George R. R. Martin disappointed impatient fans on Wednesday, revealing that The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth installment of his A Song of Ice and Fire series, will not be out in 2018. But the sci-fi author softened the blow by announcing Fire & Blood, which details the "monumental history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros."
The book, out November 20th, is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and "chronicles the conquest that united the Seven Kingdoms under Targaryen rule through the Dance of the Dragons: the Targaryen civil war that nearly ended their dynasty forever," according to publisher Bantam (via USA Today).
In a lengthy blog post, Martin stressed that the 989-page Fire & Blood is "not a novel" nor a "traditional narrative."
"Some of my fans have objected to the term 'fake history' that I've bandied about in past blog posts and announcements in reference to 'The Princess and the Queen' and 'Sons of the Dragon' and the like," he said. "Very well; let's call this one 'imaginary history' instead. The essential point being the 'history' part. I love reading popular histories myself, and that’s what I was aiming for here. Not historical fiction, not fantasy, no… but something more akin to Thomas B. Costain's monumental (and wonderfully entertaining) four-volume history of the Plantagenets. (But with dragons. Did I mention the dragons?)"
"So: not a novel," he added. "Everyone clear on that? (Though there are enough stories here for twenty novels. Battles, bloodshed, betrayals, love, lust, horror, religious wars, politics, incest, historical revisionism, all the fun stuff)."
The tome will include more than 75 black-and-white illustrations from Doug Wheatley, one of which is available to preview at Martin's blog. The author added that "no one is sure" whether any of HBO's planned Game of Thrones prequels will be based on Fire & Blood, and he added that he's "not allowed to say" anyway. The fantasy drama's eighth and final season is set to return in 2019.