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Winter is coming, and it arrives July 16th. The white ravens have flown, and the time for speculation is nigh. Those not up to date, do not read on: for the night is dark, and full of spoilers…

Series six’s finale left us with a lot to contemplate. Cersei sits precariously atop the Iron Throne; she has removed her immediate enemies, but seems set to be a weak and erratic ruler. Arya has returned to Westeros, avenging herself upon Walder Frey. Sam and Gilly have arrived at Oldtown, just in time for another season of doing absolutely fuck all. Bran has reached the Wall, and prepares to inform Jon Snow that ‘R+L=J’, after which we can assume the new Three-Eyed Raven will return to his favourite pastime of getting really high and talking to trees. In Winterfell, Jon has been hailed as King in the North, entering into a tenuous alliance with Littlefinger. In the meantime, Sansa is probably wondering how one goes about getting a restraining order in Westeros. In Dorne, the Sand Snakes contemplate why nobody gives a shit about their plotline. Meanwhile Daenerys, the real MVP, has set out across the sea reinforced by the might of the Dothraki and the Greyjoys, finally returning to Westeros to claim what she believes is rightfully hers, through Fire and Blood.

“Showrunners Benioff & Weiss have a bit of a juggling act ahead of them.”

Series seven will be shorter, at only seven episodes (George RR Martin sure does love the number seven) with series 8 reportedly dropping down to a meagre six episodes. This leaves Thrones with very little screen time in which to conclude its many plotlines, and with enough loose threads to make Cersei an entirely new wardrobe, it seems showrunners Benioff & Weiss have a bit of a juggling act ahead of them.

“but what will happen when Daenerys meets the newly-minted King in the North?”

Meanwhile, the always-excellent Jim Broadbent has been brought on board as a yet-unnamed Maester. Personally, I have my fingers crossed for Marwyn ‘the Mage’, a character met in book four – currently, book-Marwyn is on his way to join forces with Daenerys. As for Dany herself, she is likely to quickly find herself in direct conflict with the Lannister crown, and fighting alongside new allies from Dorne and Highgarden. The depleted and demoralised Lannisters should be no match for the combined might of the Targaryen faction (although surprise defeats are becoming all too unsurprising in Thrones), but what will happen when Daenerys meets the newly-minted King in the North? Let’s face it, they’re probably going to have sex. With Ed Sheeran set to cameo and Daenerys on her way to Jon’s ‘Castle on the Hill’, at least they’ll be doing it in style.

Game of Thrones Season 6. (Image: Flickr)

From the teaser trailer, it seems that Thrones will be upping the focus on the impending White Walker threat; but the Walkers are no real issue so long as they are behind the Wall. To that end, I think we’ll be seeing the Wall breached by the end of the series. Expect a healthy dose of zombie hordes (personally, I’m holding out for the mythical giant ice-spiders). Meanwhile, Westeros will still be in turmoil, and wholly unprepared – else we would have very little plot to be going on with. Euron Greyjoy is still loose and scheming, Cersei and her pet Mountain are notoriously hard to get rid of (and I’m still waiting for ‘Cleganebowl’). With the Walkers loose on a land filled with thousands of newly-created corpses, series seven is going to set a bloody and momentous stage for the final run.

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