On Sunday, May 19, Game of Thrones comes to an end. Or, at least, the HBO show does. The A Song of Ice and Fire book series that made up the show’s source material — at least until the show blew past the books in season 6 — still has a couple of entries left to go, but with no release dates in sight.
A recent rumor that George R.R. Martin may already have both books written and is waiting for the end of the show to release them gave fans a spark of hope, but the ruckus provoked the author to respond. The short of it: the indeterminable wait continues.
This latest rumor of an imminent release for the last two books in the series came from a recent fantasy convention in Russia. At Epic Con 2019, Ian McElhinney, who played Barristan Selmy on the show, said that Martin already wrote books six and seven, and an agreement with HBO prevented him from publish them until the show was over.
Unfortunately for fans, Martin responded to let everyone know that McElhinney’s claim isn’t true.
On his blog Not A Blog, Martin said, “No, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are not finished. Dream is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finished volume six.”
Martin continued by giving fans a few more specifics. “HBO did not ask me to delay them. Nor did David [Benioff] & Dan [Weiss]. There is no ‘deal’ to hold back the books. I assure you, HBO and David & Dan would have both been thrilled and delighted if The Winds of Winter had been delivered and published four or five years ago ... and NO ONE would have been more delighted than me. I have said it before: don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”
Martin doesn’t make any specific mention of where these claims came from, or why McElhinney would make them, but it seems we’ll have to wait a little longer for the continuation of A Song of Ice and Fire.
So when will The Wind of Winters and A Dream of Spring come out?
Fans have been anxiously awaiting Martin’s next big entry in the series since A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book, was released in 2011. This is the longest gap between major entries in the series so far; the longest wait, between books four and five, lasted six years. Since 2011, Martin has released a few other works in the Song of Ice and Fire universe: In 2014 he released a companion text called, The World of Ice and Fire, as well as two related novels, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, a collection of three earlier novellas that follow the adventures of Dunk and Egg that came out in 2015, and Fire & Blood, which chronicles the first of two parts on the Targaryen family history in Westeros, and was released in November of 2018.
As for a real release date for The Winds of Winter, there isn’t much to go on. He mentioned the book on his blog on Nov. 5 — in a post about Fire & Blood and the upcoming HBO Thrones successor shows — but only long enough to tell fans that he’s still working on it. The last real update Martin gave on the progress of The Winds of Winter came back in April of 2018 when he implied that the book wouldn’t be arriving that year.
For now, that means book fans only have bad news. The books aren’t done and waiting in some secret vault for release after the show, instead we’ll just have to keep waiting for them. Until then, there’s still one more episode of Game of Thrones and a five successor shows in development including one that Martin says is supposed to start shooting later this year. Whether these other shows will make it out before The Winds of Winter is published is anyone’s guess.