The Next Story in the Ice and Fire World: What Could It Be?

george rr martin photo

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.

Here’s the blurb via Amazon:

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!


Possible Stories

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 However, we know that he has unpublished work that exists in finalized form from The World of Ice and Fire (TWOIAF), The Princess and the Queen (P&Q) and The Rogue Prince (TRP).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.


Battle Beneath the Gods Eye Art by Michael Komarck

ASOIAF History

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.


White Walkers Jon Snow
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:

He could also release a chapter he’s read at conventions but never released publicly such as:

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 stories
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.

The Winds of WinterNow 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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!


Conclusion

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.

BryndenBFish is the creator of the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire Blog a blog dedicated to political and military analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire. He can be found on twitter as @BryndenBFish. 

 

42 responses

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    1. While I stand by what I said in another thread – that a novella centered on Blackfyre and/or Dark Sister would be pretty cool, given that the theme of the compilation appears to be swords – there are other appealing options, even non-TWOW related ones! Though, on the subject of Blackfyre and Dark Sister, we could have further information on the Battle of Redgrass Field or on how the two swords made their way into the Targaryen family.

      If The Village Hero and not The She-Wolves of Winterfell (or whatever that particular story becomes) is to be the next Dunk and Egg story it could still fit in with the sword theme. In The Mystery Knight, there is a discussion at the wedding feast about the competitors in the wedding tourney and many are described as “village heroes”. The titular village hero could be someone who competes in a tourney (I think perhaps more in the melee than in the jousting to fit in with the sword theme though I could be overthinking that aspect of it). I wouldn’t say no to a new D&E story; in fact, if given the choice at the moment I would probably take that over an excerpt from Fire and Blood.

      As for TWOW chapters, I doubt we would get anything new given that regardless of how close GRRM feels he is to completing the Son of Kong, almost a dozen of them have been published and/or read at conventions. He has to have some new material for the book, after all. If it is TWOW related, I agree that the likelihood is it will be a chapter read but not published.

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    2. Having D&E comic, then a F&B story and finally Winds all in the second half of 2017 would be an amazing editorial move for Martin,

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    3. If it’s going to be a saga about one of the known named swords, I’d prefer it to be a story that reveals the fate of Brightroar and Uncle Gerion. But if it’s an excerpt from Fire and Blood – which seems the likeliest scenario if much of that collection is already written – then it’ll be about a Targ sword, not a Lannister one. I suppose that a story that clarifies the complicated history of the various Blackfyre rebellions would be something of a public service, even though I personally don’t share the author’s fascination with House Targaryen.

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    4. Lars:
      Oh sweet summer child, TWOW is not coming out this year. It’s not happening, and you know it.

      Yeah, I’ve pretty much accepted “The Book That Was Promised” won’t be out til after the show ends. ?

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    5. I’m always keen for some Ninepenny Kings action, and Fire and Blood serves as a good source of more from that.

      I think it’s entirely likely that is been delayed to coincide with the release of twow.

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    6. Totally agree this is promising, and agree with your assessment that it might tie into part of a marketing strategy.

      My guess is the following timeline (entirely speculation…I’m not someone who would know anything):

      GoT S7 airs from June to August (guess)

      Right before the final episode, the release date for Winds of Winter is announced: December 10. Anticipation kicks in.

      The anthology is released on Oct. 10. This parlays off S7 of GoT fans wanting more, especially since short stories are a great way to introduce show-watchers to the books. This also whips up the book reading crowd. Both factors dramatically increase sales for the anthology.

      Then, appetites whetted and anticipation at an all-time high, 60 days later comes The Winds of Winter, just in time for the holiday season…also causing a spike in not only book sales but all the merch that goes with it.

      Fun to speculate!

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    7. I definitely don’t think it’s gonna be TWOW but another one, hopefully it’s one his already written though and his not putting TWOW on hold until he writes another one.

