This article contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter.
We thought that “Mercy” would be the last chapter George R.R. Martin would release before The Winds of Winter was published, but he proved to have at least one more trick up his sleeve.
Wisely waiting until after April Fools’ Day was over, Martin quietly put up a new excerpt from his next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series on his website Thursday morning; he hasn’t even posted anything about it on his LiveJournal yet. The chapter is titled “Alayne,” and anyone who has read A Feast For Crows or paid special attention to the last season of Game of Thrones will instantly know which character the title refers to.
The last time we saw Sansa Stark, Littlefinger let her in on his plan to marry her to Harry the Heir, Robert Arryn’s current successor at the Eyrie, while she’s still posing as his bastard daughter Alayne Stone. But once her true identity is revealed she’ll have control of the Vale and will have the North rally to her. Assuming everything goes to plan, it’s rather brilliant.
But we have a long time to see whether those plans come into fruition. The tone and timeline of the chapter suggests that this takes place sometime soon after that conversation, and the Eyrie is in full swing as it prepares for a tourney to pick Robert’s personal guard. And it was all Sansa’s, or rather, Alayne’s idea.
Alayne is in full control, but bits and pieces of Sansa still shine through, especially when she has the time alone to think. At the Eyrie, she noted that she felt alive again for the first time since her father Ned Stark died. And when her first meeting with her betrothed went sour, the second meeting seemed to play out more like a fairy tale—and it’s all according to plan.
You can read the entirety of “Alayne” on Martin’s website.
Of course, eagerly reading the newest chapter might make the wait for TWOW even more unbearable, but with Martin skipping some major conventions and declining to write a Game of Thrones episode for season 6 in order to work on TWOW, we can only hope he has the time he needs to finish it.
Update 1:42pm CT:
Martin has updated his Livejournal with a post about the chapter:
“Yes, I know, I’d said there would be no more sample chapters, but (1) it had been more than a year since Mercy, (2) lots of you were asking, and (3) Anne Groell and my friends at Bantam twisted my arm.”
Screengrab via HBO Go