Winter may be over, but “Game of Thrones” is coming.
The hit HBO series, based on the fantasy novels of George R. R. Martin, has been all over the web for the last few weeks, with teaser trailers and extended trailers and dragon-shaped newspaper ads. On March 31, the show returns for its third season, which promises to be sexier and bloodier than ever.
Book fans who've read "A Storm of Swords" already know what to expect in the new season, but that doesn't mean we're any less eager to see the story fully brought to life by the talented "Game of Thrones" cast.
If you haven't read the books, read on for a spoiler-free preview of what's to come in Season 3.
This preview contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Seasons 1 and 2, but there are NO spoilers for Season 3 and beyond.
The many, many troubles of Tyrion Lannister
I'm not sure we'll be seeing much of that in Season 3, however.
Season 2 was good for the Imp. He had power, influence, the beautiful whore Shae in his bed, and (best of all) abundant opportunities to torment his vile sister Queen Cersei.
In Season 3, however, the politics in King's Landing shift once again, leaving Tyrion on the outside looking in. After the Tyrells helped smash Stannis Baratheon's armies in the Battle of the Blackwater, Margaery Tyrell replaced Sansa as Joffrey's queen-to-be, and Tywin Lannister replaced Tyrion as Hand of the King.
As Tyrion, now vulnerable, struggles to cope with his abrupt fall from Hand to peon, his father Tywin makes him an offer he can't refuse. But will Tyrion's decision return him to power as a major player in the game of thrones, or will it be his undoing?
Either way, be ready to see a side of Tyrion that you've never seen before.
If you cried when Eddard Stark lost his head…
And no, you won't see it coming.
Really, though, if you've been watching "Game of Thrones" thus far, death shouldn't exactly come as a surprise.
Damn you, George R. R. Martin!!
"You know nothing, Jon Snow."
—and she knows exactly how to get Jon Snow flustered as all hell.
Ygritte makes a great addition to an already amazing cast of female characters, and we'll be seeing a lot more of her in Season 3.
Aside from Osha and Craster, Ygritte is our first real look into wildling culture. She believes in the cause Mance Rayder is fighting for, and most of all in the idea of freedom.
Defining what freedom really means, and what it's worth, will be a cause of serious internal conflict for Jon Snow in this season.
You'll remember that in the finale of Season 2, Jon had passed himself off as a Crow-turned-wildling on the orders of Qhorin Halfhand. But pretending to turn traitor without actually turning traitor ends up being harder than he expected—especially with the kissed-by-fire Ygritte around to complicate matters.
New players in the "Game of Thrones"
MANCE RAYDER -- King Beyond the Wall, leader of the wildling host, Mance Rayder was once a brother of the Night's Watch who forsook his vows in the name of freedom. If Jon Snow wants to make it back to Castle Black alive, he'll first have to convince Mance that he is a true wildling and not a Crow in disguise.
BERIC DONDARRION -- Beric Dondarrion is the charismatic leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, a band of sell swords, knights, and vagabonds who fight to protect the common folk. Technically, Beric isn't a newcomer to the show. We saw him briefly in Season 1 when Eddard Stark ordered him to arrest Ser Gregor Clegane for pillaging in the Riverlands. In Season 3, however, Beric is a changed man, physically and spiritually scarred. His right-hand man, the red priest called Thoros of Myr, is another new character this season.
OLENNA TYRELL -- Grandmother of Margaery and Loras, Olenna is also called "the Queen of Thorns" due to her rather prickly disposition. The Tyrells hold a great deal of power in King's Landing after their critical role in the Battle of the Blackwater, and Olenna takes her place as a contender in the game of thrones—much to Cersei's dismay. I expect that Diana Rigg will be brilliant in this role, and there's one scene in particular between Olenna and Sansa that I can't wait to see.
JOJEN AND MEERA REED -- These two appear in the books much earlier than in the TV series. In "A Clash of Kings," Jojen and Meera Reed were lordlings come to pledge allegiance to Bran Stark in Winterfell before Theon Greyjoy's conquest. They escaped with Bran and the others and joined him on his journey north. In the TV series, they have yet to make an appearance, so I'll be interested to see how they are introduced.
SHIREEN BARATHEON -- Shireen is the young, adorable daughter of Stannis Baratheon. I'm a little surprised to see that they're bringing her into the series when she doesn't play a major role in "A Storm of Swords." I have a feeling she might be taking the place of another, more important character from the books who becomes a source of tension between Stannis and Melisandre. If so, I'll be interested to see how that storyline plays out.
The Kingslayer as you’ve never seen him before
Ser Jaime, better known as the Lannister we love to hate, really comes into his own in "A Storm of Swords," the book behind Season 3. You'll finally learn more about his past, his motives, and his true character—and what you learn may surprise you.
Yes, it's hard to imagine sympathizing with a man who bangs his sister, but if HBO does justice to Jaime's point-of-view chapters in "A Storm of Swords," you'll finish Season 3 rooting for this tortured yet bizarrely endearing character.
It’s a testament to George R. R. Martin’s skill as an author that he’s able to make me empathize with the arrogant prick who shoved Bran out a window.
Green dreams, blood rituals, and dragonglass
Season 2 upped the ante with the Qartheen House of the Undying, Bran's wolf dreams, the face-changing Jaqen H'ghar, Melisandre's shadow assassin, and of course the blood-chilling Others.
In Season 3, we'll be seeing even more magic and mystery—psychic dreams, blood rituals, dead men brought back to life, enchanted passageways, dragonglass daggers, giants, witches, skinchangers, and (of course) dragons.
...And SO much more!
I've only scraped the surface of everything that's coming in Season 3. (Heck, I didn't even mention Daenerys or Arya!) If you want to know the full story, you'll just have to wait to see it for yourself. But if all these wonderful new characters, plot developments, and intrigues don't make you want to dance up and down in anticipation of Season 3, I don't know what will.
Is it March 31 yet??