January 10, 2020
Speculation: A Song of Ice and Fire in More Frequent, Smaller Books
On this blog, I've sometimes stated that due to the wait times for George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire books, I may prefer more, smaller books that come out more often; as opposed to fewer, larger books that come out less often.
On the basis of the UK paperback editions - where A Storm of Swords and A Dance With Dragons got divided into two smaller books each (a good move, as the font size and paper quality don't suffer because of that) - I'm going to examine what the publishing history would be like, if this division had initially occurred.
Before I proceed, a few things:
a) This on the assumption that the series will end at 7 books total
b) This is on the assumption that Books 6 and 7, once published in paperback in the UK, will also be two books each.
Ok, let's get to it:
Book 1 - A Game of Thrones (1996)
This title would be exactly as it really is, and still published in 1996.
Book 2 - A Clash of Kings (1999)
Again, same as with Book 1.
Book 3 - Steel and Snow (Part I of Book 3, A Storm of Swords) (2000)
Martin would, in this situation, publish the first part of Book 3 (using the same breaking point as the UK paperback) in 2000.
Book 4 - Blood and Gold (Part II of Book 3, A Storm of Swords) (2001)
Since that Book 2 came out in 1999 and Book 3 came out in 2000 - in "reality" - we can assume that Martin completed A Storm of Swords pretty much 'on time.'
The next instalment (again, reflecting the UK paperback break point) would follow in 2001, as there would be no delays.
Book 5 - A Feast For Crows (2005)
In this scenario, there would be a 4 year gap, rather than a 5 year one, in publication history. A Feast For Crows would still come along at the same time it "really" did.
Book 6 - Dreams and Dust (Part I of Book 5, A Dance With Dragons) (2008)
This is where the publication history of things would really change: In 2011, Martin published A Dance With Dragons, which was about the same size as A Storm of Swords. In my 'what if' scenario, since the first half (again using the break-off point that the UK paperback, Dreams and Dust did) we would get the next instalment sooner, as it's only half the size of what is known as A Dance With Dragons. Also, 2008 was the initial intended publication date for the book; so with it being half the size, in my scenario the 2008 date is obtainable with half of the book.
Book 7 - After the Feast (Part II of Book 5, A Dance With Dragons) (2011)
Follows the break point that the UK edition followed. In this scenario, with the first half being published a few years prior, the remainder of what is known as A Dance With Dragons would be published in 2011 - which was when Book 5 actually came out.
Book 8 - Part I of Book 6, The Winds of Winter (2014)
This is where it gets a bit trickier, as this book and the next aren't published yet.
Initially, the earliest that some were hoping that the book could come out was in 2014. I'm guessing that didn't happen due to the size and complexity of the book. But, if the first part were finished, 2014 would be a realistic publication date for what would be the first part of The Winds of Winter.
Book 9 - Part II of Book 6, The Winds of Winter (2019)
In my scenario, Fire & Blood is also taken into account. In my timeline, Martin still would have that book published as when it actually appeared. But, because of that, and possible writing delays (timeline issues, editing, knowing who to make a POV character, or whatever else Martin usually encounters while working on Ice and Fire) The second part of The Winds of Winter would come along slightly later no matter what. He was, after all, confident that The Winds of Winter would come out in 2019. Throughout the writing of the book, he never gave any indication of when to expect it - the earliest of those dates was 2017, and the latest was 2019. My timeline allows for more time allotted to writing the second part, as well as getting Fire & Blood published.
Book 10 - Part I of Book 7, A Dream of Spring (2024)
Game of Thrones (the HBO series) is at this point over, and The Winds of Winter has been completed! Unsure of what Martin is up to in real life at this point beyond possibly consulting on the next HBO Thrones series, House of the Dragon (which is based on Fire & Blood), time has been allotted in my timeline for him to enjoy a bit of leisure, as well as any other projects he may be working on. Since that this is the final book, he should have a pretty good idea on how to connect things from The Winds of Winter into the final instalment.
On the assumption that Books 6 & 7 will be divided into two parts for the UK paperback publication, it's reasonable - in my timeline - that he would have the first half of A Dream of Spring published in 2024.
Book 11- Part II of Book 7, A Dream of Spring (2026)
Only a small amount of time here, as I believe at this point in my timeline, Martin knows the ending, and knows how to get there. He'll have the endgame in sight as motivation - he wants to finish the series as much we do. Also he'd take the time and effort it took to complete The Winds of Winter as a lesson, and work full steam ahead on the finale.
So that's how I see the Ice and Fire books unfolding, if there more, smaller, books in the series. If The Winds of Winter comes out this year, then I honestly believe that we'll get the final book in 2026 - which is when I expect him to finish the series, even if the books were smaller, and came out more often.
What do you think - if there more, smaller, books that came out more often; as opposed to fewer, larger books that come out less often; would the fans still be salty about his writing habits? I honestly think "no."