George RR Martin publishes new Winds of Winter chapter - but are there any Game of Thrones spoilers?
Published 12/05/2016 | 08:30
***WARNING: SPOILERS for George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series***
Winter is coming...one tantalising extract at a time. Game of Thrones author George RR Martin has published a new chapter from his long-awaited sixth book, The Winds of Winter.
But any fans of the HBO televisuon series hoping for clues about where the current season might be going will most likely be frustrated. The chapter Martin has chosen to share with the world focuses on a character who has not made it into the show: Dornish princess Arianne Martell.
The daughter of Prince Doran Martell – who was killed off in the first episode of season six but is still very much alive in the books – Arianne is a determined, sexually confident woman, who stands to one day inherit her father's lands and throne. (If you happen to be a Westerosi woman then Dorne is definitely the place to be: when it comes to inheritance laws it's by far the most progressive of the seven kingdoms.)
In the chapter, which can be read on Martin's blog, the character is engaged in a politically sensitive mission, journeying to treat with the leader of a rebellion.
The uprising in question – in which the supporters of a young boy purporting to be Aegon Targaryen, the supposedly murdered son of Prince Rheagar Targaryen, are attempting to restore their charge to the Iron Throne – has not yet made it into the television series.
Sadly – it's an intriguing story strand – many readers believe that the showrunners will omit the plotline altogether, focusing instead on the story of Daenerys Targaryen (Rheagar's sister and Aegon's aunt).
There's also a great deal of doubt among fans as to whether or not the young Aegon really is who he claims to be.
For Arianne and the Martell family, the matter is doubly pertinent: Aegon's murdered mother, Elia, was the sister of Doran and his brother Oberyn.
At one point in the chapter, Arianne considers this, explaining why it is imperative that she meet rebel leader Jon Connington and his prince.
“I need to speak with Connington.” Arianne undid the interlocked sun and spear that clasped her cloak, and let the rain-soaked garment slip from her shoulders to puddle on the floor. “And I want to see this dragon prince of his. If he is truly Elia’s son…”
But Arianne and her father are also cautious, unwilling to openly support what could be a lost cause.
“Prince Aegon is of your own blood, princess. Son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia of Dorne, your father’s sister.”
“Daenerys Targaryen is of our blood as well. Daughter of King Aerys, Rhaegar’s sister. And she has dragons, or so the tales would have us believe.” Fire and blood. “Where is she?”
On January 1 2016, Martin confirmed that it would still be many months before the book was finished. An exact publication date has not yet been confirmed.
“For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, ‘I have completed and delivered The Winds of Winter’ on or before the last day of 2015. But the book’s not done," he wrote at the time.
“Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there’s a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. But there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still … and that’s if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.)
“Chapters still to write, of course … but also rewriting. I always do a lot of rewriting, sometimes just polishing, sometimes pretty major restructures.”
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And on his blog today, Martin insisted that the unveiling of a new chapter does not mean that Winds of Winter is nearly finished.
"And no, just to spike any bulls--- rumours, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done," he wrote.
The author previously posted a Winds of Winter Chapter written from the point of view of Sansa Stark.
In the television show, viewers saw the character endure a brutal marriage to Ramsay Bolton, from which she recently ecsaped – but in Martin's book series, the chapter revealed, Sansa is still residing at the Eyrie with Littlefinger and going by the name of Alayne.