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    8. I think it will be either about Aeneys and maegar or about the reign of Aegon 3..
      I would love to read if its about Argon 5 and the events of what really happened at summer hall

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    9. L Smith:
      I would love to see one on Dawn the sword of House Dayne, but would not be opposed to one on the Targ Swords.

      Oh! If only it was a story about Dawn and the history of the Daynes! I’d be over the moon! 🙂

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    10. I just hope we can finally see why Darksister ended up being in Brynden Rivers (bloodraven) possession.

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    11. Thanks, BBF. I enjoy your esteemed optimism regarding ASoI&F possibilities for 2017. May we have some movement on this front that is not bowel related.

      Then again, I am secretly hoping for a 50,000 word novella on the rise and fall of Shitmouth and his beloved Valyrian sword, Merde!

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    12. I think the only thing any GOT books fan would want to say to GRRM is, “WTF man, why don’t you just drop everything else and release the f*ing last books already, we’ll grow old and die before we read them if you don’t!”.

      Seriously. I watch the “Not a blog” and I want to scream this every time GRRM is posting anything about anything else but the GOT books. And this means every time GRRM posts anything at all, because though I started watching his LJ in the hopes of finding out at once about new chapters, he hardly ever posts anything GOT-related now.

      But I don’t scream and I don’t post anything on his blog, because as GRRM stated multiple times, he’s not one to work faster under pressure. So, I have nothing left but to bite my nails and grind my teeth and brace myself and just continue waiting.

      And all this is written because that new novella, or story, or whatever it is, is just another case of that same thing. GRRM doing something, anything, but GOT. Aaaaargh!

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    13. Mormont,

      The better question is why the fuck is Areo Hotah even a POV character,he only exists as a window to the other Dornish characters since besides Arianne all of them are non-POV. Unless Gurm bothers to give him a personality of his own in the next book i really couldn’t care less about his chapters in fact i may even skip them and just read a summary online .

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    14. I’m starting to agree. The winds of winter is never coming out, the series ending is the ending we’ve got.
      Even though I was never a fan of the novels – too prolix and with a fanbase that treats them like he’s Shakespeare – I really wanted to know the two different endings. Oh, well.

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    15. Gustav Rodriguez,

      I know, and using him as a window really slows things down pace-wise, which is bad in a book that has to cover so much ground.

      Plus Arianne leaves Dorne in her first chapter and the Sand Snakes are going to King’s Landing, so I don’t understand what Doran could be doing in Dorne that isn’t a waste of a chapter. If Dany goes to Dorne then there are two/three/four more interesting POV characters right there.

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    16. Ashara D: Oh! If only it was a story about Dawn and the history of the Daynes!

      Want to know how a sword was crafted from a fallen star and if the metal from the meteorite kills WWs as Valyrian steel does.

      Time for Dawn to emerge from wherever it has been hiding.

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    17. At this point in time, I am actually hoping that no more books come out before the series is over. Getting TWoW at this point would just muddy the waters about what GRRM really meant the ending to be. As it is, we know the ending of the show is going to be close to what GRRM meant it to be right after ADWD came out and before he spent another 6 years failing to make that come to pass… and probably decided to change some of his plans due to difficulty in execution.

      As for what this is? Sure, Dunk and Egg would be cool. Anything else… meh. I didn’t read woiaf (just read summaries online) because I’m not interested in reading fanfiction by Elio and Linda. I started reading tpatq but got bored and read a summary instead. Didn’t try Rogue Prince, probably will some day. Maybe something totally different would be cool. I like the idea someone had above about doing something Lannister-themed (Gerion/Brightroar).

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    18. Maryna:
      I think the only thing any GOT books fan would want to say to GRRM is, “WTF man, why don’t you just drop everything else and release the f*ing last books already, we’ll grow old and die before we read them if you don’t!”.

