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Here’s The Best New Projection For When The Next ‘Game of Thrones’ Book Will Be Done

There’s a cool new statty analysis of when “The Winds of Winter” — the next book in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, which inspired HBO’s “Game of Thrones” — will be published, and there are a couple of reasons to take this one seriously. The best guesstimate: late 2016, early 2017.

First, a brief overview of why this is a thing. Martin, who writes the books, writes the books slowly. It’s already very likely that the show will conclude before the books do. It’s been confirmed that details from unwritten books will be on screen this season, which makes sense because they’re running out of source material.

For fans who have been following the books for nearly two decades, needless to say, this kind of sucks. I can almost guarantee that any fan of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series has, at one point, made a prediction for when the next book will come out. Even I did — I threw everything at the 700-foot ice wall to see what would stick, and not much did. Martin publishes his current mood at his blog, but that wasn’t predictive. And there was little to no correlation between the performance of his preferred football teams and his writing success. As I wrote in June:

When will George R.R. Martin come out with the next book? I have no idea. The stats tell us essentially nothing. The good news for fans is that he’s in Santa Fe with a pretty clear schedule. The worst news is that my most promising finding is that he’s excited. As always, when will George R.R. Martin release “The Winds of Winter”? Whenever he damn well pleases.

But!

An individual who is well-respected in the fan community has published a huge analysis of Martin’s writing habits. The writer — real name Jeff, well-known online as “BryndenBFish” for his sophisticated analyses of military strategy in the book series — is one of probably like five people (two of the others are profiled here) whose opinions and predictions about “A Song of Ice and Fire” I take really seriously. Jeff told me that he’s written 159,483 words about the series on his blog alone. What I’m trying to say here is the guy gets Martin. And he took the idea of writing pace estimation past the back-of-the-napkin level, to a deeper level of analysis that hadn’t really been done before.

The whole post is worth a read, but here’s Jeff’s prediction:

If you cornered me, put a gun to my head and told me to tell you how many completed manuscript pages are done for The Winds of Winter, I’d probably say that George is just north of 1,000 manuscript pages with an expected completion date of late 2016 to early 2017. I think the average pace of 287 manuscript pages/year that George wrote between 2008 and 2010 is probably a good data point. If George had 1,350 pages to write from the end of A Dance with Dragons, 287 average manuscript pages per year would have George finishing The Winds of Winter in early 2017.

That’s a long wait. My recommendation in the meantime remains simple: Root for the New York Jets.

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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