Everything you need to know before Game of Thrones is back on our screens

‘Game of Thrones’ is back next week, so Colette Keane takes a look at what to expect from the penultimate season

IT might be summer, but winter is here.

The pieces are all moving into position for the final push for the Iron Throne, as season seven of Game of Thrones rolls around.

The battle lines are drawn and alliances — however badly judged — have been forged.

It remains to be seen if those alliances will withstand the icy kiss of the white walkers or the fiery breath of dragons.

These last two seasons of Game of Thrones promise to be the biggest and bloodiest to date.

We only have six episodes this year and no more than that to look forward to next year, before the curtain is finally drawn on the battle for Westeros.

The TV series, like some of its characters, has long-devoured its own creator and left the books in its wake.

“Things are moving faster, because, in the world of these characters, the war that they’ve been waiting for is upon them,” one of the show’s creators, DB Weiss, said in a recent interview.

“The conflicts that have been building the past six years are upon them and those facts give them a sense of urgency that makes [the characters] move faster.”

These conflicts see Daenerys sailing to Westeros to reclaim the throne, Cersei setting herself up as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, after blowing up half of King’s Landing, to say nothing of the Starks in the north.

While the other families are squabbling for the Iron Throne, it will be up to the newly crowned king of the North, Jon Snow, to try and see off the impending threat from the Night’s King and his ever-increasing army of the dead.

Co-creator David Benioff says it has been some feat for the characters to have survived to this point.

“You still want to give characters their due, and pretty much all the characters that are now left are all important characters. Even the ones who might have started out as relatively minor characters have become significant in their own right.”

Jon Snow actor Kit Harrington has said the end is nearly in sight.

“A lot of stuff collides and happens much much quicker than you’re used to seeing on Thrones,” he said.

“It’s so different than what everybody is used to. It’s quite exciting.”

Jon Snow

Since his resurrection from the dead, Jon Snow has been rocking a man bun and taking back the north with the help of his Wildling friends.

He almost beat Ramsey to death, after he speared Rickon for sport, but, instead, left him to Sansa, who promptly fed him to his own dogs.

Jon has never sought power and insists that it is Sansa who is the Lady of Winterfell, but, after his prowess on the battlefield and with the prompting of the pint-sized Lady Mormont, the houses of the north have once again rallied behind the Starks and pledged themselves to Jon.

He is the only one who has seen the Night’s King and the army of the dead and it will be up to him to rally the houses north and south to defeat this ultimate enemy.

Having been almost confirmed as the love child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, which makes Ned his uncle and not his father, it’s not clear if the northern lords will remain at his side, once this becomes known.

Images online of the Night’s King riding an Ice Dragon may also hold no fear for Jon, if his Targaryen blood makes him as fire-proof as his aunt, Daenerys.

Sansa Stark/Littlefinger/Arya

From a pawn to a player, Sansa’s transformation from wide-eyed girl to vengeful widow continues. We last saw her leaving Littlefinger hanging.

She shrugged off his offer to make her his queen, after he claimed the Iron Throne for himself.

It remains to be seen whether his poisonous words to sow discord between herself and Jon will work and if she will, indeed, claim her role as Lady of Winterfell.

Having killed Walter Frey, Arya shows she is still committed to ticking off her kill list.

There are seven left on it, not least of whom is Cersei and her zombie protector, The Mountain.

Will she be tempted to call in on the family at Winterfell, or will her assassin’s need for revenge outweigh her desire to go home?

Daenerys

With three dragons by her side, not to mention a horde of Dothraki horsemen and an army of the feared Unsullied behind her, there seems little that can hold back the Mother of Dragons.

Tyrion is now her hand of the King and his main job seems to be talking her down from the pyre every time she threatens to burn down a city like her father, the Mad King.

He also has Varys setting up alliances with the Houses of Dorne and Tyrell, both decimated by the Lannisters.

It will be interesting to see how long both of those families remain at Daenerys’ side, when they see the youngest Lannister advising her.

Cersei/Jaime

Cersei has cleared the board of most of her enemies, having blown up the Great Sept, which contained the High Sparrow, all his little Sparrows, her throne rival, Margaery, and most of the Tyrell family and her uncle, Kevan.

In doing so, she has, as usual, set in motion a whole range of events she failed to foresee, including the death of her last remaining child, Tommen, who flung himself from the Red Keep, upon realising his beloved Margaery was dead.

With her children gone and nothing to lose, Cersei will be a dangerous beast. What will fill the vacuum in the city, now devoid of its religious leaders.

Jaime once killed the king he was sworn to protect, because he had threatened to use wildfire in the city, so what will he do with the sister who just did?

The Greyjoys

Theon and Yara have pledged their ships to Daenerys, in a bid to outflank their uncle, Euron, who casually threw his brother and reigning king of the Iron Islands off a bridge, thus claiming the Salt Throne for himself.

He is sailing a fleet to Daenerys to woo her, unaware his niece and nephew have beaten him to it.

A sea battle looks likely.

Hope the Dothraki have their sea legs by then.

The undead and magic

The Night’s King has assembled an army of seemingly unstoppable white walkers and it will take magic and steel to defeat him, so who is up for the task?

Sam has finally made it to Oldtown to research the use of dragon glass and Valyrian steel against the white walkers, with the added protection of his father’s sword under his belt.

Bran is also working to defeat the white walkers and must avoid the Night’s King, who now knows he is the new Three Eyed Raven, with ancient magic at his fingertips.

Melisandre, the Red Lady, has been banished from the north for torching the Princess Shereen and remains on Ayra’s kill list for her role in selling Gendry.

She surely has some part to play in the undoing of the Night’s King. Not to mention the dragons.

The oft-resurrected Beric Dondarrion and his Brotherhood Without Banners are also marching north, with Sandor Clegane, to fight the ice zombies.

We have to get to a point where The Hound and The Mountain finally face off, don’t we?

We’ll just have to watch and see.

Game of Thrones, season 7, is on Sky Atlantic on Sunday night at 2am; and next Monday at 9pm


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