      I’m on the same line. I … just want to know what happens to Shaggydog, Summer, Rickon Stark, Jojen Reed, LS, and Shireen in the books. I don’t really care about anything else. And the show is nice, it’s nice to have a show because otherwise we don’t know anything, but on the other hand… why did they ever start the show before the books were even finnished? Honestly… we will get the ending of Asoiaf by the show, and two years later he will finnish the book? Or maybe he dies before he finnishes it… than we can go look up all the fanfictions. But… when I hear the book is released, I’ll probably not even buy it. I’ll wait a few more years till it’s somewhere on the internet where I can download it or where I can buy it for a very cheap price. Because… we already will have an ending of the series? That’s the thing… how many people will buy the book after the show has given them an ending? Our hearts are already broken probably, we will probably already have cried the rivers and oceans full because the show killed of our most beloved charachters in terrible ways.

      Then I’ll just need to ask around when the books are released: How did Rickon Stark die? How did Shireen die? Did he really kill of the direwolves? I’m not even sure if I then even want to read the books… because I’m still so pissed about the ending of Rickon Stark. I’m still so dissapointed on how they killed of Shaggydog – the most evil direwolf in history who bite off someones arm, who didn’t listen to anyone-. And Hodor… that’s what they call something really strange. I thought he was the great Other or a spy for the Great Other, no… he said Hodor because Bran Stark choose to go into his brain in the past, and via via he heard Meera calling: Hold the door… so stupid.

      I’ll read it, but I’ll not be so interested anymore. Because we already know how it ends? The ending will be the same for Dany, Jon, Tyrion, Arya? Yes, I’ll want to know what happens to Sir Pounce and if Balerion the Cat gets the throne in the end, I’ll want to know if LS kills Littlefinger. I’ll want to know if Benjen Stark really turns out to be the guy on the deer or if he is Daario in disguise. I’ll want to know if Greywind jumped in the river and would still be alive. I’ll want to know if Robb Stark had a baby in the end, but those arcs… if I have waited so many years for that book, I’m pretty sure I can wait a bit longer before I will buy or download the book for a very cheap price. And well… if Rickon Stark really dies, I’ll just say: f*ck you, I’m done. I’ll just ask people how the rest got their ending. But I’m not going to cry over a book where I have already cried for the show.

      Maybe he can write a bit faster now… 🙁

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    19. Elien,

      Apparently Hodor’s fate (the weird timewarp and Bran’s part in it) was one of the “holy shit!” reveals showrunners D&D got straight from the horse’s mouth, i.e. GRRM. One can even see with hindsight that Hodor’s fate was already mapped out when GRRM wrote the first book. I mean, why else name him Hodor?

      So Hodor’s fate definitely isn’t stupid D&D fanfic or whatever, it’s GRRM fiction, which will be confirmed when he publishes the next book in a year or two, or three or whatever.

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    20. Hodors Bastard,
      Hi HB *waves furiously*, where have you been? Are you avoiding spoilers this time around? I’m not a book reader so I don’t care, but GRRM doesn’t need any more ideas for things he can do other than write TWOW.

      Cumsprite this is your cue to be rude about his writing pace. GRRM’s that is. Spritey might be a slow writer as well, but as far as I know he doesn’t have a huge army of devoted readers dying a little inside every time there’s an article about the apparently endless amount of time and energy he seems to spend avoiding doing the thing they are most desperate for him to do.

      Edit: just read some of the other comments. Seems it’s not only Cumsprite who’s given up on patience altogether.

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    21. As to what the story to be published next autumn is. I don’t much care, all I want is the ending of ASOIAF (yeah, I know, I’ll probably never get it but one can hope).

      It’ll probably be some earlier Targaryen history, perhaps from the time they still had dragons (fire). Dunk & Egg is a possibility but I think it unlikely because it’s closer to the present timeline and no dragons, and a cute little series in itself. Anyway, GRRM has said in interviews or con panels that he enjoys writing about the Targaryens.

      It’s beginning to seem he no longer enjoys writing about the original ASOIAF characters, our beloved Starks, Lannisters, Dany and all the others, so doing that might’ve become a drudge, hence why it’s going so slow. He isn’t inspired by that story anymore, he prefers to explore the past (Targ history), as is his right. The situation is disappointing to us ASOIAF fans but what can you do? (Except pointlessly and anonymously vent on the internet.)

