Game of Thrones fans are in mourning. Sort of. Remember a year ago when George R.R. Martin revealed that he had written 1,100 pages of The Winds of Winter? Fans have spent 12 years waiting for the sixth novel in Martin’s bestselling series.
The author left several dangling plot threads when he published A Dance of Dragons back in 2011. For instance, Jon Snow is still dead, and Daenerys has yet to reach Westeros. We expect the final books in the series to diverge from the TV show.
Yes, the HBO adaptation used Martin’s notes to finish the story, but reviews from critics and audiences alike were so mixed that Martin is expected to make alterations. Season 8 was particularly divisive. Some people said it ruined the entire show. Readers have been waiting with bated breath to see whether Martin can massage the events of the TV show to deliver a more satisfying conclusion.
We expected a potential publishing date to hit the internet in a few months. But then Martin broke our hearts by revealing on the Bangcast podcast that he was struggling to finish book six. Apparently, even with 1,100 pages written, the author has hundreds of pages to go before he can complete the novel.
Fans have criticized the author in previous years for failing to prioritize the book and instead dedicating his time to the many Game of Thrones TV adaptations emerging from HBO. But his interview on the Bangcast podcast revealed that The Winds of Winter was the ‘main thing’ he was writing. And yet, a year later, he can’t land the plane. That raises a question. Is it time to give up on the book?
Yes. Why hold out hope for a product that may never come? Surprisingly, Martin is not unique in this arena. Many popular book series have gone unfinished over the decades.
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss is the most popular of the bunch. I don’t know if The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch counts. I mean, the man gave us three novels. But from what I have heard, the original trilogy was little more than set up.
The next series of books will finally delve into the meat of Lynch’s story. Unfortunately, Book 3 (The Republic of Thieves) came out in 2013, and we are still waiting for The Thorn of Emberlain a decade later. Dune by Frank Herbert surprised me. I never realized that Herbert died before finishing the series.
It looks like he wrote six Dune novels. His final book (Chapterhouse: Dune) came out in 1985, and it resolved the saga’s numerous plot threads. However, his son (Brian Herbert) found the author’s 30-page outline for Dune 7. Brian used the outline to write Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune with the help of Kevin J. Anderson.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan suffered a similar fate. Jordan wrote 11 novels in the series before realizing he would not live long enough to finish the final volume. So he compiled extensive notes before passing away in 2007. Brandon Sanderson used those notes to finish the series.
Stieg Larsson is not nearly as well known as the others, but you have seen adaptations of his work. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is part of his Millennium trilogy. The Swedish novelist only wrote three of the ten installments he had in mind. He died in 2004. David Lagercrantz took over in 2013, using Larsson’s notes to write The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye, and The Girl Who Lived Twice.
Larsson left an incomplete manuscript in the hands of Eva Gabrielsson, his longtime partner, but legal complications have prevented her from completing it. At George R.R. Martin’s age (75), we should brace ourselves for a future in which someone else completes The Winds of Winter for him.