5 things we know about the new season of 'Game of Thrones'
HBO's hit fantasy drama returns for Season 6. Here's what to expect.
As fans of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series steel themselves for a celebratory return to the Kingdom of Westeros, new details regarding the cast, stories, and fiery creatures from the beloved series are starting to surface. Below are some of the major details we know leading up to the April release of Season 6.
Be warned: While some of these points are common knowledge, others can be considered spoilers. Like a wanderer beyond the wall, our advice would be to tread carefully.
1. Viewers will officially be ahead of readers
For the first five seasons, the producers behind "Game of Thrones" series gleaned story lines straight from George R.R. Martin's popular "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels. This meant that fans of the books could predict with some certainty the fate of their favorite characters on the television series. For the upcoming sixth season, however, HBO will move into unchartered territory, surpassing Martin's pace of writing and relying upon both original and unpublished storylines.
In a recent blog post, Martin apologized for the delay on the sixth book, "The Winds of Winter," but offered up some hope that it would be released later this year. “Yes, there’s a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters,” he wrote. “But there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still … and that’s if the writing goes well.”
It will be officially up to the fans to decide if the multiple story lines of the Kingdom of Westeros continue to unfold on the page or television. According to Martin, you may want to indulge in both. "Some of the 'spoilers' you may encounter in season 6 may not be spoilers at all," he wrote, "because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so."
2. Get ready for some new faces
Like previous years, Season 6 of "Game of Thrones" will bring back both old and new faces. The most recent additions to the cast include British actor Ian McShane, Swaziland star Richard E. Grant, and veterans of the Israeli television and theater scene, Ania Bukstein and Yousef Sweid.
While information on who exactly these actors will be playing is a closely guarded secret, we're particularly intrigued by the Israeli cast additions. Bukstein, 33, is not only a well-known model and actress, but also a songwriter and jazz recording artist. In 2013, she released eight original songs on a self-titled album that was well-received by both fans and music critics alike.
Yousef Sweid also transcends your typical Hollywood star, with both directing credits and even talents in puppeteering on his resume. Another possibly intriguing skill? Sweid is highly regarded as a dancer. Could this 39-year-old be something of a swordplay master in the upcoming sixth season?
3. The return of Bran Stark
Ever since the end of season 4, viewers have been left wondering what happened to Bran Stark after his encounter with the legendary Three-Eyed Raven. From what we're hearing, season 6 will address this full-on, with the youngest member of the Stark family now firm in his abilities to not only take over the bodies of other creatures, but also bend time.
"Previously Bran’s seen tiny glimpses of the future or past but never has he been very much in control in the situation," English actor Isaac Hempstead Wright recently told Entertainment Weekly. "Now we’re given looks into very important events in the past, present and future of this world and Bran is beginning to piece them together like a detective, almost as if he’s watching the show. Equally, he’s now discovering how crucial he could be in the Great War. It’s quite Inception-y."
According to writer James Hibberd, Bran's role this season is an absolute "game-changer."
4. You know nothing, Jon Snow
If you're reading this, I'm going to assume you've either read the books or seen the most recent season. So yeah, Jon Snow is kinda, one would think, maybe, mostly dead. At the end of season 5, he assumedly fulfilled his lifelong obligation to the Night's Watch after being stabbed a la Julius Caesar by a mutiny of his fellow guards. It was a tragic cliffhanger, but as fans have speculated (and HBO has teased with the above image), Jon Snow will likely rise again.
But how? One theory is that he becomes a White Walker, joining the blue-eyed zombies in their quest to take over the seven kingdoms. It's a fun scenario to play out in your head, but our money is on Jon being resurrected by none other than the red priestess Melisandre. Not only is she present in Castle Black when Snow meets his untimely end, but we've seen her mystical God resurrect people before – most recently in season 3 with Beric Dondarrion.
As Dondarrion explains after being brought back from the dead for a sixth time, resurrection does have its drawbacks. "Every time I come back ... I'm a bit less," he explains. "Pieces of you get chipped away."
5. The dragon overlords will finally arrive
Remember when Daenerys’ dragons were quasi-adorable pets in the first couple seasons? No longer. While we saw firsthand their potential to wreak havoc, season 6 will apparently unleash their full adult fury. According to visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer, the dragons will more than double in size to nearly 120 feet long.
"When the dragons were small, we had little foam rubber models of each dragon and we could carry them on and off of the set and it was no big deal," Bauer told Yahoo TV. "Last year, the best we could do was a head, and this year it’s going to be a fingernail or something, I’m not really sure."
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: