Lost in Westeros

So a friend of mine texted me yesterday with the words “New Game of Thrones book out 11/20.” And I got all excited and stuff. Because I’d pretty much given up on ever seeing Winds of Winter this year. And that’s a day before my birthday. Serendipity, right?

RIGHT. TWOW CONFIRMED. GET HYPE!

Oh.

No, winter is not coming… not in 2018, at least.   You’re going to have to keep waiting for THE WINDS OF WINTER.

You will, however, be able to return to Westeros this year, as I suggested  back over on Live Journal.

Archmaester Gyldayn has at last completed and delivered the first half of his monumental history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros, FIRE & BLOOD, and Bantam Spectra and HarperCollins Voyager will be releasing the hardcover on November 20, I am thrilled to say.

This is… not… what I wanted.

And I knew this was happening. I’d read Martin’s blog at the end of last year when he teased that Fire and Blood was happening. And it would be unreasonable to expect the man to get two whole ASOIAF-related books out in one year. So that’s fine. More details of the lives we already explored in World of Ice and Fire. The nerdery is endless.

That’s not what annoys me.

What annoys me is the certainty – the surety – that Winds of Winter will not be published at any point in the eight remaining months of 2018. This is now seven years since A Dance With Dragons. And I know. I know. He Doesn’t Work For Me. He Doesn’t Owe Me Anything. And really, I’m okay with that. You spend enough time on r/asoiaf and the misery at the Long Watch becomes palpable enough to ruin your afternoon. I’m fine with letting the man write. I really am.

Still, though.

The hell are you doing over there, George?

This is the third act of the story, or close to it. This should get easier. You should have this. After seven years, you should have this.

So why doesn’t he?

Ultimately, no one who isn’t Martin knows. But I have a theory.

Here’s a website calling itself “A Winterfell Huis Clos” devoted to analyzing and theorizing the Winterfell plotline in A Dance With Dragons. Details that I had missed from these chapters despite several rereads are brought to the surface and thrashed around, sifted to form patterns that answer certain questions, such as “Who is the one murdering Frey and Bolton men in Winterfell?” (the answer is provocative, and well-argued). There’s a novel’s worth of discussion on this one plotline in one of Martin’s novels.

Here’s a theory, based on the infamous “pink letter” Jon Snow receives at the end of A Dance With Dragons:

The presence of heads above the walls of Winterfell is not quite Ramsay motus operandi. In Moat Cailin, the defeated ironmen were flayed and put on post along the kingsroad. Ramsay brings up the flaying tradition over and over, to the point of carrying a flaying knife assorted to his sword at all times. The heads above the walls of Winterfell seem like Roose Bolton’s behaviour. We never saw Roose flay anyone in the story. When Roose conquered Harrenhal, he did display the heads of the people he had executed.

Now, all of this could be wrong. The pattern may not be aptly read. But the level of detail, and the patterns they suggest, indicate how much is involved with creating this narrative, and the world that sustains it, and the characters that inhabit that world. We can see the difference between a dark character (Roose Bolton) and his psychopathic son (Ramsay), and make inferences accordingly. It’s all there, if you read close enough.

The effort involved in creating such must be staggering. The effort in tying it all together, more staggering still. This gets harder with every word Martin writes, probably.

If we ever see the remaining books, I will be thankful.


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