WITH the tagline ‘All men must die’, this fourth series of Game of Thrones will follow regally what’s gone before — more blood, sex and magic.
But fans of George RR Martin’s multi-million selling books and the TV series also face an unknown: the show’s creators must weave the stories of two separate books into one, while also finishing off the storylines from the book A Storm of Swords — so no-one knows what will happen.
Game of Thrones is a captivating rollercoaster ride of violence, sex and dragons, where men and women fight to rule from the Iron Throne. One reason it is so successful is because the female characters that George RR Martin has created are beneath nothing — except the latest man they are manipulating. Women engage in incest and plot murders for the chance to be the one to park their pert posteriors on that Iron Throne and be the last (wo)man standing.
Fans are still recovering from the shocking Red Wedding, where the King of the North, Robb Stark, his pregnant wife, mother and entire retinue were slaughtered as the family desperately tried to heal old wounds and bind their clan to the Freys by marriage.
Betrayed by her bannerman, Roose Bolton, the sight of Catelyn Stark having her neck slashed, as she pleaded for her son’s life and a cackling Walder Frey looked on, left fans assured that no character would be spared for sentimental reasons. And there is more to come.
“It’s a brutal season ahead. But if we can make it through, yeah, I think it’s going to surpass season three,” one of the show’s writers, David Benioff, said. “The last three episodes, there’s so many scenes we’ve been waiting for so long to do. And it just gets more and more fun to write for these characters. After three years of doing it, we have that much more comfort to make everything uncomfortable for them. We’re very excited for it.”
And so are we. So who should we watch out for this season?
This is going to be some season for the ice queen. She faces being pushed aside by her psychopathic teenager, King Joffrey (played by Corkman Jack Gleeson), as he marries the seemingly simpering Margaery Tyrell, who has a backbone of steel. With her father, Tywin, already planning to marry her off to someone else, as she still has breeding years left in her, her untamed rage at being treated like chattel, despite her obvious prowess at ruling, could take them all down.
A woman who has had two children with her twin, Jaime, plotted the murder of her husband, King Robert, and steered the fate of her kingdom will not be pushed aside lightly.
Despite presiding over a kingdom in severe debt, Joffrey’s lavish wedding will put Kim Kardashian’s upcoming nuptials to shame. Although seemingly meek and mild, Margaery has been well-versed by a calculating granny in how to play the game of thrones, and they intend to win. Her early skirmishes with Cersei will fade into insignificance as she ascends the throne and tries to push her interfering mother-in-law under the metaphorical bus.
Tyrion, the acerbic dwarf who has stolen the show, is now married to the last known Stark alive — Sansa’s father was killed in season one, her three little brothers seemingly burnt alive by Theon Greyjoy, her half-brother, Jon, dispatched to The Wall, and her sister, Arya, missing presumed dead.
Sansa is now the key to the Lannisters taking the North and her stock is in the ascendant. Tyrion, the man with the best one-liners, is unlikely to tow the party line. Being constantly pushed by his father, and taunted by his nephew, may just goad Tyrion into unprecedented action.
Lord of Harrenhal, Petyr Baelish — brought to life by Dubliner, Aidan Gillen — has been sent by Lord Tywin to woo Lady Regent of the Vale of Arryn, Lysa Arryn. But Littlefinger’s eyes never stray too far from his first love, Lysa’s sister, Catelyn Stark, or her eldest daughter, Sansa. He has big plans for the demure redhead, whose visions of being a princess have been forever tarnished by her treatment at the hands of her previous fiance, the twisted Joffrey. Things are going to get interesting.
Oh, how the girl with white hair has grown — along with her three dragons. Commanding an army of 8,000 Unsullied warriors, she is carving a path through Slaver’s Bay, not of conquest, but of liberation. This is where Daenerys plans to learn how be a ruler, but the city of Meereen has other ideas.
Having been sent her brother’s manhood in the post, Yara is determined to get him back from his failed takeover of the north and prove herself to her father, Balon. We last left a poor, tormented Theon in the clutches of an unknown sadist. Will things improve for either Greyjoy?
This season, we will get a crash course on the House of Martell and the kingdom of Dorne. The house of Martell are sworn enemies of the Lannisters. Not surprising, since one of Tywin’s henchmen, Ser Gregor Clegane, raped and killed Elia Martell in the sacking of King’s Landing and murdered her children.
Prince Oberyn Martell, known as the ‘Red Viper of Dorne’, loves women, men, and his sister, Elia. He arrives in King’s Landing to claim his place at council, and the Lannisters will be reminded they aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.
, is the high priestess to Robert’s older brother, Stannis, who is still determined to take over the Iron Throne. The sorceress is directing his campaign to take over the kingdom and overseeing his upcoming battle at The Wall.
Winter is almost upon us, andis determined to stop it in its tracks. Battles at The Wall are looming, as the white walkers gather and the nightswatchmen try to contain the wildlings.
, the girl kissed by fire, who has been spurned by Jon so he can return to his duties at The Wall. A woman scorned is a woman to fear.
, a giant of a woman who defies convention to become a noble knight, has made an unlikely friend in Jaime Lannister.
, the trader of secrets, played by Belfast man Conleth Hill, will continue to weave a web of intrigue as he tries to keep a grip on all the happenings at King’s Landing — and, believe me, there is going to be plenty for him to try and control.
is worth a mention for sporting a new haircut. In fairness, his free-flowing locks would have been hard to manage with just one hand.
, played by Irishman Liam Cunningham, has to try and keep Stannis on side, while keeping Melisandre as far away from his as possible.
written by the great George RR Martin himself.
Season four of Game of Thrones begins on Sky Atlantic on Monday at 9pm, less than 24 hours after it airs in the US — you’ll just have to avoid the internet spoilers.