Care to break the hearts of Game of Thrones fans everywhere? It might just take seven words:

"THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished."

So wrote George R.R. Martin in a lengthy blog post published in the wee hours Saturday. The author had hoped to publish the sixth installment of his massively popular fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, early in 2016 — which meant finishing and submitting the manuscript to his publishers before the end of 2015.

But Martin says those hopes have been dashed.

"You're disappointed, and you're not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed," Martin writes, "but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me."

He notes that this was not the first deadline he has passed — Halloween holds that honor — but the New Year's deadline may be the most consequential. Meeting it would have ensured that the manuscript cleared the necessary hurdles in time to be published before the end of March, he says — in other words, before the sixth season of Game of Thrones, the HBO television show based on the books, is set to air in April.

"That almost certainly means that no, THE WINDS OF WINTER will not be published before the sixth season of GAME OF THRONES premieres in April," he writes.

The question necessarily follows: Will the show get ahead of the notoriously twist-laden novels?

"Maybe. Yes and no," Martin writes. "For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true."

Ambiguities aside, Martin pledged to keep writing, to finish the book only when he feels it's ready and to dispense with all the deadlines.

"When delivery will be, I can't say. I'm not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over," he writes. "The deadlines just stress me out."

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