It’s been over a decade since the last book in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, Dance of Dragons, hit shelves. Game of Thrones has started and ended. House of the Dragon, the first of multiple planned spinoffs, is about to air. And in all that time, we’ve been waiting for The Winds of Winter to howl. And yet, here we are.
Now that Martin has declared that he’s sick of offering updates on a book he’s been offering updates on for 11 years at this point, we take a look back at the long history of The Winds of Winter not happening, from preview chapters and hope, to delays and despair, and even a global pandemic in between.
July 2011: It Should Take 3 Years
Contemplating how A Song of Ice and Fire’s conclusion could stretch to three books rather than the planned two, Martin gives his first Winds of Winter estimate for around 2014.
January 2013: A Preview Chapter!
The first taste of Winds of Winter takes us to Dorne, and we’re all so excited, all so naive, all so innocent: surely previews mean it’s coming soon?
February 2014: A Preview… Paragraph?
OK that’s a bit silly. Maybe this book’s further off than we thought.
March 2014: Oh, Here’s an Actual Chapter Again
Make up for that little joke last month with an actual preview, this time taking us to Braavos for some Game of Thrones trademark misery.
July 2014: Stop Thinking I’m Dying, Fuck You
The first, but sadly not last, time George R.R. Martin has to ask people to stop speculating about his health, and he starts off strong, with a hearty “fuck you” and the above middle-finger.
January 2015: It’s Definitely Not Coming in 2015
Nice of him to get our expectations in check early into the year. Martin coincided the news with the release of a trailer for Game of Thrones’ fifth season, which is deeply funny.
April 2015: Another Preview
A whole Sansa chapter of her mastering her disguise as Littlefinger’s daughter distracts us from the fact the book’s not coming out this year.
January 2016: It’s Not Coming Before Season 6
But in a lengthy update, Martin doesn’t say it’s not going to come before the end of 2016, either. Hope springs eternal?
February 2016: Clear My Schedule
Martin promises to buckle down and focus on solely finishing Winds of Winter before any other projects. As we now know, Martin has successfully completed quite a few other projects since saying this.
May 2015: Progress and a Preview
We’re off to Dorne again for another chapter! Sounds like he really is buckling down.
September 2016: March 2017, Maybe?
A purported paperback release date gives us as close to a potentially “definitive” date we’ve had so far. At this point we’ll take anything.
January 2017: Oh Shit, Maybe 2017 Actually
“I think it will be out this year. (But hey, I thought the same thing last year),” Martin writes.
July 2017: LOL More Like 2018… Or 2019?
Seven months on, Martin is less optimistic. But hey, at least his Targaryen history book Fire and Blood is coming along and should be out in this window too!
April 2018: Definitely Not 2018
Martin’s two-year window shrinks down to a single year.
May 2019: No I Haven’t Finished It Already, Who Said That
Ian McElhinney, who played Barristan Selmy on the show, said that actually. Martin is pretty quick to refute it. “Why would I sit for years on completed novels? Why would my publishers — not just here in the U.S., but all around the world — ever consent to this? They make millions and millions of dollars every time a new Ice & Fire book comes out, as do I. Delaying makes no sense.”
May 2019: Don’t Worry It’s Not Going to End Like the Show
Martin, perhaps relieved (slightly) that people will let up (slightly) on asking him when it’s coming out, gets to start repeatedly answering a new question instead: is his book going to be as bad as the ending of Game of Thrones was on TV?
May 2019: It’ll Be Done By Mid 2020 Or New Zealand Can Keep Me
On a roll this month, Martin goes grand in his latest estimation: announcing he plans to head to WorldCon 2020 in New Zealand, he declares that if he doesn’t bring a finished manuscript of the book with him, “you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done.”
October 2019: No House of the Dragon Scripts Until It’s Done
We’re days away from House of the Dragon launching on HBO, and admittedly, Martin has indeed not written any scripts for the show yet. Winds of Winter is also not done, either.
March 2020: Well, This Pandemic Might Not Be Too Bad
Everyone thinks they’re going to be inside for a few weeks, maybe a few months at most, while this little coronavirus thing blows over. Martin at least thinks being inside will give him a chance to really hunker down and write.
June 2020: About That…
We all realise we’re going to be inside for much longer than we previously thought. Martin remains optimistic though: “I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.” Don’t we all, George, don’t we all.
February 2021: Actually 2020 Wasn’t That Bad
The year 2020 might have sucked for most of the entire world, but for George R.R. Martin? “The best year I’ve had on WOW since I began it. Why? I don’t know.” He’s very cagey on that meaning it’s nearly done, however.
June 2021: Do the X-Men Know What Happens In Winds of Winter?
Fictional George R.R. Martin attends the first annual Hellfire Gala on the living island Krakoa. Is Winds of Winter finished in the Marvel Comics universe? Do the Stepford Cuckoos now know everything that’s going to happen after psychically scouring his brain? These are the true mysteries of X-Men comics in 2021, not “who killed the Scarlet Witch at the Hellfire Gala.”
May 2022: This Book’s Long
Almost a year after his fictional sojourn, Martin has seemingly given up on even offering a window. Turns out a book over a decade in writing is long, who would’ve thought!
July 2022: This Book’s Hard
A few months later after once again reminding us Winds of Winter will play out differently to the show, Martin notes that writing a book for over a decade is quite a challenging experience. Who would’ve thought!
August 2022: Leave Me Alone
Martin, coming off a covid-19 diagnosis having attended San Diego Comic-Con, says that, seemingly once and for all, done with offering updates on when he’ll be done. “Every time I do, I don’t make it and everybody gets mad at me, and there’s no sense. It’ll be done when it’s done.” Our last update, perhaps? For now at least.