'Winds of Winter' release date, plot update; 'It's a great twist,' says George R.R. Martin

For the first time since the release of "A Dance with Dragons," the fifth book in the highly acclaimed "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy book series, author George R. R. Martin has given a tentative release date for the sixth book, "The Winds of Winter." According to Martin, the book is most likely going to hit shelves in 2016.

As was posted on the author's official site "Not a Blog," Martin had cancelled his appearance in two conventions, including this year's San Diego Comic-Con, in order to focus on writing his current projects which include "The Winds of Winter." This had given fans some hope that the book might come out before the end of 2015.

According to a report by Venture Capital Post, Martin also chose not to write an episode for season 5 of "Game of Thrones," the popular HBO series based on his books. VCPost also clarifies that Martin is also not going to write an episode for season 6, giving the author more time and space to focus entirely on the book.

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin surmised that he could finish the book quicker than expected due to the shuffling in his schedule. Martin also mentions that he has come up with a new twist revolving around one of the characters of the series.

"This is going to drive your readers crazy," Martin teases, "but I love it. I'm still weighing whether to go that direction or not. It's a great twist." 

Martin continues to explain that this character twist may not be seen in the HBO series because the character was given a different treatment in both mediums, "And it's nothing they can do in the show, because the show has already—on this particular character—made a couple decisions that will preclude it, where in my case I have not made those decisions."

Vulture reports that this makes the release of the book around Spring of 2016. Vulture estimates that the book will hit shelves by June 2016, after the season 6 finale of "Game of Thrones."