Is 'Game Of Thrones' starting later than usual next year — and if so, why?

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'Game of Thrones' Season 6 May Debut Later Than You Think


Winter looks like it's coming later than expected for Game of Thrones fans next year, but a delay in the snowstorm could contain a silver lining for readers of the books.

On Thursday, HBO confirmed a Feb. 14 premiere date for freshman drama Vinyl, as well as a Feb. 21 premiere for the fifth and second seasons of Girls and Togetherness, respectively. All three shows are expected to wrap their 10-episode seasons by mid-to-late-April, which would likely push the premiere of Thrones' sixth season from its traditional launch in late March/early April to late April or even early May.

At first glance, a delayed start for season six might strike some fans as a Red Wedding-level event, as they wait with increasing impatience for updates on the fates of missing-in-action Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), last seen surrounded by a horde of Dothraki riders and Jon Snow (Kit Harington), last seen surrounded by his own blood.

But on closer inspection, a late debut for season six could be great news for fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of novels on which the HBO show is based.

Read MoreZombie George R.R. Martin Displays Impressive Penmanship in 'Z Nation' Clip

Readers have waited since the end of 2011's A Dance with Dragons for the next installment in the series: The Winds of Winter, the sixth of seven epic novels Martin has written or plans to write set in a politically tense fantasy world where winter can last a lifetime. As of the season five finale, Thrones has exhausted most, if not quite all, of Martin's published material from the Ice and Fire books, making season six the greatest unknown quantity for show-only and book-reading viewers alike.

For his part, Martin has shied away in the past from offering concrete details on when the book will be released (he famously learned his lesson after including a passage at the end of 2005's fourth Ice and Fire novel, A Feast for Crows, promising the release of A Dance with Dragons one year later; it did not arrive until 2011), but he has long maintained his desire to publish book six before the arrival of season six.

Now, many fans are speculating that both Martin and readers will get their wish -; that Winds of Winter will see the light of day before season six premieres after all -; thanks to the show's potentially postponed premiere.

Adding further fuel to the speculation is Martin's upcoming cameo appearance on Syfy's zombie series Z Nation. In a preview of the episode, airing Friday, a zombified version of the author is seen spending his afterlife grunting and groaning as he signs copies of his new book, A Promise of Spring. There is no such book in the Ice and Fire series, though Martin has revealed the final installment of the saga will be called A Dream of Spring.

Is Martin's book in the world of Z Nation just a playful wink to fans, or is it a pledge to his loyalists -; a promise that Winds of Winter will arrive in spring? It's difficult to say, but where there's smoke, there's often ice and fire.

Photos: Emilia Clarke and Jason Momoa
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Is 'Game Of Thrones' starting later than usual next year — and if so, why?
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: Actor Jason Momoa (L) and actress Emilia Clarke attend the 12th Annual AFI Awards held at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 13, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Actors Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke attend HBO's official Emmy after party in The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18: Actor Jason Momoa and actress Emilia Clarke arrive to HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Los Angeles Premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 18, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 21: Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones speaks on stage during day one of Comic-Con 2011 held at the San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 21: (L-R) Actors Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jason Momoa pose at HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Panel during Comic-Con 2011 on July 21, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18: Actors Jason Momoa (L) and Emilia Clarke arrive at the premiere of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 18, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 21: (L-R) Actors Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington, writer David Benioff, actors Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jason Momoa, writer/producer D.B. Weiss and actress Emilia Clarke pose at HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Panel during Comic-Con 2011 on July 21, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
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