The fourth series of Game of Thrones is poised to premiere in the UK, but we’re all feeling a little bit nervous. Maybe it’s the fact that we have been looking forward to it for 10 months. Perhaps it’s because we are all still a little traumatised by the Red Wedding...
Either way, before we sit down to a new series, we want to know: should we be bracing ourselves for more bloodshed? Hiding behind our cushions? Or reaching for the tissues?
Well, from the looks of things, maybe all three. Here's what we know so far about the new series of hit HBO drama Game of Thrones...
It will be different to the books
Think you know what's coming because you've read George RR Martin's tomes? Ha! Jerome Flynn, who plays Tyrion’s trusty sidekick Bronn, told crowds at the 2013 New York Comic-Con that fans would be “quite surprised” at how different series 4 is from the books that inspired it. Intriguing, eh?
We won't be eased in gently
Forget a few episodes of wandering around Westeros and reestablishing where everyone is. The Red Wedding has changed things and the pace of the fourth series is set high. “Things really get going much more quickly,” says the show's co-creator David Benioff. “It’s not building towards one specific climatic event. There are more climatic events in season four than there have ever been before,” adds his partner Dan Weiss.
Revenge is the order of the day
The events of the Red Wedding won’t go unavenged. Obviously. “I know how important the Red Wedding is to so many fans of the show and the books but we pick up the pieces and top it in many ways,” teases Peter Dinkledge, aka Tyrion Lannister.
All men must die
The trailers, teasers and posters for the fourth series of Thrones have really been pushing this message home. They’ve pretty much all been adorned with the words Valar morghulis, which is High Valyrian and translates as, you guessed it, all men must die. You’d think we’d know that by now – GoT has never been a show to preserve beloved characters – but chances are this is a warning that it’s about to get a whole lot worse…
And there will be more deaths than ever before
See. We told you so. Game of Thrones' star Kit Harington, who plays Jon "you know nothing" Snow, has said there will be more deaths than ever in series four. Speaking to Access Hollywood last year he said: "You'd think they'd tone the deaths down, but they don't. They've realised that's a successful option, so they're just killing more people than they've ever killed." Eek.
Arya might turn into a serial killer
Still on the topic of bloodshed… We know she knows how to use a sword. And at the end of series three she proved she could use one, murdering her first grown man. But it looks as though Arya doesn’t intend on stopping there. One trailer for the upcoming series sees her reciting names of those she's intent on killing. Joffrey, Cersie, Tywin, we'd watch out if we were you.
Serial killer or not. She’s changing…
"Arya's really changing this year and I'm not sure people are going to like who she's becoming,” Maisie Williams, the actress who plays the youngest Stark girl told E! Online. “She's turning a lot darker and she's not quite as fun as she used to be ... It's a different Arya than we've seen before.”
Tyrion will be in danger
We hope you're prepared for the worst, Tyrion fans. "This is definitely the most dangerous season for Tyrion," reveals Benioff. "It seems like in almost every episode he is in jeopardy of getting his head removed from his shoulders."
"Tyrion has never been faced with this much public humiliation, because he's usually has an answer for it,” adds Peter Dinklage. “He's usually centre stage and he usually is better at it than everyone around him. This time around he's left as an audience member.”
The road ahead isn’t smooth for Jamie, either...
He was kidnapped and had his hand cut off in series three, but things won't be looking up in series four. “The big thing is what happens when he gets back to Kings Landing," teases actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. "That's how you'll find out how it's actually changed him. At the end of season three, something has changed but he doesn't know what that is.” Yet...
Or his sister-turned-lover Cersei...
Cersei might be used to getting her own way, but she could be in over her head in series four. "She's pretty vulnerable this season and unprepared," Lena Headey says of her character. "I think she realises she's quite unprepared for where she is."
Or Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targarygen...
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is beginning to struggle. “She’s exploring what kind of leader she could be,” said actress Emilia Clarke, adding: “the cities that Dany has previously liberated are beginning to revolt because, it’s all well and good going in and cutting the tie and seemingly breaking people free but if you don’t leave them with any kind of a structure or any kind of a commander who shares the same morals and views as the person who liberated them then it’s a free for all.” Uh oh. Sounds complicated.
Is series four going to be positive for anyone!? Sibel Kekilli, who plays Tyrion's secret lover, told The Independent: “[Series four] will be really hard for her," adding: "she will fight.”
On a positive note, love might still be in the air for Jon and Ygritte
They didn't part on the best of terms last season. When bows and arrows get involved and shots get fired, it normally signals the end for romance... But fans of the pair should keep their fingers crossed for a reunion. "Me and Rose, who plays Ygritte, we're as close to a love story as you get in the show," said Harington.
There's definitely a wedding on the horizon
We may still be recovering from the events of the Red Wedding at the end of series three, but fans of the books will be waiting with bated breath for the next Game of Thrones wedding, the purple one. We don’t know how much bloodshed to expect, but Jack Gleeson, the actor who plays evil King Joffrey described the scenes as “majestic”, “shimmering” and “pristine.”
The Lannisters won’t be the only ones to pay their debts in series four
Series four sees the introduction of Prince Oberon Martell, aka The Red Viper, who is in town for the wedding – and for a spot of revenge. “He’s very, very dangerous.” said actor Pedro Pascal. And the Lannisters should be watching their backs... “Oberon’s feelings for the Lannisters go beyond distain to hatred,” added Benioff.
There will be lots of new faces
Talking of The Red Viper, there will be plenty of other new faces in series four. From Mark Gatiss as Tycho Nestoris to Hizdahr zo Loraq and new looks for Daario Naharis and Gregor Clegnane – here’s a more detailed run down of the new cast members.
And finally... the dragons are all grown up
Thought the dragons were cute? Think again. Come series four they are powerful, fiery and a little bit out of control. “When the dragons were first born they were adorable little babies," says Benioff. "They were completely devoted to their mother and they couldn’t even eat without her. With each season they grow and with each season they become a little more dangerous. Now they are at the point where they are not babies any more."
"They are outgrowing the restrictions she’s placing on them," teases Emilia Clarke.
Game of Thrones series four starts on Monday 7 April at 9:00pm on Sky Atlantic