Inside fantasy fiction
Published 03/05/2011 | 08:00
The American fantasy author George R R Martin has sold millions of books worldwide.
His fame was heightened recently with Game of Thrones - the glossy US TV series starring Sean Bean, which was largely filmed in Northern Ireland.
However, for the past six years Martin has kept his fans waiting with baited breath over his mammoth book, A Dance with Dragons.
In 2005, he said the 1,600-page novel would arrive within a year, but it never came.
Martin has constantly rescheduled its release since then - angering his many fans. But now, at last, it would seem the wait is over.
Martin's UK publisher, Harper Voyager, said last week that the novel is finally finished and will be released worldwide on July 12.
The author put the delay down to his close relationship with his fans, whom he corresponds with regularly.
"The more readers you have, the harder it is to keep up, and then you can't get any writing done," he told The New Yorker.
In recent months, fans have responded with increasing ire over their wait, posting negative comments on the writer's website - georgerrmartin.com.
One fan wrote: "Don't hold your breath on this one unless you like passing out."
Martin first alerted fans to his book's completion last week when he posted a picture of King Kong lying defeated at the base of New York's World Trade Centre on his website.
'Kong' is his nickname for A Dance with Dragons, in reference to its size.
"It is true," said Anne Groell, an editor at the Random House US subsidiary Bantam Dell Publishing.
"There were a few moments of George in a spare office yesterday, cleaning up the last bits and inserting a few new bits in longhand, while I typed the changes into the electronic files.
"But we are honestly and officially done. And there is much rejoicing."
Game of Thrones, the £36m adaptation of the first book in Martin's series, was filmed at Belfast's Paint Hall studios in the shadow of Harland -amp; Wolff's mammoth cranes. It premiered last month on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in Britain.
The book's announcement has prompted celebrations from Martin's fans all over the world.
"A Dance With Dragons is down for the count," read one post on the fan-site westeros.org.