'The Winds of Winter': The Latest Update From George R.R. Martin

Author George R.R. Martin has been more direct with fans recently when it comes to his long-awaited book The Winds of Winter, and readers are delighted. Martin still intends to finish the series that inspired Game of Thrones, but nearly 12 years after the last installment was published, he tends to say little about his writing progress. The fact that that has changed in the last few months has fans more excited than they've been in years.

Martin was on the road this fall with speaking engagements around the country. In October, he gave one talk at The Strand Bookstore saying: "I think I'm about three-quarters of the way done, maybe." This was a more concrete answer than he has given in a long time, and a more optimistic one than some fans had expected. The Winds of Winter will be the sixth book in his series A Song of Ice and Fire, which he says will have a different ending from HBO's Game of Thrones. Martin went on to try and describe why the writing process has been so difficult in this case.

"It's a big, big book, I've said that before. It's a challenging book. It's probably going to be a larger book than any of the previous volumes in the story," he said. "A Dance with Dragons and A Storm of Swords are the two largest books in the series, they were both about 1,500 manuscript pages. I think this one is going to be longer than that by the time I'm finished with it, and I think I'm around three-quarters of the way done, maybe."

At this scale, Martin's task is not as simple as finishing a linear story. While the first three books in A Song of Ice and Fire are straightforward sequels to one another, book four A Feast for Crows and book five A Dance with Dragons take place simultaneously, but focus on different groups of characters. Considering its enormous length, Martin predicts that his publisher may take a similar approach with The Winds of Winter.

"I have to continue... And of course, then there's the issue here of my friends at Random House, when I deliver this monstrous book that will be as big as a dragon, are they going to try to make me cut it in two? We'll find out about that but first I have to finish it, I have to get it all done," he explained. Still, it sounds like Martin has decided to simply write the book in the order he sees fit and leave the possibility of division up to his publisher.

Meanwhile, Martin urged fans not to put too much stock in his "three-quarters done" assessment. He has given estimates about when the book will come out before and he said that he doesn't want to do so anymore because it brings out unreasonable anger from fans if his estimates turn out to be wrong.

"I've given up making predictions because people press me and press me: 'When is it going to be done?' And I make what I think is the best-case estimate, and then stuff happens," he said. "Then everybody gets mad that I 'lied.' I've never lied about these predictions. They're the best I can make, but I guess I overestimate my ability to get stuff done, and I underestimate the amount of interruptions and other projects, other demands that will distract me."

Martin's plan is to finish A Song of Ice and Fire in a total of seven books, so he joked that releasing The Winds of Winter would not buy him any reprieve from impatient fans. He said: "One day [The Winds of Winter] will be done and then it will come out and then, the next day, someone will tweet me: 'When will we see A Dream of Spring?' I can see the future."

Martin has made other references to his progress since then at other speaking events as well as in his blog. In a post at the end of December, he wrote: "I did take a few days off for the holidays, I confess. Shame on me, I guess. But now I am back in the salt mine, working... working on so many bloody things, my head may soon explode. Yes, WINDS OF WINTER, yes, yes." Later in the same paragraph, he added sarcastically: "Oh, and did I forget WINDS OF WINTER? No, of course I didn't. But if I ever did, I know you folks will remind me."

All five volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire are available now in print, digital and audiobook formats. Martin's other books set in Westeros include the novella collection A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the reference book The World of Ice and Fire and the history book Fire & Blood. The TV adaptations Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon are both streaming now on HBO Max.