With Game of Thrones ending after Season 8, and The Winds of Winter still hanging in publishing limbo, A Song of Ice and Fire fans must face the fact that they will soon be without Westerosi content, and for who knows how long. George R.R. Martin says the new Game of Thrones book will include unicorns (yes, really), so fans have something to look forward to as the fantasy author rolls out the last two books of his epic saga. (The Winds of Winter's release date has not been announced at this time.)
During an appearance on Neil DeGrasse Tyson's StarTalk radio show, Martin revealed that he had plans to explore unicorns in Westeros. Discussing the realism in his treatment of horses, Martin admitted, "I have an interesting take on unicorns coming up in the new books. Oops."
According to the ASOIAF fansite Winter Is Coming, some fans have taken Martin's statement to mean that The Winds of Winter will include unicorns. The books have already hinted at the existence of single-horned goats on Skagos, an island off the northeast coast of the Starks' northern domain. Writing for Winter is Coming, Corey Smith points out that, "In the books, so far as we know, Osha took Rickon to Skagos after the burning of Winterfell. Lord Wyman Manderly has sent Davos Seaworth to fetch him back. If we see unicorns, it’ll probably be through him."
As for the reason why Martin calls his take on unicorns "interesting," that probably has something to do with the fact that, when the Skagosi goats have been spotted previously in the books, they've been a lot less sleek and chic than the unicorns we're used to seeing. They're, well, mountain goats — big, shaggy, rideable mountain goats. If that's not an unexpected take on unicorns, I'm not sure what is. It's worth noting that this appears to apply exclusively to the books, not the TV series, which has already mapped out its finale.
Martin has been publishing his tales of the Seven Kingdoms since 1996, when the first ASOIAF book, A Game of Thrones, landed in stores. The HBO adaptation Game of Thrones, which began its eighth and final season earlier this month, premiered in 2011, more than five years after the fourth ASOIAF book, A Feast for Crows, appeared in stores, and only a few months before the publication of the fifth ASOIAF installment, A Dance with Dragons.
Since that time, Martin's fans have been anxious to get their hands on The Winds of Winter — the next-to-last installment of his fantasy franchise. To find out whether Rickon Stark is in Skagos, and whether the stories of their unicorns are real, fans have no choice but to wait for the next ASOIAF book.