Straight from George R. R. Martin's blog comes the long-awaited news:

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

A bit of back story for you non-dweebs: Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is the Big Thing in Fantasy. (Yes, even bigger than those Wheel of Time books, and even bigger than Patrick Rothfuss, whose super-fun, laid-back, and packed reading and Q&A just about broke Powell's Cedar Hills last night, with Powell's running out of books—seriously, books were being scalped—and hundreds of fans waiting in line for hours.)

A Song of Ice and Fire—more commonly referred to as A Game of Thrones, the title of the series' first book and the name of the forthcoming HBO series based on the books—is ostensibly a seven-book-long series, but only four of 'em have come out. The most recent one came out in 2005... and at the end of that one, Martin promised that the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, would be out in 2006. And then:

Despite original predictions of possible completion in late 2006, Martin has not finished the book as of March 2011. Martin's blog has featured sporadic updates on his progress, and in January 2008 he posted an update on his website affirming his vigilant commitment to finishing the book. In early 2008, publisher Spectra Books (a division of Random House) announced that A Dance with Dragons would be released on September 30, 2008, but Martin stated this would only be possible if he finished writing by the end of June, before a trip to Spain and Portugal, and he did not meet this goal.

On February 19, 2009, Martin posted on his website, "I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A Dance with Dragons will likely be published in September or October." On June 22, 2009, the author expressed "guarded optimism" in respect to his progress on the book, while still not confirming a publication date. When asked in a July 2009 interview with FREE! Magazine how the book was going, Martin stated, "It is going pretty well, actually. I am hoping to finish it by September or October; that is my goal." On October 6, 2009, Martin said that his working manuscript for A Dance With Dragons had just exceeded 1,100 pages of completed chapters, plus "considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs."

Ha! Martin's fans? Justifiably frustrated, leading to everything from pissy blogs like Finish the Book, George ("A blog that angrily waits for George R.R. Martin to finish A Dance With Dragons") to Guardian news stories about Martin's progress updates failing to satisfy his readers. So this book? It's been a long time coming. Back to Martin:

The end is in sight, at long long last, and we're close enough so that my editors and publishers at Bantam Spectra have set an actual publication date....

The dragons are coming. Prepare to dance.

Which might be the absolute dorkiest thing I've ever read (wheee! Dragon dance!) but fuck it, I don't even care. Sure, part of me can't help but be cynical—"I'll believe it when I see it," "Huh, how convenient A Dance with Dragons will be coming out right when Martin can reap the benefits of a high-profile HBO series," etc.—but hell, I'm also just stoked. Steve, I'm gonna need a week or so off around July 12th.

Entertainment Weekly has few more details here, if you're interested. Thanks to Jacob for the heads up!