Read a new chapter from George R.R. Martin's next Song of Ice and Fire book

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Jan 11, 2016, 4:28 PM EST (Updated)

We're still waiting for the next volume of George R.R. Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire, but now we've at least got another sample chapter to make the wait a bit easier for a while.

It's been nearly three years since the last A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons, hit bookstores, and while Martin keeps plugging away at the sixth volume of the saga, The Winds of Winter, fan anticipation, worry and anger over the series' future has reached critical levels, with individual responses that run the gamut from pure rage to Martin-involved comedy. The question of whether Martin can keep up with the hit series based on his work, Game of Thrones, has also been raised several times, and with the series now adaptating the third book, A Storm of Swords, even Martin acknowledges that "it's alarming" to see the series progressing at a rate his writing might not be able to keep up with. 

Martin's still hard at work on The Winds of Winter, though, and to prove it (and celebrate the upcoming premiere of Game of Thrones' fourth season) he just released another sample chapter from the book that only he, his editors, his wife Parris and Game of Thrones executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss have seen. Martin teased the release of the chapter via his "Not A Blog" on Tuesday, and revealed that it's the earliest-written of any of the samples from the book we've seen so far.

"The new chapter is actually an old chapter. But no, it's not one I've published or posted before, and I don't even think I've read it at a con (could be wrong there, I've done readings at so many cons, it all tends to blur together)," Martin wrote. "So it's new in that it is material that no one but my editors (well, and Parris, and David and Dan, and a few others) have ever seen before, but it's old in that it was written a long time ago, predating any of the samples that you have seen. The first draft was, at any rate. I've rewritten it a dozen times since then."

The chapter, released yesterday, is called "Mercy," continuing Martin's tradition of naming the chapters after the characters they follow. I won't offer any details of who it follows or where it's set, though, because this is one you'll really want to let unfold as you read it. Check out the first few paragraphs of the "Mercy" chapter below.

She woke with a gasp, not knowing who she was, or where.

The smell of blood was heavy in her nostrils… or was that her nightmare, lingering? She had dreamed of wolves again, of running through some dark pine forest with a great pack at her hells, hard on the scent of prey.

Half-light filled the room, grey and gloomy. Shivering, she sat up in bed and ran a hand across her scalp. Stubble bristled against her palm. I need to shave before Izembaro sees. Mercy, I’m Mercy, and tonight I’ll be raped and murdered. Her true name was Mercedene, but Mercy was all anyone ever called her…

Read the full sample chapter on Martin's website HERE

(Via EW)