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    22. Elien,

      What about the reputation as America’s Tolkien? What about writing literature as the reason for leaving Hollywood?

      Does not finishing ASoIaF reassign that reputation to another writer and negate the purpose of constructing a magnum opus?

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    23. Elien,

      Both Hodor’s and Shireen’s fates will be the same in the books D&D said in a interview they were two WTH moments GRRM told them will happen in the books. The only difference in Shireen I could see that it Stannis might not be involved as he didn’t bring her to war but she’ll still suffer the same fate.

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    24. Marlana,

      I don’t understand what you mean by “negate the purpose”. ??

      GRRM gets compared to Tolkien, especially in “America” (the US) because he’s written a popular, sweeping fantasy novel series, which has some literary qualities. Something that will be more popular in the US than that foregn stuff by J.R.R.T., the snobby English Oxford don. GRRM is homegrown.

      I prefer GRRM’s writing style to JRRT’s. GRRM writes about characters, JRRT wrote a story, a series of plot points. LotR characters are the same from beginning to end. I love them but the’re a bit boring. Good guys are good, only to become better and more heroic.

      ASOIAF is very different. It’s full of fully realised not black-and-white heroic/good or bad/evil people but different shades of gray characters. What’s interesting about GRRM’s writing is that several characters are faced with various serious moral and ethical dilemmas and we’re shown their internal struggles, and asked to answer them ourselves.

      Tolkien never asked anything, he assumed everbody had the same morality as he, an Oxford don, an Establishment figure.

      The only reason why I might respect JRRT more than GRRM is that JRRT actually delivered manuscripts on time.

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    25. Mel:
      Elien,

      Both Hodor’s and Shireen’s fates will be the same in the books D&D said in a interview they were two WTH moments GRRM told them will happen in the books. The only difference in Shireen I could see that it Stannis might not be involved as he didn’t bring her to war but she’ll still suffer the same fate.

      In the books, Shireen and her mother “Queen” Selyse are at Castle Black, Stannis is far away near Winterfell. Melisandre is at CB. I don’ t know how, in future books, Stannis will fare and I’m not sure what or who triggers the Shireen sacrafice. Mel? Did nobody try to stop her or were all just following orders (takes us to Jaime’s dilemma)…

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    26. I am of the belief that the pink letter is true and Stannis is defeated, Mel and Selyse then decide to burn Shireen to help Stannis which fails. This may be interlinked with Jon Snow but it’s quite clear Stannis isn’t going to last long in the next book and Shireen is toast.

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    27. talvikorppi,

      I have read that the purpose for leaving Hollywood was to write literature, especially a magnum opus. To make a significant contribution to the corpus of American lit. So I ask, if this great work is never finished, is the reason for focusing on writing literature now somewhat reduced to writing SF/fantasy books, stories, novellas, etc.

      That does not mean that what has been published is not engaging, because fans would not be so intensely anguished about the end to ASoIaF if they were not engaged. It means that, looking backwards, what really was the purpose.

      I don ‘t know that JRRT’s work was less popular than ASoIaF in the US or considered snobbish. My friends were enthusiastic LotR readers, and who cared about his day job? Lots of writers and other geniuses had less colorful day jobs.

      I don’t think American readers are snobbish about American lit versus English lit. In hs, one year it’s all American writers, the next year it’s all British writers. Individuals like the authors they like, wherever they lived.

      US readers even read works translated from other languages. South and Central American authors have enjoyed popularity in the US, and Eastern European authors have contributed fundamental ideas to SF, for example RUR.

      So I ask, to be elevated to the ranks of Tolkien, doesn’t one have to complete his magnum opus?

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    28. Marlana,

      Sure, one has to complete one’s magnum opus… with… uhm…

      Comparing JRRT and GRRM is pointless. They write very different kinds of books.

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    29. Yes, I know and agree with the whole “Martin is not your b**” thing, but as an engineer, I find GRRM blowing away deadlines very un-professional.

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