Every year, when Game of Thrones comes around again, fans hold out hope that this will be the one where George R.R. Martin announces the release of his next book The Winds of Winter in conjunction with the show's airing. Ever since Martin managed to release A Dance with Dragons in tandem with game of Thrones Season 1, it's seemed like the natural order of things. So when is George R.R. Martin's The Winds of Winter being released?
As the years have dragged on, there's been no book announcements, only delays. For some fans, there's been a holding out of hope that it was merely Martin's writing style -- and that when compared with writers like J.K. Rowling, he's actually no slower than she, only longer. And when charted out, the book would probably arrive in 2017.
Except here it is, 2017. And Martin has just admitted there will be no book.
In a post to his NotABlog, Martin happily announced the coming release of a different book instead -- a book of fantasy histories that underpin the Westerosi mythos, that's been in the works since the show began, which fans have called The GRRMarillion (a play on JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which provides the same sort of thing for The Lord of the Rings.)
The real names of the volumes (two of them) are Fire and Blood, and the first is due out towards the end of next year.
The first of those will cover the history of Westeros from Aegon's Conquest up to and through the regency of the boy king Aegon III (the Dragonbane). That one is largely written, and will include (for the first time) a complete detailed history of the Targaryen civil war, the Dance of the Dragons. No publication date has been set yet, but it's likely that we will get the first volume of Fire and Blood out in late 2018 or early 2019. The second volume, which will carry the history from Aegon III up to Robert's Rebellion, is largely unwritten, so that one will be a few more years in coming.
As for Winds of Winter:
I am still working on it, I am still months away (how many? good question), I still have good days and bad days, and that's all I care to say. Whether Winds or the first volume of Fire and Blood will be the first to hit the bookstores is hard to say at this juncture, but I do think you will have a Westeros book from me in 2018... and who knows, maybe two. A boy can dream...
I would discount that dreaming right away. Martin has dreamed of getting The Winds of Winter out since 2012, and it still hasn't happened. Instead, I would look at those dates and pay attention to the significance of them.
Martin is terrible at deadlines by his own admission. That is a sign of someone who is terrible at working under pressure. This is a man who has been under some of the highest pressure to finish these stories as any writer in the modern era. The only one I can think of who has been under the same stress would be Rowling, who clearly thrives in that environment.
I had hoped for a long time that when the show passed him, the pressure would ease up. When that deadline to beat the showrunners to reveal such storylines as Jon Snow's resurrection, or Hodor's name, or Arya's kill list finally passed him by, he would be able to break through the writer's block that's held him back all these years.
But it seems now that as long as the show is on the air, it's going to be too much for him. Look at those dates: late 2018, or 2019. That's right around the time HBO is saying the final season of Game of Thrones will air. Once the show has revealed all the things, and there are no more spoilers to beat them to, perhaps then Martin will be able to finally get the King Kong-sized monkey off his back and once again give us A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
Until then, he'd rather fill in all the backstories, the histories, the things that are in no way competing with the main tale being told on television. And if that's the best we can get, I'll take it.