The release of The Winds of Winter has famously been delayed more times than fans can count, but this is not to say we don't have any material at all. Over the years, author George R. R. Martin has released a number of The Winds of Winter chapters from multiple viewpoints. While not enough to satisfy fans, these chapters have ignited our curiosity and given us something to work with while waiting. Here are the chapters we have so far:
To the disappointment of her relatively small, but dedicated fanbase, Sansa did not make an appearance in A Dance with Dragons. In A Feast for Crows, we last saw her posing as Littlefinger’s illegitimate daughter, Alayne. She has adopted that identity well, to the point that her chapters are now named accordingly… but this is not the only change about her. Reading her chapter, which was released by George R. R. Martin in 2015 as a Winds of Winter preview, we see that Sansa has come a long way. No longer naïve or frightened, and having escaped from King’s Landing, Sansa lives much happier as the de facto lady of the Vale and has made some friends:
"They made a race of it, dashing headlong across the yard and past the stables, skirts flapping, whilst knights and serving men alike looked on, and pigs and chickens scattered before them. It was most unladylike, but Alayne sound found herself laughing. For just a little while, as she ran, she forgets who she was, and where, and found herself remembering bright cold days at Winterfell, when she would race through Winterfell with her friend Jeyne Poole, with Arya running after them trying to keep up.
By the time they arrived at the gatehouse, both of them were red-faced and panting. Myranda had lost her cloak somewhere along the way. They were just in time. The portcullis had been raised, and a column of riders twenty strong were passing underneath. At their head rode Anya Waynwood, Lady of Ironoaks, stern and slim, her grey-brown hair bound up in a scarf. Her riding cloak was heavy green wool trimmed with brown fur, and clasped at the throat by a niello brooch in the shape of the broken wheel of her House."
(Credit: George R. R. Martin)
With her wit, intelligence and ability to charm, she is likely becoming a formidable player. Of course, if reading George R. R. Martin’s works has taught us anything, we should never take a character’s happiness for granted or think it will last. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Sansa.
One of the most common complaints about the HBO show is its superficial treatment of Dorne, the power seat of the Martells. Arianne, the eldest daughter, and heir of Prince Doran Martell, is arguably one of the most compelling female characters in the books; intelligent, independent, and fiercely protective of her birth-right, Arianne spent A Feast for Crows plotting to crown Myrcella Baratheon before her brother, Tommen. But as is the case with most compelling characters, Arianne has flaws, and her plan goes horribly wrong. Losing most of her friends and allies, she finally has an honest discussion with her father about his plans for the advancement of House Martell. When Doran is informed that another Targaryen – the son of Doran’s late sister – might be alive, Arianne is sent to find out more. Her Winds of Winter chapter, released on Martin’s website in 2016, finds her traveling with her cousins, the Sand Snakes, to find the young man who calls himself Aegon Targaryen. While Arianne still laments what she had lost, her indomitable spirit remains:
Whereas if I am taken, the Iron Throne will take that for proof that Dorne conspired with these sellswords, and lent aid to their invasion. “It is brave for you to seek to shield me, ser. I thank you for that.” She took his hands and drew him back to his feet. “But my father entrusted this task to me, not you. Come the morrow, I sail to beard the dragon in its den.”
(Credit: George R. R. Martin)
Arya and Sansa Stark are as different as sisters can be. But while the two have not seen each other since the first book of the series, they have one thing in common; they have been through a lot, and their struggles have changed them. In the HBO TV series, Arya reclaimed her identity. The House of Black and White and the Faceless Men, a death cult that trained her to be a nameless, faceless assassin were long behind her by the end of the show. We have yet to see if the same will happen in the books. As of A Dance with Dragons, Arya has fully embraced her life as ‘no one,’ eagerly agreeing to be assigned yet another identity.
In her Winds of Winter chapter, which is included in A World of Ice and Fire as an excerpt, Arya wears the face of Mercy, a young actress. Of course, her ultimate goal is, once again, to assassinate a man:
“‘Valar morghulis,’ Arya whispered, but Raff was dead and did not hear. She sniffed. I should have helped him down the steps before I killed him. Now I’ll need to drag him all the way to the canal and roll him in. The eels would do the rest.”
(Credit: George R. R. Martin)
We can only speculate what the future has in store for Arya, but if the pattern we have so far is any indication, more killings and more new faces are to be expected.
While the Stark sisters appear under different names even in their own chapter titles, Theon has gone back to his name, which is a relief. Theon is a deeply flawed character, but the horrible torture Ramsay Bolton inflicted on him, making him regress into the identity of a servant “Reek” was hard to read about. Having escaped with Jeyne Poole, a girl made to pose as Arya Stark, Theon is now a captive of Stannis, who died unceremoniously in the TV show, but is still alive in the books, just a little before his battle with Ramsay.
Things still don’t look good for Theon however, as Stannis plans to execute him for his crimes. But like his sister, Asha, tries to ensure that Theon will at least die with some dignity, Theon himself doesn’t seem afraid. He has found some peace returning to his real identity and considers death preferable to being recaptured by Ramsay. If Theon’s arc in the TV show is any indication, though, we can assume his journey is far from over.
“And suddenly there came a wild thumping, as the maester's ravens hopped and flapped inside their cages, their black feathers flying as they beat against the bars with loud and raucous caws. "The tree," one squawked, "the tree, the tree," whilst the second screamed only, "Theon, Theon, Theon."
Theon Greyjoy smiled. They know my name, he thought.”
(Credit: George R. R. Martin)
Like many fan favorites, Tyrion didn’t appear in A Feast for Crows. A Dance of Dragons found him escaping to Pentos, following his murder of his father, Tywin. After many misadventures and a meaningful encounter with another dwarf, named Penny, Tyrion joined the Second Sons, secretly hoping to win them to Daenerys’ side. Unlike their tv show counterparts, the two major characters have yet to meet formally in the books, but with them being close geographically, this will most likely happen in The Winds of Winter.
Martin has written at least two Winds of Winter chapters from Tyrion’s point of view. One of them was read at Miscon 2012, but there is currently no video or transcript for it. Another chapter is included in A World of Ice and Fire and follows Tyrion as he learns more about the Second Sons' actual allegiance and hopefully comes closer to meeting Daenerys.
Towards the end of A Dance with Dragons Daenerys loses control of one of her dragons, Drogon, and finds herself at a hill in the Dothraki sea, unable to return to her people. Her absence has affected many characters, including Ser Barristan Selmy, once a knight in King’s Landing, who now serves the dragon queen. In The Wind of Winter chapter, which is included in A World of Ice and Fire under excerpts Barristan and Grey Worm prepare to repel the Yunkish threat. Barristan speaks to his squires, admitting they are outnumbered, but still determined to fight. We can only hope that he will be more successful than his tv show counterpart.
The Forsaken (Aeron)
Theon is not the only Greyjoy with a Winds of Winter chapter. His uncle, Aeron Greyjoy, priest to the Drowned God and the self-proclaimed prophet also makes an appearance. Following the death of Theon’s father, King Balon, the Ironborn voted for their next king among his relatives, as was their custom. When Aeron’s brother, Euron, a violent, mad pirate, managed to take the throne, the pious Aeron opposed him, not wanting a ‘godless’ man as his king. From there on, Aeron was never seen again and was presumed dead.
But The Winds of Winter finds him drugged and imprisoned by his brother. Over the course of his chapter, he is joined by other, mutilated prisoners.
“The only light in his wet world came from the lanterns that the visitors brought with them, and it came so seldom that it began to hurt his eyes. A nameless sour-faced man brought his food, salt beef as hard as wooden shingles, bread crawling with weevils, slimy, stinking fish. Aeron gobbled it down and hoped for more, though oft as not he retched the meal up after. The man who brought the food was dark, dour, mute. His tongue was gone, Aeron did not doubt.”
The chapter leaves little room for hope for Aeron, but since he survived so far, he might yet have a role to play.
As was the case with A Feast for Crows, it looks like The Winds of Winter might focus on the Greyjoys quite a lot, as there is at least one known chapter from Victarion’s point of view. Unlike his brother, Aeron, Victarion, who also wished to be king of the Ironborn, nevertheless declared his allegiance to Euron. He was then sent to deliver Euron’s marriage proposal to Daenerys, but he secretly hoped to court her himself.
Victarion’s The Winds of Winter chapter that Martin read at a convention was partly transcribed by a Reddit user. It follows Victarion and his fleet as they arrive in Meereen, to find Daenerys.
“A restlessness was in him, a hunger for the dawn and the things this day would bring. Death or glory, I will drink my fill of both today. The Seastone Chair should've been his when Balon died, but his brother Euron had stolen it from him, just as he had stolen his wife many years before.”
Of course, it should be noted that characters seeking to court Daenerys for her throne, such as Quentin Martell, Arianne’s brother, have had horrible things happen to them. The release of the series’ sixth installment might reveal whether a similar fate awaits Victarion.
Martin has additionally confirmed point of view chapters of Areo Hotah, Asha Greyjoy and Cersei Lannister. In June 2020, the author also confirmed that he expects to complete the sixth instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire at some point in 2021.
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Tom Bombadil is arguably one of the most enigmatic characters in The Lord of the Rings, and one of the few book-only characters to be so well-known and loved. In The Fellowship of the Ring, he plays a key role, saving the hobbits and providing much-needed hospitality and aid early in their journey. But who is he really? And why is such an important character omitted in Peter Jackson’s otherwise faithful adaptation?
Tom Bombadil’s Song
Bombadil makes an appearance in the sixth chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring when the hobbits find themselves lost and overcome by unnatural sleepiness. Soon enough, Merry and Pippin, who are infamous for their ability to get in trouble, are trapped by the trees they were resting on, not knowing they are sentient. Frodo and Sam desperately call for help and are met with a song instead of an answer; Bombadil’s song precedes him. His tune sounds like gibberish at first – likely a deliberate choice, given that most of Tolkien’s songs are carefully crafted, but when they start making out the words, the hobbits are enchanted… and this might be more than a metaphor.
Here is the song:
Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!
Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!
Light goes the weather-wind and the feathered starling.
Down along under Hill, shining in the sunlight,
Waiting on the doorstep for the cold starlight,
There my pretty lady is, River-woman's daughter,
Slender as the willow-wand, clearer than the water.
Old Tom Bombadil water-lilies bringing
Comes hopping home again. Can you hear him singing?
Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! and merry-o,
Goldberry, Goldberry, merry yellow berry-o!
Poor old Willow-man, you tuck your roots away!
Tom's in a hurry now. Evening will follow day.
Tom's going home home again water-lilies bringing.
Hey! come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?
Hop along, my little friends, up the Withywindle!
Tom's going on ahead candles for to kindle.
Down west sinks the Sun: soon you will be groping.
When the night-shadows fall, then the door will open,
Out of the window-panes light will twinkle yellow.
Fear no alder black! Heed no hoary willow!
Fear neither root nor bough! Tom goes on before you.
Hey now! merry dol! We'll be waiting for you!
Hey! Come derry dol! Hop along, my hearties!
Hobbits! Ponies all! We are fond of parties.
Now let the fun begin! Let us sing together!
(Credits to J.R.R. Tolkien)
How Did Tom Bombadil Save Merry and Pippin?
The fact that Bombadil sings when the hobbits first meet him is telling. His voice has a magical quality about it, or, at least, this is strongly implied in the way he rescues Merry and Pippin. He does not use brute force, as other characters might have done, nor does he perform magic as such. He simply commands the trees to release the hobbits, and, impressively, the trees obey. His actions are never explained which only adds to the mystery and his reputation as one of the most enigmatic characters.
Tom Bombadil and His Wife
As Frodo and Sam observe, Tom Bombadil is not small enough to be a hobbit but still seems a little too small to be human. His race is never confirmed, and his wife, Goldberry, is no less mysterious. Tolkien never confirmed her origins or race, but she calls herself “daughter of the River” while her husband mentions that she’s a River-woman’s daughter. While the term is never explained in The Fellowship of the Ring or elsewhere, many fans speculate that – given Bombadil’s mysterious power – Goldberry is just as likely to be a magical being, likely some sort of nymph or river spirit.
Why is Tom Bombadil Not Affected by the Ring?
Undoubtedly, the strange couple has given book fans much to speculate about since The Lord of the Rings was first published. But one of Bombadil’s most curious qualities is, perhaps, the fact that he is completely unaffected by the One Ring which causes other characters so much pain. Spending time with him, Frodo trusts him enough to go against Gandalf’s advice and talk about his quest. Tom demands to see the Ring, which is only to be expected, given its importance. But when he puts it on, the Hobbits are shocked to find that he does not become invisible.
