Let’s start with the good news: George R.R. Martin, beloved author who is hated for not writing fast enough, decided to throw the readers of his series—A Song of Ice and Fire, upon which the mega-hit HBO show Game of Thrones is based—a morsel to whet their appetites while they await the release of the next book, The Winds of Winter. The bad news? Don’t think this means the book’ll be ready any time soon.
On his LiveJournal page Martin shared an excerpt from his Wild Cards anthology series, and then added this:
“And… because I know how much bitching I’d get if I offered a new sample from Wild Cards without also doing one from A SONG OF ICE & FIRE… we’ve also changed the WINDS OF WINTER sample on my website, replacing the Alayne chapter that’s been there for the past year with one featuring Arianne Martell. (Some of you may have heard me read this one at cons).”
Now, if you only watch the show, you might not be familiar with Arianne Martell, though you obviously recognize the name. She is the daughter of Doran Martell (alive, well, and a sneaky awesome leader in literary form) and she just so happens to be the heir to Dorne. Martin teased the chapter with this:
“You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER? Quite a lot, actually. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.”
Oh, that’s right, the bad news:
“And no, just to spike any bullshit rumors, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done. See the icon up above? Monkey is still on my back… but he’s growing, he is, and one day…”
So we can’t take this as any sort of sign that the ever-delayed sixth book is coming out anytime soon. But you know what we can do? We can appreciate what we have and see what’s going on with Arianne, as she travels in this excerpt to meet with Jon Connington, who had returned to Westeros with the Golden Company and the (possibly/unconfirmed) not-actually-dead son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, Aegon VI.
The excerpt (which is how Martin described this, though at nearly 6,000 words it certainly feels like a full chapter) is the second Arianne point-of-view passage from the book he’s released (and even then, he’s read this passage aloud at cons in the past), follows her as she discreetly heads out to entreat with Jon Connington and the supposed Aegon. She is joined by a small traveling group, most notable among her companions are Daemon Sand and the trouble-making Sand Snake Elia Sand, daughter of the late (great) Oberyn Martell.
Throughout the passage, Arianne worries about what will happen to Dorne if its plans to potentially support/join the Golden Company and Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne are discovered. She also wonders about her brother Quentyn Martell’s attempts to marry Daenerys Targaryen (not knowing he has already died after being engulfed by dragon flame), and how Daenerys may have no choice but to accept the marriage so she can gain Dorne as an ally.
When she learns of Connington plans to take Storm’s End (the seat of House Baratheon and one of the greatest and most difficult castles to conquer in Westeros), she also worries about how successful this whole endeavor might be. Later she is told Connington has already taken it, and she is invited to go there and meet with him. She suspects the Golden Company has not really succeeded in that difficult mission, and she may not really have a choice about whether to go to the potentially dangerous castle, but that she will go anyway, even under great threat to her life and Dorne’s safety.
Thankfully, the 6,000-word excerpt reads quickly, and contains a beautiful passage about going deep into a cave where they find evidence of a long ago age:
And all at once she found herself in another cavern, five times as big as the last one, surrounded by a forest of stone columns. Daemon Sand moved to her side and raised his torch. “Look how the stone’s been shaped,” he said. “Those columns, and the wall there. See them?”
“Faces,” said Arianne. So many sad eyes, staring.
“This place belonged to the children of the forest.”
“A thousand years ago.”
I wonder if anyone is watching them through those faces…
While most of this pertains to characters and a story that look as though they will never be a part of the show, the Dorne storyline in the books is much more developed, and the role of the Golden Company much more relevant to the fight for the Iron Throne.
So George R.R. Martin, thanks for the appetizer, it was tasty, but we can’t promise we won’t start whining if we don’t get the full meal soon.
What do you think of this Winds of Winter preview? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
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