Nerd alert!

By Razib Khan | March 3, 2011 1:14 pm

Apparently July 12th, 2011, is now a hard date for the publication of George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, the 5th book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Martin has confirmed the date on his website: “Barring tsunamis, general strikes, world wars, or asteroid strikes, you will have the novel in your hands on July 12. I hope you like it.” He even has a late-1990s style countdown going. For what it’s worth, the first book, A Game of Thrones, came out in the summer of 1996. That means that a 10 year old starting the series in 1996 would be 25 now. In all probability this is going to be ~10 books, so who knows how old that 10 year will be when it’s all done.

Personally, I found that the last book was kind of a let down. Amazon reviewers seem to agree, as books 1-3 got 4.5 stars, but book 4 only 3. If Martin can’t bounce back, I assume that this series going to go the way of The Wheel of Time (before it was resurrected after the death of the author by Brandon Sanderson). At least Patrick Rothfuss has his second book out. Now, where to find the time so that I can actually read this stuff some day….

  • Zachary Kurtz

    Don’t forget to watch the HBO Song of Ice and Fire miniseries. I suspect working on the show has cut into GRRM’s writing time.

  • Razib Khan

    he also vacations, watches football, and reads :-) i may watch the miniseries, but 95% of the time stuff going from book to screen is not good IMO. this is especially bad with fantasy & sf.

  • Lucy Stewart

    “this is especially bad with fantasy & sf.”

    For my money, this is because SFF is a way of telling stories about people using fantastical or futuristic settings and devices to shed a different light on things (at least, *good* SFF is.) I’m thinking particularly of authors like Guy Gabriel Kay, who uses alternate-history/fantasy settings to consider places like Byzantium or Reconquista-era Spain; the removal from the “real world” can free readers from real-world prejudices and preconceptions.

    People who adapt SFF for TV/film, on the other hand, seem entirely convinced that SFF is about MAGIC or SPACESHIPS and often EXPLOSIONS, and therefore are quite happy to throw out incidental details like character, plot logic, and continuity in favour of the above, which usually jerks the heart out of the story and jumps up and down on it for good measure. It takes someone who understands that it’s about the story, not the windowdressing, to make it work. And barring the odd Peter Jackson, those people are rare.

    A good example is the old BBC Narnia miniseries v. the new movies; the special effects on the old miniseries are awful, but they had heart. The new movies are CGI-intensive, shiny and bland and rather dull. (Of course, that could be childhood nostalgia talking.)

  • Dylan

    Rothfuss clearly used his countless delays to write a great book, but I have no such expectation for Martin.

  • Colin

    I always loved Neil Gaiman’s take on the writing of this novel. It is very succinctly summed up on his blog.

  • Rafe

    Super excited, I think this one will let us know if the series can get back on track. One not as good book is not to big a deal but if this one is not better I would suspect he has simple become overwhelmed by the story ala jordan, I still have an optimistic outlook that he will get it back under controll on this book and be able to finishing in 2 more books.

  • dufu

    Would this series be a worthwhile read for someone who doesn’t usually like high fantasy? I’m more of a sci-fi reader, and big epic fantasy tomes usually bore me.

  • Zach Kurtz

    idk Razib, the HBO miniseries has the benefit of the author working on set. I bet Jackson’s LOTR would have been a bit different if Tolkien had been hanging around.

  • Razib Khan

    i know. and martin has tv exp. i just think the story is probably too big. i think jackson did a good job, but he had a big budget…who knows?

    whether you should read this if u r into sf, i think so. martin’s is a ‘low magic’ realist take, and resembles bernard cornwell’s *warlord chronicles* about dark age britain than conventional fantasy.

  • EM

    Meh. I had trouble getting into the books for two reasons – first, it seemed like the author took a perverse pleasure in stamping on virtue to show how grim and dark and gritty and angsty and bleak and cold and gloomy his setting was (this apparently being what passes for “realism” in an overreaction to happily-ever-after fantasy), and second, this stamping never seemed to have appropriate consequences like becoming distrusted and hated for being a treacherous oathbreaker.

  • Razib Khan

    #10, i think you are forgetting that there’s a long story arc. but the “grayness” of some of the characters is actually what i like. if you want clear and distinct good & evil, brandon sanderson does that well. but then, he’s mormon. martin is not :-)

  • Richard Littauer

    I think that the HBO series should actually be pretty good. HBO is putting a lot of money into it, and the fanbase has been pretty accepting of the teasers and news they’ve heard so far. They’re keeping the internet up to date on

    As an example of what they’ve done – they hired David Peterson of the Language Creation Society to make a language for the Dothraki, who have limited screen time, and whose language makes a fairly minimal appearance in the books. This sort of dedication may be indicative that it will turn out to be as detailed and interesting as the books – if not as an adaptation, than as a take in its own right. But I might be biased, as I am a linguist (from rep.typo), and I’m also on the LCS board.

    Anyway, I still am very, very excited about the next book. Can’t wait. This is going to be a good year.

  • Razib Khan

    btw, while i’m recommending. r scott bakker’s *prince of nothing* trilogy is very good.

  • dufu

    “Realistic” fantasy sounds good to me. Accepting the existence of magic, is too big a hump for me to get over most of the time.

    I’ve often liked “fantasy” novels that ground the strangeness of their worlds in semi-scientific explanations. The premier example is Gene Wolfe’s “Book of the New Sun” series. It’s set on a far-far-future Earth that has devolved to a nearly medieval level of technology and social organization. The remnants of extremely advanced technology and of former contacts with alien civilizations are where the “magical” elements arise. It also helps that Wolfe is without a doubt the greatest literary stylist ever in SF. Highly recommended.

    I also remember Brian Aldiss’s Helliconia trilogy as being pretty good. But I was a kid when I read it, so it might not be as good as I remember.

  • Ketil Tveiten

    Regarding declining quality of book as the series progresses, I wouldn’t hold out much hope. You cited Robert Jordan as an example, I think Steven Erikson (of Malazan Book of the Fallen fame) is another example. At least he made it to seven good (no, great) books before he lost the touch, but the last two were crap.

  • Aaron

    Just started the Prince of Nothing series. Did you start the next series (Aspect Emperor I believe?) I was wondering if he was able to do a good job keeping up with the world, or if series fatigue is setting in for folks.

  • Rafe

    I am also a big fan of the price of nothing series as well. My take on the aspect emperor so far, its very good, he avoids exactly the main problems seen in other big fantasies he doesn’t get caught up following too many threads, if anything the judging eye is tighter then previous novels. Bakker also stretches out in style bringing in more of a horror influence which is fun.

    That said there are flaws, none of the characters in the aspect emperor are yet as compelling as Kelhus, Cnaiur, or Conphas, and the philosophical underpining that were so fresh in the prince of nothing don’t have quite as impact in the second go around so far.

    To anyone who is fan of both Martin and Bakker I would also recommend Joe abercrombie. Who explores similar inversions of the classic fantasy tropes with his own unique and interesting take.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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