As the fantasy drama returns for a third series, it goes without saying that the bloody wars (both military and covert) that rage across the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros will result in casualties. But don’t worry, the notoriously complex plots and relationships aren’t going to get any simpler, as we’ll also be introduced to a host of new characters.
So here, to give you a head-start, is our handy guide to some of the key players to look out for in the new series of Game of Thrones…
Lady Olenna Tyrell, “The Queen of Thorns” – Diana Rigg
The grandmother of Margaery and Loras Tyrell, Lady Olenna is the matriarch of the powerful family, outspoken and cunning, despite her advancing years.
Dame Diana Rigg is British acting royalty. Known for cult roles including Emma Peel in The Avengers and the shortlived Mrs James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, she is the mother of actress Rachael Stirling.
Bryndon “The Blackfish” Tully – Clive Russell
The renowned knight known as “The Blackfish” is Catelyn Stark’s uncle. He quarreled bitterly with his brother, Lord Hoster Tully, and the two were estranged for many years.
A familiar face on British TV over the last two decades, Clive Russell has been seen recently in Merlin and Ripper Street and is known to Coronation Street fans for a stint as Phil Nial.
Edmure Tully – Tobias Menzies
Catelyn Stark’s younger brother has recently become Lord of Riverrun in the wake of his father’s death.
Tobias Menzies is best known as Brutus in the HBO/BBC production Rome, and has made recent appearances in The Thick of It and Black Mirror.
Selyse Baratheon – Tara Fitzgerald
Stannis Baratheon’s estranged wife spends much of her life in seclusion, shut away in a gloomy tower.
Tara Fitzgerald has starred opposite Hugh Grant in movies Sirens and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain. Her most famous TV role is as Dr Eve Lockhart in Waking the Dead.
Shireen Baratheon – Kerry Ingram
Selyse and Stannis’s only child, Shireen escapes her lonely life through myths and stories – her books are her most treasured possessions.
Kerry Ingram is the star of award-winning stage musical Matilda.
Jojen Reed – Thomas Brodie-Sangster
A mysterious and enigmatic young man, the brother of Meera Reed, Jojen becomes an important ally to Bran Stark.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster has had movie roles in Love Actually and Nanny McPhee.
Meera Reed – Ellie Kendrick
The eldest daughter of Howland Reed and a staunch Stark loyalist, Meera seeks out Bran Stark, together with her younger brother Jojen, to protect him on his journey north.
Ellie Kendrick played the title role in the BBC’s 2009 miniseries The Diary of Anne Frank and has since starred as werewolf Allison in supernatural drama series Being Human.
Mance Rayder, “The King Beyond The Wall” – Ciarán Hinds
The name of the Wildling leader was heard increasingly frequently as series two progressed, but it’s only now that we will finally meet the man whose people call him “The King Beyond The Wall”. Mance Rayder is a force to be reckoned with, having accomplished the seemingly impossible task of uniting the disparate factions north of The Wall. He is now preparing his army for an assault on The Wall.
Irish actor Ciarán Hinds has recently been seen in Hollywood movies including The Woman in Black, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. On the small screen, he has played Gaius Julius Caesar in HBO/BBC co-production Rome and DCI James Langton in ITV crime drama Above Suspicion.
Tormund Giantsbane – Kristofer Hivju
A famed wildling warrior and chief lieutenant of Mance Rayder, Tormund is fearsome and strong, with a large build and a beard to match.
The Norwegian actor starred in 2011 sci-fi prequel The Thing and is soon to appear in M Night Shyamalan’s After Earth.
Orell – Mackenzie Crook
Wildling raider Orell is a “warg” or “skinchanger”, with the ability to enter the minds of animals and control their actions. As a bird, he becomes the ultimate spy and lookout.
British star Mackenzie Crook is best known for his role as hapless dunderhead Gareth in The Office and for appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
The Brotherhood Without Banners
Beric Dondarrion – Richard Dormer
Once the lord of Blackhaven and a celebrated warrior, Lord Beric is now leader of he Brotherhood Without Banners, a band of vigilante outlaws.
Richard Dormer (no relation to Natalie who plays Margaery Tyrell) is best known for the title role in Hurricane, the biopic of snooker player Alex Higgins, which he also wrote. He was recently seen in BBC spy thriller Hidden.
Thoros of Myr – Paul Kaye
A key member of the Brotherhood, Thoros is a Red Priest in the service of the Lord of the Light. He originally hails from the Free City of Myr, in Essos.
Paul Kaye was once better known as maverick entertainment reporter Dennis Pennis and as MTV’s equally outrageous New Jersey lawyer Mike Strutter. He’s since been seen in numerous TV roles, including as Billy in BBC3’s Pulling.
Anguy – Philip McGinley
Another principal member of the Brotherhood, Anguy is a highly skilled archer.
Philip McGinley is best known for playing Tom Kerrigan in Coronation Street between 2008 and 2009.
Missandei – Nathalie Emmanuel
Originally from the peaceful island of Naath, Missandei was sold into slavery as a child, along with her brother. She received an education in several languages and became a translator to the slave trader Kraznys in Astapor. She is set to cross paths with Daenerys Targaryen.
Nathalie Emmanuel played Sasha Valentine in Hollyoaks between 2006 and 2010.
Qyburn – Anton Lesser
A skilled healer and former maester of the Citadel, Qyburn was stripped of his chain many years ago after performing unethical experiments in his quest to understand the secrets of death.
Anton Lesser has appeared on British TV screens in a career spanning 30 years. He played Mr Merdle in the BBC’s 2008 adaptation of Little Dorrit and was seen more recently in Primeval and The Hour.
Game of Thrones returns to Sky Atlantic at 9pm on Monday 1 April