Fans of “A Song of Ice and Fire” have been waiting for the next book with bated breath for over a decade. It may be time to face facts and say The Winds of Winter is never coming. George R.R. Martin’s magnum opus A Song of Ice and Fire has often been compared to epic fantasy series like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but its legacy may be stained forever by its incomplete state.
The TV adaptation of the series, titled after the first book, A Game of Thrones, completely botched the ending of the series. Season 8’s conclusion left fans so disappointed that many fans began reading the books hoping for a better ending. But here’s the thing – it seems like the ending will never come. A Song of Ice and Fire was initially intended to be a 3-volume series like The Lord of the Rings. But the current planned length of the series is 7 books, with no signs of release for The Winds of Winter. All fans have been getting for the last decade are ‘updates’ from George R.R. Martin’s blog that all claim that he’s making progress but has yet to learn when he could release it.
So, if the books are never completed, the TV show’s ending is all fans are likely to get. As depressing as it is to think about it, it may be time to come to terms with a disappointing ending. I think there are a number of reasons why George may never complete the books, but here are my top 5. All of this is pure speculation, of course! Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with any of my reasons.
1️⃣ George Is Too Successful
Game of Thrones definitely brought George a lot of fame and success – maybe too much success? George’s involvement in several projects may be an issue for his creative process. Currently, he is a creator for Game of Thrones’ prequel show “House of the Dragon”, and has several other commitments outside of show business.
Game of Thrones’s success means smaller spin-off books are also successful, such as Fire and Blood and The Tales of Dunk and Egg. Since George is doing so well for himself without the necessity to finish the books, he may have lost the motivation to do so.
2️⃣ The Show’s Ending Puts A Lot Of Pressure On The Books
While George had an outline for how he wanted the series to end from the beginning, he seems to have shared this plan with David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners of Game of Thrones. And needless to say, the showrunners made that particular ending very, very unappealing to fans. So now, George may feel pressure to rework his ending entirely or ensure it is different enough from the show so that it doesn’t disappoint people.
Subverting readers’ expectations can be a double-edged sword. George has gone on record to say that he doesn’t support fanfiction and has been reluctant to confirm or deny fan theories. Given that such a long time has passed between book releases, the fans have possibly figured out many twists that George had planned. Since he can’t surprise his readers anymore, George may be reluctant to write the books.
3️⃣ George Is Approaching Old Age
It’s a bit dicey to speculate on someone’s health, but at the time of writing, George is 74 years old. Not only is his age likely to affect how productive he can be, but it is also definitely a possibility that he could pass away before the series is completed.
Even if The Winds of Winter is released anytime soon, it seems likely that there will be a long waiting period before A Dream of Spring comes out. For all we know, George may live to be 90 and complete his legendary series. But if he doesn’t, speculation is all we’ll have.
4️⃣ The Plot May Have Become Too Complex
Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire love it for the complex plots with a large cast of characters. But so far in the books, most of these plots have remained separated from one another. Daenerys’ plot in Essos, or Jon’s plot in the Night’s Watch, for example, have never had reason to intersect. Most of these subplots are essentially separate stories at this point, and it is presumably in the last two volumes that these characters will come together.
Some fans fear that George’s plots have expanded to the point where bringing them together may be so difficult that it’s almost impossible. While Dany’s path to leaving Essos with an army and 3 dragons was fairly straightforward in the show, in the books, Dany is still firmly put in Mereen. In the later seasons, the show lost the ethos of what made the books so addictive – every action in this world has consequences. In season one, although Ned Stark informing Cersei of his intentions was noble, it resulted in a terrible end for him. But in season six, Cersei destroys the Sept of Baelor, and wiping out most of the Tyrells has virtually no consequences.
Obviously, books cannot take this nonchalant approach to their plot, and events must be justified. Perhaps the complexity of the plot is an ordeal that George just doesn’t feel up to dealing with.
5️⃣ The Series May Need More Than 7 Books
Seven may seem like the perfect number, especially for Harry Potter fans, but there’s a chance that even 7 books may not be enough for what George has planned. George is well known for writing far more than what he intends. A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons were initially intended to be a single book but had to split into two books for their massive length. The War of the Five Kings subplot was initially planned for a single book but ended up spanning 3 books instead. Given that this seems to be part and parcel of George’s writing style, even if the next two books are released, the ending may still be out of reach.
If you still have hopes that ASOIAF will be completed, that’s totally okay! All of the reasons I’ve discussed here are just my personal opinions. As much as we all want the catharsis of a great story to end in a satisfying manner, the world George R.R. Martin has created has kept me entertained and enthralled for years – and for that, I am forever grateful.