Power resides where men believe it resides, the eunuch Varys tells Tyrion Lannister at the start of the Game of Thrones trailer for the show's second season.
It is a trick, a shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.
After a wildly successful and critically acclaimed first season, HBO's hit series looks to deliver a strong return for season two on April 1, 2012.
Based on the trailer, the second season will follow the same basic plot line of A Clash of Kings, the second book in the original series by George R.R. Martin. There's more intrigue, backstabbing, and confusion than ever, with enough taut dialogue and flashes of sex scenes to keep everybody on their toes.
But what about the characters we've become attached to, from favorites like Catelyn Stark and Petyr Littlefinger Baelish to character we love to hate like Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime? What secrets has HBO slipped to viewers in its first official trailer for the second season?
Here are five things we've learned by watching the second season trailer for HBO's Game of Thrones. From the new characters Varys' riddle is referencing to what's in store for Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, read through for everything you need to know about HBO's hotly anticipated second season.
1. The King, The Priest and The Rich Man
The battle within the Seven Kingdoms will be, as Varys says, between a king, a priest and a rich man, and we get glimpses of who those players will be in season two's first official trailer.
As is often the case in Westeros, we actually get not one king but three, at the least. Stannis Bartheon, the late King Robert's younger brother, is glimpsed in the first few seconds of the trailer, and looks just as steel-willed as we'd hoped. Fans got to hear his voice for the first time in a Game of Thrones teaser trailer released last year, but we'll have to wait a while to see more of him in action.
Robb Stark, meanwhile, is still fighting to save his sister and become King of the North. And if some choice battle scenes (and current King Joffrey's temper tantrums) are any indication, he's doing very well.
The priest in this case is a priestess, Lady Melisandre of Asshai. In A Clash of Kings, she worships R'hllor, the Lord of Light, and is convinced that Stannis Baratheon is a messianic figure with the power to fight the White Walkers glimpsed in season one and to take the Iron Throne. We only get a glimpse of her in the trailer, but she's at least sporting the red hair and knowing smile that fans of the books have come to recognize her for.
And the rich man? Tywin Lannister, of course. Tyrion's father is essentially ruling the kingdom at this point, and those who couldn't get enough of him skinning a stag in season one (ew) will be seeing a lot more of the Lannister patriarch in season two.
2. Trouble at King's Landing
You might find it difficult to rule over millions who want you dead. Tyrion Lannister's warning to his sister Cersei is well timed.
King Robert's widow appears to be as power-mad as ever, but as word spreads that Joffrey's father is actually her twin brother Jaime, the people start to rise up against her. In the season two trailer, we see Cersei being attacked by an angry mob within the city, and if Tyrion's sure-to-be-ignored warning is any indication, her hold on the kingdom will continue to slip.
Of course, being Cersei, she and her hideous son Joffrey are looking to take out their frustration on the most helpless person available. In this case, it's Sansa Stark, a hostage while her brother Robb fights in the North.
In the minute-long trailer, we see poor Sansa half stripped, thrown to the ground in front of the Iron Throne, and facing Joffrey with a cross-bow aimed at her heart, musing that killing her might send a message to her rebellious sibling. That doesn't bode well for the girl who once was in line to be the next queen.
3. Watch Out For The Women
But while Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark may be in trouble, two other women are taking control in Games of Thrones second season.
Daenerys Targaryen has become a conqueror after the death of her husband Khal Drogo last season. We get glimpses of the slavers who she trades with in the second book, and a sneak peek at the lengths to which she is prepared to go to take back the Iron Throne. I am Daenerys Stormborn, she cries. And I will take what is mine, with fire and blood!
Sadly for fans of the books and the TV series, this Game of Thrones trailer doesn't give us a glimpse of the dragons Dany acquired at the end of season one. That's likely because producers want to save them for the premiere... which means they must have grown significantly bigger already.
Arya Stark, meanwhile, Sansa's little sister, has escaped the palace and Cersei's clutches. In the few seconds we get of the tomboy of the family, Arya's hair has been cut short, and she appears to be holding Needle, the sword Jon Snow made for her, in her hands.
She's already a tougher and more cynical after witnessing her father's death. In place of her old chant, Not today, she has a new and far more hardened response to death: Anyone can be killed.
And then there's Catelyn Stark, who we see with a knife drawn against Petyr Littlefinger Baelish, once a childhood friend. Petyr, who's still in love with Cat, betrayed her husband Ned and sent him to his death last season, something we're guessing she has yet to forgive.
In between threatening Littlefinger, Cat is still holding Jaime Lannister hostage in an attempt to get her daughter Sansa back, and appears to be joining her son Robb on the front lines.
4. White Walkers And Iron Islands
With all the action taking place at King's Landing and across the Narrow Sea, it's easy to forget that there are several other key players acting on the fringes. The trailer insures, however, that some of them are about to play an integral role in the second season's plot.
The first on-screen is Jon Snow, Ned Stark's bastard son and a member of the Night's Watch.
Jon doesn't get much screen time in the trailer, but a shot of him gazing out over the white waste near the Wall is paired with one of Dany looking out over the desert. Since Dany is a crucial character in the second book, it's likely that Snow's own story, known to those who've read A Clash of Kings, will also be featured in the HBO show's second season. With the threat of the White Walkers introduced in season two, expect the Wall's Lord Commander Mormont to start working with Jon on a way to keep the supernatural menace from coming over the Wall.
Jaime Lannister, meanwhile, is still a prisoner of Catelyn and Robb Stark. He's got a pretty serious beard going on, and it looks like he's been there for a while.
But our brief glimpse of Jaime comes just as Varys, speaking to the imp Tyrion Lannister, opines that even a very small man can change the course of history. Considering the character arc Jaime has already undergone from heartless warrior to humbled prisoner, it will be interesting to see what HBO does with him in season two.
Theon Greyjoy, meanwhile, once a ward (and prisoner) of the Starks, has returned to his homeland, just as he did in A Clash of Kings. For a few seconds in the Game of Thrones trailer, we can see him being baptized in salt water, signaling his return to the Iron Islands where he was born. But is he there to help Robb, whom he has come to view as a brother, or to betray the Starks to his cold-blooded father, Balon? Fans of the series will either have to wait until April 1 or take up the books to find out.
5. It's All About Tyrion Lannister
Let's be honest, here: it's always been about the Imp. Peter Dinklage's portrayal of Tyrion has already gotten raves from critics and fans, and the actor won a Golden Globe this year for his role in the Game of Thrones: series.
Tyrion's role at King's Landing is greatly expanded in A Clash of Kings, and his conversation with Varys is at the center of the new season two trailer. Look to see a lot more of Tyrion in action when A Game of Thrones returns this spring, instead of his usual role as an observer.
Also look for him to fight a battle of wits against Varys, much as Ned Stark did with Littlefinger in season one. I understand the way this game is played, Tyrion tells the eunuch in the last few seconds of the trailer, his hand on the door.
Considering what Cersei said in season one-- In the game of thrones, you win or you die-- let's hope for Tyrion's sake that he does understand, and uses it to his best advantage.
Watch Game of Thrones Season Two Trailer Shadow Here: