George R. R. Martin revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that he would neither be writing a script for HBO’s Game of Thrones this coming season (as he has in each previous season), nor be visiting the set. He announced that he would honor travel obligations that had already been scheduled, but otherwise was focusing primarily on finishing the sixth book of A Song of Ice and Fire (on which Game of Thrones is based), The Winds of Winter.
This isn’t exactly news of how close he is to finishing the book, but it does indicate that he’s starting to take the idea of HBO catching up to him more seriously. As Season 5 of Game of Thrones, premiering in 2015, will likely cover the majority of the material in A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, story material from Martin’s as yet unpublished The Winds of Winter may start appearing as early as Season 6.
The threat of the show catching up with the books may be even greater, depending on how much of the story published in the books to date HBO ends up discarding. The Wertzone has a great summary of recent casting announcements as well as speculation on what they might mean for Season 5:
There is also some surprise at a lack of any indications that characters such as Euron and Victarion Greyjoy, Young Griff or Jon Connington will appear this season, although it is possible that further announcements will be made down the line. It is also possible that Season 5 will see the most drastic changes yet to GoT‘s story, as entire plots and subplots from the novels are discarded.
As a reader of the books who feels that Game of Thrones has improved upon the story in many ways, I have to say I’d be perfectly fine with the idea of cutting, for instance, Quentyn Martell and Jon Connington out of the story. They were late additions that, so far, anyway, seem to add little beyond unnecessary complications to an increasingly bloated story. The Greyjoys might still have a role to play, given their possession of a certain horn, which will likely end up being somewhat vital to the plot, however.
It will be interesting to see how things progress.