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Narrative Structure of The Winds of Winter


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Perhaps I am psyching myself up, but it feels like we are inching ever closer to the magical day when George announces that he has finally managed to complete ‘Winds’.  
Through this thread, I am looking for speculation (wild) on two different questions.  

1.)    Will George adopt a similar narrative structure to ‘A Dance with Dragons’ and to a lesser extent ‘A Feast for Crows’?

I think it is worth front loading my bias – my favourite novel in the series to date is ‘A Feast for Crows’.  I love its autumnal feel, the inevitability that like winter, war will return to the Seven Kingdoms.  The character studies of the three central characters are excellent (particularly Jaime) and I loved reading about the events in King’s Landing from the viewpoint of a narcissist (particularly re-reading Cersei chapters during this era of populism is awesome).

During ADWD, George was juggling a number of viewpoint characters – each with, as he says their own supporting cast – and so the book had the opportunity to become incoherent as you followed each character before returning to them many pages later.  One of the strengths of ‘Dance’, in my opinion, is the revolving door of viewpoint characters.

Bran and Davos only appear in roughly the first half of the book, and when they do their chapters are fairly concentrated, while Barristan only takes up the mantle of viewpoint towards the end of the book with four concentrated chapters between Dany’s penultimate and final chapter.  Ignoring the returning viewpoint characters in the latter half of Dance, I think that this narrative structure is really effective for keeping focus on the most pertinent events occurring at a set location.

Martin does a similar thing, though to a lesser extent, in Feast for the major actions points of both the Ironborn and Dornish plotlines – grouping the viewpoints relatively closely together to focus the reader on a set location (after the Kingsmoot, Aeron doesn’t appear again).

So I guess my question is – how do you feel about this narrative technique of bringing certain viewpoints forward for only part of the book and then taking them off stage for the remainder?


2.)    Martin has published, or read at conventions, chapters from multiple viewpoint characters.  

What order do you think the currently released chapters will be presented in in the finished manuscript?

To my knowledge, the known chapters published, read, or in fragments are: Arianne I and II, Tyrion I and II, Barristan I and II, Victarion I, Theon I, Alayne I, Mercy, The Forsaken, and the Asha fragment.

Martin has said that he is planning to open the novel with the battles of fire and ice.  Though it would not surprise me if he has a bit of a gentle opening before launching into the action.  I would suggest that he will be starting the battle for Meereen.

My best guess for an order:

Before the battles:

Arianne I
Theon I

The two published Arianne chapters are travelogues and we know from the second that the battle for Storm’s End hasn’t happened yet – but that there will be a viewpoint chapter covering it, that bridges Arianne II and Arianne III.  To be able to get Arianne into the correct position, surely her opening chapter needs to be one of the first in the novel?

Theon’s opening chapter does not end with battle imminent.  This is my main reasoning for the Battle of Fire occurring before the Battle of Ice, where each of the characters have the battle at the forefront of their mind at the end of the chapter.

Battle of Fire:
Next, I think that Martin will move on to the battle of fire.  I doubt that he would leave book readers without a Tyrion chapter for a long time.  The difficulty that I’m having here is with the chronology of the battle.  It appears that Victarion’s opening chapter takes place over a number of days and ends the night before the battle starts – so it must occur before Barristan I which starts just before dawn.

The big issue is where the Tyrion I chapter fits in.  From what I can see there is no indication of the time at which this chapter takes place.  He is drinking wine – but when isn’t Tyrion drinking wine?  My gut says that this chapter takes place the night before the battle and so is between Victarion I and Barristan I.

Victarion I
Tyrion I
Barristan I
Barristan II
Tyrion II

My next issue comes during the battle itself.  I have put three question marks between Barristan I and Barristan II, I think it is likely that there will be a Victarion chapter there detailing the landing of the Iron Fleet – though it is hard to say.

Between the battles:

Arianne II

Again, the next piece of Arianne’s adventure is required to be in here somewhere.  I think it is likely that there will be a third set of ‘battle sequence’ with the battle of Storm’s End being from JonCon’s viewpoint and then the aftermath being from Arianne’s viewpoint.

The battle of Ice:
The Asha Fragment

We know from the Asha fragment that the Frey forces arrive for battle from her viewpoint.  She makes note of the Frey leader.

The other chapters:

This leaves us with the Arya, Sansa, and Aeron chapters.  Do you think that George is likely to leave these until after the battles have been sorted out?  Or do you think it is likely they will be interspersed?

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