When you watch Game of Thrones, you learn to live with cliffhangers and plots within plots and just plain insanity wrapped in fantasy.
But that is exactly why we love the show so much, why even after so much frustration and too many feelings for the characters, the plot twists, and the overall anxiety every minute of it induces, we have stuck with the exhilarating show for six whole seasons and are now eagerly awaiting the seventh.
In the classic Game of Thrones tradition, the sixth season ended with a host of both answers and questions but not without the panache that we have all come to expect from the epic saga. A lot of major players for the throne of Westeros have been knocked off the board, readying the stage for the beginning of the end.
The casualties of season 6 are spread throughout the kingdom. Among the dead, as a result of the now-queen Cersei’s plan, are the Tyrell siblings, Loras and Margaery, together with their father, Mace; the High Sparrow; the Hand of the King, Kevan Lannister; Lancel Lannister; and a large portion of the populace at King’s Landing as well as the boy king, Tommen.
Up north, at the Twins, Lord Walder Frey and his sons also met their demise, at the hands of a returning Arya Stark, no less. Farther north in Winterfell, Arya’s kin, Sansa and Jon, have reclaimed their home upon defeating the Bolton army and killing the Bolton bastard but not before littering the ground with another dead Stark; Rickon is no more.
Remaining on the deck are the three rulers and their respective supporters, all facing the same true enemy but with varying degrees of knowledge about it.
Just how will this game play out before winter comes for good?
The seat of power of all of Westeros is now ruled by Queen Cersei of House Lannister, First of Her Name. By her side is Maester Qyburn, her undead protector Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister.
It is unclear how wholehearted Jaime’s support of her would be, though, seeing as she did the one thing Jaime wanted to prevent. He had sacrificed his honor as a member of the Kingsguard by slaying the king he was supposed to protect, just so he could keep that same king from burning innocent lives. And now his twin sister had actually gone through with it. That has got to ignite another bout of cognitive dissonance in Jaime’s psyche.
Jon Snow has at last risen from his bastard origins and is now the reigning lord of the largest part of Westeros. Just like his brother Robb, he was named king by the Northern lords, and Jon now commands one of the largest military forces in the realm, made up of the ride-or-die wildlings, the noble houses loyal to House Stark, and the Lords of the Vale from the East. By his side are Lord Davos Seaworth, honest and sensible; Tormund Giantsbane, fearless and loyal; and Lady Lyanna Mormont, clever and brave.
Also with him is his sister, Sansa Stark, though neither of them knows that they are actually cousins rather than siblings.
Yes, Jon Snow, known bastard of the honorable Ned Stark, is actually the son of the late Lady Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, the slain heir of the Iron Throne, making him a direct descendant of two royal bloodlines. It also makes him one of the most eligible contenders as King of the Seven Kingdoms, especially if the theory of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s secret wedding is confirmed.
Here Comes the Queen
Daenerys Targaryen is finally leading her armada across the Narrow Sea, on the way to claiming what is hers with fire and blood. She burned to ash every single khal who dared to stand against her will and put into place every slaver of Meereen who dared question her authority.
No one goes against the Stormborn and lives to tell the tale.
She commands an army of Unsullied soldiers loyal to her, along with the unified khalasar of Dothraki screamers who are twice as fierce as they look. She has naval forces from three different houses backing her up: the Iron Fleet of the Greyjoys, with Yara and Theon; the Tyrell navy, with the angry and grieving Queen of Thorns, Olenna Tyrell; and the Dornish ships of Ellaria Sand and her three warrior daughters, the bastards of the late Prince Oberyn Martell, the Sand Snakes.
Aside from her political alliances, Daenerys also has by her side her translator turned confidante, Missandei; the Spider Lord Varys, whose reach knows no end; and her loyal hand, the cunning imp, Tyrion Lannister.
Of course, the game is not limited to who holds the command. Across the board are other players, crucial to how the game will be played.
Bran Stark is now the Three-Eyed Raven, gifted greenseer with prophetic visions and a window to the past. He is the only one remaining who knows of Jon’s true parentage, and he is now making his way back to the Wall with Meera Reed, with help from his undead-but-in-a-nonmurderous-way uncle, Benjen Stark. He alone also knows the origin of the White Walkers, why and how they came to be and how they can be stopped.
The deadliest of the Stark clan is also back on Westerosi grounds, and she is thirsty for retribution. Arya Stark has been trained by an elite order of magical assassins, and she puts that training into good use. After killing her family’s murderers, there is just no telling what else the youngest she-wolf will do next. Will she finally reunite with her siblings?
In the Riverlands is the Brotherhood without Banners, a ragtag team that captured Arya once upon a time. Led by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, the Brotherhood is now readying for a much bigger battle, along with their new member, Sandor Clegane—the Mountain’s younger brother and also another of Arya’s former captors (she sure did have a lot of those—no wonder the girl’s got issues).
Somewhere in the area, Brienne of Tarth is sailing with her trusty squire, Podrick Payne. After an unsuccessful mission of enlisting Brynden Tully’s help in his niece’s war, the unlikely duo is now presumably on their way back to Sansa, who is technically their liege after Brienne swore her services to the young Stark. Honestly, Sansa is going to need someone of Brienne’s character around, especially if Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish is hovering around. Littlefinger has indeed been helpful in getting aid from the Knights of the Vale, but his help is never without a price—Sansa knows it well.
By the western winds blows the trump card, Euron Greyjoy, who won the Salt Throne of the Ironborn. He’s on a mission to kill his nephew and niece, Yara and Theon, and he’s on his way to building a new Iron Fleet to make up for the one they stole. It is unclear toward which alliance he would lean, though many speculate he is setting his sights on the Crownlands.
Which alliances will fall? Which will remain and grow stronger?
Who will survive now that winter has finally arrived?
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