In 2002, I started reading the most fantastic fantasy series. You may have heard of it. It was “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the first book of which has a title familiar to the illiterate hordes who can only watch HBO: “A Game of Thrones.” I was burnt out by that point on Robert Jordan, as the novels of “A Wheel of Time” got progressively longer and less and less happened even while entire chapters seemed devoted to describing dresses worn by secondary characters. “A Game of Thrones” was a breath of fresh air. Vile, dark, yet with just enough goodness and hope that a reader craved to see how it would end. There was a tangible feeling that Martin was making a world so morally hazy that when eventually some tainted victory came, it would blaze blinding in eyes grown used to seeing only in shades of gray.
I pushed through those first three books in a week or two, and then passed them on to my grandfather, who while never a reader of fantasy novels of any ilk, was a voracious reader of history and military fiction. He loved these novels. After the terrible five year wait between “A Storm of Swords” and “A Feast for Crows,” made bearable only by the fact that we came to the series two years after the former was published, my grandfather used to joke that at the rate Martin was writing, it was certain that one of them would die before the series ended. Six fricking years later without a novel, we don’t make that joke anymore.
It turns out that HBO turning the screws on Martin (at a book a season, he’s really going to need to pick up the pace lest they catch up with him) is sufficient to get him to finish the damned book that as early as six years ago he claimed was already done and only needed a few months to polish up. Well, it reputedly weighs in at a svelte 1200 pages and we’ve got a date that seems to be the actual date: July 12th.
Said Martin’s editor Anne Groell:
It is true. Kong is dead.
There were a few moments of George in a spare office yesterday, cleaning up the last bits and inserting a few new bits in longhand, while I typed the changes into the electronic files, but we are honestly and officially done.
And there is MUCH rejoicing!
Here’s the Amazon link for pre-ordering if you aren’t abjectly cynical. I might wait until the actual day to order it, but I can tell you one thing for sure: I’m ordering two copies.