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New 'Song of Ice and Fire' publication date set

By Doug Gross, CNN
HBO's "Game of Thrones" with Sophie Turner is based on George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series. It debuts in April.
HBO's "Game of Thrones" with Sophie Turner is based on George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series. It debuts in April.
  • "A Dance of Dragons," George R.R. Martin's next novel, is due out July 12
  • It's been more than five years since the last installment in his epic "Song of Ice and Fire"
  • HBO's "Game of Thrones," based on the series, will have completed first season by then

(CNN) -- Fantasy fans rejoice.

The five-plus year wait for the next installment of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series is on its way.

"A Dance With Dragons" is due out July 12, Martin posted Thursday on his website.

"The dragons are coming," he wrote. "Prepare to dance."

The release presumably would come on the heels of the first season of "Game of Thrones," HBO's take on the series named after its first book.

The "Song of Ice and Fire" series is a sweeping, high-fantasy epic set in a magical, medieval-style world.

Complex characters, unconventional twists and ambitious scope have earned it high marks and even favorable comparisons to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (near sacrilege in the fantasy world, we know).

But a segment of its fan base has grown restless in the five-plus years since the publication of its last installment, "A Feast for Crows."

As Martin worked on other projects and blogged about everything from pro football, trips to conventions and other activities, a particularly surly portion of that base complained that he should be working harder. (That grumbling, by the way, resulted in one of our favorite blog posts from fellow fantasy scribe Neil Gaiman -- not to mention an excellent, off-color catchphrase.)

Martin acknowledged the wait, and other, more-tentative release dates that have cropped up in the past.

"Yes, I know. You've all seen publication dates before: dates in 2007, 2008, 2009," he wrote. "None of those were ever hard dates, however. Most of them ... well, call it wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, honest mistakes, whatever you like.

"This date is different. This date is real."

Martin, who thanked his fans for waiting, said the book is not yet finished but that it's close.

"Barring tsunamis, general strikes, world wars, or asteroid strikes, you will have the novel in your hands on July 12," he wrote. "I hope you like it."

"A Dance With Dragons" will be the fifth book in the series, which began in 1996.

Two more books are expected after "Dance" -- "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring."

Martin has said he needed to map out the storylines of the last two before finishing "A Dance With Dragons."