We’ve been receiving questions lately regarding The World of Ice and Fire, as there has been a shift in the publication schedule which has led to it being pulled for pre-ordering from Amazon and other retaliers (for now). We’ve made a few remarks on the forum, but it seem that George himself has discussed the book at his appearance at the ConQuest convention in Kansas City (we’ve one report—more coming—at the So Spake Martin collection from Professor Henry O. Jacoby, who edited the Game of Thrones and Philosophy), and provided some of the details we’ve been sitting on. In fact, the interest must be pretty high, because even the Guardian—one of the leading papers in the UK—has devoted some time to covering the book.
So, in brief: yes, the book has been moved to 2014… but this has a lot to do with the specific circumstances of the kind of book it is. Were it a regular work of fiction, it would be out this year. But it is not, as it is richly illustrated, which means art must be commissioned and the text must be laid out in relation to the art. While we did at one time think Fall 2013 was going to happen, just in time for the holiday season, it was decided that there were parts of the book that could be expanded to make them richer and more interesting to readers. But this would mean—you guessed it—yet more art to be commissioned. The time-line for completing layout would mean it couldn’t come out in time for the holiday season, and that’s a pretty significant issue for a large, over-sized book that will be more expensive than a standard fiction novel.
But besides getting a better, more beautiful, and more informative book, GRRM revealed that Spring 2014 is in fact a potential target date, depending on what the publisher ultimately decides. Spring would allow the book to launch in close association with the fourth season of Game of Thrones, and the resulting cross-promotion value may well mean that it might sell just as well, if not better, than during the holidays. We’re not going to say it’s certain that it’ll be out then—the numbers may not add up in the end—but it’s definitely what we’re presently aiming for.
Now, some other details GRRM shared at ConQuest relate to the fact that when he set out to help fill in the blanks—mostly with the Targaryen history—well… the story grew in the telling. What was supposed to be 50,000 words became 250,000, as all the details he had been storing away for some future use came pouring out. It is, to say the least, amazing stuff… but too much, as it happens, for the world book! Linda and I, with the help of our editor Anne Groell, have largely summarized—in a maester’s voice—much of what GRRM revealed about the past, presenting something a bit sketchier and briefer. But the full narratives have not been tossed aside, but instead it looks like George has mentioned the notion of eventually gathering all of these texts, and perhaps adding a few more, to create a “GRRMarillion” which will delve even deeper into the history of the setting. But that would be a post-ASoIaF project.