Winter, so we've been told many times, is coming. And so is Game of Thrones season seven, which you undoubtedly know unless you've been hiding in a cave since the explosive finale of the last season.
With rumours, speculation and cryptic tweets flying around like a rabble of badly coordinated dragons, we've put together a definitive round-up of what to expect in Westeros next year.
It will be shorter (but probably action packed)
Not only will season seven start later than past seasons – it's scheduled for summer 2017 instead of the usual April slot – but it’s down to from ten episodes to seven. Considering how much last season ramped up the action and story developments after the dawdling of season five – plus the fact we’re charging towards the series’ end in season eight – expect the HBO show to crank things up yet another ball-tingling notch.
It will have a couple of absolute gems
Forget the Lannister gold. Game of Thrones’ real treasures will be Jim Broadbent and Dame Angela Lansbury, who are set to arrive in Westeros for the new season. There are no details on their roles yet, though Entertainment Weekly reported that Broadbent’s role would be “significant” (that doesn’t spare anyone a good old-fashioned decapitating in the Seven Kingdoms, mind you), and Murder, She Wrote legend Lansbury is rumoured to cameo in two episodes. The 90-year-old veteran could be ripe for a ruck with Diana Riggs’ Queen of Thorns.
New characters are coming
With the series diverting so far from the books, plus George RR Martin’s epic tardiness on finishing The Winds of Winter, speculating about which new characters will turn up in season seven. GoT rumours site The Watchers on the Wall broke some casting call info a few weeks back, with new characters including a general, a priest, a warrior, lieutenant, and several others. The general and priest are described as white, middle-aged, and with an RP accent, so either could be a good fit for our man Broadbent.
There will be dragons
Alright, there have been dragons in GoT for bloody ages, but after six seasons of waiting for Daenerys to get her arse in gear, the dragons are finally on their way to Westeros – along with Daenerys' posse of Tyrion, Varys, the Unsullied, Dothraki, and Greyjoy ships. Of course, the showrunners could renege on the promise of a massive war and have the Mother of Dragons lost at sea for seven episodes, but with the new filming location of Muriola Beach in Spain rumoured to double for her Westeros arrival point, it looks like things are about to seriously hot up in King’s Landing.
And one more dragon in the North
Yes, after years of speculation, GoT finally confirmed what we’ve suspected all along – that Jon Snow is indeed half dragon, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Us viewers know, of course, but will Jon finally discover the truth about his parentage too? Will he join forces with Auntie Daenerys to fight Queen Cersei? With just two seasons left, you can bet a few silver stags that Jon will find out sooner rather than later.
It’s about to get seriously dark
At least, that’s what Jon Snow himself Kit Harrington reckons. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, he said “I think it's going to get very bleak before if there is a happy ending. If there's any sort of win or heroic moment for Jon and everyone else. I think it's going to get very dark before it gets better. I think what we might see this season is those White Walkers and that Army of the Dead really come into force.” Chilling stuff indeed.
And nothing will prepare you
That’s what Maisie Williams tweeted after reading the scripts for the first time. If eye-stabbing, human pie-making Arya Stark is shocked, imagine what it will be like for the rest of us.
It's Jamie v Cersei
Jamie Lannister won our hearts by becoming an affable sort of chap and crushing hard on Brienne. But his biggest flaw has never wavered: his undying love for rotten sister Cersei. Now she’s blown up the Sept and half of King’s Landing with Wildfire – the very thing The Kingslayer had tried to prevent Mad King doing by, well, slaying him – Jamie is surely on his way to a massive falling out with the newly-crowned Queen Cersei. Especially as the explosion caused Tommen, their last surviving son, to chuck himself out the window. Could it be that - another popular fan theory - Jamie will kill Cersei, as prophesised (well, sort of) by Maggy the Frog in the books?
Ser Jorah is back
Greyscale be damned, it looks like fan favourite Ser Jorah Mormont will return for the next season. Actor Iain Glen was spotted by fans on his way to Northern Ireland, where most of GoT is shot. If that’s not enough proof, one fan tweeted that he was joined on the plane by Brienne and reading a script – no word on if the script revealed whether Jorah has found a cure for his weird scaly skin or gone full stone man yet.
And Khal Drogo...?
After Jon Snow’s resurrection, bringing people back from the dead is all the rage in Westeros. One character in line for the ol’ reanimated corpse treatment could be Khla Drogo. He was pictured smashing a Guinness with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss in Ireland. Was it just a friendly pint? Or will Daenerys’ dead hubby be returning to the show? If he does, the safe money’s on him appearing in a flashback.
Game of Thrones returns summer 2017