I read on a SoIaF message boards that Feast of Crows was soooo long the publisher made him go back and split it in two. Opinions are mixed if this now means there will be 8 books or still 7. It also sounds like the first book will deal solely with the South and the second with the North and they should both be out this year
Straight from the horse's mouth:
"About three weeks ago I hit 1527 pages of final draft, surpassing A STORM OF SWORDS... but I also had another hundred or so pages of roughs and incomplete chapters, as well as other chapters sketched out but entirely unwritten. That was when I realized that the light I'd seen at the end of the tunnel was actually the headlight of an onrushing locomotive. And that's why my publishers and I, after much discussion and weighing of alternatives, have decided to split the narrative into two books (printing in microtype on onion skin paper and giving each reader a magnifying glass was not considered feasible, and I was reluctant to make the sort of deep cuts that would have been necessary to get the book down to a more publishable length, which I felt would have compromised the story).
The division has been done, and it think it works quite well. The upshot is, A FEAST FOR CROWS
is now moving into production. It is still a long book, but not too long; about the same size as A GAME OF THRONES. The focus in FEAST will be on Westeros, King's Landing, the riverlands, Dorne, and the Iron Islands. More than that I won't say.
Meanwhile, all the characters and stories removed from FEAST are moving right into A DANCE WITH DRAGONS
, which will focus on events in the east and north. All the chapters I have not yet finished and/or begun are moving into DANCE. I think this is very good, if truth be told, since it will give me the room to complete those arcs as I had originally intended, rather than trying to tie them up quickly in a chapter or two so I could deliver the massively late Big FEAST. "
There is more, this is just an excerpt... head here
to read the whole big long explaination of the cut.