George RR Martin has dropped an Easter gift on Game of Thrones fans in the form of a new chapter from his long-awaited sixth book, The Winds of Winter.
The US author behind the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series has cancelled some major public appearances to focus on finishing the follow-up to A Dance With Dragons, published in 2011.
Sansa Stark, going by the name Alayne Snow, is at the forefront of the latest 6,700-word instalment, which also features a sickly Lord Robert Arryn wanting to marry her.
“She was reading her little lord a tale of the Winged Knight when Mya Stone came knocking on the door of his bedchamber, clad in boots and riding leathers and smelling strongly of the stable,” the passage begins.
“Mya had straw in her hair and a scowl on her face. That scowl comes of having Mychel Redford near, Alayne knew.”
There is no release date for The Winds of Winter as of yet, but Martin’s decision to share this new excerpt will raise hopes among Westeros devotees.
The 66-year-old wrote on his blog that he had planned for his post to go live on Wednesday but “did not want it mistaken for an April Fools joke”.
Martin’s last passage from The Winds of Winter came the night before Game of Thrones’ season four premiere but he first teased it more than three years ago with a chapter titled “Theon”.
Game of Thrones returns on Sunday 12 April before reaching the UK on Sky Atlantic the next day.