Well, at the very least, we have something semi-confirmed to be published by George R.R. Martin from the A Song of Ice and Fire world this year. Thanks to the sleuthing of Reddit users blackofhairandheart2 and luminariesadmin as well as blogger NobodySuspectsTheButterfly and others, GRRM’s involvement in Gardner Dozois’ Book of Swords anthology has been revealed to the general public.
Fifteen original tales celebrating fantasy’s golden age of sword and sorcery, including a new story from George R. R. Martin set in the world of A Game of Thrones!
So, let’s talk briefly about a few interesting possibilities for the novella/story that GRRM might include in the anthology and then, because this is the ASOIAF/Game of Thrones fandom, let’s get conspiratorial about what this might mean for the forthcoming The Winds of Winter!
So far, we don’t have confirmation from GRRM or his publishers Random House on the Martin story that will be included in the book. However, we know that he has unpublished work that exists in finalized form from The World of Ice and Fire (TWOIAF), The Princess and the Queen (P&Q) and The Rogue Prince (TRP). Additionally (though I’ll come out immediately and say this is unlikely), GRRM has “dozens” of finalized chapters from The Winds of Winter that he could include if he chose. Finally, there’s an intriguing possibility that Elio Garcia mentioned in his post over on Westeros.org that I dearly hope comes true.
First, let’s detail out the likeliest possibility: that GRRM will release something from Fire and Blood. For those who don’t know, Fire and Blood is GRRM’s planned giant history book that will detail out the full history of the Targaryens. Here’s the wiki blurb:
Fire and Blood is a planned complete history of House Targaryen by George R. R. Martin. Fire and Blood is planned for publication after the completion of A Song of Ice and Fire. Before being titled Fire and Blood, the history was jokingly named the GRRMarillion after J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
During the editing/refining process for TWOIAF, P&Q and TRP, Martin cut significant portions of the book from the published product. For instance, The Princess and the Queen was originally 80,000 words, but GRRM cut it down to 30,000 for The Dangerous Women anthology while GRRM made significant cuts to The Rogue Prince for the Rogues Anthology. Overall, he stated that he cut 200,000 words from TWOIAF – the bulk of which will likely find its way into Fire and Blood. For comparison purposes, this is slightly less than half the number of words he wrote for A Dance with Dragons (420,000 per most estimates) – so he has a significant bulk of work that he can choose from for a novella. Specifically, there’s several spots that we know for sure that GRRM cut work out of The World of Ice and Fire that will likely end up in Fire and Blood:
- Sons of the Dragon: The Reigns of Aenys and Maegor Targaryen. He read “Sons of the Dragon” at LonCon in 2014.
- The Complete Rogue Prince
- The Complete 80,000 word Dance of the Dragons
- The Regency of Aegon III: GRRM and Elio/Linda significantly cut down the Regency of Aegon III section from The World of Ice and Fire.
- Regional Chapters in TWOIAF: In 2015, GRRM released an expanded version of the Westerlands chapter from The World of Ice and Fire that was significantly expanded from its published version. The likelihood exists that he has expanded regional chapters in addition to the Westerlands.
Any of the above are possibilities that Martin might fashion into a novella for the anthology. It’s always possible that he chooses something completely different from Fire and Blood than what we know he has completed.
THE WINDS OF WINTER Sample Chapter
As for a possible Winds of Winter sample… it’s possible, but I think unlikely. We know that George R.R. Martin has more Winds chapters than those that he’s read at conventions or released as samples such as:
- The Prologue in which Jeyne Westerling will appear
- A Bran chapter that he cut from ADWD that was set to appear after Jon’s final ADWD chapter.
- A Theon chapter (likely different from the one he released in 2011) that he was revising in December 2015
- Areo Hotah: confirmed to return as a POV Character
He could also release a chapter he’s read at conventions but never released publicly such as:
- Tyrion I: Read at Miscon and Eastercon in 2012
- Victarion I: Read at Miscon 2012 and TIFF Bell Lighthouse 2012
- Barristan II: Read at BosKone 2013
- The Forsaken (Aeron I): Read at Balticon 2016
However, given that GRRM has released or read 11 chapters from The Winds of Winter since 2011, I’m not sure he’ll release anymore — especially as he’s recently stated that he “thinks” he can complete and deliver TWOW this year.
