The third season of “Game of Thrones” hits on Sunday night on HBO. Here's a sneak peek from the first episode:
Now, even the most obsessive fan might have trouble keeping up with the proliferation of storylines in the world of Westeros and mix up Jorah Mormont with Jeor Mormont from time to time. So here’s a cheat sheet to where we last left the cast, arranged roughly in geographic order (north to south):
Beyond the Wall: After being captured by the rebellious wildlings, Jon Snow was forced to kill one of his brothers-in-arms to prove his willingness to leave the Night’s Watch. Meanwhile, an army of undead wights and otherworldly White Walkers is advancing on the Watch’s ranging party at the hill called the Fist of the First Men.
Winterfell: Bran and Rickon Stark, presumed dead by most, have escaped a burned and sacked Winterfell -- along with the hulking Hodor and wildling Osha -- and are headed north to the relative safety of the Wall.
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Former Stark ward Theon Greyjoy was prepared to die fighting Northern forces and try and hold the castle but was knocked unconscious by his own men and dragged off.
The Riverlands: Catelyn Stark loosed Jaime Lannister from prison and sent him off to King’s Landing with lady knight Brienne of Tarth, hoping to trade the Kingslayer for her daughters. Robb Stark, King in the North, has wed the healer he met on the battlefield, Talisa, despite his promise to marry one of the daughters of House Frey.
Meanwhile, Arya Stark has escaped from her captivity at the ruined stronghold of Harrenhal, along with apprentice smith (and implied Baratheon bastard) Gendry and the boy Hot Pie. In recognition of Arya’s budding talent for mayhem, mysterious assassin Jaqen H'ghar gave her a special coin that should provide her passage to the eastern country of Braavos, if she should ever want to visit the home of the feared order of the Faceless Men.
King’s Landing: Stannis Baratheon suffered a crushing defeat when he attempted to take the capital, with much of his fleet burned to a crisp on Blackwater Bay. But the fiery red priestess Melisandre assures him that he will still sit on the Iron Throne. Davos Seaworth, the lowborn smuggler knighted and raised to be Stannis’s hand, was knocked off his burning ship into the Blackwater, left to an uncertain fate.
Tyrion Lannister may have won the Battle for King’s Landing by unleashing wildfire on the Blackwater, but he barely escaped with his life after one of the Kingsguard knights unexpectedly attacked him. He wakes to find he has gained a gruesome scar and lost his authority. Lannister patriarch Tywin now effectively rules the non-rebelling kingdoms of Westeros as Hand of the King.
King Joffrey annulled his betrothal to Sansa Stark in favor of Margaery Tyrell, the widow of fallen rebel Renly Baratheon. The Tyrells came over to the Lannister side after Renly was felled by Melisandre’s black magic.
To the East: Daenerys Targaryen freed her captive dragons from the warlocks of Qarth and has plundered enough gold from her treacherous host to buy a ship. But where shall she sail to? She has no army, and her dragons are still small -- for now.
What can we look forward to in season three? The tidbits we’ve gotten from some of the trailers suggest that the next 10 episodes of "Game of Thrones" should feature bigger dragons, more treachery and at least one bear. Oh my!