Winter is here

George R.R. Martin's 'Winds of Winter' hint teases a terrifying new villain

George R.R. Martin provides an update on The Winds of Winter and we break down what it could mean.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cancel events and shut down movie and TV show productions, the one silver lining is that George R.R. Martin is back to writing The Winds of Winter with gusto. In a recent blog post, the author provided an update on what he’s been up to and how the coronavirus has sent him into isolation. What it boils down to is that Martin has been “spending more time in Westeros,” but he also dropped a sly hint that could reveal a lot about the plot of Winds of Winter.

Here are five things George R.R. Martin's Winds of Winter update could reveal about the plot, from the arrival of the Night King to one way Jon Snow's plot could deviate wildly from HBO's Game of Thrones.

Martin has been promising that The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in A Song of Ice and Fire series, will be finished soon for an incredibly long time. It’s been long enough that even HBO’s Game of Thrones managed to surpass Martin’s popular series.

However, now that Martin is stuck in isolation, his recent update hinted that “things are pretty grim in the Seven Kingdoms.” While we know that everything is always rather grim in Westeros, here are five plot points Martin could be referring to, based on previous storylines.

Will the Night King rise?


5. The Winds of Winter will finally introduce the White Walkers and the Night King

While they’re referred to as the White Walkers in Game of Thrones, the books have long called them the Others. At this point in the books, they’re still considered to be myths and have rarely made their presence known. However, it seems that The Winds of Winter will feature the Others a lot more than any other book in the series.

Martin himself hinted that Winds of Winter will further explore what really lies in the north in the books, teasing the Others’ involvement more than ever. With that in mind, it’s possible that the Night King — who has yet to make a formal appearance in A Song of Ice and Fire — might show up too.

Jon Snow could stay dead until the seventh book.


4. Jon Snow will remain dead — or worse

While Jon Snow was resurrected by Melisandre in Game of Thrones Season 6, Jon is still dead in the books, having met his doom in A Dance with Dragons after literally being stabbed in the back by members of the Night’s Watch. However, there are many who don’t believe he’s actually dead. Conversely, a previous theory hinted that his dire wolf Ghost would have a role to play in his resurrection, positing that Jon would return with the mind of a wolf.

While that could be considered a dire situation, we know that Jon doesn’t show up in any of the sample chapters released from The Winds of Winter. So it’s possible that the grim nature of the sixth book includes Jon staying dead for the foreseeable future. Perhaps he doesn’t return at all until the seventh and final book in the series, which would be terrible since Martin hasn’t even started writing that one.

Ramsay Bolton. *Shudders*


3. Ramsay Bolton will continue his reign of terror

While Game of Thrones saw Ramsay marry and subsequently abuse Sansa Stark, his story is a bit different in the books. The last we saw of Ramsay, he had married someone he thought to be Arya Stark but is actually another young woman, Jeyne Poole, in her place. After Jeyne and Theon are rescued, Ramsay threatens to come after Jon Snow if he doesn’t give him back his bride or acquiesce to his demands.

Fans of the show and books know how brutal and sadistic Ramsay really is, so it’s possible he will continue wreaking havoc across Westeros until he gets what he wants. While he died in Season 6 of Game of Thrones, killed by his own hounds, Ramsay is still very much alive in the books and there’s no telling how lethal he might get in The Winds of Winter. The fact that Ramsey isn’t already dead is grim enough.

Daenerys' liberation of Slaver's Bay could end differently.


2. The Battle of Slaver’s Bay will end badly

A Dance with Dragons spent a good amount of time building up to the battle of Slaver’s Bay (an event the show glossed over) and it is set to be one of the biggest battles in The Winds of Winter. Speaking with Smarter Travel, Martin said that the book was “going to open with the two big battles that I was building up to, the battle in the ice and the battle at Meereen—the battle of Slaver's Bay.”

While Daenerys Targaryen was successful in liberating Slaver’s Bay in Game of Thrones thanks to some cunning diplomacy, it’s possible that the battle won’t go over as well in The Winds of Winter. This conflict was a game-changer for Daenerys in the HBO series, but that doesn’t mean it’ll go the same way for her in the books, depending on the direction of her storyline. We know the books include the Iron Islanders’ attack on Slaver’s Bay, meaning that there are more people duking it out in the books than in the show. Honestly, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Winter is here.


1. Winter really is coming

After so much buildup, George R.R. Martin’s grim hint spells trouble for every single character moving forward. The title of Winds of Winter clearly sets the stage for what’s to come and, in a previous interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin said as much:

“I've been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming. Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world, so this is not going to be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters [are] in very dark places. .... Things get worse before they get better, so things are getting worse for a lot of people.”

With that in mind, it’s possible that the book will end on a massive cliffhanger that will alter the trajectory of every character and plot. It also sounds like multiple characters will meet their demise before it’s all said and done. With the Others on their way, The Winds of Winter really is shaping up to be the grimmest book of them all.

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