Book status: THE BOOK IS COMPLETE AND HANDED IN. IT WILL BE RELEASED IN THE UK AND USA ON 12 JULY 2011.
Important note: this information is collected together from what George RR Martin has said in interviews, at cons and on his website. We do not have a direct line to GRRM for information. Some of the information that appears in this update is speculative, and labelled as such. Information will appear on his official website before it appears here. Check 'Ice & Fire Update' for the latest news on the book and 'Not a Blog' for GRRM's semi-regular reports on how things are going in his life generally. At the moment you can read Daenerys Targaryen's first chapter from the next book in the 'Ice & Fire Sample' section and Theon Greyjoy's first chapter from the book on Amazon.co.uk.
Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire is called A Dance with Dragons. It will be published in both the USA and UK on 12 July 2011. Currently we understand the plan is to release the ebook and print editions simultaneously. Roy Dotrice is once again reading the audio book version, the release date for which is not known.
This is the old US cover for A Dance with Dragons. Note that since this cover was released Bantam have altered the cover design for the series.
This is an old variant US cover put up by Bantam for A Dance with Dragons but never used.
This is the current US cover for ADWD.
This is a variant US cover for A Dance with Dragons, which apparently will not now be used.
This is the old UK cover for A Dance with Dragons.
This is the new UK cover art for A Dance with Dragons.
The book will contain the following POV characters:
Varamyr Sixskins (prologue POV)
Asha Greyjoy, aka 'The Wayward Bride'
Theon Greyjoy, aka 'Reek'
Quentyn Martell, aka 'The Merchant's Man'
Melisandre of Asshai
An as-yet unidentified new POV
An as-yet unidentified epilogue POV
Of the 75 chapters in the book, 35 alone consist of Jon, Daenerys and Tyrion chapters.
A Dance with Dragons takes place simultaneously alongside the events of A Feast for Crows, with ADWD focusing on the North, the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay. The timespan of ADWD will be several months longer than that of AFFC, with the first half of the book (currently 800 manuscript pages) running alongside AFFC and the last half extending beyond its timespan. According to GRRM, working out the continuity issues on ADWD has been extremely complex and time-consuming.
The book is 1,510 manuscript pages in length, 11 MS pages shorter than A Storm of Swords. It contains 75 chapters including the prologue and epilogue, compared to A Storm of Swords' 82.
ADWD will feature the first canonical map of the Free Cities seen in the series so far (though HBO featured part of this map on the TV series three months earlier).
Because of the longer timepan, George has been able to revisit at least some of the characters left hanging (in some cases, literally) at the end of AFFC to keep their storylines in synch with the longer timespan of ADWD. Arya and Asha are confirmed as being in both books. Sansa and additional Arya chapters have also been written, but due to space constraints it is currently planned that they will be in The Winds of Winter rather than ADWD, but this decision is not 100% final, depending on ADWD's final size. Martin has indicated he wants to put some AFFC characters in ADWD to resolve their cliffhangers from the previous books and keep the timelines synchronised, and has confirmed that Cersei currently has two chapters in ADWD as well.
Asha Greyjoy and Arya Stark appear in both AFFC and ADWD. They will both appear later in ADWD, after the events of their chapters in AFFC. GRRM has confirmed that one Arya chapter he wrote for ADWD has been moved to The Winds of Winter, but she still has at least two other chapters in ADWD.
George has recently confirmed that more POV characters will die in the remaining books, but not necessarily in ADWD.
According to George, ADWD will introduce the last new POV characters in the books (barring future one-off prologue/epilogue POVs). However, he has also pointed out that his original plan was to tell the entire story of ASoIaF from just the POVs in A Game of Thrones only, and these plans are subject to change.
Some people had theorised that the title may change, as Daenerys' invasion of Westeros is not likely to occur in this book. However, George has said that the 'Dance of Dragons' and Dany's invasion are not the same event. The title of the book was confirmed by both the UK and US publishers when the cover design for both was released in early 2008.
Book Six will be called The Winds of Winter. For this novel George plans to have all the characters back together in one book, and already has 100 manuscript pages in rough draft written (chapters written for ADWD and moved to Book 6 for space and pacing reasons). Martin has confirmed that Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Asha Greyjoy, Aeron Greyjoy and Arianne Martell will have POV chapters in this book. Presumably all POV characters that survive ADWD will also have chapters in that book.
Book Seven will be called A Dream of Spring and is currently planned to be the final book in the series.
17 March 2008 Update:
HarperCollins Voyager have released the UK cover for A Dance with Dragon here. GRRM has also confirmed on his Notablog that he has reached the stage of revising and polishing up Bran Stark's chapters, which are usually the most difficult chapters to write and revise.
2 July 2008 Update:
During a signing in Portugal, GRRM has said that the series is currently at its widest scope and scale, and we will see a narrowing of the focus going into the last two volumes in the series
17 July 2008 Update:
During a signing in Spain, GRRM said we might learn the motto for House Clegane, and that more information on Benjen's fate will be revealed in ADWD.
24 July 2008 Update:
During a signing in Seville, GRRM said that there are no Tyrell POVs in ADWD. He has also requested a picture of Daenerys riding a dragon for the Spanish cover of ADWD.
He also confirmed something that may have a bearing on The Winds of Winter:
10 February 2009 Update:
GRRM responds to a fan's observation that Amazon have set a new release date for the book on his blog:
Fan: "Off topic--but I'm very excited to hear about a publication date from your publisher. I thought that we were going to hear it from you first? It would be great to have a confirmation."
GRRM: "Consider this an anti-confirmation. You WILL hear it from me first. As I have said before, numerous times, believe nothing you hear from any other source."
20 February 2009 Update:
GRRM has updated his Notablog with some substantial information about ADWD. GRRM confirms a lot of good progress in the first half of 2008 but some problems in the latter part of the year. Work on the novel remains ongoing.
23 June 2009 Update:
GRRM has posted an optimistic update on his blog stating that the last few weeks have been extremely positive for the book, with several new chapters completed and that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. He indicates his major remaining problem is to overcome a tangle of plot threads relating to Meereen (and presumably Daenerys). How long this will take is unknown.
SF blogger and Terry Brooks webmaster Shawn Speakman also had this to say a couple of days ago:
The book won't be finished in June. He and I have been writing back and forth the last few days and he told me progress is going slower than he'd like. So I'd say don't expect it until November or December at the earliest.
The good thing is his manuscripts are neat and clean and barely need any editing. The publisher already has the lay out ready, so in short the turn around from turning the manuscript in to getting it on the shelves will be smaller than other books.
As we know now, these dates were not achieved.
10 July 2009 Update:
In an interview with Finnish website Helsingin Sanomat, GRRM has said he hopes now to finish ADWD by the end of the year and to complete The Winds of Winter in three years. As always, such 'hopes' are not set-in-stone deadlines and should not be treated as such.
26 July 2009 Update:
According to GRRM's editor Anne Groell at Comic-Con, ADWD has passed the 'pagecount' of 1,000 manuscript pages. For comparison purposes, AGoT and AFFC were both around 1,050-1,100 MS pages in length, ACoK was about 1,200 and ASoS was over 1,500. She confirmed her hope that the book should appear next year in the USA.
27 July 2009 Update:
Elaboration on the above from Shawn Speakman at Comic-Con:
That's correct. I talked to Anne at length about it... well... because I was standing right next to her for most of the convention as she answered that question over and over and over again.
George has indeed passed the 1000 page mark as of last week and those are, to him according to Anne, finished pages that will not be returned to. He also has several hundred more pages of not completed chapters that every week he makes progress on. Some of those will be in Dance; others will be in the next book. Anne also thinks she'll be getting the book by October or November, which to her would probably make it a February or March 2010 release, although the progress he is making is quickly happening and she could receive it sooner if those incomplete or mostly complete chapters come together faster. I say don't get your hopes up.
So good things are happening. Maybe not fast enough for some of you but fast enough for moi. It just shows that yes he is working on the book despite what some people on the internet(s) say.
4 September 2009 Update:
On his Not-a-Blog, GRRM has confirmed he is re-ordering and re-structuring the 'Meereenese Knot', a part of ADWD that has proven problematic over the years. Based on the previously-released information, it is certain that this 'knot' is part of the process of completing the final 20% of the book (based on the informal 1,200 MS page target mentioned by his editor) before it is finalised and despatched to the publishers. How long the process of finalising this section will take is unknown.
7 October 2009 Update:
ADWD has passed 1,100 pages in manuscript, making it longer than AGoT and AFFC and not short of ACoK. GRRM expresses hope that he can bring the book in at a shorter length than ASoS (1,500 MS pages). He also confirms that the Meereenese Knot issue has not yet been entirely resolved. GRRM also confirms that ADWD will revisit a familiar location:
18 October 2009 Update:
At FargoCon 2009, GRRM confirmed that Melisandre is a POV, that Quentyn Martell's chapters will be named in the manner of the AFFC Dornish chapters (with his first one being called 'The Merchant's Man') and there will be one additional POV who is as yet unrevealed. He also revealed that he has written two Cersei chapters, several Sansa chapters and one Arya chapter for The Winds of Winter, with the possibility that editorial changes could have some of these chapters in ADWD instead, depending on the book's size. He also again reiterated that the events of ADWD will extend noticeably past the end of AFFC and that he definitely plans to have all the major POV characters back together again in The Winds of Winter and not split again.
14 November 2009 Update:
In a recent blog post, GRRM's UK editor Jane Johnson indicated that after meeting with GRRM during his recent brief visit to London, she expects to have the finished manuscript of ADWD 'soon', although how soon is soon is unknown.
07 January 2010 Update:
GRRM has made progress resolving the problematic 'Meereenese Knot' section of ADWD, bringing at least one of the reported four chapters involved in the section to a successful conclusion. It is unknown if the other three chapters remain unresolved or if work has progressed on them as well. It also remains unclear how many chapters remain incomplete beyond the knot.
03 February 2010 Update:
In a flurry of progress reports, GRRM confirms bringing another 'Meereeenese Knot' chapter to a successful conclusion, finishing a Jon Snow chapter and, in the most recent report, confirming that additional parts of the book will take place in the vicinity of the Isle of Cedars (the long island separating Slaver's Bay from the Gulf of Grief, near Meereen) and in Dorne.
16 February 2010 Update:
In another burst of progress reports, GRRM has stated that ADWD is now 1,260 manuscript pages in length. Roughly 800 MS pages of this material, about two-thirds of the book so far, runs parallel to the events of AFFC. The remainder of the book takes place after AFFC, and involves the reappearance of some AFFC characters to address their cliffhanger endings in the earlier book (it is unclear if this is a reference to the already-known-to-be-appearing Asha Greyjoy and Arya Stark, or is a hint that other AFFC characters like Jaime and Brienne may also briefly reappear). GRRM also states in this report that the section set on or near the Isle of Cedars has been completed.
16 April 2010 Update:
At the C2E2 comic convention in Chicago, GRRM confirmed that ADWD has an epilogue, which he is currently writing. He does not write the book in a strictly chronological order, however, and that remnants of the Meereenese Knot issue remain to be solved. He also says that ADWD is as complex and tricky to write as 12 'normal' books. He promises to put an unambiguous, "It's done," comment on his website and blog when it is indeed finished. Martin also revealed that disease will be a theme of ADWD as religion was a theme of AFFC and that Tyrion is going to some very dark places, but that he has enjoyed writing Arya's chapters in Braavos in ADWD to the point where he had to restrain himself from writing extraneous material. He re-confirmed that Melisandre would be a POV character in ADWD and we would get to see more of her character, as well as that Daenerys' story had the greatest prominence. He also confirmed his plan to have the fourth Dunk 'n' Egg story take place at Winterfell.
29 April 2010 Update:
In an unusually frank interview with the Dragon Page Podcast, GRRM confirms he has over 1,300 MS pages completed and that he hopes to finish the book "Soon," but will not guess when that is. He also indicates that the principle problem in the writing of both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons has been juggling the problems solved by eliminating the five-year gap with the problems caused by the same elimination. He also cites a growing perfectionist streak, that he no longer believes he should hand in the book when it is "Good enough," but only when it is exceptional. He reiterates that the series is currently in its most complex state, and making the book work has proven inordinately difficult. GRRM also briefly comments on the HBO TV series and Warriors.
23 June 2010 Update:
Suvudu has interviewed Anne Groell, the editor of A Song of Ice and Fire, on the publishing history of the series and how she came to work on it. With regard to A Dance with Dragons, she says:
"Teasing aside, as I sit here knowing how close A Dance with Dragons is to delivery, I am once again filled with a rush of genuine fan-girl excitement. Like the Starks, I too now have a motto. Only mine is: "The new book is coming!" And it always feels like spring."
It should be noted that the Bantam team expressed similar hopes of imminent completion at last year's San Diego Comic-Con, so this statement, whilst encouraging, should not necessarily be taken as a sign of imminent completion of the book.
