George R.R. Martin has posted an excerpt from Winds of Winter, his next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, the basis for HBO's Game of Thrones, if you've been living under a rock.
We’re guessing that many fans will take this as a positive sign that Martin is making progress, and they should. But we’re also thinking that many will avoid it for sake of not spoiling their enjoyment of its full release. However, we’ve read it, and have no regrets. It should be safe for other fans (who’ve read the books published to date) to do so as well. Here’s our reasoning. (While we won’t come close to recapping for sake of spoilers, we will warn that minor spoilers are below.)
(1) In a sea of memorable characters, Martin’s excerpt focuses on a point-of-view chapter from one of the two characters we care most about, Arya — or, rather, her current identity. (The other we wouldn’t have been able to ignore is Tyrion, of course).
(2) A Dance with Dragons was published in 2011 and Winds of Winter won’t be out for another nine months at the earliest, according to a recent tweet from Martin’s publisher. Four years is a long, barren desert. We needed sustenance that only ASOIF can provide.
@bonefish914 Certainly not this year.
— Jane Johnson (@JaneJohnsonBakr) January 24, 2014
(3) A Dance with Dragons was about 1,150 pages and clocked in at about 422,000 words. Winds of Winter is slated to be a ~1,500-page novel, which should equate to about 600,000 words. This excerpted chapter? It’s only 6,000-odd words. One-percent. This isn’t even an appetizer of what’s sure to be a fine meal; it’s not even like eating the olive out of your martini. Maybe just the pimento.
(4) Proof of forward momentum. Nobody wants a Robert Jordan/ The Wheel of Time situation (where the author was unable to complete the series), and this is not only proof he’s writing, but that it’s of a level of sophistication, shock, and satisfaction that fans want and expect.
(5) Trust your author. If Martin is using this compelling little bit to whet your appetite, he’s determined it to be safe to share. And as satisfying and momentous (in a small way) as the conclusion of this chapter is, that he’s showing it in advance means it likely pales in comparison to what’s to come.
In other words, time to start re-reading the dang series now from the start, because damn, we’re whetted.
Word count estimates courtesy of Looping Wor(l)d