A DANCE WITH DRAGONS Release Date AnnouncedA huge update from George R.R. Martin about A Dance with Dragons. A few of the most interesting tidbits:

Now that the dust is settling at last, I thought I’d take a deep breath and look back at what a long strange trip this has been. If the process interests you, read on. But beware — past this point, there may be some SPOILERS lurking amidst my discussion. Read on at your own peril.


At 1510 pages, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS come in just slightly shorter than A STORM OF SWORDS, which was 1521 pages in manuscript, with the same software, settings, and margins.

At one point late in the process DANCE was considerably longer. The page count had gone beyond 1600 and was creeping up toward 1700, to my alarm. (At 1700 pages the book could not have been published in a single volume). Several things happened to bring it back down.

Shorter than A Storm of Swords, in the end. With all the fears of the novel being split up into two volumes, it looks like Marting and his publisher did everything they could to ensure that that didn’t happen. Martin solved this problem several ways. The first was moving some chapters into the next volume:

With a series like A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, there are always judgment calls to make as to where to end one book and begin the next, since you’re really dealing with one long story. Does this scene work best at the end of one book or the beginning of the next? Should this character go out with a cliffhanger or with some sort of resolution (be it permanent or temporary)? And so on. ANd so forth.

Same thing happened with A Feast for Crows. Lucky for us it’s just a few chapters and not an entire swathe of characters!

He also trimmed a lot of fat:

Finish the book, then go through it, cutting, cutting, cutting. It produces a tighter, stronger text, I feel. In the case of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, my sweat — most of it performed after we announced the book’s publication date but before I delivered the final chapters — brought the page count down almost eighty pages all by itself.

Eighty pages is several (long) short stories worth of content. Crazy.

The final count shows that we’ve got 73 chapters, told through the eyes of (gulp) sixteen different viewpoint characters.

73 chapters? Yum. That’s the same as A Game of Thrones (a much shorter novel) and nine less than A Storm of Swords (of similar length).

And, the fun stuff. 16 viewpoint characters.

Not included:

Sansa, Sam, Aeron Damphair, Arianne, and Brienne

No Aeron? Awesome. No Sansa or Same? *sad face*

No Brienne? Interesting. Very, very interesting.

Tyrion is not the only Lannister with a viewpoint. Cersei and Jaime will have chapters as well, though… be warned… not a lot of them. Arya is also on hand. And we’ll check in with Bran and his companions as well, on their long cold trek beyond the Wall. There are two Dornish POVs (one old, one new), and three ironborn(all previous POVs).

Not a lot of Jaime? *another sad face* I can’t be the only one who’s dying to find out who Bran’s companion is. It’s been nearly ten bloody years since that mystery was first introduced.

As for the new POVs (four of ’em), Martin wasn’t letting slip. That said, he did mention not long ago that Barristan Selmy would be included. Bets that Selmy was added to ease up the Meereenese Knot? Whatever the reason, I’m more excited about that than anything else. It will be interesting to see Daenerys through the eyes of another characters. To this point, she’s a sympathetic character because we’ve watched her grow from a child into a powerful woman. It will be interesting to see how her character is portrayed through the filter of another’s perceptions. Martin’s great at altering the reader’s perceptions of his characters (see Jaime Lannister in A Storm of Swords) and this looks to be another good opportunity for him to do so.

Some day, maybe, some student of fantasy literature may want to peruse all of these partial manuscripts, and document how A DANCE WITH DRAGONS changed over the years. Every time I printed out a copy to send to my editors, I made a second and sent it to the Special Collections at Texas A&M University, where my papers are kept. Maybe someone will get a master’s thesis out of my struggles with this book. And who knows, maybe in the end he or she will conclude that I was making the book worse and worse all along.

Seriously. That would be an fascinating look into the development series and it’s interesting that Martin is (if with tongue firmly in cheek) in support of such an endeavour. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to have a hands on with the various editions of the manuscript.

In all, it’s a wonderfully candid post from Martin and covers many, many more topics than what I’ve quoted here. If you’re a Martin fan who’s excited to finally get your hands on A Dance with Dragons, or a fallen fan with a bitter taste in your mouth, it’s worth reading.

  • D. D. Syrdal May 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    *GACK* I have a lot of reading to do… Good thing I’m going to be here after the Rapture ;)

    And even hints of the NEXT BOOK!!! Sounds like he got his groove back.

  • James May 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    So, unless another character happens along, we can expect to wait another few years for Brienne’s cliffhanger to come to some sort of resolution? Wonderful.

    No Sansa? Hurray! In A Feast for Crows she managed to get to a point where I could stand her just the slightest bit, but I can do with a long break before having to read her POV again. Hoping for a slow, miserable death for that character.

    I hope that rumors of the Onion Knight’s death have been greatly exaggerated and that we get a POV from him. Just as I hope Bran does a lot less wandering and a lot more… well, anything at all.

    Mostly, I hope the book is better than A Feast for Crows. Otherwise there will be little reason to continue on with the series.

  • Adam Whitehead May 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Davos has POV chapters in the book. GRRM has read extracts from two, and pointed out that because ADWD’s first half runs alongside AFFC, these chapters are set before his reported demise we hear about in AFFC, and will reveal the truth of the matter.

    I’d be surprised if we didn’t hear Brienne’s fate in ADWD, since GRRM said he wanted to resolve some AFFC cliffhangers. Aside possibly from Cersei’s fate, Brienne’s was the biggest cliffhanger in the book, and it could be related from another POV (very easily, if she has kicked the bucket).

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