27 June 2010 Update:
George R.R. Martin has given a detailed account of some recent restructuring on A Dance with Dragons. He revealed that a major event taking place in the late-middle of the book had necessitated the writing of 'reaction' chapters from the point of view of the Dornish, via the POV character of Arianne Martell (introduced in A Feast for Crows and previously not thought to be in ADWD), as well as some other chapters expanding on the event. However, the event has now been moved until later in the book and the 'reaction' material he had been anticipating having to write has now fallen back to The Winds of Winter. As a result, he now has less material to complete for ADWD than envisaged. This also means that ADWD will be somewhat shorter than previously estimated (when it was coming in around the same size as A Storm of Swords). However, GRRM did not comment on what this meant for any estimated timescale of completion and publication. In addition, he confirmed that so far he has one Sansa, one Arya and two Arianne chapters banked for The Winds of Winter. He then confirmed this means that the two previously-completed Cersei Lannister chapters are now in ADWD.
8 July 2010 Update:
At a book signing in San Diego, whilst teaching at Clarion, GRRM confirmed that ADWD has reached 1,400 pages in manuscript. He indicates that he was disappointed not to have finished the book before attending Clarion, but was not drawn on how close completion might me after his return home on the 11th.
5 August 2010 Update:
GRRM has posted a series of posts expanding on the writing of the book, confirming he has completed another character arc for the book, brought another to within one chapter of completion and then switched to another POV who has helped in the clearing of the Meereenese Knot situation (although it is unclear if this obstruction is now fully removed or more work remains to be done). He has also confirmed that Aeron Greyjoy was in the book but has been bumped to The Winds of Winter, raising that book's currently-completed page count to 100 draft manuscript pages.
8 September 2010 Update:
At Worldcon 2010 in Melbourne, GRRM reiterated he will not predict when the book is done. However, he did confirm that Tyrion's first chapter (presumably the one that has been in rotation on his website for several years) is the first chapter in the book after the prologue. He has also confirmed that some of the events planned for the fifth, sixth and seventh books in the series have been divulged to the HBO team to help them in the writing of the TV series.
11 October 2010 Update:
At the New York Comic-Con, GRRM's American publishers announced that ADWD is five chapters away from completion, with those chapters already existing in draft format. Bantam US have confirmed that they want the book completed by Christmas and to be able to announce a release date in the New Year. George R.R. Martin himself has not commented yet on this news.
Shortly after the above, Shawn Speakman, who works for Bantam, confirmed that ADWD is approaching the 1,500 manuscript page cut-off point, and the publishers are discussing with GRRM the possibility of making ADWD even larger than ASoS or pushing more material to Book 6.
6 Janaury 2011 Update:
GRRM had previously hoped to make a 'big announcement' at a book signing in Pasadena, Los Angeles on 9 January, but then spent most of Christmas and New Year's in hospital with a serious e.coli infection. He has since recovered and will be attending the signing and a press junket event for the TV series, but has said that the 'big announcement' will no longer be happening, as all of his work has been delayed by several weeks due to his illness. Fans speculate that this might be related to the completion of and possible publication plans for A Dance with Dragons, but this has not been confirmed by any official source and remains speculative.
22 January 2011 Update:
Bantam Books have revealed ambitious plans to re-launch the entire series in new covers (using the UK cover art by Larry Rostant, though swapping the art for A Game of Thrones and A Dance with Dragons) on 22 March 2011, accompanied by TV and print adverts and a large, multimedia campaign. There will also be optional TV tie-in editions of A Game of Thrones to accompany the launch of the TV series on 17 April. Bantam have also reported that they are re-drafting the maps for the books in response to an excellent fan map of Westeros and also hinted that they have been working on the new map of the Free Cities that will accompany A Dance with Dragons.
This flurry of activity comes after Martin confirmed that he had hoped to make 'the announcement' at the Pasadena signing but this has been delayed by his illness. He hopes to still make that announcement 'soon'. Exactly how 'soon' is 'soon' and the role Bantam envisage for ADWD in their other marketing plans both remain open to speculation at this time.
1 March 2011 Update:
In a reply to comments on his Notablog, GRRM has confirmed that ADWD is now around the same length as A Storm of Swords (1,530 manuscript pages), and it is unclear at this moment which will be the longer book.
3 March 2011 Update:
Martin confirms the book is virtually done, to the point where Bantam and Voyager have finalised a release date: 12 July 2011.
27 April 2011 Update:
The final MS is handed in to the publishers in New York. The book is done and dusted.
29 April 2011 Update:
GRRM's editor reads extracts from the completed manuscript and reveals its final page count as 1,547 manuscript pages, or about 16 MS pages longer than ASoS.
13 May 2011 Update:
GRRM confirms that Ser Barristan Selmy will be a POV character in ADWD.
21 May 2011 Update:
GRRM provides comprehensive information on ADWD, including the number of chapters and confirms the number of POV characters.
Edited by Werthead, 21 May 2011 - 02:14 PM.