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George R.R. Martin announces a 'Game of Thrones' prequel

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There is good news and bad news for "Game of Thrones" fans. The good news: George R.R. Martin is returning to the world of Westeros with a new book scheduled to be published later this year. "Fire & Blood" is a prequel to the "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series that forms the basis for the hit HBO show "Game of Thrones." It and its forthcoming companion are not novels, Martin says; the first is scheduled for publication Nov. 20 from Ballantine Bantam Dell, reported Los Angeles Times (US).

The bad news is that the long-awaited next book in the series, "The Winds of Winter," isn't going to arrive anytime soon. Readers have been eagerly anticipating "The Winds of Winter," the sixth in the series, for years — Martin has yet to finish the novel, which will be the first new book in the series since "A Dance With Dragons" was published in 2011.

Martin alluded to the long-awaited novel in a statement. "No, winter is not coming... not in 2018, at least," he wrote. "You're going to have to keep waiting for THE WINDS OF WINTER. ... I do want to stress...indeed, I want to shout... that FIRE & BLOOD is not a novel. This is not a traditional narrative and was never intended to be…let's call this one 'imaginary history' instead. The essential point is being the 'history' part. I love reading popular histories myself, and that's what I was aiming for here… As for me, I'm returning once again to THE WINDS OF WINTER."

The prequel "Fire & Blood" will be "the definitive history of the Targaryens in Westeros and chronicles the conquest that united the Seven Kingdoms under Targaryen rule through the Dance of the Dragons: the Targaryen civil war that nearly ended their dynasty forever," according to the publisher.

Fans of the bestselling fantasy series have long been clamoring for a new book set in Westeros, but this one might not be what they had in mind.

On his blog, Martin said that "Fire & Blood" is a "hefty book," running nearly 1,000 manuscript pages. He added that it will contain dozens of black-and-white illustrations by comic book artist Doug Wheatley.

Although it's not "The Winds of Winter," Martin's new book should help satiate fans who have been jonesing for a return to Westeros. It will arrive in bookstores before the next, and final, season of the "Game of Thrones" television series, which is scheduled to run on HBO in 2019.

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