Every so often, be it from a reading at a convention, as a bonus for downloading an app, or just because, author George R. R. Martin gives us a preview of a chapter from the next Song of Ice and Fire novel The Winds of Winter.
In the years between publication, these preview chapters tend to pile up, and we thought it was high time to take stock of everything we’ve seen thus far from The Winds of Winter. Spoilers ahead, naturally.
In order to provide some semblance of order to the mixture of viewpoints, we’ve grouped the chapters under the struggle that they will be chronicling.
(Note: This post was last updated on May 31, 2016. The image depicted at the top of this article is not the actual cover for the forthcoming book.)
The Battle of Meereen
By the end of A Dance With Dragons, many disparate characters and forces are converging on Meereen with designs on killing and/or wooing Daenerys. (Who, unbeknownst to many, isn’t even there, having since taken Drogon and flown back into the Dothraki Sea.) Dany’s forces, led by Ser Barristan Selmy, find themselves facing off against the attacking Yunkai’i and sellsword company the Second Sons, all of whom are puzzled at the presence of the newly arrived Iron Islands fleet led by Victarion Greyjoy.
- Barristan Selmy I, included in the 2013 mass market paperback edition of A Dance With Dragons
This Winds of Winter chapter is included at the end of the A Dance With Dragons paperback edition that came out in fall 2013. It essentially depicts Barristan Selmy rallying Dany’s forces to fend off the attacking Yunkai’i. We get confirmation that the Yunkai lay between Meereen’s walls and the waters of Slaver’s Bay, which will prove key. By the end of the chapter, Selmy sounds the charge. You can read a transcription of it here.
- Tyrion Lannister I, read at Miscon 2012
The first of two chapters detailing Tyrion and Jorah Mormont’s position within the Second Sons as the assault against Meereen begins. Tyrion is attempting to turn Brown Ben Plumm, the leader of the sellsword company the Second Sons, towards fighting for Daenerys, but it remains to be seen if Tyrion’s argument sways the captain. Mormont interrupts to announce that the arriving fleet are Greyjoys and not the Volantis fleet they were expecting.
- Victarion Greyjoy, read at Miscon 2012
This chapter details Victarion readying the Greyjoy fleet for battle in Meereen. It also makes sure to remind the reader that Victarion has brought Dragonbinder with him, a horn that the Old Valyrians used to control dragons. You can listen to Martin reading the chapter here.
- Barristan Selmy II, read at Boskone 50 in February 2013
Dany’s eclectic forces of Meereenese pit fighters and Unsullied plunge into the Yunkai’i forces and start taking down trebuchet after trebuchet. Selmy spots the Greyjoy fleet coming forth…
- Tyrion Lannister II, released with the March 2014 update of the World of Ice and Fire app
The Second Sons are slow to mobilize for the Yunkai’i as Selmy continues to sweep them from the field, and Tyrion armors himself for battle. Dragons wheel about in the sky, uncontrolled, and the Second Sons make a fateful decision and declare their loyalty to Daenerys.
The Battle of Winterfell
At the end of A Dance With Dragons, Stannis Baratheon’s forces had doggedly plunged through constant blizzards to surprise attack Winterfell from the north. At Winterfell itself, Roose Bolton’s bastard son Ramsay has wed a fake Arya to proclaim himself Winterfell’s heir. Theon Greyjoy, now known as Ramsay’s tortured plaything Reek, is caught in the middle.
- Theon Greyjoy, posted on George R. R. Martin’s site on December 2011
This chapter, notably titled “Theon” and not “Reek” finds the battle for Winterfell looming. Stannis desires justice for the Starks, especially from Theon, who everyone knows “killed and burned” Bran and Rickon, but it is the arrival of another that reveals exactly who Reek really is… You can read the entire chapter here. [Note: The original description for this chapter incorrectly stated that it had taken place after the Battle of Winterfell. Thanks to Jonathan Ellis and decgem below for the correction!]
Aegon the Conquerer?
A Dance With Dragons revealed a new player in the game, Aegon Targaryen, believed to have been killed as a baby and now going by the name “Young Griff.” He has landed in Westeros with 5000 men of the Golden Company and taken Griffin’s Roost, which is slightly south of Storm’s End, the Baratheon seat. Their forces aim towards Storm’s End next and then, presumably, King’s Landing.
