The Winds of Winter is the sixth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire. It is currently planned to be the penultimate volume of the series, to be followed by A Dream of Spring, although George R.R. Martin has not ruled out expanding the series to eight books if it proves necessary. There is no date set for completion or publication at this time.
The Winds of Winter is estimated to come in at around 1,500 manuscript (MS) pages, similar to A Storm of Swords (1,521 MS pages) and A Dance with Dragons (1,510 MS pages). This works out at roughly 420,000 words or so. It is possible for the book to be shorter, if GRRM finds more satisfying, earlier break-points in the narrative for each character arc. It can't be much longer, as at that stage the book would have to be split into two volumes.
As of June 2013, GRRM has indicated that he has completed approximately one-quarter of the novel. This would be around 350-400 MS pages of completed material with an unknown further amount in drafts and rough chapters. This is a very rough estimate, however.
In an interview with Conan O'Brien in June 2013, GRRM said he was now writing quickly to stay ahead of production of the HBO television series.
In March 2014, Martin reported that The Winds of Winter has so far not required anything like the extensive rewrites and structural changes that A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons had required from very early on, and he was making better progress than he had with them. However, he did not put a figure on his progress.
Approximately 100-200 MS pages of material was held back from the completion of A Dance with Dragons to kick-start The Winds of Winter. This material is believed to comprise:
The list of confirmed and known POV characters for the book so far consists of:
In addition it is assumed that most, if not all, of the POV characters who survived A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons will return. The book will likely have a prologue (like the other five volumes) but we do not know if it will have an epilogue.
From an interview with EW's Shelf Life website, George indicates what storylines will likely feature in the next book:
29 June 2013 Update:
After two years, it appears that GRRM has completed roughly one-quarter of The Winds of Winter. However, GRRM has said that the relatively slow rate of progress is down to his time being taken up by a large number of other projects he took on in a fit of optimism after completing ADWD. These projects included The Lands of Ice and Fire map collection, The World of Ice and Fire guide book and the anthologies Dangerous Women, Rogues, Down These Strange Streets, Old Mars and Old Venus. This, combined with PR work for the HBO TV series, has left him with less time to work on TWoW than he'd wish, though he has continued to work on it when possible. As of early 2013, these side-projects have mostly been completed, with GRRM's remaining projects comprising solely TWoW, a Wild Cards book and a final polish on The World of Ice and Fire (which is tentatively scheduled to be published in Spring 2014). This will allow him to concentrate almost all of his writing efforts exclusively on TWoW going forwards. GRRM has reiterated his intention to stay ahead of the HBO TV series, which may have to begin filming The Winds of Winter material as early as 2015 (and A Dream of Spring possibly a year later), and has suggested it might be possible for him to finish the book by the end of 2014 with a good head of steam, but this was not a firm estimate.
26 January 2014 Update:
George R.R. Martin's UK editor, Jane Johnson, has confirmed that The Winds of Winter will not be published in 2014, but that late 2015 remains a possibility.
28 March 2014 Update:
GRRM reports that so far The Winds of Winter has not required anything like the rewriting and edits that were required by the previous two novels. Although this raised fans' optimism that the book would be finished relatively quickly, Martin was careful not to put any figures on his progress or expected completion date.
This post will be updated as additional info comes in.
Edited by Werthead, 28 March 2014 - 02:42 PM.