”When will you finish?” is the question author George R.R. Martin has been asked countless times while working on the fifth installment in his Song of Ice and Fire series, which launched with A Game of Thrones. Fans now have an answer: Bantam plans to publish A Dance With Dragons on July 12. With the novel finally completed, Martin answered a few of our own burning questions.
What took so long?
George R.R. Martin: I’m not sure I have a good answer. If I did, I would have taken less time. It’s enormous. It’s as long as A Storm of Swords. It’s very complicated. I have a lot of characters and points of view. And I’ve been doing a ton of rewriting, trying to get it where I wanted it to be. Some of these chapters I’ve rewritten more times than I can count before I’m satisfied with them.
Readers seem to universally love books 1 to 3, while some feel the last book lagged. How do you feel Dragons will compare?
Martin: Sometimes I think, ”This is terrific, I did really well,” and sometimes I look at what I’ve written and think, ”That’s garbage, I don’t have any talent at all.” Ultimately it’s up to the fans and critics and reviewers — your own judgment is always suspect. In terms of book 4, I did have a feeling there would be some people who would not like it, or like it less than the other books, because it was half a book and many favorite characters were not in it.
Can you tease something from the new book?
Martin: I don’t want to spoil any surprises. I can say all the characters people have been waiting for are there: Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Tyrion. There’s also new viewpoints from new characters, and viewpoints from characters who did not have viewpoints before.
Do you like HBO’s adaptation?
Martin: I still haven’t seen it. There’s been a mob outside with torches and pitchforks waiting for me to finish the book.