Fans of the A Song of Ice And Fire series know that George R.R. Martin has a problem with meeting deadlines. We've been waiting for The Winds of Winter for five years now, and while that isn't quite as terrible as the six-year drought between A Feast for Crows in 2005 and A Dance With Dragons in 2011, it's still annoying as hell. After all, HBO's Game of Thrones has now surpassed its source material.
Of course, every time we think GRRM has tried our patience for the last time, he does something to pique our interests and make us come crawling back like Jorah Mormont storming the gates of Meereen. This time, Martin teased the book's significantly darker tone. (Darker than the Red Wedding, you know? Oh, yes.)
"There are a lot of dark chapters right now in the book that I'm writing," the author said during a question-and-answer session in Mexico last week, streamed live by Penguin Random House. "I've been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming. And winter is the time when things die, and, you know, cold and ice and darkness fills the world. So this is not going to be the happy, feel-good book that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters end in very dark places."
Martin added, "In any story, the classic structure is, 'Things get worse before they get better.' And things are getting worse for a lot of people."
Now, it's important to remember that the show and the books are separate entities at this point, so whatever Martin is planning for Winds of Winter may not influence David Benioff and D.B. Weiss's overall plan for Game of Thrones' seventh season, which is currently in production. That said, winters in Westeros are notoriously brutal, and some (e.g., Old Nan) even believe that this forthcoming winter will be as bad as the Long Night — a time when the "sun hides for years and children are born and live and die, all in darkness."
At this point in time in the series, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark have just received the white raven from the Citadel, signaling winter's arrival. The Seven Kingdoms are woefully unprepared for winter, so it's easy to imagine how things could get worse for our favorite characters.
Daenerys Targaryen may have dragons, but they've never experienced a winter as cruel as this before. We hope those dragons come with a natural defrost function.