Dunk and Egg
Of the possibilities offered so far, my fondest wish for GRRM’s contribution in the anthology would be the long-awaited 4th Dunk and Egg novella — which had the working-title of The She-Wolves of Winterfell at one point. However, in 2015, Martin stated that he would not be working on Dunk and Egg #4 until at least after he completed and delivered The Winds of Winter.
So, this seems an unlikely possibility … except that in his post yesterday on Westeros.org, Elio Garcia had this little blurb:
We don’t have a table of contents to share as of yet, but we’ll say that there’s a great deal of speculation among fans related to The World of Ice and Fire and Dunk & Egg.
So, there exists the possibility that GRRM might have a new Dunk and Egg story. There also exists the possibility that Elio was simply reporting on fan-expectations, but this was noteworthy enough by Adam Whitehead that he wrote it up as:
However, Westeros.org has also postulated that a new Dunk and Egg novella could be a possibility. This is surprising. George started writing the fourth Dunk and Egg novella, under the working title The She-Wolves, back in 2009 before The Mystery Knight was even published but put it on hold until The Winds of Winter was completed. Martin also seems to have decided to reconsider the project at some point, suggesting that another story called The Village Hero might come first, but again not until The Winds of Winter was completed.
So, Dunk and Egg, maybe, but probably not.
What Does This Mean for The Winds of Winter?
So, let’s back up for a moment and talk about the anthology and some of the interesting timing pieces of it. On November 24, 2015, Matthew Hughes, one of the authors who will be contributing to the Book of Swords anthology posted the following on his invitation to the anthology:
Over the weekend, I received another one of those affirmations: super-editor Gardner Dozois invited me to send him a story for an upcoming theme anthology to be called The Book of Swords. Assuming Gardner likes what I’ll send him, I’ll be joining K.J. Parker, Scott Lynch, Robin Hobb, Garth Nix, C.J. Cherryh, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Kushner, Ken Liu, Danial Abraham, Cecelia Holland, and Peter S. Beagle in the table of contents. And probably more big names who have yet to commit.
Now why is the timing of this important? If you’ll recall from that same time, George R.R. Martin was trying to complete and deliver The Winds of Winter before the New Year in order to publish the book before the release of Season 6 of Game of Thrones. As we all know, GRRM did not meet his New Year’s deadline and the book still hasn’t been released.
However, if we put this in the context of that, is it possible that perhaps this anthology was planned with the idea of riding off the coattails of The Winds of Winter? From a marketing standpoint, this would make sense to publish the anthology to capture people who would still have The Winds of Winter in mind.
Fast-forward to 2017. As indicated above, GRRM thinks he can get The Winds of Winter published this year. Meanwhile, the Book of Swords anthology is coming out at nearly the end of the year. Additionally, redditor KaiLung, who has been following the Book of Swords news reported that all of the pieces have been in place for the book and several of the authors did not know what the hold-up was:
I’ve been following the anthology for a while and one thing that I thought was interesting and potentially hypeworthy is that IIRC Martin had posted a while back about Dozois doing an anthology with
However, I do feel some hype in that it seemed like until recently the contributors (i.e. Elizabeth Bear) didn’t know when the collection was going to be published, despite everything being in place. Which made me think that they were probably waiting on George as usual- since there was like no mention of his participation until about a month ago.
And since the “story” included (am disappointed it’s not Dunk and Egg) was already completed, there could be something TWOW related in its inclusion.
So, is possible that this anthology has been timed to coincide with Winds’ release? Certainly! In fact, I’d posit two theories on it:
- GRRM tries to use the market power of releasing Winds before October 2017 as a means of promoting the anthology of his friend Gardner Dozois (and other authors included in the anthology).
- GRRM announces Winds in Fall 2017 with a Winter 2018 release date and writes on his blog: “But if you want to get back into Westeros a few months before the Son of Kong comes your way, I’ll have a brand new story coming out from FIRE AND BLOOD in BOOK OF SWORDS.”
It could be that Random House as well as George R.R. Martin are planning for both contingencies given that as recently as two weeks ago, Martin stated that the book was not completed yet.
And of course, it’s always possible that the book’s publication date and Martin’s involvement with the anthology has nothing to do with Winds at all!
The nice thing about all of this is that it’s likely that George R.R. Martin will have something to say soon on the matter. We’ll know what he has planned for the anthology. However, in the meantime, have some fun, and tell me what you think Martin will publish as a novella in October!
Portions of this piece originally appeared in a posting on Reddit.