If all goes well, The Winds of Winter is tentatively scheduled for a 2021 release.
Yes, we’ve heard similar promises before from George R.R. Martin about the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. That said, the author has been giving consistent updates about his progress, citing how he often spends his days in Westeros. Considering the laundry list of unresolved plots and forgotten characters left over from Game of Thrones, a lot of pressure is riding on The Windsof Winter to deliver answers.
Perhaps one of the biggest questions that lingered from the show is the fate of Syrio Forel, Arya Stark’s sword-fighting teacher.
Syrio was only in three episodes of Season 1 of Game of Thrones, but he made quite an impression. The first sword to the Sealord of Braavos was a master swordsman living in King’s Landing. He was hired by Ned Stark to teach Arya the art of sword fighting after discovering her practicing with Needle. Syrio taught Arya about the one god of death and how to fight in the Braavosi style of the Water Dance.
“There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: Not today.”
He was not long for this world, however, and was presumably killed by Meryn Trant in Season 1 before Ned was put to death. His death happened offscreen and, by the rules of sci-fi and fantasy, often means that a character may still be alive. Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams also believed he was still alive. She theorized that Syrio was one of the Faceless Men and that he and Jaqen H’ghar were one and the same person. Williams’ theory aligned with that of many fans, but when she asked showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss about it, they confirmed to her that Syrio was dead and gone.
“I was like, ‘Oh, OK,” Williams told IGN in 2018. “So that put that to bed really quickly, but I guess we can all still dream… Maybe if it’s not in the show, it will be in the book, and that will be great.”
It’s possible that The Winds of Winter will not only confirm that Syrio Forel didn’t die, but that he is a rather familiar member of the Faceless Men (not Jaqen) who has remained integral to Arya’s lessons.
Upon first meeting Arya, Syrio calls her a boy. This goes on for a bit before she finally scoffs and declares that she’s a girl. Syrio shrugs and says, “Boy, girl, you are a sword.” To master the sword, Syrio believed that it had to become an extension of the arm and a part of her identity. The quote hinted that Syrio worshiped the Many-Faced God and it’s possible the lesson he was trying to pass on to Arya was that she was “no one,” an epithet associated with the Faceless Men and their teachings.