George R.R. Martin’s long-awaited sixth novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire franchise will not be published this year.

That’s officially from Martin’s UK publisher, talking to The Guardian. Furthermore, 2016 might not see the book, The Winds of Winter, published either. “I have no information on likely delivery,” said Jane Johnson at HarperCollins. “These are increasingly complex books and require immense amounts of concentration to write. Fans really ought to appreciate that the length of these monsters is equivalent to two or three novels by other writers.”

Instead, HarperCollins will publish a “new illustrated compilation of three official prequel novellas to the series, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight.”

The last book in Martin’s ASOIAF saga, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011 and fans have been extremely eager to read the next book — especially since HBO’s series version Game of Thrones is expected to catch up to most of the Dragons‘ storylines in the upcoming fifth season (the trailer for which just leaked online today). Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who have been told Martin’s long-term narrative plan, have said they want to do two more seasons (and only two) of the show, which still means a couple years of largely paving into virgin story territory and possibly shooting the conclusion to Martin’s saga long before the author’s book-reading fans have any idea how the epic fantasy tale will end.

My take: Thrones is a rare instance in pop culture where a story’s books and filmed version are equally exceptional. The first five seasons were largely “spoiled” by the books. That Martin’s remaining stories will be potentially “spoiled” by the show is a seismic reversal in how book-readers experience the story — just not necessarily a bad one. I’m looking forward to eventually watching the show having no idea what will happen next. And ultimately, if Martin’s books will be of higher quality if he takes more time to write them, okay, take more time.

Of course, it’s always possible that Winds could come out just in time for season 6 in early 2016 … just don’t hold your breath.

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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