Will 'Game Of Thrones' Author George R R Martin Ever Finish The Winds Of Winter?

Photo: Getty Images

When George R R Martin first began writing A Game Of Thrones, he envisioned a taut fantasy trilogy that would take around five years to complete. More than two decades on, there's still no end to the saga in sight. This week, Martin's editor essentially confirmed that the story is completely off the rails. It seems that The Winds Of Winter is nowhere near close to being finished, while an eighth book might also be on the cards. Tch.

By all accounts, George R R Martin is a notoriously slow writer; both in terms of physical output and actually getting to the point in a story (just what was he thinking with all those pointless travelogue chapters in A Dance Of Dragons?) This has created an unusual situation where the TV show is beginning to overtake the books that it's based on; much to the chagrin of loyal readers.

If you've been anxiously awaiting the release of the next book in the series, you should probably stop holding your breath. During a recent correspondence with fans, Martin's longtime editor Anne Lesley Groell hinted that The Winds Of Winter is a long way from completion:

I currently have 168 pages that he submitted back in Feb 2013 in order to receive a contracted payment, but I know more exists, because he keeps talking about a chapter he hasn't yet sent me.

Despite Groell's optimism that she hopes to have the sixth book "reasonably soon", the evidence paints a pretty bleak picture. Even if Martin has written double the submitted amount, that's still barely 20 per cent of the book's total. (i.e. — A Dance With Dragons came to 1513 manuscript pages.)

To make matters worse, Martin refuses to write outside of his home office, despite being frequently on the road for various celebrity commitments. Apparently, Groell has tried to convince him to use a laptop "multiple times", but without success: "He is one stubborn man, and very set in his ways."

There's also his track record to consider. Since 2005, Martin has published just two novels, which were actually supposed to be a single volume before being chopped in two due to length reasons (this is why only half the characters appear in A Feast For Crows and the other half in A Dance With Dragons.) Amusingly, Groell met, courted and married her husband in the intervening gap.

In other words, it's looking increasingly likely that we wont see the next book in the series for at least a few more years, by which point the HBO show will have revealed all of its plot points. It's a situation that his editor is acutely aware of:

When I first read the partial [manuscript] back in 2013, I immediately wrote George an impassioned plea to please not let the show get out ahead of him. I can’t predict what will happen from here, but I definitely want his version to be my first version. And I think a lot of you want that, too. His vision started this; I very much ant his vision to end it, too.

Fat chance of that. Groell also hinted that the current plan for two more books might not be enough to wrap up the whole story:

Seven books is what we currently have under contract [but] I begin to wonder. I remember when he called me, years and years back, to confess that his little trilogy was no longer a trilogy, he predicted four books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he said five books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he went to six. I said… Well, you get the idea.   Finally, we were on the same page. Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Good! Only, as I recently learned while editing The World Of Ice And Fire, there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay.

So in summary, The Winds Of Winter could be years away, and the series might blow out to eight books in total. We're wondering whether it might be time to find a new fantasy author who can actually stick to a deadline. Apparently, Joe Abercrombie is quite good. More importantly, in the past eight years he has managed to publish eight books.

[Via Suvudu Universe]


Comments

    Wow, way to add a spoiler filled image to your post (Y) ffs. As a book reader too.

      This. I contemplated about putting a warning because people are unlikely to know it's a spoiler, however, by warning them of the spoiler they're now aware of it... :/

      Just another warning that if you hover over the image it has the file name. Don't look it up because it's a spoiler. All of this could've been easily avoided as well :/

        "Just another warning that if you hover over the image".....DOH! Too late...I've an idea who but not how or why....

      It's a CONTEXT-FREE PICTURE OF A ZOMBIE. It's only a spoiler if you turn it into one.

        Except it isn't...
        And apparently the spoiler tags aren't working so I can't even mention 'hey there's a spoiler' without spoiling it... Wouldn't it be easier to just not post spoiling images?

          Except it is.

          It only means something if you already know what it is. Hence, not a spoiler. (Although all this spoiler winging from clued in readers may soon change that.)

            Is that why you changed the photo and apologised for putting it up in the Gizmodo thread?

            Boggles the mind that exchange happened before this was cross posted...

              I think he just wants to try ruin the show for as many people as possible. If he'd already run into this shit on Gizmodo, the only possible reason to repost the same article (with the same picture) here, then try defend it again is to be a dick..

