George R.R. Martin gave "A Song of Ice and Fire" fans a huge gift: an unseen chapter from the series' sixth book, "The Winds of Winter."
Just a week and a half before "Game of Thrones" Season 4 debuts on HBO, Martin published the chapter on his website but said, "The new chapter is actually an old chapter. But no, it's not one I've published or posted before, and I don't even think I've read it at a con." The new chapter's title is "Mercy" and can be read in full at GeorgeRRMartin.com. It begins:
She woke with a gasp, not knowing who she was, or where.
The smell of blood was heavy in her nostrils… or was that her nightmare, lingering? She had dreamed of wolves again, of running through some dark pine forest with a great pack at her hells, hard on the scent of prey.
Yup. It's going to be a doozy.
"The Winds of Winter" has no release date, but Martin's publisher told the Guardian, "Until George delivers, and I have no idea when that will be." Earlier this year, EW published an unseen paragraph from the book, and featured Tyrion Lannister.
Fans of the books and TV show have expressed concern that the HBO series would one day get ahead of Martin's publishing schedule. But last year, "Game of Thrones" showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss sat down with the author to talk about the series' end. At the time, Benioff told Vanity Fair, "We just sat down with him and literally went through every character." At least they know what Martin has planned.
Until the book is released, fans can tide themselves over with "Game of Thrones" Season 4, which premieres on April 6 on HBO.