Is there a sneaky Lord of the Rings reference in next week’s Game of Thrones?

Check out these amazing new pictures from episode nine’s Battle of the Bastards

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It’s no secret that George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels (adapted on TV as Game of Thrones) draw a lot of inspiration from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, in particular Martin’s frustration with the fact that Aragorn made a good King just by being a good person (which he thought was unrealistic).

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Since then Martin and the TV show he helped create have done their best to shatter this myth (just think of all the nice guys who have royally screwed up on the series), but some Lord of the Rings parallels remain – and it looks like we could be getting an even bigger Middle Earth shoutout in this week’s episode.

Just take a look at these newly-released pictures from episode nine, named The Battle of the Bastards after the clash between Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay Bolton and Kit Harington’s Jon Snow (which looks pretty awesome, while we’re on the subject). Spot the iconic LOTR scene (it’s not the giant)?

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No? OK, how about now?

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Yep, that shot of Jon Snow in action is extremely similar to an iconic battle scene in the last Lord of the Rings film Return of the King, and whether it’s intentional or not we’re hoping it’s not a bad sign for Jon. After all, if he’s Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) in this scenario he shouldn’t be allowed to triumph just by being a good person, right? 

Hopefully this will be George RR Martin and the showrunners breaking their own rules and letting Jon triumph, but even if not it’s looking to be a truly epic episode. We’re just hoping Aragorn’s “For Frodo” line gets translated to the Game of Thrones world appropriately.

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Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic this Monday at 2am and 9.00pm