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. George R.R. Martin has not ruled out expending the series to eight books if it proves necessary. There is no date set for completion or publication at this time.
According to Martin, both Winter and Spring will likely be around 1,500 manuscript (MS) pages in length, 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. It is possible that the book will be shorter if Martin finds more satisfying, earlier break points in the narrative for each character arc. The books cannot be much longer, as at that point the book will need to be split in half.
In June 2013, GRRM indicated that he had completed approximately one-quarter of the novel. This would be around 375 MS pages of completed material with an unknown further amount in drafts and rough chapters. This is a very rough estimate, however.
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:
Aeron 'Damphair' Greyjoy
Tyrion II (available in the World of Ice and Fire App)
Chapters Read at Conventions
Chapters Mentioned/Known to Exist
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. These will consist of Jaime Lannister, Brienne, Melisandre, Areo Hotah, Jon Connington, Samwell Tarly, Cersei Lannister and Asha Greyjoy.
The book will 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:
List of Updates
29 June 2013:
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:
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:
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.
27 July 2014:
GRRM confirms he will not be writing a script for Season 5 of Game of Thrones, nor commit to any further travels or appearances, until TWoW is done. It is unclear if he will still be writing a script for Season 6, which would be required in early 2015.
8 January 2015:
This post will be updated as additional info comes in.
Edited by Werthead, 10 January 2015 - 05:13 PM.