This story contains spoilers for Game of Thrones in book and TV forms.
George R. R. Martin’s never-ending song keeps finding new verses and plotlines—but will it ever make its way to an ending?
A new excerpt released Tuesday (May 10) by the author of the blockbuster Song of Ice and Fire series is characteristically sprawling and cryptic. ”You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in Winds of Winter? Quite a lot, actually,” Martin wrote on his blog. “The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.”
Packed with proper nouns that will have readers scurrying for their Ice and Fire reference materials, the new chapter is from the forthcoming (date still unknown) Winds of Winter. The chapter from the sixth book in the series takes place from the point of view of Arianne Martell, the heir to the throne of Dorne.
The excerpt demonstrates how far the books and show have diverged: Arianne doesn’t exist in the HBO adaptation, and neither does the entire plotline of the chapter, which has her investigating a claim that Aegon Targaryen, presumed dead, is alive and plotting to take back the Iron Throne. Her father—recently killed off on the show, part of a TV-only plot that many viewers hate—is still alive in the books.
Those are only a few of the growing number of differences between the two stories, angering fans who are increasingly displeased with the divergence.
Arianne’s shadowy wandering in the boondocks of Westeros is not unlike Martin’s own waywardness. He has apologized to readers for missing deadlines that have allowed the HBO series to progress farther than its own source material. The chapter, which expands the plot again, is yet another example of how difficult it will be for him to wrap up the series in any kind of satisfying or timely way.
But at least it shows that he is still getting some productive writing done, no matter how slowly or tantalizingly.
“To put things into perspective,” Deadspin’s Tim Marchman wrote, “Martin has published one unfinished ASOIAF book, spread across two volumes, in the last 16 years.”