When is the next Game of Thrones book coming out?

It's titled The Winds of Winter and has haunted author George RR Martin for over a decade.

Martin attends HBO's
A Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)

13 years we've been waiting for the sixth book in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, officially titled The Winds of Winter, but with the second Game of Thrones spin-off A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms now in production at HBO, is it simply a case of the author prioritising TV watchers over readers?

In a blog post published earlier this month, Martin announced that he'd soon be heading over to Belfast in order to "visit the set, meet the cast, and take in some jousting" while the US network grinds away on its adaptation of his novella The Hedge Knight - starring Peter Claffey as Ser Duncan the Tall and Dexter Sol Ansell as his squire Aegon V Targaryen.

This insight is just the latest example of the beloved fantasy writer travelling the globe to enjoy the fruits of his labour, and fair play to Martin for doing so, but there's no getting away from the fact that his patient readers would rather him simply sit at a desk and complete the epic series he first began writing in 1991.

Game of Thrones finally drew to a close with a climactic finale after eight seasons of murder, betrayal and power struggles between the inhabitants of Westeros. The fight for the Iron Throne came to a fiery end as Daenerys turned dark and Bran Stark was crowned King in what was a hugely divisive last six episodes. However, the mammoth cultural impact of HBO hit can't be denied. (HBO)
The final season of Game of Thrones saw the Iron Throne melt away via dragonfire. (HBO)

Back when fifth book A Dance with Dragons was released in 2011, Martin estimated that it would be up to four years before its sequel The Winds of Winter arrived. It subsequently took two years for him to reach the quarter-way mark in terms of pages.

End-of-year deadlines agreed between himself and his publisher zipped by during 2015 and 2016, but it was then revealed in April 2018 that his House Targaryen-centred prequel Fire & Blood (which HBO's House of the Dragon is based on) was fast-tracked, putting his work on The Winds of Winter even further behind.

Skip to various 2022 chats with talkshow host Stephen Colbert, Martin announced that around three-quarters of the book had been put to paper and that it was 400-500 pages away from completion.

By November 2023, though, he'd made practically no progress, meaning it's impossible to speculate when he'll get this next stage of the story signed, sealed and delivered.

To make matters worse (depending on how you define 'worse'), Martin recently promised more Dunk & Egg stories, when really you could argue he should be fully focussed on getting this 13-year beast off his back.

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Lena Headey as the calculated queen Cersei Lannister. (HBO)

Blogging just last month, Martin wrote of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: "The show will make its debut next year... and if it does well, THE SWORN SWORD and THE MYSTERY KNIGHT will follow. By which time I hope to have finished some more Dunk & Egg stories (yes, after I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER)."

Going off this particular update, should AKOTSK prove a major hit with viewers in 2025, HBO will potentially want to scatter adaptations of Dunk & Egg adventures The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight across the following four years - allowing a two-year break between each series and ending with a 2029 finale - which would mean that he's currently aiming to turn in The Winds of Winter in the next five years.

Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon. (HBO)

Speaking to Bangcast last Christmastime, Martin lamented his slower output compared to the likes of author Bernard Cornwell, whose work provided the basis for Viking drama The Last Kingdom.

"I wish I could write as fast as [Cornwell] but I'm 12 years late on this damn novel and I'm struggling with it," he admitted. "I have like 1,100 pages written but I still have hundreds more pages to go. It's a big mother of a book for whatever reason. Maybe I should've started writing smaller books when I began this but it's tough. That's the main thing that dominates most of my working life."

Three years prior to that, while revealing that he'd been "visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah" on the page, Martin suggested he'd been suffering "bad days".

"But all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing," he caveated. "I do wish they would go faster, of course. Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month.

"I fear I shall never recapture that pace again. Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then. A fever indeed."

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones (Credit: HBO)
Sansa Stark and Jon Snow. (HBO)

In conversation with Smarter Travel a year after the publication of A Dance with Dragons, the 75-year-old suggested that The Winds of Winter would have a fierce start.

"There were a of cliffhangers at the end of A Dance with Dragons. Those will be resolved very early," he shared. "I'm going to open with the two big battles that I was building up to, the battle in the ice [between the forces of Stannis Baratheon and Roose Bolton in and around Winterfell] and the battle at Meereen — the battle of Slaver's Bay [between Daenerys Targaryen's army and the slavers of Yunkai across the Narrow Sea]."

Four years later while attending the Guadalajara International Book Fair, he paid tribute to his 20-year warning that winter was coming during a discussion surrounding the next book.

"I've been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming. Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world, so this is not going to be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for," teased Martin. "Some of the characters [are] in very dark places. Things get worse before they get better, so things are getting worse for a lot of people."