              Last edited 03/06/14 8:28 pm

                The thing is there was no complaining on the Giz article because he apparently noticed, changed it of his own accord and then someone asked if it was changed to protect against spoilers and he said yes that he hadn't recognised the spoiler at first and apologised.

                That all makes sense and it applaudable.

                But this article was then posted with the original image after all that... I just don't see why he's acting like a different person on the two sites. Especially as it isn't even that interesting a picture.

              It was actually a different picture that caused flak on Gizmodo.

                Well in that case continue shouting at your customers that you didn't do anything wrong.

                That really doesn't change anything. After having issues with an image on one site why would you post an image just as bad on another site? Worse still, why would you argue with people about and try to defend actions that are just repeating something you've already apologised for?

        I think there's pretty good grounds to change it rather than argue with people, to be fair

    I will never know why they picked an incomplete series to do a show on.

    So many great fantasy series out there, but they wanted to do this one, written by this guy.

    Well, you reap what you sow!

      There's still 2 more completed books and the 5 book will most likely be broken up into 2 seasons like they did with book 3 (season 3-4)

        This, Book 4 could be 2 seasons, book 5 could be 2 seasons as well, leaving martin 4 years to complete book 6.

          Most likely what they'll do realistically. There's no actual word they only want to do 7 seasons and one interview I saw once, they said 'we'll do as many seasons as we feel comfortable with'. However, Martin did give them an exact outline of what's happening, so it's not like it'll be much different...

          OR WILL IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            They could easily do some sort of preseries with the lore thats in his books.

              I'd love that. A series devoted to Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon overthrowing Rhaegar Targaeryon would be awesome. Set a story against that backdrop and it would be fantastic.

          Nope, HBO have said they want 8 seasons at most, with the producers only being under contract for 7 and currently having no plans for anything further. Obviously things could change (especially given that it now sounds like the 6th book won't be out next year as had been assumed), but as it stands a lot of the characters are fast running out of story. Storylines from books 4 and 5 have been moved up in the show, and there's so much filler in the next two books that the producers could likely get away with having season 5 cover what's left from the next two books.

          I'd just kinda assumed that Book 6 would be out next year, with season 6 covering that content, with the producers then making up their own ending (apparently they broadly know how the story ends, but it's not written yet so anything could happen) for season 7. If book 6 isn't out by then, then who knows.

      hey, naruto and bleach did it fine too. I am eagerly awaiting the 50 episode arc about the beetle uprising against the dim-witted buffoon and his rock to the tune of kunkh kunkh kunkh

    Before any non-readers complain,
    You should probably change that insanely spoiler-ish pic....
    Also is there a reason the spoiler tags don't seem to be working atm?

    Last edited 03/06/14 6:16 pm

      rot13.com

      Spoilers in Kotaku have been outsourced.

        They have been dutifully encrypted in rot26 for months and months.

          Ah >_<
          I haven't tried using it for a loooong time (if ever) on here so I thought it just worked like the quotes.

      As I said above, to non-readers this is just a painting of a creepy wight -- STOP TURNING IT INTO A SPOILER.

        Stop posting 'out of context spoilers' and people won't 'turn them into spoilers.' Much easier.

        Then I suppose if you post a picture of Ned just before he gets his head cut off it won't be a spoiler, because we don't know if he dies or not because we haven't seen it?

    Really wish they'd make some of Brandon Sanderson's books into TV shows. Would love to see Mistborn or The Stormlight Archive done in the format GoT has been done in.

      Agree, his writing would actually transfer to a visual form quite well. Don't think it could gather the sort of budget and mainstream appeal as Game of Thrones, but you could definitely build out something a bit smaller scale and lower scope.

      Also unlike GRRM, Sanderson is an absolute machine. I think he's published 19 novels plus short stories, anthologies and so on since he started being published in 2005. Each is a decent-sized piece with a proper self-contained story arc and everything. Puts GRRM's output to shame completely.

      Relatedly since he finished it off, I'd love to see some kind of TV production or similar out of the Wheel of Time.

    Laff. The better question is 'will George start the winds of winter?'. The manuscript pages she's holding are pages that were meant to be in Dance of Dragons that were held back for length reasons.

    Gorge had to have a book out this year to not be overtaken by the series. They've just contracted seasons 5 and 6 of the show (which cover books 4 and 5, which are shorter and less action-y than book 3, which had to be broken into two seasons). He had to get Winds out this year, then straight away get cranking on book 7 to ideally have that released at the same time the show released season 8 and they both get wrapped up together. There's zero chance of that happening.

