George R.R. Martin Tells Us Not To Expect Happiness In ‘Winds of Winter,’ Names The Series’ Best Fighters

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Game of Thrones produced a “Winds of Winter” episode as their finale this past season and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin may have told us recently that “winter is coming” for real, but his work on the actual book is still going strong. He recently spoke about the tone of The Winds of Winter, the end of the series, and the best fighters in the Seven Kingdoms.

Winter is Coming pulled some of the best items from Martin’s recent panel at the Guadalajara International Book Fair. Though Martin and his publisher have released bits and pieces from The Winds of Winter, we still don’t know exactly when it will be released (that hasn’t stopped people from guessing). That said, he’s in the thick of it and spoke a bit about how dark it is:

But there are a lot of dark chapters right now in the book that I’m writing. It is called The Winds of Winter, and 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 fills the world, so this is not gonna be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters [are] in very dark places…In any story, the classic structure is, ‘Things get worse before they get better,’ so things are getting worse for a lot of people.

I mean, that’s to be expected right? While HBO’s Game of Thrones has finally started to see some retribution for the terrible things that have occurred over the last few seasons, Martin’s series is still in the weeds. While he didn’t talk specifically about the next installment, A Dream of Spring, Martin did briefly discuss how he doesn’t see a perfect happy ending on the way.

“I don’t know that I, as a writer, really believe in the conventional, cliched happy ending, where everything is resolved and the good guy wins and the bad guy loses,” he said. “We very seldom see that in real life or in history, and I don’t find it as emotionally satisfying myself as what I like to call the bittersweet ending.”

While everything may not be wrapped up in a neat bow, can we at least expect everything over the course of the books to come together in some way? Probably not.

We’ll see by the end of the book if I’ve left any loose ends. I hope not. That’s not to say that everything is going to be tied up completely neatly in a bow. I think there’s a difference between a loose end and something that’s deliberately left by the author ambiguous, or something for the readers to think about and worry about and debate about. For me, that’s part of the fun of reading and writing is having stories that maybe have a little ambiguity to them, a little subtlety to them, and everything is not crystal clear and laid out. You have to think about some things and put clues together and see what it all adds up to. So some of that is gonna be left there deliberately. But first I have to finish the damn thing.

Don’t forget, besides Thrones-related stuff Martin recently made a deal to get his science fiction and superhero fantasy anthology Wild Cards to television. Which, most importantly, he made sure to tell us he won’t actually be working on.

But the talk wasn’t all dreary book news! When asked who from the Seven Kingdoms he would choose to represent him if it came down to trial by combat, Martin seemingly revealed who he feels are the best fighters of the entire series. He said Ser Arthur Dayne first (if he was alive, of course, Jaime Lannister (if he still had both his hands), and then Brienne of Tarth.

Here’s the whole video if you’d like to give it a watch.