Early in the year, fans of George R.R. Martin's widely acclaimed A Song of Ice and Fire series continued to hold out hope the long-awaited sixth book in that series would soon release. After all, there were only a few months before its better looking, more famous sibling, Game of Thrones would premiere its sixth season, firmly moving the adaptation's narrative beyond that of the published books. Surely, The Winds of Winter would release just in time for Game of Thrones season 6, creating a perfect storm of marketing and corporate synergy as fans overindulged in their Westerosi delights.
Except, shortly into 2016, Martin announced The Winds of Winter would not be releasing this year - dashing dreams but also letting everyone down in just about the kindest way possible, absolving fans from a year of anticipating a release that was never to come. The news was disappointing, to be sure, and Martin has been doing his best to both get book six published and fill the days between now and then with some cool ASOIAF goodies.
These include a new print edition of the ASOIAF series releasing next month, gorgeously illustrated and more representative of how Martin imagined much of the Seven Kingdoms, as well as enhanced and interactive digital editions of the books releasing exclusively through Apple's iBooks. Starting with A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition, available today, these new digital versions offer the most informative and immersive way to experience Martin's novels. They include in-depth character maps at the start of each chapter, explaining in detail the location of point-of-view characters and their relation to surrounding castles and landmarks. There are Martin-approved annotations, accessible by selecting a small crown icon, as well as audio clips read aloud by actor Roy Dotrice (the de facto narrator for all ASOIAF audiobooks and Pyromancer Hallyne on Game of Thrones). In the appendices, readers can also find a litany of information on the great houses, characters, timelines, family trees - basically, anything and everything one would want to learn about the world of ice and fire.
You can check out a preview of how a few of these enhanced features appear (below via EW), along with the new watercolor covers for each novel:
These enhanced editions are sure to be popular among those reading through the ASOIAF series for the first time, and especially for those who find its many, many characters and locales a tad confusing. The sprawling narrative of ASOIAF can be hard to follow, but with so much information available with a tap on the screen, no one should find themselves overwhelmed any longer.
Of the new interactive approach, Martin said in a statement:
"We’re now entering a new period in the history of publishing. Anything that confuses you, anything you want to know more about, it’s right there at your fingertips. It’s an amazing next step in the world of books."
And as further enticement to check out A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition, a chapter excerpt from The Winds of Winter is also included. Sadly, it isn't a new chapter excerpt, but instead a preview chapter Martin has previously released on his website (according to Vanity Fair, it's the "Mercy" chapter). Still, a nice inclusion for those who haven't had the opportunity to check it out and those who can't get enough of season 5 Arya's blood thirst.
A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition is now available on iBooks for $8.99. Enhanced editions of the other ASOIAF books will release in the coming months. Game of Thrones is expected to premiere season 7 on HBO in the summer of 2017, but no release date has been announced. The Winds of Winter is also without a release date, though is expected in the near future.