George R. R. Martin continues to take his sweet time with the sixth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, but there are some hints that The Winds of Winter may finally be coming. The author posted a new sample chapter of the book to his blog yesterday, replacing one he uploaded last year, following Arianne Martell and her dealings with the Sand Snakes, the band of traitor warriors currently wreaking havoc in HBO's version of Dorne.
While Martin's last book in the low-fantasy series was released in 2011, HBO's Game of Thrones has kept up a relentless pace of production, putting out a new 10-episode series each year since. The show's writers have taken liberties with Martin's original stories, changing characters and tweaking plot points along the way, but season six — currently airing on the cable network — marks the first time Game of Thrones has gone beyond Martin's written work entirely.
Optimistic fans could see Martin's new chapter as an indication that The Winds of Winter is written, but the author cautions against that line of thinking. On his Livejournal (yes, Livejournal), Martin said that "just to spike any bullshit rumors, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done."