Bombadil’s seemingly unlimited power and the absence of others like him are in themselves enough to set him apart from any other character. The fact that he isn’t influenced by the Ring takes this even further, suggesting that he inhabits a different realm and is exempt from the very laws that make Middle Earth the setting we know. While his power has prompted many fans to consider him a Maiar, like Gandalf, Saruman, and Sauron, it should be noted that his and Gandalf’s reactions to the Ring are very different, with the latter being afraid of temptation by it, just like any other character.
Why Didn't Tom Bombadil Take the Ring to Mordor?
As is the case with any story so well-loved as The Lord of the Rings, fans will often speculate on how things could have unfolded differently. As Bombadil is unaffected by the Ring’s corruptive influence, some have wondered why he was not the one to take the Ring to Mordor. This might seem like a fair question, but it’s a relatively easy one to answer compared to other enduring mysteries surrounding his character. In the Council of Elrod, it’s suggested that, while the Ring does not affect Bombadil, he can’t necessarily prevent it from hurting others. More importantly, his attitude towards the Ring is telling. The way he laughs off such an important matter suggests that he wouldn’t be as good a ring-bearer as some fans would believe. Rather, he would likely treat the Ring irresponsibly, not fully understanding the gravity of darkness he’s immune to. Besides, Bombadil’s power might be limited by space, if not by anything else, as Gandalf implies he might only be powerful in his own, small realm.
Why isn't Tomb Bombadil in the movies?
While not exact copies of the book, The Lord of the Rings movies are generally considered to be faithful adaptations. So why is such a compelling character missing? A possible answer might lie in the different conventions governing different media. The book, and particularly the chapters in which Bombadil appears, is characterized by a dreamlike quality and relatively little action. This would likely make the hobbits’ time with Bombadil and Goldberry quite difficult to adapt in an already long film. Bombadil’s refusal to be involved with the Ring (and consequently with the main plot of The Lord of the Rings) might have made him an obvious candidate for removal. After all, even the most faithful adaptations have to omit certain elements or combine characters, as was the case when Arwen, rather than book-only character Glorfindel, carries a wounded Frodo to Rivendell. This way, the viewing experience becomes more concise and digestible.
But for those who are still disappointed about this omission, all is not lost. With the new Amazon The Lord of the Rings prequel series being under production, many have wondered if Tom Bombadil will make an appearance. Nothing has been confirmed yet, and it might be argued that the screen could never do justice to such a mysterious character. However, with so many cast members having been announced recently, and so few assigned roles confirmed, everything is possible.
Tom Bombadil Quotes
Over the years, many fans have read Bombadil’s words carefully, trying to read between the lines and pin him down. But when Frodo straightforwardly asks him about his identity, the old man dismisses the question. “Don’t you know my name yet?” he demands. In the entire Fellowship of the Ring, this might be the quote that best represents him best. In the end, no matter how much fans speculate, Tom Bombadil is exactly that: Tom Bombadil, a character unlike any other, who defies things we take for granted about Tolkien’s setting, reminding us how rich and complex it is.
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In a 2019 post, A Song of Ice and Fire Author George R. R. Martin gave his fans explicit permission to lock him up in a cabin in White Island if he had not finished The Winds of Winter by July 2020, when WordCon was supposed to take place. With the in-person event in New Zealand canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, Martin, who had given little indication of being closer to completing the sixth A Song of Ice and Fire book, seemingly escaped that fate.
Little did we know that the imprisonment he jokingly suggested would become more than a joke. In another blog post, published on June 23, 2020, Martin admitted he is no stranger to the cabin fever that has plagued many of us since March. However, in his case, the first part of the phrase is quite literal.
Could a cabin be what it takes for The Winds of Winter to come to our shelves?
In a turn of events, fans would never have been able to foretell a few months earlier, George R. R. Martin informed them that he was spending quarantine in an actual cabin… and it looks like something good might have come out of it. While reasonably tired of living in isolation, the 71-year-old author mentioned that he is keeping a regular, if a bit dull routine and tries to stay healthy. It looks like this might finally be paying off.