    Damn I just got spoiled :(

    He will pull a Robert Jordan on us, he's in his sixties and is quite overweight, he needs to stop work on the books and begin codifying his world listing chars their relationships and their motivations put the bones of the narrative onto paper and write a statement of intend (what he wants it to be) basically doing everything he can do to make the new author who will come after he dies transition as seamless as possible

      He has already done this with the GoT screenwriters at HBO.

    This has created an unusual situation where the TV show is beginning to overtake the books that it’s based on

    You must not watch anime. A hundred episodes of filler, anyone?

    Last edited 03/06/14 7:06 pm

      Are you suggesting the Bount arc wasn't masterfully designed to blend in with the rest of the Bleach storyline? Surely you jest!

      Or FMA. Alternate ending anyone? I'd actually prefer that...

    I'd recommend Brandon Sanderson. He's doing three or four novels this year, one of which is literally as big as his publisher can print. His epic fantasy series, £The Stormlight Archives" might only be coming out every two years or so (or they should, now that he's not finishing the Wheel of Time), but he puts out plenty of content in between.

    Of course, what I really want is a Glen Cook based TV show. The Black Company > Game of Thrones.

      The Black Company as a TV series would be amazing.

        The budget would need to be massive for all the battles, though. The one in the valley and the one at Charm especially. Gotta do that sorcery right.

    It wouldn't be the first series to be left unfinished. But this doesn't surprise me. The TV show highlights lots of ways that Mr Martin is undisciplined in his writing. He has a cast of thousands simply because he keeps creating a new character every time something happens when he already has three he could have used.

    I would love to see an Alastair Reynolds TV series. Terminal World would be awesome.

      Just googled for a synopsis - sounds intriguing. Stand alone though, not a series?

        Sadly, just a stand-alone. It's a cracking good steam punk action novel.

    Hi readers. The consensus seems to be that the original image for this article was too spoilery. I personally didn't see it that way, but am happy to capitulate to reader demands. My honest and sincerest apologies to anyone who felt they have been spoiled.

      Sorry for calling you a you-know-what, thanks for listening to your readers and updating your article, it may be too late for me, the damage is done but, the journey to that point will still be an interesting read (especially the "how???"). But IMO, your image was massively 'spoilery'.

      Last edited 03/06/14 9:56 pm

        No worries, thanks for not holding a grudge.

      Maybe you can tell me why my comment above was removed as 'inappropriate'? I don't see anything in my comment that violated the terms of use for the site and I don't particularly appreciate having my comments randomly removed.

        It was removed for hinting too heavily at what the "spoiler" image actually was.

      How can you honestly not see it that way, Chris? The painting was recognisable as a certain character, including details on what happened to the character. Why do you think that someone who has watched the series would not recognise it? Why would we think it was a generic wight when it had the face of a character we have all seen in the show? What is your thought process there? You even argued it multiple times to the point where I assume your superiors told you to change it. So why, even in your apology, do you think it wasn't a spoiler? We're not blind!

    "Despite Groell’s optimism that she hopes to have the sixth book “reasonably soon”, the evidence paints a pretty bleak picture. Even if Martin has written double the submitted amount, that’s still barely 20 per cent of the book’s total."

    This is were this article falls down. What he submitted in Feb 2013 was an agreed number of chapters or pages by an agreed time. He may have had more written then but not submitted. She explains later that he doesn't like her reading it or getting more information unless it's near complete because he wants her to experience naturally.

    Sure, he could be 5 years away, but he could also be 6 months away. All the fact that the editor has only seen 216 pages shows is that we are not under 6 months away (which we already knew it was going to be 2015 or longer).

    They can start releasing filler episodes like waiting for manga to catch up. The remaining characters can go on side quests for 3 seasons and half the episode can be a recap of the last one.

    Can we not put up some G RR Martin DLC on Steam, like Telltale adventure games? :P

    Two things:
    - if it didn't become a mega-hit TV we'd probably be done by now. So it's all YOUR fault. :)
    - As I'd prefer to read the book before the series, looks like I'll be waiting awhile to watch S4 ;)

    I'm pretty certain GRM has no idea how to end the series. he definately should have kept the story to 3-4 books then did another story in the same world. I mena that second last box was almost an entire book of new characters. what the hell!

      I have read only a few passages that give me hope that GRM will be able to tie all the story lines together to their conclusion. He seems intent on avoiding the task by introducing m

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