On Wednesday, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin revealed on his blog that a new book set in the A Song of Ice and Fire world is due out later this year. However, it won't be the long-awaited Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the wildly popular series.
Instead, Martin says this year's release will be the first in a two-part companion book series, Fire and Blood. The books will explore the history of the Targaryen kings, expanding on sidebars Martin wrote for 2014's companion novel The World of Ice and Fire.
The first volume of Fire and Blood, which Martin says is on track to be completed "soon" and published in 2018, will take an in-depth look at Westeros history from Aegon's Conquest through to the time of Aegon III. Volume two of Fire and Blood is still in the very early stages, but Martin projected last July that the second book would pick up during Aegon III and track Westeros history until Robert's Rebellion.
According to Martin's comments Wednesday, The Winds of Winter will be released before part two of the companion series. Many readers interpreted that statement to mean The Winds of Winter won't be released in 2018 after all. That's a reasonable conclusion, given the book has been delayed numerous times in the past — in 2016, the author projected a tentative 2017 release date.
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However, on Wednesday Martin didn't definitively confirm or deny any updates regarding the Winds of Winter release date. He did, however, say that rumors about a possible eighth book in the planned eight-book series are false: "If so, that's news to me."
That being said, if there's one thing to be learned from the very public speculation about Martin's writing process and progress over the past few years, it's that we sweet summer children should take many of these updates with a grain of salt.
When do you think we can expect the The Winds of Winter? Place your bets in the comments below.