Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Peek at "The Winds of Winter," the Upcoming Game of Thrones Book

Any of my readers into The Game of Thrones will be interested to learn that I have obtained a sneak peek at the projected sixth book in George R.R. Martin's series, to be titled The Winds of Winter. I here offer a summary:

You may recall that at the end of A Dance with Dragons Davos Seaworth had sailed off on a secret mission. It is now revealed that his actual goal was to investigate the cod fishery in the northern seas. He spends 127 pages calling in fishing towns and interviewing fishermen. But then he journeys too far north and is trapped in the sea ice for three months, every day of which is described in detail, over the course of 219 pages.

Samwell Tarly arrives at the Citadel with Master Aemon. They walk together down a corridor lined with hundreds of shields. Over the course of 407 pages Aemon tells Sam a story about every single noble family represented by the shields.

Danerys has, of course, flown off onto the Dothraki Sea (i.e., the steppes) on her dragon. Spotting a village down below, she lands and investigates. It turns out that the people of the village have divided into two factions because of a dispute about a one-eared goat. Danerys spends 187 pages sorting out their problems, learning from the old men of the village about the law of grazing and the fine points of settling peasant feuds.

Tyrion arrives in Meereen just after Dany has left. He decides to follow and heads out across the steppes in a camel caravan. They journey for two months and 163 pages. Tyrion makes 82 jokes about camels, each one wittier than the one before. He never finds Dany.

Victarion Greyjoy’s great fleet, bound for Meereen, is wrecked in a storm and all aboard his ships are killed. The horn Dragonbinder washes up on a beach of multi-colored sand, where there is a village whose glass manufacturing technology, which employs the sand, is lovingly described over 22 pages. In the village is a mysterious foundling who turns out to be a direct descendant of the Targaryen King Bordys II, known as the Unbearable. He loads the horn on a barge an sets sail for Meereen, looking for a dragon to bind. At the end of the book he has still not arrived.

Jon Snow is of course alive – you weren’t fooled, were you? He resumes his crucial role in the plot of staring into the mist and brooding soulfully over the question of why we can’t all just get along. This takes 92 pages.

Ramsey Bolton has decided that hunting women with dogs is not evil enough and begins feeding puppies and kittens to specially trained pigs that eat them very slowly. Thankfully this takes up only 16 pages.

In King’s Landing, the Faith of the Seven is riven by heresy. A council is called to settle the dispute over whether the Daughter proceeds from the Mother or is eternal and coequal with her. The debate rages for nine months of logic, rhetoric, and scriptural citation, taking up 822 pages of text. Eventually the coequal and eternal faction declares itself the victor and organizes an inquisition to hunt down the remaining Inferiorists. They recruit the Hound to be their chief agent.

My daughter asked if anything is going to happen with Arya. Of course not. Nothing ever happens with Arya.

Finally, Bran spends 178 pages in a tree, having bizarre visions about crows and frost heaves. None of which make any sense. Because it has been hinted so often that Bran's shamanism is key to the survival of Westeros, millions of readers will struggle to understand. They will fail.


Shadow Flutter said...

I gobbled up the first book and bought the second as soon as it came out. But, for reasons I still don't entirely understand, I lost interest half way through and put the book down never to return to it. Perhaps I realized how long it would take to finish the series. Prescient given the ever increasing lengths in time between releases. So I picked up Malazan, Book of the Fallen, a completed series, and never regretted it. The second volume in the series, Deadhouse Gates, is still one of my favorites.

G. Verloren said...

I sometimes wonder if perhaps my aversion for jumping on the proverbial literary bandwagon is just me being contrary and missing out on otherwise worthwhile pursuits.

This little glimpse into these books, however silly and exaggerated, reassures me I'm probably not really missing out on anything, except perhaps the ability to engage in tepid water-cooler discussions with the masses who do bother to read these books.

I think I'm fine with that - I'll just keep on reading books no one has ever heard of, and then if someone ends up wanting to talk about them, it'll be a genuinely interesting and engaging discussion for both of us.

I get why works like this become popular. Universally shared cultural experiences is kind of a thing in the modern world now. This is in the same vein as Harry Potter, or The Simpsons, or Star Wars, et cetera. I just sometimes feel there's too much of a slant toward the lowest common denominator, and feel like we could stand a bit more variety.

David said...

G., I don't think you get why people read books like Game of Thrones or watch the Simpsons or whatever, at all. They read or watch things like this because these things speak to them, and they enjoy them, whether there's anyone else to share the enjoyment with, or not (though sharing the enjoyment can always add to the pleasure and interest, and build real friendships).

There's much wisdom in the Latin maxim, De gustibus non est disputandum.

John said...

I wrote a long review of A Dance with Dragons here:


I loved the first volume of the series and very much enjoyed 2 and 3. But then the story begins to bloat in an alarming way, and while I enjoyed much about volumes 4 and 5 they also greatly irritated me. I am starting to feel about Martin as I do about George Lucas, that he imagined a wonderful world but could not do justice to his own story.

G. Verloren said...


...why would you think I don't understand that? That's literally the reason why anyone reads any book, or consumes any piece of media.

The fact remains, however, that a given work doesn't speak to everyone, or at the very least speaks to different people in different ways. I still wish there was less of a slant toward the lowest common denominator, regardless.

I don't mind one bit if some people find, say... Family Guy to be hilarious while I find it to be generally idiotic - what I mind is that there's such a dominance and a saturation of said material, and such a dearth of media that meaningfully differs from it.

Game of Thrones isn't my cup of tea? That's fine. But I wish it wasn't so overwhelming a presence in the current moment and climate. I wish I didn't hear about it so very frequently, from so very many different sources, and so very exclusively.

Yes, I understand other people adore it. But there's a sort of cultural expectation that EVERYONE reads the books and watches the television series, and that assumption (along with the inevitable incredulity you encounter when people learn that you don't) grows so very tiring. And paired with that expectation is a separate assumption that these sorts of works are all any reasonable person would ever want or require.

George R. R. Martin strikes me as the Wonder Bread of literature. You can find it everywhere, and staggering numbers of people consume it and enjoy doing so. But that doesn't mean that it (and perhaps a small handful of other very similar products) should be the only things on the shelf. And when I grumble about not being able to find any focacia, naan, bannock, or even simple seeded rye, and wish there was a greater available variety, it'd be nice if people didn't look at me like I was some strange creature from the Moon.

David said...

G., you wrote, "I get why works like this become popular. Universally shared cultural experiences is kind of a thing in the modern world now." The placement of these two sentences together implies that you think people like these books because they can bond with othera via the shared reading, rather than because they like these things in themselves. It implies that, since there could be no sincere appreciation of such things, there must be an ulterior, social motive. Which is a little like saying that the reason people become sports fans is so they can bond with others. Personally, I don't find any attraction at all in professional sports; but I presume that most sports fans really like sports, and that's that.

Shadow Flutter said...

G, care to list s few of those books no one reads? I'm interested.