George R.R. Martin has been spending a lot of time in Westeros lately. The author has been diligently writing The Winds of Winter, the highly anticipated sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. While Martin still hasn't given fans a firm date for when they can expect to return to Westeros, he recently provided an update on the characters he's been focusing on most, and it seems like he's making solid progress toward a release date.
In his latest blog post, Martin ponders balancing writing full time with having a life, before dropping a couple of Winds of Winter clues.
“For the nonce, it is what it is,” Martin writes. “My life is at home, on hold, and I am spending the days in Westeros with my pals Mel and Sam and Vic and Ty. And that girl with no name, over there in Braavos.”
This suggests Martin has been working on point-of-view chapters for Melisandre, Samwell Tarly, Victarion Greyjoy, Tyrion Lannister, and Arya Stark. The inclusion of Victarion picks up on a previously released sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, which sees him and his Iron Fleet docked in Mereen to assist Daenerys Targaryen in the Seige of Mereen, which ASOIAF fans have come to call the Battle of Fire.
Tyrion is also in Mereen, persuading a commander of the Second Sons to join Daenerys’ side. It’s possible that Tyrion and Victarion work together on her behalf. Either way, it seems fans will be spending a lot of time in Mereen.
Martin’s blog post also suggests that Arya is still in Braavos. The last we saw, she was still training with the Faceless Men and had been assigned an apprenticeship with Izembaro, the owner of a local playhouse. It’s unclear whether the “girl with no name” will be in Braavos for the whole novel, or will return to Winterfell as she did in the HBO series. Arya could fully embrace being a member of the Faceless Men instead. After all, Martin didn’t refer to her by her given name.
Melisandre and Sam are notable name-drops, as previous Winds of Winter sample chapters don't mention them at all. Sam, in particular, hasn’t appeared since A Feast for Crows. He was last seen arriving at the Citadel and it’s possible that his story will be coming to the forefront because he’s about to happen across some information about the real Aegon Targaryen.
As for Melisandre, it’s possible that she will return in time to resurrect Jon Snow, who died in A Dance with Dragons. Jon returned from the dead in Season 6 of the HBO series, but Martin might choose to change up the storyline dramatically. However it all plays out, the author's update is more than welcome after so long a wait. Hopefully, we're coming into the home stretch.