'Game of Thrones' Author Releases New Sample Chapter and Offers Status Update

George R.R. Martin - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

George R.R. Martin - H 2015

When George R.R. Martin releases the next novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series on which HBO's Game of Thrones is based, it'll come packed with characters no longer featured on the Emmy-winning show — if they were ever even featured at all.

Case in point: Martin has published a new sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, the as-yet-unreleased sixth installment of seven planned novels. It's told from the perspective of Arianne Martell, a Dornish princess who does not exist on the HBO adaptation. She's the daughter of Prince Doran Martell, who was played by Alexander Siddig on the show before being executed by Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), despite his continued survival in the books. 

In the chapter, Arianne surveys a possible alliance with a man claiming to be Aegon Targaryen, the Mad King's son long thought killed before the events of the books. The show has not yet introduced this story; indeed, most fans expect Aegon's story will never make it to the television series at all.

In publishing the new chapter, Martin implicitly emphasized the differences between his original version of the Seven Kingdoms and the globally renowned Game of Thrones: "You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in Winds of Winter? Quite a lot, actually."

The new chapter stands as a testament to not just how much the Dorne story differs between the books and the show, but more generally, how much the two different iterations of Westeros have diverged. It's as John Bradley told THR ahead of the season six premiere: "What you're going to see [this season] is something inspired by the books, and maybe not necessarily what you're going to see in the next book. … We're not ahead of the books — we're just diverging from the books."

Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss echoed Bradley's sentiment in a separate interview with THR, saying: "The show has diverged from the books quite dramatically by this point, but it's still George's world: The characters he's dreamt up in the world he created. At this point, given the fact that we're outpacing the novels, we all see the upside in the divergence: book readers won't be spoiled by what's to come on the show, and the show audience won't have to worry about spoilers from the unpublished books. And we're very happy that the show has led so many people to discover George's amazing books."

Those hoping Martin's release of a new sample chapter means he's closer to publishing The Winds of Winter, put those hopes to rest, as the author made it clear that he's still deep in the writing process.

"And no, just to spike any bullshit rumors, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done," he wrote. "Monkey is still on my back … but he's growing, he is, and one day …"

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