his publication dates too optimistically; therefore, he has refrained from making hard estimates for The Winds of Winter's final release date. A realistic estimate for him for completing the sixth novel might be expected at three years, at a good writing pace of roughly 500 manuscript pages per year, but ultimately the book "will be done when it's done". Martin has acknowledged his concerns about the final novel not being completed by the time the HBO series Game of Thrones finally catches up in its story line to the novels. Martin does not intend to separate characters by geography again, as he was forced to do because of the unpublishable length of A Feast for Crows' original manuscript. But he said if "Three years from when I'm sitting on 1,800 pages of manuscript with no end in sight, who the hell knows".

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