In May 2005, George R.R. Martin, the author best known for his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, made a somewhat curious announcement: His book A Feast for Crows, the fourth entry in the saga, had grown so large that it had become unpublishable, and would have to be split into two books as a result. Crows came out later that year; its other half, A Dance With Dragons, finally followed six years later. So there are plenty of emotions you might feel after reading Martin’s latest blog post announcing that Dragons’ follow-up, The Winds of Winter, isn’t coming out anytime soon. Surprise shouldn’t be one of them.
The thing that’s changed for Martin since 2005, of course, is the existence of Game of Thrones, the wildly popular HBO show that launched his books to even more stratospheric levels of fame. A Dance With Dragons debuted in 2011, after the first season premiered. Now, all of Martin’s books have been adapted for television, and the sixth season that returns this spring will be entering fully uncharted territory for readers and viewers alike. Some fans had held out hope that Martin could push out The Winds of Winter before the show returned, but according to Martin, he blew through an end-of-year deadline that marked the latest date he could hand his publishers the book to ensure a March release. So it’s official: Game of Thrones is going to tell Martin’s story faster than he can, and will probably conclude before he’s published all of his planned novels.