- Arianne Martell I, posted on George R. R. Martin’s site on January 2013
Arianne Martell and her company head north to meet with Lord Connington and Young Griff, the boy who is claiming to be the Targaryen birthed long ago by Elia Martell. They wonder on the status of Daenerys and whether Quentyn has met with her yet, unaware of his fate in A Dance With Dragons. The chapter on Martin’s site during 2013 but has recently been replaced.
- Arianne Martell II, read at Worldcon 2011, posted on George R. R. Martin’s site in May 2016
Arianne and company make it to Griffin’s Roost and meet with the Golden Company but are informed that Aegon has already moved on and taken Storm’s End. In response, the Tyrell army is marching south from King’s Landing and Arianne decides she must meet Aegon herself. You can read a summary of both Arianne chapters here. (Or, if you’re reading this past May 2016, read the second Arianne chapter on the author’s site.)
Not Widely Read, But Spoken Of
During the finalization of A Dance With Dragons and afterwards the author has mentioned several viewpoint chapters that have been shuffled around from book to book, many of which were originally slated for Dance before it became too big of a doorstopper.
According to the Song of Ice and Fire Wiki, those are:
- Arya Stark/”Mercy”
An additional Arya chapter was removed from Dance and placed into Winds. It was available to read on George R. R. Martin’s site in early 2014 and details Arya posing as a young girl by the name of “Mercy,” who is assisting a mummer’s troupe when she happens upon an envoy from Westeros, which includes a man who is featured on her list. By the end of the chapter it is obvious that Arya has struck out on her own and is following through on her long-promised vengeance. The chapter is currently archived on this Quora page.
- Aeron Greyjoy
Removed from Dance, this chapter was meant to portend an ominous coup of Euron.
“The Forsaken,” a chapter read at Balticon 50 in May 2016, details Aeron’s brutal fate following the Kingsmoot: After being captured by Euron’s mutes and chained up in the hold of the Silence, Euron forces him to drink Shade of the Evening, which gives him visions. He encounters Falia Flowers, who believes she will become Euron’s salt-wife. Instead, he removes her tongue and lashes her and Aeron to the prow of the Silence as Euron (clad in armor made of Valyrian steel) rides to meet the Redwyne Fleet.
- Sansa Stark/Alayne
Sansa had one chapter removed from Dance and moved to Winds (and it’s rumored that this chapter was bumped from A Feast For Crows, as well. Poor Sansa!) and Martin has gone on record to say that it’s going to cause quite a stir once it sees the light of day.
The event Turner speaks of is not depicted in an Alayne/Sansa chapter released on George R. R. Martin’s site on April 2, 2015. (It has since been replaced, but a fan narration is available here.) In fact, the chapter is so genteel that it harkens back to the very beginning of the book series. In it, Sansa is confidently situated as Alayne, the bastard daughter of Petyr Baelish, the Lord Protector of the Vale. Petyr is hosting a tourney and gives Sansa a mission: Seduce Ser Harrold Hardyng, who is the presumptive heir to the Vale should young Robert Arryn die. In the chapter, Sansa-as-Alayne proves exceptionally confident at doing so, showing us a new facet of Sansa’s character. It is clear that Petyr and Sansa are wasting no time playing the game of thrones.
What’s the Status of The Winds of Winter?
Unknown. George R. R. Martin’s intent was to have the manuscript completed by the end of 2015 so that the books could keep pace with the plotlines on the Game of Thrones television show, but this did not occur. No further update has been issued, and now that the pressure to deliver the book before the TV show has relented, it is likely that we will hear no further update until the book is completed. Martin has stated that his publisher Bantam, could feasibly turn his completed manuscript into a book within three months once he has completed it. Here’s an explanation of how that would be possible for Martin and Bantam.
Want to know more about what’s been said and speculated about The Winds of Winter? This James Walker article from The Artifice has a great summary of important conflicts to come. And, of course, reading The Winds of Winter forum on Westeros.org is like being set loose in a candy store. The Complete Winds of Winter resource also collects news items regarding the status of the book, including rumors about chapters that have not been displayed in public.
Keep in mind that anything you see from the book is probably not the final version, even if it has been released by the author or his publisher. Some chapters may get cut, or condensed, and some events depicted above may be altered before the book hits the shelves.
That said, it’s still fascinating to get a glimpse of what’s to come in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Happy reading!