How COULD you, Ser Barristan!?
Image: HBO

Tired? George R.R. Martin has no pages. Wired? George R.R. Martin has all the pages.

The ongoing, incredibly lengthy wait for the next chapter in Martin’s sprawling A Song of Ice and Fire series has perhaps escalated recently with the advent of Game of Thrones’ final season going... some places. But it got even weirder than it usually does—years of waiting will do that to an ASOIAF fan—this week thanks to a truly bonkers rumor from an equally absurd source: Ser Barristan Selmy, one of the most honorable knights in all the Seven Kingdoms.

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Well, not Selmy specifically, but Ian McElhinney, who played the former Kingsguard turned right hand man of Daenerys Targaryen (turned, err, corpse) across the first five seasons of Game of Thrones. Speaking at Epic Con in Russia late last month, McElhinney dropped a bizarre bombshell seemingly out of nowhere, claiming that not only has Martin already finished The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in the ASOIAF series, but he’s also completed its sequel, A Dream of Spring, which is meant to be the final chapter of the saga.

According to McElhinney—who was discussing Selmy’s altered role in the show compared to the books—the books have not been released because Martin has a secret pact with HBO to only release his version of the story’s end after Game of Thrones has come to a conclusion. If this were true, it would’ve meant an imminent surprise drop, given we’re about to witness the show’s final end this Sunday:

George has already written Books 6 and 7, and as far as he’s concerned there only are seven books. But he struck an agreement with David and Dan, the showrunners on the series, that he would not publish the final two books until the series has completed. So if all goes well, in another month or two we might get Books 6 and 7, and I’m intrigued to know how Barristan, for instance, ends up going through those final two books. George, I talked to him during Season 1 and he did say to me that Barristan had a very interesting journey. But unfortunately I didn’t get to play all of that, so we’ll have to wait and see.

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McElhinney’s casual bombshell went unnoticed for a few weeks, but when it stared being picked up online yesterday, Martin stepped in via his humble abode on the Internet, the Not A Blog, to dispel the claim:

All of a sudden this crazy story about my finishing The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring years ago is popping up everywhere. No, I am not going to provide links. I don’t want to reward purveyors of misinformation with hits.

I will, however, say for the record—no, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are not finished. Dream is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finish volume six.

It seems absurd to me that I need to state this. The world is round, the Earth revolves around the sun, water is wet…do I need to say that too? It boggles me that anyone would believe this story, even for an instant. It makes not a whit of sense. Why would I sit for years on completed novels? Why would my publishers—not just here in the US, but all around the world—ever consent to this? They make millions and millions of dollars every time a new Ice & Fire book comes out, as do I. Delaying makes no sense. Why would HBO want the books delayed? The books help create interest in the show, just as the show creates interest in the books.

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So, there you have it. One whirlwind rumor frenzy later, and all we have is what we’ve already known for a while—the answer is that Martin has in fact some pages, and will continue to add to that count as he marches ever closer to finishing his epic tale.

Well, that and we now know that Barristan Selmy is perhaps not quite the most honorable man in the Seven Kingdoms any more.

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