As of July 2021, it has been 10 years since George R.R. Martin published A Dance With Dragons, the most recent installment in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, the basis for HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones.
Even before A Dance With Dragons was released, Martin had announced that he was hard at work in the next book in the series, the sixth overall, The Winds of Winter.
However, the wait for Winds of Winter continues. Still, Martin has regularly kept fans abreast of his progress over the years, often on his personal blog and in interviews.
In 2021, he has given a few updates on Winds of Winter that have some fans hopeful, while others have maintained a cynical view. Ultimately, it is hard to know what these updates mean for the Winds of Winter release date.
Martin has clearly taken on several other projects, working with HBO on Game of Thrones spin-off shows as well as adapting other science fiction and fantasy works for film and TV. It seems as though fans are just going to have to wait and see.
February 2021: Hundreds of Pages Written in 2020.
In a blog post in which he reflected on the events of 2020, Martin revealed that he’d done quite a bit of work on Winds of Winter, describing 2020 as “the best year I’ve had on WOW since I began it.”
Although he said he had written “hundreds and hundreds” of pages, he also made it clear he still has hundreds more to write and will make no promises on when the novel will actually be finished.
“I will make no predictions on when I will finish. Every time I do, assholes on the internet take that as a ‘promise,’ and then wait eagerly to crucify me when I miss the deadline. All I will say is that I am hopeful.”
March 2021: Still writing.
In a post that contained more general updates on various projects—mainly adaptations for TV and film—Martin also made his priority clear: “I need to finish WINDS,” he wrote.
June 2021: Ending will be different than HBO's.
At the beginning of the summer, while in Illinois to give the commencement address at his alma mater, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Martin gave an interview to a Chicago PBS station.
Although the interviewer indicated that she was not supposed to ask questions about “that new book," Martin still dropped a few hints.
While reflecting on the impact of Game of Thrones, Martin admitted that he wished he had been able to stay ahead of the TV show.
“I never thought they would catch up with me,” he said. He also stated that once the show passed him, it went in a “somewhat different direction," and told readers that they would see his version of the ending when it comes out.
Although this is a somewhat vague statement, it may come as a relief to fans who were not satisfied with the TV show’s conclusion.
You can watch the interview, which also offers fascinating insights into Martin's early years, below: