On the Terry Brooks forum, Speakman this week reported comments made by Martin’s editor Anne Groell at the recent Comic-Con conference in the United States to the effect that she expected to get the book by October or November this year. Groell reportedly said she had to answer the same question “over and over and over again”.
“George has indeed passed the 1000 page mark as of last week and those are, to him according to Anne, finished pages that will not be returned to. He also has several hundred more pages of not completed chapters that every week he makes progress on.
Some of those will be in Dance; others will be in the next book. Anne also thinks she’ll be getting the book by October or November, which to her would probably make it a February or March 2010 release, although the progress he is making is quickly happening and she could receive it sooner if those incomplete or mostly complete chapters come together faster. I say don’t get your hopes up.”
Martin has several times stated he hopes to finish the book by September or October this year, although he has missed a previous self-allocated deadline of June.
It is common for fans of the series, one of the major fantasy works currently ongoing, to complain about the length of time taken by Martin to write each new book. Although the first three in the series were published after intervals of about two years each, according to Wikipedia, the fourth booko took a little longer; A Feast for Crows came out in 2005 after a five-year writing stint by Martin.
On his own site, the author offers a defence for not updating fans more often on his progress:
My last formal update on A Dance with Dragons was dated February 15, 2007. If that seems like a long time ago to you, join the queue. It seems like forever and a day to me. When I wrote that update, I was sick of writing updates. So I tried to make that last update the final update, and ended it by saying, “The next update will be the one that announces that the Dance is done.”
It is now 2008. I’m still working. There are no short cuts. It’s a chapter at a time, a page at a time, a word at a time. I’m further along than I was, but not as far as I would like. During the last year, I had some good days (and months), some bad days (and months), and some days (and months) that I thought were good that turned out to be bad.
The book is getting longer, and more importantly, the book is getting better. I’ve changed my mind about some of the things I said in earlier updates and on my Live Journal, and I reserve the right to change my mind again, though I am hoping I won’t have to. Believe me, no one wants to finish this book more than me.
You can’t blame GRRM for taking his time with A Dance With Dragons. The entire A Song of Ice and Fire series was initially planned to be a trilogy. However, like many fantasy authors before him, as the story grew, so did its scope, and the author’s masterwork has ballooned out into a much bigger tale than he probably initially intended.
It would be criminal to cut that tale short for the sake of pleasing a few impatient fans :)
There’s plenty of precedent in the science fiction and fantasy book world for this sort of expansion. For example, Robert Jordan initially planned The Wheel of Time to be a six book series: a massive epic even at that stage! Now, the series stands at eleven, with the author having passed away and a further three books planned by Brandon Sanderson to finish it off.
Like Jordan during the latter part of The Wheel of Time, Martin appears to be struggling with how to wrap all the threads in his expanding world together so that The Song of Ice and Fire can be satisfactorily concluded. From what we know, there are just three more books planned; A Dance with Dragons (expected in early 2010), The Winds of Winter, and A Dream of Spring.
The optimistic working title of the final book would seem to suggest it will be the final book in the series, although no doubt achieving such a conclusion will prove hard for Martin. As recently as the last published book, A Feast for Crows, Martin was still introducing new characters. Of course, the author is known for killing off characters at need, in his gritty and realistic style, so we shouldn’t be too shocked if enough die off to make resolving the convoluted plot a little easier :)
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