Did 'Game of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin Hint at Upcoming 'Winds of Winter' Release Date?

The TV adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones, returned this weekend, and a subtle new hint suggests that the books will be back soon as well.

Game of Thrones Season 8 premiered on Sunday, and HBO promoted the event on every platform available. The stars, producers and even source material author George R.R. Martin were out stirring up hype for the show, and Martin dropped a hint that his next book will be out soon too. The glimmer of hope came during Martin's cameo in a skit on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

In the skit, Fallon and a few actors played analogues for the characters of Game of Thrones, gathered around a table for a meeting of "the regular-sized council." In a dramatic parody, they discuss when the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones will finally arrive. After a long deliberation, there is a cameo by the former star of the show Sean Bean, who promises "The Premiere is Coming." After that, Martin shows up to be a little more specific.

"April 14," he says. "The final season premieres April 14. But, have no fear, after the show ends there will still be books."

Fallon asks how Martin can be so sure.

"Trust me, I know a guy," he says slyly.

Of course, if there is one thing Martin's dedicated readers have learned from his work it is to interpret every word carefully. While the vague promise that "there will still be books" may seem innocuous, it could hint at a larger marketing crossover in the coming months. The phrase "after the show ends" is really one of the most tangible time frames fans have gotten in some time.

Martin has been at work on the next novel in the series, The Winds of Winter, for years now. There is no telling how much progress the author has made, but it seems safe to say that there has been enough time to prepare a draft. He has even released some preliminary chapters online through the A Song of Ice and Fire app. After years of waiting, the announcement is sure to be a big one, so wouldn't it make sense if Martin and his publisher decided to time it with the finale of the acclaimed show?

This is a purely speculative theory, but it has its merits. Martin has promised that he is working on Winds of Winter in blog posts and interviews. He has spoken candidly -- and even vulnerably -- about writer's block, and his own disappointment that the series got ahead of the novels. Having missed his self-imposed deadline to finish the books before the show, wouldn't the next best thing be to time the release of the book with the conclusion of the series?

"I know there are a lot of people out there who are very angry with me that Winds of Winter isn't finished. And I'm mad about that myself," Martin told Entertainment Tonight at the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere. "And I've had dark nights of the soul where I've pounded my head against the keyboard and said, 'God, will I ever finish this? The show is going further and further forward and I'm falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here? I've got to do this."

However, the author was staunchly unspecific even in that recent interview.

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"I have no date. I've given up giving dates because I give one and then I miss it and everyone gets mad," he said. "It'll be done when it's done. [Writing on The Winds of Winter] has been going very well lately, so knock wood."

Fans will just have to wait and find out, but anticipation is reaching a height it has not been at in years. Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.