With most distractions removed, and journeys abroad replaced by Zoom calls, Martin had plenty of time to spend with his characters. The ones he was focusing on, as of June 2020, were enemy siblings Cersei and Tyrion Lannister, Ser Barristan Selmy, Asha Greyjoy (known as Yara in the HBO TV series), and Areo Hotah, the captain of the Martell guard. Arya Stark was also mentioned, and, as always, she intends to kill someone.
Over the years, Martin has released several Winds of Winter chapters from multiple points of view.
Martin teases the release of Winds of Winter in 2021
While Martin has yet to find the impressive writing pace he had maintained in the late 1990s, when he worked on the series’ third installment A Storm of Swords, producing about 150 pages a month, there is still reason for fans to rejoice. The author revealed he is sad about his canceled trip to Wellington. Still, expressed his intention to visit it in 2021, when he hopes “that both Covid-19 and The Winds of Winter will be done.”
For fans of the books, many of whom were greatly disappointed with the TV series conclusion, this might be the best news they have had for some time.
Since this announcement, Martin has written two additional posts with updates about his writing, both titled “Back to Westeros.” In the first one, published in August 2020, the author described a steady routine, which, thankfully, involves a lot of writing. As of November 2020, Martin mentioned that he was still spending a lot of time writing about the Lannister siblings and Dorne, the Martells’ seat of power.
While Martin, who rarely encourages his fans to keep their hopes up about his eagerly anticipated book, has been known to work on many side projects such as the Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, his return to a steady, undisturbed writing routine can only be a good sign.
Related: That Shocking Game of Thrones Twist Was Part of George R.R. Martin's Plan All Along
The Lord of the Rings fans who are excited to embark on a new adventure with the upcoming Amazon TV series have been given a fun piece of homework. Early in December, Amazon announced that 20 more cast members have joined the franchise. Speculating what kind of character each actor might portray can at least keep us busy while waiting. The new series is a prequel meant to shed light on the Second Age of Middle Earth, so a combination of new characters and ones we already know can be expected.
While successful worldwide, the original The Lord of the Rings movies were predominantly white. The new series already looks much more diverse. The international cast includes actors from New Zealand, as well as Australia, the United Kingdom, Shri Lanka, and the United States. According to showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, all cast members were carefully chosen over years, to bring Middle Earth to life.
Among the new cast members are actors with experience in epic or fantastic productions, such as Westworld actor Peter Mullan, Cynthia Addai-Robinson (pictured here) who is known for roles such as Amanda Waller in Arrow and Naevia in Spartacus) Simon Merrells (Knightfall) and Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, pictured here).
Other actors joining the show include popular British comedian Sir Lenny Henry (pictured here), Maxim Baldry (Last Christmas, Years and Years), Kip Chapman (Top of the Lake), Anthony Crum (The Wilds), Maxine Cunliffe (Power Rangers Megaforce, Divinity), Geoff Morrell (Fallen Angels, Grassroots),Trystan Gravelle (The Terror), Thusitha Jayasundera (Humans), Fabian McCallum (Me & The Apocalypse), Ian Blackburn (Behold the Ghost and other short films), Lloyd Owen (Apollo 18, The Originals), Augustus Prew (Prison Break), Alex Tarrant (Filthy Rich), Leon Wadham (Go Girls), Sara Zwangobani (Doctor Doctor) and Peter Tait who portrayed an orc in The Return of the King.
In 2020, more actors got a ticket to Middle Earth, including Robert Aramayo (young Ned Start from Game of Thrones), Dylan Smith, Ema Horvath, Tyroe Muhafidin, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Owain Arthur, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, and Morfydd Clark. The latter is going to portray Galadriel.
“After undertaking an extensive global search, we are delighted finally to reveal the first group of brilliant performers who will take part in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series,” showrunner J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said. “These exceptionally talented women and men are more than just our actors: they are the newest members of an ever-expanding creative family that is now working tirelessly to bring Middle-earth to life anew for fans and audiences worldwide.”
Like many productions, The Lord of the Rings prequel was delayed due to restrictions worldwide, but the good news about the cast is a reason for hope. While we don’t have a definite release date yet, one thing is certain: with most major actors now known, our return to Middle Earth feels closer than ever.
Related: Lord of the Rings Star Viggo Mortensen Reveals Unexpected Aragorn Deleted Scene