George R.R. Martin is confirming what Game of Thrones fans have increasingly suspected: The long-awaited sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga, The Winds of Winter, will not be out in 2018 (here are some of the best fan reactions to this news).

The author revealed the decision in a press release announcing a publication date for Fire and Blood, his upcoming history of the Targaryens which has clocked in at a massive 989 pages long.

“No, winter is not coming… not in 2018, at least,” Martin wrote. “You’re going to have to keep waiting for The Winds of Winter. You will, however, be able to return to Westeros this year. I do want to stress… indeed, I want to shout… that Fire and Blood is not a novel. This is not a traditional narrative and was never intended to be… 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 … (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) .… As for me, I’m returning once again to The Winds of Winter.”

Fans have been eagerly waiting for the next book in the series and their mounting frustration with the beloved author is legendary. His last entry, the bestseller A Dance with Dragons, was published back in 2011 — the same year HBO’s hit series based on his saga, Game of Thrones, aired its debut season.

The author has given many reasons for the delay of Winds of Winter over the years, ranging from the distractions which have arisen from the HBO series, his work on other books and projects, and his struggles while writing the novel to continue the narrative complexity of his epic and sprawling story in a manner that meets his own high standards.

Martin has another TV series based on his work: Syfy’s space horror drama Nightflyers, coming later this year. He’s also closely involved with the development of a potential prequel series to Game of Thrones for HBO. The author teases that one of the prequel ideas in the works could be based on Fire and Blood (“no one is sure yet, and anyway, I am not allowed to say”).

Set 300 years before the events in A Song of Ice and Fire, the new Fire and Blood is the first of two planned volumes. It’s described as “the definitive history of the Targaryens in Westeros 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. Readers may have glimpsed small parts of this narrative before — in The World of Ice and Fire and various anthologies — but the full tapestry of Martin’s history of the Targaryens is revealed here for the first time. Lavishly illustrated with over 75 all-new black-and-white portraits and scenes by artist Doug Wheatley, Fire and Blood will give readers a whole new appreciation for the fascinating history of Westeros and will be a must-have addition to every fan’s bookshelf.”

“Oh, and there are dragons too,” Martin noted on his blog (along with some additional details not reported here if you want more info). “Lotsof dragons.”

Fire and Blood will be released in hardcover on Nov. 20. Here’s a look at the cover:

Credit: Bantam

Meanwhile, Game of Thrones is currently filming its final season, which will air in 2019.

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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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