George R.R. Martin is keeping his promise: Winter is coming – even if that means foregoing working on other Westeros-related projects.
With news that HBO has axed Jane Goldman's Game of Thrones prequel starring Naomi Watts while simultaneously giving a full season order to another successor show entitled House of the Dragon, the famed novelist took to his blog yesterday to make clear where his priorities are at.
Martin has vowed to finish and publish The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in his epic Game of Thrones fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, before taking on any outside commitments like writing scripts for House of the Dragon, which is said to focus on House Targaryen several centuries before the events in his Emmy-winning HBO drama.
"Let me make this perfectly clear," wrote Martin. "I am not taking on any scripts until I have finished and delivered The Winds of Winter. Winter is still coming, and WINDS remains my priority, as much as I'd love to write episodes of House."
The author has hinted at a Winds of Winter release for several years now. But he's always refrained from throwing out specific dates because he's had a habit of blowing deadlines and given the ever-expanding canvas of storylines and intricate plotting, delays are almost inevitable since the release of A Dance With Dragons eight years ago.
Factor in Winds' rumored 1,500 page length and the pressure of writing amidst the HBO show's creators having to craft their own controversial finale, it's no wonder Martin's been mum. Though he did joke back in May that if he didn't get the tome finished by July 2020 when he's scheduled to visit Worldcon in New Zealand, he should be sequestered to a small cabin on White Island with his old DOS word processor until he's done.
No need to go that far.
In his blog post, Martin said he was excited about House of the Dragon and is still plenty involved. In fact, he noted HOTD was the first spinoff concept he pitched HBO in the summer of 2016 focusing on House Targaryen two centuries before the events in GOT, which is based on his imaginary history Fire & Blood.
HBO has given a 10-episode order to House of the Dragon and Ryan Condal (Colony) will serve as a co-showrunner along with Thrones vet, Miguel Sapochnik, who helmed several of the biggest episodes in the global phenomenon (Battle of the Bastards and HardHomme to name a few) and is expected to direct the pilot and future episodes.
While Condal is new to the franchise, he's long known Martin, having met the latter when he shot a fantasy western pilot in the author's home state of New Mexico that was never picked up. The two became fast friends which set the stage for this collaboration.
Martin hailed Condal as "a terrific writer" and noted that "working with Ryan on the development of House of the Dragon has been a dream." He also revealed that while Condal has "done a considerable amount of writing" on House, there's plenty more work ahead including assembling a writer's room, figuring out the cast, crew, budgets and where they're going to shoot. Though he expects they'll return to some of the European locations made famous in Thrones, among them Ireland, Iceland, Malta, and Croatia.
Martin also extended his symapthies to Goldman's team on the bad news that their untitled Game of Thrones prequel pilot didn't get picked up. The show was supposedly set in the North and followed House Stark and the White Walkers thousands of years before Sansa and company in the Age of Heroes.
"I do not know why HBO decided not to do this one, but I do not think it had to do with House of the Dragon," added the author. "This was never an either/or situation. If television has room enough for multiple CSI and Chicago shows… well, Westeros and Essos are a lot bigger, with thousands of years of history and enough tales and legends and characters for a dozen shows."
On a personal note, Martin concluded: "Heartbreaking as it is to work for years on a pilot, to pour your blood and sweat and tears into it, and have it come to nought, it's not at all uncommon. I've been there myself, more than once."
No doubt, there's plenty more Westeros to come.