Bad news, Thrones fans: George RR Martin has not met his extended deadline on the sixth Game of Thrones novel, Winds of Winter. It won't be released before April, when HBO's sixth season of Game of Thrones starts, and, as the author has revealed in a confessional blog post, he's not entirely sure when he will have written it - let alone when it hits the bookshelves.

HBO and Martin's publishers expected the novel to be completed by Halloween, but extended his deadline to the end of the year, knowing that if he handed in the manuscript then, it could still be released by March. He met with both parties after the fifth season, when it was decided that if Martin could submit his manuscript by October, The Winds of Winter could be released before season six aired.

Now, though, it's not clear when the novel will be released - except that it won't be on the bookshelves before the new season of Thrones hits TV screens.

The 67-year-old American author explained on his website that even he didn't know when it would be completed. Although "hundreds of pages" and "dozens of chapters" have been completed, "there's also a lot still left to write. I am months away still ... and that's if the writing goes well."

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After a lengthy explanation of his historical problems with deadlines, and a series of personal events - such as his nephew's wedding - which delayed his writing process, Martin concluded: "I am going back to my stance from last March, before all this. It will be done when it's done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it."

Will the HBO show spoil the novels?

While Season Five of HBO's Game of Thrones detoured considerably from the books - infamously with the rape of Sansa Stark - Season Six is the first that TV writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss will have conjured without the input of Martin's novels.

With Winds of Winter not complete, it's likely that this divergence from Martin's work will only continue in future series.