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.